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    Denunciation and Fear – Fidel Castro’s Family Treasure

    Denunciation and Fear: Fidel Castro’s Family Treasure / Luis Felipe Rojas

    Luis Felipe Rojas, 28 November 2016 — Who in Cuba has not been asked to
    speak a little more softly? Who has not lowered his or her voice while
    making a comment about Fidel Castro? This is the regime’s family
    treasure: a snitch on every corner.

    When the triumphant son from the town of Birán — Fidel Castro’s
    birthplace — announced the creation of the Committees for the Defense of
    the Revolution in 1961, he set in motion the well-oiled machinery of
    denunciation, of the little men who direct the pipeline of information
    between neighbors and the much-feared State Security (known as G2).

    Every company, hospital, cultural institution, baseball stadium, fine
    collection office and shoe shop is “served” by one or more agents, the
    number based on the facility’s national importance or the sensitivity of
    the activities which take place inside.

    Everyone knows them; many keep out of their way. These “officials” yield
    power with few restraints. If they tag you as being “hostile to the
    revolutionary process,” you will spend years trying to get your name
    removed from their list. They will then forget about you or look the
    other way when they see you, should that ever happen.

    Within the provincial offices of State Security is the Department of
    Enemy Confrontation. This is the agency that deals with opponents,
    dissidents, writers and independent journalists, as well as those
    artists who once dared to use metaphor or irony in their work to portray
    the power or person of Fidel Castro.

    At the bottom of the hierarchy are the confrontation officers, who have
    less visibility but more devious responsibilities. In the shantytowns,
    so-called honorary officers — often frustrated men and women who saw
    their Interior Ministry careers cut short — now find solace by keeping
    watch over an opponent’s house, snitching on a little old lady selling
    coffee beans or reporting a rapper who has just written a protest song.

    I was detained on one occasion for five days and had to sleep the floor
    of a meeting room at a village police station. It was guarded in
    rotating shifts by almost a dozen young honorary officials who worked
    for G2.

    Among them was “Pedrito,” an educator and active member of the Union of
    Young Communists. He had been accused of stealing televisions, then
    trying to sell them through a national Social Workers’ program. Pablo,
    an agronomist and former classmate, was unable to answer any of my
    questions about human rights in Cuba, explaining that conversing with
    detainees was forbidden.

    I met others a little more despicable and despised. One was Maikel
    Rodríguez Alfajarrín, dubbed “Maikel the Spark.” A former bartender,
    student and civilian, he doled out punishments such evictions, fines and
    criminal prosecutions as a member of the Housing Intervention Brigades
    while also acting as an informant, or a chivato as Cubans in the 1930s
    called people like him.

    There are others, many others. I cannot be the only Cuban to have had an
    experience with them.

    The honorary officers carry an identification card displaying the State
    Security insignia, with the infamous acronym G2 stamped one corner.

    One day in the town of San Germán in Holguín province, my wife was
    waiting in line to buy soap in store that only accepted payment in
    dollars. It was May and Mother’s Day was approaching. The line was very
    long. Women were talking or arguing when a seguroso, a State Security
    agent, arrived. The honorary official’s name was Luis Perez, commonly
    known as “Luis El Calvo” (Bald Luis). The store allowed only about
    twenty people inside at a time. Everyone else had to wait outside in the
    stifling heat. When the doorman looked up to let a few more people in,
    El Calvo demanded to speak with the manager: “Tell him there is a
    counterintelligence officer here who needs some nylon bags.”

    Mumbles, furrowed brows, pursed lips and eyes moving wildly in their
    sockets were the reactions to the announcement by the honorary officer.

    All honorary officers are affiliated with the Rapid Response Brigades —
    designed to come running at the least sign of protest — and even
    coordinate their surveillance, harassment and acts of repudiation. Many
    people fear them, many hate them, but few dare to challenge these evil
    Cubans who use their red pencils to turn you into a non-person.

    Translated by GH

    Source: Denunciation and Fear: Fidel Castro’s Family Treasure / Luis
    Felipe Rojas – Translating Cuba –
    translatingcuba.com/denunciation-and-fear-fidel-castros-family-treasure-luis-felipe-rojas/

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