14ymedio, Havana, 11 March 2016 — Gorki Águila, a musician with the band Porno Para Ricardo, has denounced that he was detained and questioned Thursday at Jose Marti airport in Havana, on his arrival from the United States.
Aguila said that, after the interrogation, on collecting his suitcases, he found that his luggage had been searched. “They read it item by item, inspecting every piece and they really concentrated on anything with writing, like T-shirts with the group’s logo. They took photos of everything, placing a sign with a number next to every item.”
“They detained me and threatened me in every way they know how. They did an exhaustive search, very exhaustive at Customs,” said the musician, in a phone interview with Radio Marti News.
Aguila, a regime opponent as well as an artist, was held for 4 or 5 hours and T-shirts were messages such as “Todos Marchamos” (We All March) and “Boitel and Zapata Tamayo, assassinated by Castro” were confiscated.
“State Security asked me if I had plans to go and see the Rolling Stones,” Gorki added. The rocker accused the authorities of having threatened his daughter and with not being allowed to travel any more.
When the musician was asked why he thought this situation happened, he replied, “They are very concerned with President Obama’s visit to Cuba. They want to try to show a peaceful country, they want to put on a show, a circus with happy and contented people.”
The activist Lia Villares, who arrived on a later flight, also was detained for nearly three hours at airport customs, her luggage and carefully checked and several CDs of the group Porno Para Ricardo were confiscated, along with T-shirts with slogans such as “Down with you know who.”
Martí News reports that several opponents claim Villares is continuing to be held.
Diario de Cuba, Havana, 8 November 2015 — The musician Gorki Águila was released on Saturday after being held for a few hours in the 5th police station in Playa municipality in Havana. Águila was arrested with two French journalists who were also released.
As he explained in statements to Radio Marti, the reason for the arrest was his wearing a shirt with the phrase “Down with you-know-you” while he was being interviewed on the street by journalists.
“People (agents) follow me and one of the minions spoke with State Security, so that was why we were stopped,” said Águila.
After two hours in the cells, the musician had an interview with a member of the State Security, according to the artist, and threatened him, “in the form of advice” to stop any kind of activism. “Same as always,” said Águila.
14ymedio, Havana, 7 November 2015 — The musician Gorki Águila was arrested this afternoon in Havana, as he was traveling in a car with two journalists from the television channel France24. The composer and singer managed to call this newspaper from the Fifth Police Station in the Playa municipality, where he was taken with the two reporters.
Águila, leader of the punk rock band Porno para Ricardo, does not know why he has been arrested and when talking with 14ymedio the police still had not informed him whether he would remain in a cell in the station, or be fined or prosecuted. Last August the musician was detained for several hours in the same station, where he was warned that if continue his activism “those who invite you to visit another country will have to come to looking for you in a boat.”
Arsenio Rodríguez Quintana, Barcelona — On Sunday, October 4, after visiting the Cuban Art Factory in Havana, the Rolling Stones singer was walking with the rocker and Cuban government critic Gorki Aguila Carrasco along 5th Avenue, where the Ladies in White meet every Sunday and march in support of human rights in Cuba. Cuban State Security blocks Gorki from going to meet them, but last Sunday, the day of Orula, an orisha venerated in Cuba, the miracle happened. Gorki was wearing an El Sexto T-shirt that interested Jagger, who asked about El Sexto’s state of health after his hunger strike, and offered to buy some of his artworks to support him.
They also spoke about the possibility of Gorki opening for the Rolling Stones should the conversations with the Ministry of Culture for the Stones to play in the Karl Marx Theater bear fruit.
Now that so many American rock, pop and jazz musicians are coming to Havana, it is worth remembering that this city where I was born had home grown impresarios (from 1910 to 1959) that brought the best American or European musicians of their times to Cuba: Enrico Caruso, Nat King Cole or Lola Flores, for example.
The person who cut this ebb and flow between Havana and the world was Fidel Castro. For more than 50 years – except in 1978, another USA-Cuba political rapprochement, and in 1999. The Castro regime not only censored jazz and rock so that it would not come into Cuba, but also censored and imprisoned those who played it.
Jagger, regrettably was in Havana but he didn’t meet with Gorki, the news is false, but my dear friends Ailer and Lia Villares will perhaps smile at my autumn dreams from Barcelona.
Ultimatum from the political police to musician Goki Aguila, participant in the peaceful marches of the Ladies in White.
Cubanet.org, Camilo Ernesto Olivera Peidro, Havana, 6 August 2015 – Tuesday, August 4, Gorki Aguila, leader of the punk band Porno for Ricardo, was visited at his home by an official from the PNR Sector (Revolutionary National Police). She tried, without success, to get Aguila to accept a badly drafted and irregular summons.
After that visit, on Wednesday at about midday, Gorki heard a knock on his apartment door. On opening, he found two police officers who were bringing orders to arrest him:
The patrol car took the route towards the well known Fifth Station in Playa township.
Kafka, in STASI version, according to State Security
“On arriving and being taken to the jail, I insisted that they explain why I was there. Then, the guard in charge of that area found out and told me: ‘You are here for an interview with CI (Counter-Intelligence).’ The other guards looked at me as if I were the most sought after criminal in Cuba. They said: ‘If CI summoned you, it is because they have something heavy against you.’ No one wanted to accept that I could be a prisoner just for thinking or acting politically differently.”
After more than two hours, Gorki was taken to an office inside the station itself. There he had a meeting with an officer from State Security who did not identify himself. This one, in a hectoring tone, threatened the musician:
“The agent told me: ‘If you go this next Sunday to the Ladies in White, you will never leave this country again. Those who have invited you to play in the United States are going to have to get you on a raft. I am personally going to make sure you are not able to leave from the airport.’”
Gorki thinks that “these officers are sick with impunity. They really believe that this system is going to last forever. Their bosses make them think that. We are all buried in a blend of the films ‘The Lives of Others’ and Kafka’s story ‘The Process,’” added the musician.
Porno Para Ricardo, the Ladies in White, Kerry and the Pope
The band Porno Para Ricardo is scheduled to travel to the US to join a tour. On prior occasions, the group’s musicians were held on the island by express order of Cuban security. Gorki has had to travel via Mexico and turn to session musicians hired by the sponsors in order to be able to perform.
“There are two important visits coming up which have these repressors very nervous. One of these is the American Secretary of State John Kerry. The other is Pope Francis in September. I don’t doubt that they are gearing up for a flash wave of repression. They will do it, as soon as they have the American flag waving at the embassy across from the Malecon,” he says.
At the beginning of July, Gorki Aguila debuted his theme entitled “Ladies in White” in Gandhi Park, near the Santa Rita Church. He did it surrounded by the respect and emotion of these brave women and the activist members of the Forum for Rights and Freedoms. A little latter, everyone marched in defiance of repression. They have continued to do so. They will do it again next Sunday.
14ymedio, Havana, 5 August 2015 – After several hours of being detained by the police, the musician Gorki Águila was released at around four in the afternoon on Wednesday. During his arrest he was taken to the Fifth Station in the Havana municipality of Playa where an official warned him that he would not leave Cuba again if he continued attending the Sunday marches of the Ladies in White, according to what Gorki told 14ymedio in a telephone conversation.
The rocker and leader of the band Porno para Ricardo detailed that they warned him that his arrest would be brief, but if he continued to pursue his activism, “Those who invite you to visit other countries will have to come looking for you in boat.”
Hours earlier, his daughter Gabriele had denounced that, “Yesterday at noon they brought a police citation, which he received but he refused to sign it because he didn’t know the reason behind it.” The police agents were looking for the rocker for a couple of hours today at noon; a call to the phone number 18806 — through which one can ask for information about any citizen detained — which did not reveal his whereabouts nor the reason for his arrest.
The last time the musician Gorki Águila slept in a cell was at the end of May, when he was arrested outside Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts for carrying a sign with the image of the graffiti artist El Sexto, with the word “freedom.” This Wednesday history was about to repeat itself.
Cubanet.org, Camilo Ernesto Olivera Peidro, Havana, 5 August 2015 – Around noon Wednesday, musician Gorki Aguila was arrested, and his whereabouts are unknown.
The vocalist for the rock band Porno para Ricardo managed to communicate via telephone with this reporter just when two police officers presented themselves at the door of his home in order to take him. They did not explain the reason for his arrest or identify the place where they would take him.
Days earlier, law enforcement officers had approached Gorki Aguila’s house in order to bring him a police summons. Given apparent irregularities in the preparation of the document, the artist refused to sign it.
This arrest occurs within a few days of the arrival of the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to Havana for the inauguration of the American Embassy.
14ymedio, 19 July 2015 — This Sunday has led to the arrest of forty Ladies in White and thirty activists, at the conclusion of their usual march on 5th Avenue in the Havana neighborhood of Miramar.
After Mass in the church of Santa Rita, the Ladies in White gathered together with several activists in Gandhi park. There, from the speakers of a car, was heard a composition by the rocker Gorki Aguila, that pays tribute to these women and their human rights movement.
Gorki Aguila told 14ymedio the song that just premiered, was produced in the studios of La Paja Records, managed by the group Porno for Ricardo. In addition to the melody of a cello, the musical theme includes strings, guitar, bass, drums and a solo by Aguila himself.
According to the artist “the intention was to give to the Ladies another song, to encourage other artists to make artworks to them, they deserve it.”
The renowned musician was taken to the so-called Vivac de Calabazar prison with Jorge Moya, Jorge Luis Antunez, Claudio Fuentes, Egberto Escobedo and Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles, among others. The women may have been transferred to a detention center in Tarara, east of Havana, where they are routinely detained.
Diario de Cuba, Havana, 7 June 2015 – Over 40 Ladies in White and some 27 activists were arrested this Sunday, the ninth of repressive operations in Havana, according to dissidents.
Among those arrested were the musician Gorki Aguila, the director of Estado de Sats, Antonio Rodiles, photographer Claudio Fuentes and artist Tania Bruguera, who has already been released, according to the activist Ailer Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, artistic director of State of Sats, said she was able to talk with Antonio Rodiles when he was led into a State Security “paddy wagon,”, along with nine other men, and taken to the criminal prosecution center known as “Vivac.”
“He told me that his arrest had been violent and that they had put him in a chokehold,” she told Diario de Cuba.
Given the continued repression against the Ladies in White and the activists who support them when they attend Sunday Mass at Havana’s Santa Rita Church and undertake their walks down Quinta Avenue, supporters inside and outside the island carried out a campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #TodosMarchamos (We All March).
The initiative seeks to break the silence on the current repression in Cuba despite the regime’s negotiations with the United States and the European Union.
“This is a resistance,” said Ailer Gonzalez about the activities of the Ladies in White and dissidents every Sunday. “Many believe it is exhausting, but it seems to me that it is about the right to demonstrate, not only for the release of political prisoners,” she added.
“With this resistance every Sunday we are demanding the right to peaceful demonstration in Cuba, which is something that they (the government) are terrified of. Therefore they are engaged in this sustained repression, because the day they let us walk more than 10 blocks, they know how many people are going to join in,” she said.
Diario de Cuba, Havana, 24 May 2015 – The musician Gorki Águila, leader of the band Porno para Ricardo, was arrested by State Security agents on Saturday night in front of the Museo de Bellas Artes in Havana.
Águila went to hold up a sign on the outside wall of the museum with the word “Libertad” (Freedom) and the image of the graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, imprisoned since last 25 December, when he allegedly went to Havana’s Central Park with two piglets named “Fidel” and “Raúl,” to stage a performance.
After Águila’s action, recognized repressors from State Security’s Section 21, posted in the area, approached the musician and forced him into a car. Meanwhile, Águila shouted demands for “Freedom for Danilo!”
The repressors were in the area because of the inauguration of a show that presumably was going to be attended by the artist Tania Bruguera, now retained on the Island without her passport because of an attempt to stage her performance Tatlin’s Whisper in the Plaza of the Revolution last 30 December.
This coming Wednesday, 27 May, the Oslo Freedom Forum, a principal world event dedicated to human rights, awarded El Sexto the Prize for Creative Dissidence.
Unfortunately we do not have the resources to translate and subtitle all the wonderful videos coming out of Estado de Sats and the Forum for Rights and Freedom, but for our many readers who do understand spoken Spanish, we just wanted to remind you they are there.
This particular video is a discussion of the Americas Summit in Panama.
14ymedio, 17 April 2105 – This Friday morning, the Forum for Rights and Freedoms convened a group of activists to a meeting under the title After the Summit in Panama, what next? The event took place at the home of Antonio González Rodiles, director of the opposition group Estado de Sats.
About 70 attendees heard testimony from Berta Soler, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez, Gorki Águila, Roberto de Jesús Guerra and other activists who participated in the Civil Society Forum during the recently concluded Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama.
The discussions addressed issues related to the restoration of relations between Cuba and the United States and on the actions taken by the representatives of civil society sent to Panama by the Cuban government.
The trial schedules for this Tuesday against Gorki Águila, leader of the punk rock band Porno para Ricardo, was postponed because of the health problems of his defense attorney, according to the musician himself on his Facebook page. Gorki spoke about the background of his case with Diario de Cuba.
Gorki, what are they accusing you of?
The formal citation they gave me said the crimes of pre-criminal social dangerousness and illegal drug possession, with many points suspended.
Were you carrying drugs?
When they stopped me on the street and searched me and found two Tradea pills — methylphenidate — for which I have the appropriate prescription, signed and sealed, which are strong proof that they were bought legally. The police investigation has no evidence beyond those two pills.
Why are they accusing you?
The classic recourse of the government is to tie the “uncomfortable” individual to some prefabricated crime. In my case they didn’t ahve much more and I thought it unlikely that they’d convict me, if it was a free trial, for the (completely legal) possession of two tables of a medication that I need, according to a doctor’s prescription.
What’s your impression of this new trial and now the suspension of it?
On the morning of the day before yesterday I learned that the trial had been postponed because of my attorney’s health. It was to have been held on Tuesday, the 11th, but was delayed approximately a week. I thought this surprise, without any definitive date, could be dangerous because State Security could use it as a strategy and take advantage of less media coverage so I’d have a silent trial with weaker visibility.
Meanwhile, the government could create a parallel campaign to discredit me on the social networks, which seems like a recurring error on their part, because the exaggeration of creating false situations against each and everyone who dares to denounce them or express an opinion contrary to its purposes becomes suspect.
Castro never could admit that his opponents could be dignified enemies and have a body of more elevated moral principles; his attitude has always been not to recognize opponents and so to underestimate them, but taking care that they are never respected, rather defamed and in extreme cases imprisoned and even assassinated.
What are your expectations for the trial? Why summary?
I understand that these trials are held in very few countries and almost always in times of war, as an immediate lesson. The summary trials in Cuba are produced serially, with little documentation, that is, they can hold several trials on the same day, at the same time, with the ruling made in advance, where the political police has everything to gain. In this sense the regime takes great advantage of them against the peaceful opponents.
In these trials, mostly rigged by State Security — it’s expected that the ruling will go against the accused. So I think it’s extremely important to maintain solidarity among everyone because, as demonstrated in the previous trial in 2008, the more public opinion was moved and the more visibility the case got at the international level, it was possible with everyone to change a decision already decided by the anti-revolutionary injustice, on the retrograde sense of the Cuban government.
Your case is not isolate…
The government finds in these moments in the practice meant to “neutralize” the various opponents, one of their bad so-called “revolutionary offenses.” This is the case with my friend Manuel Cuesta Morúa, who finds himself under police investigation with absurd charges like “the spread of false news that threatens international peace.”
It’s incredible that someone who threatened the total destruction of the planet earth, could say that a simple opinion or the exercise of free expression could threaten international peace. It’s something as cynical as his persona, someone who dedicated his whole life to launching the false image of “revolutionary and ecologist.”
There was also the case of the independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez, who spent long months in prison simply for exposing the spread of the cholera epidemic in the country, work that should have been the job of the national press, which has never mentioned, with sincerity, news that is alarming to the population.
Tell me how it was in 2008…
I was in the dungeon without knowing anything that was going on outside. At a specific time a cop came with the file and told me what I was charged with would be changed. Then the treatment inside the jail mutated tremendously. When they reduced the charges, some official even said that all those who were there were criminals while I was just there for being “anti-Castro.”
That is, they changed the crime of social dangerousness to the crime of disobedience and from then is where I can corroborate the rapid collapse of the armed farce. When they substituted the charge of one crime for another following no procedures at all, completely lacking in rigor: what’s missing is the Rule of Law. This leaves the usual arbitrariness of the Cuban judicial system completely exposed, where terms like “legal certainty” or “res judicata” are alien to is citizens, frequently defenseless before such procedures.
Then I knew I had a strong international solidarity campaign and within the country all my friends and activists supported me making sure everyone knew about my situation and the false charges I was accused of.
I’m convinced that the only way to transform these previous designs of the tyranny is to realize that uniting in the demand against injustice we can multiply the message that we all need right now, that of freedom for civil Cuban society, in short, freedom for Cuba.
I would like to thank all the people sensitive to my situation who have signed the petition and who are continuing to pay attention to what could happen with respect to this inadmissible case.
Thank you so much! Hopefully this is the year that yes, it falls!
A drop of rain won’t make the swimming pool overflow; nor will a difference be apparent to those who see the little circles that widen when it falls, but this drop, although it appears to disappear, to dissolve among the rest, continues fighting to survive.
Unjustly, the first reason that has caused the musician Gorki to be accused of “illegal drug abuse,” according to what some independent journalists have told me, is that he belongs to a gang of rockers, which is sufficient to validate the accusation, without considering that he has epilepsy, backed by a clinical history from a doctor in Mexico–from where he recently returned from a concert tour–who prescribed him the psychotropic Tradea, which is similar to carbamasepina, as it is known in Cuba.
It is naive not to believe that it’s about a long-awaited revenge by the political police, who have been waiting for the chance to imprison him for the lyrics of his songs where he “offends” the Castro brothers and the totalitarian regime.
The painful thing is that some of the “naive” cast doubt on the idea that State Security is on the hunt for the leader of a punk rock bank who previously has suffered two legal processes, one of which sent him to prison due to a trap set by the dictatorships henchmen, and the other one of which failed to imprison him because of the international solidarity that ended his arrest, and these same doubters question Gorki’s innocence. Too much innocence for a single soul!
I know very well the case against the artist, because in my case a similar infamy was constructed. I remember that shortly before entering prison, I participated in a free art exhibition at Gorki’s house, where I told him to be careful or he would be coming to keep me company in jail.
Hopefully I was wrong, and the evidence presented by the attorney Amelia Rodríguez Cala will be enough to invalidate the process, which didn’t happen in my case, although they weren’t able to present a single piece of evidence that showed I participated in the alleged acts.
Gorki Aguila, I’m with you with my solidarity and my prayers.
Ángel Santiesteban Prats
Lawton Prison Settlement, February 2014
We invite you to support Gorki by signing the petition: