Courtesy of Capital Hill Cubans, “Immerse Yourself as a Cuban Dissident,” a vivid and tragic account of life in Cuba’s pro-democracy movement:
Other Means of Killing
by Jorge Olivera Castillo
For this moment no bullets can be heard. However, in between these gaps of silence which invite you to think about pacifism, your eyes will see bleeding wounds, suffering bodies and human souls perishing from mental anguish and physical punishments imposed by the adroit personalities of our insular bestiary.
The guns are resting, bright and shiny, on the belt of our leaders so that they can be used in case of any impending danger or simply to maintain natural fear and distress in the psyche of potential opponents.
Just come to any of the meetings which are called in order to hold debate on whatever social or political topic from a non-governmental point of view, and you might see that some of these discussions conclude with beatings and shootings.
Parapolicemen carry no arms while at work. What their superiors want is efficiency, clean hand solutions and perhaps some discreet blows, should the repressive operation get somewhat complicated.
Systematic punching and kicking into the bodies of those who happened to be chosen for harassment at the very moment, leave wounds and injuries which, as time goes by, will slowly be forgotten.
It is a cycle which has been repeating continuously on the background of impunity where victims remain fatally helpless. This is how the story of a very peculiar genocide evolves. Cuba suffers from a strong and firm despotism the degree of which tends to go unnoticed, nevertheless, this tyranny writes plenty of acts that all together make up one big nation-wide tragedy.
To be tortured physically or verbally for opinions or declarations that are in conflict with the rules imposed by the government Party, has become a probability which may materialize far too easily.
The high degree of political violence at all its diverse levels is associated with a system in decay and with an exhausted ideology that has lost its essence in a great deal of absurd experiments and destructive voluntarism.
The method of demonizing its adversaries and of eliminating them progressively, in case they deserve it, continues to be in a certain way sophisticated strategy which has allowed the regime to maintain control over the society at a price that is relatively low if compared to the number and character of all violations committed.
Media campaigns targeted at damaging personal reputation, acts of repudiation, prisons, labor reprisals. This enumeration hardly reveals but only a negligible part of the arsenal which the regime has on hand for crushing those who disagree with its official policies.
Harm can be done in many different ways and so can a person be killed, with no evidence being left. Hundreds of Cubans have ended up committing suicide as a result of constant harassment designed in the headquarters of our political police.
However, other statistical figures, covered under a veil of silence and complicity, suggest that the death toll which may be ascribed to our psycho government is much higher. At this very moment, a fatal dossier of evidence which proves all sorts of crimes may be found in jails.
According to Noelia Pedraza, in more than six years of imprisonment, imposed for his anti-establishment activities, her husband Ariel Sigler Amaya was practically dried. While serving his sentence, he has lost at least 100 pounds that is to say almost half of his original weight. Moreover, he now has severe locomotive difficulties and can only move on a wheel-chair. No causes of this serious deterioration in Ariel`s health have so far been diagnosed.
This drama is but a raindrop in the sea which cannot fully illustrate the giant proportions of the whole catastrophe.
Expressing a truly free opinion may be a first step towards hotter flames of hell. Death, pain, derangement and insanity are waiting for new guests. The depths of hell store the chronicle of executioners who do their job slowly and with premeditation, just like serial killers.
Jorge Olivera Castillo is an independent journalist in Cuba. He was an editor at Cuba’s official television station between 1983 and 1993, but was forced to leave his work after making public his disagreement with censorship policies in his country. In 2003, however, he was one of 35 journalists, writers and librarians who were arrested during a crackdown on alleged dissidents. He was released in 2004 on health grounds.