Archive | December, 2009

Christmas under house arrest

31 Dec

After two months preparing for the Christmas party where my son Malcolm would be presented at the village church, I had to settle for photos, the memory of their words, and what they told me.

That afternoon, a police Jeep came to the house, they banged open the doors and asked me to accompany them to police headquarters.  I had to go before they charged me with the crime of contempt and resistance, I had to go when I saw the frightened eyes of my two children, the fear in the faces of the people in my house: two elders of more than 70 years.

The reason for the arrest was so that I wouldn’t join in the protest led by Jorge Luis García “Antunez” in Holguín demanding recognition of the rights of political prisoners for an hour of sun each day, adequate medical attention, and assignment to prisons at or near where they live.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo led a hunger strike in the gloomy Kilo 8 prison in Camaguey and his mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger supported him from outside the grounds of the penitentiary; they locked me up so I wouldn’t report on the solidarity of many.  Along with me they took José Antonio Triguero Mulet, a 66-year-old human rights activist.

That December 25 I faced 8 hours of confinement.  I was confronted with a young law enforcement officer who, in the “strip or personal search” wanted to touch my butt excessively. I underwent, there, the rigorous search and the audacious touch.

Two days later, Sunday the 27th, they came back to my house, again in front of my children.  But neither before nor then could they explain to me why they didn’t show me an official document of detention.

My wife, Exilda Arjona, sent text messages all day the 25th to tell people they had detained me but on the 27th she rushed with the two little ones to the police station in the cold still night, and launched her tirade in my defense.

They released me late at night, again with Triguero Mulet.

I prayed there until I was hoarse, prayed loudly until I dazed them with love.  Two hours of continuous prayer.  And they let me go.

On Monday, the threat and siege moved to the telephone.  An official, one Rodolgo Cepeda, called to threaten my wife with what he said he would do to me if I went near Cari Caballero’s house where Antúnez still continued, with ten other people, in civic protest.

Here there are no police cars with sirens wailing in the streets.  A green jeep, a tractor, two young men on bicycles… the devices of monitoring and control wear palm leaf sombreros and dress in plain clothes.

From the Kilo 8 prison in Camaguey, a cry of freedom

27 Dec

Nobody can stop the desire for freedom, but Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s cry of protest would be smothered. For him, walls, fences and wires do not exist.

Since December 3, this brave black man from Holguin is being punished in a cell in the Kilo 8 prison in Camaguey. He was taken there by force by the prison guards from Holguin Provincial Prison where he had finished one more year of the many he had been sentenced to in 2003.

It is not just that from outside the prison his mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo, demands a response to so much horror and abuse, and that inside, very close to the punishment cell, sixteen prisoners support him, joining in his civic protest—a hunger strike—the Cuban prisoner’s only option.

One of them managed to fool the powers-that-be and called Holguin by phone so the information could be recorded, and everyone could hear the voices of the victims demanding, at least, that they be given one hour of sun, that they not be sent to the punishment cells simply for asking for medical attention, and that family visits be allowed the imprisoned as required under the law. And they loudly demand the fall of the dictatorship.

That voice crossed the barbed wire.