The Cuban Reflection Movement (MCR) has been the target of a range of repressive modalities, on the part of the State security services. Since its founding in 1994, its members have been the victim of arrests, threats, defamation, surveillance, persecution, acts of repudiation, blackmail, and illegal searches among other things, even when, at the beginning, it requested, as is required, to be legally registered as an NGO, from which no reply was ever obtained.
The MCR’s general secretary, Librado Linares García, has been the one who has suffered the most in this regard, precisely because he is its leader and at the same time because of his personal integrity. The activist has been detained in police stations and provincial headquarters of the State security from different provinces such as: Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Havana, Holguín, Pinar del Rio, Matanzas and others.
Librado has also suffered multiple searches that resulted in confiscation of books and, on two occasions, of entire libraries. When he began to work, he was threatened with expulsion from his job and subsequently forced to work in a contingent in the countryside, for which he ended up requesting his definitive discharge and was hit with a dragnet while riding his bicycle.
In addition, this activist has also been defamed as State Security agent, so that his colleagues would distrust and distance themselves from him. Librado is frequently harassed when he moves within the municipality or outside of it and sometimes detain him on his way out or upon his return, as they see fit.
On the day of one of the editions of the Espuelas de Plata competition, in which Raúl Rivero participated as president of the jury, they picked him up at dawn in a sugar cane truck and took him to a desolate field that he did not know in Corralillo, more than 80 km away, so that he would not be present.
Librado was also a victim of provocations on the street. On one occasion, he was called to the door of a house in Santa Clara when he was leading a meeting of the commission # 11 of the Cuban Council of the three central provinces, by an inmate who had just been released from prison, and when he opened the door, the convict hit him and threw him to the floor, after which the police immediately arrested him and imposed a fine of 30.00 CUP.
The sentence and years in prison
In 2003, he was unjustly sentenced to 20 years in prison according to article 91 of the Penal Code, in a hastily arranged trial, in which he was only able to meet with his lawyer the day before, late at night and for a short time. On another occasion during his stay in one of the State Security cells in Santa Clara, he was the victim of a provocation by an alleged prisoner who ended up beating him, which he only got out of due to the solidarity of the other 75 prisoners from the Black Spring who were sharing the same compound and who knocked on the metal doors to attract attention.
The diet that he received in prison was reduced significantly during that first month, as a result he lost about 26 pounds and began to suffer from gastritis. A few days after the oral hearing, he was transferred to the Combinado del Este, more than 300 km away. In the first months, he was confined in one of the bricked-up cells, known as “The Rectangle of Death,” where he had to take his water from a tap that was over the same squat toilet in which he took care of his physiological needs, with little light and ventilation. For not accepting the uniform of a common prisoner or standing for the headcount, as well as for not shaking hands with the military, they gave him 7 months without a family visit or food parcels and 11 without a visit from his wife.
From then on, they took him to other larger cells, the hour of fresh air that he was entitled to was not given to him many times. The portions of food were insufficient in quantity, variety and quality and the medical assistance was terrible during that first stage. There was a great presence of vermin such as: cockroaches, mice and mosquitoes. They kept this up for the eight years that he served, due to his upstanding attitude, almost all of the time under an extremely strict regimen, which included family visits every three months and conjugal visits every five in the first stage, then family visits every 2 months and conjugal visits every 3 months.
After a year and a half, he was transferred to the Ariza provincial prison, in the province of Cienfuegos, more than 80 km away, there the cell was very small, but they had him in the medical ward, after the diagnosis of an eye disease, which is known as bilateral multifocal epitheliopathy, which caused the al
most total loss of vision in the left eye. During his years in prison, he almost always had the wrong prescription for his glasses.
Librado often faced tense situations provoked by the State Security itself, such as the attempt to accuse him of drug trafficking, after a prisoner placed psychotropic drugs in his belongings. To this end, an instructor from the Ministry of the Interior took him to an office and talked to him, insinuating that his sentence would be increased for this alleged crime.
The last two years were spent in the prison La Pendiente de Santa Clara, some 30 km away, where situations such as the suspension of the Conjugal Ward arose, due to him allegedly missing a stamp for the HIV analysis. Many times they did not let him have certain food that had been sent to him even though it complied with the rules or prepared meals that have always been received without problems on previous occasions.
Back to freedom but not free from repression
In 2011, after his release from prison, there was already a security camera in front of the house, which was placed in a window of a collaborator and which remains there to this day. His house is under surveillance all the time, to have control of who enters and leaves Linares García’s house. There has been no shortage of arrests when there were meetings, courses, events, peaceful marches with speeches and protest signs. This is also the case when he has gone to another municipality or province, either on a visit or to give a workshop or take part in events of this kind.
On several occasions they have carried out acts of repudiation in front of the house, with workers, militants of the Communist Party of Cuba, collaborators of the State Security and officials of the Ministry of Interior, on one occasion they gave him a blow to the chest and at another time they threatened him from a loudspeaker with death; they have had him arrested for several days for trying to participate in activities of other organizations or the US and European embassies.
The belongings of Librado and his close ones have also been targeted. Several of his mobile phones were broken; they have made searches in the homes of other members and have taken: computers, printers, books and humanitarian aid for the movement. They have sent him offensive messages and threatened him, as well as various family members, including his nephews. Even their kitten has had tar poured on him.
In this last stage they took away his mobile phone, as well as humanitarian aid. People who visit him are almost always stopped and interrogated to find out the reason for which they are visiting and sometimes they go through whatever they have in search of opposition literature or some help in the form of money, food or medicine. Depending on who it is, they warn, question or threaten them and they have even taken money from them and seized their cell phones to check them, including family members and relatives. They have permanently banned him from traveling abroad, he has only done it once. They have set him up online, such as him meeting with the officers and being decorated by a military man, in order to denigrate him.
Attacks against the Linares family
I cannot compare my case to that of Librado, though they have also detained me, interrogated me, taken my fingerprints and held on to my mobile phone for several days. They have taken me off a bus to prevent me from traveling to Havana. They have watched me 24 hours a day for 9 days, when my husband was in prison, to prevent me from going to the headquarters of the Ladies in White, of which I was a member. I have been questioned and threatened. On one occasion a suitcase of informational literature was seized from me at the airport, when I returned from visiting the Republic of Argentina.
They sent a collaborator in a drunken state to our home who threatened to kick in our front door. On another occasion a collaborator got into my in-laws’ house and took some large stones to throw them, fortunately caught the attention of some neighbors and ended up leaving.
They have offended my honor, in one of the acts of repudiation; I was detained in the Migration Office to prevent me from traveling to Spain at the invitation of the Asociación Diario de Cuba. They have followed me when I move around within my municipality and by extension, they have tried to denigrate my son because he studies at the university, despite the fact that he has kept activism at arms-length and focuses on studying and preparing for life, as corresponds to a young man his age.
At the crack of dawn, they have thrown pig excrement on the top of our cistern. In the front of our house we had to witness rotten food, pitch, red paint, a dead cat, and eggs. They also released a light-yellow toxic liquid under the door of my mother-in-law’s house in the early hours of the morning with a pungent smell and they threw two stones that damaged the wooden door.
All that repression, harassment and suffering come as a price for defending human rights in Cuba.