By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — It was Friday afternoon. My three children, aged 2, 8 and 9 years old, were playing in the living room. Somebody knocked on the door and interrupted my quiet siesta next to my wife.
Four cars were outside my house and a dozen counterintelligence and crime agents and policemen too. One of these vehicles was an ambulance, expecting my sick mother’s possible heart attack. Luckily, that didn’t happen in spite of her grief.
The search warrant said: “in search of subversive materials”. They took my phone, my laptop, my external hard drive, a mouse, a 16 GB USB drive that my children used to watch cartoons on the DVD player, another 32 GB USB that a neighbor had given me and asked me to format it and somebody else’s hard drive that happened to be in my home at that moment.
The children were afraid and were quickly taken to my mother’s house. They sniffed around everything: drawer by drawer, paper by paper and inside every book. They took away large bags with stuff they believed to be suspicious.
It was so exhaustive that it had begun at 2 PM and only ended at 5 PM. They then led me to the local police station in Mayari. They told my family, and myself that I wasn’t being arrested, they just wanted me to sign a document outlining everything that had been seized and then I could come home.
That didn’t happen. They never asked me to sign any document and I was instead led to a cell about 7 PM.
I was in solitary confinement: neither my father nor my wife could come and see me. On Saturday morning a car with dark windows transferred me to Holguin. To the Pedernales State Security correctional institution to be exact, known popularly as “Where everyone sings”.
There, they lock up suspected criminals to be interrogated, indefinitely sometimes. When you are in there, it feels like there is no other law except for their own. They never interrogated me as there was no need. My activity is public and everything is posted on the internet.
My cellmates were hardened criminals. One suspected of murder, another of multiple theft and two of stealing and killing livestock. First, there were five of us heaped into a 12 sq. meter cell, then we were six. When 72 hours exactly had gone by, I was interviewed on Monday the 13th at 5 PM for the first time. A chat, a debate, not an interrogation.
I found out that my father and wife had just left. They had come all the way to Holguin (90 kms. from Mayarí) and weren’t allowed to see me. I was asked to write my conclusion about the conversation and I did. It was a respectable piece where I expressed my ideas.
They didn’t argue, although they wanted a promise that I would stop writing and advocating for democratic socialism. Then they announced my release: it was 5:30 PM. I missed going home with my family by 30 minutes. I could only imagine their distress and at 9:30 PM I was able to calm them down, between a lot of tears of happiness and contained uneasiness.
To be continued…