Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Sept. 20, 1999.

THE AMERICANS, GAG LAW NO. 88 AND PEPTO-BISMAL By Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - Seven months after the National Assembly of People's Power launched law No. 88 to "Protect Independence and the National Economy" the handicap is very favorable for the regime, especially for its agencies established for the repression of Cubans.

Dozens of opponents of the regime and independent journalists, fearful of the long jail sentences that could be imposed on them under the gag law, decided to leave the rings around the bathtub and readied themselves to make the legal migration to another country. A number of them have already left and just as many or more are preparing to leave. Naturally, the vast majority knocked on the doors of the "Americans," who sometimes have been very demanding and inflexible regarding the internal dissidence and the U.S. refugee plan.

But those who can demonstrate they have spent a certain amount of time as victims of repression have assured themselves a seat in the flight from Havana to Cancún and then Miami. However, since the Americans have limitations in that they can't possibly verify every case on a firm basis, it is not beyond reason to expect that a certain number of "cats are mistaken for rabbits" (rough translation for "se cuelen gatos por liebres," as a Spanish saying goes).

Some years ago, those who obtained an appointment at the U.S. Interests' Section of the Swiss Embassy in Havana dedicated themselves to prepare their dossier with great care. Actual events that had affected the applicants (or which an applicant had heard from someone else) were passed along to the U.S. functionaries who obviously did not have lie detectors in their cerebrums.

My son, Iván García Quintero, now ajournalist of this agency like me, was held for two weeks of questioning at the Office of State Security (OSS) offices at Villa Marista in Havana in March 1991. He was accused of transmitting "enemy propaganda." During the eight years since, many people have approached him with questions about the details of his detention and what it was like in the OSS cages. There was such an interest that in 1996, shortly after beginning to work for this news agency, Iván decided to write about his experiences in a series of letters to an imaginary friend abroad.

But in the meantime, in 1994 a young woman who had everything ready to travel to Switzerland asked him about all the details of the type that most people will usually forget during the tension of being taken prisoner by OSS agents. Iván had remembered much about the event and since there were no secrets he gave her a rich account. Later we learned that the young lady had used the details well when she reached the offices of the Swiss authorities in Europe. Nevertheless, they did not give her asylum. But we later heard that she had traveled across Europe hidden in a station wagon until she was able to obtain some false documents to go with her story and and thus finally reached her goal: The United States.

The biographies that are "corrected and augmented" are not only used with the Americans who may swallow them along with their daily aspirin but also are useful in convincing Spanish diplomats of their validity. Spain is the second most popular country for the Cuban travelers. There they have the advantage of reaching Spanish territory. So it is that sometimes desperate Cubans will make arrangements somehow to leave the motherland by building an anti-Castro trajectory out of someone else's experience.

Law No. 88 has not yet been applied to anyone in Cuba. But its diarrhetic effect has been so powerful that there has been little need to apply it. The use of the popular anti-diarrhetic Pepto Bismal which may be obtained from the Americans - in suspension or as tablets, no matter - is called for. Either way, the effect may be the same, to help alleviate the intestinal upsets produced by fear of No. 88.

Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press

P.O. Box 652035
Miami, FL 33265-2035
Phone: (305)270 8779 -- Fax: (305)595 1883

Copyright © 1999 - Cuba Free Press, Inc.