Banished in solitary confinement in a punishment cell in the maximum severity prison Kilo 8 of Camaguey, the dissident prisoner condemned to a life sentence, Jorge Felix Otero Morales, has chosen to use his scarce phone minutes- a monitored privilege which he does not always have access to- to denounce the horrific situation which Cuban political prisoners and common prisoners must go through in that penitentiary. This Tuesday, January 17th, the Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista, who focuses much of her efforts on shedding light on the situation of Cuban political prisoners , established communication with Otero Morales. The Cuban prisoner took advantage of his scarce minutes to denounce the continuous repressive tactics practiced by State Security to manipulate news dealing with the Cuban opposition, impeding much news from coming out to the public light.
“They are only giving me 10 minutes“, hurriedly explained Otero Morales, “there is a re-educator from the regime right outside my cell, he is carrying out the orders of State Security“, added the prisoner, explaining that the same official is the one in charge of snatching telephones from prisoners when their communication minutes come to an end (and in many cases even before).
Otero Morales denounces that a “tactic of State Security is to use one of their own, usually a woman” to pretend to be an independent journalist or a dissident, communicating with prisoners who are allowed some phone time. “That is why many denouncements and news reports are not coming out, because Cuban Intelligence is diverting all the information coming from prisoners“, he expressed.
Otero added that the manipulative measure is not only applied in Kilo 8, but in countless prisons throughout the island. “There are cases in which State Security answers the telephone and pretends to be a dissident, looking for information… the goal is to create suspicion and divisions amongst the opposition“. As is expected, the phone calls are constantly monitored and, according to Morales, in some cases the agents pretending to be dissidents tell the prisoners they are being recorded by radio programs such as Radio Marti when in reality they are simply spending their phone minutes. “State Security uses this method so that the testimonies of torture and inhumane treatment do not reach the ears of the opposition and those many other people who tend to the cases of these men and women who suffer under this dictatorial regime“, affirmed Otero.
Jorge Felix Otero, whom is condemned to a life sentence, also transmitted another message to Caridad Caballero Batista: “This is a year of jubilee, where the church has announced reconciliation and love for Cuba but here in the prisons the reality is the opposite. Here they continue to torture prisoners, we keep being harassed, we don’t have help and we are threatened physically and psychologically“.
Here audio declarations of Otero here (in spanish):
Caridad Caballero added that Felix Otero is the same prisoner who helped pass the information given by Orlando Zapata Tamayo when the latter was on hunger strike. In addition, explains Batista, Otero also joined other prisoners in a hunger strike in solidarity with Zapata and was the same prisoner to which Zapata gave a bag of food to hand out amongst the prisoners. Caridad Caballero also highlighted the difficulties which Otero goes through just to make a phone call, considering that in his punishment cell everything is slid under his cage, even his food. In the case of the phone, the guards monitor every word the prisoner speaks and they confiscate the phone whenever they decide.
This report made possible by dissident Caridad Caballero Batista.