On the morning of January 8, the authorities in charge of Canaleta prison in Ciego de Avila called a special meeting of the prison population. As reported by several sources, who requested anonymity, the meeting was chaired by a number of soldiers, including the director, Lt. Col. Reynerio Diaz Betancourt. He acknowledged that Cuba has at least one prison for prostitutes, which in 2009 had more negative incidents than the provincial prison for men.
He also assured us that as of this year homosexuals will not be admitted during family visits if they are not close relatives of prisoners, as it would set a bad example for the inmate population. Elsewhere in his speech, Diaz Betancourt said that during the year-end festivities and the celebration of the anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, an individual, whom he did not identify, smuggled a subversive video into the prison, in which “a traitor to Communist Party of Cuba and the government, defamed the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz,” in a program broadcast by a South Florida television station.
The Canaleta prison director also said that the person responsible was stripped of his benefits, including the right to continue university studies. He explained that the chief of the prison system has declared that those convicted of crimes against state security, human trafficking, rape, crimes against foreigners, and felony murder, are not entitled to study at the top level, or to receive benefits regulated by the Directorate of Jails and Prisons. He further stated that from now on any radio, DVD, phone, camera or video, and reports of any kind on any media will be confiscated without recourse.
By Pablo Pacheco, Prisoner from The Black Spring in Canaleta Prison, Ciego de Ávila.
Translated by: Tomás A.
For the Ladies in White.
Those emblematic white roses, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, with their marble whiteness, they face the olive-green intolerance that perfumes the streets and the scene. Monuments to the Virgin Mary, representatives of dignity, heirs of history, makers of dreams, fragrances of butterflies, constant sentinels of the sun, lineages of Mambisas (Cuban fighters of independence from Spain), fighters for the truth, persistent builders, laborers of the future, depositories of love, consistent with life, opponents of repression, germinators of peace, faithful followers of Martí, wishing for hope, softness of women in solidarity, affection, hugs, and kisses, daughters of the Virgin of Charity.
Pedro Arguelles Moran. October 31 2006. Provincial prison of Canaleta. Ciego de Avila.
Image: Abstract Painting; photograph taken by Luis Ena Bessa.
The authorities of Havana, through their hard work of selling a splendid image of Cuban prisons to the outside world, have announced the reduction of two more months of sanctions but with an extraordinary amount of hypocrisy.
One must have an “exceptional” conduct. The accused have manifested their total disagreement, not because of the advantage of reducing sanctions to 60 days, but because of the fact that they practically must be cadets. The curious thing is that the functionaries of the Order of the Interior, in compliance with their regime, apply disciplinary measures to the prisoners without even telling them first- that’s to say that, the convict finds out that a report was made about them, when the time comes to reduce the sanction, without knowing who the functionary who placed the report was.
And many prisoners are unjustly sanctioned but many guards, upon knowing their names, comply with the commands of their chiefs. Also, the additional reduction of the sanction, for exceptional conduct and relevant results in the educational programs, in article 108.1, the accused should have extinguished one year of freedom in prison and have advanced to a higher level.
Also, when the prisoner has, in exemplary fashion, complied with the requirements of the prison regime, obtaining the category of distinguished in all the accumulated periods and having actively participated in the educational programs with an evaluation of outstanding in scholarly courses, capacitating of jobs, contributing with production and also with the rest of the cultural, artistic, and athletic activities that take in the prison in which they are located.
In addition to this is that in article 109, the proposition of a reduced sanction is approved by the council of direction and the provincial chiefs of the penitentiary system. Like the recluses say, “we have to be cadets”. In the Provincial Prison of Canaleta, Ciego de Avila, the average of the fortune is so low that with the two additional months it is impossible to draw up a percentage.
In fact, the university professors and the students of physical culture that have already achieved their bachelors could easily lose their 60 days in question.
Pablo Pacheco, prisoner of conscience, Canaleta prison, Ciego de Avila, Cuba.
Image: Latitudes of Insanity by Manuel Menassa.
Francisco Feijoo (Panchito), who resides in 87th Marti Avenue in Jobabo, Las Tunas, was one of those vivacious young men whose intellectual rate was higher than the norm. His classmates from the University of Havana would bow to him, move to the side to let him pass, and would even remove their hats when he passed, some jokingly and others in all seriousness. Sincerely, this was because Panchito was at the top of his class and had the ability to make all the professor’s words sound doubtful because he would even put them in a difficult spot.
One day, sitting in the terrace of his own Alma Mater, he dared to make a comment amongst those who were there debating: “We live in flat out slavery”. The next day he was detained and taken to Villa Marista (a prison in Havana notorious amongst political prisoners). An instructor, and captain of State Security, named Richard took on the task of interrogating him. The loneliness of the prison cell, the interrogations, and the screams produced the intended objective for the young man. After a few days of consuming foods contaminated with drugs for the mentally sick, his physical state decayed and his brain was destabilized.
He was then taken to Mazorra, a hospital for the mad, and between electroshocks and new drugs he collapsed. I digress: all those characters from all the read works, that were once part of their cultural heritage, were now becoming reality before their eyes. With great vehemence, he testified to visiting the moon during the previous night. Montesquieu was his personal friend or he had shared a cell with the author of The Prince or The Leviathan.
There was nothing else to be done. Panchito was not Francisco, he was only a human rag; he could say as much as he would like about Hamlet or Quixote, but even if he told the truth who would pay attention to him? Even if he spoke the truth, who would follow him? No one, absolutely no one, pays attention to what a crazy person has to say.
Today he fluctuates through the streets of Jobabo dressed in white, asking everyone he comes across if they are reading the works that he has read or is reading. Many look at him and laugh, but only a few know that he too stood before the execution wall.
Felix Navarro, prisoner of conscience. Text dictated by phone from the provincial prison of Canaleta, Ciego de Avila.
Image: Paintings by Paul Cézanne
(Click on the link to hear audio file)
This is a bomb!
But the evidence does not seem to be television productions!
For this and things that the Cuban people don’t know we have the worst economy in Latin America and the worst in the world!
It’s a large carat cynicism!
Exclamations and commentaries as narrated before were heard in many of the sectors of Canaletas provincial prison in Ciego de Avila, where prisoners could see the DVD in which Oscar Haza,in his excellent program “A Mano Limpia,” interviews Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, a former lieutenant colonel of the personal escort of former Cuban president and supreme leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.
I learned from several sources, whom I do not quote for obvious reasons, that in the early days of 2010 they clandestinely entered the famous tape. So far they have not caught the bold architect of such a brilliant idea; the most curious fact is that it was passed hand to hand and from section to section of the prison and many sections enjoyed the tape, the talk about the video was so widespread that the penal house sounded like a pot full crickets.
Sure,the news would inevitably come to the ears of some informant who chose to see the video, then leaked the information to the military.
According to my sources, Lt. Col. Reinerio Diaz Betancourt, director of the prison, seemed just like a recently caged lion, foaming at the mouth. Then he gave the order to find the damn DVD and the person responsible for the conspiracy against the commander in chief.
The prisoners relate that the officer Orervis, re-educator of section No. 2, where one finds our brother-in-the-struggle Adolfo Fernández Sainz,is the soldier with the greatest information network in the whole prison, well above the notorious officials of the department of internal investigation and those of the interior order. Well, Orervis sounded the alarm among his people and in no time found the trophy that gives him points with his boss. Orervis found the film in section No. 11 and to make things more dramatic the film was found in the cell of my companion-in-the-cause Félix Navarro Rodríguez.
I will omit the majority of details of the video, since i know that most of my countryman have seen it. I will not make any comment about Fidel Castro’s private life, it’s his privacy, but it hurts to see him with two cows for personal use when milk is not supplied to children over the age of 7 years in Cuba; furthermore, it is said that each member of the Castro family has one cow. Likewise, it is noteworthy that the prisoners were astonished with the version given by Reinaldo Sanchez on the Ochoa case, about Fidel Castro’s personal gold mine and his private little island. I can not ignore the constant unbridled criticism from the Maximum Leader against savage capitalism for being consumer society. We must now study what Castro’s philosophy is on a consumer society. I can not assure you that what Juan Reinaldo Sanchez said is an absolute truth or a way of earning a living, he like many others has jumped ship before it sinks; nor do criticize him, a correction is also valid in politics.
However, this penal body is living in the shadow of doubt by what they saw and doubt always weighs more than one truth. Perhaps, this year the government in Havana continues to violate my constitutional rights by denying me the right to progress. For my family, friends and colleagues, the hatred towards me and the men of the cause of the 75 since is no secret, it is for not remaining silent in front of an injustice. We will continue, we will continue to swim, at this time not so much against the current.
Translated by: Raúl Dopico & LJM
For my dear brothers from the Group of the 75.
They snatched me from the arms of Yolanda, from the heart of the family, and from the social environment.
I am a hostage of intolerance, of repression, and of cynicism.
Castro-ism and its hangmen, felony, demagoguery, and infamy all incriminate me.
I am attacked by diseases, hypocrisy, discord, and a vile system of slavery.
I live badly amongst rodents, besieged by insects, tropical rigors, and amorality.
I survive denunciation, espionage, harsh treatment, and human miseries.
My life continues through truth, freedom, justice, and love.
Pedro Arguelles Moran. July 2008. Provincial Prison of Canaleta. Ciego de Avila.
Image: Blue Flame by Magdalena Salamanca.
Some time ago, a friend of mine told me, “Cuba is a country where one can only live as crazy or drunk.” I looked at him astonished and something perplexed me. I told him, “But I don’t even drink…”, and he responded, “Do you by any chance think you are sane?”, and I could not give him a reply.
It is probable that you may think very little, reasonably, about some of the truths which I live daily in my neighborhood, or about the comments heard in the street corner. I remember Raul Rivero and his articles, his comments, along with that question I used to ask myself: what led him to say, “There are traitors in all parts of the world, nevertheless look amongst your brothers and see who will defend you and seek a better future for Cuba”?
In my hands I have found an eager read of a book entitled ‘The Grand Fraud’ or ‘The Grand Lie of an Old Fighter’, and a great light turned on in my head. One of the battle methods of communists has been to discredit its opponents. Slander has been at the basis of its principles. How much must have Andrei Sajarov suffered thrown in one of the corners, suffering the ignominy of being one of the agents of the famous “Czechs”; or even Raul, a member of State Security, the political police. Today more than ever I am able to understand them; Andrei yesterday, and Raul today.
How much sadness must they have felt as they saw how the lies began taking shape, who knows, maybe amongst their circle of friends or family. Seeing themselves trapped in a circle surrounded by fire or being trapped in a grand cycle of waves, each moving in a different direction. For Andrei, only time and death separated him from the pain that weighed down upon his body. For Raul Rivero, Castro’s own hordes took up the task of cleansing him; he is a prisoner from the Black Spring of 2003 in Cuba and we all know what objective the government had in the imprisonment of those 75 men: nothing else but an exchange for the famous five spies. Rivero and Sajarov are already part of this brutal and macabre history. The first lives in forced exile and the latter already belongs to God, but even now there are still many of us still here in this long and green island, whom still are facing the execution wall.
Félix Navarro, prisoner of conscience. Text dictated by phone from the provincial prison of Ciego de Avila, Cuba.
The modern world, for many of the politicians that have souls of tyrants, is synonymous with prisons, commotions, and the promotion of rebellion. Today I was able to see and hear Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, president of Venezuela, once more reiterate the breaking of diplomatic ties with the neighboring country of Colombia.
I have started to think that to Chavez, the word “democracy” is interchangeable with “prostitute”. However, it is clear that Colombia’s president, Alvaro Uribe, has also something to do with this, seeing as he has accepted Chavez’s game, who at this moment, due to the power derived from Venezuelan petroleum, believes himself to be the center of the world.
Chavez is hysterical about the 7 new military bases in Colombian territory. According to him, these bases severely threaten the revolution which he is commanding. Perhaps this man has failed to comprehend the course of history- everything that is against human liberties is condemned to fail.
Sometimes, while I am in thought in the middle of a sleepless night upon my bed, surrounded by 26 other recluses who are barely even interested in analyzing Cuba’s own situation, I have reached the conclusion that I feel as if I am plowing in the middle of the sea. How is it possible that leftist politicians can criticize, with all their strength, a sovereign decision made by Colombia and on the other hand can so irresponsibly fail to mention the precarious situation that faces Cuba’s political prisoners.
Without much noise, the authorities of Havana systematically violate the rights of these men and of this entire country to the extreme by denying the most elemental security to those of the group of the 75 of the Black Spring 2003 whom have been sanctioned, especially those whose sanctions exceed 20 years of deprivation of freedom.
I know, and I say it by my own account, that sometimes we drag prejudices with us that are nothing else but archaic. We came to jail because of an unjust and irrational set of laws. But in essence, we all will continue fighting and we do it for the rights of our compatriots.
So then, why don’t we now yell that they are violating a constitutional right, like having the right to agree on the less severe. Chavez, Correa, Evo Morales, and Raul Castro know exactly what they want and I am convinced that they will not rest until they achieve a continental blockade and manipulating the minds of their countries, and also of attaching the blame of each and every failure to the powerful North.
There exist no differences among George W. Bush and those who think that “if you are not with me, then you are against me”. I hope that someone with some sort of firmness within the government of Chavez lets him know that no one is the center of the world.
Pablo Pacheco, prisoner of conscience, Canaleta Prison, Ciego de Avila, Cuba
Image: The Poet and the Gold by Miguel Menassa
Still echoing in the ears are those words from a long and dull discourse that took place in the mid 1960’s.
“…We will create a system of collective vigilance.”
A kind of state security similar to that of the SS Nazis, a system of a collective group in which you kept an eye on your neighbor all the while that same neighbor was in charge of keeping watch of you.
Many remember; both those of us that are here and those in exile. They would come dressed as civilians with the intent of collecting information; like Antonio, a neighbor who would recount what he saw suspicious. One afternoon when he was supposed to be at home and he did not show, his neighbor was on watch. Antonio was detained; later on he found out that the one that would show up to his house, the one he was supposed to inform, was detained also. Antonio had more luck, they did not execute him and 12 years of his life were spent between pain and suffering. Antonio decided to leave; he did not want his children to live through what was nothing other than hate and resentment.
The Committee of the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) made themselves public and it is already known who were there members, and amongst these clans respect was not promoted. Amongst them, fear was unleashed, which transformed a battle hardened country into an amorphous mass in where the simple objective was to save oneself and family, a profit for the devil.
It is with much pain that I must hear that Venezuela and Ecuador are marching down the same path. I cry when I think of the divisions amongst families, the loss of human valor known as friendship, the forced neglect of all the churches, and it seems to me that their governments are perpetuating themselves in power and are only interested in their own interests, elevating their own egos through sweat and tears- not caring from whom. They laugh with them as if it was all a grand comedy and they don’t care, no, that they are amassing their population in front of an execution wall.
Félix Navarro, prisionero de conciencia. Texto dictado por teléfono desde la prisión provincial de Ciego de Ávila, Cuba.