Another anniversary away from my son

Image taken during the Bienal de La Habana

Today could have been a day like any other… I regret not being able to say so. It is my son, Jimmy’s, 11th birthday. It has been six years of forced absence imposed by hatred and evil, incapable of understanding that not all men think alike. That has been my punishment, for the government to separate me from my son, by imprisoning me.

His birth comes to my memory: I was so happy I cried, and If I intend to be sincere with my conscience, I also cried while in my cell the day I left him sleeping like an angel when the state security forces arrested me. Jimmy suffered, and even worse, his mother was unable to take him to day care the same way any child of a working mother would be allowed to. She pretty much had to be with the child constantly wherever she went.

Jimmy’s sin was being the son of an independent journalist. I was finally able to see him in school uniform thanks to a picture taken by my wife on the first day of class. I was far, far away, in the gloomy prison of Aguica, in the province of Matanzas, more than 450 KM from my home in Ciego de Avila.

My son was growing, and Oleyvis served as his mother, father, friend, and teacher. Today he is a decent and educated child, a little bit shy and reserved, and perhaps a bit mistrustful of life. It’s normal. I understand. But he also loves his parents and respects his teachers.

The question that haunts him and that he always asks is “Why did Fidel Castro imprison my father?” As of now, he is too young to understand. I pray to God that he has a happy day today. And I hope we can spend the next birthday together, go out as a family, the three of us: he, his mother, and I, any place where we can have a good time, the way we should have been able to do during these past six years that I have been absent.

He and I still need to forgive those who are responsible for these difficult years of imprisonment. I hope the same thing they have done to Jimmy and me does not happen to them.

Pablo Pacheco, Canaleta Prison


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