Detainee 1263: Cell 16

2 Dec

Photo: Exilda Arjona

It was Saturday, November 27, and we left early for Guantánamo. At 12:40 pm we were at the control point known as Río Frío, a few kilometers from the city of Guaso.

When the police stopped the vehicle we were riding in, they asked me urgently for my identity card, as well as that of the driver, and under the burning Eastern Cuba sun, they used the pretext of checking the vehicle.

My son, Malcolm, who is 7, started to vomit from nausea and lack of food. Some police approached, one of them looking a little embarrassed, but they kept us there a few more hours. At 3:00 pm a G2 official came and they put me in a patrol car and took me directly to the operations unit. A slight altercation left me with a scratch on my forehead and bruise on my arm. The rest was a mere formality. They left my wife Exilda behind with the children. In Guantánamo, Rolando Rodriguez and his wife Yanet Lobaina were waiting for us, because they we were to be the godparents at the christening of their three children on Sunday, the 28th. This was the first time I heard of a Catholic baptism being prohibited in the last 20 years. I was left with the face of my son, Malcolm, as I said goodbye to him, handcuffed in the jeep.

1263

Officer Ramirez told me, “You are number 1263.” To which I answered, “Let’s be clear about this, I won’t respond to that number.” The rest was the anxiety of imprisonment and good conversation with my comrades in the cell. I had to explain to them that I am one of those who is politically persecuted in my country, and that I could even denounce what was happening with them if they told me their stories, But, still afraid, they asked me not to use their names. So I asked them to choose their own pseudonyms: Alfredo, Raciel and Carlos. On another occasion I will tell you their stories.

From 3:00 in the afternoon on Saturday when I entered the operations unit, I took no food until Sunday night when I drank some orange juice, acidic and lacking sweetness, that they gave me in the snack. At dawn on Monday I drank again, some dark broth that once might have been chocolate. The two nights were a hell. The walls are covered with blood stains, as the inmates entertain themselves killing mosquitoes against the wall, and then with their remains they write their names, note the dates, the time they’ve been there and where they’re from. The toilet gave off its stench the whole day, and I could see that they never sweep the cell. I refused to eat, but I could see the food of the other detainees: watery soup with no flavor, they told me, boiled yellow rice, and a boiled egg, cold and hard.

The night before my detention, three young men from Guantanamo, Abel López Pérez, García Fournier and Yoandris Jordis, had been in the same cell; the first two are political prisoners and prominent activists from the peaceful opposition.

I could see how far the bureaucracy has gone to undermine the lives of Cubans. They wanted me to sign off on my detention, the confiscation of my belt and telephone, the return of the belt and telephone, the warning notice, and the release letter. Of course I didn’t sign a thing.

On Monday at 8:00 am they returned me to San Germán. The whole journey was the opposite of that of Saturday when I had gone with my family. It was a return to the inverse, seeing how my country has been turned into a pack of wild animals who trample the gardens. Forbidding us to attend the baptism of three children, what madness.

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