Notes from Captivity XVIII

Violation of Correspondence II

by Pablo Pacheco Avila

It was a war of nerves between the guards and us on that morning.  They passed in front of our cells but they did not ask us our reasons for our abstinence from food.

At lunchtime, we once again refused food, and to be completely honest, if our decision were otherwise we would have devoured it all.  On that day, the cooks and the logistics functionaries of ‘Aguica’ were bent on doing the best job.  They served us black bean stew, white rice, fried chicken, sweet potato, a piece of bread, and even dessert.  It was the most dignified plate of food seen by human eyes and with much more quantity than they had served us during those first 6 months of captivity.

I cannot deny that my mouth watered, but I rapidly understood that it was all a mechanism on behalf of the guards to try and crack our psychological state.  Luckily, the common prisoners also noticed the manipulation and only the common prisoner who had not joined the strike accepted the food.  After the plates remained outside our cells for three hours they were taken away intact.

At 4:30 in the afternoon they served us dinner, which looked just as appetizing as the lunch, but temptation could not surpass our desire to demand respect for our rights.

Two hours later, the Unit Chief- Ricardo- and another official showed up to “The Polish Cell” and told Manuel Ubals to get dressed for a meeting with the Direction Council and the chief of the Political Police, Porfirio Penate.  The soldiers began to take each one of us out while promising the solutions to our demands, but they asked that as soon as we arrived to our dungeons that we had to start eating.

In truth, our sole interest was that our petitions be respected.  Among our points we demanded that our right to mail be respected, and that we be allowed to receive news, books, and adequate medical assistance, and that the re-educator visit “The Polish Cell” at least three times a week, for we only saw him there once in that time frame.  That last demand was decided on by the common prisoners.  We political prisoners cared very little if we saw the Unit Chief or not, we knew that it was not in his hands to solve our problems and meet our demands, and we let them know that during our meetings with the political police officials and other soldiers of the Direction Council, and even in front of Ricardo Martinez.

As my companions-in-strife were arriving to the cell they started to eat their food.  It was the agreement we had reached in the event that our demands were met, and so they were.

After 8 pm they came for me.  I was far from imagining the situation I was about to get into.  For some reason, they considered me to be the leader of the protest and I was the last to be interviewed.

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