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Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

Cuban State Security: No Change of Mentality

March 22, 2014 | Print Print |

Isbel Diaz Torres

The headquarters of the MInistry of Interior in Havana.

The headquarters of the MInistry of Interior in Havana.  Photo: ecured.cu

HAVANA TIMES — A number of sources have told me that a Cuban State Security agent threatened a Ministry of Culture official to dissuade them from hiring me.

Owing to the measly salary I earn (some 14 CUC a month), I have been looking for options within the new multi-employment system, so as to be able to do some extra work and help my domestic economy with an additional income.

It is clear, however, that Cuba’s political police, even though it wants to portray itself as tolerant of some activists, still wield sufficient power to regulate our liberties and rights arbitrarily.

It doesn’t matter if it has to lie and give orders to a civil employee who is not subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior in order to achieve this.

The lack of transparency of this military institution, the discretionary nature of its employment methods, the mystery that surrounds the budgets it handles and the prerogatives given to it by the Council of Ministers in every law it issues, totally contradict Raul Castro’s call to “change our mentality.”

It’s not that I actually though such an appeal was sincere, of course, but one would have expected them to do so. On the other hand, Article 2 of the new Labor Bill (the one that was approved in December of 2013 and, as of March 2014, hasn’t seen the light of day), establishes that:

 “Any woman or man who is in a condition to work, regardless of their race, skin color, gender, religion, political opinion, geographic or social background or any handicap, has the right to obtain employment with which to contribute to the ends of society and the satisfaction of their needs and the needs of their family, in keeping with the demands of the economy and their own free will.”

But, who is to say Ministry of the Interior employees abide by a labor code? Workers, and even employers, are highly vulnerable before political and ideological structures used to determine our performance at work.

It is impossible to formally denounce this violation of my rights. There is no proof of it. They know how to do things so that there can be no proof of their actions.

I’ll say it plainly: I don’t need proof. This simple and everyday incident, revealing the lack of democracy in Cuba, is already a characteristic feature of the system, no matter whether it is acknowledged by a Cuban or an international court or not.

I share the experience with the readers of Havana Times because it is my duty as a citizen and so that there may be a record of it.

The victims of authoritarianism in Cuba, those on the Left as much as those on the Right, are human beings – that is enough.

I will continue to look for other sources of income (State and private). It’s my right, and I will not renounce to it.

I won’t fall into the common trap of self-isolation, with which they would hope to control every freethinking person on the island.


What's your opinion?

  • CUBAQUS

    So far for “real change” in Cuba.

  • Moses Patterson

    If Cubans put as much energy into really trying to improve the economy and to move society forward as some put into maintaining the status quo and into punishing others that they do not agree with, there would be nothing, including the US embargo that could stop Cubans from improving their quality of life. Nothing.

    • Elizabeth Faraone

      Moses, it’s time for you to go home. You’ve overstayed your welcome here.

      • Informed Consnet

        ….and your contribution to this discussion is what exactly?

      • Moses Patterson

        Comments like this coming from empty-headed know-nothings only sharpen my passion to continue to share my opinions more resolutely.

  • Griffin

    First Isbel’s partner lost a job due to political interference and now Isbel himself is being harassed. This is a common downward trajectory in Cuba and it does not get any better.

    Good luck to you, Isbel. And be safe.