June 14, 1999
Brief interview with a prisoner of conscience
José Antonio Fornaris, Cuba-Verdad
HAVANA, June 11 (Cuba-Verdad) - Reinaldo Alfaro García was proclaimed a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. He is vice-president of the Battlefront Against National Injustice Association [Lucha Frente a la Injusticia Nacional (ALFIN)] and presently is on parole, which did not impede him from temporarily participating in the fast that is taking place on Tamarinod 34 of the neighborhood of Santos Suárez in this capital.
Alfaro, who was threatened with being returned to prison once again for his
participation in the fast which is being carried out in demand of Cuba respecting human rights, and liberating the political prisoners, agreed to this interview.
JAF Alfaro, I believe that August 28, 1998 , that's to say when you were put on trial marks a milestone within civil disobedience in Cuba. On that day a protest was carried on outside of the courthouse, something that had not occurred for a long time. It was a manifestation in support of human rights of all people. What is your opinion of what happened on that day?
RAG That protest was the fruit of the maturity of the members of the opposition who were found there, it was a manifestation of solidarity with my person but, principally, I consider that it was a very opportune moment to express to the world that in spite of the repression and the other difficulties that we will perservere in the cause of liberty and democracy in Cuba.
JAF When did you learn of what had happened outside of the court house
after your trial?
RAG I learned it when I received my first family visit after the trial, which was after nearly 60 days in the headquarters of State Security in Villa Maristas. That was when I was informed of what had happened there.
JAF There are a few unknowns relating to the form in which you were taken out of the Provincial Courthouse in Havana after the trial was ended. How did they really get you out of there?
RAG At the end of the trial officials of State Security transferred me to an office nearby the court where I was tried. There they asked me a few questions trying to draw out of me some acceptance with respect to the 3 year sentence which they had just given me. I simply expressed to them that the sole act of detaining me even though for a few brief moments because of my political activities is a tremendous injustice. As I finished saying this, they conduct me to the roof of the courthouse that lead to the adjacent building. Through it they took me to the other building, and I could see, as I traversed to the other building a huge display of political police, agents dressed as civilians communicated with small radios.
I was placed on an elevator for about 5 minutes until my guides receive the order to bring me to the basement of the building where a red autmobile (a Lada model) waited for me, and in which they sat me. The State Security agents situated on the street waited for the signal to bring me out, and I was rapidly transferred from the place like in an escape.
JAF Do you know that there are some mis interpretations of your declarations referring to support that you received from the exile during your time in prison. What really happened?
RAG Simply put they are the misrepresentations of persons who appear to pretend to affect the process of unity that irremediably is consolidating inside and outside of Cuba. My declarations have always been that I continue to maintain and will repeat with this oppiortunity: I feel very satisfied for having received the most generous and biggest support received by a member of the Cuban opposition. During my imprisonment I did not lack either moral or economic support, including medicines, and for those whom waste their energies trying to create confusion among the opposition, I declare it anew.
JAF Do you believe that the opposition and the internal dissidence have
accomplished all that they can accomplish?
RAG I believe that the Cuban opposition, inside and outside of the island, have great challenges ahead. We need to consolidate that unity that we need so much. We should reconcile our common objectives. I consider that the opposition has come a long way winning maturity, seriously, in spite of the great power of the ruling regime in our nation. I am really hopeful that certainly we will consolidate our ideas.
JAF What future do you see for the Cuban opposition both internal and external?
RAG All will depend to the degree that we accomplish increasing unity both in the area of ideas as well as of actions that our common objectives impose on us. I am confident that very soon the Cuban opposition will achieve legalization because I believe that external and internal pressures will contribute to it.
JAF You participated in the fast that is taking place at Tamarindo 34 to demand the freedom of the political prisoners and that human rights be respected in Cuba. In general terms, how have you seen the development of this activity, what can you say with respect to it.
RAG It is an initiative that pursues vobjectives that are very noble. It is an action which all Cubans that love democracy and liberty should give their support. In Tamarindo 34 one can observe the presence not only of dissidents, and members of the opposition, but also average people without affiliation to any one who join and with whose presence they collaborate in that great necessity to democratize our nation. I should add, with relation to my presence in the 40 day fast, this past
June 9th in the evening the Colonel of State Security who is in charge of political prisoners of all the country threatened me via telephone by way of my own sister. This official expressed that I was risking my freedom for having assisted the fast, and for having made public declarations. I repeat once again that my presence in the fast of Tamarindo 34 is more than something I ought to do, but something I am obliged to do because I am total solidary with the demands that are being made there.
JAF Thank you very much, Alfaro. The free world does not understand the danger for you that represents you having assisted the civic protest of Tamarindo 34.
Translated by the Free Cuba Foundation
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