Elías’ Way of the Cross

Journalist Julio César Álvarez / A. Koleman
Journalist Julio César Álvarez / A. Koleman

 

Elías Pérez Bocourt was tortured and humiliated in Cuban prisons. He was put behind bars with 30-years sentence for attempted illegal departure which ended in death of several people. On that 9th of June 1992, three people were killed and one mortally wounded as the police tried to stop the theft of a boat in Tarará marina, east of the capital, according to authorities.

The Government immediately tried to capitalize on this event. With obvious intention to denigrate the opponents and dissidents, the Government publicly stated that everyone involved in these murders was a counter-revolutionary element. In fact, none of the people who took part in the Tarará events was involved in political activities against the Government nor was member of any opposition group.

However, since they had been accused of counter-revolutionary actions (in addition to the attention paid to the case by press and television), acts of revenge against them emerged especially in prisons run basically by the guards themselves.

When Elías Pérez Bocourt entered the Special Prison in Camagüey, he was taken to the punishment area. According to Juan Lang Moya, fellow prisoner who spent more than 25 years behind bars, Elías would be beaten up at least once a week without any reason. After thrashing some of the guards would urinate on him through the bars of his cell. The guard known as La Rosa, sentenced later to 7 years for rape, was one of those who tortured Elías this way, says Lang Moya.

Captain Mora, director of the prison, sentenced later to 17 years for murdering his wife, authorized this cruel and degrading mistreatment which made the Special Prison in Camagüey one of the most infamous in Cuba.

Even some of the fellow prisoners unleashed their perversity with the complicity of the guards. After release from the confinement cell, Elías was sent to a collective cell together with convicts of the worst sort. He was abused and raped there and the guards knew what was happening.

Elías Pérez Bocourt is still imprisoned. His torturers have never spent a night in jail for the suffering they had inflicted on him. Some of them may have even been awarded the Medal for Distinguished Service.

Elías’ way of the cross keeps going on. It is fair for him to pay for his crimes. But is not fair that his torturers will never pay for theirs.