Rolando is a great man, father, brother and friend. His incarceration just as he was prepared to bring people, including his family, but he was not willing to sacrifice one life when the Cuban border guard charged him with their ships. He could have run with the chance to escape and those in his boat were screaming at him to keep going, the desire of those people was above all to escape the regime of the island.
But even so he voluntarily stopped his boat because he knew that the military regime were willing to sink it. He then told people that he was not a murderer like the military regime and could not continue to risk their lives. He followed the orders screamed from the soldiers of the other vessel, saying to them, “I will not be complicit in a slaughter that you are looking for, I am not the murderer, the murderers are you.”
Anyone who has lived similar experience knows that this happens for service members of the Cuban coast guard, they ram their boats against those carrying people who want desperately to escape the tyrannical regime. Rolando was sentenced to 25 years in jail. I wonder where in the world this case would result in 25 years, and knew this regime and that the best witnesses to are inside the prisons, because there no one has anything to hide and you say what you did and didn’t do. The phrase, “I did this, but I didn’t do what they made up,” is common among the punished, and that’s how the Cuban judicial system works.
I knew guys who went to get their families and the coast guard criminally rammed their boat running the risk that the families hadn’t boarded yet, among them children, because they would have been dead. What happened to the tugboat 13 de Marzo? They sank it without scruples, and even with so much popular discontent that followed, Fidel Castro in one of his rhetorical speeches supported those who perpetrated such an act that cost so many lives, claiming they were workers from another ship protecting the tools of their trade. That was done only on orders from of his government. That’s exactly what the Cuban regime’s military has most of the time, the advantage and no witnesses.
Those who should have to serve a 25 or 30 year sentence or those who by order of the tyranny are willing to sacrifice the lives of civilians who have committed the crime of loving freedom. Rolando committed his crime and no one denies it, but he has already been in prison 10 years, 9 of those in Combinado del Este, the most inhuman in its conditions, and it now up to the parole law and his application under Resolution 9 of the Supreme Court.
Since 2006, a military medical team rules that he should not have to complete his sentence because of his deplorable state of health, but Cuban State Security reached out their dark hand and denied his parole saying he could finish his sentence in a hospital. None of this happened.
Rolando was like Julio Mesa, me, and others treated as CRs (counter-revolutionary), in my opinion for being a Cuban resident in the United States or having acquired the citizenship of the United States.
Nonetheless Rolando has remained bravely fighting for his rights. When I entered the military hospital in the State Security wing and he was transferred due to his poor health to the next room, only a wall divided us; he was also there for 16 months with the subcontractor Adam Gross as a roommate.
Finally his hope was that they would give him his freedom for having served half of the sanction imposed, but it was not to be, he was transferred to the prison of Guanajay where against the repression he declared a hunger strike. I always knew that this was the last thing that would do because of his poor health, mostly his heart. But guess that’s what they are able to drive him to do, those thugs who are unable to respect a man who has spent 10 years imprisoned and rightfully plays his freedom.
His family and friends have opened a blog, desperately looking for justice and demanding his rights, and trying to ease the repression on the part of the guards at Guanajay prison, while his health continues to deteriorate after 10 long years. The blog, Justice for Rolando, is here.
He is one of many men who have served more than his share, and who are still suffering the relentless punishment without limit of a regime that has no mercy.
March 26 2012