Denunciation and Fear: Fidel Castro’s Family Treasure / Luis Felipe Rojas
Luis Felipe Rojas, 28 November 2016 — Who in Cuba has not been asked to
speak a little more softly? Who has not lowered his or her voice while
making a comment about Fidel Castro? This is the regime’s family
treasure: a snitch on every corner.
When the triumphant son from the town of Birán — Fidel Castro’s
birthplace — announced the creation of the Committees for the Defense of
the Revolution in 1961, he set in motion the well-oiled machinery of
denunciation, of the little men who direct the pipeline of information
between neighbors and the much-feared State Security (known as G2).
Every company, hospital, cultural institution, baseball stadium, fine
collection office and shoe shop is “served” by one or more agents, the
number based on the facility’s national importance or the sensitivity of
the activities which take place inside.
Everyone knows them; many keep out of their way. These “officials” yield
power with few restraints. If they tag you as being “hostile to the
revolutionary process,” you will spend years trying to get your name
removed from their list. They will then forget about you or look the
other way when they see you, should that ever happen.
Within the provincial offices of State Security is the Department of
Enemy Confrontation. This is the agency that deals with opponents,
dissidents, writers and independent journalists, as well as those
artists who once dared to use metaphor or irony in their work to portray
the power or person of Fidel Castro.
At the bottom of the hierarchy are the confrontation officers, who have
less visibility but more devious responsibilities. In the shantytowns,
so-called honorary officers — often frustrated men and women who saw
their Interior Ministry careers cut short — now find solace by keeping
watch over an opponent’s house, snitching on a little old lady selling
coffee beans or reporting a rapper who has just written a protest song.
I was detained on one occasion for five days and had to sleep the floor
of a meeting room at a village police station. It was guarded in
rotating shifts by almost a dozen young honorary officials who worked
Among them was “Pedrito,” an educator and active member of the Union of
Young Communists. He had been accused of stealing televisions, then
trying to sell them through a national Social Workers’ program. Pablo,
an agronomist and former classmate, was unable to answer any of my
questions about human rights in Cuba, explaining that conversing with
detainees was forbidden.
I met others a little more despicable and despised. One was Maikel
Rodríguez Alfajarrín, dubbed “Maikel the Spark.” A former bartender,
student and civilian, he doled out punishments such evictions, fines and
criminal prosecutions as a member of the Housing Intervention Brigades
while also acting as an informant, or a chivato as Cubans in the 1930s
called people like him.
There are others, many others. I cannot be the only Cuban to have had an
experience with them.
The honorary officers carry an identification card displaying the State
Security insignia, with the infamous acronym G2 stamped one corner.
One day in the town of San Germán in Holguín province, my wife was
waiting in line to buy soap in store that only accepted payment in
dollars. It was May and Mother’s Day was approaching. The line was very
long. Women were talking or arguing when a seguroso, a State Security
agent, arrived. The honorary official’s name was Luis Perez, commonly
known as “Luis El Calvo” (Bald Luis). The store allowed only about
twenty people inside at a time. Everyone else had to wait outside in the
stifling heat. When the doorman looked up to let a few more people in,
El Calvo demanded to speak with the manager: “Tell him there is a
counterintelligence officer here who needs some nylon bags.”
Mumbles, furrowed brows, pursed lips and eyes moving wildly in their
sockets were the reactions to the announcement by the honorary officer.
All honorary officers are affiliated with the Rapid Response Brigades —
designed to come running at the least sign of protest — and even
coordinate their surveillance, harassment and acts of repudiation. Many
people fear them, many hate them, but few dare to challenge these evil
Cubans who use their red pencils to turn you into a non-person.
Translated by GH
Source: Denunciation and Fear: Fidel Castro’s Family Treasure / Luis
Felipe Rojas – Translating Cuba –