Women: Perserverance and Firmness

I have lost count of how many times I have asked myself the same question: Who invented the philosophy that the female sex is weak? Sometimes, as product of voluntary error, we believe that strength is defined by carrying, pushing, or sustaining a fixed weight. Human civilization, however, has given women more of a lead role. They have been able to combat the female apartheid with perseverance and firmness.

It is no secret, however, that there unfortunately remain cultures, or better said- incultures, that malevolently discriminate against females, even to the extreme of prohibiting them from educating themselves, or even prohibiting them from choosing the man they would like to start a family with.
Universal history has collected a list of names that belong to great women. Just to cite a few: Mary, mother of Christ, Joan of Arc, Rosa Luxemburg, Marie Antoinette, and a couple of more recent ones- Evita Peron, Valentina Tereshkova (the first lady to go to space), Nadia Comaneci (the Romanian who achieved a perfect gymnastic performance), Margaret Thatcher (known as the Woman of Steel thanks to her firm attitude while she headed the UK’s government), Indira Gandhi, Rocio Jurado, Rocio Durcal, Marilyn Monroe, etc, etc.

Within the past few years, a transformation in the mentality of countries, when it comes to electing leaders, has occurred. Women like Mireya Moscoso, Michelle Bachelet, Cristina Fernandez, Angela Merkel, and most recently- Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, have all risen to head of state positions in their respective homelands. I must also cite Condoleeza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, and my current idol- the great Russian athlete, Yelena Isinbayeva.

I am one of those who truly believe that the feminine limit is unpredictable. Each day we are all further surprised by the feats achieved by women in different social spheres. When we analyze the situation, we must conclude that women deserve unconditional respect. We Cubans feel a great sense of pride in knowing that we have females that go by the name of Mariana Grajales, Amalia Simone, Marta Abreu, Ana Fidelia Quirot, Regla Torres, Mireya Luis, and plenty of others that are impossible for me to list, for obvious reasons.

I cannot finish this commentary without mentioning a group that formed in 2003 and responds to the name of Ladies in White. As a result of the jailing of their relatives, they decided to speak up when the majority remained silent. They ignored the hate, intolerance, and repression that curtail a grand portion of this society that, for 50 years, has been under totalitarian rule. The existence of these Cuban ladies is essential to every political prisoner and prisoner of conscience. Thanks to them, we continue expanding our hopes of one day living in an improved Cuba, together with all and with no exceptions.

Who knows- perhaps tomorrow, Cubans will be able to say that they have their first female president in a country that has deep elements of machismo. Meanwhile, there is one thing I am sure of. As long as the current dynasty continues ruling in Cuba, women will have very minimal possibilities of reaching positions of presidency. Of course, though, we must have faith that there is no evil that can last 100 years, nor a body that can withstand it.

Pablo Pacheco


Moratinos and Havana

The illustrious Spanish minister of foreign affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, has returned to the scene. He has declared his absolute position towards the European bloc and Havana through his eagerness of encouraging the European Union, Spain, and Cuba to engage in dialogue, according to the news report made by the state-run Granma newspaper.

Besides being laughable, Moratinos’ declarations are also ridiculous. I must point out that I will never be against dialogue. Rather, I am always in favor of conversations. But everything has a price. When the limit is passed, one reaches hypocrisy without taking consciousness into account.

In truth, I do not have anything against Moratinos or his government; he could go on defending his dialogue-with-Havana theory even though one cannot avoid that this approach has failed time and time again. The Spanish diplomat should take into account that Orlando Zapata Tamayo was a human being. I personally cite, within the nomenclature in power, that Zapata Tamayo was jailed for reasons of consciousness and politics. Moreover, even if he was a common prisoner it would not have changed a thing. The simple fact of being a person is more than enough to criticize even the most humane of systems.

I am convinced that Moratinos is unaware that in this prison known as Canaleta, in Ciego de Avila, at least 6 prisoners have died from suicide in a matter of only 14 months. The world has been informed of what has been occurring thanks to the political prisoners and the prisoners of conscience because the official press denies the deplorable situation taking place within Cuban jails.

I do not understand the political deafness of the Cuban government. At this moment, I have been informed that there have been more than 35 thousand signatures by intellectuals all over the world demanding freedom for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, many of whom have deteriorated health after 7 years of captivity.

To me, this all has double meaning. This demonstrates that, despite the hate shown by authorities towards dissidents, we are not alone. One day all of us Cubans will have to sit down at the dialogue table. On that day, a specific ideology or system of government will not prevail and it will be the best thing for the country.

It’s true that the words spoken by Moratinos may hurt us much the same way that the words of Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva have. I cannot stop suggesting that Moratinos and Lula learn about the cruel reality that the political prisoners situated in prisons throughout the country face.

Nothing can forgive Moratinos for his ignorance, though I must remind you that he is a politician, even though he may think like a businessman. Meanwhile, we will continue firm and loving Cuba over any personal interests.

Pablo Pacheco Avila, prisoner of conscience

In Cuba we live to Work

Image: Thomas Hart Benton; “Field Workers”, 1945.

I never chose to write about the field of economics. My philosophy is that in order to approach the themes of economics one must at least have an idea of the subject. Of course, we Cubans living on the island have become magicians of sorts in order to survive the prolonged crisis which has showed no signs of hope when it comes to positively taking steps forward towards the financial progress which goes accordingly with the times in which we live.

After listening to a news report on national TV that was dedicated to the new governmental measure of handing out 15 pesos daily to the workers of four of the largest companies, I began to analyze such data. The mentioned measures also consisted of eliminating the lunch that was routinely given to the majority of the workers affiliated with the Cuban Workers Central. I then started to calculate countless mathematical equations. In honor of the truth, I did not accept what was being said.

In truth, the proletariat of this country needs a convincing explanation, not as much for the reason of the absurd obligation of having to do without daily lunch, but instead, this measure increases the earnings of wages by the daily labor that is carried out. But at the root of this situation, there arises a question: is the salary in Cuba similar to that of a slave or is it that the exploitation of the day laborers goes beyond the concept of appreciation which was pointed out by Karl Marx in his theory about capatalism? We can’t rule out the fact that both notions serve like rings to the fingers of the workers of this nation.

In the cited news report, the official journalist mentions the organizations of financing and pricing, along with two others. According to her, 190,000 pesos have been saved to the date. This, up to here, is fine. Savings are never a bad thing. But from this to charging a majority of the workers a sum that is superior to their daily 8 hours of work is just incredible. It is ridiculous.

Only rare and isolated exceptions have the privilege of saving their earnings in a bank- those who carry the weight of the national economy. It’s no secret that in Cuba there is an exception, and we Cubans live to work and do not work to live. Something is wrong, at least that is what I think. But what can you do in a country where nearly everything is upside down and when our economy could possibly crash at any moment, causing irreparablbe damages for the nation?

Pablo Pacheco Avila, political prisoner of conscience

With God and with the Devil

For me, music and sports are universal languages which reflect the societies in which they develop. This island, which is at the mercy of the Caribbean ocean and is considered to be the key of the Gulf due to its geographic location, is currently living through days of baseball euphoria- the national sport and passion which consumes us. With that said, the play-offs were underway to determine the new champion of “balls and strikes”, while also in the country, a group of young musicians decided to hold a concert at the headquarters of intolerance in Cuba: the Jose Marti plaza of Anti-Imperialism.

The group’s lead singer, Rene, took stage with numerous drawings and signs on his body. I don’t criticize him and I don’t applaud him, but I should mention that I’m not really fond of tattoos, though the subject of this writing has nothing to do with marks on bodies.

With the lyrics of their songs, the group Calle 13 infected the very demanding public of the capital city. I affirmed myself and analyzed the most daring of their stanzas: “the people rule and the government obeys”. He said this in a country where the authorities in power suffocate even the most minimal of traces of the dissidency, without any consequences. The most recent example were the fanatical groups of disturbed people who, fueled by hate and intolerance, degradingly threatened the Ladies in White.

The young musicians demanded freedom for the five agents of the Cuban intelligence service who remain jailed in the United States for a little over a decade. According to some of my friends and colleagues that reside in freedom, the musicians declared: “we live in the same planet, we are all humans, and amongst prisoners and family members the ones who suffer the most are the latter”.

I invite these artists to visit the families of political prisoners and of conscience in order for them to understand the meaning of pride of having a relative that unconditionally serves the country. Sometimes I really think that this island lives within a waterproof bubble and some foreigners prefer pious misinformation over the crude reality.

Calle 13 then continues to make news. Someone told me that they took part in the march which was convoked and lead by the Estefan family. I cannot deny that he has that right; in fact, I am neither shocked nor bothered that he seeks to be in peace with both God and the devil. But there is one thing that remains beyond clear: we Cuban political prisoners of conscience need more than words, we need actions. At certain ages it’s difficult for people to be manipulated, unless they chose to be manipulated.

I wish on-going success for Calle 13. We political prisoners of conscience need respect, and overall, we need justice.

Pablo Pacheco Avila, prisoner of conscience

Deaf and Mute

Image: Edvard Munch- The Scream

There is no worse deaf person than he who wishes not to hear, the same way that there is no worse mute than he who wishes not to speak. This game of words which seems like a tongue-twister reminds me of my favorite professor, Reinaldo Exposito, who would teach me similar phrases during my years as a primary school student.

The Cuban government, through its hard work of trying to halt the accusation campaign that has taken shape throughout the last few weeks as a result of the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on the 23rd of February, once again repeats the vile and rhetorical discourse that is always does. It’s possible that those who are responsible for so much misinformation may believe themselves of inhabiting another galaxy, for such ignorance cannot be possible.

The Granma newspaper, the official medium of Cuba’s communist party, in their publication for the 29th of March, once again vulgarly and dissapointingly has lied to those of us who love the reliability of the news. The ideologists of the communist newspaper, responsible for approving or rejecting any of the news that is published, tightly hold on to the idea that telling one lie over and over again will eventually make it believable. In that manner, they claim that Orlando Zapata Tamayo was in no way a political prisoner and that, instead, he was nothing more than a common criminal.

At this point in the game, I recognize that lying requires talent and originiality, of course. I have lost count of the times that the spokespersons and even the maximum leaders of this country have manifested that in Cuba their are no political prisoners. If this wasn’t such a sensible subject, it’d be a great theme for a television comedy.

The incoherent aggressive and degrading attitude of a person against anyone, especially if it is a deceased person, is so serious that the fallacy dispels itself by its own weight. Orlando Zapata Tamayo was more than just a political prisoner of conscience- he was a symbol that directly shames those who, one way or another, lead him to his death. I invite those official journalists to investigate well and search through the archives of the political police, which would demonstrate the causes for which Zapata Tamayo was encarcelated. I don’t believe that they will find what they want to find with such harmful intentions- something so sordid and with such bad intentions. There exists the possibility that their conscience will make them cry in shame and that they will renounce their manipulative and dirty game.

In this beautiful island there are many political prisoners that, if it wasn’t for their dissident attitudes, they would have never even come close to seeing the front door of a prison barracks. I give God so many thanks of erasing the notion of servitude, which so many humans keep inside, from me. Cuba urgently needs all of her children, wherever it is they may be. It is very degrading to not serve the country for reasons foreign to the will of the most mediocre of men.

These seven years of captivity have showed me that jail is not the end of the world. In this place you live through almost everything: vile deeds, betrayals, mockeries, hate, savagery, and in many cases, the henchmen who run this place are more dirty and corrupted than the common criminal prisoners. To go on in silence does not rid us of our blames. The key word for these times in which we live is reconciliation. Anyone who maintains even a bit of clarity can perceive that Cuba can no longer continue being isolated from the real world. Virtual reality is like a science fiction film: everyone, good and bad, have the universal right to love their coutnry without conditions and resentments.

Pablo Pacheco Avila, prisoner of conscience

Terrorist Attacks in Russia

Without even having fully recovered from a previous terrorist attack, Russia was once again slammed by the desperate extremism of those who still think that the solutions for the problems of a country, an ethnicity, or a race should be resolved through the most dramatic and drastic of ways that currently exist. Once again, the harsh whip of terrorism has demonstrated that their objectives do not have a specific and defined rostrum. I am convinced that terrorism, in any of its manifestations, is both a direct and indirect attack on the good will of a country.

If a specific government is responsible for the misfortune and instability of countries that lie outside their own borders, there is no form of justification that should exist to appeal to such excessive terrors. I read the declarations made by the prime minister and ex-president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. I do not ignore the capacity of this man who, practically overnight, went from being chief of one of the most repressive and relentless intelligence services of this past century, to becoming one of the principal pillars of democracy in that European country. Putin has labeled those responsible for the crimes as “thugs”. Personally, I think he has been much too courteous with these suicidal fanatics whom I really think hate the human race, and really do not deserve to live under human conditions. I admit that Putin has knowledge, but Dimitri Medvedev ends up being just a dreamer.

His thoughtlessness has shocked their allies. How can this politician think that, in order to eradicate terrorism and extremism, it is necessary to work alongside those people from the Northern Caucasus? I must clarify- I consider Medvedev to be an excellent leader, though when referring to terrorism, it is necessary to mention other dimensions of this planet.

I repeat: There is no such thing as right-wing or left-wing terrorism. Simply said, terrorism harms us all. I am convinced that, sooner or later, terrorism will capitulate due to its nature and to the firmness of countries that are anxious to live in peace and harmony, as we deserve in accordance with the will of God. Yet today, I once again mourn for the dead of our brother country of Russia. They will recover, the same way they have done time and time again throughout their rich and enviable history.

Pablo Pacheco, prisoner of conscience of the Black Spring of 2003, Canaleta Prison in Ciego de Avila, Cuba.


We, the political prisoners of conscience from the cause of the 75 of the Black Spring that find ourselves imprisoned in the Provincial Prison of Canaleta in Ciego de Avila, emphatically oppose the measures of violent repression that have been taken against The Ladies in White in different areas of Cuba, especially those events which have occurred in the Cuban capital. The group of peaceful women is simply asking for unconditional freedom for their loved ones who are currently in captivity for reasons of consciousness.

One must point out the violent acts and attitudes that events in Cuba are carrying out. In Cuba, inflammatory articles are being published, while certain famous figures read offensive declarations against the political sectors in the country that hold an opposition stance towards the prevailing regime, while these same opposition figures are not allowed to respond. We ask that you all increase your vigilance over the conduct of the Cuban government, for we must keep into account that uninformed, fanatical, or demented people could act violently against The Ladies in White or against any dissidents who openly oppose the regime and its politics.

We are making an appeal to the national and international communities so that they can intercede before the authorities of Havana and appeal to the sense of duty. The regime endangers the integrity of the brave Ladies in White and other people. Any ill-fated events that take place against these women will be traced back to the government, for it is their absolute responsibility.

Antonio Diaz Sanchez
Felix Navarro Rodriguez
Pedro Arguelles Moran
Adolfo Fernandez Sainz
Pablo Pacheco Avila