Hypocrisy and Lies Go Hand in Hand / Pablo Pacheco

Photo from the internet

Photo from the internet

Recently in Havana it was announced that foreign and domestic journalists would visit “some prisons.”  Something is being plotted or planned those in power on the island.

It’s normal that the regime’s spokesmen defend the indefensible, this is what they live for; having wedded themselves to the lie, it is impossible to divorce her. If the Nomenklatura of power ordered them to say it, all is well, they say: everything is perfect.

The incredible thing about the news or the government farce is that foreign agencies join in on the lie.

Could EFE or another foreign agency EFE freely visit Castro’s prisons? Or interview a prisoner chosen randomly?

The worst thing about this theatrical work is that it insults the intelligence and the pain of a people; I dare to predict that over 50% of Cuban families have had a family member arrested and I am being cautious with the figure; each affected family knows the inhuman conditions of Cuban prisons.

The beatings, overcrowding, lack of medical care, self-harm to demand rights, violence, the company of rodents and insects in the cells, the prisoners’ lack of rights of and the jailers’ impunity are the stark reality of what the Cuban military wants to hide. Now with the support of foreign news agencies and the complicity of the national press.

In a survey we did in early 2010 of the political prisoners in Canaletas Prison in Ciego de Avila, 85% of inmates were repeat offenders in prison and a great number assured that the penitentiary was a university for criminal behavior.

To talk about food in Cuban prisons is synonymous with pain. God and the criminals know the food eaten in these places and the amount is so ephemeral that most prisoners are weakened.

Health care is a topic for another paper, but to cite just one example, Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, a former political prisoner of the Group of 75, was always told by the doctors that he was fine despite his ailments; when he was finally exiled abroad he was diagnosed with cancer. I should note that to destroy the political prisoners is a goal in each prison carried out in cahoots with the political police.

Today I read on the skewed news about Cuban prison system, and I remember with sadness the day Reineiro Diaz Betancourt told a common inmate 19 years old, who had committed a minor indiscipline in Cell Block 43 Detachment 3: “Today we can not beat you up because they’re going to accuse at the United Nations of being counterrevolutionaries.” I looked at him and said. “Guard, you should be ashamed of your words, to be an abuser is an option but not the only option.”

12 April 2013


The Legacy of a Hero

This February 23, 2011 marks the first anniversary of the death of Cuban martyr Orlando Zapata Tamayo after a prolonged hunger strike that he began after receiving one more of the many beatings this dignified rebel suffered at the hands of the prison guards in eastern Cuba. The fast was his way of demanding respect for his rights as human beings. Unfortunately this decision cost him much more than physical pain, because the indolence of the regime in the face of it caused his death.

No doubt the order to deny water to this man on a hunger–but not a thirst–strike, for 17 days, was issued from the top leadership of the country. They tried to neutralize Zapata Tamayo, by all possible means and only managed to make him another martyr of our country while writing another dark chapter in the criminal history of the communist dictatorship in Havana.

Zapata had several qualities incompatible with dictatorship: he was rebellious, courageous, determined, consistent and a black dissident. This last was most irritated the regime and tipped the balance against the young bricklayer.

For the first time in 51 years of totalitarianism, the press officer was forced, because of the international outcry it provoked, to mention the fast of a Cuban political prisoner, even if only after his death. The headquarters of the Cuban Communist Party used all its media power to discredit Orlando Zapata Tamayo and disparage the pain of his mother, Reina. The maneuver backfired, because few believed the crude ruse.

Zapata Tamayo’s death was the main impetus for the international community to unite their voices with regards to the situation of political prisoners in Cuba. Much of the international left, until then unconditional supporters of the regime, were aroused from the lethargy that for years had blindfolded them, and they joined in the criticism. The Cuban diaspora took to the streets and was heard as never before.

The movement for amnesty for prisoners of conscience were multiplied in different latitudes. Many politicians, always ready to enjoy a Cuban mojito with the dictator of Havana, were in favor of the release and condemned the death. Only a few continued with the silent complicity before the dictatorship.

The sacrifice of Zapata Tamayo, followed immediately by the hunger strike of Guillermo Fariñas led to the release and subsequent exile to Spain of many of us, prisoners of conscience from the Black Spring of 2003 and subsequently of other Cuban political prisoners. Still, six of our comrades remain behind bars for refusing to abandon the land where they were born.

They took the life of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, but seeded the rebellion and awareness of many Cubans. I have confidence that with the participation of all Cubans, those inside and those of us now in exile, Cuba will soon be a democracy and the executioners of the martyr and all our people will answer for their crimes.

They assassinated a black rebel, but his death has not been in vain, his legacy is now the pillar that sustains Cuban democrats and his name is an indissoluble part of national history. To pay tribute to him on every anniversary of his murder is more than a right, duty and honor to one who gave everything for his ideals, even the most precious, his life.