I was born in one of the central-eastern provinces. Cuba has been recognized by many as the beautiful pearl of the Caribbean, beginning with its discovery by Christopher Columbus, who said, “This is the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.” I was born in the year 1958, a year before the triumph of the revolution. My parents were religious, so I received an education according to their principles. My father and older brother were arrested several times and deprived of their liberty, my father twice and my brother three times, with all the mistreatment and abuse that you can imagine.
I remember one day when I was about seven years old. I was the fourth of my mother’s seven children, and we lived in a coastal town. My father had a nice sweet shop. He spent most of his time working and preaching the word of God, as is common in the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He never wanted to get mixed up in politics, or give opinions on anything except religion, and this was known throughout the town where he was appreciated for the help he provided to many people.
At that time to be religious, homosexual or dress fashionably was considered by many to be counter-revolutionary, and all these people were persecuted, and reasons were invented to detain them and prosecute them. One day several uniformed men appeared at the house carrying rifles, breaking the doors and windows. One group broke into the house and another surrounded it, as if they had entered the den of criminals or terrorists. As I said before I was seven years old and I had three brothers who were younger than me, along with my parents, who had never had problems with the police, nor the justice system. My father was forcibly handcuffed, pushed out of the house and arrested.
My mother and the rest of us went on foot walking through the entire town until we got to the police station. When we got there they were taking a statement, wanting to charge him with being a counter-revolutionary. He refused to sign and kept telling them that he was religious, and because of his beliefs he could not get involved in politics. After several hours of questioning, personal insults and physical abuse, they put him into a cell with other common criminals. One of those prisoners helped the police, and during this process, they broke his ankle and left marks on his body. He was not taken to see any doctor that day or the next .
My father stood firm and resisted being arrested, because this was so arbitrary, and it was inconceivable that he could be a counter-revolutionary. If he had signed those documents that would mean acknowledging his participation in something that he had not done. Many people witnessed these events, because many people gathered in front of the police station. After several days of detention, the police decided to release him. He sought out attorneys and presented evidence such as the medical certificate but no claim was ever accepted. He eventually realized that it was impossible to make a criminal complaint against the police, so he left everything in God’s hands.
On another occasion, in order to discredit Jehovah’s Witnesses, they created a kind of circus. They used a village alcoholic whom they tried to pass off as a Jehovah’s Witness. That fellow had the nickname of Maturranga. I was very young and do not remember his real name. The important thing was that a plot was created around him– he was given MECHONES and fuel to make it look like he was going to set a sugar cane field on fire. The police magically appeared and allegedly prevented him from burning down the cane fields, but in any case this man was well-known, and if he had set fire to the fields it would have been because he was an alcoholic, not because he was religious. Meanwhile they were preparing the other part of their plan in the town. Car amplifiers had been set up in the public park, and it was announced that they had caught a Jehovah’s Witness trying to burn a cane field, and that was not the end of this. They put on a show trial, but since everyone knew it was a farce, there were not many who attended.
The only thing accomplished by this was the jokes made by the people, who always invent mocking stories about any event. I remember some verses in the form of satire of that joyful event, which more or less said:
* * *
In God’s Armageddon
As prophesied by Maturranga
There will soon be a lot of malanga,
and also lard and rice.