‘They Are Afraid That Other Cubans Will Decide To Do the Same as Me: Desert’

Joel Suárez suffered harassment by the State, as well as a period of imprisonment, obstacles to finding work and “moral assassinations.” (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2023 — Joel Suárez Orozco, the former Cuban diplomat who denounced last week, in an interview with journalist Mario Vallejo, the harassment to which State Security had subjected him after abandoning his job in the Cuban mission at the UN, responded to the accusations of “traitor” launched by the official Cuban press.

In a new conversation with Vallejo this Tuesday, Suárez responded to an article in Granma signed by Michel Torres, spokesman for the regime and presenter of the program Con Filo. Torres’ text begins by promising an “unmasking” of Suárez, which never arrives. “A traitor does not gestate spontaneously. If we review his story, his road map, we will find the trail of a person who is two-faced,” he dramatizes.

“The fate of traitors is always the same: they end up condemned to universal contempt”

“Betrayals, outrage, disgust – even on rare occasions they can hurt, but the fate of traitors is always the same: they end up condemned to universal contempt,” continues the presenter, who ironizes about the “lies” that the former diplomat told Vallejo during the protests of Cubans on September 19 in front of the UN headquarters, after the arrival of Miguel Díaz-Canel in New York.

Torres also takes the opportunity to question the veracity of the “serious and objective ’free press’,” which, he assures, is not interested in “triangular sources” if the interviewee already says everything that is expected of him. Torres presents himself as the connoisseur of the truth about the diplomat with whom, he explains, he has friendships in common. Several paragraphs later the reader, who waits for the delivery of the “impostor” on a silver platter, is disappointed, because the alleged revelations are never shown.

In Tuesday’s interview with Vallejo, asked about Torres’ article, Suárez responds that, if a dictatorship calls him a traitor, “that means I’m on the right side of history.”

“In the article there are extraordinary displays of power; there is even a demonstration of banishment, although I had already been banished from the moment I realized that in Cuba I was never going to be a person again,” the Cuban continues. “It is also a call to discipline because they are afraid that others [diplomats] will decide to do the same thing as me: desert.”

Faced with the questioning of his ties with the Government of the Island, Suárez responded that it is “common” to have such doubts. “In a country as rarefied as ours, where we have been taught to fear, to distrust, where it is a common practice to introduce spies – because State Security works that way – there is a legitimate space for doubts,” he said.

What kind of person would I be, if I were willing to sacrifice my family for the regime?”

However, he said, “it would be a very nicely interwoven story on the part of counterintelligence.” “My daughter and my wife crossed all of Central America alone to reach the United States. They crossed rivers on inflatable rafts and faced corrupt police officers along the way. What kind of person would I be, if I were willing to sacrifice my family for the regime?” he argued.

“Who hasn’t the Cuban government deceived? Who hasn’t been a victim of that country’s deception? Who wasn’t a prominent pioneer*? Who didn’t get a kiss from the homeland?” asked the former diplomat. He also said that, after the protests of 11 July 2021, many Cubans began to notice the government’s tactics to maintain control.

“Those who work for the Cuban government today know that they work for a dictatorship. No matter how great the brainwashing is or their personal interests in working for a dictatorship, they know it, and many of them suffer from that work,” he added.

Suárez worked throughout 2020 in the Cuban United Nations mission, located on the third floor of the headquarters of this international organization, south of Manhattan (New York). “While you are in Cuba you can’t know what freedom is (…), and this country (USA) gave me that. It gave me the possibility to look over the wall and say: ’They have lied to me all my life,’” Suárez said to Vallejo, present to cover the demonstrations called by exiled Cubans.

During the interview, which lasted about 10 minutes, Suárez recounted the frequent obstacles and harassment he suffered from the State when he told them that he would not continue working in the Cuban mission at the UN, which even included a period in prison, the inability to find work and “moral assassinations.”

*Translator’s note: The José Martí Pioneer Organization was created in 1961 to replace the banned Association of Scouts of Cuba.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.