Two friends were chatting with other youths at the pier in the city of Baracoa on the afternoon of Sunday, March 31st, when they were suddenly arrested by political police agents and shoved into vehicles. The detainees were Raday Matos Matos and Rafael Alejandro Hernandez Real, two young Cubans who have, recently, been kicked out of their jobs, schools and have been persecuted for having ties with the Cuban opposition.
But what exactly led to their arrests that afternoon?
“We were arrested just for expressing ourselves and saying, not even shouting, that we do not believe in Fidel“, said Raday Matos.
“We were just talking there when we said that… there were a few police agents walking near the area, and suddenly when a police vehicle drove by, these agents pulled the car over. And at that moment they pushed us, told us we were detained and tried to put handcuffs on us“, recounts the young Microbiology graduate, “I didn’t allow them to handcuff me and told everyone present that saying that I do not believe in Fidel is not a crime“.
Matos and Hernandez were taken to the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) Unit of Baracoa, where they were kept for approximately 3 hours.
Raday says that “while in the unit, they pushed Rafael Alejandro and I jumped in to defend him. I stood between the police and him, and then they pushed us both. I couldn’t identify the official who did this to us by name but I saw his badge, which had the number 25461 on it“.
The officials handed them a written warning, which alleged that they had “altered public order”.
“We refused to sign the document“, affirmed Matos, “because neither of us altered the public order. In fact, it was them [the police] who altered the order“.
In 2012, 24-year-old Rafael Alejandro Hernandez Real was expelled from his job in the Ministry of Public Health for starting to associate himself with the opposition and for giving interviews with radio stations being broadcast from exile. In addition, he officially joined the Eastern Democratic Alliance; a pro-freedom organization based in the East of Cuba, and because of this was kept from continuing his law degree in the university. He was also one of the students who, in 2008, publicly questioned communist functionary Ricardo Alarcon. (Part of his story here).
Meanwhile, Raday Matos Matos was able to complete his microbiology track but has been under vigilance and persecution by the State police since he also joined the Alliance.
“We will never remain silent, we will always say, in front of the Cuban population and in front of the entire world, what we are thinking“, expressed Matos Matos, “As we told the people there during our arrest: they were arresting us for no reason and it is not a crime to speak your mind“.
“We will remain in the fight, ready for anything they throw our way“.
Raday’s audio (in Spanish):
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Raday Matos Matos- Cell Phone: +58-144-682
“PalenqueVision”, the audio-visual project of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, produced this documentary titled “Jovenes de Baracoa” (‘The Youth of Baracoa’), where Raday Matos and Rafael Hernandez are interviewed, among others.