April 19, 2001


A blind Cuban dissident bears witness

...I want to let the world know that, contrary to the Cuban government's manifestations to the contrary, torture is practiced in Cuba.

Ciego de Ávila, April 16 (Juan Carlos González Leyva, FCDH) — My name is Juan Carlos González Leyva, and I am the president of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights (FCDH) and a national delegate of the Independent Cuban Brotherhood of the Blind (FRACIC). Both institutions operate out of my residence, at Honorato del Castillo #154, between República and Cuba Streets, Ciego de Ávila. I am blind.

Through CubaNet, I want to let the world know that, contrary to the Cuban government's manifestations to the contrary, torture is practiced in Cuba.

On Friday, April 13, Marcelo Tier Piñeiro, the provincial delegate of the Democratic Solidarity Party in Sancti Spíritus, and I visited several dissidents in Jatibonico for the purpose of collecting signatures for the Varela Project.

While there, several residents told us that we were being followed by two Soviet-built Lada automobiles carrying Department of State Security agents.

At 3:00 p.m., a red Lada (as I was told later) almost ran us down and its four occupants attacked us, hitting and kicking. My dark glasses flew off my face, and they took my cane, my papers and my other belongings.

Later they dragged us toward the car and shoved us into it.

"Go quick," the agents told the driver.

As the car drove away I could hear some residents yelling: "Killers, Scum, Kidnappers!"

As we drove, one of the officers kept hitting Marcelo while two others held his hands and feet and kept him immovilized on the floor at the rear of the car.

In protest, I yelled "Enough abuse," but I couldn't say any more, because I was punched in the mouth, kicked in the face by a bare foot and punched in the ribcage. Later, I almost couldn't feel anything as they kept punching me for some minutes.

Afterwards, I perceived that they threw Marcelo out of the car, as I later learned, at an embankment about two kilometers from the Central Highway, near the border between Ciego de Ávila and Sancti Spíritus provinces.

They took me to the area of Río Grande, at the border of the municipalities of Majagua and Florencia. During the trip, they accused me of being a CIA agent, a mercenary for Yankee Imperialism, a homosexual, and a thief, among other lies.

They stopped the car, dragged me out onto a cane field and left me there face up. They left me helpless, without my cane.

"Leave him there, let him rot," said one of the policemen.

I was there for approximately one hour and, I don't know why, I thought of Christ's suffering on the Cross.

After that time, I sensed a truck approaching and a voice that said, "He's there, he's still alive, he's breathing."

"If he's alive, then let's put him on the truck," said another voice.

They took me to the medical post in the town of Marroquí, in the municipality of Florencia, in Ciego de Ávila.

Once there, the sector chief of the National Revolutionary Police interrogated me, but they didn't give me the medical certificate I asked for.

Marcelo Tier Piñeiro has several fractured ribs and concussions all over his body from the beating he received.

Among the things that State Security agents took from me are my cane —the third one they have taken from me— my dark glasses, the Book of Job in Braille, my papers, two directories in Braille, an Italian language text in Braille, a drinking cup, a spoon, 10 dollars, all the documents about the Varela Project, and more than 40 petition forms.

Versión original en español

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