Arrested for Publicly Asking President Díaz Canel for Help

A few weeks ago, Bernardo Calvino Bayola was arrested while walking the streets of Old Havana, carrying a sign in which he was asking for help from the President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Mario Díaz Canel.

Bernardo Calvino Bayola making his appeal in the streets of Old Havana. Photo by Mario Hechevarría Driggs
Bernardo Calvino Bayola making his appeal in the streets of Old Havana.
Photo by Mario Hechevarría Driggs

Bernardo is an HIV patient and lives with his mother in a community centre on Calle Lindero No. 121. He has more than one reason to protest.

“The room in the boarding house where I’m staying with my mom has only one window; there is no ventilation and the ceiling is low, so I have to stay all day in a horizontal position or crouch. When it rains, the ditch always overflows. We live in overcrowded conditions: there are a total of twenty-two families who have lost their homes after their houses collapsed. Every day there are power failures and we have to bring water from the street because in the building there’s none.”

Bernardo’s does not protest only against the housing conditions bordering on the inhuman. He believes that the situation he has found himself in causes stress, which has triggered other problems that are difficult to fight.

“We are stressed, we live in permanent tension. My mom suffers from senile dementia and the stress has accelerated the progress of her illness. Also, as her doctors have confirmed, stress has caused an outbreak of herpes zoster she’s suffered.”

Bernardo was arrested in Obispo Street and is now held in the Cuba y Chacón police unit for having refused to sign or agree to a fine of 1500 national pesos he had been officially given for having disturbed public order.