Yunior García: “On November 15 it was shown that Cuba is a dictatorship” | International

Yunior García (Holguín, 39 years old) leaves the Congress of Deputies after a marathon day of interviews and meetings with politicians. He arrived in Madrid on Wednesday from Havana where, for a year, he had become the most visible face of the protests against the Government of Miguel Díaz-Canel. He ran away from home in the early morning of November 15. State Security, after almost 24 hours of harassment in front of his home, allowed him to leave Cuba, although several accusations of crimes without evidence weigh against him. You have a 90-day visa to be in Spain. For now, he is not going to request asylum because, as he has reiterated for almost two days now, he will return to his country.

Question. How did you get out of Cuba?

Answer. I was practically sure that I was not going to get out of jail. I didn’t want to spend 20 years in prison. That’s why two days before November 14 [el día que iba a marchar en solitario por las calles de La Habana] I applied for a visa for Spain. At the end of the day, since they didn’t arrest me, I assumed it wasn’t going to happen. I decided that I had to escape from reality. With the help of friends whose identity I will not reveal, I left my house. They took me to a safe place on the outskirts of Havana. There was no one left in front of my house, at nine they left. We passed a patrol car. It’s possible they knew it was me and just let me go. I will never know all the details. It is difficult to escape the tentacles of State Security, they have eyes everywhere. They wanted to allow it.

P. What did you do on November 15, the day of the protests, before traveling to Madrid?

R. I was able to walk around the Old Havana area. I arrived at the Spanish embassy. They told me that the visa was granted and that I had 90 days to stay. They were concerned if something would happen to me on the way, although they told me they would probably let me leave the country.

P. How was the journey to the airport the next day?

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R. It was full of incidents. My wife [Dayana Prieto ha viajado con él a Madrid] and I had to push the car about 100 meters in the middle of nowhere. I lost my glasses. The car finally broke down in one of the most guarded places in Havana. Maybe the regime would allow me, but I didn’t know to what extent the middle managers who watch could act on their own if they knew it was me.

P. Didn’t they tell you anything all the way?

R. When the car finally stopped, we got into a taxi and arrived at the airport. We passed the checks without a single question. Everything was square, the regime wanted it to come out. I was worried that at the last minute State Security would show up and threaten me. They never appeared.

P. Who received you in Spain?

R. Friends from the same group that helped me elope. At the moment we are accompanied by them at home for two weeks. Several Christians in Cuba raised $ 250 [220 euros] so my wife and I could go out with something in our pocket.

P. Has the Cuban government ever offered you freedom in exchange for exile?

R. I have been questioned on several occasions, but never directly proposed. The last questioning was with a psychologist similar to my mother who tried to convince me to give up everything and get back my old life. I am not going to give up my ideas. They were simply happy with my decision and celebrated ahead of time because they thought that when I arrived in Spain I would ask for asylum and I have not done so. When the conditions are ready, I will return to Cuba and fight as I was doing. But first I need to get some oxygen.

P. In 90 days, will you have time to take oxygen and return to Cuba? What are you going to do?

R. In the last year I have not been able to turn on the high beam, I have had to look at the short term because I had to survive. I don’t care about time. I want to trust in the awakening of the Cuban people so that the conditions are ready as soon as possible. Also in the international community that has a twisted look at what Cuba is, has that childish romanticism of what they considered a beautiful Revolution and has proven to be a dictatorship.

P. But can you freely return to Cuba?

R. I do not know. So far there is nothing stopping me. I have not gone out illegally despite having a precautionary, despite being accused of all kinds of crimes. However they have let me out, it shows that they did not have evidence against me. This does not imply that you can escape unscathed, in Cuba you have to prove that you are not guilty until proven otherwise. I will try.

P. Do you think they may be waiting for you on your return?

R. That threat is for all of us who want democratic change. If I enter Cuba and they lock me up, I will assume it. But crossing my arms, giving up what I want to build in my country, where my son was born, I am not going to do it.

P. Are you an exile?

R. I have been for a long time. I was exiled in my country. It was an insilium. He no longer had rights, he was part of the excluded and the discriminated against. Here at least I can speak, even influence a little more within Cuba.

P. Are you confident that there will be a change in your country? Is there no exhaustion among Cubans?

R. There is. The important thing is to get up and regain strength. The State has used the strategy of dividing us, to the extent that we are able to contribute to that cause, real changes will come. The narrative of the regime is over, nobody swallows it. On November 15, the evident demonstration to the world that Cuba is a dictatorship won

P. What is he now: a playwright or an activist?

R. My life has been present in my theater. It is based on honesty. I will continue to be a playwright wherever I am, but also a Cuban who will not turn his back on his country and will not use the excuse of being an artist to look the other way. I have a social responsibility and I will be consistent.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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