Voices Behind the Bars / Lilianne Ruíz

The Ladies in White, marching for freedom for the political prisoners

In 2003, what was I doing? Now I can’t remember exactly. None of those tried in summary trials in the Black Spring of 2003, they charged, according to prosecutors’ intentions, with 20 years or life imprisonment, had committed any crime. They were made prisoners for exercising their right to try to change this state of affairs, striving for freedom, justice, law and the peace of citizens against the State.

It is not a protest against a foreign power, civil protest is against the State. A State that has never wanted to be accountable to its, which has always justified  closing ranks and threatening nationals with all its weapons, with the excuse of the ambition of a foreign power to colonize the country.

From the beginning we have seen how they have manipulated Cubans but no one had the spirit to protest, to avoid a major problem in the future. Or rather, those who protested before us were imprisoned, some served twenty years within the walls of la Cabaña,, turned into hell, and we do not go out in their defense nor do we remember most of them.

Thus, almost without paying attention, all generations, in turn, have granted permission to the “Revolutionary Government” to violate the rights of everyone. Here the old people say that in the first years after the triumph of those who came down from the Sierra, was there is opposition in Cuba. That’s not entirely true, because in all the years of this ordeal there have been people who have defended their rights, all the rights we have as human beings. But at that time there was still something of a habit of Civil Society, so students could demand from the Revolutionary Government, and were protected by Constitutional rights, but gradually those rights were also erased.

Guillermo Fariñas, who went on a hunger strike until the regime agreed to release the political prisoners

From the beginning whoever did not serve the interests of power was demonized the press, be they domestic or foreign;they were called reactionary and counterrevolutionary and people were ordered to applaud the restrictive measures of the new regime. And the truth is, if there weren’t people outside of Cuba who still believe that the human person has a value before and after the privations to which the “New Man” is subjected, the destiny of all those born in Cuba would be punishment. And this I cannot allow because I am a person and a mother. And it is my right, I don’t want to live with a sentence hanging over my head. A “New Man,” armed, supplanting humanity, making excuses with schools and hospitals, polishing my nails with cynicism, thinking myself decent.

Meanwhile ignoring that there are 30 rights proclaimed after much observation and while new rights could be recognized, none can ever be taken away. In Cuba they have taken away many rights. And anyone can be kidnapped by the government in this country as in Sodom and Gomorrah. I compare it with Sodom and Gomorrah for the unlimited violence, full of hidden traps. Not for the issue of gays with which I sympathize faced with a government that considers that this group pf people could signify more sympathizers and more imaginary votes, because there are no free elections.

Anyone would say they elections are always free, but in Cuba, no; because they only choose the actors from one Party that always elects the same master.

If it were not for all people in the world who condemned the imprisonment of the 75 peaceful opponents arrested in the Black Spring of Cuba; if it weren’t for the Ladies in White, and for Guillermo Fariñas; and finally only because the Cardinal was the only native the government chose to talk with in closed session: What would have become of them now?

They couldn’t count on the people. They couldn’t count on me. I was tangled in my private life. There will always be a private life where people take refuge. Admittedly, we depend on external help to handcuff the clutches of the regime. In this vast concentration camp on the island of Cuba, people are good up to a limit, within the limits imposed on them by submission and self-preservation and survival. They have surrendered to what they believe to be stronger than them, and maybe it is, in fact, until the day when the certainty returns that we are not orphans. There is still God in the Universe.

Laura Pollan, one of the founders of the Ladies in White, who died last year

For every Cuba who has been incarcerated, while I am silent, I have been complicit, I have sinned against God and against myself.

This regime, from top to bottom, has vilely tried to use the aspirations that belong to us as Humanity, and has squandered in speeches as if honesty has no value, because he does not fear God who does not make himself responsible before Him for every word and every action committed against his neighbor. What seems not to have been imported is that normally in our private life we learn that people can lie with their words, speaking of our desires without ever satisfying them, among other things, because no person can truly represent the desires of every human person who needs the best values of education and freedom, which already carry a healthy conflict from the Oedipus complex of each one, from the intervening instinct of education to direct them to the order of life.

We have endowed a monster of immense power and I have to hope that for being unjust he can still be beaten. At least for our children, for our grandchildren, not just for Cubans but so the world is not fooled any more by some heretic seller of miracles who like a devil steals our souls. We can do well in freedom, we can aspire to health care services in freedom, and education and food, in another way. Without political prisons.

March 18 2012