Writing What my Conscience Dictates (I)
By Pablo Pacheco Avila
Writing what one’s conscience dictates in a totalitarian system represents a grand risk for those who break the barriers of silence which the soldiers impose. Generally speaking, those who are brave end up in prison, exiled, and in the worst of cases in a cemetery. Despite this, continuing to write without censoring our thoughts means to strengthen that free soul which we all carry inside.
Luckily for Cuba, while the State-run media assumes the role of the submissive spokesperson of the longest dictatorship of the Western hemisphere, others decided to describe the cruel reality in which Cubans live. If the crackdown of March 2003 was the reflection of hate and intolerance of a regime, the brutal deportation of various dissidents to Spain is proof that nothing has change on the island. It is just a cosmetic sign of “open-ness” which is far too absurd.
On March 19th, 2003, as I was taking an afternoon nap with my son, a large number of State Security agents knocked on my door. I was arrested and taken to a cell of the political police in the province of Ciego de Avila.
One week later, I was able to see my wife again and she told me that the soldiers forced my son Jimmy to wake up so that they could search the mattress in search of proof to incriminate me. At that moment, I did not imagine that I would spend 87 months behind bars. One day before my 33rd birthday, I met for the first time with my lawyer and she was the one who told me the trial would be held on April 4th. A fiscal petition of 26 years imprisonment weighed over my head. The trial was nothing more than a Roman Circus. The Communist Party members and the soldiers played the role of Cesar, while the fiscals and judges represented the lions, and the defense lawyers were just spectators. Pedro Arguelles and I were the slaves being sacrificed. After various hours in that judicial parody, we were both sentenced to 20 years of prison.
Oleivys was left in the mercy of the goodwill of a few friends which followed their human instincts and tore apart their ideological indoctrination, in addition to the hostility of the authorities from the Ministry of Health for which she worked. To this they added an additional punishment of forcing her to travel 360 kilometers with our 4 year old son in order to see me. Oleivys, with her strong and optimistic character, stood back up again. The separation forced her to be a mother, a father, a sister, a friend, and confident of Jimmy. He was the one who least understood what was happening. Day after day, he would ask his mother when his father was going to return. My other half, finding strength somewhere inside of her, would respond with pain: when he finishes studying.
“Every night, I would submerge myself in a sea of tears”, Oleivys now tells me, after she surpassed the storm.