The Bloody Combinado del Este Prison Riot / Jose Antonio Fornaris

Cells, some for 15 inmates, others for three. Photo: EFE

It happened in 2005. The prisoners were killed while guards remained impassive. A witness recounts the events.

HAVANA, Cuba – A riot that caused several deaths and dozens of injuries occurred on April 5, 2005, at the the maximum security Havana prison, Combinado del Este. Yoslan Diaz Quinones, recently released from prison after serving more than ten years in the prison, witnessed these events and agreed to describe them for Cubanet’s readers.

“The riot began because the inmate José Antonio Pavón Bonilla, one of the leading members of the cult called ’Just as I Am’ was notified that he would be transferred to a prison in Villa Clara. He claimed he could not go to that place because he had several enemies there. Furthermore, also in that prison, years ago, José had organized a riot.

“His reasons were useless. They told him the decision was made and there would be no reversing it.Then, at the first opportunity, he called the jailer who had keys to several of the cell blocks. He managed to tie him up, get the keys off him, and started to let everyone out.

“There were about 200 prisoners in each block. The only cell that Bonilla didn’t open was that of Abnoli, the Bakun Kere. He is a dangerous murderer. Abnoli screamed obscenity and said if he didn’t open the bars he would kill him. Meanwhile, others who were with him asked him not to release the Devil. But one of them called Chiqui, grabbed the keys and let him out.

“From there everything changes. They said everyone went to the dining room with their mats and protested José’s transfer, but they also immediately started to protest against Lt. Col. Carlos Alberto Quintana, then head of the prison, and yelling things against Fidel and Raul Castro. Continue reading

Bad Seed / Jose Antonio Fornaris

Ads for food in the Revolution newspaper of 16 Nov. 1959. Photo by Jose Fornaris

Ads for food in the Revolution newspaper of 16 Nov. 1959. Photo by Jose Fornaris

HAVANA, Cuba , September, www.cubanet.org – It is not possible to find antecedents —  apparently they don’t exist — or any  other moments in history when Cuban agricultural production fell as deeply and as long as in recent decades.

As long ago as 1960, Fidel Castro assured that there was a plan to supply poultry meat to the internal markets as of January of the following year. And he added, “Starting in 1962 the food supply will be fully resolved.”

A little later he affirmed, “It is in agriculture where we have immediate possibilities. It is in agriculture where the fruits are going to be seen most quickly… The development of livestock goes hand in hand with the development of sugar. Meat is red gold.”

Castro’s last attempt (there were many) in the agricultural sector, was the so-called “Food Plan.” The only thing that materialized from it was the image of a farmer carrying a bunch of bananas which is on the back of the 20 peso note.

Fidel’s brother, General Raul Castro, is following in his footsteps in this matter. Since taking power, he has been looking for the magic wand to make the earth bear fruit, even moderately.

The latest effort in this direction was the National Meeting of the Agricultural Sector Producers, which ended on 14 September at the Lázaro Peña theater in Havana.

Raul Castro sent a message to the event; in one paragraphs it reads, “In recent years, various measures have been adopted, in accordance with the Guidelines approved by the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, to eliminate the obstacles that hinder development of this sector. However, there still remains much to be done to make the contribution of agriculture to the national economy greater, without which we can not move the country forward in a sustainable way.”

In the early years of the Fidelistas coming to power, the contribution of agriculture was still outstanding. And that could be appreciated in the markets. But in 1962, the regime was forced to establish rationing for essential goods.

From that moment, the shelves of retail stores began to be emptied and the lack of food began to worsen, until today, when food prices are infinitely greater than they were at that time.

Why, for centuries, was the land of this Island able to provide different types of provisions and, instead, for more than half a century now, it is insufficient? The answer is obvious.

Jose Antonio Fornaris, Josefornaris@gmail.com

Note: Photo is of food ads published in the Revolution newspaper on November 16, 1959.

From Cubanet

26 September 2013