Perhaps this title brings hope to those set apart from society in the Canaleta provincial prison, in Ciego de Ávila. Thinking about the performance of the famous Columbian singer this afternoon, I appealed to the good humor of those men who, because of mistreatment, live day after day hoping for freedom, and those out of prison, the living dead, existing in a world designed for power and evil.
The prisoners here, witty and funny by nature (perhaps because they are Cuban), baptized the chains they have to wear to go to doctor appointments as “Shakira.” Really funny because they don’t have hair and are extremely mean. Not until today, July 9, did I have the bad luck of having my turn to go to the provincial hospital, Antonio Luases Iraola. There were Jorge Toledo Ortiz, Heriberto Castillo Sánchez and Luis Alberto. The first one missed his appointment because of the guards’ delay. They told the reporters, Toledo Ortiz and Castillo Sánchez, we “looked like the supposed Taliban terrorists that are seen on Cuban television.” With every movement of the jeep I feared an accident, because of the abysmal quality of the driver. In addition, the heat was unbearable; nothing seemed more like torture: inside a makeshift van and shackled to the teeth, someone finally said it was better to miss the appointment with the medical specialist.
This story is sad because whenever something disgraceful happens, the high-ranking officials wash their hands of it. I confirmed this with Gamboa, the Chief of Interior Order, and he showed me that the instructions came from above. He concluded by saying it took a lot of work for Toledo Ortiz, who is completing a seven-year sentence, to go see a specialist for a cyst on his brain, and he missed his appointment. Also, the official with the Department of Technical Inquiries almost ruined his humble tennis shoes while patting down the prisoner. And for now, he doesn’t want to know anything about Shakira even from television, though she is a beautiful woman, very different from the chains they make us wear while inside a rolling oven.
Pablo Pacheco, Canatela Prison, Ciego de Avila