Hunger strike in Cuba
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January 2015
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    One name on the list

    One name on the list
    YOANI SANCHEZ, Enero 15, 2015

    Living in Caimanera is like living on an island within the island. On
    either side of the highway at the entrance can be read “This is the
    first anti-imperialist trench in Cuba.” The land is arid and three
    points of police control block any unauthorized person from accessing
    the town.

    In the village adjoining the Guantanamo Naval Base, a young man has
    woken up in his own bed today after months in prison. Yojarne Arce
    dreams of being lawyer, although in the last year he has experienced the
    law from its most arbitrary side, the political prison.

    This 35-year-old Guantanameran has been released as a part of the
    agreements between the Cuban government and the United States. His name
    is on the list of activists that Raul Castro ordered out of the prisons,
    in a political game as long-awaited as it is disappointing.

    In the cold language of the court record, it says that Yojarne was
    condemned for the crime of assault, but those who knew his activism said
    that State Securirty spent time “hunting him down.” It was a matter of
    time before they trapped him.

    In the middle of last year a video raced across social networks and
    mobile phones. In it the images of a man is seen standing on a
    telecommunications tower where he displays a sign with the phrase “Cuba
    violates human rights.” For long minutes he waves the cloth and shouts

    At the foot of the metal structure people are gathered, half curious,
    half supportive. That day the police could not arrest him, because his
    neighbors surrounded him and accompanied hi, home. “You’re not going to
    take him,” shouted some of them at the law enforcement officers.

    But the police have the time, all the time, to wait until an
    inconvenient individual is alone and helpless. That day came. They
    arrested this young man from Generation Y right in the street, between
    blows and screams, a few yards from the border than separates Cuban
    territory and the American naval base.

    And what list are you on?

    Yojarne spent days of interrogations and threats. Afterwards they took
    him to the Guantanamo Provincial Prison, a school-style construction in
    the country where the greatest lesson to be learned is survival. “I went
    to ‘The Gulf,’ which is what the prisoners call this encampment where I
    was, because it’s the last, the end of everything.” He spent most of the
    time among murderers, repeat offenders and rapists.

    “From the beginning I behaved like a political prisoner because I helped
    to organize several protests and defend the rights of other prisoners,”
    Yojarne said, while his grandfather prepared a taste of coffee to be
    drunk in one sip, thinking about those days in prison with hardly any

    The life of this Patriotic Union of Cuba activist has gone from one list
    to another. To visit him in Caimanera it’s necessary to sign in on a
    form that every family has at the police station. “Relatives note the
    name of whoever wants to spend some days with them and then the person
    is investigated to see if they can enter the town.” For someone who was
    studying fifth year law when he was arrested, these restrictions remain

    He was in the prison yard with the common prisoners when they called
    him. “Yojarne, get your things, you’re going,” one of the guards told
    him. At first he thought it was a joke. Between those walls he had been
    on hunger strike and was in the punishment cell at least three times.
    The Guantanamo Provincial Prison was his home for six months, a cruel
    home where he won some small battles and left on parole.

    “I started a protest which several inmates joined to demand that they
    display the prison rules,” he says in a lawyerly tone. He takes his time
    between one word and another, as if reliving those days and then
    continues, “I did it so the prisoners could know their rights and know
    what they had access to.”

    The first visit after his release was to his captive village. “Caimanera
    remains the same, nothing has changed, the people are fed up.” Thus he
    explains his first impressions. His grandmother waited for him at home,
    running back and forth with joy. The neighbors also came to hug a man
    who was once a sports trainer and an improvised physiotherapist in the

    “I lost the school year, because the university took advantage of my
    being in prison to kick me out,” he explained, sadly. He lacked just a
    few months to obtain the title of lawyer that he had planned to hang on
    the wall facing the door. “I am going to try again,” he says loudly,
    although it seems to be a promise he is making to himself.

    The phone rings and it’s an activist from Santiago de Cuba who called to
    report that they wouldn’t let him enter Caimanera because he isn’t “on
    the list.” Yojarne is trapped in a Cold War bastion that the official
    discourse itself seems to be rejecting. He has exchanged Guantanamo
    provincial prison for the wide prison that is Caimanera.

    Source: One name on the list –

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