Tuesday, March 21, 2017

We've Been Investigating Ivan Garcia for Five Years

"We've Been Investigating Ivan Garcia for Five Years" / Iván García

Iván García Quintero, Havana, 19 March 2017 — When the summons arrived
for an interview with a police official, the girl's puzzled family
thought it was a mistake.

Let's call them Kenia, Pedro, and Camila. They are neighbors of mine and
prefer to remain anonymous.

Kenia was summoned to a police station on Finlay street, in the
Sevillano District, near the State Security barracks known as Villa Marista.

"When I arrived, the man started harassing and threatening me, saying
that I hung around with foreigners. Then he wanted to get information
about Ivan García, 'a known counterrevolutionary that we've been
investigating for five years.' He wanted to know details about his
private life, about where he got the money to repair his house. He also
asked my opinion about his work as an independent journalist. At one
point he described him as a 'terrorist' and said that both he and his
mother were 'conspirators.'

"I was in a state of shock. I told him that he is a friend of mine and
my family, and that if what he said is true, why didn't he arrest him.
The officer who interviewed me— young, hostile, and with a military
haircut — replied that for now they had no evidence, but they were
contacting people like me to collaborate with them and give them more
information. I refused to be an informant," says Kenya.

They were more direct with Pedro. "They accused me of giving
confidential information to Ivan Garcia. I told them that I had been
retired for four years. They threatened to open a file on me for
collaborating on some of the news stories written by Ivan. At the end of
the meeting, they warned me to be careful not to say anything to Ivan,
because 'he might get off scot-free, but you, Pedro, old as you are, you
could die in jail.'"

Without providing any evidence, they issued Camila a warning for
harassing tourists and prostitution. "I didn't sign it. But they told me
that if I keep associating with Ivan I will be prosecuted for
prostitution. I was accused of pimping and, together with Ivan, of
controlling several prostitutes who, in return for money, offered
information about their work. All that is a scandalous lie. Out of fear,
I promised to delete Ivan's phone from my contact list. "

All three were warned that they would soon be summoned again. I told
them that when they were, to let me know so I could go with them. If you
want to know about me, cite me; it is despicable to intimidate innocent

In March 1991, four years before I began writing as an independent
journalist at Cuba Press, I was detained for two weeks in a cell at
Villa Marista, the headquarters of the State Security Department. They
accused me of "enemy propaganda." I was never tried, but beginning in
1991, for whatever reason, I was detained.

Then there was a period of less harassment until October 22, 2008, when
at the intersection of Prado and Teniente Rey, a Colombian colleague
handed me some books sent by Ernesto McCausland, a prestigious Colombian
journalist, writer, and filmmaker (deceased in 2012). The Colombian and
I were arrested by the police and placed in a patrol car. He was
released immediately, but they took me to the station at Zanja and
Lealtad and kept me in solitary confinement for 11 hours. I recounted
this in State of Siege.

Two years later, August 2010, brought the first harassment by Military
Counterintelligence. I was then writing for El Mundo.es/América, which
published three denunciations, the first titled Citación oficial. Three
years later, I would again be harassed by the secret police. On February
18, 2013, Diario Las Américas published, on its front page, "Las
Américas Journalist harassed by the Cuban government." Continuing
evidence of this remains posted on the blogsite Desde La Habana.

State Security knows where to find me. They have my phone number and the
address where I live. I wait for them.

Translated by Tomás A.

Source: "We've Been Investigating Ivan Garcia for Five Years" / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -

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