Luis Zúñiga Rey

* 1947  

  • “The Communism is above all a social engineering. It is a project that tries to change the people or tried to change to human beings the way how they perceived the society, government, economy, culture. It is a... a theoretically positive concept: society, equality, all equal, all perfect, but with an evil purpose - that they wanted to impose this equality by force. And we, the human beings, are not the same. Two brothers, while one studies, the another does not, one wants to work and the other is lazy, one has good relations with the mother and father and the other hates them. So, the human beings are different. In addition, we have different aspirations in life and the Communist regime tries to impose a concept that is simply fabricated, designed by a group of individuals. That's why it's a social engineering. And that practical experience has shown that it is not possible, that it ends in an unbearable oppression, thirdly - that creates a more unequal society than the one that they tried to eliminate, and fourthly - that the leaders that were theoretically considered as disinterested, as people concerned about society, aiming for equality and for achieving the goals that had been proposed, so these end up in worse bourgeois people, in oppressors, in abusers, in criminals and especially in rich ones.”

  • “Eventually, when I was about to enter the fifth year of my studies, thus the final year, they called me at the disciplinary headquarters of the University, there at the José Antonio Echeverría University Center, and the director who was at the same time the General Secretary of the Communist Party at the Faculty of Engineering told me that I did not have revolutionary integration and that either I was integrated into the revolution or I simply could not graduate, because they did not desire a professional who was not a revolutionary professional. I said: well, I feel revolutionary that I want change, I want things to change. And he said: no, no, no, the change you want is a change within the revolution and this is not going to happen, so, nothing like this, this is impossible, so either you join the Committee of Defense of the Revolution, you incorporate into something, or there is no graduation for you. Then we started to argue there and the matter took a very strong tone to the point that he said: well, do not attend the University anymore.”

  • “Talking about the future of Cuba is what we would call in physical science as a theory, unpredictable foremost within the long process that I have experienced and that I have known about Cuba, where the regime destroyed all institutions, destroyed all values, destroyed all the concepts that formed and they sustained the Cuban nationality. The regime turned the human beings into mere dolls that move within conditions that they have created and that have been changing for the worse, because the conditions of life in Cuba have always been decreasing. The people of Cuba have evolved into worse. Therefore, the possibility of a unifying, patriotic, libertarian, democratic force within Cuba is very far away. It does not exist... and I am always respecting individualities, I do not mean that everyone is like that, there are very decent people, there are people of faith, there are believers, but I do not see the patriotic concept that is needed to liberate Cuba, as the sacrifice is too high, if we take into account all the enormous control that the dictatorship exercises over each and every one of the Cubans. An identity card, while they have you in a computer and they know your whole life, where you were born, where you grew up, what you studied, where you went, where you work, where you go, what you do, what you think, who your friends are, everything they have controlled in constant reports.”

  • “Well, I managed to escape from prison and after I could leave Cuba, I escaped from Cuba through the Guantánamo base. I crossed the minefields of the Guantánamo base. I came to the United States, where I’m trying to help since August of 1974... I had promised some friends from Cuba who were fighting with me since my youth, before entering the prison, as we were working together in the conspiracy against the dictatorship and I knew they had people hidden that they were being persecuted, so I promised them that if I managed to cross the border from Guantánamo base and reach the US, I would go back to help them to get out those who were hiding and be able to save their lives. And I did it and I returned to Cuba in an armed infiltration. But unfortunately, when we left a person in Cuba to get in touch with them and pick them up, so when the next day we went back into the area between Guanabo and Santa Cruz del Norte, the engine of our boat got broken. It was not really the engine, it was the bilge pump which broke. And eventually, the boat stopped and the coastguards came and arrested us. I was sentenced to 25 years more in prison and well, the story is long, so this time I stayed imprisoned for 14 years, thus in total of 19, and I suffered a lot the violence of the regime because I did not accept the rehabilitation plans.”

  • “In the prisons of Cuba, they impose on the prisoners, or at least they imposed at that time, I do not know now, the rehabilitation plans. That means that they wanted the political prisoners to regret their political thinking, their actions, which they had done and which led them into the prison. So, they wanted them to regret and to accept the rehabilitation plans and the Communist indoctrination. And of course, I did not accept it, and I paid the price. This price were beatings, the price was hunger, zero medical attention, mistreatment of all kinds, and for those who rebelled even more, and I was at this group that was not willing to accept the impositions of the Communist regime within the prison... I paid a high price... once they even tortured me, they applied me electric sounds, they put me on horns with some strange noises and terrible tones, so high that in a cell next to me a prisoner committed suicide, he hanged himself on a pair of socks. The situation was unbearable.”

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What matters to me is the general purpose, the change in Cuba. We are together.

Luis Zúñiga during the interview, Miami, May 2017
Luis Zúñiga during the interview, Miami, May 2017
photo: archivo de Post Bellum

Luis Zúñiga Rey was born on June 3, 1947 in Havana, Cuba. His father worked in an English oil company and his mother was a housewife. He had an older brother. His family did not have a political tendency, but his father did not sympathize with the revolution, as in his eyes, it had breaken the constitutional order in the country. Until the sixth grade, he studied in a private school, entering a state high school at 10 years of age. Later on, when finishing the secondary school, he could not start the university studies of law, as he had been not part of the revolution. Since this moment, he became more and more disgusted. First he studied Agronomic Engineering but they did not let him finish the studies. He changed his career and studied Industrial Engineering in English, as there was not so much persecution. At that time, he began to conspire against the regime and was arrested for a month and a half, which made it more difficult to follow the studies at the University, apart of the fact that he was being constantly observed. During the last year of his university studies, he was finally expelled. Due to the above mentioned, he decided to leave Cuba, but was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison. He escaped during the transportation, however, he was arrested again when he tried to cross the border of the naval base of Guantánamo. Sentenced to four years, he was locked in bricked cells. In 1973, he escaped through Guantánamo during a hospitalization, and he crossed the minefields and finally reached the US. Later on, he was arrested on the coast of Cuba trying to help dissident friends escape, being sentenced to 25 years. He spent in jail 14 years, and he suffered a lot of violence for not accepting the rehabilitation plans. He managed to be expelled from Cuba in 1988 with the help of Cardinal O’Connor. He began working in the institutions of Human Rights, denouncing the crimes of the Cuban regime, spoke several times at the United Nations’ meeting with several dissidents from around the world.