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November 2013
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To a Certain Extent, We’re All on Parole

To a Certain Extent, We’re All on Parole / Juan Carlos Linares
Posted on November 15, 2013

HAVANA, Cuba, — “La Libertad Extrapenal” —
similar to parole — is a punitive category in which the offender does
not live in prison, but has their civil rights suspended, and may even
go back to prison if the authorities so decide. Jorge Olivera Castillo
finds himself in this condition, along with another 13 or 14 other
victims of the diabolical 2003 crackdown known as the Black Spring, who
decided to stay in Cuba. To them, the government will not let them go
overseas on a visit.

Recently, I asked Olivera (presiding over the Cuban Writers Club) why
they haven’t coordinated jointly a legal challenge to get rid of this
vexatious status. His answer was:

“Many friends have encouraged me to hire a lawyer and file a complaint
in court, claiming our arguments, because it is a paradox that other
human rights activists, independent journalists and bloggers who have
done the same things we did and for which we were sentenced, are allowed
to travel.” Maybe next year action will be taken against this
anachronistic remnant of Fidel Castro.”

Technically, Olivera’s penalty is set to expire in 2021, and so he
remains in the list of political prisoners. When asked if all those
compatriots who are under the same injunction receive the same
restrictive treatment, he told me, “At least everyone who has gone to
inquire at the immigration offices has been told that for the moment we
do not have permission to leave the country, that is, we are in the same
black list,” and he points out, “If instead of asking for permission for
we asked for it for final departure I believe they would give us

The government certainly will justify that every ex-convict has
legitimately invalidated his naturalrights; however, in this case it is
poisonous to dismiss these 13 or 14 Cubans who were sent to prison for
defending something intrinsic in every civilized society: the defense of
human rights. Specifically, they apprehended him when he was the
director of Havana Press, a pioneering Press Agency of independent

The 75 prisoners of the repressive wave would be released for real or
supposed health reasons, and also because of the huge pressure from the
international community. And in your case (I inquired), in addition to
these two reasons, don’t you think the was the added “blessed” concern
that the inmates with whom you coexisted, and your guards, could only be
wondering who the fuck gave the order to imprison such a noble and
decent man?

“Well,” said Olivera, smiling, “the prisoners there didn’t believe that
I got 18 years just for writing, that my crime had to be something big.
The truth is they gave us parole because of a confluence of political
factors, and because of arrogance (of the Castro brothers) not to give
an inch before the whole world, and to grant us a pardon or an amnesty.
Also, the severity with which they treated us accelerated the process of
declining health in most of our cases.”

So, our conversation turned to the Cuban Writers Club, a new project
funded in 2007. Today there are around 40 members: novelists, short
story writers, poets, from almost all the provinces. They have plans to
create a contest that includes all genres.

Oliver is a full member of the Pen Club of Cuba in the exile, and has
received a fellowship from Harvard, as a writers, thanks to a proposal
from the Pen Club of England.

Finally, I ask him for an opinion: Those of us here who oppose the
regime, and we know our authorities well and the laws they hide behind,
could we claim that we all live on parole?

And smiling, he confessed, “To a certain extent, yes.”

by Juan Carlos Linares

Cubanet, 13 November 2013

Source: “To a Certain Extent, We’re All on Parole / Juan Carlos Linares
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