Saturday, December 1, 2012

Interview with a State Security Official

Interview with a State Security Official / Anddy Sierra Alvarez #Cuba
Anddy Sierra Alvarez, Translator: Marina Villa

At 2:00 PM on November 22, 2012, I was interviewed at the People's
Revolutionary Police (PNR) Capri Station, located in the Arroyo Naranjo
municipality of Havana, with the Lieutenant called "Junior" from
Department 21 (the State Security department that deals with dissidents).

The interview began after 20 minutes since he could not find a place to
hold it:

Official: (He introduced himself as a Department of State Security (DSE)
official but did not show identification, and began)

What has motivated you to do these types of things? I believe it's
probably due to something that happened in your past, such as losing in
sports, or due to the time you were assaulted and not fairly treated.

Interviewee: That was in the past, it no longer interests me.

Official: How did you find out about the course in journalism from the
United States Interests Section (SINA)?

Interviewee: Well, I don't remember well, but I think that since 2009 I
was in CAPF (Commission of Attention to Prisoners and Relatives), and
visiting the embassy I found out about the course.

Official: I did not know that you were from CAPF, why do you write
blogs? referring to everything published that is true and not invented.

The official continues to ask me why I'm writing blogs because it is not
in line with my character. You have nothing in common with those people,
you are a professional, he says.

Interviewee: I'm not the only professional, Miriam Celaya, Yoani
Sánchez, Reinaldo Escobar, and many others.

Official: Yes, but there are only a few.

Interviewee: That's what you say.

Official: Tell me what you intend to change with what you are doing?

Interviewee: Everything that's wrong. Explain to me why is Estaban Lazo
in charge after he had the problem with the pig farm in Oriente."Nothing
happened because the people were not made aware of the situation and
instead of being ousted, he was promoted". You profess that children in
Cuba do not go hungry and if you go to Lumumba there are children there
who go to bed with bread in their stomachs but don't have shoes to wear
to school. If this is a free country why is there no freedom of expression?

Official: Well, freedom of expression is relative all around the world.
If you watch the news you see protesters suppressed with tear gas and
beatings. Here we don't do that.

Interviewee: So why was Rodiles kicked on the floor?

Official: In reality it did not happen that way. Rodiles resisted arrest.

Interviewee: But that did not warrant being brutally beaten.

Official: What happens is that sometimes, due to insufficient police
training, some errors are made. That's why we are always there to make
sure nothing happens. However, department 21 does not look after people
like Rodiles, it is department 3.

Interviewee: Then you don't need to look after me.

Official: Yes, you are from CAPF

Interviewee: I was.

Well, now you know what I think. Tell me, what motivates you to be an

Official: Well, "that none of the hungry children in the world are
Cuban, that none of the illiterate people in the world are Cuban, that
education is free, that violence in Cuba is minute compared to the world
index," he said.

Interviewee: So you are the one that takes care of me.

Official: Yes, since you graduated from the course on journalism.

Interviewee: Then if something happens, I'll come to look for you.

Official: Yes, you tell them to find the Official Junior from 21 and
that's it. Keep in mind that how the situation evolves depends on you.
We are here to maintain a dialogue, not to confront. That depends on
you. I don't wish to call you some day to say, look, what you published
here is a lie because I saw that person, "this, this, and this are lies".

Interviewee: Look, the first time that I was taken prisoner to the
Unidad jail in Lisa (Havana municipality), I was interviewed by a young
lieutenant like you whose name was Marcos, and he said I was making fun
of him, and that he was going to hit me. What would have happened if he
had hit me?

Official: You would have been in a fight.

Interviewee: No, if I defend myself by hitting him in the head with the
chair, what would have happened given that I did not start the fight?
"They would have accused me of disobeying the authorities and other
things." Who would have lost? Me.

Official: Stop, I hope that when I send you a citation, you'll come.

Interviewee: No, I hope this is the last encounter, why come back to you
now that you know what I think.

Official: We need to continue to meet because we must talk about other
things, and also one day I'll tell you not to go to Estado de Sats — to
make an example of you, if you go I'll put you in prison. "I hope that
when we talk man to man you'll have the decency to do what I say."

Interviewee: Well, if you know that Yoani works for the CIA why don't
you jail her? What's published in the newspapers and broadcast on
television must be lies since you don't arrest her, only a way to defame
her so that people stay away from her.

Official: I don't like to talk about people when they are not present,
but Yoani is a mercenery. If you don't know what that means, it means
"people who are paid to serve the interest of a foreign country."

Interviewee: Well in regard to the citations, send them personally to
me, don't go through my mother. If you do, I will not come. That's personal.

Official: The reason is that you need to be at home but yet you stay

Interviewee: I have rights, don't I?

Official: Tell me the number of your house.

Interviewee: I don't remember the number. There are three houses with
the same address.

Official: Which is it? The first, second, or third?

Interviewee: The second one

Official: The one with hibiscus on the fence.

Interviewee: All the fences there have hibiscus.

Official: Then what's the color of the house.

Interviewee: Yellow.

Official: Is it the only one of the three that's yellow?

Interviewee: Yes

Official: The name of your girlfriend I think is a name of an older
person: Caridad, María, Carmen. I have it written with the first
surname, I don't have her last surname, so that I can look for her
address and give you the citation personally.

Interviewee: OK

Official: What's her last surname?

Interviewee: What's her first surname?

Official: I don't remember. I have everything written down, but I can't
remember everything.

Interviewee: Caridad is her name. Last surname is Torres.

After two hours of conversation he told me I could go.

Translated by: Marina Villa

November 26 2012

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