Isael Poveda Silva

* 1969

  • “Many of them have been hanged, others have tried to hang themselves, others who have tried to ignite themselves, to die in a fire. They have opened their stomach, abdomen, their guts have fell out. Auto injuries happens too many times. There are several reasons, it could be because of high penalties, hunger, the rigor of the prison, they want to be taken from the prison to work at a camp to breathe a little, because they are sentenced for 20 years, for 25 or 30 years of prison. Many of these prisoners, who have self-assaulted have not killed anyone. They are in a prison, because they stole a cow, they killed a horse, because they stole some state property. Or something like that. They are sentences for 25 years, 20, 25.”

  • “They summoned me, there were elections for delegate, and it was maybe nine in the morning and one of my friends called me. The ballot boxes for these elections were up the stairs, down the building where I lived. So, this friend of mine called me, and I came downstairs to see him. He was talking to the chief of the area in front of him and told her, I heard him to say: ´Look, he´s the only one missing.´ When I was going to see my friend, she shouted at me: ´Listen, citizen!´ ´Tell me.´ ´Look, you are the only one missing to vote, so we can leave.´ ´No, you can go, I have nothing to do with this.´ ´No, but what do you mean, why not?´ ´I have nothing to do here. Do not wait for me, leave, if you want to, I do not participate on anything of this.´ ´But if you want, you can leave it blank, you can leave it blank, you can leave your ballot completely blank.´ I say, what part you did not understand? I don’t want to know anything about the elections, I have nothing to do with it. I am neither in a favour nor against anything. I simply don't have nothing to do with that.”

  • “´How many weapons were in the fight?´ ´Just one.´ ´Who had the gun?´ ´He had it, my brother-in-law.´ My brother-in-law had it. ´So, he was the one who stabbed?´ ´I didn't see him, I can't tell who was it, because I didn't see him.´ But I am punished for six months of deprivation of liberty for having received a stab. My brother-in-law is sanctioned for a year for having given five stabs and my friend is sanctioned for a year for having received four stabs. Once I arrived in the prison, I realized where I was, and I decided I should not be there. I sent for my brother-in-law who was in another place and I explained him, that I was going to appeal, because I should not be in the prison. My brother-in-law told me that of course, that I should fight and that he was going to defend me at the trial, that I should try to appeal, because I should not be there.”

  • “The chief of surveillance still exists, but he no longer like a guard, nowadays nobody quotes anyone for guard. Sometimes you pass by some CDR [The Committees for the Defence of the Revolution were founded in 1960 with the objective of performing collective surveillance] and see a little sign. But you see it faded and is every day on the same place, they left it there. But there are no more guards, before yes. I remember that women were guarding from twelve to two at dawn and men from two to five, if I remember correctly. Yes, there existed night watchmen too. These were old, ancients, retired, 70 or 65 years old, already retired from the ´Labour Centre´ and I think they paid them like 150 pesos. So these old people roamed around the different CDR centres and the people who were on surveillance that night, when they saw them they approached them and gave them the message: ´Nothing has happened here, where I saw someone was over there, he was wearing black shirt and passed through this neighbourhood.´ There always existed total vigilance, but that was a long time ago, it is no longer done like this here.”

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“I’m not a counterrevolutionary, I’m just telling the truth.”

Poveda Silva Isael
Poveda Silva Isael
photo: Post Bellum

Isael Poveda Silva, originally from Baracoa, Cuba, was a political prisoner of the Cuban regime. On October 2, 1969, he was born into a family that supported the Cuban Revolution of Fidel Castro in 1959. In 1993, Isael was sentenced to four months of deprivation of liberty. After this incident, he decided to act openly against the Cuban Government by participating in public marches and reporting on internet violations of human rights. His opposition activities have resulted in four jail terms, torture, psychological threats, numerous arrests by “State Security,” and unexpected searches of his home. Isael resides in Baracoa and is restricted by Cuban authorities to travel outside of his city or outside Cuba.