Yunior Garcia Will Request Asylum in Spain Because ‘It Would be Suicide’ to Return to Cuba Now

Yunior García Aguilera at a press conference after his arrival in Madrid. (EFE/Fernando Villar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 24 January 2022 — The playwright Yunior García Aguilera will request asylum in Spain, where he arrived in mid-November 2021, after leaving the island forced by the siege around his apartment that he was subjected to by Cuban State Security. The founder of the Archipiélago platform traveled to Madrid with a tourist visa granted by the Spanish Government, valid for 90 days and not valid travel to another country. However, more than two months have passed and the opposition figure admits having realized that he cannot return as soon as he expected, he said in an interview with the newspaper El País that was published this Sunday.

“Since my arrival in Madrid, my theater group in Cuba has been closed and the actors have been fired. My works are prohibited. The case against me is still open. As soon as I set foot in the Havana airport they have excuses to send me to jail for 27 or 30 years, as they have done with other protesters. Going back now is not a real possibility. It would be suicide,” he says from his new host city.

On his arrival in Madrid, García Aguilera said that his intention was to exhaust the duration of the visa, recover mentally and physically from the wear and tear suffered in the weeks prior to the Civic March for Change, of which he was one of the promoters, and return to the Island willing to continue advancing the demands for freedom for political prisoners and the dialogue to initiate a change towards democracy in Cuba.

However, since he left, his Trébol Teatro group has been closed and he notes that before leaving Cuba, State Security threatened him with 27 years in the Combinado del Este prison.

In the interview, García Aguilera talks about his landing in Madrid’s daily life. After an arrival under the spotlight, with spaces in the Spanish news and pages in the newspapers, the playwright has had to start an ordinary life and says that he survives “honestly” thanks to some collaborations with the media and the support of the Cuban exile. As he explains, the coat he was wearing during his conversation with the El País reporter was given to him and he is willing to work at whatever is necessary to maintain the small apartment where he lives in Lavapiés.

García Aguilera says they he must tae some precautions, such as keeping his exact address secret – “State Security has tentacles everywhere” – but he is delighted with his host neighborhood. Less than a kilometer from Puerta del Sol, Lavapiés is an area in which more than 88 nationalities coexist and which, despite the gentrification process that has been going on for a few years, preserves the tradition of the oldest residents of the capital, together with the multiculturalism of its new inhabitants.

“On Sundays, the Blacks take out their drums and play them. That reminds me of my land,” says the playwright, who emphasizes that he feels very grateful for his current austere life, because he has had the warmth of the Cuban community, which has even helped him to protect himself from the cold Madrid winter, which these days registers temperatures between 28 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

“In politics, what is real is what is not seen” he says to describe the “discreet” work which, he maintains, he has continued to carry out for democracy in Cuba. This links to one of the most unpleasant episodes that he has experienced since he arrived in Spain, an act of repudiation that he suffered in the Faculty of Political Sciences of the Complutense University of Madrid when he tried to relate his experiences in a presentation organized by an association of the same Faculty.

García Aguilera attributes the action to “young people from the United Left” (one of the member parties of the United We Can coalition, currently in government) and considers that many of these people preserve the unreal myth of the Cuban Revolution as an ideal of justice and equality. The playwright urges people “of good will who dare not call Cuba a dictatorship” to “understand that this romantic vision is doing Cubans a lot of harm” and asks the international community to abandon its “hypocrisy” and its “lukewarmness” toward “that brutal and cruel dictatorship that rips out the hearts of Cubans,” as he did since the most recent column published in 14ymedio, where he has a fortnightly collaboration.

Despite this bad time, García Aguilera is happy in his new city and confesses that he is happy when he can give himself a little treat such as buying a chocolate bar, some pork or visiting the bookstores in his neighborhood, always with caution, since some Cuban media have come to spread images of him buying cheap clothes with the aim of painting him “as a consumer who is happy eating ham,” he says.

At night, sometimes until 5 in the morning, he speaks with Cuba through video calls with his 10-year-old son, who continues to live in Havana, with the Archipiélago moderators and the relatives of the political prisoners.

Although his exile is expected to be longer than initially announced, García Aguilera insists that “he will never give up returning to his country. Being Cuban is a chronic condition that has no cure. I cannot forget that I am a Cuban who wants to return to Cuba.”


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