My Express Arrest: Molecular Repression in Cuba

by    /  September 17, 2012  / No comments

A regular occurrence under Raúl Castro’s presidency.

Poster calling for Orlando's release

A poster created while Orlando was in jail, calling for his release. Photo: Rolando Pulido.

On the first of September I went out with my girlfriend in Lawton, a picturesque neighborhood in Havana. A squad car and two motorcycles from State Security stopped us. I later discovered that they had been after me since the previous night. I was handcuffed with no explanation. They drove us to a far-off police station, where we were held until midnight. They then drove me home, still handcuffed, where my elderly mother was panicking, as the authorities had lied to her, saying that I had been accused of fraud.

  1. Is it worth-while to focus on the last images and letters coming from the inside of the last living utopia on Earth? Is Cuba by now a contemporary country or just another old-fashioned delusion in the middle of Nowhere-America? A Cold-War Northtalgia maybe? Can we expect a young within that Ancien Régime still known as The Revolution? I would like to provoke more questions than answers.
  2. Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana City and still resides and resists there, working as a free-lance writer, photographer and blogger. He is the author of Boring Home (2009) and is the editor of the independent opinion and literary e-zine Voces.

Express arrests like this are a regular occurrence under General Raúl Castro’s presidency. They take place outside of the law with no possible recourse for complaint. They are threatening, with the purpose of intimidating activists and disrupting their independent projects.

During Pope Benedict XVI’s visit (in March 2012) there was police action at nearly civil war levels, and the number of people repressed were in the hundreds, including my girlfriend and I. That time I was literally disappeared for two days (they never gave me the right to a phone call). But this time I managed to dial the number of a well-known friend, Yoani Sánchez (of the blog Generación Y), from my cellphone, and although they took it from me straight away, the line didn’t cut out and she was able to live tweet what was happening to us.

That instant visibility, the international solidarity that spread on social networks, and the support of a group of colleagues who went to the police station to demand a police report on what was happening prevented us from having to sleep behind bars. My eyes still well up when I remember the gratitude I felt to know that in Cuba some people are outraged in the face of injustice. I need to say “thank you” in every corner of the internet that my writing is published. Thank you for my self and for the Cuba without physical and ideological repression that we are already fostering in our hearts and minds.

The future is now.

Translation: Alex Higson

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