They Direct the Machinery of Harassment Against a Cancer Researcher
They Direct the Machinery of Harassment Against a Cancer Researcher /
Posted on July 11, 2014
Young Oscar Casanella is threatened in the public roadway by “factors”
of the revolution. State Security wants him fired from his work.
HAVANA, Cuba. — Someone must have heard the telephone conversations of
Oscar Casanella. Those days he was organizing a party with his friends
to welcome back Ciro, the guitarist for the punk rock band “Porno for
Ricardo,” who had returned from abroad.
Unexpectedly, on Thursday December 5, 2013, at 9:15 pm, just across from
his house (at 634 La Roas between Boyeros and Ermita, Plaza de la
Revolucion, Havana), four unknown people, two men and two women about 60
years old, blocked his path to tell him: “Oscar, you cannot do anything
these days and if you do, you are going to suffer serious consequences.
People unknown to you can harm you, and even we can hurt you a lot.”
This was the preamble to a Kafkaesque story:
Some neighbors told him later that among those who had threatened him
was one named Gari Silegas, and that the four were members of the
communist party, which met in something known as the “Zonal Nucleus,” a
group of militants retired from various “Committees in Defense of the
The next Saturday, the day of the party, Oscar went to the Police
Station at Zapata and C to make a complaint. But there they referred him
to the Sector Chief, named Eusebio, who operates in the streets
surrounding his house; which meant that Eusebio, the police and Silegas,
the communist, knew each other and even worked together. Let’s remember
that in Cuba that work group is known as “neighborhood factors.”
“They asked Gary Silegas not to threaten me again. It was all a
prophylactic work, they told me. I tried to make a complaint but they
dismissed it,” explains Oscar.
That same day there appeared a Suzuki motorcycle with a blue (i.e.
state-owned) plate. The intimidation increased in tone. Two individuals
dressed in civilian clothese refused to show him their identification
but presented themselves to him as agents of State Security. Oscar narrates:
“They threatened to put me in jail. They told me that I could think
whatever I want but I could not say it to anyone, and I could not meet
my friends at my house. They also told me that I should leave the
country and that they were going to ’fuck up my life and my family.’
Having committed no crime or infraction that harms anyone, I feel
threatened. They mentioned also my attendance, as a spectator, at Estado
de SATS, which is held in Playa township at the home of Antonio Rodiles.
Witnesses to those events were practically all the neighbors.”
That night the party took place. Oscar’s neighbors, active CDR members,
to give him more “flavor” of the process, dedicated themselves to
copying the plates of cars that were parked in the street without it
mattering if their owners attended. There were more than fifty invitees,
the majority young graduates of the University of Havana. Oscar played
records by Juan Luis Guerra and the 440 and Ciro’s punk music, but
everyone spoke the same language and spent the night dancing and having fun.
The reaction was swift
On December 9, a surprise was waiting for Oscar at his workplace, the
National Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology (Cancer Hospital), where
he works as a researcher. His doctorate thesis is about sporadic colon
cancer. He also works as an adjuct professor at the Biology School
without receiving any salary for this latter work.
A colleague of his, Pedro Wilfredo Fernandez Cabezas, was waiting to
tell him that by continuing to attend activities with
counter-revolutionary groups, “mercenaries, annexationists and
neo-liberals” — a cocktail of amazing accusations — he could suffer
negative consequences in his work.
Oscar answered him that he has friends who express themselves against
the government but they are not mercenaries or annexationists*. Calmly,
he explained to him that he did not believe that they were of a
neo-liberal tendency, although he thought that if that were so, it did
not justify any action against them.
We return to the starting point
“Wednesday December 11, 2013, I tried again to make a complaint about
these threats at the PNR Station at Zapata and C. The first lieutenant
Abad refused to write the complaint because, according to him, the
threat is registered and attended to only when it is a death threat, not
when they threaten to hit me or put me in prison or take my job,”
continues Oscar in this absurd saga.
And last April an official from the National Revolutionary Police left a
citation at his home for him to appear the next day at the Zapata and C
Unit. The reason? An interview with Captain Jose A. Blasco.
“But when I presented myself at the Unit, Captain Jose A. Blasco directs
me to an office and immediately withdraws. There was never an interview
with the said captain. Three men younger than I were there, dressed in
civilian clothes, only one of whom identified himself as Marcos,
although the others said they were from State Security.
In short, they told me that they were going to take me out of my job,
where I have worked for 10 years without any work problem, and put me to
work in a less important center or in a polyclinic. They told me they
could hurt me and my family even more, because State Security says that
I cannot keep communicating with some friends, like Ciro, the one from
Porno para Ricardo, whom I have known since before the university,”
His alternatives were clear, and there were only two, in his case
complementary. Talk with this reporter and complain to the institutions
of the State.
The young researcher wrote letters to everyone. He gathered signatures
from many of his friends and students. He took them to all possible
institutions and delivered minted copies to each of those who supported him.
The Kafkaesque machinery seemed to stop at one point, but in reality it
continues. All this has stolen many hours of research from him. He has
had to dedicate them also to studying the law and trying to understand
why a regime dedicates itself to interrupting the people and
discouraging the talents themselves of people that interest it, above
all, providing knowledge. Oscar still is not a dissident.
Lilianne Ruiz, July 4, 2014, Cubanet
*Translator’s note: “Annexationist” is an accusation made against
opponents to the regime which implies that they want the United States
to annex Cuba.
Translated by mlk
5 July 2014
Source: They Direct the Machinery of Harassment Against a Cancer
Researcher / Lilianne Ruiz | Translating Cuba –