Reports from Cuba: ‘They have declared me an enemy, but I’m not going to abandon the cause’

Yoani Sanchez reports in 14yMedio from Havana via Translating Cuba:

Cuba: “They Have Declared Me An ‘Enemy’ But I Am Not Going to Abandon the Cause”

Alexander Fábregas with his mother Luisa María Milanés.

For Alexander Fábregas, 32, everything is a surprise this Wednesday. He has been on the street for a few hours since being released after serving nine months in prison for calling a protest on July 11 through social networks. From his home in Sancti Spíritus, he talks to 14ymedio on the phone about his time in jail and future plans.

“It is very frustrating to go to a prison to serve a sanction imposed without deserving it, for something that is not a crime anywhere in the world,” he explains to this newspaper. “I didn’t do anything to have that punishment. Until today I was in a place where I only saw walls and bars and now everything seems strange to me: the colors, the sounds, the voice of the people.”

Fabregas received no penal ‘mitigation’. “The authorities say that there are no political prisoners in Cuba, but if I had really been a common prisoner, I would have received parole in the middle of my sentence, but they did not give it to me. Only once did they allow me to go home for three days.”

“Several times the State Security officials came to visit me in prison to threaten me, but I have nothing to talk to them about. They have declared me an enemy of the supposed Revolution,” he says. “Now I am going through a difficult situation because I have a lot of stress because of the lockdown.”

“I am very worried about Luis Mario Niedas Hernández, who is like my brother, and who was denied the right to be transferred from prison to a work farm,” says Fábregas. Niedas was sentenced to three years in prison for “continued contempt of character” due to his criticism of him through Facebook against several high-ranking officials, including Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Now, Fábregas insists on the importance of the solidarity that both he and Niedas have received since the first day of their arrest: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed and I feel very honored to have been part of July 11… Patria y vida [Homeland and Life].

“I’m not going to abandon the cause, I’m not going to give up, but I have to be careful because I already have a criminal record and they will surely want to continue citing me and harassing me. But I will continue to be a defender of human rights in Cuba and, especially here in Sancti Spiritus.”

Fábregas’s mother, Luisa María Milanés Valdés, 58, also experienced this time as an ordeal. “These have been the most terrible nine months of my life,” says the woman who has maintained the complaint about the case of her son. “We have been through very difficult times and sometimes I thought they were not going to release him on the date that was planned.”

“He’s a little depressed because everything he’s had to live through has affected him psychologically, but at least he’s here, with us,” says Milanés.

Fábregas was arrested on the night of July 11 at his home, for transmitting on his social networks his call to take to the streets of Sancti Spíritus to accompany the protests that took place that day in other provinces of the Island.

Nine days after his arrest and in a summary trial, Fábregas was sentenced to nine months in prison for the crime of “incitement to commit a crime,” although he did not set foot on the street that July 11. He only managed to have a defense attorney one day before the trial, his family denounced at the time.

Although the young man belonged to the United Anti-Totalitarian Forum (Fantu), at the time of his call to take to the streets he was “an opponent on his own account,” according to his mother. In December 2020, he had already spent three days in detention, after he published a photo on social networks where he appeared with a sign that said: “No More Misery.”

Luisa María Milanés Valdés also suffered pressure from State Security and after her son’s conviction she was forced to leave the house she rented in Sancti Spíritus. The threats even made her fear that she was going to lose her job at a hospital for mentally handicapped children.

This Wednesday, the mother does not take her eyes off Fabregas, fearing that the police will knock on the door again and take him away.