A Lady in White Who Doesn’t Bargain
My names is Isabel Ramos Martínez. I live in Jaimanitas, Havana, in 240 Street #5A05, between 5th A and 5th B streets. And, except the hours that I spend fighting for my son’s freedom, the rest of the time I live locked down between these walls.
I have two sons. One suffered through searches, the citation, being fired from his job… he was fed up and without even being a dissident, he decided to get the heck out of this country. He left on the 6th of this current month… can you imagine? My grandson spent a couple of years without attending school. He was not allowed in the university because – according to what he was told – his grandmother is a counterrevolutionary.
Mi other son is in prison since 1987, as part of the case 16/87. They were asking for the death penalty, but it was commuted to 30 years in prison. His name is Arturo Suarez Ramos. He writes and constantly denounces the Cuban prison system. And, more than being a writer, he is the main character of a book he put together, with photos and all that, unfortunately it got lost in the hands of so-called dissidents that I’d rather not even mention.
I am a Lady in White. I am not a Support Lady because I have a son that has been jailed for 27 years in conditions only suited for animals.
Back in 1998, when everything was being prepared for the Pope’s visit to Cuba, John Paul II himself asked for Fidel’s mercy and convinced him to free 14 political prisoners. My son was one of them. Those 14 political prisoners were transferred to Villa Marista, the headquarters of the political police and State Security. They were given new clothes, new shoes, they were cured of their illnesses and fed and fatteedn up to get them ready to be showcased to the world.
Canada was supposed to receive those 14 political prisoners who were being fatten up in Villa Marista. But, while his Holiness had not even finished stepping up to the plane, very suspiciously, Canada refused to receive five of those 14 political prisoners. My son was among them. We fought for those five that were excluded, we went to embassies and other diplomatic facilities, but we couldn’t solve anything. They are still jailed. Because of that weird move we still can not understand.
Everything was a huge lie. And everything was very well planned because among those who left Cuba, there was one person known for his work for the State Security. Now, how did this person leave instead of the other five rejected? I don’t know, I still have a thousand doubts…
Today, history repeats itself, since the Church is asking for the release of some political prisoners. I wish them luck and that, on top of being fattened up, made healthy, and receiving new clothes and shoes, they can also have their freedom.
I was granted political asylum since June 2009, but the Cuban government is denying me the white card, that is the exit permit to leave the country, and that is a violation. I am being punished without even have committed a crime, but I won’t quit and I will do the unthinkable to stand for my son’s freedom, like any other mother would do.
A few days ago, around 8 pm, a young man – white, short and with blue eyes – came to visit me. He said he was Officer Tamayo, from Section 21. I invited him to have a seat and he told me:
“Look, Isabel, we came to make a deal with you.” And, while looking at his wrist watch, like reminding me what time it was, he added: “The headquarters are willing to give you the white card; the exit permit for you and your family if you quit the Ladies in White.”
I looked at him and couldn’t muster anything other than to tell him: “Son, you have the power and the force and I’m really sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t know how to negotiate. I am not a dealer.”
All this happened exactly as I am telling you. I want to leave this country to help my son. I am not ashamed to say that if I could, I would fight for him even more. You, Juan Juan, should be able to understand me… I’ve heard your daughter and your wife are living abroad. Then, tell me, what wouldn’t you do to kiss them both?
See? People have to be able to walk in a mother’s shoes… they have to understand, with no doubts, that even if my son were a murderer – which he is not – I would probably be doing the same thing and standing up for him. And when the Cuban government finally lets me go, I will continue helping and screaming for him.
I fight for my son and for all political prisoners because here, we don’t have only the group of the 75; there are way more political prisoners and we should be fighting for all of them.
Thank you, my son, for allowing me to vent out from my heart.
Translated by Mailyn Salabarria