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 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)

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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

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

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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