Scars in the Memory

Remembering the happy days is not a problem; forgetting the days of captivity is nearly impossible, for the wounds deeply scarred my soul. Now that I have more time to meditate, I ask myself: how did I survive so much human misery? A misery which is not only linked to the penal population, for I must say that I did meet many decent men in prison who were tossed down to that lower level world of captivity by the exclusive system which has been ruling in Cuba for more than half a century. Without realizing it, they have also becomes victims of the dictatorship.

After the brief and manipulated trials against the accused of the group of the 75, the machiavellic mind of Cuban intelligence systems and the head of the PCC decided to scatter us throughout various Cuban prisons located all over the island, all of which were hundreds of kilometers from our original homes. It was an additional punishment to our families and also an experiment to try to get us to surrender. They were mistaken. My wife (who I must say is the main source of pride in my life) and son, both who carried the heaviest burden, did not miss a single visit. My son got his start visiting the prisons at the young age of 4.

Looking back on the day that I was transferred, together with three other brothers in cause, from the headquarters of State Security Operations in Ciego de Avila to the Western region of the island, I can clearly remember the pompous process carried out by the police, as well as the bravery displayed by my companions. This, along with the assurance that we were jailed unjustly, evoked an additional strength in me which allowed me to survive more than 87 months of imprisonment.

Pedro Arguelles was transferred with us. Him and I both were sentenced to 20 years of prison by the provincial tribunal of Ciego de Avila. Unfortunately, he is still in captivity, because hate and intolerance do not allow the regime to understand that he wishes to remain in Cuba, even if it means that he will forever have the sword of Damocles lingering over his head. Other prisoners have taken this same stance as well.

I arrived at the penitentiary of “Aguica” on April 19th, 2003. There, they ordered Manuel Uvals Gonzalez, Alexis Rodrigues Fernandez, and myself to get off. The officers of the interior order carried out a minimal search of our belongings and then moved us to different areas of the prison, very far from one another. They figured that cutting communication among us would be another form of severe punishment. They were wrong about that, as well.

That night, my bed was the floor. The cell I was assigned was the 4th one from the ground floor. I was surrounded by dangerous people who had been sanctioned to life sentences for homicides, while others were being kept isolated due to acts of serious indiscipline, but they all displayed their solidarity with me, just like they would also do with Blas Giraldo Reyes from the group of the 75. If I were to say that I slept that night, I’d be lying. Instead, my mind traveled 400 kilometers to my humble home, where I would be with Ole and Jimmy. The latter, my son, would be the one who understood less of what was really happening. At the point where I found myself deepest in thought, the bell went off, announcing the morning chores we were to carry out in “Aguica”. The worst was yet to come, but I’ll leave that story for a latter time.

Pablo Pacheco

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