HAVANA — FELIX ANTONIO BONNE CARCASSES threw a party, and spent 18 days under interrogation in a windowless jail.
Technically, Mr. Bonne was charged with possessing ``enemy propaganda'' after state security police searched his home. But diplomats say a series of dissident parties are what aroused the wrath of the Cuban government.
Bonne coordinates the Cuban Civic Current, a dissident group formed last year by professionals promoting democracy. Bonne and eight other professors at the Superior Polytechnic Institute of Havana were fired last year after sending a letter to the Ibero-American Summit in Madrid calling for academic freedom, release of political prisoners, and democratic reform. The aim of the Cuban Civic Current, Bonne says, is to unify Cuban opposition groups - ``a task that ranks up there with the 10 chores of Hercules,'' he chuckles.
In June and July, Bonne's group quietly organized two parties in Havana where some 20 dissidents met each other for the first time. The ground rules were no alcoholic beverages and no political discussions. Still, it went well enough - no state interference - that a third party was planned for Sept. 24.
The first two parties attracted no state interference, so Bonne planned a third for Sept. 24. He invited guests openly by telephone to gauge state reaction. German, Swiss, Spanish, Canadian, and US diplomats were also invited. Some said they were discretely warned by Cuban officials not to go or received anonymous calls saying the party had been canceled.
One diplomat says the entrance to the house was blocked by plainclothes police and ``a rented crowd.'' Diplomats from several embassies were allowed in. But dissidents were stopped from entering. Diplomats report that ``several hundred'' troops were also stationed nearby.
The Cuban Constitution states that all civil liberties can be denied to ``counterrevolutionary elements'' who actively oppose the ``decision of the people to build socialism.'' It points to the numerous US-backed assassination attempts on Castro and ongoing attacks by Cuban exiles to justify the suspension of civil rights.
Bonne was arrested a few days after the third party. But despite threats made against family members, he plans to ``keep looking for ways to unify these groups. I know Castro is stubborn. But so am I.''