Monthly Archives: July 2011

Testimony: The Failed Attempts to Make Me an “Agent” – III

Photo: Reuters

It terrified me to know that I could return to the cells for another sixty days, or maybe more. But it caused me more terror to imagine myself “cooperating” with those I didn’t believe, with those who I considered were abusing my country, to know myself complicit disgusts me. I also knew that to be a writer in the system in which I had to leave, to be recognized and have the right to publish, I had to infallibly offer an image of support to the Government or, at least, to pass unnoticed, a “fellow traveler,” apolitical or anarchist. But my literature critical of the system betrayed me in every publication.

A few days from having returned from sixty days imprisonment, I received a visit at home from a man who identified himself as a State Security “agent.” He could see on my face that he wasn’t welcome. He said he would take only a few minutes, because a senior officer was waiting to talk to me.

Outside was a Lada car that took me to an apartment in the Vibora neighborhood. After greeting the owners they told me to continue to the last room. I waited for a uniformed colonel. He asked me several questions that I answered mostly in monosyllables. It was evident that I didn’t like him or that I took those minutes as a waste of time. They gave me pencil and paper and asked me to write a report in the third person. When he understood my hesitation he told me to write about anything because that was why I was a writer. I don’t even remember what nonsense I wrote.

We didn’t even say goodbye, he just nodded and withdrew his presence. I returned home worried, the Colonel’s face said something I couldn’t decipher. What I was sure of was that it would be fatal for me.

Days later, the same official came to house, stopped me in the street, and asked me to accompany him to see if I recognized some guys who were motorcyclists like me and were, perhaps, those who had thrown the Molotov-cocktail. They took me to a tenement and asked me to enter the last room. I refused, saying that I wasn’t a cop and had no vocation to be one. We exchanged various insults and at this point several people came out whom the official insisted I identify. I said I didn’t know them. Two days later they knocked on my door, when I opened it there was a man pointing a gun at me. The gun was within reach of my hand and I felt defenseless.

The sound seemed alien, just the shock of the black, then the smell of gunpowder. I thought I was unharmed but then I felt something sticky running down my leg. I looked and raised my arm and I could see the hold. The bullet penetrated the muscles of my arm, passed through it and went through my ribs to my chest. A patrol car “happened” to be nearby and took me to the nearest hospital.

Two days later, the official, Germán, appeared and relocated me to the Hermonos Amejeiras Hospital and put me in a room with a security camera. The doctors decided to leave the bullet inside me because removing it would have required breaking the sternum and caused major trauma.
When I left I went to recover at the house of a friend, who told me that the same Germán had suggested to him to get me out of his house, and he had responded that friends don’t abandon each other.

That was the direct farewell of their attempt to make me into an Agent of State Security. Against their will I was winning literary prizes, especially those they didn’t reach in time to block the vote, as in 1992 when they threatened the writer Abilio Estevez. Since then I have been a thorn in their side that has denied them the pleasure of eating souls.

When the international jury of the Casa de las Americas Prize in 2006, decided to award it to me for my book “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn,” they were annoyed. One of them approached me at the La Cabaña Book Fair and told me the award had made me into a sacred cow. That from that moment I was more dangerous.

I think he was right. Anyway, I reminded him that the system was executing even its sacred Generals, so how much could one “cow” more or less matter.

25 July 2011

Testimony: The Failed Attempts to Make Me an “Agent” – II

Photo: Reuters

After two months of hiding in the neighborhood of Güinera, I reappeared in my neighborhood. Everything seemed calm. The good thing was that I had taken advantage of the time to read and create. And I thought I could resume my life.

When I least expected it, they raided my house and arrested me once again. As soon as I arrived at their headquarters, they assured me that I would now spend there as punishment the same length of time that I hadn’t shown them my face. And that is exactly what happened. They kept me in those cells of intense disciplinary rigor for the 60 days that I had remained hidden. There, also, I undertook a process of creation which was my salvation.

In that prison I wrote a story in my memory. I would say one phrase out loud, and then add another word and began to repeat it from the beginning, and so, continually, hundreds of words beginning to be a long story that, in fact, I published. I just remember my cell mates looking at me with fear, as if I was a crazy man who might hurt them. There was one moment when one of them knelt to beg me to shut up, they were tormented, I wasn’t letting them think or sleep. I think they also learned the story.

On the 56th day a certain Germán came to see me, he was one of the state security agents I had always seen at literary events, especially at the activities of the Casa de las Americas. He was accompanied by two others, and when they took me to the office they were seated on the sofa. I had barely entered and looked at them, when my pants fell down, keeping in mind that I wasn’t wearing underwear, and they looked offended. The Germán guy told me  that he wasn’t going to get into it with me and assured me that, despite everything, he was a young revolutionary.

I really had to hold myself back, in light of my physical weakness, from my desire to come to blows with them, feeling an immense need to give rein to my anger. Germán assured me that he would work it out soon, but not to forget to “cooperate” with the officials.

At the end of 60 days I had become so thin that when I went to see my mother-in-law, who had known me for ten years, she couldn’t recognize me.  When I talked I started to cry, and the feeling came over me of being in the state of calamity.

I had barely entered the apartment when, without even drinking a glass of cold water, I sat in front of the computer and began to write the text I had memorized. In those days of imprisonment my greatest fear was that I would forget the story.

Then I saved it, and on seeing it printed I felt like the sun had come out for the first time since my arrest; I believe I smiled because I understood that I had played a trick on them. If they thought they could keep me from writing, from creating, they had not managed to do so.

And of course, even more than before, I was reluctant to cooperate.

July 20 2011

Testimony: The Failed Attempts to Make Me an “Agent” – I

Photo: Reuters

Knowing how to say no when the opportunity presents itself, no matter the surprise, the gain, or the subsequent costs of the negative, is what differentiates us from prostitutes.

My rejection of the regime came to me from an early age, I knew it was the wrong road and that with the Communist System the Cuban people would never enjoy the full and dignified life they deserve after a half century of the Republic.

How can I forget the calls in the University made to Amir Valle when in the middle of classes they interrupted the professors to take them out of the classroom and threaten them for what they said or failed to say. Or the beating given to the writer Jorge Luis Arzola in Jatibonico for attending the Literary Workshop and then, in the middle of the night, they took dragged him out of his cell and beat him again. Arzola had so many differences and grudges with the system that made them irreconcilable.

In 1994 I was a little-known writer; I was arrested and taken to the cells of State Security headquarters at Villa Marista, suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails in different places in the city. Three days and nights of interrogation made me faint. It was a dream that produced blackouts, moments of unconsciousness interrupted by shouts, threats, and shoving that I couldn’t even repulse or offer them some offense and remember that I had rights, that I was alive. Within a week I felt that death would be a pleasure.

Then, all of a sudden, they offered to let me “cooperate”: I only had to tell them who had thrown the Molotov Cocktails, “just that,” they told me. I don’t remember if I shrugged my shoulders, shook my head, or simply, in my catatonic state, they assumed my positive response. At midnight I was put out on the streets, the houses were spinning and the lights tormented me, people were looking at me like I was a drunk, but that’s to the excitement of being able to see my family, I made it home.

Several days later a plain-clothed official was walking through my neighborhood looking for me to learn some data I could give him, but he didn’t manage to find me. I had hidden in the suburb of Güinera. I hid there two months. And they waited. To their way of thinking I had failed them. They understood they wouldn’t manage to get me to give in, nor to make me understand that I would be “protected” at their side, so they moved on to Plan B.

They used every variation on me that, in the end being human, at times I asked myself if I should have collaborated; but I immediately rejected such stupidity. I never would. I knew my mother would rise from the dead to vomit in disgust. My sister would change her name. And my friends and detractors would refuse to greet me, because there is nothing more despicable than a traitor.

July 15 2011