Cuban Police Prohibit “For All Time” Meetings of a Group of Intellectuals in Camaguey
The intellectual Rafael Almanza denounced, on Friday, the threats made by two State Security officers who visited him at his home in Camaguey. The men warned him that ‘La Peña del Júcaro Martiano’ (the Júcaro Martí* Group) is banned for all time” and that if it tries to hold a meeting, they will enter and arrest all the participants.
The group holds gatherings, debates, readings, as well as performances and art exhibitions. The one that took place in December 2018 was repressed.
“Last night at about half past seven two agents came, one very young, whom we already know and who calls himself Jonathan but his name is Richard; and someone else, a man in his 50s,” Almanza says in a telephone conversation with 14ymedio. “They came with a very restrained tone, almost sad, worried, all to tell me that I can’t hold the Júcaro Group anymore.”
“It is the third time they have told me this, the first was before the previous meeting but we held it anyway on August 30 with the police scandal that occurred; on October 4 when I was taken to the police station and they gave me a document warning me that I could not engage in La Peña del Júcaro Martiano.”
The political police threatened the essayist with imprisonment for dangerousness**, something it can do because Almanza has already received a “warning act,” the first step to be tried for that crime, which could send him to jail for three years.
La Peña del Júcaro is not a biannual meeting, it is a state of the soul, and in order to eliminate it they have to eliminate us all one by one because they will not end it with me,” Almanza says. They told him that he could not meet his friends because they were “counterrevolutionary elements.”
The writer replied that it was a simple gathering of friends that the political police had “turned into a national and international event.” They warned him that if he insisted on holding these meetings, they would enter his house and take them away. “They would enter by force I suppose because I will not let them in meekly, they will have to break down the door,” Almanza suggests.
“I am not worried about them carting me off, but I am worried for some of the people who are literary artists and who have come to the group for over 20 years.”
The intellectual, who last year was awarded the Gastón Baquero National Independent Literature Award, recently received a note under his door with an explicit threat of death, as reported on social networks, where dozens of Internet users responded with comments of solidarity and support.
“They just threw it under the door, in broad daylight, this threat. The neighbors say that it was a young man and that he stood there. He is not the schizophrenic who has threatened me before,” he wrote then.
“Death threats are repeated and now,” he says, “this document appears, which is public on Facebook, which is even printed with a ribbon printer, which only exists in the State offices. I don’t know anyone in Cuba who has this type of printer,” added the researcher of the work of José Martí.
At the end of last August, a State Security operation attempted to thwart the celebration of another meeting of the Peña del Júcaro and several attendees were arrested and others were intercepted along the way.
*Martiano: Relating to José Martí
**Cuban criminal code defines “pre-criminal dangerousness” as a crime, essentially the crime of being prone to commit some crime in the future.