Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Oct. 13, 1999.


HAVANA - Rubén Reyes was at home with his parents and in the company of his girlfriend on July 23, 1993, listening to rock music and drinking Cuban rum. At 7 in the evening he went out to a nearby bar for another bottle. He came back - three years later. When he had gone out three years earlier, a policeman had arrested him for not carrying any identification document.

When they reached the police precinct station, the situation got complicated: An officer, Lt. José Sosa, in charge of crime prevention in the neighborhood where Rubén lived was on duty that night. Without any trial, he made Ruben sign an official warning notice, the one designated as number five. It stated that citizen Rubén Reyes, 21, did not have an occupation or job and that he used to meet with antisocial elements late at night and in parties and engaged in drunkard's wanderings.

The lieutenant, with only his personal power, closed Rubén's dossier. All of a sudden he slammed Rubén's future shut, condemning him to three years of loss of freedom, marking him for the rest of his life with the label of "highly dangerous".

But is Rubén dangerous? Only in a totalitarian country could it be stated that he is. Graduated as "assistant refrigeration technician," Rubén was not working because he had not found such a position with any firm. Rubén was not an alcoholic. He used to frequent the Catholic church and it has to be conceded that he never participated in any political meetings in praise of the revolution. And on one certain day he quit his membership in the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR).

The young man began working on his own making handicrafts that he sold to foreigners in the old section of Havana. Those were Rubén's crimes. "I was always seen with suspicious eyes in my block by the CDR and the chief of the sector. My parents also were not in agreement with the communist government and that is something that is not forgiven in Cuba," he explained.

"I used to attend alternative rock concerts, and then I used to walk around the city going nowhere or to sit with my girlfriend on the Malecón (seaside street in Havana, and the low wall flanked by its oceanside sidewalk and the cliffs, just next to the ocean waters), in an attempt to give a new logic to life and to compose dreams." Rubén lowered his voice and said, "but it could not be."

A young man can not be dangerous who reads Faulkner and Balzac, enjoys Neruda's poetry and listens to Mozart and the Beattles. But the Castro government thinks otherwise. According to Agustín Garcés, president of the CDR in the block where the young man lived, "Rubén is a weird dude and he is not a revolutionary." Garcés amended that slightly by saying, "Reyes might or might not be revolutionary but he lives outside the reality of the country." And he continued, "It was maybe a mistake to take him to the police."

The latter facts were being recognized by the police informant three years after the case was closed. But Rubén Reyes will never forgive his captors. "It is impossible to forgive three years of forced labor, among real criminals, with very bad nutrition and surrounded by the sexual promiscuity of prison. I lost my innocence there. I am no longer the same."

On an afternoon in June of 1999, Rubén Reyes was freed from jail. He weighed eight kilos less than when he got in. His girlfriend and relatives cried when they saw him; he looked like a corpse.

Today the young man is in better physical shape, and he once again spends time with his friends. He dusted his library for the classics and started reading his favorite poets again. Nowadays his worst nightmare is to remember that fateful night in July when he went out for a bottle of rum and came back three years later.

Iván García, Cuba Free Press

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