Zaqueo Baez: ‘We Must Fight From Here, Within” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Zacchaeus Baez during a meeting of Cuban Civil Society Open Forum, weeks before his arrest. (14ymedio)
Zaqueo Báez during a meeting of Cuban Civil Society Open Forum, weeks before his arrest. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 10 November 2015 — This Monday afternoon the three activists who were arrested when they approached Pope Francis in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, last September 20, were released.Zaqueo Báez Guerrero and Ismael Bonet, members of the Patriot Union of Cuba (UNPACU), and the Lady in White Maria Josefa Acon Sardina, face trial for the alleged crimes of public disorder, disrespect and resistance.

In conversation with 14ymedio, Zaqueo Báez said that after nearly 50 days in prison he felt “weak and tired, but ready to continue fighting for democracy in Cuba.” When asked about how he will await his trial, he stressed that they were warned by the police that they could only “go from home to work and work to home.”

“What I most want to do, is to continue in opposition against the dictatorship,” said the activist. “So I will comply with these instructions, from my home to the street to engage opposition and so, if I am lucky and they don’t arrest me again I will return to my house,” he says.

Just two hours after being released from prison, Baez said their date to appear in court has not yet been announced. The regime opponent hopes that “they can not ask for the maximum sentence” because “none of the three of us have criminal records.”

To those who question his conduct before a head of state, the activist replies firmly that does not feel unhappy: “I think we could do a little more, like going out with a sign to ask freedom for political prisoners, for example.” However, he notes that “at an event of this nature we prefer to be moderate and peaceful activists for human rights so they don’t confuse us with aggressive people who want to harm the Pope.”

“We are not terrorists nor do we want to appear to be so,” Baez said a few hours after he was released and still feeling anxious from the days of imprisonment in the police station known as 100 y Aldabo in Havana. “I would have loved to get a microphone and demanded that the Castro brothers ask forgiveness from their people,” but he recognizes “that would be to think like a Hollywood movie.”

When asked about his future plans, he said he is preparing himself
“better and I want to make it clear that I have no intention of leaving Cuba as a political refugee.” A statement immediately qualified with, “Perhaps I will leave to take a course or something like that, but I believe we have to continue fighting here, within.”

Despite the rigors of prison, he believes that “we must exhaust all peaceful tools for change in Cuba.”