A Trial By Fire for Sahilí

Representatives of the totalitarian and exclusive communist government which controls the fate of our people appeared at my home in Perico, Matanzas, on Tuesday January 12, to advise my daughter, Sahili Navarro Alvarez, that she would be permanently expelled from her fourth year of law school at the university because, months before, she took a journalism course in the Office of Interests and, as a principal requirement of Cuban universities, they train only young future professional revolutionaries.

A trial by fire for Sahili, who was beaten in the street by fanatic cheerleaders on April 26, along with six other Women in White opposite the Perico bus station. That order, against anyone in the 21st century, sent a clear message to the Cuban people and to the world, that the political system which rules in our country is more discriminatory and exclusive than the one which ruled in South Africa during apartheid and that it demands humiliation or submission if one wants to accomplish anything, because universities and liberties in Cuba are fief and chaplaincy of the communist party.

In addition, it is a message to whoever of us want to live with the dignity necessary to emigrate, to live either in glorious exile or in prison. But for the communists who give the orders in our country, I say to them from here that the three people in my home were born in this country and that we will continue to live here even if the only option remaining to us is in its slave prisons, but never on our knees.

From Canaleta Provincial Prison en Ciego de Ávila, Félix Navarro Rodríguez, prisoner of conscience and member of Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy.

All for Victory

On a day like today, but in 1853, a man was born who later became the Cuban Apostle. That was the birth of our José Martí Perez, who from his early years regarded with horror the evil deeds of those who governed this land. For criticizing their abuses he served time in prison at hard labor, and was expelled from his homeland, which is also ours. From exile he continued his toil for the freedom of Cuba. His tireless work established the Cuban Revolutionary Party and managed to reunite the forces to begin the war necessary to lead, finally and with the help of old friends, to the Republic with a constitution that makes us independent of all foreign domination.

This great man left us a legacy worth following, but Cubans continue to suffer the same chronic disease of despotism. It is time for us to stop jockeying for position. Think of José Martí, fighting alongside those who wished him well or ill, so that Cuba could be free. We must understand that our struggle is against a single evil: the dynastic dictatorship of the Castro brothers. To commemorate the 157th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle, let us unite in his name and in one tight-knit group who are all for victory.

Prisoner of conscience Diosdado González Marrero, from the provincial prison of Pinar del Rio.

Translated by: Tomás A.

Long Live Religious Freedom!

Long Live religious freedom

Ciego de Avila

On January 5, prisoner of conscience Adolfo Fernandez, a member of the Group of 75, had a family visit in the Provincial Prison of Canaletas in Ciego de Aliva.  The political police official in Canaleta would not allow him to receive a magazine that his wife had brought him, claiming “that it was very strong”.  The magazine in question was Lay Space, a publication of the Lay Council of the Archdiocese of Havana, volume 5, number 3 2009, which is a publication of the Catholic Church of Cuba.  In this issue interesting subjects are presented for public debate, for the reconstruction of a broken country and the subject of the House of Cuba; Our House of Cuba. A citizen, Antonio Femenia Echemendia de Ciego de Avila, accompanied Fernandez’ wife and was not permitted to enter Canaleta prison.

Pedro Argüelles Morán, Group of 75.
Canaleta Prison

Translated by Phyllis Schoenberg

Technology Arrives at Canaleta

On the morning of January 8, the authorities in charge of Canaleta prison in Ciego de Avila called a special meeting of the prison population. As reported by several sources, who requested anonymity, the meeting was chaired by a number of soldiers, including the director, Lt. Col. Reynerio Diaz Betancourt. He acknowledged that Cuba has at least one prison for prostitutes, which in 2009 had more negative incidents than the provincial prison for men.

He also assured us that as of this year homosexuals will not be admitted during family visits if they are not close relatives of prisoners, as it would set a bad example for the inmate population. Elsewhere in his speech, Diaz Betancourt said that during the year-end festivities and the celebration of the anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, an individual, whom he did not identify, smuggled a subversive video into the prison, in which “a traitor to Communist Party of Cuba and the government, defamed the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz,” in a program broadcast by a South Florida television station.

The Canaleta prison director also said that the person responsible was stripped of his benefits, including the right to continue university studies. He explained that the chief of the prison system has declared that those convicted of crimes against state security, human trafficking, rape, crimes against foreigners, and felony murder, are not entitled to study at the top level, or to receive benefits regulated by the Directorate of Jails and Prisons. He further stated that from now on any radio, DVD, phone, camera or video, and reports of any kind on any media will be confiscated without recourse.

By Pablo Pacheco, Prisoner from The Black Spring in Canaleta Prison, Ciego de Ávila.

Translated by: Tomás A.


For the Ladies in White.

Those emblematic white roses, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, with their marble whiteness, they face the olive-green intolerance that perfumes the streets and the scene. Monuments to the Virgin Mary, representatives of dignity, heirs of history, makers of dreams, fragrances of butterflies, constant sentinels of the sun, lineages of Mambisas (Cuban fighters of independence from Spain), fighters for the truth, persistent builders, laborers of the future, depositories of love, consistent with life, opponents of repression, germinators of peace, faithful followers of Martí, wishing for hope, softness of women in solidarity, affection, hugs, and kisses, daughters of the Virgin of Charity.

Pedro Arguelles Moran. October 31 2006. Provincial prison of Canaleta. Ciego de Avila.

Lowered Faces

Image: Abstract Painting; photograph taken by Luis Ena Bessa.

The authorities of Havana, through their hard work of selling a splendid image of Cuban prisons to the outside world, have announced the reduction of two more months of sanctions but with an extraordinary amount of hypocrisy.

One must have an “exceptional” conduct. The accused have manifested their total disagreement, not because of the advantage of reducing sanctions to 60 days, but because of the fact that they practically must be cadets. The curious thing is that the functionaries of the Order of the Interior, in compliance with their regime, apply disciplinary measures to the prisoners without even telling them first- that’s to say that, the convict finds out that a report was made about them, when the time comes to reduce the sanction, without knowing who the functionary who placed the report was.

And many prisoners are unjustly sanctioned but many guards, upon knowing their names, comply with the commands of their chiefs. Also, the additional reduction of the sanction, for exceptional conduct and relevant results in the educational programs, in article 108.1, the accused should have extinguished one year of freedom in prison and have advanced to a higher level.

Also, when the prisoner has, in exemplary fashion, complied with the requirements of the prison regime, obtaining the category of distinguished in all the accumulated periods and having actively participated in the educational programs with an evaluation of outstanding in scholarly courses, capacitating of jobs, contributing with production and also with the rest of the cultural, artistic, and athletic activities that take in the prison in which they are located.

In addition to this is that in article 109, the proposition of a reduced sanction is approved by the council of direction and the provincial chiefs of the penitentiary system. Like the recluses say, “we have to be cadets”. In the Provincial Prison of Canaleta, Ciego de Avila, the average of the fortune is so low that with the two additional months it is impossible to draw up a percentage.

In fact, the university professors and the students of physical culture that have already achieved their bachelors could easily lose their 60 days in question.

Pablo Pacheco, prisoner of conscience, Canaleta prison, Ciego de Avila, Cuba.

Panchito- Facing the Wall (Final)

Image: Latitudes of Insanity by Manuel Menassa.

Francisco Feijoo (Panchito), who resides in 87th Marti Avenue in Jobabo, Las Tunas, was one of those vivacious young men whose intellectual rate was higher than the norm. His classmates from the University of Havana would bow to him, move to the side to let him pass, and would even remove their hats when he passed, some jokingly and others in all seriousness. Sincerely, this was because Panchito was at the top of his class and had the ability to make all the professor’s words sound doubtful because he would even put them in a difficult spot.

One day, sitting in the terrace of his own Alma Mater, he dared to make a comment amongst those who were there debating: “We live in flat out slavery”. The next day he was detained and taken to Villa Marista (a prison in Havana notorious amongst political prisoners). An instructor, and captain of State Security, named Richard took on the task of interrogating him. The loneliness of the prison cell, the interrogations, and the screams produced the intended objective for the young man. After a few days of consuming foods contaminated with drugs for the mentally sick, his physical state decayed and his brain was destabilized.

He was then taken to Mazorra, a hospital for the mad, and between electroshocks and new drugs he collapsed. I digress: all those characters from all the read works, that were once part of their cultural heritage, were now becoming reality before their eyes. With great vehemence, he testified to visiting the moon during the previous night. Montesquieu was his personal friend or he had shared a cell with the author of The Prince or The Leviathan.

There was nothing else to be done. Panchito was not Francisco, he was only a human rag; he could say as much as he would like about Hamlet or Quixote, but even if he told the truth who would pay attention to him? Even if he spoke the truth, who would follow him? No one, absolutely no one, pays attention to what a crazy person has to say.

Today he fluctuates through the streets of Jobabo dressed in white, asking everyone he comes across if they are reading the works that he has read or is reading. Many look at him and laugh, but only a few know that he too stood before the execution wall.

Felix Navarro, prisoner of conscience. Text dictated by phone from the provincial prison of Canaleta, Ciego de Avila.


For my dear brothers from the Group of the 75.

They snatched me from the arms of Yolanda, from the heart of the family, and from the social environment.

I am a hostage of intolerance, of repression, and of cynicism.

Castro-ism and its hangmen, felony, demagoguery, and infamy all incriminate me.

I am attacked by diseases, hypocrisy, discord, and a vile system of slavery.

I live badly amongst rodents, besieged by insects, tropical rigors, and amorality.

I survive denunciation, espionage, harsh treatment, and human miseries.

My life continues through truth, freedom, justice, and love.

Pedro Arguelles Moran. July 2008. Provincial Prison of Canaleta. Ciego de Avila.

Facing the Wall (3)

Image: Blue Flame by Magdalena Salamanca.

Some time ago, a friend of mine told me, “Cuba is a country where one can only live as crazy or drunk.” I looked at him astonished and something perplexed me. I told him, “But I don’t even drink…”, and he responded, “Do you by any chance think you are sane?”, and I could not give him a reply.

It is probable that you may think very little, reasonably, about some of the truths which I live daily in my neighborhood, or about the comments heard in the street corner. I remember Raul Rivero and his articles, his comments, along with that question I used to ask myself: what led him to say, “There are traitors in all parts of the world, nevertheless look amongst your brothers and see who will defend you and seek a better future for Cuba”?

In my hands I have found an eager read of a book entitled ‘The Grand Fraud’ or ‘The Grand Lie of an Old Fighter’, and a great light turned on in my head. One of the battle methods of communists has been to discredit its opponents. Slander has been at the basis of its principles. How much must have Andrei Sajarov suffered thrown in one of the corners, suffering the ignominy of being one of the agents of the famous “Czechs”; or even Raul, a member of State Security, the political police. Today more than ever I am able to understand them; Andrei yesterday, and Raul today.

How much sadness must they have felt as they saw how the lies began taking shape, who knows, maybe amongst their circle of friends or family. Seeing themselves trapped in a circle surrounded by fire or being trapped in a grand cycle of waves, each moving in a different direction. For Andrei, only time and death separated him from the pain that weighed down upon his body. For Raul Rivero, Castro’s own hordes took up the task of cleansing him; he is a prisoner from the Black Spring of 2003 in Cuba and we all know what objective the government had in the imprisonment of those 75 men: nothing else but an exchange for the famous five spies. Rivero and Sajarov are already part of this brutal and macabre history. The first lives in forced exile and the latter already belongs to God, but even now there are still many of us still here in this long and green island, whom still are facing the execution wall.

Félix Navarro, prisoner of conscience. Text dictated by phone from the provincial prison of Ciego de Avila, Cuba.

Chavez, America’s Umbilical Cord

The modern world, for many of the politicians that have souls of tyrants, is synonymous with prisons, commotions, and the promotion of rebellion. Today I was able to see and hear Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, president of Venezuela, once more reiterate the breaking of diplomatic ties with the neighboring country of Colombia.

I have started to think that to Chavez, the word “democracy” is interchangeable with “prostitute”. However, it is clear that Colombia’s president, Alvaro Uribe, has also something to do with this, seeing as he has accepted Chavez’s game, who at this moment, due to the power derived from Venezuelan petroleum, believes himself to be the center of the world.

Chavez is hysterical about the 7 new military bases in Colombian territory. According to him, these bases severely threaten the revolution which he is commanding. Perhaps this man has failed to comprehend the course of history- everything that is against human liberties is condemned to fail.

Sometimes, while I am in thought in the middle of a sleepless night upon my bed, surrounded by 26 other recluses who are barely even interested in analyzing Cuba’s own situation, I have reached the conclusion that I feel as if I am plowing in the middle of the sea. How is it possible that leftist politicians can criticize, with all their strength, a sovereign decision made by Colombia and on the other hand can so irresponsibly fail to mention the precarious situation that faces Cuba’s political prisoners.

Without much noise, the authorities of Havana systematically violate the rights of these men and of this entire country to the extreme by denying the most elemental security to those of the group of the 75 of the Black Spring 2003 whom have been sanctioned, especially those whose sanctions exceed 20 years of deprivation of freedom.

I know, and I say it by my own account, that sometimes we drag prejudices with us that are nothing else but archaic. We came to jail because of an unjust and irrational set of laws. But in essence, we all will continue fighting and we do it for the rights of our compatriots.

So then, why don’t we now yell that they are violating a constitutional right, like having the right to agree on the less severe. Chavez, Correa, Evo Morales, and Raul Castro know exactly what they want and I am convinced that they will not rest until they achieve a continental blockade and manipulating the minds of their countries, and also of attaching the blame of each and every failure to the powerful North.

There exist no differences among George W. Bush and those who think that “if you are not with me, then you are against me”. I hope that someone with some sort of firmness within the government of Chavez lets him know that no one is the center of the world.

Pablo Pacheco, prisoner of conscience, Canaleta Prison, Ciego de Avila, Cuba


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