Day 11: Santa Clara, or: Human rights,…?

”Libertad es el derecho que todo hombre tiene a ser honrado, y a pensar y a hablar sin hipocresia. (…) Un hombre que obedece a un mal gobierno, sin trabajar para que el gobierne sea bueno, no es un hombre honrado. Un hombre que se conforma con obedecer a leyes injustas, y permite que pisen el pais en que nacio los hombres que se lo maltratan, no es un hombre honrado.” (Jose Marti, La edad de oro, chapter Tres heroes)

”Liberty is the right that every human has to be honest, and to think and talk without hypocrisy. (…) A person that follows a bad government without trying to improve the government is not an honorable person. A person which follows injust laws and contributes to the country to abuse its people is not an honorable person.” (my own translation, no guarantee that it is 100% correct)

Today’s blog entry focusses at an acquaintance which I made in Santa Clara, actually already on my first day there. I met this nice guy, I will not tell his name here for security reasons. He was super nice, we talked a lot and he even bought me beers.
He told me that he had a German girlfriend (but that he still saw other girls ”Soy un hombre!”- ”I am a man”. Yeah, Cuba…) Apparently he was hanging out with a lot of tourists, he told me about a Dutch group of backpackers who would arrive in a couple of days and a German-Thai couple that he spent some time with at the moment…
I was really careful, though. My disappointment regarding Cuban people was still quite fresh and I had promised myself not to trust people that easily again.
But he seemed to be a very social guy.
He asked me what I did, and I said that I was studying something like Politics, International Law and Economics. He pointed at my tattoo (I have the Amnesty International Candle tattooed on my left arm just underneath my hand), and told me that he thinks that it was great and that he believes that human rights NGOs are doing great work.
Oh wow.Life-Facebook-Status-18564
He continued saying that he had met many foreign people in Cuba who were involved in the field of human rights and he said that it was a shame that NGOs, including Amnesty International, were not allowed to enter Cuba.
He added that he was hoping that Cuba would change quickly and open up, since he was very interested to talk openly and to exchange ideas in this field with people from foreign countries. Then, he said quietly that it was sad that every time people try to talk openly in Cuba about critical things you had to be careful and look around to make sure that nobody was listening.

Actually, we also wanted to meet up in Remedios for a bit at the festival, but due to the large amount of people it was just impossible to find one person if there are more than thousands present.

Anyways, Santa Clara is pretty small and I saw him the next day, after my night in Remedios. When he saw me, he nervously waved at me and came closer to join me on the table in the cafe I was sitting (I had beers of course already at 11 in the morning).
He told me about his Remedios ”adventure”.
He was having a lot of fun with a group of his backpack-friends, when all of a sudden an undercover policeman asked him to come with him. He was in shock. He was just hanging out with his friends at the festival like everyone else!
My friend was taken to the police station and questionned the whole night until 4 a.m. They asked him what he was doing with all those tourists he was hanging out. They said that he spent too much time with foreign people and that he did not have the right to do so. He should stay away from non-Cubans. They made him pay a $30CUC fine (again, a normal Cuban officially makes about $20CUC per month!!) and then they released him after a couple of hours.
I couldn’t believe it. Why? What was the crime that he did? He was a social guy who was interested in other cultures and people!

But my day got even more scary.
After my talk with him, I went to the Che Guevara monument. I took some nice pictures, walked around and then sat in the20141225_144207 shadow- it was a really warm day. Then suddenly, a young policeman stood next to me. He said hi and asked me how I was doing. Then what my name was, where I was from and what I was doing in Cuba.
Ok, awkward.
But actually he was really nice and we had a nice chat.
I answered his questions honestly (I did not say much though besides the part that I was a political science student), and I told him that I came because I wanted to see what Cuba was like since I had read a lot about it.
And well, after I had answered his questions where I was going next, how long I was still staying, etc. I told him that I had to go. I thanked him for the ‘nice chat’, got up and started walking towards the next Bici Taxi.
Well, they do not take tourists immediately with them if they are suspicious I guess.
Or maybe the two incidences were just a coincidence.
I still do not have any answers to that.

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