Three Key Proposals for Reforming the Cuban Electoral System / Laritza Diversent

Photograph: Red Mi Voz

Havana, Cuba, March 21, 2016 — On February 23, 2015 the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) announced that its VII Congress would take place in April 2016 and that the National Assembly of People’s Power would be asked to amend the electoral process and adopt a new law to govern the general elections of 2018.

Cubalex conducted an investigation of the Cuban electoral system and held discussions involving representatives of independent civil society organizations to identify obstacles to full and equal citizen participation in the political process. We consulted experts in Latin American electoral issues to take advantage of this region’s broad experience over the last 30 years. continue reading

In search of political openness and a peaceful transition, we have formulated three key proposals to reform the electoral system by promoting comprehensive elections and eliminating restrictions on the right to elect and be elected in order to realize the constitutional precept that “Cuba is an independent and sovereign state, organized as a unitary and democratic republic for the enjoyment of political liberty.”

As an independent civil society organization, we are proposing three key reforms as instruments to encourage democratic change in our society. These include reestablishing the rule of law, democracy, political pluralism and respect for human rights — especially for those groups interested in participating in the process established by the PCC — by promoting “elections with integrity” based on democratic principles of universal suffrage and political equality.

1. Citizens would submit names of candidates for Municipal Delegate positions to direct public vote (by show of hands) at local nominating conventions. In circumstances in which a candidate is someone other than one nominated by the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the final choice would be made by the citizenry. 

2. The system established by the current electoral law prohibits political campaigning and restricts the right of citizens to formulate and demonstrate their political preferences and obtain information from a variety of sources.

These proposals by civil society organizations would guarantee citizens the right to organize themselves into movements, political parties or civil-political associations based on ideological and political preferences for the formulation of proposals on public policy, the promotion of political debate and the observation of electoral processes.

3. Currently, the National Electoral Commission, the supreme electoral body, only operates during election cycles and is appointed by the Council of State. Its temporary nature and designation as a political body rather than an organization made up of professionals threatens its independence and impartiality. Furthermore, the Office of Voter Registration operates under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior, a military institution, which discourages citizens from requesting information necessary to exercise their political rights.

Our reform project seeks to generate confidence and guarantee the political rights of citizens as well as electoral integrity and transparency by means of a decentralized and permanent election commission and by charging the Office of Voter Registration with guaranteeing the full independence and financial resources of both institutions and of the officials which constitute it.

We are also soliciting help from the international community because of refusals by our government to listen to us or discuss this issue. The Cuban government responds to every civil society proposal with greater repression, stigmatization and discrimination. We need help in opening channels of communication with authorities. We need mediation and dialogue. We need help in achieving what all Cubans clearly want: a peaceful transition to a democratic, pluralistic, just and inclusive government.

It is worth noting that on May 1, 2013 the Cuban government underwent the Periodic Universal Exam and in a constructive manner agreed and voluntarily promised to adopt measures to promote effective participation by non-governmental organizations and civil society institutions and to adopt legislation to promote human rights.

About Cubalex

The Cubalex Legal Information Center — headquartered in Havana, Cuba — is a non-profit organization of attorneys and activists which defends human rights. Our mission is to promote and defend human rights in Cuba, establish the rule of law and democratize Cuban society.

We offer free legal advice in matters involving housing, immigration, inheritance, labor, criminal appeals, constitutional procedures and the defense of civil and political rights on a national and international level to Cuban or foreign citizens who request it.

We can be reached by email at centrocubalex@gmail.com or by telephone at (+53) 7-647-2216 or (+53) 5-241-5948

Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ONGcubalex/?ref=hl

Web address: http://centrocubalex.com/

CENTRO CUBALEX

#Otro18 Civic Platform Will Hold Forum On Citizenship And Multi-Party Voting / 14ymedio

The logo of the Civic Platform #Otro18 (Another 2018)
The logo of the Civic Platform #Otro18 (Another 2018)

14ymedio, Havana, 10 February 2016 – The group that manages the #Otro18 (Another 2018) Civic Platform has convened its first forum in early March in Cuba, under the slogan Citizenship Revisited, Multi-party Voting. Proposals ranging from reforms to the electoral law to a new law on associations will be presented at the meeting. Participants will include representatives from some 45 independent groups involved in the campaign, according to a statement from its organizers.

Participation in the Forum will be free and international experts on electoral and freedom of association issues have been invited as observers, along with representatives of the diplomatic corps. In the next few days a press conference will be held to define the agenda, date and place of the meeting. Since the Cuban government announced its intention to draft a new electoral law, different political and civil society actors have been encouraging the idea of gathering proposals from the public, with all the diversity and plurality of Cuban society.

Cubalex, an organization of independent lawyers, led the initial technical phase of this campaign in collaboration with lawyers from the Cuban Law Association and other institutions.

Political activists of various organizations such as the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), the United Anti-totalitarian Forum, Somos+ (We Are More), Independent and Democratic Cuba, Cuban Solidarity Liberal Party, Liberal Party of Cuba (Azules), and the Center for Support of the Transition and Progressive Arc, as well as independent journalists, and community, civic and human rights activists, along with independent actors, participated in intense days both within and outside of Cuba.

With this event, #Otro18 completes the initial technical part in the first stage of its project, and initiates the policy and strong social and civic advocacy phase, ahead of the proposed reforms to the electoral law and the law of associations.

Cuba: Artist imprisoned for painting the names "Fidel" and "Raul" on two piglets / Laritza Diversent

After 90 days of imprisonment, there is no formal accusation against the artist, Danilo Maldonado.

Laritza Diversent, Havana, 25 March 2015 — Authorities are still imprisoning the artist, Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth), who was detained arbitrarily by the police.

Maldonado, 31 years old, is an urban artist and painter who finds himself accused of “aggravated contempt,” a charge that the Cuban State uses to incarcerate people who are critical of the Government. He presently is serving 90 days in preventive custody in Valle Grande, on the outskirts of the Capital.

On the afternoon of December 25, 2014, Maldonado staged a “show” in a spot in the city of Havana, when he was detained by police operatives. They arrested him for having two piglets in a sack. One was painted on the back with the name “Fidel,” and the other, with the name “Raul.”

Both names are common; however, the authorities assumed that they disrespected the Castro brothers, and they could impose on him a sanction of between one and three years of prison. continue reading

Cubalex presented an appeal before the Havana tribunal for the authorities to explain the motive for the detention, a recourse that was denied.

The prosecutor didn’t even formally present the accusation before the tribunal. Maldonado’s lawyer asked the authorities several times to allow him to await trial in liberty, which request was also denied.

In Cuban law, the crime of “contempt” is an amplified term that includes defamation or insults toward other Government employees, and it carries aggravated penalties when it is committed against the Head of State. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights has said that this type of rule goes against freedom of expression and the free demonstration of ideas and opinions, which do not justify the imposition of sanctions.

Let’s not forget that all those people who exercise public office or are important statesman, like the Heads of State or the Government, can be legitimate objects of criticism or political opposition. Freedom of expression should take place without inhibition in the public debate about Government officials.

Let’s ask the Cuban State to guarantee and respect Danilo Maldonado’s right to freedom of expression, without restrictions. Furthermore, let’s ask the international community to speak up for his freedom and his right to a fair trial.

About Cubalex:

Cubalex, the Center of Legal Information, is located in Havana, Cuba. We are a non-profit organization founded in 2010, not recognized by the Cuban State. We offer free legal advice on housing, migration, inheritance, criminal appeals, constitutional procedures and defending civil and political rights, in the national and international arena, to Cuban citizens or foreigners who request our services.

If you want a consultation, you can find us through our email: centrocubalex@gmail.com;

or by telephone:  (537) 7 647-226 or  (+535)-241-5948

Translated by Regina Anavy

Cubalex states that its work is in ‘danger’ / 14ymedio

The lawyers of Cubalex Laritza Diversent and Barbara Estrabao day the report on the Commission.(14ymedio)
The Cubalex lawyers Barbara Estrabao (L.) and Laritza Diversent (R.) on the day the report to the Human Rights Commission.(14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger

14ymedio, 22 March 2015 – Last Friday the Cubalex Center for Legal Information circulated a statement in which they report that their work is in “danger.” The independent entity said that after their presentation of “a report about Cuban prisons, the campaigns of defamation and harassment increased” toward their members.

In the text there is reference to a robbery that occurred in Cubalex’s offices on March 12, when “unidentified people broke in and (…) stole a laptop, a tablet, an iPod, a modem, an external hard disk, several flash memories and computer parts.”

The statement goes on to say that “the fact that no other objects of value were stolen, only those that could contain information about the work of the organization, leads one to assume (…) that the aggressors came on the part of the state authorities.”

In recent months Cubalex has reported being a “target of a smear campaign that includes libelous notes accusing the organization of corruption.” The texts are published on the Internet, most of the time anonymously or without specifying the source of the complaint.

Laritza Diversent, attorney and member of Cubalex, reports that since 2013 there has been “increased surveillance, harassment and threats against members of the team.” The lawyer explained that the pressure on the group increased after the presentation of the report on the detainees in Cuba, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The harassment includes “threats to prosecute the family members of the Cubalex team and to confiscate the building where the office is located.”

Given this context, in its statement Cubalex demands that the Cuban government “guarantee and protect the work of organizations and leaders engaged civil society of in defense of human rights.” In addition, it asks “the international community to rule in favor of the guarantees of our work.”

The Cubalex Center for Legal Information is headquartered in Havana and is considered a non-profit organization not recognized by the Cuban state. It has offered free legal advice since 2010, concerning the legalization of housing, immigration procedures, inheritance, labor, criminal review processes, constitutional procedures and the defense of civil and political rights of Cuban or foreign citizens who ask them.

Appeal against the arrest of graffiti artist El Sexto rejected; prisoner transferred to Valle Grande / Diario de Cuba

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Havana, 7 January 2015 — The graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, remains imprisoned in Valle Grande prison after authorities rejected the habeas corpus appeal presented by the Cubalex organization, led by independent counsel Laritza Diversent.

The appeal denounced the “arbitrary detention” of El Sexto which took place when he led two pigs, named Fidel and Raul, to stage a performance in Havana’s Central Park on 26 December. The graffiti artist is accused of “insult.”

Diversent explained to Diario de Cuba this Wednesday that the authorities rejected the appeal “with very subtle arguments” and hid behind an assertion that there was “no legal basis” to consider the arrest as “illegal.”

The independent counsel recalled that her appeal did not cite the detention as illegal but “arbitrary.” Likewise, in her demand she specified that the names of pigs, Fidel and Raul, were “common” and that authorities had to “accept criticism.”

For now, according to independent counsel, there is still no trial date and she hopes that there will be a change of custody, because the events in which El Sexto is involved are a “misdemeanor.”

Also, Diversent said that she had sent information to international bodies so that they will speak out on the situation of graffiti artist.

An Independent Legal Group Files a Habeas Corpus Petition on behalf of El Sexto / 14ymedio

The artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto (Luz Escobar)
The artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto (Luz Escobar)

14YMEDIO, Havana, 29 December 2014 — On Monday, the independent group CubaLex filed a petition for habeas corpus in the case of artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto. In a document addressed to the Provincial Tribunal of Hanvana, the lawyers urge that the arrestee’s rights be respected and also that he be permitted a proper defense. Police have informed the relatives of the prisoner that all trials scheduled for the upcoming days, including that of the artist initially scheduled for next Wednesday, the last day of 2014, are delayed until the new year.

El Sexto was arrested December 25 shortly before carrying out a performance which consisted of releasing two pigs with the names of “Fidel and Raul” in a public square. He is charged with contempt. continue reading

Although the artist had told several friends of his desire to keep the exact date of the performance discreet, the police managed to find out and stopped the car in which he was traveling to the site. At first he was taken to the 4th Precinct Police Station at Infanta and Manglar, and then they transferred him to Zapata and C Station in Vedado, where he remains now.

Lawyer Laritza Diversent in conversation with 14ymedio has emphasized that she believes that “in this case they chose the date of December 31 with a malevolent intention because it is difficult to find a lawyer who wants to participate in a trial.” Nevertheless, Cubalex is advising El Sexto’s relatives to hire a lawyer from a collective firm as soon as possible. If they do not manage it in the next few hours, El Sexto would run the risk of being tried without the presence of his defender.

Habeas corpus is a legal institution that seeks to “prevent arbitrary arrests and detentions.” Its fundamental principal is the obligation to bring all arrestees before a judge within a short time period. In the case of El Sexto, today, Monday, marks four days since his arrest and incarceration.

Translated by MLK

UN Experts Concerned About the Situation of Violence Against Women on the Island / Yaremis Flores

HAVANA, Cuba, August 1, 2013, www.cubanet.org.- The members of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) bluntly expressed their concern “with the persistence of violence against women, including domestic violence in Cuba,” says a report published last July 25 on its official web page.

They said that the phenomenon remains underreported, “due to the prevalence of discriminatory socio-cultural norms and denial by the Cuban State of the existence of different types of violence.” Later in their report, they stated that Cuba does not recognize the exploitation of prostitution. This particular issue, was fully addressed in an article from the Spanish newspaper ABC published last Tuesday.

The critiques were reported following an examination of Cuba by the Committee, in a version edited and published not only in English.

The Committee was concerned by the lack of knowledge about the human rights of women in the national population and proposed firmly establishing a legal culture based on non-discrimination and equality of women.

CEDAW noted that although Cuban law prohibits discrimination based on gender and stipulates that all citizens have equal rights, they remain worried that Cuba “has failed to include in its legislation a definition of discrimination against women” nor is there a law specifically against domestic violence.

One of their suggestions was to ensure effective access to justice, including the provision of free legal aid programs and protection for victims of violence. They also recommended that the Cuban establish an effective and independent mechanism of monitoring for women detainees, which they can access without fear of reprisals. continue reading

Thus, they considered it important that Cuba provide mandatory training for prosecuting judges, police, doctors, journalists and teachers to ensure a raise in awareness of all forms of violence against women and girls.

The CEDAW Committee drew attention to the lack of a complaints mechanism for reporting cases of discrimination and violation of the human rights of women and the absence of a national human rights institution.

Although the report referred to the Federation of Cuban Women and the Houses of Orientation to the Woman and Family receiving complaints, the numbers of complaints received were limited and outdated. Actually, not all Cuban women identify these spaces as a possible solution to their problems and in some cases they simply transfer the case to another government institution.

With respect to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Committee noted that not all organizations could participate fully in the process. They urged the State to improve cooperation with NGOs.

In this last review only three aspects received positive mentions. Among them, the adoption of laws such as social security, the ratification of some international standards such as the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the high representation of women in the National Assembly.

The number of recommendations and key concerns were almost double those from the previous periodic review. However, in a press conference given by the Cuban Minister of Justice, Ms. Maria Esther Reus González, to the media NOTIMEX and Prensa Latina, describing the CEDAW committee’s presentation as useful to Cuba.

Ms. Reus González said that this exercise “has allowed us to showcase the achievements and empowerment that Cuban women have achieved, while it has served to hear the suggestions, views and opinions of experts and the Committee experts, who will always assist in the improvement of the economic model and legislation that is developing in our country.”

After a thorough reading of the CEDAW report one understands their deep sense of concern about the situation of the island. On the other hand, the denial of some of the problems by the official Cuban delegation does not allow relieving the context of women.

According to the Committee, Cuba will have to inform in writing, within two years, the steps taken to implement the recommendations and they invited the State to submit to the next examination to be held in July 2017.

1 August 2013

Court Suspends Eviction / Laritza Diversent

Digital StillCamera

Laritza Diversent

On January 21 the Havana Court suspended Yamilí Barges Hurtado’s eviction, planned for March 22, from her house facing the Cohiba Hotel, as well as that of the heirs of the other partner in the house-swap in the east of Havana.

According to Barges Hurtado, a sheriff from the court of justice announced the decision to representatives of the state-run organizations in her neighborhood, at approximately 5 pm. The official said the court of justice suspended the eviction because of questions of security. “Nobody told me,” Bargas Hurtado said.

Eleazar Yosvany Toledo Rivero, 34, responsible for removing Yamilé from her property, was also informed, by a phone call from neighborhood leaders, of the decision. Supposedly the plaintiff told the court on January 18 of the impossibility of carrying out the eviction for lack of transportation. continue reading

The excluded heir asked the Court to nullify the swap undertaken by both families ten years ago, and for the right to occupy Yamile’s house facing the Cohiba. The court granted the property without acknowledging her.

Regardless of the court, he didn’t give up. He called the heirs of Rivero Dominguez heirs and representatives of the state-run organizations of the Vedado and Bahia neighborhoods, to a hearing on 25 January. “I wasn’t summoned” adds Barges Hurtado, who says the eviction is scheduled for February 5.

Yamile learned of the suspension by the heirs of the other property in the trade and neighbors summoned by the court of justice. “It is a psychological war,” she says. On November 15 the eviction was planned to occur and didn’t happened. “I can’t take it anymore, I have psychiatric problems, whatever happens,” she adds.

In Cuba it is not common for courts to order evictions. Evictions, called “extractions,” are made by the Department of Housing, after declaring the occupants of a building illegal. In the case of Barges Hurtado, the administrative body acts when the People’s Provincial Court recognizes the property ownership one of the heirs at issue.

The heirs of the other property in the trade plan to sue Eleazar try to demonstrate their right to the house and to stop the eviction. Yamile will be presented in the process as a stakeholder. She needs legal advice and only the lawyers affiliated with the State-run National Organization of Collective Law, the only one of its kind in the country, can represent people before the courts or state agencies. She does not trust anyone.

According Yamile she contracted the services of three lawyers to defend her. The first, Mrs. Clara Elena Diaz Olivera was bought by the counterparty, Ms. Alba Rosa Perna Recio. The others, on learning who was representing the excluded heir, gave up the case as a lost cause.

Barges Hurtado says there is corruption in the case because with the judge Dania Pardo Garcia, former president of the Judges Commission, there are friendly relations. “At the last hearing, the went to lunch together,” she says.

February 14 2013

Deputy Attorney General of Cuba Questions the Conviction of Inmate Michel Martinez Perez / Yaremis Flores / Laritza Diversent

07 SEPT 2012

Young man sentenced to 10 years for “illegal slaughter of cattle” based solely on evidence from a dog, granted new trial.

By Yaremis Flores

Carlos Raul Concepcion Rangel, Deputy Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba, asked the Supreme Court to review the penalty of 10 years imprisonment imposed on Michel Martinez Perez. The common prisoner has gone on hunger strike over 3 times, insisting on his innocence.

“There have been breaches and inaccuracies in the criminal proceedings,” Conception Rangel acknowledged in writing, in his request which was granted by the highest court on the island.

The Provincial Court of Matanzas, in March 2012 found Martínez Pérez, along with other defendants, responsible for the illegal slaughter of cattle, theft and robbery with force. The only evidence against him was an “odor print” taken at one of the crime scenes. continue reading

This type of test only indicates his presence in the place, but not necessarily participation in the crime. Its level of certainty does not resemble that of a DNA test. It is debatable how the trace is collected, which relies on the canine technique, because a dog is the one who determines if the smell matches the suspect.

Regarding the smell test, “Irregularities appear in the proceedings that cast doubt on the quality of it,” said the Deputy Prosecutor, adding that there is a “logical contradiction” between testing and inspections of the scene.

The deputy prosecutor said Michel denied involvement in the events at all times, but it his co-defendants identified his as involved at the start of the investigation. This was placed into doubt when, after the investigative phase, the co-defendants recanted during the trial, but the judges only considered the incriminating statements.

The law of criminal procedure requires a court to rule on the basis of the evidence presented at trial. But Cuban judges, given the authority to freely assess the evidence, often violate that mandate.

“Since his arrest in August 2011, Michel tried to draw the attention of the authorities to the process,” said Iván Hernández Carrillo, a former prisoner of conscience who has supported and followed Michel’s case.

Pérez Martínez was reported under the care of physicians when, in June 2012, he began a hunger strike that would extend to almost 50 days. His last voluntary starvation was undertaken from October 19, after the results of the judgment on appeal of the Supreme Court.

The same court that agreed today to review the decision of the Matanzas judges, maintained the same sentence against Michel when it re-examined the record in 2012.

As a consequence, the prisoner refused to eat for 48 days. He then spent almost two months in hospital. “My son has lost weight and his health deteriorated, everything that happened is an injustice,” said Jesus Lázara de Jesus, his mother, by telephone.

Within 10 days, as of January 28, Michel should hire a lawyer for the holding of the new trial. In acceding to the request of deputy prosecutor, the conclusion that he committed the crime should be set aside and another reached, conforming to the guarantees of due process.

According to a source that will not be revealed for security reasons, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights allegedly requested information from the Cuban government about the legal status of Michel Martinez Perez.

February 12 2013

What Are the Authorities Waiting For? / Laritza Diversent #Cuba

Caridad Reyes Roca and her daughter (Photo by author)
Caridad Reyes Roca and her daughter (Photo by author)
Caridad Reyes Roca traded homes with Ofelia de la Cruz de Armas in 2008. Three days later, the neighbor below complained about leaks from the bathroom. The wall and ceiling coverings were coming off. Caridad spent four years trying to undo the trade and return to her former property.

“My attorney was bought off by the other party,” she said. Caridad hired the attorney Yolanda Martiato Sanchez in January 2009. In June, without her consent, her counsel filed a notice of withdrawal that the Court of Havana accepted. Proceedings were closed. “I knew of the deception when I complained to the Council of State and they responded to me in court,” says Caridad. continue reading

“I complained, but the director of client relations at the Law Collective  Center of the Ministry of Justice said the withdrawal that was done behind my back caused me no harm,” she explains. In August, Martiato Sanchez had opened a new process for challenging the trade. But in February 2010 she was replaced by a colleague, Mr. Manuel Guzman. “As expected, the court dismissed the lawsuit,” said Caridad.

The judges felt that there was no absence of consent or fraud. According to them, the precarious state of the property was not hidden by the defendant. Now, the situation Caridad finds herself in is due to her “carelessness” and “negligent behavior.” However, to reach the ruling, it required a report from the Office of the Architect of the Community (OAC) of Arroyo Naranjo.

It was the same institution that, in October 2008, issued a technical report which according to Mrs. Cruz de Armas when she answered the complaint, accredited “the good technical condition of the property.” To date, Caridad Reyes has been unable to obtain a copy of that document.

Instead, at the request of Caridad herself, the OAC issued a new opinion in January 2009, with the result that the housing no longer met the requirements of habitability and therefore could not be considered “minimally adequate housing.” The document was signed by architect Elena Perez, Head of the institution and Caridad’s adjoining neighbor.

Cronyism, corruption

Elena Perez, chief of the OAC, is friends with Mrs. Ofelia de la Cruz de Armas, the woman sued by Charity; also because of the position she occupies, with attorney Martiatos Sanchez and the officials of Directorate of Municipal Housing of Arroyo Naranjo (DMV). The Havana Court however, ignored the conflict of interest and asked Elena Perez to appoint two experts to certify the construction technical condition of Caridad Reyes’ housing.

According to the report, the structural characteristics of the building were altered by construction that Caridad never undertook. “The heedlessness cannot not attributed to a fraudulent act of the other party,” the court ruled.

The fact is that in less than three months, the housing changed and no longer met the housing habitability requirements. This, however, did not suggest to the judges that the opinion of the OAC was falsified. Nothing made them suspect the architect, the DMV officials and the acting notary, nor the possible crime of falsification of documents.

But Caridad Reyes did not desist. She hired another lawyer, and while her appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court, she asked the Arroyo Naranjo Municipal Housing Office to nullify the resolution authorizing the exchange. The request was denied and the case closed. And Caridad Reyes Roca sued the institution. The former Havana Hearing Examiner declared her request without merit. Caridad appealed to the Supreme Court and got the same answer.

The same OAC, in 2012, issued another Technical Report. The property, it notes, remains in poor condition, but it does not specify if it is uninhabitable and irreparable. The construction is devalued by  4,356.15 pesos in national currency (from the value it had when the trade was made) to 2,678.16 national pesos

Caridad Reyes filed written complaints at different levels of government: Provincial and Supreme Court, National Assembly, Council of State, the National Housing Institute, Ministry of Justice, the National Organization of Law Collectives and the Attorney General’s Office.

No investigation got to the bottom of the matter or evaluated the risk to her physical safety and that of her daughter, even though both belong to vulnerable social groups. Caridad Reyes Roca, 65, is retired, and is responsible for Misley Lázara Suarez, 30-years-old with Down syndrome.

Their lives are in danger because of the unsanitary conditions of the home. The wastewater must be manually evacuated. They sleep in the kitchen because of the risks of collapse in the bedroom. Reyes Roca suffers from urosepsis and chronic gastroenteritis. She has difficulties with antibiotic resistant bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.

What are the authorities waiting for? For the ceiling to fall on their heads? What will happen to Misley Lázara if Caridad is not there to care for her? Those who because of their ambition deceived this elderly mother of a disabled child didn’t think about that.

Cronyism abounds in the Cuban legal system.

Laritza Diversent

Translated from DiariodeCuba.com

21 January 2013

Academic Exchange on Law and Human Rights in Cuba / Estado de Sats

With the independent Cuban attorneys Yaremis Flores and Laritza Diversent (Cubalex), René Gómez Manzano (Agramontista Current), Antonio G. Rodiles (Mathematical Physicist) and students from the New York University Law School.


This video is 44 minutes long. There is a live interpreter translating the session into English in real time.

22 January 2013

Campaign for Another Cuba: Video #Cuba

This video is less than 4 minutes long.

Number 54033 (Part 1) / Cuban Legal Advisor, Yaremis Flores

By Yaremis Flores

The afternoon of November 7th I couldn’t imagine that I’d trade my name for a number. I went out at approximately two in the afternoon to take a serving of soup over to my father, who’d been admitted into a hospital. While I was going down the street I live on, the #950 patrol was driving slowly around the area. When I was almost crossing the road, I heard a sharp braking. An agent from State Security called me by my name and said the usual: “You have to come with us and turn off your cell phone.”

I had made the made the call to which I have a natural right and no one can deny me beforehand. Thus I at least was able to report my arrest. Because of my short height, the fact that I’m a woman and unarmed, I didn’t deserve the corpulence of badge numbers 29128 and 29130, by whom I was taken to the back seat of the patrol car without knowing the reason for nor the place of my destination. When I asked, the agent limited himself to saying “you’ll see where we take you, I felt like meeting you, but today you’re going to find out who I am.”

My surprise wasn’t much at seeing my destination was 100 and Aldabó. I’ll confess I thought at first it would only be a few hours’ detention. Under the pretext of spreading false news against international peace, they took blood samples from me and seized all my belongings. An officer told me that I must read a sign on which are listed the rights and responsibilities of detainees, as if they were worth much. Then I was led into a small room where they gave me a gray uniform and told me to always carry my hands behind my back: so that I’d not be reprimanded!

They gave me two sheets, a blanket, a towel and a mattress pad. I forget who, but someone said “she will spend a few days here.” During more than three hours of questioning, the case officer tried to deciphermy thinking and collaboration with Cubanet. He sought an explanation of whathis superiors classified as a process of metamorphosis: “from a judge to a counterrevolutionary.” Making it clear that that would not be our only conversation, an officer took me to a cell with two other prisoners, who had been there more than 30 days.

Many worries came to mind: my father’s health, my little 3 year-old girl, and the reaction of my husband, friends, and family. I showed calm. That night I ate nothing. I tried to sleep. When I almost succeeded, some blows to the cell bars and the jailer’s shouts startled me. “54033, 54033!!!” I didn’t answer. When she opened the cell, the bitter woman looked at me and said “Girl, you don’t hear me calling you, or they gave you a beating with gusto.”

Then I remembered that I had in a small blouse pocket a little piece of cardboard that said “54033/201.” It meant my prisoner number and my cell number. One of the girls told me “now this is your identity card.” Meanwhile, the jailer told me to get all my things together. A little dazed, I began to fasten my shoes and she warned me: don’t fix up so much, you’re not going very far, you’re going to another cell. “Then I’m going to another cell,” I answered. This was my first night in Aldabó.

Translated by: JT

November 12 2012

Hablemos Press Correspondent Calixto R. Martnez Will Be Charged for “Contempt for Authority” / Yaremes Flores, Cuban Legal Advisor

By Yaremis Flores

Independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias continues to be jailed in the Santiago de las Vegas police station, and “will be charged with the crime of aggravated contempt for authority,” according to precinct captain Marisela.

On September 19 the captain referred to Hablemos Press Information Center correspondent as having “disrespected Fidel and Raúl Castro and said that the investigator in charge of the case was sub-Lieutenant Rosmerty.”

For 72 hours after the detention, the police kept the details about Martínez Arias’ arrest secret, after he was detained last Sunday night for investigating an event that took place at the International Airport José Martí. Presumably, the event holds the Cuban government responsible for the deterioration of medicines sent by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, director of Hablemos Press, he and a group of friends showed up in the police station located at Avenidad Independencia and Calzada de Managua in the town of Santiago de las Vegas.

“The officer on duty at the station communicated to us that Calixto had been transferred to another station. We received no further details,” said Roberto. Nevertheless, according to the law, the police have the obligation to allow communication with the detainee.

For this reason, this Wednesday at one o’clock in the afternoon, at the Santiago de las Vegas police station, Roberto de Jesús and independent lawyer Veizant Boloy, demanded that information about Martínez Arias’ legal situation be given. “Last Monday they lied to us, because Calixto was in the station,” stated Roberto de Jesús.

“We asked the captain, Marisela, if we could see him and give him some toiletries, when a State Security agent named Yuri showed up, accompanied by another police officer. They asked us for identification and sent us to the cell,” explained Boloy after they were released that same day around midnight.

“As we walked down into the dungeons we yelled Calixto’s name, who was surprised to hear us and replied to us. We saw the wounds on his face, caused by the beatings inflicted by the police,” said both Guerra and Boloy.

“Our detention and everything that happened at the station took place under Major Arnaldo Espinoza’s watch, Unit Chief at the Santiago de las Vegas police station. His badge number was 00182. Although the ones that really give the orders are the State Security agents,” added Boloy.

According to information given this past Friday by Roberto de Jesús Guerra, Calixto R. Martínez was given medical attention at the National Hospital for a swollen left eye, and was transferred to a prison located to the West of the capital and known as “El Vivac.”

The Prosecution has not given notification as to when Calixto will be able to hire one of the lawyers from the National Organization of Lawyers’ Practice, who are the only ones authorized by the law to defend Cuban citizens in a Cuban court of law.

Calixto Ramón has been jailed on several occasions for his journalistic work, and has also been deported at least 12 times for remaining in Havana with an identity card that has an address from Camagey.

This time, the correspondent of Hablemos Press, who assured us his mission was “to break the wall of silence imposed by the island’s government and to denounce human rights violations,” could serve a sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison.

Translated by Eduardo Alemán

October 1 2012

Military Service and Religion in Cuba / Cuban Legal Advisor, Yaremis Flores

If you want to learn how Cuban laws discriminate on religious grounds, read the last post published by Cubalex:

Yaremis Flores, Attorney at Law

According to Cuban law, religious belief is not a justification for avoiding Military Service. Specifically, Circular No. 129 of the Governing Council of the People’s Supreme Court states that “young members of the Jehovah’s Witness sect who are called to active military service and refuse to perform this duty would be committing a criminal offense under the existing Criminal Code.”

The circular also stated:

1. The policy of sanctions to be applied in these cases should be the highest possible within the punishment guidelines.

2. Because the accused’s membership in this particular religious sect is not an element of the crime, the judgment should make no reference to that fact.

3. In cases where the penalty imposed is imprisonment, or correctional labor with internment, the acronym “JW” should be recorded in the upper margin of the commitment order that is delivered, in order that the agencies of the Interior Ministry responsible for carrying out the punishment will know the status of the punished accused.

According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights all people are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. Accordingly, the law should prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, economic status, birthplace, or any other social condition.

But the distinction made in the previous circular is discriminatory, and severely punishes people solely because of their religious beliefs.

September 8 2012