But Now, Tell Me, What Do I Do?
My name is Ignacio Martinez Montero. I was born on July 31, 1963 and I live on Buenos Aires street number 354-E between Magnolia and San Julio in the municipality of Cerro, in the city of Havana.
I studied verification and diets of domestic animals. That has to do with ducks, goats, dogs, chickens, etc. I graduated in ’86 and the mandatory military service took me up. I didn’t like the military so I decided to desert. For that reason they sentenced me to one year in prison. Luckily, after I completed my year they gave me what was called a “dishonorable leave” from the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).
During that entire year I heard and saw things that I did not like. It was because of this that, little by little, my bandage started to peel off and my transformation was beginning.
I served my year for being a deserter and then I started to work. That’s how I spent my life, jumping from here to there. In each job I had I faced many problems because of how I thought and what I said.
It was now 1994. It was a hot August day when I got to my mother-in-law’s house at Cuba & Chacon, right in the heart of Old Havana and very near the Malecon. In fact, right after visiting her I decided to sit along the Malecon over the bay, very close to where the now famous little boat, Casablanca, comes and goes. That year was a convulsed one- there was lots of talk about rafts heading towards Miami, and about the tug-boat incident- perhaps that is why trucks from the special brigade arrived at the scene, harassing those of us who were sitting down along the ridge.
Our response to such aggression was simply to demand freedom. It has been said that we threw rocks- but that is all a lie. The truth is that we were fed up with so much aggression and, without planning it, we just walked together screaming “Enough” and “Down with the Revolution!” Before arriving at the Deauville hotel there was already a battalion waiting for us. They hurt us with sticks and iron bars. It was they who started the scandal. They broke my eyebrow and left me somewhat limping. The aggressors used arms, they were not civil. One of the guys that marched with us, whom they refer to as “the Moor,” was shot in the torso while he was handcuffed and miraculously did not die. Who do you think paid for this? Nobody.
They threw us in a truck where they continued beating us as they tried to make us scream “Viva Fidel.” They took us to the police station on L & Malecon. After many hours, they took me to the Calixto Garcia hospital where they attended to my foot and healed the wound on my eyebrow. There was never a medical certificate. From there, they boarded us on another truck, basically kidnapped us, and took us to the 15/80 prison. No one knew where we were.
Some sons and nephews of “Papá” (Fidel), who were in our group, were immediately released. One of the guys couldn’t take it anymore and ended up hanging himself. No one found out about that, but there are many of us who witnessed it, and know, what really happened on that August 5, 1994, the day of the Maleconazo.
They took me from 15/80 to Villa. They changed my name for a number and I spent 18 days in long interrogations in which there were tortures. They did not want to understand that what had just happened was not an organized event, it was totally spontaneous. We had a brief trial, they put prisoner clothes on us, they pushed us like cows into a truck, and, without saying a word to our families, took us to prison. I was thrown into Kilo 7 where I was kept absolutely isolated for 8 months without being able to go out to the sun. Upon completing the sentences, we were released but not before being warned that we would be watched. And it wasn’t a lie. That is how it has been.
I then joined the opposition. I affiliated myself with the National Opposition Union (UNO) Party until it folded as an organization. Later, I joined the dissident organization of Naturpaz (Nature, Peace, and the Environment).
Upon getting out of jail I went to the United States Interest Section here in Cuba to ask for political asylum for my family and me. It was denied. I asked for my case to be reconsidered three more times and I was denied once again each time.
My son is 12-years-old and has been mistreated in school because an official from State Security visited his school and told everyone that his parents were counter-revolutionaries.
My wife, Ivonne Malleza Galano, is a Lady in White and has been cruelly threatened. When she fasted in the month of April 2010, an official by the name of Ruben visited us and told my mother that they were going to jail me for 30 years.
My last job was in a state owned business that I don’t wan’t to mention because, on a very bad day, someone called me and told me:
– “Brother, you’re a good worker but you gotta get outta here because Security visited us and told us to get rid of you. Understand me, I have a family.”
And I left. But now, tell me, what do I do?
Translated by Raul G.