Well, really, since I was born it was something in my blood. I grew up in a family that had animosity toward the government, the castro regimen, since 1959. I was born in 1970, and I was born with that cross that had marked our entire family, such that we were already not looked upon well by the government. My grandfather helped the revolution of Fidel Castro, the way he said it, there was a tyrant that had to be removed from power, and that was Fulgencio Batista, who was committing many crimes. And he helped remove the tyrant but he didn’t want to implant a new dictatorship. And in 1959 he realized the path Castro was going to take and said, “Don’t count on my support any more. I didn’t fight, I didn’t do my part in the struggle to just implant another dictator, and this is headed toward dictatorship, and communism. Don’t count on me anymore.”
Question: Has the Cuban Government changed its tactics in dealing with the opposition?
Yes. I can say that there have been general changes in all aspects. If we are going to talk about the government, they don’t put people in jail like they did 15 or 20 years ago, and if we were to talk about before that around the beginning of the revolution when they would just shoot people. But they don’t allow us to have meetings, they continue to repress us, they threaten us for short periods, that is to say, detentions are for short periods—72 hours, 24 hours, we were detained for almost fourteen days. For carrying out a protest in the streets. They simply don’t admit that there exists an opposition group demanding respect for the universal declaration of human rights. Demanding that there be radical changes in our homeland.
My principle goal is this: that the people unite. I like it, although many think that lots of people act like crazies when people go out into the streets to express themselves. I like expressing myself in the streets, I like getting to know the Cuban people—what is it we want? Because my goal is this: that the people come together in a protest and begin a social extraction, and the end of the dictatorship. I don’t want blood, for nothing, I would like for there to be a peaceful democratic change in my country, without spilled blood. Why not?
Question: And How long was the protest?
Around 40 minutes. On three occasions the tried to arrest us, and the people turned around on them, something that for me was a memory that makes me very emotional.
Well, first an official from the state security came up and said “That’s enough, stop protesting, disperse, you already achieved what you set out to achieve.” We said no, we haven’t achieved what we want, we want the people to unite, we want changes in Cuba, and he had to retreat, because the people who were there started to yell at him and offend him. Really, the people even called him “fat” and “go away fatty” and “leave her alone!” He went back and got support from others, but they couldn’t stop us either. Only when they showed up with all of their apparatus and patrol cars with sirens blaring did the people stop. At that point people began to get scared, because in 1994, in the “maleconazo,” there was a horrible repression by the police againsts the masses, and so people get very scared when the police show up. But this was one day, and in another day this fear that the public feels, they can lose it. And I say again, I wouldn’t want even a drop of blood, but the solution for our country is in the hands of its people.
Despite all this, many of my neighbors also disagree with the government. I can tell you that right here in the Rio Verde neighborhood, we have almost a majority of the residents on our side.
Here they make us stay in, the operatives. Look at what they have done to my house, they have destroyed my house. Nevertheless, the people continue to show solidarity, continue telling me, “I’m with you and I’m waiting until more people go out into the streets to join.” Of course, this is exactly what we are missing, the massiveness of our people in the streets. Which is something quite difficult, because, unfortuntately, and I have to recognize it, the state security has penetrated practically every opposition group that exists in Cuba. And we can’t, because we don’t reach all of the opposition, “Let’s meet up in Jose Martí Plaza,” because there will simply be someone who transmits this information to the repressive apparatus of the regime and they stop us. Right as we are leaving our houses they arrest us, and its over.
That is why you might have noticed that the manifestations are done among two, three, four, five people. In the Damas de Blanco’s case, yes we have been able to have large groups, but still, this you’re the didn’t let us onto the streets. We were stuck on the 8th, 9th, and 10th surrounded in the house of our fallen leader, laura Bollan, and on the 11th they repressed us brutally.
On the 11th, when the 28 of us women went out, we could see the massive repressive forces that had been around the house of Hector Masea in those days. We expected this and thought they would be close to Santa Rita, which they were. We participated in the mass, like we do every Sunday, and we did our traditional march, along Fifth Avenue, and our activity in Gandhi Park, and when we got to the stop for the P1 bus, to return to Havana, they closed off the street with motorcycles, and then groups of state security officials began lining up on each corner. They surrounded us and began to yell and repudiate us. They verbally offended us.
Now I am going to recount to you something very personal. During the 9th and 10th of December, there was an official from state security who goes by the name of Camilo, who did this to me [she does hand gesture]. He threatened me, motioning with his hands that he would catch me at some point. They were very angry with me for various reasons. I told the sub-secretaria of the pro-human rights party of Cuba, “They have tried for years to break our organization, and they haven’t been able to do it.” Also, I joined the Orlando Zapata National Front of Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience. In the Front, we decided that every 24th of every month, we would do an action. This 24th of November, we decided to have a completely peaceful march in silence with a sheet, which I have in here, down 23rd Street. We convened, in Martin Luther King Park, where Laura Bollán had been struck hard they year before. And we walked until 23rd and N, until the Cuban Pavillion, and no one did anything to us, the public didn’t do anything, only one person who broke the sheet.
After, on the 9th and 10th of December, Camilo said to me (hand gesture) “I will get you after.” And after all of this hitting, they take me from the 4th precinct station, in handcuffs, they put me in a patrol car, and they take me to the Aguilera station in the 10th of October Municipality. They take me out, and immediately there is a woman, older, dressed as a civilian, and she asks me, “What happened?”
And I say, “You know what happened to the Damas de Blanco.” And she asks what happened after that, and that she had understood that there was another problem at another place. And I said that they hit me and kicked me at the Cerro station, and you could tell that this had bothered her somehow, being there in her station having been hit at another station. She went up and eventually they took me out of the patrol car, an instructor came in, who said very little. Then an official by the name of Joan said, with these words—he didn’t include himself in this, but he should be included because he is part of the repressive body—he said, “They will kill you, and nothing will happen. Even if they kill you, nothing will happen.” And I said, yes, something will happen. Because when they killed Zapata, something happened, and when they killed Laura Pollan, something happened. When they killed Juan Wilfredo Soto-Balsilla, something happened. And if they kill me, something will happen. And with death of any one of us, your regime falls more.
But they are very clear threats that have occurred.