Cuban dissident Pablo Pacheco has been tasting freedom for the first time since the spring of 2003.
The freelance journalist is in Madrid with his wife and his 11-year-old son. He was freed with some 50 other political activists a few days ago after spending seven years in prison in Cuba.
Pacheco’s friends continued to write his blog during his incarceration.
Euronews met with him outside his hotel in the suburbs of the Spanish capital.
Enrique Barrueco, euronews: “What were the reasons that the Cuban government gave for jailing you? What was their legal argument?”
Pablo Pacheco, Cuban dissident: “The evidence that they had against me consisted of a 1950s-style typewriter, a dictaphone, pencils, a fax , some blank sheets of paper, books about journalism and a radio. I kept all of it. I have it with me here.”
euronews: How were you treated in prison?
“There were periods during the first two years which were terrible. The Aguica jail was absolutely terrible. I called it the Grave of Living Men. One day a guard said to me: “Thanks to you I got to appear on that Miami station, Radio Marti.”
I replied: “Surely you must done something”
He sneered back: “It’s good i got to go on. That will win me some brownie points with my bosses.”
euronews: “A number of your fellow campaigners say they won’t leave jail despite the deal brokered by Spain. How do you view that?”
Pacheco: “I am not aware of anyone who refused to leave because of the deal. However, I know some who don’t want to travel and abandon their homeland. I see that has a very brave and dignified stance but each to their own personal decision. I would have liked to be able to do the same but my son has to come first.”
euronews: “Was there any real change when Raul Castro took over the presidency from his brother Fidel?”
Pacheco: “I respect everyone’s opinion but to be honest I think if Fidel Castro was still in power this deal would never have happened.”
“I cannot recall a time in my living memory when Fidel’s government announced the release of 50 political prisoners in the official state newspaper.”
euronews: Do you think Raul Castro could ever negotiate with the opposition?
Pacheco: “I believe Raul can be a man for change in Cuba, he just needs to make a move to step out of his brother’s shadow.
Raul has placed a number of his closest long-time allies in top positions in the government. I believe he can offer the change that the Cuban people need.”
euronews: Do you think it will be possible to form an umbrella group of opposition parties, including activists and other political groups to negotiate together with the regime?
Pacheco: “I think that would a very good idea. Listen, lets be clear, Cuba is not Fidel Castro. Cuba is not Raul Castro. Cuba is not rebellion. Cuba is a country with 11 million people with 2 million in exile worldwide.”
“I don’t know when it will happen. Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow. Who knows? I can’t give an exact date as one never knows what the future holds. We have to all sit down around the table and talk with the Communists.”
euronews: “What message do you have to the Cuban prisoners still in jail?”
Pacheco: “My message is that while there are still political prisoners in Cuba, I will not rest. I will do everything to argue for their releases. I believe it is coming soon.”
“I also want to say to the whole world and all Cubans, especially those living in exile: I spent 7 seven years in jail, i left behind a four-year-old son and his mother…all due to a system of intolerance which divides Cubans.”
“Honestly, I do not hate Fidel Castro. I don’t hate Raul Casto either. I have no bad feeling towards my jailers, neither the state officials who condemned me to 20 years in prison. They are Cubans just like me.”