Mick Jagger Meets with Gorki From Porno Para Ricardo in Havana (NOT) / Fake News

2015-10-07_05.52.54Arsenio 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.

Friends of ‘El Sexto’ Ask the Pope to Intercede for His Release / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

The social media campaign under the hashtags #FreeElSexto #LibertadParaDanilo continues to gather steam. (Causes.org)

The social media campaign under the hashtags #FreeElSexto #LibertadParaDanilo continues to gather steam. (Causes.org)

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Mexico, 13 September 2015 — Fifty friends of Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto (the Sixth), signed a letter to Pope Francis on Sunday, asking him to intercede for the release of the artist. The letter, published in the digital site Causes, states: “We come to you with the hope that you can intercede to repair the injustice against this young artist.”

The signatories to this letter describe El Sexto as an artist who decided “to express his dissatisfaction with the Government through graffiti and handing out flyers.” They explain that for this reason “he has lived under constant police vigilance and harassment.” A pressure expressed through innumerable arrests, “arbitrary searches of his home and confiscation of his paint cans.”

The initiative, promoted by his friend and colleague Lia Villares, explains that “for more than eight months he has been held in custody without a trial or formal accusations [and thus] we, Danilo’s friends, are demanding his unconditional release and that our most essential freedoms be respected.” The text also makes “a call for genuine and transparent tolerance.” Continue reading

More Than 50 Activists Arrested Sunday In The March Of The Ladies In White / 14ymedio

The writer Angel Santiesteban with the Ladies in White at the Gandhi Park at the exit of the church of Santa Rita (Photo Luis Lazaro Guanche)

The writer Angel Santiesteban with the Ladies in White at the Gandhi Park at the exit of the church of Santa Rita (Photo Luis Lazaro Guanche)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 August 2015 – This afternoon, after Sunday’s march of the Ladies in White on Fifth Avenue in Miramar, Havana, 40 members of this organization and about 15 activists were arrested.

The arrests came after a massive act of repudiation against the Ladies in White, as reported to 14ymedio by several witnesses present at the scene. Among those detained are the blogger Lia Villares, the government opponent Raul Borges and independent journalist Juan González Febles.

The Ladies in White have denounced the increased repression around the walk organized every Sunday at the conclusion of Mass in the church of Santa Rita, in Miramar. This time most of the arrests occurred on the 28th Street at the corner of 3rd, when the activists had left the immediate vicinity of the parish.

Meanwhile in Colón, Matanzas province, nine Ladies in White carried out their march for the freedom of political prisoners under a strong police operation. So far there have been no arrests reported in the province.

‘El Sexto’ dedicates his award to his jailers to show them that he is not alone / 14ymedio

Lia Villares collects the award for Danilo Maldonado, "El Sexto” Wednesday in Oslo. (MileydiMC)

Lia Villares collects the award for Danilo Maldonado, “El Sexto” Wednesday in Oslo. (MileydiMC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 May 2105 – The Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, could not collect the 2015 International Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissidence, in the ceremony organized by the Oslo Freedom Forum. The prize, awarded by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) of New York, was received by the activist Lia Villares, since the graffiti artist has been in prison since last December, charged with contempt, for trying to stage a performance with two pigs decorated with the names “Fidel” and “Raul.”

After presenting a brief music video, with the refrain repeating “Three years [in prison] for two pigs, no,” and closing with the images of a rally to demand freedom for the artist and the phrase, “Contempt should never be avoided,” Villares read a letter written by El Sexto from Villa Marista penitentiary. Continue reading

Free El Sexto / Lia Villares

To beat me you need weapons, police prisons. For me to beat you I only need spray paint and this  little piece of paper.

Left side: El Sexto, disappeared. Right side: For you to beat me you need weapons, you need police, you need prisons. For me to beat you I only need spray paint and this little piece of paper.

Lia Villares’ tweet: #IAlsoDemand #FreeElSextoNow 1 artist deserves the attention of the free generations of the future free.


State Security Summons Estado de Sats Members to “Warn” Them About “For Another Cuba” Graffiti

Campaign for Another Cuba. Graffiti Collective, #WeWantItNow, June 8 at 10 am, Wherever you are!!! For the ratification of the UN covenants/ (Estado de Sats)

Several members of Estado de Sats were summoned by State Security to a Havana police station this Saturday, to “warn” them about the Grafiti Colectivo Por otra Cuba, organized by the independent project for this Sunday, to support the campaign demanding that the Government ratify the United Nations covenants that it signed in 2008.

“They wanted (…) to threaten us, as always, and to say that they would not allow any type of action,” the visual artist Lía Villares told Diario de Cuba.

“I told them it was an international action, a global movement in support of the campaign, and that they couldn’t prevent what was happening in different parts of the world,” she added. Continue reading

CubaRaw2013 – The Project / Lia Villares, Silvia Corbelle, Claudio Fuentes, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 1.25.32 PMCUBARAW: A Photography Project for the Support and Dissemination of Alternative Cultural Activities in Today’s Cuba

Created by Claudio Fuentes Madan and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo in 2009, now continued by Claudio, Silvia Corbelle and Lia Villares, 2013.

The alternative photographic agency CUBARAW is an attempt to launch a database of images (as well as custom images), starting from the work of each photographer involved, but as a collective endeavor to revolutionize both Cuban independent journalism as well as activism in favor of human rights in our nation.

CUBARAW refers to the format “.raw” of maximum digital quality, but also the idea of Cuba “in the raw” without distortion or censorship.

2da temp R 10 -019  copia 1 webIt is a platform for all members of the emerging Cuban civil society interested in developing their photographic abilities, whether professional or otherwise, and whether active or otherwise as communicators tied to agencies, libraries, discussion groups, opposition parties, etc.
Continue reading

#FreeGorki – The Gorki Aguila Case / Lia Villares


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?

It has the same characteristics of the 2008 trial, the same intentions, because a despotic government like ours never renounces the idea of silencing protestors like me by constant threats of prison, whether we are artists, activists, journalists or simply citizens. Continue reading

“The psychological torture was intense, permanent. They wanted to erase his mind.” / Lilianne Ruiz

HAVANA, Cuba, December, www.cubanet.org-It was raining heavily in Havana. It was the first day of December and Miriam Leiva had come to Cuba carrying the ashes of her husband and the memories of their almost 40 years together. Oscar Espinosa Chepe had died after a long illness that they shared together like so many things in their lives: work, civic activism and love.

Surrounded by the books and periodicals that he treasured, he was now in the metal urn in the small apartment from which he’d left last March to seek medical treatment in Spain. For those who knew this couple it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

Cubanet– Did he want his ashes returned?

Miriam Leivan– When we arrived at the La Fuenfria Hospital, he was very ill.  He told me, “When the time comes, I want you to cremate me and take me to Cienfuegos.” The doctor came by several times the same day and on one of the visits he told her, forcefully and with tremendous clarity, “Doctor, I want to return to Cuba.” She and I looked at each other, because given the condition he was in this was impossible. And he said again, “It’s hard to say… When it happens, I want to return to Cuba. Because I have always wanted to be in Cuba.” And then she told him, “Don’t worry, your wife already has everything arranged.”

We went there in March and he died at the end of September. September 23. Continue reading

Photos and Video of Human Rights Day Repression Against the Ladies in White and Estado de SATS

Schoolchildren being used in an act of repudiation against Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares

Schoolchildren being used in an act of repudiation against Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares

Police in front of Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares

Police in front of Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares

Estado de Sats, before the violence. Photo: Lia Villares

Estado de Sats, before the violence. Photo: Lia Villares

The following video shows the violent arrests of Ladies in White and the scene in front of Estado de SATS, with a short interview of Antonio Rodiles inside the conference.

11 December 2013

Antonio Rodiles Arrested With Extreme Violence / Estado de SATS

Plainclothes State Security before the violence. Photo from Lia Villares

Plainclothes State Security before the violence. Photo from Lia Villares

From www.cubanet.org.- Agents of the State Security (the political police) just kidnapped Antonio Rodiles, leader of the independent social-cultural group Estado de SATS, using extreme violence, according to what could be learned from the activist and journalist Camilo Ernesto Olivera. Rodiles stepped a few yards off his property to ask some schoolchildren to stop painting signs on the street against the attendees of the Human Rights Conference being held at house beginning yesterday.

There was an altercation with the police and State Security rapidly stepped in. As Rodiles was being detained his wife and his mother, Ailer Gonzalez and Gladys Fernandez respectively, protested and were surrounded by the government demonstrators, children and adults.

Then began a typical act of repudiation (insults and expletives) like those held in the early 80s against those leaving the country. At the time of this writing the two women remain under siege.

On the closing day of the First International Conference on Human Rights being held in Rodiles’ home, the house remained surrounded and the use of children as political mediators, with songs, music and government banners, continued. Camilo Ernesto Olivera underscored how unfortunate it is that the State gets involved in this situation to block the Conference.

The Washington Post carried an editorial in support of the Rodiles: Antonio Rodiles boldly confronts the Castro regime

11 December 2013

Update on Angel Santiesteban / Lia Villares


Photo from Aimara Pérez

For his friends, colleagues, and all who are interested in continuing, in some way, to help: Right now Angel Santiesteban is better [after having been admitted to the hospital for dengue fever], and is no longer in the hospital. They took him back to the military facility, where is he very weak from the time he was without good food.

From Lia Villares’ Facebook

23 September 2013

Dis Tortue, Dors-Tu Nue? / Lia Villares

Fog in the mornings, hunger for clarity,
coffee and bread with sour plum jam.
Numbness of soul in placid neighborhoods.
Lives ticking on as if.

Adrienne Rich

B gets up and goes to the shower. Doesn’t close doors or draw curtains. The water runs vaporously, terrifyingly. Bends to open the blinds, the gown open.

—Dis-moi, what is the best?

—The best and the worst, like the Bukowski poem?

—For him, it was the whores, the beer. The worst: The work, the police stations, the terminals.

—Let’s see, the best is to bathe together. And your mother’s rice pudding.

—For me, the best is the light. Your skin, the hues, what I can’t manage to see, what I see too much of. Before and after, the nights at the Cinemateque, with Helmut Kautner. The photography course only-for-aficionados. The watery and hot cappuccinos on the little table beneath the fly trap: Electric trap for bugs, shaking us with each capture, zapping sound included. Without changing places, reading the tired, almost-never-happy faces of the regulars. We’re dying with disgust. More. The couples stopped by the window pane, faces of hand-holders looking for a place, some empty table for two. The estrangement always evoked by the discredit or that childish surprise over everything that at some point was drawn on its own face. Youthful exhibitors of daily stupidity, an expanded emptiness. The crazy guy with his Walkman moving his head, or paying attention in the dark hall to the fleeting hand that slides along the peeled walls of the stairways of Wong Kar-Wai. The waitresses vomiting their boredom into cups. A vomit of sorrow. Of lack of desire and insignificance.

—And what else?

—The alcohol burner and the saltpeter, one guitar-playing friend used to say. Linen clothes, sans doute. To read Bukowski on the toilet. To write dirty poems.

—Bob Dylan in halves: Midnight and half a bottle of whisky for two.

—Tim Burton poems in the Inbox.

—The best, j’insiste, does not include me?

—Let me see… What’s missing are new books, to hibernate under the blankets, the slippers from Quito…

—Count Basie. Your bedroom at three in the afternoon, if it was possible to isolate it from the telephone-streets-buses.

—Black tea, chocolate with cinnamon. Milord at the accordion, Edith on the speakers.

—Now you’re starting to include me.

After and before on the night buses, fuller than the moon and the bellies. The windows open, stained with collective sweat. To linger, watching a fat woman leaning on a grey, dirty wall. A tiny dress the color of skin, the bare skin coming out of the scanty, tight silk. The girl(s) of thirteen, the downy hair behind the neck, the back, the bony shoulders. Straps fallen from a blouse that holds in the hint of all-too noticeable areolas. (Just looking at her you get goose bumps. When a seat is free you take it, and fast, to be direct: Come, don’t you want to sit on me? And she does not hesitate: She leans back, her lightness taking your breath away.) The loose hairs the color of chamomile, or our braided knots. Both of our hairs messing up with the wind on our faces at the speed of the night. Her glances, lost inside the walls that remained, from rubble to rubble, searching for some color that does not exist, for some hue alive in appearance.


Translated by Juan O. Tamayo

The publication of this story is part of Sampsonia Way Magazine’s “CUBAN NEWRRATIVE: e-MERGING LITERATURE FROM GENERATION ZERO” project, in collaboration with Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, and a collection of authors writing from Cuba. You can read this story in Spanish here, and other stories from the project, here.

17 September 2013