He had been calling me for weeks to respond to my questions over the phone, but it has been impossible for me to continue speaking with Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, that Guantanamo native that has been lost between the bars which they gave him as a gift, for 20 years, during the Black Spring of 2003. That young man, well raised by the shades of the Guaso river, wanted to study journalism and dedicated himself to denouncing the injustices of the olive-green power and tried to have a family, which he lost almost two years ago in a tragic accident (his 15 year old daughters and his ex-wife).
Juan Carlos writes poetry according the demands of his inspiration that have remained to ease him.
From the provincial prison of Holguin, where I spent my mandatory military service watching from a look-out post to make sure no convicts escaped, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta wrote that his greatest pain is not having seen his daughter and played with her in the park.
They have interrupted our conversation more than once and I have had to go back to the recordings where he recounts how the prisoners physically harm themselves because of lack of medical attention, food, and improvement in prison life.
In a report by the Cuban Democratic Directory, I saw his personal biography where these diseases are listed as having been contracted while in jail: Ischemic Heart Disease with the blocking of the limbs, Arterial Hypertension, Cervical Degenerative Osteoarthritis, Sacrolumbalgia, Duodenal Prolapse, Gastric Disorders, Asthma, Allergies, Kidney and Liver problems, Second Level Hypertensive Retinopathy, Immunodeficiency, consequences from the Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever which he had twice, Malnutrition, Vitiligo, Dermatitis, a Herniated disc, and a chronic case of Gastroduodenitis.
Herrera Acosta’s voice cracks when he hears or says the word “freedom” and even though he is behind bars, he is still a free man. He is an beacon for the soldiers and other prisoners of the jails where he has been, they know that he is a guy unafraid to say anything, and that is why his motto is spread through the corridors of the jail as if it were a blade. The Director General of Prisons issues a warning each time he hears Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta say “Stand up Against Terror!”
Translated by Raul G.