A New Audience for a Familiar Story
So, the Cuban government is about to release 52 political prisoners to appease the cries of the international community (ie: shut them up for a few months), without ever being held responsible for illegally imprisoning and torturing said individuals in the first place. With any luck, the world won't take the pressure off the family farm, Villa Castro. I'm not holding my breath, though.
What follows is a sample of a project I began to work on a while back. I'll begin the process of releasing this material via some sort of website, soon (yes, I have a plan). This story is so emblematic of what it means to be a political prisoner in Cuba, it needs to be disseminated to as many people as possible. Its audience is limited however, to those who can read and speak Spanish, as an English translation has not been released. Until now.
See if you folks can recognize what this is:
-Get dressed, you’re leaving today.
I stare at the jailer, a sergeant who extends his arm to give me a pair of pants and a shirt.
- There’s a bucket of water to bathe yourself – he adds while giving a cynical smile.
And off he marches. The cell door, a massive steel plate, rattles and shakes as it slams shut.
I am tense, but I make an effort to maintain my calm. The idea of my impending liberty seems like an absurd comedy. For years, they’ve repeated to me, 1,000 times, that I’ll die in prison. Now, after having delivered a beating that’s left every bone in my body hurting, these murderers pretend to tell me that I’m headed for the street? Why didn’t they return to finish me off when I shouted that I wasn’t afraid of them, that they should come back? They don’t dare? They dare to do everything! The destruction of human beings is their profession. They simply haven’t received the order yet.
It’s six in the morning, the 21st of October, 1979. I have completed, since the very beginning, straight through to the final day, a sentence of 20 years of cruel and unjust imprisonment. Now comes the changing of the guard. The uncertainty and anxiousness of liberty begin to grip me. Could it be true? Is it nothing more than another trick or perhaps a ray of light? Twenty years of iron bars and horrors! This tyrant and his henchman love to play cruel jokes on their political prisoners. How many men saw their appeals go unanswered, all the way to the last day of their imprisonment and are still, to this day, rotting in the dungeons! Despite the fact that I dream of freedom, I am prepared for the worst.
I take off my torn, stinking prison uniform, still littered with the marks of violence and begin an attempt to tidy myself up. Ah, the beatings! It hurts so much where these sons of bitches hit me!
For better or for worse, I change into the new clothing the guard left me—street clothes with the stink of prison on them. How much longer? Are we going to continue with this comedy?