“The Man With the Flag” Marks Five Months Detention

Daniel Llorente has been detained for five months since being arrested during the May 1 parade in Havana. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 1 October 2017 — To avoid losing his sanity, Daniel Llorente sweeps the floor of the psychiatric hospital in Havana with a broom. Llorente trained in automotive mechanics in East Germany, and five months ago the activist was arrested while waving the American flag in the May Day parade in the Plaza of the Revolution. Even today, neither the court nor the doctors dare to confirm the date on which he will be released.

“Cleaning allows me to occupy my mind with something,” comments the “man with the flag” about the work routine that he performs in the Commander Eduardo Bernabé Ordaz Hospital, known as Mazorra. “They do not let me leave this small area or throw out the garbage,” he laments. The spontaneous activist fears for his safety in the Giralt room, intended for the convicted, and where he says he has seen “everything.”

After an onerous arrest in front of the platform where Raul Castro was waiting for the workers’ parade, Llorente spent a month in the detention center known as 100 and Aldabó. On May 30 of this year he was transferred to the psychiatric hospital under an alleged “post-criminal measure” issued by a court and is awaiting trial.

His only way to communicate with the press has been by phone. His son, Eliezer Llorente, visits the hospital twice a week and has become his only contact with the world.

“They tell me here that my situation is in on ‘stand by’ because my case is being reviewed,” he tells 14ymedio. So far Llorente has not been accused of any crime and claims to have signed a document where he was exonerated of charges of “public disorder and resistance” for the May 1 incident.

The “independent opponent” promotes the diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, but in recent weeks relations between Washington and Havana have gone downhill. This Friday the administration of Donald Trump announced the indefinite suspension of visas from the US embassy in Havana and the exit of 60% of the personnel.

It is bad news for Llorente, who asked last June to “be immediately expatriated” to the US, a demand driven by his desire to live in the country he considers “the greatest defender of human rights, hope, freedom, justice, brotherhood and the pursuit of happiness.”

He had already shown his sympathy for the nation of the north in May of 2016 when he made a similar protest to celebrate the arrival of the Adonia Cruise Line to Havana. At that time he was also arrested and detained for 24 hours.

On his hands, Daniel Llorente has tattooed the flags of Cuba and the United States. (Courtesy)

Although the US government denounced his latest detention, the case has been losing its prominence in the media as other priorities have displaced it, such as the acoustic attack on dozens of US diplomats.

More than two months ago, the doctor who attends Llorente announced that he could leave the psychiatric center on weekends. The news filled this man who worked as a private taxi driver before his arrest with enthusiasm. Shortly afterward, the psychiatrist told him that “these people” warned her not to give him a pass, a reference to State Security.

The specialist has assured Llorente that he does not suffer a mental illness and there is no reason to keep him hospitalized. Neither has he received any therapy or drugs for his alleged psychiatric disorder.

In an attempt to assert his rights Llorente has held several hunger strikes in the hospital and has written letters to political and religious leaders to denounce a situation that he calls “unjust.”

For the moment and until the hospital and the court agree, Llorente seems trapped in the script of a horror film. “All it takes is a hospital paper that says I’m fine to be able to dictate the end of this [detention] measure,” he says. While anxiously awaiting this document, he dedicates himself to sweeping the floor of the psychiatric hospital in Havana.