Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

December 28, 1998, Cuba Free Press.


HAVANA - This reporter received the following letter from a prisoner - Bernardo Rogelio Arévalo Padrón - in the Rodas jail in the province of Cienfuegos:

Rodas, Cienfuegos, Saturday, December 19, 1998.
Section 7, maximum-security cell, prison number 1.

Doctor Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz:

I address you from my ideological standing, which is totally different from yours and that of the government that you have represented since January 1, 1959. Nevertheless, I always admired your fight against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista as well as the tenacity and perseverence you showed during the initial setbacks and how, during your political imprisonment, you had the audacity (as well as that of your men) to sing in Batista's face, the anthem of the "26th of July" on the occasion of his visit to the Presidio prison (where you were held) in 1954.

I know this incident from your life, and many others, because since my early childhood I started to study your biografy, along with those of Bolívar, Sucre, San Martín, Céspedes, Martí, los Maceo, etcétera.

But by the end of 1988 I decided to oppose your ideas, pacifically, for which opposition I was sentenced to six years in prison, which time I've been now since November 18, 1997. The charge was "disrespect" or "contempt" against your person, specifically for the "serious" crime of calling you a liar through "Radio Marti." I consider the sentence unjust and excessive because in no other civilized country is a critic convicted for expressing publicly his judgment of his country's chief of government.

That's why I have never felt sorry for what I did, and for that I am here.

As of now my intention is to go to live in Spain, whose government has granted me a visa, sponsored by a Spanish entrepreneur. But your government has denied me permission to leave the country at several times. In stark contrast, Batista granted amnesty to you in 1955. Do you remember, Doctor Castro? So then, why do you not make the same bona fide gesture for all the political prisoners?

On the only matter on which we agree - that of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws. We agree they must be repealed as well as the embargo of the United States against Cuba because of their extraterritorial and unjust nature (similar to the Platt Amendment of sad and painful remembrance).

Such things I plan to explain (and write about) in Madrid and in every international forum to which I have access if you allow me to leave to exile.

Of course, at the same time, I will continue to criticize you and your regime, because if now I say the opposite it will be dishonest of me, and cowardice and a lie. If I did not do so, I would not dare to keep my head up if in any international forum or of human rights if the representatives of your government could confront me with this letter and distribute copies of same in any country I could be visiting or residing.

I have three possibilities before me. The first is that you let me be free to go and live in Spain.

The second is that you stubbornly refuse to let me go and do not let me leave the prison ever (so that all the government leaders and chancellors that visit you keep interceding on my behalf, continuously, as they have been doing so far), making my life in prison miserable until I become a symbol of the opposition and of independent journalism.

The third and last possibility is that I would have to be in prison until the last day of my unjust sentence and then it would be I who refused to go into exile but stayed in Cuba, accusing you and continuing independent journalism (amateur and self-taught), until I would be killed or returned to prison.

For the last few days, I have been analyzing the third, but before I commit to it, in a radical and irrevocable manner, I have decided writing this letter suggesting the two first possibilities so that you may decide which of them to order. At this moment you have my life in your hands, but not my ideals.

With no more to say,

Prisoner No. 1417748,
Bernardo Rogelio Arévalo Padrón, Director of Línea Sur.

P.S. I oppose terrorism because it is criminal, unacceptable and unjustified. I attach this page to remind you that in the penitentiary of Ariza, the most elementary human rights are constantly violated. There are bedbugs in abundance which feed on our blood, many prisoners sleep on the floor without a mattress or even a board and there is an infestation of rodents so big that that they run all over the place infesting us with illness. Meanwhile, the physical abuse by the guards and the military officials continue undeterred, and, to make it worse, the military people steal the food from the packages our families bring on visitation days.

Medical assistance is lousy, because the medicines are scarce and the doctors are inexperienced rookies. They serve two years of "social service" here and then are transferred and other rookies from Medical Science are brought in.

By Odalys Curbelo, Cuba Free Press.

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