Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

March 8, 1999.


HAVANA - From my cell I could see Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press correspondent, her face shadowed by the cell's iron lines. From her cell, she could hear the hoarse voice of Odalys Cubelo, Cuba Free Press correspondent. And one could feel the feel the presence of Dulce María de Quesada, dissident, quiet and silent, sitting on the edge of the gray cement bed.

Not too far from this dark basement where we were being held, the trial of the four members of the Working Group of Internal Dissidence was being performed.

Tania wanted to be present at the trial because she is a first cousin of Vladimiro Roca, one of the accused. Odalys wanted to cover the trial as a journalist and Dulce María, a retired librarian and dissident, wanted to be there because she felt she had the right to show a gesture of solidarity with the accused.

I also had wanted to follow the trial as a communicator, as a Cuban citizen and as a friend of the four intellectuals being tried. Yet I was jailed with eight common prisoners who were accused of dangerousness, abuse, armed robbery and pimping.

Of course many ideas crossed my mind and I experienced many feelings during those 30 hours in jail. But as days go by, the shame and sadness I felt for Cuba remains most prominent in my memory.

I would ask myself, what are these professional and decent women doing in a Police-station cell?

What is going on in Cuba that honorable daughters of this country, belonging to three different generations and from different political origins and upbringings may be arrested on the streets and placed in a cell with some women accused of prostitution and one of armed robbery?

I felt more pain for the imprisonment of those three journalist friends than for mine. This is because I perceived their punishment as a symbol anticipating a sacrificial pyre.

Tania and Odalys - like Marvin Hernández who had been imprisoned for 48 hours and began a hunger strike in Cienfuegos - while going through this exercise of independent journalism in Cuba demonstrated professionalism, integrity and discipline.

Later, a few hours after being relatively free so I could go home, I was to have a unique 'meeting' with Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello. Suddenly, there she was in my living room. The brilliant economist who loves poetry and good music was there, wearing her prisoner's uniform, on my television screen, while a state broadcaster insulted her, calling her a stateless person and a "marionette of imperialism."

Since Marta's 'visit' was so peculiar, I almost commented aloud to her about a note she sent me from the "Manto Negro" prison at the end of 1998. "Here we are," she had written, "without any apparent solution but with a lot of faith in God, because there is nothing impossible for Him."

Marta asked me to put together for her "some material on neo-liberal business globalization and the financial crisis in Asia. I want to state my opinions on the subject." A strange request from a woman in prison; it's true; Marta's presence in the kind of Cuba we have can be disquieting and odd.

Her note concluded, "Say hello to Blanca and tell her I recall her great coffee. I hope God allows me to drink some of it soon, sitting in your living room."

There I had been with Tania, Odalys and Dulce María in the jail and Marta Beatriz later went to my home and I couldn't even offer her coffee.

Raúl Rivero.

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