Cuban Patriot, Prisoner of Conscience Basilio Guzmán Marrero passed away on April 13, 2022

Basilio Guzmán with CFC Chairman Guillermo Marmol on July 27, 2021 (Source: Rep. Kevin McCarthy)

Basilio Guzmán Marrero passed away on April 13, 2022 after a long illness.

Basilio was born on April 15, 1937 into a humble family in the countryside of Havana province near Campo Florido. When he was seven years old his family was evicted from their home.

He had fond childhood memories of spending time at Guanabo Beach.

Shortly after Fulgencio Batista overthrew Cuba’s democracy on March 10, 1952, Basilio Guzmán joined the resistance against Batista while still a teenager, and joined the Directorio. He was part of the struggle for a free Cuba.

During these years, he also became a carpenter.

Soon after the revolutionary victory in 1959 he joined with Cubans who felt betrayed by Fidel Castro. They had fought for the restoration of democracy and the 1940 Constitution.

Instead they witnessed the Soviet model imposed in Cuba. Press censored and taken over by the new regime. Forced labor camps modeled after the gulags in the Soviet Union, political show trials and firing squads.

Basilio joined the Frente Nacional Democratico (National Democratic Front) , a resistance movement against Castro.

Basilio’s movement was infiltrated, and he was identified, arrested, and in 1962 jailed. He would spend the next 22 years in a Cuban prison.

He was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.

He was a Plantado, a group of prisoners that refused to take part in any re-education plans, or cooperate with the dictatorship in any way.

Basilio Guzman was freed and exiled in 1984, after 22 years in prison, and flown to the United States along with 25 other Cuban political prisoners with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who had petitioned for their release when he visited Cuba.

Pamela Doty, an Amnesty International volunteer who focused on Cuba, met Basilio when he arrived at the airport in Washington, DC in 1984 and they eventually married, and had a daughter together who grew up to be an art historian.

Basilio Guzman resuming his carpentry career in 1985 (Barbara E. Joe)

Over the next 33 years Basilio resumed his vocation in carpentry, and built a successful business in Northern Virginia, but he never forgot Cuba.

Basilio Guzman would take part in public protests against the Castro dictatorship, looked out for other political prisoners, and was a friend to the Center for a Free Cuba board and staff.

Basilio Guzmán Marrero together with Jorge Luis García Pérez, Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez, and Frank Calzon

During the protests in Cuba in 2021 on July 11th, despite being in poor health Basilio Guzman picketed the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC.

Basilio Guzmán Marrero outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC on July 11, 2022.

Basilio published an autobiography in 2020 “DESPUÉS DE LA NOCHE: Mis 22 años en el Presidio Político de Cuba” [ AFTER THE NIGHT: My 22 years in the Political Prisons of Cuba ] and gave an extensive interview about his life to Voces de Cuba in January 2022.

It was an honor and a privilege to have known him and to have witnessed his commitment to a free Cuba.

Requiescat in pace Basilio Guzmán Marrero.

Basilio Guzmán Marrero April 15,1937- April 13, 2022