Gustavo Pérez Silveiro. (DDC)
«You’re playing with fire and we’re going to vaporize you, we’re going to pulverize you,» was the threat of a State Security official on Thursday received by historian and former university professor Gustavo Pérez Silveiro.
Pérez Silveiro received this and other threats during the ten hours that his interrogation lasted, conducted by Lieutenant Colonel José Luis Ribalta Pacheco at the Provincial Unit of Criminal Investigation and Operations, located next to the provincial prison of Villa Clara, known as El Pre.
In a small and closed-up room full of hot air, the officer questioned Pérez Silveiro regarding his position on the constitutional referendum, and was outraged when he responded that he had voted «No,» he told DIARIO DE CUBA.
On Sunday Pérez Silveiro turned out to exercise his right to vote, but at his polling place he felt watched. An individual asked him what he was doing there, and one of the people at the table rushed him while he voted. He was able to take a photo to document his «No» vote, however.
Later he attended the review of the votes, as is the right of all Cuban citizens, according to the current Electoral Law. During the count, one of the staff at the polling station stated that «all those blacks who vote «No» are an ungrateful bunch» – a clear allusion to Pérez Silveiro and his racial identity.
Among other irregularities witnessed by the independent observer was the acceptance of a «Yes» ballot on which a voter had written «Viva la Revolución» – which should, therefore, have been nullified.
During the interrogation, the officer accused Pérez Silveiro of receiving money from the CIA and the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF). He confessed that they had been watching and following him for some time, and that they were aware of his trips abroad to participate in events and his studies on racial questions.
«You don’t know what can happen to you entering or leaving the country, you don’t know what could happen at your building, you don’t know what could happen to you,» he threatened. «I’m not going to let you live. This is the first time we’ve brought you in, but there are going to be many. Everyone in Santa Clara will know who you are, because I’m going to see to it. «
«We brought you here because today you are a threat,» the lieutenant colonel continued. You’re complicated, but I like complicated people. It’s a challenge for me. You’re not going to do whatever you want. «
Pérez Silveiro confessed that, after those specific threats, he is worried about his physical well-being.
For the ten hours he was interrogated he ate nothing, and was only given water. He was allowed to go to the bathroom after six hours of confinement, and only once.
During all that time, his sister was waiting for him in the same unit. Every time he asked for information, they denied it. «We don’t know anything, they’re working with him,» they told him.
While the virtual kidnapping took place, several activists, such as the Baptist pastor Mario Felix Lleonart, and Jose Gabriel Barrenechea, expressed concern about the fate of Pérez Silveiro on their Twitter accounts.
After the referendum the repression against those activists who campaigned for «No», and independent observers of the vote count, has increased; several have reported harassment and intimidation.