With what Right


Painting by Anne Rosenvald

It is late, very late in the night. Only two of my companions in strife remain awake here in galley 43 of detachment 3 in the provincial prison of Canaletas in Ciego de Avila where the authorities of this country which I love have held me captive for reasons of conscience.

Tonight, I find it impossible to be able to sleep without writing these lines first. They reflect my perception of life and is related to Cuba and all Cubans. When I speak in this manner, I renounce the hollow words or the intolerant rhetoric which is spoken by some of us who believe we hold the absolute truth both here in Havana or in Florida. To dissent is a right, and so too is to criticize. But neither one or the other is synonymous for attacking. I have never denied the fact that my compatriots found outside in the diaspora make up an insoluble part of Cuba. We are divided by a system and a piece of ocean, but I do not doubt that, soon, we will be united by a bridge that goes far beyond automobile transportation. I am talking about the union of cultures that are one and different at the same time. They are products of lifestyles of the exile and of us here, but we are all Cuban nonetheless.

As the result of the good will, which I applaud, of the cardinal and archbishop of Havana, Jaime Ortega Alamino, towards the Ladies in White and the political prisoners and of conscience, there has been a rise of many divergent criticisms which up to a certain point I consider normal. It is expected considering our natural characteristics of being Cuban, for we have lots of diversity within our culture. Very well, where I see the sacrilege occurring is in relation to the more than thirty women related to men of the cause of the 75 whom are asking, with all their right, the also brave Ladies of Support to cease marching alongside the Ladies in White for a few weeks.

I would hope that nobody, with the most minimal dose of reason, starts attacking the choice of these women whom simply disagree with the main leaders of the group of women who dress in white and are driven by peace- acts which we political prisoners of conscience respect and admire. Swimming out of the water is as easy as drinking a cold coca-cola in either Varadero or Miami Beach. Perhaps the 90 months (over 2,700 days) of captivity do not mean anything for the brave defenders of freedom behind a microphone on any radio station whether it be in Florida or Havana. Yes, we must respect the work, pain, and suffering, amongst other things, of our families. And if they do not think the same, do not consider them enemies. Adding to this are the almost extraterrestrial testimonies made by political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

We have reached a point from which we cannot turn back for the sake of the future of this country. Granting a vote of confidence to Jaime Ortega Alamino, in the name of the Cuban Catholic Church, is a display of intelligence, tolerance, and overall signifies the hope of those who carry the major cross, with lots of pride and dignity.

There is an important and latent detail that emerges at the time of being objective. Never before during these 50 years has the government turned to Catholics to publicize the necessity of banishing an internal conflict within the island. And it has occurred now with the prisoners and the Ladies in White which has been reached thanks to criticisms by the national and international communities, even though the first still harbors a fear that is common for many Cubans to carry within.

I am in favor of dialogue in and out of my country but if this implies attacks, hate, and slander it is better to not further waste time, for I prefer having deaf ears towards the garbage which they have us forced upon us for more than five decades.

Pablo Pacheco Avila

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