A young dissident recounts how he defended various self-employed sellers who were being harassed by the police in Holguin and how, because of this, he suffered beatings and threats at the hands of the agents. The same people he defended then showed solidarity with him which impeded the violence for a moment. Afterward, however, he was arrested and victim to more repression. Here he details the forms of torture he was subjected to.
Denis Pino Basulto was walking near Cespedes Park in the city of Holguin on the morning of August 1st when he witnessed a strong presence of police agents who were harassing a number of self-employed sellers who were stationed in that area. Upon seeing that the agents were snatching bags from the hands of various people, twisting their arms and shoving them into cop cars in the process, Pino became very bothered.
The Holguin activist, a member of pro-freedom groups like the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and the Patriotic Union of Cuba, could not remain silent when he saw National Revolutionary Police agents twisting the arms of an elderly man who was carrying a box of chocolates.
“At that moment, I questioned the police officials…I asked them how was it possible to carry out such violence against such an old person, and they simply told me ‘this does not concern you’“, recounts Denis, who attributed this brutality to the communist revolution. That is when the aggressions began.
“Another agent arrived and asked me, ‘Why do you talk like that about this revolution?’ and then he twisted my arms and threw me to the floor. He dragged me for approximately 2 meters and, with much difficulty, I was able to stand up and began to shout messages in favor of freedom of expression“.
The dissident alleges that the slogans, among them ‘Long Live Human Rights’, ‘Down with repression’, ‘Food for the people’, and ‘Fair salaries for our workers’ captured the attention of everyday people who were observing the situation. They joined him in solidarity.
“When they noticed that so many people were applauding me, the agents covered my mouth and applied a head-lock on me. They threw me to the floor but the people kept screaming in my favor“, explained Pino Bauslto, adding that “because of this solidarity the agents had to let me go and I was able to continue on my way…I kept walking and I could hear people still clapping“.
After walking a couple of blocks away from the scene, 5 police agents pulled up in a vehicle very near Denis. They got down and ordered the activist to show them his Identification Card. Afterward, they twisted his arms once again and threw him inside the car.
“There was a police agent inside the car, dressed in civilian clothing. He slapped me, punched me on my forehead and put his hands around my throat to strangle me“, an action which has caused him much pain and has temporally affected his voice. He was taken to the police unit known as Narciso Lopez, where the vehicle was parked and he was kept inside. Shortly after, an official with badge #21897 tightly handcuffed Pino and later interrogated him.
“This agent violently pushed me out of the car and dragged me out of the shade and left thrown out under the sun for about 25 minutes. I was sweating there and listening to their threats. He was telling me that he was going to kill me and that I was a mercenary and counter-revolutionary“, he said.
Pino was subjected to another beating. This time they broke part of his lip and nose. His knees were also scraped while being dragged through rough terrain.
Eventually, he was taken inside the unit and sat on a chair, where the threats and verbal offenses by the unknown officials continued. “‘Keep on shouting your slogans and we are going to kill you, faggot’ they told me…one agent also said ‘we are gonna kill all the garbage like you, and not a single counter-revolutionary is going to be left alive‘”. The beatings and strangulations continued.
The dissident was kept for 2 hours sitting in that chair with his handcuffs on until State Security agent Chapman arrived. The mentioned official is notorious in Holguin for his constant persecution of human rights activists. “Chapman interrogated me and told me that If I kept doing what I was doing they were going to kill me because they could not allow demonstrations, because they had to uphold the revolution“.
At some point, Pino affirms that the repressor admitted to him in the form of a taunt that, “you all may have the reason but we have the power, let’s see who could last longer“.
“At that moment, the agent with badge #21897 told me that he didn’t care if I saw his identification number. He kept telling me, ‘look at it, you worm. And what? I’m going to kill you with my own two hands’“. Such behavior has proven the impunity which these officials have under the communist regime.
Pino was released during afternoon hours, but not before receiving yet another threat by Chapman. “He told me, ‘take care of yourself when you’re out on the street because their are a lot of criminals here from Santiago de Cuba and one of them could easily jump you and stab you“. The activist considers this to be a direct death threat against him, using people at the service of State Security to make it seem as a common crime.
Pino Basulto, 29 years of age, has been victim of severe police violence on various occasions. He explains that in most cases the repressors put their hands over his mouth and choke him. He says it’s because the constant social and pro-freedom messages he begins to shout in front of any onlookers.
Although he assures that he will not stop his public opposition to the totalitarian system, he does indeed feel fear from time to time, fear that he could lose his life, or worse, that his family members may suffer the consequences, considering that his wife and young daughter are far too familiar with State vigilance.
“I want the world to know about this situation…How is it possible that these repressors want to kill peaceful people like us? We have rights, although in Cuba they are violated, and I ask the world to take measures against Castro’s system so that repression stops“, expressed Denis. He also said to feel very grateful for exiled Cubans who echo the situation of those inside and demand their freedom. “Thank God for these brothers in exile, those who help us spread the news and make it go all over the world. We have to let the world know that there is a dictatorship in Cuba“.
“As a human rights activist, I ask the world to put pressure against Raul Castro, because he is the one who has given the orders to beat and kill us“.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Denis Pino Basulto – Cell Phone: +52-552-837