Posted August 10, 2005 by Cubana in Cuba Politics.
Monday, August 8, 2005
Carlos Powery Ebanks claims he was arrested by the Cuban State Security in 1980 and spent the next ten years as a political prisoner inside Cuban jails.
Mr Ebanks told Cayman Net News that, like many people in Cuba, he is of Cayman descent. He was imprisoned, he said, for espionage and sedition.
“From when I was a child, they started provoking everyone that was an “English descendent”, a term that covers people with family from the Caymans and Caribbean countries other than Cuba, he explained.
When Fidel Castro, Cuba’s communist dictator, came to power in 1959, he started to take over the whole of Cuba slowly. After his regime had established authority, they started “going after” the Spanish community within the island, and then the “English”, recalled Mr Ebanks.
“Going after” he explained as trying to control people and change the way they lived. They set up spies in the communities so they could find out everything that everybody did, said Mr Ebanks.
School children were taken out of school to teach them how to carry weapons. They were taught to march like an army. They were indoctrinated with communism.
Mr Ebanks said he was born 27 December 1959, the same year as Castro’s Revolution. However, he insisted he was one of those that the authorities could not brainwash into acceptance.
He became adept at listening and getting information, though he was not working for anyone, he said. Nobody suspected a young kid and he was able to sit with older men while they had a few glasses of wine and talked, all the time getting closer to Cuban Intelligence, he said.
Another source of information was foreign military personnel, posted in Cuba and trusted by the Government, who made extra cash on the black market. One, a French friend of his, brought him a scanner for the telephone channels.
Through this gathering of information, he found out that, should the US have invaded Cuba, there were plans to arrest all the “English” families, including the ones in the army. His aim was to forge a protection for his people if anything went wrong.
“In that system, you don’t know what can happen,” he said. According to Mr Ebanks, they were also plotting against Jamaica and wanted to turn that island into a totalitarian state.
For six years, he trained friends and relatives, he said, and built up a large organization, though he claimed to Net News that it did not have a name. He said he even had people in the Cuban army, though he would not say how many people were a part of this organization.
When they arrested him on 19 April 1980, they also arrested many of the “English”, including a young man who used to control weapons in military headquarters.
“I had trained this kid since he was eleven years old,” he said.
Mr Ebanks said he was tried as a civilian by a military tribunal and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. His sentence was the longest of those arrested, he said.
Initially, they took him to a high security Intelligence unit called Villa Mavista in Havana, where he was interrogated for eight months.
The authorities have cells for one prisoner and cells for two. “First you are left on your own, then put with another prisoner so you can talk and the authorities can listen,” he said, adding “this is part of their game.”
“When they know people can withstand physical violence, they try mental games,” he said.
“The food in prison is very bad; you find rocks and stones in it and once, buried in his rice and beans, he found a cyanide capsule. They were trying to poison him but to make it look like suicide.
“They try everything. I could hear people yelling because they were locked inside there.”
Next they took him to a prison called Melena in the aisladores. He explained he was kept where people waited for trial. They locked him in a small cell all day, and then in the evening, they took him to prison.
Mr Ebanks said he was taken to the part where they detained minors to keep him out of sight of the adult population and where they had more control.
The youngsters were afraid to talk to him but soon, he said, “I started having a problem with the way they were treating the kids.” The guards would push them against the barbed wire fence.
In all, he was detained in four prisons. From Melena, he was taken to Guivicau, and then to Guanajay, and finally to Combinado Del Este. Mostly he remained with the common criminals, although as a political prisoner, he said he should have been with other political prisoners.
Mr Ebanks recalled seeing a lot of violence within the prisons, often prisoner against prisoner, but sometimes this came from the guards. “Sometimes they would send boys to the jail for crimes such as wearing jeans,” he said.
“These kids did not know what was going on. They would walk in and there were all these gangs standing there. Most of those that I talked to, they were in jail for things that did not make sense.”
Often these boys were raped in the prisons, said Mr Ebanks. ‘Some of them had a lot of humiliation.” During his time in Cuban jail, Mr Ebanks made many hunger strikes to protest the conditions.
He said that there were Americans in jail, too, who had been arrested at sea, and he remembers one in particular being beaten.
When the authorities came across the Americans at sea, they were given a choice: they could either be arrested for drugs or for working for the CIA. Protesting their innocence was not an option. What the Cuban authorities actually wanted was the boat, believed Mr Ebanks.
He claimed that for the last two years of his jail time, he refused to be released because he demanded that he and his whole family, immediate and extended, be allowed to go to the US.
“Finally, the Americans told my family that I could be in America one week and they would all follow the next. That never happened.”
His mother had Jamaican papers and most of his family eventually left Cuba through Jamaica, and many are now here in the Cayman Islands, though he still has three sisters In Cuba.
When the authorities took him out of the jail and to the airport to board a plane for Miami, they told him never to return to Cuba.
Even if other people can come back, they said, for him “safaracho de guerra” – it would be war.
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