1. How and why did you become a dissident in Cuba?
I am a social being. The son of one of those iconic men of history whose story ended with irony. My father, because of his origin and race, was particularly popular among the masses and for many years was seen as the face of the poor and the blacks in power. I was born on December 2, an important date in the revolution, and Fidel announced my birth in a long, protracted speech.
From that moment on, all types of guns and military uniforms adorned my birthdays. And just to break the routine, some small prints with the image of the virgin given by my grandmother. By then it was forbidden to believe, and so this small gift carried with it the complicity of being a prohibited prize.
My fate – as they say – seemed to be to become a great soldier. But at school, or on the street, or when I left Havana, I could break out of this bubble, and I discovered a lot of things that seemed to have nothing to do with my ordinary routine. Overwhelmed by questions, and seeking the answers I became a dissident.
2 Did your father s attitude about Castro change during the years? What did your father say and think about his son being a dissident?
My father never stopped believing in a social system that would be more fair, or rather, less unfair, but he was, over time becoming separated from, and disappointed by the straight line of what is called “Doctrine”. This does not mean that he turned his back on Fidel.
The Cuban Revolution is an interesting phenomenon that began as a beautiful dream. Time, circumstances, and the clinging to power led to a dictatorship. We can t forget that these men fought and faced together many things, overcoming many difficulties, and created their own code of friendship, betrayal, loyalty and fidelity.
I think for my father, having a child who became a dissenter was just looking in his mirror. In his time, he protested, struggled, to the point of risking his life. Seeing me, I think he felt proud, although he did not express that. Disagreement is a part of human life, and it would have been sad for him to see me walk through life looking at things without leaving any trace.
3 What do you think of the situation in Cuba?
For many years we Cubans have been accustomed to being ruled by outsiders. First by the Spanish, then by the United States, later by the Soviet Union. There are similarities, which is not to say that these are all equal. The differences have to do with the era, and conditions, and faith, will; need, and information.
Things change. The rusted wheel stops rolling, the Government hides cracks and the State lies, saying that is making reforms. It’s not important to me who wins the awards. Motivated by the love of my country, I applaud every move, because every change means something is moving. I myself would like to see a change that is radical, but not abrupt.
When I think of my country, I visualize it as a plane in flight without any fuel. We can let it crash and try to escape in parachutes. I prefer to try to land it , the task of everyone together.
What role does the Catholic Church have for the future of Cuba in your opinion?
When the government captured the dual role of church and state, the Catholic Church in Cuba was the first and strongest dissident, the most persecuted, and the most humiliated.
The Revolution expelled priests and nuns, banned worship and religion. Nothing could compete with the bearded image of Fidel Castro. The young rebels annulled our traditions, trampled upon our sense of ethics and destroyed everything. Irreverence put an end to all social and cultural canons. Marriage lost its importance, the family disappeared as an institution, love and friendship acquired monetary value. To steal, or commit crimes or kill- everything developed a different meaning.
The country is a disaster, the moral deterioration of the Cuban people is really alarming, the government applauds prostitution,and encourages promiscuity and corruption. The role of the Church is essential.
But nothing is impossible, we still have people who have faith in their soul, and sacrifice in their heart. With the help of merciful men such as Father Jose Conrado, Bishop Juan de Dios Hern ndez (Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Havana), Fathr Roberto who officiates at the Church of La Caridad del Cobre in Havana, Monsignor H ctor Pe a (Bishop Emeritus of Holgu n), Bishop Gonz lez Bacallao (Bishop of Pinar del Rio , and many others- we can recover what has been lost.
The future began a long time ago, the Catholic Church in Cuba is an essential part of it, we walk with meekness and fear before the vision of the Lord. The Holy Father’s visit was and will be comforting.
How is the mood of the Cuban population, are the Cubans satisfied with the so called economic reforms?
The mood is one of disappointment, frustration, and migration, which is the “leitmotiv” of the Cuban people.
That which has been called reform has been little more than maneuvers, blatant manipulation with a pretty face and dirty soul, which seeks only to monopolize the economy. Mama Spain no longer exists, Papa United States is gone, our Sister the Soviet Union has died and left us with only the decadent cousin Chavez. The policy of General Ra l Castro is based on nostalgia and wants only to empty the pockets of the Cuban people, especially those in exile.
How was your relationship to Laura Pollan and how is her death affecting the “Ladies in White”?
Laura was an angel that God placed in my way. I loved going to her house, to meet her on the street, to see her shining in Santa Rita next to the Ladies in White. We laughed a lot, she had a unique sense of life.
Far from the clich that people may have, Laura was a simple woman who without seeking leadership, ended up as leader of this movement of women which marks a before and after in the history of my country: The Ladies in White. Laura was not a reporter, she was a hero.
I am pleased that her inseparable friend and companion Bertha Soler has assumed the role of undisputed leader of this movementthat is now called the Laura Pollan Ladies in White.
Her death? Well, what death? I want to remind everyone that she was an angel that God put in my path, and in the path of the people and the nation of Cuba. Angels are immortal.