Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Nov. 8, 1999.


Message from a Cuban penitentiary: Five o'clock in the morning. Wake-up time sends you an invitation with the loud ringing of the alarm. Rested though still sleepy, inmates start to stretch. A new day begins for them. Carrying their own soap and stuff, they hurry to achieve their personal hygiene in the scarce 10 minutes allotted by the regulations. They must hurry so that when the guard on duty gives the signal, they line up in formation for breakfast.

It was time for the cold sugar-water breakfasts to end; today there was something hot for breakfast! Pity that they keep serving only half a cup. Those whose turn it is to do cleaning chores look around for the basic tools to do that task. The others are taken out to the patio. It is chilly this daybreak and it is still dark. The humidity of the early morning dew falls upon their heads. For seats they have the ground. For a roof they have the sky. It is 5:30 in the morning. Little by little, the light of day starts creeping in. Anxious to warm up, they compete for each beam of sunlight. Fortunately sunlight is not rationed.

The officers start arriving. Each one of them heads to their workplaces with their brigades of working inmates. The jobs are diverse. There are carpenters, construction workers, farm hands, servers, herdsmen of cattle and cultivators of crops. All or almost all of them have two things in common: They receive no salaries, and the fruits of their labor end up in the hands of the Ministry of the Interior.

Noon arrives and the battered stomachs make sounds that musical tunes would not envy. The daily rationing makes its appearance. Fifty-five grams of rice and the not very appetizing cold broth. And to chase it down, gofio (inexpensive Spanish- and Spanish-American-style dry powdered cereal, made of either wheat or corn) with water and sugar.

"F... (expletive) ! It's the same thing everyday. They are gonna starve us to death. And look how fat the chief of supplies has got," whispers one.

After a 10-hour workday and night starting to fall, they return to their frightening galleys. At supper time, the same story repeats itself. Finally they reach their beds, and their exhausted bodies give in to fatigue. Tomorrow will be another day, if a tomorrow exists for them.

At the entrance of the penitentiary a written sign stands: "Only a socialist revolution is capable of delivering into society healthy wholesome men."

Pedro Moreno, Cuba Free Press.

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