Yoandris Gutierrez Vargas: Walking Through the Labyrinths of Hell

26 Mar

Photo: Luis Felipe Rojas

For Rosi of Cuba…she knows.

It was Sunday, and amid the suffocating heat and the sluggishness of the truck which was taking me from Santiago de Cuba to Las Tunas, I chose to instead get off at Bayamo- that symbolic land full of rebellion and patriotism bequeathed to us by our ancestors.  I gulped down a refreshing drink, an “Eastern Pru”, which consists of a fermented base.  I went all the way to the home of Yoandris.  For quite some time now I had really wanted to talk to him; I wanted him to tell me about his jail experience and how life was treating him now as a freed dissident.

“In the year 2006, my grandfather Manuel Gutierrez returned to Cuba to see his family.  After just a few days of being here, he was taken to a tourist hotel in Guardalavaca (Holguin province) by political police officials.  The argument given to him was that Mr. Fidel Castro was going to visit Bayamo for the celebration of that unfortunate date- the 26th of July.  That was a day when many Cubans died on both sides.  My grandfather was relocated to Holguin and had to pay the mandatory hotel guest fee.  He had to spend the little money he had left which he had brought from the United States since he is already a retired man.”

“Since they were giving out little flags during those days in order to decorate the streets, I took one of those flags which were slipped under my door and I painted the white stripes black as a symbol of mourning.  I then wrote a “75” on it, in reference to the prisoners of the Black Spring.  I hung it outside my house and it stayed there through the night.  Then came the attacks from the so-called authorities.  It was on July 23rd 2006.  On that day, State Security took me to the barracks known as “El Punto” (“The Point”) on the outskirts of Las Tunas.  They shouted at me, they offended me, and they threatened me thousands of times.  In addition, they even fabricated a crime for me, something about offending patriotic symbols.  Afterwards, my family was left abandoned. 

My 4 year-old-son was stripped of his father and protection, seeing as I was the one who sustained the family. They sentenced me to 1 year of imprisonment which I served in the Provincial Prison of Las Mangas.  That is where I met Jose Luis Garcia Paneque, Jorge Gonzalez Tanquero, and Felix Navarro, all 3 from the group of the 75.  Within a few days, I got to witness firsthand the torture that political prisoners were subjected to, all the threats and humiliations they force on them.”

 “I arrived the same way thousands of other youths did, without knowing what a prison was like.  In that place I was threatened by Major Nunez from State Security.  They quickly locked me up in a room with a group of violent men who actually had knives with them.  The leader of the group was Nilson, who belonged to the Council, and they all operated under the freedom granted to them by State Security, the Prison Security, and the Interior Order Chiefs. 

They told me that they were going to kill me if I publicly protested against the government because they had been authorized to do so by all their bosses.  They are people who are sadistically used to create terror, which is the only discipline excercised by the prison authorities.  Nilson later died in the Manzanillo prison for causing the death of another young prisoner, Yuliet, who was a 19-year-old homosexual that had been “bought” between one prison and another.  Yuliet was assassinated by a so-called Negrito.  And Nilson was charged for the death of Yuliet.”

 “There, I received beatings and plenty of restrictions just for protesting, as a dissident, against the government.  Later I was imprisoned again under the pretext of ‘disrespect towards the figure of our Commander in Chief.’  That’s the name they have given to that cause which has taken so many Cubans to prison.  The law was applied to me when this self-titled ‘Commander in Chief’ wasn’t even exercising the role of President anymore.  I was sentenced to 2 years which I served in the prisons of Las Mangas and the one known as ‘El Secadero’ (‘The Drying Room’).  In the provincial prison, I received multiple beatings carried out by Colonel Modesto, as well as one by Lieutenant Silvera on September 2nd.  The re-educator, Eddy, was the one on guard, and he ordered I be taken, injured, to the punishment cell with no medical attention.  That’s where I spent my birthday on September 6th.  I was not allowed any visits, my family was not allowed to see me at all until 2 months had passed and my bruises had disappeared.” 

“When I heard the disc containing an excerpt of ‘Against all Hope,’ by Armando Valladares, I felt as if I was once again hearing the screams of the prisoners, the abuses of the jailers, as if I was once again living behind the bars, because every single thing he narrates is real.  And it is even possible to say that today it has multiplied.  In modern Cuban prisons, they still assassinate and torture, they continue harassing family members of prisoners, and when they are political prisoners it is even worse.”

“Now, besides being a member of the Republican Party of Cuba and of being an activist from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, I am also a missionary from the First Baptist Church of Bayamo.  My pastor is Samuel Columbie Iglesias, who has been attacked by State Security on multiple occasions.  Despite of all that has happened, I tell my oppressors to repent, to cease staining their hands with blood.  And to those who have kidnapped the happiness of Cuba, remember that we have all been created by the same God.  I tell them to repent before it’s too late for them.  Cuba needs to live in freedom, just like other nations of the world.  We Cubans have the right to be free and that is why many of us are fighting for it.” 

I left Bayamo late that night, the land of Cespedes and Fornaris. I left without snapping a photo of Yoandris, but I kept his words in my pocket. This is a voice that needs to cross the barbed wires, I repeated to myself over and over again.

Pd: Yoandris Gutierrez Vargas lives on 19th Street-A No. 11, e/ 12 & Liberty, Zamora Complex, El Valle, Bayamo, Granma.

Spanish post
March 25 2011

10 Responses to “Yoandris Gutierrez Vargas: Walking Through the Labyrinths of Hell”

  1. David March 30, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    I dont know too much about u, but someting I do know for sure, your pastor, Rev. Samuel Columbie Iglesias, he is an Cuban goverment agent and he work for G-2 togeter with rev Gilberto Prieto socarraz and re. Liban Quintana Poveda. Thats why probably you got fail a lot on your cause. Just be careful, you dont have to believe me, just think about it.

  2. David March 30, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    If you need to know more about it my email is david50087@yahoo.com and I also speak spanish !

  3. David March 30, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Yo no quiero descalificarte a tus lideres, pero ten cuidado, quizas por eso el gobierno de cuba sabe tanto de ti, el rev. Samuel Columbie Iglesias, quien nacio en la ciudad de santiago de cuba casado con elisama lobaina, hijo de delio columbie y marita es un agente de g-2 juntamente con el rev. liban quintana pastor de manzanillo, quien nacio en la ciudad de guantanamo. Ambos fueron reclutados por uno de los agentes de seguridad del estado mas viejo de la CBCOr, el rev. Gilverto Prieto Socarras. Por eso tan jovenes han llegado a lugares claves en provincias claves, cuando cientos de otros pastores aun estan sirviendo en lugares montanosos y posibilidad siquiera de un viaje al exterior para resolver sus mas elementales carencias. Mi nombre David. Todo esto lo se, por que lo vivi en carne propia. pero tu puedes creer lo que quieras. Solo cuidado, si ellos fueran estupidos no tubieran control de cuba por mas de medio siglo, en maldad a ellos no hay quien le ponga un dedo arriba

  4. Un hermano January 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    Necesito confirmar el comentario acerca del Pastor Samuel Columbie Iglesias, es mi Pastor actual y no quiero continuar en esa Iglesia si lo que dice el comentario acerca de el es cierto, por favor confirme o pidame que me identifique para poder continuar la comunicacion, le ha escrito varios emails a david50087@yahoo.com pero no me responde nadie

  5. Que voz es esta? January 31, 2016 at 8:47 pm #

    Me mantengo lo mas lejos posible de la política, y no me gusta seguirle el juego a comentarios como estos en internet, cuando en esta vida hay muchas cosas tan importantes que hacer como lo es ayudar a tantos pobres y enfermos a nuestro alrededor. Conozco a Samuel desde hace mas de 15 anos. Me es triste ver que alguien valore el irse de su propia iglesia por las palabras de un extrano a quien nunca ha visto. Esa es la obra de Dios?? Puede ser esta su voz?? Por sus frutos conoceréis lo que es verdadero y lo que es del padre de mentira. Nuestra lucha no es contra sangre ni carne, sino contra huestes espirituales de maldad hermanos míos. Si alguien quiere saber del pastor Samuel Columbie Iglesias, que me llame al 407-374-9635. Yo no solo le daré mi testimonio sobre los frutos que personalmente he visto dar a este pastor para Dios, sobre su corazón, y sobre su amor por la obra, sino que le pondre en contacto con muchos otros hermanos que han sido testigos de lo que Dios hace a traves de el. Por lo demás, no es Dios el que juzga? Dios no necesita ayuda para juzgar sobre los hombres de la tierra. Ahora, en la misma iglesia que dejo Samuel, un lugar clave, en una provincia clave, hay otro pastor joven. Van a decir lo mismo de el?? Si alguien ama a Dios, ponga su vista en Jesus y no en los hombres. Ame a su iglesia y no caiga en murmuraciones sobre sus líderes, ni le de oído a ellas. Después de todo, cada iglesia es del Senor, no de sus líderes, ni del pastor. Ame a su iglesia que es de CRISTO. Nadie es perfecto, ni el pastor, ni usted, ni yo, ni nadie. Pero dice el Senor que por sus frutos le conoceréis. Tenga en cuenta los frutos que usted ve con sus propios ojos, y no lo que diga la boca de nadie. Haga la obra de Dios en cuanto le venga a la mano y no se preocupe, que cada cual dará sus propias cuentas a Dios por todo lo que haya hecho, sea bueno o sea malo. Cuidemonos mejor nosotros de nosotros mismos, del enemigo que nos hace caer, dispongamos nuestro tiempo y energías a hacer solo lo correcto delante de Dios, y hacer bien a todos, mayormente a los de la familia de la fe. Prediquemos a Cristo y dejémonos de jugar a otras cosas, que de lo demás Dios se encarga. El tiempo es corto. Hagamos la obra del Senor y sigamos solo Su Voz. Bendiciones!

  6. Un hermano January 31, 2016 at 10:34 pm #

    Que alegria ver que ya le contestaron querido David, me agarraron la delantera y me alegro porque le contestaron muy bien. Yo voy a ser breve, le voy a dejar mi email “receivall@outlook.com” para que me pregunte por el Pastor (si es que no le basta con lo que ya le respondieron).
    Si se comunica conmigo para averiguar por el Pastor Samuel Columbie Iglesias, tenga por seguro que le voy a aclarar todas sus dudas, escribame y compruebelo, porque Ud. no sabe si el que fue del G2 soy yo, y le voy a responder con propiedad, en persona.

  7. Un hermano (otro) February 1, 2016 at 6:19 am #

    Hermano que preguntaste por tu pastor, no te sientas mal, hasta ahora no has hecho nada malo, solamente no utilizaste la manera correcta para averiguar, lo importante en tu vida cristiana es lo que hagas de ahora en adelante, ya te han respondido asi que ya tus averiguaciones terminaron.
    Si llegaras a empezar a preguntar cosas en la Iglesia, entonces comenzarias a darle coces al aguijon.
    Hasta ahora no ha pasado nada, dejalo asi, o si prefieres ve directamente a tu pastor, identificate y dile sencillamente que estabas averiguando por este comentario, veras que no te va a pasar nada, mas bien va a ser de bendicion para ti.

  8. Otro receivall February 4, 2016 at 8:11 am #

    A PETICION de la persona que estaba preguntando por datos de su Pastor, les decimos a todos, que fuimos contactados por email, y que esa persona nos pidio que dijeramos en esta pagina lo siguiente: “TODAS LAS DUDAS REFERENTES AL PASTOR SAMUEL COLUMBIE IGLESIAS FUERON ACLARADAS Y TODO YA TERMINO”.
    Nos hubiera gustado que la comunicacion hubiera sido a traves de un email real, y que no lo hubiera destruido despues de mandarnos su nota.

  9. De Cleaner February 9, 2016 at 7:48 am #


  10. Anonymous June 8, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    Por la falta de un internet libre en cuba nunca habia podido hablar como lo hago hoy sin tener que pagar un peso de mi bolsillo,cuando lo he hecho es gracias a Amigos de buena boluntad que me ayudan para que pueda hacerlo con respecto a este comentario sobre el Pastor samuel me queda mas que claro el gran hombre de Dios que es eso me queda mas que claro,Dios les bendiga, los Hombres de Bien como samuel nunca pereseran por mal habidos comentarios

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