13 February 2008

Eliecer's Wild Ride

Eliecer Ávila Cicilia wasn’t arrested. I know it because Anita Snow told me.

I don’t know what I was thinking. Sometimes I don’t trust what the “official” Cuban media claims. It must be that my strong anti-Castro bias and my past experiences cloud my mind. One minute I’m reading…
Local dissidents, quoting secondhand sources, reported that Avila had been picked up by police in his native city of Puerto Padre over the weekend, sparking sporadic news reports Monday in Spain and Miami that he had been detained.

Avila said he went home to be with his family while he had his wisdom teeth pulled, and fellow student leaders from a satellite campus of his university gave him a ride back to the capital - about 430 miles away - so he could deal with the aftermath of the international airing of the tape.

The next…..

I remember the nock on the door. Thunderous. Forceful. My grandmother jumped up from the wicker and wood couch clutching her grey and white cotton dress right above her bosom. She looked out the window, in her tippy-toes, to see who was out there. She turned, white as a ghost, eyes wide and full of terror and whispered –actually, more like mouthed “milicianos” to my mom. My mom ran over to the door and opened it. Shaking.

Two men in the dreaded “verde olivo” of my youth stood outside. They wanted to see my dad. Now!

The old man, actually much younger than I am now, stepped out into the porch. They talked outside while we waited just inside the door. I held my mom’s trembling hand. He turned back, opened the door and said “I’ll be right back” “I have to go clear something up.” Then, he went for a ride.

Fast forward a few decades. Eliecer Ávila Cicilia gets a call. They tell him not to leave his house. They come to get him the next day. They came to give him a ride. An offer he couldn’t refuse, leaving his family in a helpless, panicked anguish, not knowing whether they will ever see their loved one again just like I experienced all those years ago.

The regime says they didn’t arrest Eliecer. But, that is just a technicality in a totalitarian country where no one is free. It’s not as if Eliecer could refuse the “ride” he was offered by the son of one of the regime’s vice-presidents to clear this matter up. Or like he could refuse taping the video they wanted him to tape any more than my old man could refuse to accompany the “milicianos” down to the station.

It’s not as if there’s an objective press willing to investigate what were the circumstances of Eliecer’s ride. You have an “official” state press and a complicit foreign press of parrots who don’t like to ruffle feathers.
So the truth is what the liars say it is-he wasn’t arrested. He’s not free. He still has to obey. He still lives in a concentration camp that he can’t leave –not even to see where Che Guevara “fell”-see that’s the "truth" in Cuba-what the liars says it is. They say Che fell. In combat - not captured. But, Eliecer wasn’t arrested and put in a smaller cell, he’s allowed to roam the concentration camp, the larger cell, as long as he does what he’s told. That's the truth.

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