Babalú interviews Ariel Sigler Amaya

As I mentioned last Friday, Pitbull and I had the honor and privilege of meeting and interviewing the former prisoner of conscience from Cuba, Ariel Sigler Amaya. It was an emotional experience being in the presence of not only one real mambí, but two of them since Ariel’s brother, Miguel Sigler Amaya, is also another courageous warrior. Both of these men, and a third brother, Guido, were all arrested during the Black Spring of 2003.

We were able to record the audio of the interview portion of our conversation with Ariel for our Babalú readers and friends, which totals a little over 13 minutes. Obviously, the conversation took place in Spanish, but for our non-Spanish speaking friends, I have translated some highlights of the interview to English, which follows.

BB: Ariel, first of all, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak with you, but also, more importantly, I would like to thank you for being a true hero for Cuba. And if Cuba had a few more Ariel Sigler Amayas, we would not be speaking here, we would be in Cuba. We wanted to thank you for all you have done and it is an honor for me to be here with you and your brother, and we would like to thank Miguel for allowing us this opportunity.

In regards to your health; what have they told you? How are you feeling?

ASA: Well actually I would like to say to hello to all of you, my brothers, and this is Ariel Sigler Amaya speaking. In respect to your question regarding my health, I can tell you that my condition at this moment is very delicate. Different exams and tests are being utilized with the objective of obtaining a general diagnosis of my condition and based on that general diagnosis, a treatment can be prescribed if one is available. Here at Jackson Memorial, the hospital in which I am now, I am receiving very good attention from all the personnel; the management, all the nurses, all the doctors, and especially Dr. Rodriguez who has been assigned as my doctor here and is treating me directly and dealing with my case. We have to wait… we are waiting to do all these types of analysis, some of which have been done and some complimentary ones waiting to be done in search of diseases, in search of the possibility that the Castro regime exposed me to some type of disease. And we are now waiting for a medical opinion based on the diagnosis of my illness.

BB: So you are still waiting to hear what your prognosis is?

ASA: In reality I have only been here 48 hours since I arriving in the United States and that is not a lot of time, not a lot of time. It is premature, a little early to give a diagnosis of my condition.

BB: Have you been able to eat well? Are you on a regular diet?

ASA: Actually they have been careful with that, they have not wanted to start any type of treatment, be it dietetic or drug, with the objective of learning first what is the general state of my health. Until they have in their hands information they can work with, they haven’t wanted to start any treatments.

BB: So you’ll have to wait for some Cuban beef stew with fried plantains, and some rice and beans?

ASA: Yes, we’re going to have to wait! (laughter)

BB: We posted earlier some pictures of your wife, Noelia Pedraza, and your son, who took you to the airport. Have you been able to talk to them since you arrived?

ASA: Yes, I have had telephone contact, in this case with my wife. And she is in the process of obtaining the necessary permissions, at this point with the Cuban bureaucracy, with the objective of joining me here to be by my side to take care of me, and in general to assist me in anything I may need during my time here at Jackson.

BB: The reason she could not travel with you, was it because she did not have permission from the U.S. government or because she did not have the “white card”?

ASA: She could not be here with me because I came here with a humanitarian visa given by the American government with the purpose of improving my health here in this country. And in that case, the humanitarian visa is only for one person, that is me the patient, and it did not provide for a second person. We decided that I would go on ahead so as not to stay in Cuba and I could start receiving treatment as soon as possible in order to improve my health and not have to wait for her. She will join me here later on.

BB: We hope that she will be able to come here with your son as quickly possible to be by your side and help you recuperate.

ASA: According to our phone conversation today she practically has in her hands all the necessary paperwork to come here to this country. We are only waiting for the exit permit, or the white card that the Cuban regime requires for all who want to leave the country.

BB: In your opinion, what is the state of the dissidence in Cuba? Are they more unified or are they still kept apart?

ASA: The Castro government wanted to give a deathblow, a deathblow to the opposition. They jailed those persons that they believed presented a potential danger to the stability of their government. They thought that, but they were wrong. We went to prison to serve our sentence, but they (the opposition) came out of nothing, although they were always there. They burst out like thorns, like flowers, people took to the streets, including young kids, and those that took a step forward felt a strong desire to support us. The dissidence in Cuba has had a lot of growth. You see many people now that want to become part of the movement when before there were few. You see people that by their own volition want to maintain an attitude of opposition to the Castro regime. There has been an increase. Like in all places there are disagreements, differences, but I believe that everyone wants the same thing, everyone wants the same objective. What is the objective? It is liberty, democracy, the respect for human rights that every Cuban yearns for in a post-dictatorship.

BB: We are here in exile providing support to the opposition, to those that are struggling for freedom in Cuba. What more can we the Cubans here in exile do to help you, to provide more support?

ASA: Well, in this case, I find myself in the United States. Support, at least for me, would be moral support, a support that is emotional, sentimental. The real support that should be provided is for those brothers that are now on the island and most importantly for those that find themselves serving sentences in the Castro government’s gulags. I believe that any help you can provide, be it sentimental, monetary, or any type, will be good and happily received and well-deserved because in reality any help you can provide, be it of goodwill or from the heart, is desperately needed.

BB: Ariel, thank you for your time. As I mentioned earlier, to us you are a hero. Your physical condition does not matter, as I wrote the other day; inside that body there is a warrior with a lion’s heart.

Here in exile we are the ones that guard the memories of our parents and grandparents, but you are the real Cuban. You are the personification of Cuba. You are a mambí. And thanks to people like you we will have a free Cuba again.

ASA: I really just consider myself another Cuban just like the both of you. I am just another patriot just like the both of you. Those that had to come here, and like you who was born here, and others that were forced into exile like my brother Miguel Sigler Amaya; I am just another Cuban like you guys. I really am not a hero. I don’t consider myself any type of hero. I am just a normal person just like you that wants the same objective; a free and democratic Cuba where human rights are respected, and without the Castro brothers.

17 thoughts on “Babalú interviews Ariel Sigler Amaya”

  1. Im sitting here in tears from just listening to this, I can only imagine what it must have felt like being there with this great man. Gracias, guys.

  2. I don’t understand such courage. And he insists he is not a hero, just an ordinary man.
    May he and we all live to see Cuba free with strong, good people like him as its new leaders.
    Very moving.

  3. If he’d come out a right-wing dictatorship’s jail, the MSM would be on this like white on rice. Definitely cover-story material for TIME or Newsweek, for instance. If.

  4. Is it just me, or does the media blitz on Chelsea Clinton’s wedding seem just a tad excessive, relatively speaking?

  5. Great interview guys. As you said ,if we had a Zigler Amaya family in each Provincia…the situation in Cuba would be 1,000 times more difficult for the Castro scum bags.

  6. Well, Henry, Cuba does have those fine folks who run a “Committee for the Defense of the Revolution,” not just in every province, but in every block of every town and city in the entire island…which makes the situation 1,000 more difficult for anybody like the Sigler Amaya family. Yeah, life’s a bitch, or it certainly can be.

  7. Yep…asombra. Its not easy. I am halfway through Carlos Marquez Sterlings “Marti…Ciudadano de America” and understanding how extremely difficult it was dealing not only with the Spanish authorities but also with the Cuban Voluntarios that made life hellish for the Mambises. But you make my point….the fact that the Zigler Amaya family has made the impact that it has, is because despite the “committee for the Defense of the Robolution”, nothing was able to suffocate the Desire of liberty.

  8. Yes Val and you know what? It’s unimaginable, what this man has gone through. He is a TRUE HERO and a HERO to ALL Mankind. His HEROISM should be celebrated by the WHOLE World! He not only represents the Cuban people but all of the people who have been punished in the past and are being punished right now, around the WORLD, just for speaking their mind! Where’s the MSM now???

  9. Where’s the MSM? Chasing after the latest Lindsay Lohan BS, which of course is critical to the survival of civilization. Yesterday’s front page in a South Florida paper, the Sun-Sentinel, actually had a story on, get this, where LeBron James may buy a house (excuse me, mansion). Of course, this is infinitely more newsworthy than some emaciated Cuban political prisoner who’s actually risked life and limb for freedom (which, of course, is boring, trivial, right-wing stuff). Well, you get the idea.

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