Saturday, October 29, 2011

Notes from Captivity XVII / Pablo Pacheco

Notes from Captivity XVII / Pablo Pacheco
Pablo Pacheco, Translator: Raul G.

"Violation of Correspondence"
by Pablo Pacheco Avila

The communication between those of us prisoners in "The Polish" jail and
the functionaries of the interior was deteriorating daily. The guards
had a low cultural level and engaged in despotism and intolerance. The
prisoners, on the other hand, were rebellious, energetic, and desired
freedom, which conflicted with the aspirations of the political police
which wanted to make us crack through the guards which kept strict
vigilance over us.

One afternoon, the chief of the Punishment Cells Section, subtenant
Yosbany Gainza, showed up to our dungeons with letters from our
families. To the surpise of all, including the common prisoners, the
letters had all been opened, which according to the guard had been done
on orders from the Direction of National Prisons. The verbal protests
did not take long to begin, and to top it off, Gainza assured us that as
of that moment all letters from relatives and friends which we turned in
or received had to be opened.

Our citations of article 57 of the Cuban Constitution and Chapter 12 of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were futile. The guard did
not want to accept our rights, once again proving that the Cuban regime
violates its own laws and international pacts which it has signed.

Two days later, a few common prisoners informed us that this measure had
also been applied to Blas Giraldo Reyes and Fidel Suarez Cruz whom were
locked away in the isolation cells of "La Tercera".

After trying just about all we could do and seeing that no positive
results were coming out of our attempts, we decided to go on hunger strike.

The deep totalitarian rule went beyond our "Polish" prison walls and
even attacked common prisoners. We had two options. First, to get
these suffered men, victims of the communist prison system, to join our
hunger strike or, second, they would accuse us of arbitrary measures
taken by the jailers.

Alexis Rodriguez, Miguel Galban, Manuel Ubals, and I decided to send a
letter to our partners in struggle located in that same section about or
decision to start the protest over the violation of our correspondence
as well as other arbitrary measures against those of us in the "Polish
Cell". Much to our surprise, the note went from hand to hand and only
one convict didn't have access to it due to the lack of trust he had for
the others.

On the next morning the guard of that section, last name Garvey, was
shocked upon our refusal to accept the breakfast he was serving. But
what most caused an impression on him was the solidarity of the common
prisoners, and that the information of the hunger strike did not reach him.

The situation just grew more tense and we could not imagine what the
outcome of our protest would be, but we were willing to assume the
consequences, while the support of those who suffered with us gave us
the extra strength we needed.

Of the 16 men who were imprisoned in "The Polish", 15 joined the
protest. The prisoner who accepted the piece of bread and cereal was
the first one taken by the police to be interviewed, but he did not know
what was going on. Soldiers from diverse ranks began to show up
throughout the prison, not asking anything, just walking into our
dungeons. It was the beginning of a psychological battle between them
and us.

Translated by Raul G.

30 September 2011

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