I’m blown away by the pace of journalism these days – but also, more importantly, the quality. In Mexico I used to surf a lot of news sites to try to get a grasp of what was going on in the country: El Universal, La Jornada, Milenio, Proceso, Nexos, The News and several others. But over the past couple months Animal Politico has pretty much become my one-stop-shop for news. In comparison, all the other Mexican news sites look like they are stuck in the 20th century.
Within four hours of the release of Cuban dissident and Maleconazo leader, Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, Animal Político journalist José Merino scored a telephone interview. How’d this happen? Through a tweet by Yoani Sánchez that was re-tweeted by the ever-impressive @tipographo.
So, ladies and gentlemen, my translation of José Merino’s interview with Díaz Fleitas [hyperlinks are my own]:
Exclusive interview with Diaz Fleitas, four hours after his liberation
Eduardo Diaz Fleitas is one of the most well-known faces of Cuban dissidence. Detained during the Black Spring of 2003, today Eduardo is finally back at home with his family in Pinar del Rio province. Diaz Fleitas returns with diminished health after eight years of incarceration, but with complete clarity about what comes next: the fight for a democratic Cuba that respects human rights.
Four hours after his liberation, we communicated with him to understand the details of his health, the years he spent in prison, and what comes next in the struggle.
How are you?
I am very well, thank God. Despite being sick, I feel well. I am back at home, with my family. I’ve had four hours [of freedom] and just imagine, I’m completely happy.
How did your family receive you?
With wide eyes. Not just my family, but the entire neighborhood, my whole town. This has been phenomenal.
How was your stay in prison?
Well, the conditions are precarious, which is more serious in my case because I have a number of sicknesses, a general allergy that worsens in places that are not clean. Prison was terrible for my health.
And how did they treat you?
Their treatment was always acceptable. The food is what stands out. As you can imagine, it’s a difficult diet. In these eight years – and with my health conditions – I could hardly eat anything.
What’s next for you and the struggle?
Well, they gave me extra-legal freedom because they wanted to and because others pressured them to do so. What follows for me, of course, is to keep pushing for human rights and democracy in Cuba. I will keep working. After eight years in prison I will keep fighting.
Any specific action?
Yes, of course. On February 23 we will do a five-day hunger strike in the prisons and on the streets in order to commemorate the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo a year ago. I will do it here in my town, Entronque de Herradura.
How do you imagine a democratic Cuba?
Can you imagine! That would be the greatest blessing for Cuba, which yearns for democracy and the respect of basic human rights.
If you had Raul Castro in front of you, what would you say?
I would tell him to realize that the people of Cuba need change and transformation. He needs to ask the people what it is that they want, so that they can freely choose a leader. And if [the current government] wins then we will work with them. But if they lose we ask that they give way.
Anything else you would like to tell us?
Please, publish for me the names of those who remain in prison – I am going to read their names slowly: the doctor Oscar Biset remains, Hector Maceda remains, Angel Juan Moya remains, Pedro Aguelles remains, Diosdado Gonzalez remains, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia remains, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo remains, Librado Linares Garcia remain. They all remain in prison, and surely others that I am forgetting.
I understand that you need to hang up. Any message for Mexico?
My respect for the Mexicans that fight for Cuban democracy. I only ask that they work toward the freedom of those who are still in prison in Cuba.