Prison Diary XLVIII. Raulist Politics: Schools Converted into Jails / Angel Santiesteban

One of the big boasts of those who took power in 1959 was to have converted military jails into schools; today, these schools are being converted into penitentiary centers.

The old “schools in the countryside” were closed thanks to Raul Castro’s new politics, to save what was invested in the logistic means designated for those students.

Those old schools are again opening their doors to receive convicts, after having been transformed into jails, with the required bars on windows and doors, and the security barrier around the perimeter to avoid escapes.

The tortures in those jails under the Batista dictatorship have returned with the dictatorship of the Castros.

One of the young men they sent to a prison in distant provinces, because of his relationship with me and because he offered me help in my communicating with the exterior, has returned, after two months, with horror reflected on his face. The method used to harm him was written in his file, the classification of “dissident.”

Upon arriving at the jail, an old “Youth School” in Santa Clara, the 22-year-old prisoner, Pedro M. Ferro, because he was political, was beaten savagely by the head of the unit, Lieutenant Colonel Delvis, who, after filling his body with hematomas, and without taking off the handcuffs, locked him in the “cubicles,” a place, says the young convict, of inhuman conditions. This was his punishment for collaborating with a dissident.

Thanks to the petition of his mother, a nurse, who demanded the return of her son to Havana, and also because he was a lieutenant colonel, they agreed.

What must there be inside the breast of that mother, who surely turned over her own youth to the totalitarian system that now abuses her son? Was her own sacrifice worth it? Any political system that tortures is fascist. Ours included.

Now Pedro M. Ferro wants to be a dissident. He doesn’t want to accept any utensil that hands him re-education. What is really undisputed is his full right to choose his own way of thinking and acting, maximized after witnessing the continual abuses of the penitentiary regime.

At least Pedro M. Ferro will not suffer the deception his mother suffered.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Prison 1580. July 2013.

Translated by Regina Anavy

15 August 2013