Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The face of Repression

When the news tackle any angle of the repression in Cuba, we usually hear to talk about the Rapid Response Brigades and how they isolate and assault some dissidents or any sort of civil resistance in any city of our country.the face of the war

Those brigades are the face of the repression and the handy tools that the Cuban authorities handle to suppress any act they consider hostile to the government. And in Cuba the line between dissension, counter-revolution and treason are almost inexistent.

For the general public, especially reporters and international media, those brigades were founded in the earlier 90’s, but that is not completely true. There was another Brigade before those we all watched in front of Vladimiro Roca’s house recently. In fact, since the Cuban Revolution took power, Castro established many forms of associations and organizations to repress any surge of dissidence.

The famous CDR (Committees for the Defence of Revolution) was the first attempt by Castro to create neighbourhood block associations to inform and control, but that organization was losing his power and scope especially with the younger generations in the 70’s.

The late 70’s was the moment that the CDR started to fade in the communist system and the signs were visible with the surge of a new wave of dissidents and people who was completely sceptical about the Revolution.

But the turning point in the history of repression in Cuba was the incidents in the Embassy of Peru at the beginning of 1980. It was in that moment when the Cuban Intelligence Service (more known G2) created what later was named Brigade of Counter-Intelligence (BCI) headed by an obscure captain whose name is Osvaldo Casays.

That Brigade still exists but it has changed along all these years. Its first settlement was in an institution called “RIO”, a group of buildings belonging to the Ministry of Interior in the west side of the Almendares River in Havana. Amazingly, the BCI was created under the shadows of the CDR but it was only its cover up, that organization belonged and was part of the Counter-Intelligence Department of the G2.

Their initial members were selected mostly from schools of karate and judo, and more important they had to show special commitment to the regime of Havana without any trace of doubt.

The BCI is the real heart from the beginnings of the 80’s of the repression against the dissidents and the idea was took from Poland in their fight against the Trade Union “Solidarity”. Dissidents like Ricardo Boffil and Maria Elena Cruz Varela could remember those brigades shouting and screaming revolutionary slogans in front of their houses in Havana, or the incident inside the Church “Las Mercedes” in the earliest 90’s.

In the 90’s, Castro announced a more bigger effort to face the dissidence, probably because with the crisis in east Europe and the lost of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost its economic and financial support and the civil society started to grow. It was in that moment when the Rapid Response Brigades were founded.

Of course, the original BCI continued to be the heart of the war against the dissidence. The Rapid Response Brigades were only a cover up, mostly for the necessity to incorporate the crowd to the fight against the opposition who was gaining in power.

In all these years, the BCI has been in every incidents between the elements of the Cuban civil society and the authorities: in massive acts against dissidents, in personal aggression against a well-known outspoken intellectual and even in more secrets activities against western and pro-western embassies.

There are too many things to talk about the BCI, especially because in every single article, blog or magazine the report or analysis of the repression in Cuba the journalists confuse the Rapid Response Brigades with elements of the BCI and viceversa. They usually ignore the fact that it is the BCI who really had articulated the repression and the other brigades are only the crowd to cover the actions of the original and most important repressive group.

I only want to add just for today some of the places where the BCI has been settled:

  • West Side of River Almendares, Vedado district.
  • B Street between 15 and 17, Vedado district.
  • 15 Street and J, side by side Arcos Bernes’ House (well-known dissident), Vedado district.
  • San Francisco and Jesus Peregrino, close to Carlos III Avenue, Centro Habana district.
  • Lately, 22 Street between 23 Street and Zapata Avenue, Vedado district.

The BCI is the arm and the fist of the repression in Cuba, an association many times ignored, probably unknown or even misunderstood. It is the face of the repression, the face of war against any form of independent opinion in Cuba.