Ángel Moya Acosta

* 1964  

  • “I used to say that Cuba’s freedom is no one’s property. I used to say, I repeat: Cuba’s freedom is no one’s property. That every Cuban who wants to get rid of the dictatorship, or the Communist system, or the totalitarianism, has the right to choose the method of struggle that he considers appropriate. I start from this principle. Every Cuban who wants to get rid of the dictatorship has the right to use and choose the form or method of struggle that he considers appropriate. You can find it there, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

  • “When the Cuban regime began [its presence in Angola], of course it was without any knowledge of the Cuban people. The Cuban people only learnt about the participation of the Cuban troops in the Angolan conflict many years later. The conflict began in 1975. But the Cuban forces had been there since before, training the future Angolan armed force, and approximately around the year 1978, 1979, or 1980, it was made publicly known. It was when the Cuban regime led by Fidel Castro publicly announced the presence of Cuban troops there, directly linked to the conflict of the People’s Republic of Angola. Well, the process of recruitment to take the troops to Angola, as this Cuban adventure saw some 500,000 soldiers pass through there, as there were permanently around more than 50,000 Cuban soldiers stationed there, equipped and armed for all the military resources that are needed to carry out an adventure like this for 13 years. And this recruitment process was arranged in many ways. First of all, there was recruitment from the already existing military units, it was a way of recruiting or taking the troops to Angola – they raised the military units and gave them the mission to go to the People’s Republic of Angola. And they did it in a simple way. They took the unit, they loaded up the combat equipment in a port, and the rest of the troop either mobilized in boats or in airplanes, generally in airplanes of the Soviet airline Aeroflot. Another form of recruitment was through military reserves, where they interviewed you. If you agreed with the recruitment, there was no problem, but if you did not agree, they humiliated you, yes, I have to say it – they humiliated you... Even more, through the work centers and your own place of birth, where you grew up, in your own neighborhood, in your block, the Communist party organized meetings to get to know the reason of refusal, why person was not willing to fulfill an internationalist mission. And another of the forms was through the recruitment of boys who actually went to military service – they gave them a commission to go to the People’s Republic of Angola to fulfill this mission. Many of them did not have any idea what they were going to face. Many of those who were recruited, and the great majority was recruited and went to the People’s Republic of Angola under pressure by the regime itself, others were as adventurers, others went to meet their needs... So many of these, the immense majority of the recruited soldiers, went to fulfill their needs, the material ones especially, that the Cuban regime could not solve, that Socialism in Cuba did not solve, such as clothes, shoes, electrical household appliances etc.”

  • “That regime that they imposed on us, without any justification... Fidel Castro, in a cynical way, in addition to imposing on us those high sanctions of deprivation of liberty, was not content with that, so he ordered to place us in prisons far from our birth regions. That means that we, the people from the West, they sent us to the East. The people from the East were sent to the West. And the people from the central regions were sent to both parts. To punish the families as well. To demoralize the families as well. To break the resistance of the families as well. This was designed by Fidel Castro... But he did not succeed. Actually, he failed to break the family of any of us. In general, the families stayed very close to us, resisting with us. The Ladies in White were born, fighting for the liberation of us, every Sunday, and also during the weekdays, until they achieved it. The regime knows that they did it. Although other people, perhaps, do not give that merit to the Ladies in White, the Cuban regime is clearly aware that for the first time, and by internal pressure, a significant group of political prisoners was released thanks to them.”

  • “Listening to Radio Martí... It started first because of my desire to hear music and ended up with listening to the news. It meant that I was stuck to the radio like most Cubans, listening to the news... Of the rafters that were leaving, of how our [American] brothers rescued them, or how they sighted them… Well, they sighted them, didn’t rescue them, but they would warn the North American coast guard. These things were the ones that began to lacerate my mind. And I gradually grew aware of the situation in Cuba, the type of regime we were living in, the regime, which was not a regime designed to safeguard, protect and improve the lives of Cubans, but it was rather a regime that was designed to apply all kinds of repressive and non-repressive policies and methods, in order to maintain the system as it was, at all costs. To keep Fidel Castro in power, as long as his life allowed him at that time. I am one of those who entered the opposition by conscience. Nobody told me: ‘Come here, we are going to create opposition.’ I entered the opposition against the Cuban regime because of my conscience.”

  • “None of us accepted that kind of proposal from Raúl Castro. And we had not agreed it together. So we showed the whole world that we were innocent. Because we preferred to remain imprisoned rather than accept that dishonorable proposal made publicly by Raúl Castro. I think that, in addition to the resistance of my family members, of the unconditional support of the Cuban exiles, this was one of the moments that most impacted me and one of the moments, when, well... I felt so happy when I found out. We had contact with our families by phone and during the visits. That nobody had accepted the dishonorable proposal of Raúl Castro... When I got to know that nobody had accepted, that for me was tremendous. Tre-men-dous. And the other major thing, of course, was the resistance and bravery of these women, of the Ladies in White, who believed in themselves and believed in their possibilities. Most of the Ladies in White had no bond, nor did they know anything about politics. However, their love for their families and the desire to see their relatives in freedom led them to resist against the regime.”

  • “Geez... In the middle of all this, my children grew up. Four times I went to prison for political reasons, the last time was in 2003. And my children, of course, grew up amid this situation of my activism in favor of human rights, denouncing the Cuban regime… Because many of the complaints against the regime were made there in my house, in the house of Berta, here in Havana. From there I moved, for example, to the home of another human rights activist here in Havana and gave him the news. But well, my children heard the conversations. As kids, they began to visit prisons, and we, Berta and I, kindly, deceived them so as to avoid causing them any psychological harm. ‘Your dad is in a school and he cannot see you now,’ for example. Until they grew up. They grew up involved in all this here, they developed themselves. Until finally Berta and I made the decision to send them into exile in the United States. Because although they were not dissidents themselves, they were still children of active dissidents opposing the Cuban regime. And as their parents, we have the right to protect them. It is a right of the parents, to protect their children, and no one can take that right away from us, so we sent them to the United States. But we keep on fighting. We stayed, Berta and I, in Cuba, fighting... To this day.”

  • “The regime, and I say it with a tremendous responsibility... The regime permanently tries to put human rights activists in prison with the aim of discouraging them, with the aim of humiliating them, with the aim of breaking their families down, that means, the family relations, so with all those objectives... With the aim of even murdering them by the hands of other prisoners, possibly by their indications… With the aim of intimidating them, of pushing them to give up the struggle, to leave the country. That means, to stop their activism. It is the fundamental objective with which the Cuban regime takes human rights activists to prison. And these are human rights activists who for their courage, of course, have not accepted, which does not mean that if they do not go to prison, they do not have it [the courage]. They have not accepted any proposal or purpose of the regime. They have not accepted it, they have not given up on it. And as the last remedy [of the regime], or as a last alternative, the Cuban regime is forced to take these human rights activists to prison.”

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    La Habana, Cuba, 08.05.2018

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Cuba’s freedom is no one’s property

Moya during his mission to Angola, 1989
Moya during his mission to Angola, 1989
photo: archivo del testigo

Ángel Moya Acosta was born on 20 September 1964 in a Cuban Communist family that had fought against the Batista regime. At the end of the 1980s, he was sent to the Cuban military missions in Angola. He has been repeatedly imprisoned for civic activism, for the first time in 1999 and for and the last time, for 7 years, from 2003. In 1996, Moya founded the Alternative Option Movement, and in 2001 he became president of the Movement for the Democracy and Freedom of Cuba. He is married, his wife Berta Soler is the leader of the Cuban citizen movement Women in White (Damas de Blanco), which brings together the relatives of Cuban political prisoners. Moya and Soler sent their two children into exile in the United States of America, while they still remain in Cuba and continue fighting against the Castro regime.