“No one knows the past that awaits him.”  The oxymoron by Milan Kundera, the famous novelist who went to exile in France from communist Czechoslovakia, is confirmed now and then in regimes with a Stalinist pedigree, like the one ruling Cuba.

As the Executive Director  of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba,  Dr. Juan Antonio Blanco, points out in his book Character Assassination, from  Amadeo Barletta to Yoani Sánchez,  this pattern of state terrorism “occurs in authoritarian or totalitarian societies, in which the government controls the mainstream media and other key institutions, “  which allows it to manipulate public perception. And there is no right to reply or question.  As Kundera also wrote, “in the field of totalitarian Kitsch, all answers are given in advance and exclude any questions.”

Thus, it is very easy for them to “hijack a life path and replace it with an apocryphal one,” in which they present their target as “a dangerous being that must be isolated and repressed for the good of society”.

Some victims of this technique in Cuba along the years have been the media businessman Amadeo Barletta in the early years of the Revolution; more than 10,000 asylum seekers at the Peruvian Embassy in 1980 (characterized by Fidel Castro as “scum”);  the founder of the human rights movement Ricardo Bofill (branded as “fullero”, or con man) and, many times since the onset of her blog “Generación Y” in 2007, the blogger and freelance journalist Yoani Sánchez.

Next in line: the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, José Daniel Ferrer, detained since October 1st and, according to official media, awaiting trial. The attempt to kill by fire squad the reputation of this former prisoner of conscience of the Black Spring of 2003 focuses on an eight-minute video full of tricks and lies.  A few examples, some already analyzed on YouTube by Cuban journalist Yusnaby Pérez:

  • To emphasize that he is violent, Ferrer is shown wielding a toy weapon that he uses in the original video to brand as “childish” the idea of an armed struggle, as opposed to a peaceful one.
  • To suggest that he is a terrorist, images are taken from a video in which Ferrer actually presents young gang members ─they are shown hooded to protect their identities─ who were pressed by State Security to attack members of Cuba’s opposition.
  • The MININT video announcer says that Ferrer has a criminal record since 1993, yet in a copy of the sentence he was given during the 2003 government crackdown it is stated verbatim that “there is no criminal record”.
  • A Facebook profile with accusations of violence against him was created for the official video on October 9th 2019, while the opposition leader was already in detention.
  • All women mentioned as having been abused with domestic violence by Ferrer have publicly denied it.
  • A cited video presenting the wife of the detainee, “loaded with lies deliberately conceived by the US government (…) taking advantage of the presence (at Ferrer’s house) of the US Chargé d’affaires, Mara Tekach”, was actually recorded at the house of UNPACU member Katherine Mojena, far away from  Ferrer’s house and UNPACU’s headquarters.
  • Maribel Cabreja, wife of the political police main witness against Ferrer, Sergio García González, (allegedly kidnapped and beaten by the opposition leader), acknowledges in a conversation recorded by UNPACU that the injuries endured by her spouse were the result of an accident on a motorcycle, and that, as he was being treated at a hospital, he was pressured to testify against José Daniel.

Outside of Cuba, this propaganda libel, with its seams so obvious everywhere, has only persuaded a few unsuspecting, gullible people.  The critical response of the international media does not “follow the script of the United States”, but, as published by The New York Times ─hardly a suspect of following the script of Donald Trump’s administration─ “the fight for freedom is one, and the hardships of a dissident in a Cuban dungeon are important not only to Cubans.”

On the island, the official press ─and even more so any documentary concocted by the Ministry of the Interior─ has so little credibility that it automatically provokes the opposite effect: it reinforces the position of the victims. That is the only result that the government can expect from this botched video.

Rolando Cartaya
Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba