Image: Abstract by Luís Trápaga
Between tedious days and thinking of his family, especially his oldest daughter Jenny who traveled to the US in April, Tony spends his days of captivity in a cell of the provincial prison of Canaleta in Ciego de Ávila. Today I received a letter from Antonio Díaz Sánchez (Tony), sent clandestinely from the isolation zone of the prison.
In it he states that the visit went well. “Those present included my wife, my youngest daughter, my sister, and her husband. In other words, the same people as usual. When I asked to go up to the pavilion, as is the custom for prisoners from Havana, the officer on guard left and, upon returning, stated that Reineiro told him that today was not my turn. Then I told him that he was right; the time had already passed. In reality, I wanted to appeal to the conscience of this soldier, Lieutenant Colonel Reineiro of Canaleta. Otherwise my wife would have to come back within eight days so we could be together for three hours of conjugal visit.
“I knew what the answer would be but I wanted to force the guard to answer me as did Pablo Manuel by saying ‘I am very bad’ so I could then send him to hell, and that is exactly what I did. When the officer on guard and in charge of penal control returned, he told me that Reineiro had denied my request, that the visit would have to be on the 20th of the following month. I told him in a friendly tone: ‘That is not a problem. He is chief and even in the dumpster on 100th street there is a chief, and the chief is chief even if it’s in a dumpster.’
“This has become my slogan in the face of the intimidation that is supposed to coerce me. I must clarify that the guard doesn’t do any of this on his own initiative, denying me the cigars brought by Julita, the right to religious meetings, etc. etc. This is all thought up by the G-2, or perhaps they gave him a blank check that permits him to act as he wishes from now on.
“Early that same Wednesday I was visited in my cell by a uniformed major. This man claimed to be a security official from the prison. He reminded me that he was the one who brought me the medicine sent by Pablito during my first days here. The conversation was interrupted by the inspection. I don’t know if he came just before the inspection to entertain me or if he really wanted to make conversation with me, but he promised to continue the dialogue, though I doubt he will return, because my wife brought a series of writings and photocopies which were collected for inspection.” I should point out that Pedro Arguelles says the photocopies were returned to Antonio Díaz Sánchez’ family.
In another part of the missive Tony comments: “I hope that you all understand my strategy. They try to distract me by tightening the screw, but I pretend like nothing is happening, and while their methods keep failing and they keep making it more difficult, I make it more difficult, too. I only ask God to grant me strength and health in order to continue resisting.” In the same way, Tony reasons in his own words: “Meanwhile the solidarity is increasing and I notice that they, with all their actions, play the role of victimizers, while every moment with my peaceful resistance, I am the victim. This has not been my intention but instead has been the result of prison procedures. For example, in these past two months I have written six letters to my family, and none arrived. Also, it would be a very good idea if people inside and outside Cuba write to me. The address is Provincial Prison Canaleta, Carretera de Sanguily, kilometer 2 ½, isolation zone, hall 1, cell n.1, Antonio Díaz Sánchez, Ciego de Ávila. I should receive these letters so the dirty tricks used in this prison could be more publicly uncovered, shedding light on the darkness where they operate.”
Tony ends his correspondence suggesting: “I also think that people could write to Reineiro Díaz Betancourt at the same address demanding that he allow me the right to religious assistance and being able to go out in the sun without shackles. Please, these things may seem insignificant, but they have a tremendous effect.
“Hugs for Felix, Alonso, Pedro and Pablito, and also my respect and love to all those people of goodwill who show solidarity with me.”