A Glossary Against the Deafness of Raul Castro
A Glossary Against the Deafness of Raul Castro / Luis Felipe Rojas
Posted on April 10, 2016
Luis Felipe Rojas, 28 March 2016 — With mouths agape and arms extended
to the heavens, Cubans of goodwill are still awaiting the night on which
Raúl Castro will liberate all political prisoners and fling into the
garbage can that judicial aberration which is the current Penal Code.
Meanwhile, Elizardo Sánchez Santacruz, president of the Cuban Commission
on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) continues
documenting–with an artisan’s meticulousness and well-sharpened
pencil–every blow, act of repudiation, police harrassment, and finally
compiles the details on every Cuban sent to prison under obscure
circumstances that appear to be politically motivated.
CCDHRN published–mere hours after Castro’s misstep during the March 21
press conference with Barack Obama–a current list of Cuban political
prisoners, including first and last names, detention dates, charges,
sentences, and a few observations. CCDHRN provided the current list to
14ymedio two weeks prior to when the organization had planned to release
its regular update; the General’s slip-up motivated them to issue an
There are 89 political prisoners. The flimsiest causes could end up
being up charged with aggression after having bean beaten with military
force, or receiving a years-long sentence for an indictment of public
disorder following an act of repudiation–if one takes into account that
the state’s case is based on the fact that activists are labeled as ones
who provoke “the impassioned public” with their peaceful protests.
“The most frequent crimes for which government opponents are imprisoned
are contempt, pre-criminal social dangerousness, resisting arrest,
disobedience, or attack. If at the moment when a citizen is detained
there is any violence, trying to block the blows with his hands can be
interpreted as resistance. If in the scuffle the detainee elbows a
police offider, this is considered an attempted attack,” Sánchez explained.
Throughout the 2000s I visited the CCDHRN headquarters in the Miramar
neighborhood on several occasions, to have a drink of water, or to
access books and magazines banned by the regime. I always witnessed the
calls for help coming in from the most diverse points of the country: a
lady who cried for her son whose ribs were broken because he pleaded for
medical attention; the son of a prisoner of the Black Spring who
denounced that his father was not allowed to receive a Bible; an elderly
man who described how his brother was sentenced for damage to property,
when in fact the government agents banged his head against the door of
the patrol car. In all cases, Elizardo documents, takes notes, his
“correspondents” gather details in the field, and a final report is issued.
“Give me the list!” shouted the old man of the olive-green oligarchy
that day. There is such a list: it has been produced for more than 20
years, and has served such prestigious organizations as Amnesty
International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and
governments that have negotiated the final exile of those condemned for
differing from Cuban communism.
The list of political prisoners exists–as does the deafness of Raúl Castro.
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
Source: A Glossary Against the Deafness of Raul Castro / Luis Felipe
Rojas | Translating Cuba –