Denis Pino Basulto is a 27 year old Cuban, he resides in Holguin, and is father to a young girl. Basulto not only confronts the daily obstacles of trying to raise his daughter, together with his wife, in a country with such scarcity and rationing, but he has also decided to publicly oppose and confront the Cuban dictatorship, joining various dissident groups such as the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement. Such a posture has cost him serious impediments such as detentions, threats, and other violations, one of the most recent being that he was fired from his job for being a dissident. His former employers allege that Denis was fired because he missed 4 days of work, days which he spent (and they know this very well) in a dungeon in the detention center of Pedernales after a politically motivated arrest.
The activities which led Denis to a prison cell (and ultimately to his being fired) occurred on the 19th of September when he participated in the National non-violent “Boitel and Zapata Live” March in the city of Holguin, which head out from the home of Caridad Caballero Batista. The demonstrators demanded that their rights be respected, that international human right treaties be respected, and that all political prisoners on the island be liberated, in addition to paying tribute to the memory of the fallen prisoners of conscience Pedro Luis Boitel and Orlando Zapata Tamayo. All the activists were violently arrested. Some were taken to the Pedernales Unit, while others, Denis among them, were taken to the Police Unit of Gibara where they were kept for 4 days, from Monday the 19th to Thursday the 22nd.
Denis explains that during his arrest the authorities flat out refused to provide him with a signed document which would excuse his absence from work, something required by his job to not be fired. “The next day, on the 23rd, when I arrived to work I was told that I was in trouble and that ‘I already knew why‘”. As of that moment, his superiors began to treat him worse (previously, according to Denis, they had already treated him with contempt for opposing the dictatorship) and they would blame him for things he never did and demanded that he arrive earlier, despite the fact that he always arrived “before the established time. If I had to be there at 8, I would arrive at 7:40 or 7:50 always“.
On October 16th, Denis Pino was officialy fired from his position, without any sort of explanation. Although Denis demanded that his rights be respected, the bosses paid no attention, which led him to fruitlessly turn to a Labor Justice Organ, which established October 25th as his Labor Trial.
When Tuesday the 25th came around, Denis was once again arrested. The dissident explains that on the previous day, October 24th, which was the Day of the Resistance, he had plans to take part in non-violent opposition activities but was arrested much before any of these events took place. “On that day, I stepped out of my house early in the morning to go get bread and milk for my daughter. It was then that I noticed three State Security agents sitting inside a vehicle stationed outside my h0me. The agents told me I could not continue walking, I asked why, and they told me they did not have to explain“. Pino decided to continue onward when the vehicle violently blocked his path and the three agents ran out, grabbing his arm and pushing him into the car. He was taken to the Third Unit in Holguin province and from there, they decided to take him to Pedernales.
“When I arrived to Pedernales I asked them if this was the supposed pure revolution they spoke of, upon seeing all the new and brand name vehicles for government functionaries while the rest of the people are dying of hunger“, denounced Basulto. He was placed in a sealed off cell and three hours later an official informed him that he was being accused of public disorder. Basulto was released on the following day, Tuesday the 25th, at around 9 pm. When he was able to see his wife she told him that an official known as “Chapman” had gone to visit her the day before and told her, amid laughter and cynicism “tomorrow is Basultos trial isn’t it? Looks like he won’t be able to make it since he’s detained“. During the arrest, Denis’ wife had to go from police station to police station, with her young daughter, in an attempt to find out information about her husband.
On Wednesday the 26th, Denis went to the office in charge of Labor Trial issues and spoke to the woman in charge. “Her name was Yanet Reinaldo and she treated me horribly. She simply told me that the trial was yesterday and she could not do anything about it“, referencing Labor Law 176 which establishes that if the accused misses his Labor Trial meeting then he would not be allowed to return to work. “I explained my situation to her, that I was unjustly arrested but Mrs. Yanet Reinaldo only told me that it was not her problem. She also told me that I should be more aware of the things I am doing“, to which Pino responded, “I am very aware of what I am doing. I am defending my rights, and even your rights- in fact, the rights of all Cubans, because we live under a dictatorship which violates all our freedoms“.
Now, Denis Pino Basulto is officially unemployed, due to a harsh operation of intolerance and violence against him, just for thinking differently than those in power and for taking action against the injustices. From this moment on, he will have to find a way to sustain his family- a difficult situation which countless Cubans are subjected to. “I am denouncing this before public opinion, so that people know that in Cuba they do not even care if you are a father of a small child. As soon as you declare yourself against communism, you become public enemy number one“, denounces the activist, “though the salary I previously received was awful and poor, at least it was something, but now I have nothing“. Despite the desperation the young Pino has decided to convert his tragedy into more inspiration to continue confronting the tyrannical regime. “Now, I will have more time to double my opposition activities. We already shattered the shackles of fear, we will continue onward against the terror. The streets do not belong to the dictatorship, they are ours“.