“We are free, and go where we want”

The independent journalist Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas, and the former political prisoner Jorge Luis Pérez García, aka “Antúnez,” are two giants of the Cuban dissidence movement. Their stature, and the accompanying moral force that comes with it, is the product of their many sacrifices — Fariñas’ hunger strike last year, Antúnez’s more than 17 years in prison — on behalf of the struggle for freedom in Cuba.
So it is understandable that the dictatorship might want to limit how often the two are in the same room.
It’s only speculation, but that’s one possible motive for why Cuban police Oct. 8 blocked Antúnez and his wife, Iris Pérez Aguilera, from boarding a bus in Placetas bound for Santa Clara, where Fariñas lives.
The couple were first stopped about 50 meters from their home, by officers demanding to see their identification papers, according to a report filed by Fariñas at Misceláneas de Cuba. When they got to the bus station, two secret policemen told Antúnez and his wife that they would not be able to travel to Santa Clara.
To which Antúnez — who after more than 17 years in fidel castro’s gulag does not easily scare — responded: “We are free, and go where we want.”
To which one of the officers said: “We know you are taking journalism lessons at Coco Fariñas’ house in Santa Clara, but today we are not going to allow you to travel.” The officer then summoned a patrol car, which took the couple to a local police station.
All the while, they shouted: “Long live human rights, down with repression!”
A couple hours later, they were released.
There are so many snapshots each day, like this one, of how pervasive, how repressive and how scared, the Cuban dictatorship really is. Alone, these anecdotes — of which, only a handful, I’m sure, end up being reported on Web sites like Payo Libre and Misceláneas de Cuba — are sad testaments to life on the island.
But invariably, they also reveal the courage of men like Antúnez to stand up to the dictatorship and its thugs. In those examples, I am convinced, lies hope for a nation.