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

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

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

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

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

The Assemblies to Nominate Candidates Begin / Cuban Legal Advisor, Yaremis Flores

By Yaremis Flores

The summons for the citizens to attend the nomination of candidates assemblies are already spreading around the neighborhoods. Some are attending like robots, simply to make an appearance and so as not to be “branded” in the zone.

After the candidate election process, on October 21 they will elect the delegates, who are committed to communicate the community’s opinions and difficulties to the local Assembly and Administration. They must also inform their constituents about the resolutions adopted to solve those problems or the obstacles to doing so.

In practice, the only form of communication between the delegate and his electors is the Accountability Assembly. A bitter pill that the delegate swallows -in a two and a half year term- in an accumulated series of moans and complaints. The solutions are postponed, period after period, by each predecessor in the job.

The delegate cannot count on resources to directly fulfill the voters demands. He is only a mediator, who must endure -not infrequently- the insults of the population, due to the inefficiency of his management.

Local power is almost existent. At that level, there are no verifiable results of his management. Far from solving the local problems, he does the work of monitoring, like a Police sector chief.

In this sense, the delegate is compelled by the law to inform about illegal constructions and confront legal violations in entities of his district, especially against every corruption manifestation, improper use of resources and other felonies.

He is also entitled to control and supervise the activities of the entities of his jurisdiction, regardless the level of subordination; bound to contribute to the socialist legality and the internal order.

Translated by @Hachhe

September 7 2012

Accessing the Internet in Cuban Churches / Cuban Legal Advisor, Yaremis Flores

By Lic. Yarmis Flores

Liu, reader of this blog, asked the Office if Cuban churches one can have access to the internet. Since 1996, the Cuban government, has been clear about its policy with respect to full access to internet services, in Decree 209 of the Council of Ministers, “Access from the Republic of Cuba to Information Networks of Global Reach.”

The island’s government established its proposal to guarantee full access to the Internet, but in a regulated form and acting in the national interests, giving priority to the connection of people in the judiciary and the institutions of the most relevance to the life and development of the country.

All the users with access to the internet on the island, be they Cubans or foreign residents in Cuba, need authorization from the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC).

In addition, the IP address has to be registered (the only addressing protocol of the Internet, assigned to each machine or device found on the network) and they are controlled by the Agency of Control and Supervision of the MIC. Penalties are imposed on those who don’t comply with this requirement, like the removal of the license to be an Internet user.

It is not recommended to access the Internetsecretly, because if the authorities suspect some irregularity in a church or religious group, an order is not required to carry out a search, because Article 217 of the Law of Legal Procedure establishes that “To enter and search a temple or other place intended for a religious group, handing a messageto the attention of theperson in charge is all that is required.”

Translated by: BW

August 28 2012

Cuba in Elections / Cuban Legal Advisor, Laritza Diversent

By Laritza Diversent

This 5th of July, the State Council invited Cubans to participate in the elections of municipal and provincial council members and national MPs. This convocation inaugurates the general election, taking place every 5 years, to renew the positions in the Popular Assemblies and the State Council.

Now in 2012, 16-year-old Cubans will have the right to vote and to hold office. The Island’s population rises to 11,242,628 inhabitants, according to data from the National Office of Statistics (ONE). Of them, approximately 2,118,156, are minors.

Denied the right to vote are those legally declared mentally retarded, the imprisoned, those on house arrest, and those placed on work camps (open farm). Those who are on probation cannot participate in elections. According to the data offered by the ONE, the number of people prohibited or unable to vote is estimated at 562,202 people.

To exercise the right to vote, Cuban voters must be registered by the Head of the ID office and by the Interior Ministry’s Population Register (MININT). In the last election, there were 8,562,270 voters registered and 95.9% of those registered participated, according to the ONE.

In one of the first moments of the elections, voters will elect the municipal delegates, who are proposed, nominated and elected directly by the citizens. In 2007, 15,236 representatives were elected in the country’s 169 municipalities, according to the ONE.

The date for the election of the national deputies will be arranged later, according to a note published in the newspaper Granma. In 2008, 1201 provincial representatives and 614 national representatives were elected, according to the ONE.

Candidates are proposed by nomination committees composed of members of the Center for Cuban Workers (CTC), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution(CDR), the Federation of Cuban Woman (FMC), the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), the University Students’ Federation (FEU), and the students’ federation (FEEM).

The Communist Party of Cuba does not participate in elections. However, most of the nominees belong to the only political organization in the country. Its top leaders are elected to occupy the most important positions in the State and the Government.

They are nominated by the 169 Municipal Assemblies that will be constituted once the municipal delegates are elected October 21, in the first round, according to the Official organ of the Communist Party. The second election will be held on the 28th, for those nominated who do not obtain more than 50% of the votes.

Elections continue to be the only predictable phenomenon within the Cuban system. The same number of candidates that are proposed and nominated, will be elected. And there is no need for electoral campaigns either. We all know that the First secretary of the Party, Raúl Castro Ruz, will be reelected President of the State Council and the Ministers, leader of the state.July 20 2012