Henry Couto Guzmán

* 1978

  • “Now what is not normal, is that the country does not respect or promulgate the human rights. I would like the President Canel [Miguel Díaz Canel is the president of the Cuban Republic since April 2018] to tell directly to the people what their human rights are. Why we should not publish this in the gazette of the Republic of Cuba? Let´s announce to the people of Cuba in the official gazette of the Republic of Cuba, the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and then let's talk. My point of view about all this rubbish is that we should create a dialogue in Cuba between the civil society and the Government, to try to prosecute the country. Because as long as they remain in the power, the country will not have any progress. Why should just one group profit from the progress? The whole society is marginalized in drugs or alcoholism or at a high level of violence, or in corruption. And this is simply what the civil society seeks. We are looking for the people’s well-being. Once again, we do not defend any political party. We are defenders of the human rights, of the 30 rights that each person owes. I will keep defending them day by day, without getting tired, until I achieve the victory.”

  • “I feel freedom. This does not worry me anymore, I already leave my neighbourhood and I see them that they are all sitting close watching me, no, I already visit my pub like any other Cuban, I go there, I sit in a corner, I even speak with people and show them that things are not as they think they are. I say: 'While there is a person who is happy that you are here without vision for the future and economical potential, there is a group of people, an elite of power, which lives as millionaires and who are stealing and looting from this country. They are living because of other people´s work. While someone is talking to you about equity, and about the same laws for everyone, this person lives and dies traveling abroad with other people's money.´ Most of the people remains silent when you tell them this, because it is a reality. There are tough data, I believe that more than 80% of people in this country no longer believe in the communist system, surely there is 80% that says this is not progressing at all, maybe there are 5% who are the elite of power and the other 15% people that might change their minds.”

  • “They kidnapped me once, when I was on a trip to Trinidad and Tobago. Officers Kevin and Anthony kidnapped me at the Monte [name of the city] and I was detained for five days without anyone knowing where I was. People would have thought that they stopped me in Camagüey or in Havana, however, they took me here on the Monte out directly from my jeep. I was driving my jeep and suddenly they stopped me on the highway. There was a device mounted and everything. The officers had a green jeep, patrol and they just stopped me at four in the morning. When they beat me up, they told me: 'Couto, where did you think you were going?' They took me out of the jeep, they threw me to the military jeep and then they took me to the Operations office, I was in the Operations office disappeared during the whole five days, without anyone in Cuba knowing where I was.”

  • “People keep asking me, because there does not exist any actual news in Cuba, there is no information, so the people ask me. ´Hey, is it true that this and that guy left? Hey, is it true that you saw on the internet this and those?´ People know that I use to search on the internet, there is a tele point one block from us, that is the reason why many people ask me. I remember when once someone asked me and I showed him the truth. The issue was if Lenin was still embalmed. The topic that was being discussed in the neighbourhood that day was about the situation when the communism had fallen in Russia, that the Russians had ruined everything [which reminded them the old regime]. I said: ´No, Lenin is still there. There is a small room next to the Kremlin.´ And the guy told me: ´No, no, no, no.´ And this became an argument, a friendly one, but there was a tough discussion. I said: 'Let's check.' And indeed, I took him, and we opened Google search and wrote “Lenin” and everything appeared immediately. The man read it and even learned about the topic what he remotely could not imagine.”

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“We will achieve change in Cuba only if we first change the society.”

Couto Guzmán Henry
Couto Guzmán Henry
photo: Post Bellum

Henry Couto Guzmán was born on September 6, 1978, in a marginal neighborhood of Guantánamo. His youth during the 1990s was affected by the complicated economic transition in Cuba, a time without any clear vision of the future for young people. For this reason, Henry dedicated himself to masonry. Thanks to the grandfather of his wife and his friend from the neighborhood, he became interested in the topic of human rights, and in 2012 he joined the “Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy,” an organization focused on the protection of justice. A year later, he entered the “Patriotic Union of Cuba” and engaged in street activism and direct interaction with Cuban society. In 2013 he joined the “Colibrí” project, which made public allegations of human rights violations by publishing them on the internet and other media - rights listed in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. To report injustice correctly and with significant impact, Henry studied journalism and participated in several leadership and management workshops. For his activities and opinions against the Castro regime, Henry has been arrested, interrogated, kidnapped, and is constantly threatened by the communist system. Nowadays, Henry dedicates his time to various types of courses for the public, which is, according to Henry, fundamental for the transition of the Cuban society towards democracy and freedom.