Róger Leonel Téllez GonzálezLast July, the Council of State, in accordance with the revolutionary postulate of favoring the social reinsertion of persons that were deprived of liberty and taking into account requests from family members, agreed to pardon 2,604 persons sanctioned in Cuban prisons. Many of them, like Róger, are now making possible for them to resume their journey.

Las Tunas, Cuba.- Roger never imagined that his name would appear on the pages of a newspaper. I invited him to talk and his first reaction is doubtful. The phrases come to me haltingly; with his gaze very restless, as if he feared that mentioning a certain "issue" of his past would ruin our dialogue. At last, he cheers up and asks me: "Do you know that I was imprisoned? Then, I take the opportunity to break the uncomfortable "ice" and say yes, and that I still want to write his story.

Róger Leonel Téllez González is 43 years old and has the countryside impregnated in his skin. It is colored on his cheeks and it shines through his words. Immediately, he confesses that he is a "guajiro", one of those who understand nothing but cattle and land. Although a little more than five years ago, he had to "learn" very singular teaching that definitely changed his life.

His family always shied away from the city. They settled in La Canoa, at the head of the municipality, but in a nook where the sun illuminates a small hamlet, of farms, gardens and extensive courtyards, away from the noise and the asphalt.

On that same land, Roger saw his offspring arrive. He tells me that he learned from his parents the customs of not only making produce the land but also building a solid nucleus and finding a companion for life, with whom to share the workdays, the warmth of the nights and the unpredictability of the future. Five offspring were born to his family, including twins, the best incentive to get out of the sheets before dawn and always be with boots on and machete in hand.

He is proud of his unnamed little farm. By Decree-Law 259, he received two hectares of land and built up his patrimony. The eldest son supported him in the task of producing yucca, not just any yucca, but the tastiest and the most sought-after. They sow the variety "señorita", of the one that according to him, "only by smelling the hot water they are disarmed.

His days passed in absolute tranquility until about five years ago. In this part of the story, Róger takes his gaze to the ground and does not raise it. No matter how much I insist, he keeps demons that slip through his skin and torture him, I can almost touch them...

Three cows and an ox were walking on their land. A capricious heifer that he had helped to come into the world drank decomposed honey and became ill at once. Three days later, the animal was already a corpse. That night surprised him with the dead animal in his arms. Moreover, he confesses that he did not think about it, he took out his knife and took advantage of the meat, even though he knew he was committing a crime.

He makes no excuses. He does not tell me about the shortcomings imposed by a family of five children, the need to buy shoes for school, clothes and food. The little house was falling on top of them and they had begun to repair it. So he did not just think about feeding his family. In the early hours of the morning, he loaded a few pounds of meat into his cart and went to the city.

He tells me that he had not walked far enough when the sirens of a police car stopped him. He says that he thought "what am I doing?" and from that moment he knew that he should never have taken his knife that night, that the repair of his little house was not worth such a high price.

He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for the sacrifice of cattle. Then, behind bars, the true "Calvary" began. At that time, her youngest child was only 3 years old. Every time his wife took the little one to him, the boy held on to his neck and did not want to let him go. When it was time to say goodbye, he cried so loudly that he could hear him until they left the facility. He had nightmares at night and listened in his dreams to the cries of the child.

He tells me that he was very embarrassed to see his wife and his mother, now old, arrive with food when he knew the sacrifice of buying it. His eldest son had to take over the farm and with his mother's help, they continued planting cassava.

He warns that inside the prison time is disrupted. It is difficult to know what day of the week is or the exact time. There, he learned many things, from manual drawing, masonry, how to make bitless, to more complicated issues such as human nature. He knew that "there are good men although they are behind bars and other bad and even worse. Moreover, he also knew that the only thing that can save you there is the desire to start over and leave the mistakes in the past. The fact that in prison the future begins when you accept that you made a mistake and you will never fall into the same thing again..."

After two and a half years, Róger returned home on November 30. He remembers every detail of the day, the fine drizzle and the boys' faces, even the coldness with which the youngest son looked at him as if he were a stranger. Then, other difficult moments came. He tells me that shame cuts through his skin like a knife, that has been in prison feels like a stigma that makes him get his head down before society, and even if no one recriminates him, he can't help but feel guilty yet.

I found him in a small community service office. Now, he belongs to that entity and works as a gardener, although his head is always on his farm. He signs the first Wednesdays of each month and has to report even the slightest change in his routines to his attending officer.

He assures me that he lives differently now. He spends much more time talking with his children, alerting them to dangers and bad decisions, giving them advice. He also has four grandchildren to show them the way. In addition, he enjoys much more the small chores of the countryside, the relentless silence of the furrows, even the sun.

Roger's eyes, still nailed to the ground, prevent me from asking more. I only dare to pat him on the shoulder and wish him luck. He says goodbye respectfully and seems relieved on the way to the door. Almost at the exit, he turns and asks me, "Are you really going to write my story," and I say yes with my head. He says, "You don't know what it means to me...". Maybe he is right. I only think of how many men are walking around the world like Roger, trying to be better, tied to a second chance, and waiting for everyone next to him to notice.