Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Dec. 16, 1999.


HAVANA.- In an interview with Cuba Free Press, Clara Morales, president of the July 13th Movement, was asked what charges were leveled against her and her husband Jose Aguilar when they were arrested by agents of the Office of State Security (OSS) on Dec. 7.

She said, "To calm my mother the agents told her that we were being detained because we had some overdue fines. But that was false. We were really being detained arbitrarily and at least at first we were not told of the reasons for our arrest. We were taken first to Unit 100 and Aldabo, known by us in the opposition movement as 'The Headquarters'where they dropped off my husband. From there they took me to a type of 'villa' in the outskirts of Havana. I remember seeing a sign saying 'Lenin Park' and then the privately registered Lada took the Eight-Roads highway. But I really can't say where they took me or the name of the place. Of course, it seemed to be some resort or some other such place, a pretty fancy place."

"What happened there?" Clara Morales was asked.

"It was a very special treatment," she said. "As I told you, the place looked like a hotel. I hadn't even finished eating when when they were offering me more food. Breakfast, lunch, a snack. Then ice cream before going to bed. I was in an air-conditioned room. Of course I had an around-the-clock watch. Someone even slept in the same room with me. I asked her name but she refused to give it to me. She asked ironically if I was asking so that I could 'blast it' on Radio Marti!"

She was asked whether this treatment contrasted with that given to other opposition members such as her husband who was kept by the Cuban authorities at 100th and Aldabo in a cell with common prisoners? If so, to what did she attribute this special treatment?

"Well," she said, "they tried to manipulate me. I think the fact that I'm a woman with two small daughters might have caused them to think that I could be bought easily. They were constantly asking me whether the food was good and if I believed that the treatment they were giving me was good. They later tried to get me to cooperate with them. The officer in charge of me explained to me that they could help me if I kept them informed of certain things. Of course I refused. They again advised me upon my release. They said that opposition members are stirring up trouble so as to get themselves out of the country. I told them that even the cats wanted to leave this country but that I had not been in the opposition for nine years for the simple goal of escaping Cuba."

Asked for more details about her stay at the "villa," she said, "From the outset I told them that my sister was hospitalized and soon to undergo surgery, that my mother was unable to care for her and my two daughters at the same time. I asked them at 10 a.m. on Dec. 8 to inquire about my sister and that evening they came back with information. That same day officer Cosme Manuel, quite well-known to the opposition in Havana, arrived and told me to get used to the good life. He said that if I wanted to be out on the streets on Dec. 17, 24 and 31 with my daughters I had better calm down. Otherwise I would be celebrating the new year behind bars. One evening the officer on my watch asked me if I wanted to see a Brazilian soap opera. I said yes and she put me in front of a TV where they were broadcasting - for hours - the mass rallies for the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba.

"She said to me, 'Those are the real human rights activists. Look how those children are demonstrating, how it is inborn for them.' I said, 'That's not inborn. You know very well how those kids have been taken there.' Then I asked her where those responsible for the sinking of the March 13th tugboat were. So many children had died on it. She told me that if I stayed in the human rights 'party' (to her all dissidents belong to the human rights party), my daughters would have no future. I replied that it was precisely so that my daughters would live in a country with a future that I belong to the opposition."

Clara Morales was asked for any other important details about her "conversation" with this officer, and she said, "That woman was very insistent in asking about any relations with Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz. She asked me whether the future that I sought for my daughters included having Elizardo as president of the country. She asked me whether I knew that he was living the high life financed by the Cuban American National Foundation and the United States' Special Interests' Section in Cuba. She insisted that he, rather than helping us, was pocketing the money that he was being sent. I explained to her that I was not in the opposition movement so as to profit and that I was well aware that Elizardo helped the families of political prisoners and that he had even offered me help in time of need. That officer also assured me that Fidel Castro himself had said that the opposition movement was 'spreading its wings and that at any given time he would have to trim them.'"

Cuba Free Press then asked, "Did you learn of any other opposition members being detained in the same place where you were held?"

She said, "On the first night when I lay down I saw something written on the ceiling, probably with cigarette ashes. It was the initials of the Opposition National Union (UNO). I said to myself: 'Galman Rodriguez must have been here.' I was made to change rooms twice. I would suppose that it was the same for him."

Asked about the motives behind her arrest as well as the arrests of other opposition group members during these past few days, she said, "The government wants to give the impression that the opposition movement in Cuba is very weak. If, for example, we called the foreign press for a news conference and it didn't take place, the media might think that we are nothing more than a couple of people without any mass appeal.That's why the authorities intercept us before we get to our meeting places, thereby effectively preventing many of our planned events. The officer about whom I spoke to you cynically told me that we were being detained to 'protect us from the people' and that the people were very angry. At one point she even told me that the people had been given a free hand in beating us up. What people was she talking about? Surely the brigades that the government organizes and leads."

Ased about her release on Dec. 11, she said, "It was in the morning. They drove me home and took the names of my family members and friends who were there. According to the OSS, they needed witnesses that I had been released unharmed. At least that's what they said."

Armando Aņel, Cuba Free Press.

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