“When I left your house on Saturday morning, I was so distressed that I wanted to let two days go by so that the determination which that distress, together with others from the past, inspired in me would not be the result of a passing bewilderment, (…) but would rather be the product of mature reflections: (…)” -José Martí
Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – It was this Marti quote that suddenly popped into my mind when I left the District Attorney’s Office in Mayari on Tuesday September 11th in the morning. He addressed these words to Maximo Gomez on October 20, 1884, so as to resign from participating in the Gomez-Maceo independence plan because of insurmountable disagreements at that time, describing his “distress”.
On Tuesday, I received the “response” to the complaint I filed because of arbitrary arrests, the confiscation of my working materials and restrictions on my right to move freely to being “monitored” or State Security banning me from traveling abroad.
First of all, I must say that this was a forced response because I insisted. I filed my first complaint in November 2017 and I never received a response. It seems that the document “was lost” and nobody could find my complaint on file. I filed another complaint on June 19th this year and I received a response immediately: I was arrested again for three more days just three hours later and was threatened with more prison time, seizure of assets, acts of repudiation, my arrest if going use WIFI, etc.
COMPLAINING is the only right we Cubans have if the Ministry of Interior (MININT) does anything we believe to be arbitrary. We could never accuse them or raise the issue or demand anything. The Attorney-General’s Office doesn’t have jurisdiction over MININT, it only processes complaints and serves as an intermediary without giving their own opinion in the response.
When we file a complaint, an answer is the only thing we have a right to, not to solutions, and we don’t even have the right to receive an answer that makes sense or that abides by laws and the Constitution. If they give you an answer, even if it is ridiculous, the district attorney’s office has done good their part.
I received a RIDICULOUS response. I was already expecting it to be a response that didn’t really answer anything, but not to this degree. It was so absurd, but so absurd, that I was taken aback, I was left stunned, even a little upset. I even went to bed really late that night and I didn’t feel well, like I had a huge weight crushing my chest, like when you have a very sick relative who is suffering from an illness people call “distressing”. Because this is how I see my country: very sick and I don’t know when we will be able to cure it.
I will try to describe the district attorney’s response from memory because they refused to give it to me in writing, like I had wanted. This was surely an order from those who must be investigating my case, who far from giving explanations or settling issues, only really give orders. It was read in front of me. First of all, they read out my complaint and then the response that they had received from State Security. They had targeted me because of report no. X, where I was accused of “disseminating enemy propaganda”.
Just imagine! Writing here on Havana Times and on Diario de Cuba about national issues, about things that happen in my town and country in general and giving my own opinion or communicating the opinions of others, is “enemy propaganda”. Who is the enemy? What is their propaganda? And why does my opinion and what happens at my cooperative or in my town belong to the enemy and not to me, if it was analyzed or seen by me? Am I the enemy?
You are always the enemy of something. In my case, I am an enemy of authoritarianism. I defend a direct, participatory and clearly representative democracy. I believe that all human rights are equally important and that they should be respected, this is why I oppose the exchange of some of our rights for others. This is my crime: giving my opinion about these things and wanting a better country. And I find it very sad to see that those who are harrassing me and trampling all over my human rights as punishment because I dare to use them to voice my own ideas, call themselves “defenders of socialism”.
I am a socialist and I am completely sure that someone who violates human rights automatically stops being a socialist. And whoever puts an obstacle to democracy instead of promoting it and developing it, well they also stop being a socialist if they ever truly were one. It doesn’t matter how you define yourself, it’s what you say and do. It’s more what you do than what you say, this is what defines you.
The language of the response I was given was so archaic, radical, fundamentalist and fake that it disgusted me, it was embarrassing, and it made me sad, very sad! I still haven’t recovered emotionally, I thought I was prepared to not lose it no matter what garbage they threw at me. This is why I let a day go by to let the emotions of this bitter experience settle a little, like Marti did, so as not to transmit so much sorrow.
In the unanswered response, I was told that my belongings wouldn’t be returned to me solely because I had been (falsely) accused. They don’t need to prove a crime in a trial before a court to determine guilt and give a sentence. I was left stunned. The two young district attorneys were very serious, they only read and refused to discuss the many whys.
“This isn’t the time or place to discuss these things,” one of them told me when I asked if this response just went to prove that they were violating my human rights. “When is the right time and place, then?” I didn’t get a response. “Why doesn’t it mention my travel restrictions? The restrictions on my freedom to move without court arbitration? Still no answer.
This is our justice system; these are our laws; and now we know who is above them. This is how unprotected we Cuban citizens are and in Geneva our jurists (?) spoke about “due process”; and in the new Constitution it refers to “a rule of Socialist law.”
What do they understand by such a phrase? Is it just the rule of law in favor of sectarian or selective interests? In my meetings with the district attorney, I haven’t seen rule of law or justice.
That’s why I thought about Marti’s letter, about what Marti felt when he listened to Maceo and Gomez’s pro-authoritarian conversation, who were confused after the sad experience of losing a war. It was a sad and forceful letter to the General, who in my opinion and in other people’s opinion, is a real political testament (more than his unfinished letter to Manuel Mercado in May 1895). His political and democratic ideas are much better laid out in this letter. These are some of the quotes:
“A nation is not founded like a military camp is set up, General.”; “what guarantees can there be that civic freedoms-the sole object for which it is worth throwing a country into the struggle-will be any better respected in the future? “; “(…)but I will never support the thing that I was given to understand in that conversation would be a personal adventure undertaken skillfully at an opportune time, in which the personal aims of the leaders could be confused with the glorious ideas which were making that war possible.; (…) no matter what my support may be worth-I will never give it to you (…)”
At another time, his rejection of authoritarianism left the Apostle stranded in Mexico when Porfirio Diaz came into power. After being separated from his family for so long, he was finally surrounded by them, he was recognized in his professional circle, friends and even his future wife, and yet he decided to leave that country where restrictions on his freedom suffocated him. And he went to Guatemala.
It pains me to say it but I have been feeling like this for a while now in my Homeland. It’s because of experiences like this with the district attorney and the harassment I’ve been suffering at the hands of State Security that you slowly begin to feel like an outcast in your own land.