By Javier Moreno Diaz
HAVANA TIMES – A part of the group “Cuban Artists against Decree-Law 349” had organized to meet at Yanelys’ house at 2 PM on November 22nd, to go and meditate in a public space for art and freedom of expression.
But, I went to work beforehand, like I do every day, and I was ready to leave by 11 AM, when my boss decided to get me to look for some papers in the archive room. I left half an hour later, I lit up my after-work cigarette and I felt that something wasn’t quite right. “It must be nerves,” I thought.
Near home, by Marquez de la Torre, in Luyano, almost reaching the Miguel Enriquez Hospital, a man dressed as a civilian with a Van Dyke beard came up to me and grabbed me by the arm, telling me to go with him and two police officers who came out of a patrol car in case I put up a fight.
State Security and its police officers handcuffed me and put me in the patrol car roughly even though I didn’t resist like they wanted. It was patrol car no. 348 and Aguilera police station would be my fate.
It must have been 12 or 12:30 PM, they drove slowly as if they were putting me on show. I could see the man with the Van Dyke beard in front of us on a motorbike, zipping ahead. When I got there, they took me up some kind of stairs, I could see police officers on the carpet who were looking and making jokes, I was anxious and frustrated, I wanted to rebel, but the wisest thing to do in these situations is to go with the flow.
They took me to a kind of basement with bars which clearly indicated it was a cell. Standing in front of a table, they took away my wallet, cigarettes and cellphone. The latter almost fell on the floor “by accident”. They took me down a kind of corridor, quite brusquely, and I counted two cells, they locked me up in the second one, alone. It was a dark cell, which stank and didn’t have a toilet.
I wanted to shout, vent at someone. As I am a schizophrenic, anxiety affects my physical and mental integrity a great deal, but I decided to follow Amaury Pacheco’s advice when he told us that it could happen and it was happening to me now.
I tried to relax as much as I could, I took my shirt off and laid down on the cell floor like a dead man. I must confess, I lost all notion of time. Whenever I felt overwhelmed by anxiety, I pinched my thumb and index finger together, something I learned as a child.
One of the police officers at the table called out my name and opened up the cell door to take me towards the entrance gate where another policeman was waiting for me. He was wearing an olive-green uniform and looked like a gorilla.
It was already dark by now.
Handcuffed, he took me down some stairs and a series of corridors until we reached an office. I had lost my sense of direction by then and my nerves were on end. In that office, the man with the Van Dyke beard told him to take off my handcuffs and that’s when he introduced himself as Pablo. I sat down, as did he. He started to ask me why I was with a group of people who were being paid off by the CIA and were counter-revolutionaries, who wanted to mess up our country. I told him he was wrong, that there wasn’t any money behind our actions, that 349 is a stupid decree-law and that it is our civic duty to do something and stop it from coming into effect.
He then started to remind me of my past, my loved ones, what people closest to me would think. According to him, no street event is allowed and definitely not any kind of anti-government protest. He told me that the people who I thought were my friends now, were in fact unprincipled people with low values, that he knew that I was different, that there was a time that I had made mistakes, but that could be fixed.
I literally sent him to hell, and then he warned me that if I continued with that attitude, I would keep on coming back here quite often, and it wouldn’t be just to talk exactly. Threats and lies are the discourse of those who say they are the law here in Cuba.
He continued to slander Luis Manuel, Yanelys, Amaury… I almost lost it, rage nearly burst one of the veins in my right eye (the optical effusion I have has got worse since then), then, they took me back to the cell. The guard was waiting for me with a some food, which I welcomed, but with caution.
After a while, I don’t know how long exactly but it felt like an eternity, I was released from my cell, told to get my belongings and to leave, just like that! As if this nightmare I had just experienced were a vivid and violent deja-vu. I couldn’t walk straight once I was out on the street.
When I got home, I had to explain what had happened.
Who is really responsible for the terror and discriminatory fear that exists in my country?
According to Vero (another Havana Times contributor who was also arrested that day), this isn’t a struggle against the people who hold power, but against the mindset that emanates from these people.
However, this idea is sometimes hard to accept because State Security take their jobs so personally that they attack your physical and mental integrity in many ways, repeatedly.
When will it stop?