Bartolo Cantillo Romero

* 1969

  • “The visit of Obama [President of the United States of America visited Cuba in March 2016] did not bring anything positive, because Obama did not come with clear objective…well for me, I don’t know, from my point of the view, he was as communist as those brothers Castro. Because when Obama arrived in Cuba, the only thing that he caused was repression and more repression. What was favorable on his visit to Cuba? Look, only repression after repression. Hunger and more misery. There was no improvement because of Obama. So, what was the result, or what was Obama’s goal in visiting Cuba? Nothing, no benefit, on the contrary, situation got worse because Obama came. And the repression? The repression increased and is increasing until today.”

  • “’You are plantado’ [the most stubborn political prisoners, the rebellious ones], the guard approached me and said: ‘But that does not worry me, because in the end you will end up like everyone else – begging for food.’ So, I replied: ‘You are mistaken with me, because I am not what you think, I am never going to ask you for food. I am an anti-communist till the death.’ I gave him the message, so he knew. I am an anti-communist till the death, and I did not want anything from him, and the day I was going to stop being plantado, it would be with food and things from my house, it would not be with things from the prison or from the guards. The man was furious and wanted to hit me, but he sent me to the cell. They finished my registration to enter the prison and took me to the cell. There, until I had 22 or 23 days of being plantado, I decided to change my position, they already had sent for my wife to bring my staff, my food to the prison. This is how I got out from being plantado.”

  • “I told my brother: ‘Hey, these people are going to assign you a number eight [eight years in jail], like they tried to assign to me. Let me go with you, or let my wife accompany you to Havana, so we are aware what happens with your case.’ He agreed, so my mother sent him, gave him some money, but he did not attend there. He was thinking: ‘I am not guilty, so they will not send me to the jail.’ And he did not act. The trial began, of him and of Leonide Michelle [an acquaintance accused at the same time as his brother]. My brother was sentenced to eight years of deprivation of liberty in the ‘Combined Prison in Guantanamo’ for the crime of assassination. Leonide Michelle was also imprisoned for eight years for the crime of assassination. ‘But nobody touched the State Security agents?’ No, guards were not touched in any of these cases, neither in my case, nor in this case. They convicted him in order to finish with us, because we tried to face them, at least I did.”

  • “I have always told the truth, to anyone in this country. For telling the truth, you are obliged to confront the leaders of this country, who have been leading it since 1959, who established this dictatorship. For announcing the truth, you are treated as a criminal, you know, that you are going to be fined, that you are going to be imprisoned, that you are going to be repressed and that you are going to be tortured in a prison. Of that there is no doubt. As I am a political prisoner, I suffered all this kind of situations, I was a victim of all this kind of things that I am describing, I am a victim of the Cuban dictatorship.”

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    Cuba, 22.07.2020

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“Telling the truth in Cuba is considered a crime. Telling the truth can even bring about your death.”

Bartolo Cantillo Romero was born in 1969 in the Guantanamo province in Cuba. He grew up in an impoverished area along with his seven siblings and without a father. When he was 15 years old, he abandoned his studies to support his mother financially. As Bartolo has always denounced the reality of living conditions under the communist regime, his confrontations with the police deepened in the late eighties, when he was imprisoned on several occasions. In 1992 he was shot and injured by a State Security officer for demanding justice, an attack that resulted in the loss of several organs for Bartolo. Fortunately, he recovered. However, he was accused of attacking the State and was sentenced to one year in Guantanamo’s “La Majimiana” correctional facility. In 2008, the same officer who shot him attacked his two brothers, killing one brother. In 2010, Bartolo joined the official opposition movement, “Patriotic Union of Cuba” [Unión Patriótica de Cuba]. Today he works as its coordinator in the province of Guantanamo. His wife, Celina Osorio Claro, is the coordinator of the anti-government movement, “Ladies in White” [Damas de Blanco]. Together, they fight against injustice and the respect of human rights in their country.