"I Have Not Been Able to Overcome Laura's Death"/ Cubanet, Hector Maseda
Cubanet.org, Julio Cesar Alvarez and Augusto Cesar San Martin, 29 July
2016, Havana – Hector Maseda dreamed of designing big ships and hanging
his naval engineering degree where everyone could see it, but "since
they only built boats here," he graduated with a degree in electrical
His excellent grades assured him a post in the National Center for
Scientific Research (CNIC) until 1980 when the Mariel Boatlift changed
his life, as it did for tens of thousands of Cubans who decided to
emigrate, but from a different angle.
Hector did not emigrate but lost his job at the CNIC for refusing to
repudiate his colleagues who chose to leave the Island. He stopped
enjoying the "political trustworthiness" indispensable for working at
the center, the "father of science in Cuba."
From a scientist with three post-graduate studies and author of
several scientific articles, he became a handicrafts vendor for more
than a year in order to be able to survive. After going through several
different jobs he began to work in the medical devices department in the
oldest functioning hospital in Cuba, the Commander Manuel Fajardo
Teaching Surgical Hospital.
It was there, on Christmas of 1991, that he began the courtship of Laura
Pollan, a teacher of Spanish and literature who would later become a
symbol of the peaceful struggle for human rights in Cuba.
The spring of 2003 was a "Black Spring" for Hector and 74 of his
colleagues (known as the Group of 75). Sentenced to 20 years in a
summary trial for a supposed crime against the independence and
territorial integrity of the State, he spent more than seven years in
From that Black Spring emerged the Ladies in White, a group of wives
and family members of the 75 dissidents. Laura Pollan, because of the
arrest of Hector Maseda, quit her job as a professor in the Ministry of
Education and became the founder and leader of the Ladies in White.
"From that moment, she gave up all her pleasures, all her intellectual
and social inclinations, etc., and became a leading defender of human
rights," says Maseda.
But Laura would not survive long after Hector's liberation. A strange
virus ended her life in 2011, although Hector Maseda is convinced that
the Cuban political police assassinated her.
President of the National Commission of Masonic Teaching and
past-President of the Cuban Academy of High Masonic Studies, Hector has
traveled the whole road of Cuban Freemasonry.
From apprentice to Grade 33 of the Supreme Council for the Republic of
Cuba, he is one of the 25 Sovereign Grand Inspectors of the order which
is composed of about 29 thousand Masons spread through more than 300
lodges around the Island.
He has worked as an independent journalist for outlets like CubaNet,
Miscelaneas de Cuba and others. His book Buried Alive recounts the
conditions of the Cuban political prison system and the abuses of
jailers against political and common prisoners.
But he, who at age 15 was arrested and beaten by the Batista police
after being mistaken for a member of the July 26 terrorist group and at
age 60 psychologically tortured by Fidel Castro's political police by
being subjected to sleep deprivation in interrogations, still has not
overcome the death of his wife Laura Pollan.
"I have not been able to overcome that trauma," says Maseda.
Translated by Mary Lou Keel
Source: "I Have Not Been Able to Overcome Laura's Death"/ Cubanet,
Hector Maseda – Translating Cuba -