From a translated letter sent to FFI from RB while detained at Stewart Detention Center. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Warm greetings to this great group of marvelous people who day by day have us in their thoughts and prayers. I’ve decided to write you these lines to show my immense gratitude, knowing that in spite of having been here for a long time, through so much sadness, God always puts us on the path where we find the great strength, faith, hope and love that we need to keep moving forward.
I entered this country on April 10, 2019. Since then I’ve been detained or in reality imprisoned (I don’t know what to call it) fighting for my asylum application. After spending seventeen agonizing days in various ice boxes in extreme conditions, I was transferred to the Folkston ICE Processing Center, where I’ve been for most of my case. In May 2019 I spent the entire month in quarantine due to a security matter at the center because of an outbreak of chickenpox. I couldn’t present myself for my first two hearings, though I didn’t have any symptoms of the illness. Later because of my inexperience and my desire to be with my family as soon as possible, I presented like many of my friends a bond request without perhaps gathering all the necessary documentation for it to be accepted. My bond request was denied and I was judged to be a flight risk. This reason affected me psychologically because my intention when I entered the country was always to begin a legal process that would permit me to be a resident and free of the Castro dictatorship, taking pride later on in being able to be a part of this society where I intended to be respected and admired as a good person who seeks freedom, democracy and self-improvement, so as to be able to contribute one day the knowledge necessary for the well-being of all.
In July 2019 my family contacted a lawyer who came to represent and advise me all this time. However this wasn’t sufficient to obtain any benefit that would allow me to gain my freedom and be with my family. On September 16, 2019 I had my last court date for my asylum application where I was denied for lack of evidence. It’s very difficult to get the evidence from my country of an incident of mistreatment on the part of the government that occurred suddenly in an unexpected moment. Moreover you run the risk of being imprisoned and your life and the life of your family that you left behind could be in danger. I decided from that moment out of fear of returning to my country to file an appeal, knowing that the response could take months, even though my father was in a state of poor health.
I appealed and put my family’s life at risk. I sought all the evidence that they have there in Cuba about my case to present it in my appeal, but it wasn’t taken into evidence. I lost my father on December 8, 2019 and I can say that it was the worst blow I have suffered in my life. I can’t explain the anguish I felt going through something so immense and not being able to be at the side of my loved ones, giving them support at that moment and at the same time relieving the great void that remained in my heart.
I arrived here at Stewart Detention Center on March 4, 2020 where I had the honor of getting to know all of you with your constant preoccupation for us, for which I am very grateful. Despite not being in very good health, as I have been asthmatic since childhood and I have a gastric problem that I’ve had for years, which hasn’t been taken into account and which has worsened during my time in prison, I give thanks to God every day, for as the Bible says it is His will for us in Jesus Christ. I’ve been a Catholic since childhood and it’s this faith in God that has kept me each day from losing faith. We live in a world in which not everything seems to be what we want, and we have to learn as much about evil as about good, without forgetting the commandments that Our Father sent us. It’s been eight months since I’ve been ordered deported and I, like many others, suffer the anguish of not being free. All this makes us ask ourselves often: Where are we? Where has this freedom and democracy that we came here to pursue gone off to? The freedom and democracy we dreamed of and that is rooted in our hearts? What happened to the justice that so many of us deserve and that we could take pride in participating in, because we are not criminals? Why do they give second chances to bad people when good people are seeking their first chance?
To all you and all my friends I want to say I heard once: when you feel despairing about money that you don’t have, for your health and your loved one, for the sadness that follows you and doesn’t leave you alone, for your heart that lies broken in your hands, for the fear that paralyzes you and doesn’t let you fly, for the desolation that erodes your hope, for the hug that you miss so much, for the dream that is delayed, don’t believe that you have to die on this island. Keep breathing, don’t stop fighting, don’t stop trying. You have God on your side and he promised us that his mercy is brand new every morning. Amen.