Mirta Rodriguez: I don’t Like to Say that my Son is in Jail

Enrique Ojito

Antonio has always tried to keep his mother informed on the projects he’s involved in. First he did it from the Florence federal prison in Colorado, and since January 2012, from the Marianna prison in Florida, where he serves a 21 years and 10 months sentence.

So she knows about his Math lessons -he’s paid $6,52/month for them-, and his latest painting based of photos taken by Silvio Rodriguez during his tour around Havana’s neighbourhoods… “In the misfortune of his life in jail, he tries to live out of there by writing, painting”, she commented.

Mirta Rodríguez, the mother of Antonio Guerrero apologizes for being late and asks if finding her home address was any trouble.

The only mother of the Five’s that could attend the sentence hearing of her son feels comfortable in her house’s living room, the same way she used to feel in the stamp store where she retired from. In this occasion, she’s not faced with television cameras, to which she has had to get used to, nor to a huge audience, with people attentive even to the movement of her thick lips.

With a photographic memory, she remembers all about Tony’s birth October 16th, 1958. Early that morning, she told both her mother and her husband that she was ready for delivery.

“¡Water!, ¡please!, ¡please!, ¡baby!”, she said with an urgent voice as soon as she stepped in Miami’s Jackson Hospital to announce that her water had broken.

“Tony was born at two thirty”, she remembers, and describes him as a reddish, black straight hair, bulging-eyed baby. He was also very large and very thin. “That baby grew up and became beautiful for me”, she added.

She explains that Tony’s birthdays were all celebrated until he was 10; his father died when he was 11. He was a not an obese kid, just a little fat until 12, when he began to get thinner. She affirms to have enjoyed the childhood of her children and to have been very closed to their school.

She was not completely in favour of Tony’s departure to Panama, where he got married in the beginning of the 90s. He tried to persuade her by telling her that principles didn’t know anything about geographic latitudes.

Right since then, Mirta stopped singing as she used to do when doing the housework. “The departure of my son changed my attitude somehow, but I managed to keep on because there were other roots, I had my elder daughter Maruchi and the grandchildren. Everything had to continue the same way; nobodyhad died “.

In order to improve the reduced family economy, Antonio travelled from Panama to US Florida, where he didn’t abjured his homeland, instead he fabricated his history of silence and notices like when the anti-Cuban mafia tried to destroy hotels in the island, or when the Hermanos al Rescate planes intended to create uncertainty by throwing bills over Havana as if they were flying over the backyards of the terrorists’ houses.

That is why “this struggle is full of honor and pain. Honor because I found out that my son was no traitor…, and pain because he’s my son and only I know what I’ve been through. I always remember some words my grandmother used to say, so, no matter how bad I feel, whenever Tony calls me on the phone I try to talk to him with my nicest voice”.

Antonio has always tried to keep his mother informed on the projects he’s involved in. First he did it from the Florence federal prison in Colorado, and since January 2012, from the Marianna prison in Florida, where he serves a 21 years and 10 months sentence. So she knows about his Math lessons -he’s paid $6,52/month for them-, and his latest painting based of photos taken by Silvio Rodriguez during his tour around Havana’s neighbourhoods… “In the misfortune of his life in jail, he tries to live out of there by writing, painting”, she commented.

September, 1998 set the beginning of the invisible story also led by Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino and René González, the other four sons that were born to this octogenarian mother.

A few months away from the year 14 of incarceration of the Five, of increased injustice, Mirta insists in telling this journalist that one morning pushed her out of her kitchen duties: “I don’t like to say that my son is in jail”.

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