José Alberto Álvarez Bravo

* 1959  

  • “Well, I think we are seeing changes almost every day. Changes are occurring every day. Right now, the situation in our country has nothing to do, with what we had a decade ago. Because a decade ago, if you made a critical comment on the system on a public, anyone could have passed you by and shout at you: ´If you don't like the country, go away!´ Nowadays, if you make a disapproving comment about current system, possibly the people around you, in the worst of the cases, shut up, and in the best case, they support you and join you telling you: ´Yes, you are absolutely right.´ They even add comments and contribute to the discussion. That had never happened in our country before.”

  • “First, together with my tolerant friend, we organized at his home an academy called the 'New Hope' [Nueva Esperanza], which had a purpose to teach in a natural manner. It was kind of alternative education mechanism, quite different from the system of education we had in our country. We taught courses on human rights, computing, history of Cuba and one more, now I don't remember exactly the name. After the beginning of this academy, the Government started to act against us. State Security began to sniff around all activities we were performing. We did not promote violence, we did not even promote confrontation with the system, neither nonviolent struggle. Simply, what we did, was to make well known among all ´The True History of Cuba´ [La Verdadera Historía de Cuba], which was taught by Professor Dimas Castellanos [Cuban historian and dissident, his history is also available in the archive on webpage of Memory of Nations].”

  • “The guards came and entered with us. They brought two armed guards and placed them on both sides of the fence. When the key keeper came to open the door, one of the guards said: ´Let's see, who is the handsome here, today I want to kill one.´ Then, when they opened the gate, the guards tracked the AKMs and pointed inside the patio and said: ´Stand up, everybody out!´ Prisoners did not go out, because they were afraid of two rifles onwards. And suddenly, when finally, everyone was leaving the patio, one the guards shot into the patio. This boy, Manuel Cavana, said: ´Guards, don't shoot more, you have hurt me.´ He passed by us, he climbed three steps that the patio had and there he fell. Later, we found out, that he was taken to the ´andabal´ [place in the prison with medical attention], but he did not arrive alive. They had shot him through his chest. That scene stayed in my memory, for a lifetime. He was young person, they just riddled him there, without any reason, there was no rebellion, there was nothing like that. That moment I have learnt about the little importance, that a person's life has for this regime - that is characterized by depriving everyone, who has not been in their command. A people's life means nothing to this dictatorship.”

  • “That was one thing, which seemed to me, a bit like, forgiving me that I don't agree with the term, a devilish thing. Because it was mechanism of subjection that practically converted the citizen to a slave of the new cult. You must be an exemplary worker to be able to have the things you need, it can be some house appliance, an iron, a Russian wristwatch, for all material staff you must be an exemplary worker. Therefore, people preferred, I was among them, to be another piece in a herd. Because disagree, to disagree with the model we were living in, it could have many bad consequences. Above all, you could never access the things that you needed for the life in modernity.”

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“I never thought I would be an integral part of dissidence in Cuba.”

José Alberto Álvarez Bravo
José Alberto Álvarez Bravo
photo: Post Bellum

José Alberto Álvarez Bravo was born on March 19, 1951 in Sancti Spíritus. In 1967, when he was 17, he had to participate in mandatory military service. During this service, José Alberto had disciplinary problems that led him to four years in prison called “La Cabaña”. José did not agree with the regime, but in order to follow other goals, such as material needs of his family, he did not take any action against communism. In 2007 he finally entered to the dissidence and joined the oppositional movements “National Liberal Party of Cuba” [Partido Liberal Nacional de Cuba] and “Racial Integration Movement” [Movimiento de Integración Racial]. However, what satisfies José most in his fight against the system are civil society projects. With his movement “Cuba Demands” [Cuba Exige] he managed to publish on the internet more than 2,400 requirements of Cubans on the regime change.