Assassins, Accomplices and Victims / Ángel Santiesteban
14 May 2016 — We are now looking at another anniversary of the execution
of the young men who, in 2003, tried to hijack the Regla ferryboat and
were shot by the dictatorship. As is well known, it was one of the most
vile assassinations of the so-called "Cuban Revolution, on an extensive
list that has grown in their five decades of totalitarianism. It claimed
the lives of a group of defenseless young men who only longed to reach a
horizon that would offer them lives of dignity.
They were executed, despite the deception in the negotiations with the
responsible authorities, who assured them that if they surrendered
absolute nothing would happen to them, especially because they had done
nothing to harm any of the passengers on the ferry. After a summary
trial they were shot. This is story in its briefest version.
I remember, among the first posts on this blog, I express that it would
be a shame for anyone — especially if it was a renowned intellectual, in
this case a good poet — to stain their hands with innocent blood. I said
when, the person who writes this posts, wasn't persecuted by the
political police, or at least not in a way as obvious as they would
The writer in question was Roberto Fernandez Retamar, who was then a
member of the Council of State, and who had to confirm the sentence of
death, making his name an embodiment of that execution because this is
what the laws of the regime required.
I said at that time — and I still hold to it — that he needn't have
dirtied his hands with blood, when he did his duty with ink. I argued
them that Retamar had also been sacrificed by the dictatorship; that it
was a way of forcing him to become a part of the crime, so that later he
would keep his mouth shut.
I did not want to consort with assassins
We know intellectuals who have sold their souls to the devil. This is
the case with Retamar. And perhaps those who read that first post didn't
know that I was expressing my criticisms with pain, because he once told
me that, years ago, he inherited the friendships of his daughters, and
that he considered me his friend. But, once I published in my blog what
I thought about it, I was crossed off the list of those "welcomed" to
his family parties, which I accepted with pride because I did not want
to consort with murderers.
In turn, when the Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC) began to
collect signatures in support of the executions as often happens with
these so-called "officialistas," many, almost the majority, stamped
their names on that cowardly document, although later, in my living
room, they said they didn't want to sign, but that fear of "the lessons
of those instruments" (the way that "intellectuals" refer in silence to
official repression), induced them to betray their thinking, their true
Refusing to put your signature in support of such a sadistic crimes was,
for them, similar to suicide. For my part, it's obvious, when I got the
respective call from the Writers Association soliciting my signature, I
said I refuse and I remember that the functionary listened in total
silence to my contempt of the dictatorship, certain to inform on it
later; or, at least, not to get involved in my diatribe in case it
should be overheard.
We all know Laidi Fernandez de Juan, we know she idolizes her father, as
good children do, of course, and in this case, starting from the post I
published criticizing her father, she started from her officialista
pinnacle an implacable persecution against me. She forgot about the
surprise birthday party she held for me, about her love letters via
Cubarte email — before they closed my account — her dedications in the
books in which she extolled me as "one of the few gentlemen I know,"
among other boasts that, "I don't want to say, as a man, the things she
told me. The light of understanding make me very restrained," when she
wanted me to take her to the river.
The truth is that, like the vulgar lady she embodies today — and those
who know me will agree because they know she smokes, drinks and swears
like a mule driver — as she has always climbed the rungs of power and
take advantage, she started her work of satrapy against me, in collusion
with State Security, Abel Prieto and Retamar, who were on the hunt for
me and waiting for the perfect moment.
They wanted more blood, mine — I read somewhere that, once they taste it
they suffer from vampire syndrome, and I imagine Retamar reveling in
mine. But far beyond anything in my imagination, this absurd process
always calls to me the accusations and persecutions against Hannah
Arendt, when she questioned the role of the "Jewish Councils" in the
holocaust. And, as I said, Laidi Fernandez began scheming against me.
And, along with her, even friends and acquaintances, fearful, because in
order to save their own backs they had to court the regime and were
capable of denouncing their own mothers.
A cynical act of the "Ladies of UNEAC"
A few days after the dictatorship sent me to prison, they had already
planned "A Meeting Against Gender Violence," which located at the best
place in the script: once the Havana International Book Fair and the
foreigners left, they cited me to go to prison, and at that very moment,
when the international protest against my imprisonment, these "Ladies of
UNEAC," as they called themselves, were collecting signatures to support
this injustice perpetrated by the regime.
The Retamar clan, as I denounced on previous occasions, was the great
promulgator of that collection of signatures against me. The old man,
instigated it on the grounds of the Casa de las Americas, where he
serves as director-for-life — which he has to pay for by getting his
hands dirty, as well as by emulating the Castros, as if it were a bet on
who is going to last longer in power. It is also know that this cultural
institution was used to convince some foreign intellectuals, who indeed
were fooled and joined them on that unjust campaign, despite a complete
proof of my innocence was on the internet (posted on my blog and on
hundreds of web and social media sites).
And there was also, sad to say, people who signed without knowing
anything about the matter, and following blindly officialdom's rumor,
which in reality had to silence my voice at any political cost after the
two Open Letters I wrote to the dictator Raul Castro, and my public
actions in defense of human rights and freedoms that we should have as
established in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
These "Ladies" were women who had never condemned the savage beatings
the repressive organs of the dictatorship inflict on the Ladies in
White, but the worst is that neither did they defend Ana Luisa Rubio,
when she was savagely beaten and the photos of her disfigured face were
shown on all of the world's web, including in Cuba; they were not even
moved by her being a member of the guild, being a popular and well-known
actress. They maintained their silence in a shameful act of cynicism,
becuase for them the abuses of the government ar not violations. They
only work when the dictatorship gives them the green light, like animals
trained to pounce on receiving the order to attack.
Papa Retamar's deceptions
The fears of the old wolf are publicly known when Fidel Castro sends for
him to come to the palace. They say that Retamar got a stomach ache. It
was not for nothing, surely fearful that the tyrant had decided to
inflict some punishment. I am sure that life and history will give an
account of the poet, above all of his cowardice, which is a great
sickness; the same sickness of those who ally themselves with power to
save their backsides.
Someone told me a few days ago that they had scene Laidi Fernandez in
the street and that a certain evil is already reflected in her face, to
the point of looking like a witch. That, I am sure, is the devastating
result of the weight of her conscience, if she has one, for all the
dirty plans that are cooked up in her house.
It could also be a consequence of being known as an inflated writer,
invented, because she has won literary prizes that just show the
pressure of her father on the judges. It is publicly well-known by the
writers' guild. And all those who have participated with her in these
contests, put up with it, although they prefer to shut up because it
would be confronting the full power of that last name and officialdom
that represent and exercise it. In addition to the pressure of her
father so that his Laidi was accepted in the Cuban cultural media, to
officialdom the cowardice carried in the blood is convenient, because it
would infer it would be one more ally for his dastardly acts, as
effectively she has been. But if she has any talent it is to get herself
extra perks, jumping from one functionary's bed to another's, standing
with any person in power if this power is interested in her self-promotion.
Retamarismos, but this time not of blood, but excreta.
I know a compelling anecdote, told in the first person. Someone who
still works in the Casa de las Americas did an anthology of women who
wrote stories. And, when the news broke, he was called into Retamar's
office. The critic, without knowing what the summons was about, rushed
over anyway because he was his boss and he was received by the
secretary. Just seconds later, intrigued, she faced the Director.
"I've been told," said Retamar, "that you are preparing an anthology of
The man nodded his head, in confirmation, still surprised, because he
didn't have the least idea of the interest of his boss.
"I've also been told that that you didn't choose any story by Laidi," he
said, with a certain suspicion. "Instead you selected a story by the
writer Mylene Fernandez," and he looked at him arrogantly, "they are
very good friends, you know?"
The anthologist didn't understand what was happening. In fact, he didn't
know who "Laidi" was, who Retamar mentioned, because keep in mind at the
beginning of her "literary career" she used her real name: Adelaida.
"So that my daughter won't suffer any inconvenience," Retamar let him
know with great authority, "you should substitute a story by her for
Mylene's… and I assure you, they are very good friends as I already said."
The anthologist told me that a question immediately came to mind,
silently: in what conditions would he continue his interest to keep
working at the Casa de las Americas? And he responded that there was
only one path left, replace the story or step down from the organization.
Everything ended with a nod and he left. And so it was that the story by
Laidi Ferandez appeared in that anthology.
But this is just one of the many maneuvers of Papa Retamar to get his
daughter recognized. Nor does anyone forget what happened in the David
contest and the disgust among the participants, when in reality the
prize, according to the quality of the book, should have been won by
Michel Perdomo, who later discovered that his book hadn't even been read
by the panel, friends of the old poet. This time, fortunately, they
didn't give in to the cheating to support Laidi.
The silence of the lambs
The old poet wasn't able to protest in front of the other members of the
Council of State, to which he belonged, and did not refuse to put his
signature of the death warrant of those young men who deserved to live,
who were the children of other mothers and fathers who then experienced
and suffered that unspeakably horrible act. Thus he tarnished his image
for posterity. In particular, I don't believe that some good verses
erase the color of blood.
We can't forget that when some vandals attacked her son in the Vedado
neighborhood where they live, Laidi forgot the ties of interest that
connect her to the dictatorship and jumped like a wolf, writing a
declaration attacking the system the let the public know that her blood
is untouchable. As is common, people support totalitarianism as long as
it doesn't injure them directly, not caring if others are hurt. But
then, two days later, when she had calmed down and reread it, because
the functionaries she knew well had been talking about her bad decision
to criticize the state, she rewrote the text to soften it, and it was
republished with the new version.
This is the quality of my enemies. These are the tyranny's bloodhounds
who are after me. Base people who don't love themselves who are
pressured to hurt me. Just to express my embarrassment for his sake for
Retamar's poetry, with the guilt on his hands and his soul, of young and
Source: Assassins, Accomplices and Victims / Ángel Santiesteban –
Translating Cuba -