José Zepeda: Prison has not discouraged Cuba’s leading dissident

José Daniel Ferrer is a prominent Cuban dissident and human rights activist, who was one of 75 dissidents imprisoned during a 2003 government crackdown known as the Black Spring. After eight years in prison, he was released in 2011 and has been permanently harassed ever since, spending more than six months in jail in 2020. He is the founder of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), an umbrella organization hosting many Cuban opposition organizations since 2011. 

José Zepeda: Has your imprisonment made you reconsider your position on non-violent resistance?

José Daniel Ferrer: The most comfortable thing for the regime would be for us to be the violent ones, for us to be the kind of people they try to portray us as. But, as they know, these are lies, and they have to disfigure our reality to try to justify the repression. They know that our position is precisely non-violent; it is one of reconciliation, dialogue, and a profound willingness to find solutions to the serious problems they have caused the nation. 

So, they are the ones who have to use violence against us. The detainments, assaults, and robberies in our homes, and the blows that have fallen on our wives. Sometimes, even elderly members of our families are beaten in violent raids perpetrated by people without the slightest scruple, accustomed to imposing themselves by force.

These acts show who is who in this struggle. Who is constantly lying, who is violent, seeking reconciliation and a solution to the problems, and wants to keep Cuba as his fiefdom, as his private property at all costs…

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