By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — More than ten people took part in the operation last November when I was arrested in my home, between agents from State Security (S.E.), MININT’s Technical Investigations Department (DTI), police, crime investigators, an ambulance driver, intensive care doctor and inspector (DIS).
They interrupted that peaceful afternoon in my home like vultures. We quickly removed the children from the scene, my family uneasy, my neighbors anxious, while they showed me a search warrant that had been issued.
Without barely reading it, they were already picking up my phone, computer and its accessories in the living room, writing down their numbers and placing them in paper bags. Every file was looked through, page by page, and anything that seemed interesting to them was taken. Several bags. They began their search before 2 PM and they left at around 5 PM. Every piece of furniture was checked, inside the bedrooms, under mattresses, among the pages of my books. Many of my Cds ended up in those bags. They sniffed around every little corner.
A young crime investigations officer was filming with a camera in her hand, even before entering my home. Absorbed in her world, she thought she was doing the right thing. She got overexcited with her comments, along with S.E. agents who nervously made comments the whole time about the reasons for the operation and about everything they found.
Higher-ranking officers, crime investigation and DTI managers displayed greater impartiality and verbal respect. Of course, their participation in this act at the expense of such a fundamental human right such as freedom of speech, even when it is a part of their job, stains their uniform and their careers forever.
Hector, a young man who is more or less 30 years old, is the “agent assigned to my case.” I have no doubt about that. He was the one who arrested me at the Mayari bus station in 2012 to stop me from traveling to Havana without first “checking over my documents and studying them.”
Thanks to the Revolution, this is a right they seem to now have over free citizens who should be respected and protected by the law. He is the one who is always visiting my neighborhood, especially my neighbor opposite. He is the one, alongside his boss, who led the search in my home and my arrest. He was the one who took me to Holguin, to the Pedernales State Security correctional institution, where I did 72 hours in prison.
“We had to stop you, you were flying off the handle too much,”; “we have to teach you a lesson”; “you have smeared Mayari and the Revolution’s reputation with your articles”; “we sent you several warnings to see if you’d change your ways, but you carried on writing, we had to stop you.”
These were the phrases which explained the search warrant. While they repeated these and seized everything, you could see they were overexcited, like someone who has been waiting to do something for a very long time. I watched them, calm, sometimes sitting down, other times standing up. They never saw hate in me, or even contempt, because I don’t harbor such feelings. Maybe compassion. I feel sorry for those who can’t find moral limits within themselves to carry out this kind of work.
I spoke to them like someone who had always been waiting for such an affront and is calm about it. We exchanged points of view. I really do see them as brothers who have gone off the tracks, who are really harming themselves when they believe they are harming others. At the beginning, they were accusing, but by the end of the conversation, they were a lot more respectful, when they began to listen to my truth and they were without ethical arguments.
In a file in my wardrobe, they found some old papers that date back to 2013, a project which I called “Homeland for Everyone”, like the Marti-supporter I am. It was based on my democratic socialist ideas, about a mixed economy and it was geared towards national reconciliation. It embodied a kind of evolution of the Revolution itself to fit in with new times, satisfying new demands and gaps in legislation, opening up a new and fairer way forward. A true utopia! Not because it’s impossible, but because it’s impossible that the “owners of Cuba” will accept anything different. It was a patriotic vent more than a real plan.
Like the good Cuban and Marti-follower I am, I wanted to say what I was thinking and I ended up on State Security’s blacklist, suspected of being a CIA agent and stigmatized as “prone to being recruited by the enemy.” Ignored and powerless, I even thought about creating a group, which I would call “MAS Cubano” (Movement towards Cuban Socialism), assuming that the government’s socialism here is Euro-Soviet.
Of course, I aborted that idea when I came face to face with our harsh reality. Many people liked my proposal, they even got excited, but almost nobody was brave enough to stand up to the system. I gave up and I looked for another way to be useful via journalism. But, I held onto examples of those ideas, without any fear, and deliberately, which didn’t take root back then, but have clearly not died out. They are only in hibernation, waiting for a hot spring of freedom that the Homeland so desperately needs and that has been put off for so long.
When they discovered those papers, my captors’ eyes lit up. At that point in time, they thought they had a great piece of evidence against me. It appeared to be what they were looking for, something that would implicate me more than the simple fact that I write independent journalism. Their gestures made me laugh and I said to them, without any fear whatsoever: “I assume full responsibility for everything that is written down there.”
The funny thing is that my ideas, my political intentions and my ethics are all written down clearly in those pieces of paper. Any manipulation, distortion or lie was taken apart. There isn’t an atom of defeatism, of the mercenary spirit, of intention to put the socialist ideal in danger, not even a hint of antagonism to the Revolution itself (even though it deserves it). And these are incriminatory “crimes”. And far from condemning me, that evidence tied their hands to send me to trial and they are my greatest defense.
“This project of yours is going to bring you down”; “the enemy is using you”; “the revolution has a right to defend itself and you are attacking it with your articles” – those were the arguments they used to arrest me. They didn’t say anything else.
To be continued…