How Much Time Is Six Years?

In Cuba, the relativity of time has been confirmed. Fifty years has flown by and six years feels like an eternity.

Only 50 years of the Revolution have passed and, but according to ours leaders on January 1st, they are counting on there being 50 more. Clearly, it should be asked of each Cuban how they observe the passing of time. Possibly 70 percent of the population would interpret it according to what they lack and the daily fight to survive, while after a relieving sigh, this might even seem like a break from the marching orders and the battle preparations against an enemy that never will arrive, fortunately. Perhaps during that time the government’s promises will be fulfilled or a visa and an exit permit will be successfully obtained that pointlessly consumes so much time in our unique life, because whether they really want it or not, we are all simple mortals.

But in a Cuban prison cell, time multiplies itself indefinitely. Fifty four of the ‘75’ prisoners of conscience that were confined between the 18th and the 20th of March in 2003, will soon complete their sixth years in prison. The regime has shown absolute contempt for those they govern, prisoners in the Cayman Archipelago. Therefore, when the regime confines them to a smaller cell, because it occurred to them to say what they were thinking, the only thing that matters is that they don’t die inside so that the rest of the outside world doesn’t try to snoop around.

Of late, they have endorsed International Human Rights Covenants and in their reports to the UN’s Human Rights Counsel, they stated that they comply with the 95 precepts outlined in the Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners, even if the National Assembly has yet to ratify these covenants and the ICRC is still not permitted to visit Cuban prisons. The regime even invited the Rapporteur against Torture to visit Cuba, perhaps because they intend to convince him that torture only exists when it leaves marks or physical proof. Rather than having him investigate the forms of psychological torture present in every Cuban jails on a daily basis, in forms such as manipulating prisoners by denying them medical attention or their medications.

All of the families of the ‘75’ have been submitted to psychological torture as well. Given restricted assess to their loved ones, they have been forced to travel hundreds of kilometers, once or twice a month, only to see a filthy, sick person for a couple of hours in a small room under the gaze of State Security in order to bring them whatever limited resources are permitted. Even though every day is difficult, nothing is worse than the day before or the day after a visit, due to the uncertainty around what they will encounter and the inexplicable pain it will cause them to abandon a loved one in such conditions.

And even this doesn’t take into consideration the quiet, serious and thoughtful child left behind by those in prison that can not sleep well and is seen as ‘different’ in school because their father has been called a counterrevolutionary….the elderly mother who died prematurely and the aging father who lost his memory after so much suffering…or the wife driven to the point of exhaustion by fighting for his freedom?

No, it is impossible that the regime will continue subjecting them to the whims of injustice. No one should be able to accustom themselves to the idea that this is inevitable, and simply wait for the better times to come. Each of us should try and imagine for at least a moment how it would feel to be in a similar situation. The sacrifice of these individuals will always be remembered, but they deserve to be free today, taking part in the Cuba that we are all struggling to reconstruct.