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Chronicle of a Free Man’s Arrest

Chronicle of a Free Man’s Arrest / Cubanet, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces
Posted on October 11, 2015

They do not show me the arrest warrant. My mother begs me to go; I hug
her and leave with them for the station., Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 8 Cuba 2015 –
Five thirty-five in the morning on Monday, October 5, 2015. I get up, go
to the bathroom, brush, put the coffee pot on the electric burner. The
day seems like any other until some harsh knocks on the door tell me
that I may be wrong.

I open. A group from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) is in the
doorway of my home. Between uniformed and plainclothes officers there
are 19 people, not counting those remaining in the surrounding area
where there are also special troop members, as I will later learn.

A young military officer who introduces himself as Captain Gamboa
informs me that they have come to carry out a search. I ask for the
warrant, and he shows it to me at a distance. I try to read it but he
quickly withdraws it. Nevertheless, I manage to see that the objective
is to find objects related to my “subversive activity.” That’s what they
call my work as an .

In my room they find my personal calendar and some books, a broken cell
phone and one that works, a Canon camera that I have not used for lack
of a USB cable and a laptop that my brother who lives in the United
States sent to me. In my work room they find a desktop personal
computer, property of the Catholic Church of Guantanamo, which my wife,
my nephew and I call “the tractor” due to its years of use.

They also confiscate some twenty CDs, four flash drives – among them one
of my mother’s, which contains several episodes of “Case Closed” and
dozens of chapters of a Mexican soap opera – a music record by Compay
Segundo and another of jazz, an issue of the magazine Cuban Culture
Encounter and another of Coexistence, a magazine managed in Pinar del
Rio by Dagoberto Valdes. Added to the list of ‘subversive objects’ are
700 dollars that I have been saving to repair my house.

At eleven thirty in the morning, they finish. Then I discover that the
search warrant is not signed by any prosecutor, but it is already too
late; I made the mistake of letting them enter.

The arch-bishop of the dioceses arrives, Monsignor Wilfredo Pino
Estevez, and witnesses the moment when I ask Captain Eyder to show me
the arrest warrant. He answers that if I want an arrest warrant, he can
make it right then. I protest. My mother, a 77 year-old woman, gets
nervous. The officer says that if anything happens it will be my
responsibility. She begs me to leave, I hug her, and I leave with them
for the police station. The street is full of onlookers.

At MININT’s Provincial Operations Unit they bring me garb and
assign me number 777. I tell Captain Gamboa that I am not a number but a
human being and that if they call me by that number, I will not respond.
“Then we’ll get you,” he says.

In 1999 I spent 49 days in one of these cells. I see that nothing has
changed except that now a young nurse takes my blood pressure and asks
several questions about my . Then they take me to the cell that
has no water and is equipped with cement beds and a hole for defecating
in view of the four inmates who welcome me.

They call for lunch. I do not go. I manage to sleep some. At about five
in the afternoon a guard opens the door, looks at me and says: “You,
come.” I leave. They photograph me and take my fingerprints. Captain
Eyder receives me in the interrogation room. He accuses me of publishing
news containing truths but also lies, that I am not a . Later
Captain Gamboa and Colonel Javier will tell me the same thing. I answer
that between 1986 and 1990 I published film criticism and cultural
articles in the Venceremos newspaper, an official publication of the
Communist Party in Guantanamo, and no one said then that I was not a
journalist, that Cuban cultural history demonstrates that hundreds of
writers practiced journalism.

They threaten me with another jail and show me Complaint 50 from 2015 in
which I am accused of Dissemination of False News against International
Peace because, according to them, my articles seek to disrupt relations
between Cuba and the United States. I did not know I was so important.

At one point in the interrogation they assure me that they are not going
to return some of my items of property, that it depends on my behavior
and that thanks to the generosity of the Revolution, they are going to
set me free.

At about eleven at night they give me a Warning that I do not sign
because they do not give me a copy. For the same reason I did not sign
the Registration Record or the other documents.

I return home. My mother is sleeping under the effect of a sedative but
awakens. I feel great pain when she hugs me and cries. Some moments
later she asks me: “Did you eat?” and goes to the kitchen.

My children and siblings who live in the United States, where my wife is
travelling, call me. They tell me that they learned what happened on the
news. They ask me not to continue. I want to tell them that the only
thing that sustains me is this , but I remain silent. Such
confessions can sound pompous.

Then everything is silent. The day ends as if my routine had been completed.

Source: Chronicle of a Free Man’s Arrest / Cubanet, Roberto Jesus
Quinones Haces | Translating Cuba –

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