Mario Lleonart, 16 December 2017 — Another flagrant violation of religious liberties took place in Cuba on 14 December 2017, when Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara’s pilgrimage to the San Lázaro shrine was stopped, according to information provided by his wife, Yanelys Núñez Leyva.
Otero Alcántara was detained on the orders of the Cuban State Security, which is what repeatedly happens with violations of the right to religion and faith. The arrest occurred at Carlos III and Belascoaín, around 10:30 pm. He was taken to the Aguilera police station, in Lawton, after he started his religious activity which involved going in a penitent spirit to that place of worship for the traditional festival they celebrate there every December 17th. It’s obvious that his arbitrary detention was in order to keep him locked up during the course of the celebration.
Whether or not we agree with Luis Manuel’s religious belief, we should all agree that he has a complete right to believe in and practice his faith. The unjust and arbitrary violation of his fundamental right, which absolutely all of us have, from baptism, “to believe or not to believe,” and “to believe in accordance with our own understanding.” Everyone in Cuba who has religious faith (and who doesn’t have it?) should stand by Luis Manuel, because to stand next to him is to defend your own faith.
Mario Lleonart, 29 September 2017 — The regime is already starting to unleash its blind fury over the U.S. government’s decision in response to the dictatorship’s inescapable and treacherous complicity in the attack on its diplomats.
Iván Hernández Carrillo was visited this morning by a bailiff of the Municipal Tribunal of Colón, who delivered an official summons to an legal hearing on Tuesday 17 October.
The summons does not reveal the charge behind the proceedings, so Iván went to the tribunal offices, where they told him that he would be tried for nonpayment of a fine — an obvious excuse. continue reading
Iván is one of the dissidents who bear the special designation of having been among the former political prisoners of conscience, the Group of 75 during Cuba’s Black Spring of 2003, who still remains in Cuba. This makes him a symbol that the regime wants to utilize in what is likely the start of a predictable wave of repression, with a goal to fill its holding pens with hostages. This is a longstanding practice of a system that abducts its own citizens so as to provoke ransom negotiations.
It is clear that the regime was already exploring these options that it always has up its sinister sleeve. On Friday, 1 September, following a search of his residence, they had communicated to Iván that he would be charged with the crime of inciting delinquency.
For more information, contact:
Iván Hernández Carrillo at phone number: 52599366
Or via email at: email@example.com
Mario Felix Lleonart, 14 December 2016 — Google recently signed an agreement with ETECSA, Cuba’s telecommunications monopoly, owned by the Castros. As of 2011, when the owners of the country bought out the 27% interest in ETECSA maintained by Telecom Italy, there have not been as many expectations as now.
Then, after the Italians took off with their 706 million dollars, the lucrative business without competition became a goldmine for the Castro family, and at the same time guaranteed the maximum censorship possible. continue reading
Since then the ETECSA monopoly has not taken a single step to diminish censorship, or to diminish its capital. In addition to a political victory, it will now also benefit from this agreement with Google. For some time the international telecommunications giant has been visiting the island and its proposals, in principal, sought to procure the maximum benefits for the Cuban people, but ultimately they signed what ETECSA’s owners allowed them to.
From now on Google will be forced to provide the information the island’s regime requires from them, about “suspicious websurfers,” as it does with any governments with whom it signs agreements like this. Now the censorship will occur with the complicity of Google who negotiates with the Castro regime, the absolute owner of ETECSA. As if ETECSA were a reputable company, and as if the Havana regime was a good government.
Personally I am curious if, at least to dissimulate, ETECSA will again permit access to my blog from the island, forbidden according to reports received, since the death of the tyrant, or to other sites blocked for a long time now, such as the digital newspaper 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez’s blog Generation Y, or pages such as MartiNoticias.com. I think that experts such as Sebastian Arcos Cazabon or Raudel Garcia Bringas, interviewed by Marti Noticias, are right when they affirm that this agreement between ETECSA and Google will not solve the problem.
Meanwhile, and far beyond this story, but perhaps for reasons of geopolitics, today this blog, Confessing Cuba, was attacked from Ukraine (see screenshot below), although thanks to the protection of WordPress and its BPS log-in security alert, the pirates didn’t manage to get what they wanted. Hopefully those on the island, ETECSA and its owners, will soon no longer always get away with what they want.
Mario Lleonart, 27 November 2016 — What is happening to the poor people of the island – as the also deceased former president of El Salvador, Salvador Flores, might have once told Fidel Castro to his face — is utterly intolerable. It is as though the authorities want to impose, almost by decree, a period of mourning that very few Cubans want to observe. They have already had to endure so much suffering during the lifetime of the deceased. And to top it off, they are now expected to endure public expressions of grief when it is more likely, judging from history, that they have more than enough reasons to celebrate, as their brothers and sisters in Miami have been doing in an atmosphere of freedom. That is what multitudes of people on the island would really like to be doing.
It is not just that alcohol sales have been suspended during the period of national mourning, presumably in an effort to make sure no one who has had a few too many dares to give full reign to his repressed desires. Popular festivities such as the celebration in the town of Taguayabon have also been cancelled, an action which led its residents to express their displeasure. It is not as though the tyrant had not already disappeared from their lives back in 2006 when he transferred power to Raul. continue reading
In the realm of religion, what is happening far and wide throughout of the island today is unprecedented, making what those of faith had to endure from the early 1960s until the present seem small by comparison. Many churches are self-censoring, foregoing the routine use of music in religious services out of fear. Congregations which have not done this “voluntarily” are receiving official reprimands of one sort or another.
Several pastors related stories like the one below, though I prefer not to reveal their identities out of concerns for their safety:
Things remain complicated here, my friend. Today, I received news that many churches have suspended adoration and prayer services and that others are singing without accompaniment out of “respect for national mourning.” Just as Daniel prayed three times a day with the window open in the manner to which he was accustomed,* so we celebrate our Sundays as usual, though we now only use a piano and play it softly so as not to seem disrepectful of those who “feel the loss.”
The president of the local Ministry of Justice and one of her officials showed up between Sunday school and Mass, asking to speak to me. They told me that they were bringing me orders to cancel Mass that day and suspend all other services we had scheduled through December 9 because of the country is in mourning. Can you imagine? You know what I told her?”
“You can go fetch the police or anyone else you want but I am not going to suspend any masses and we are not going to stop singing. We sing and hold adorations even when one of our own dies. That does not show a lack of respect. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is God’s. Kill me, jail me, but we are not going to suspend Holy Mass.”
We talked a bit more, they softened their tone and she finally said, “Well, at least tone it down.”
I quickly told the everyone in the church about it (some 200 of us). I told them my response and added that, if anyone wanted to leave Mass, they could go home. Everyone replied “Amen” to everything I said and no one left. IT WAS A GLORIOUS SERVICE, LIKE IN THE EARLY CHURCH.” Praise be to God!!! Keep praying for us. Blessings and hugs.
*Translators note: A reference to the biblical passage, Daniel 6:10. “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”
Mario Lleonart, 24 September 2016 — During this past July 28-30, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2016 meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, held in Miami, as part of the panel discussion,”Transitional Justice and the Longed-For Cuban National Reconciliation.” My paper was on “The Longed-For National Reconciliation: Challenges, Realities and Hopes.” However, it is not my paper to which I will refer here.
During this timeframe, on Friday, July 29, a special luncheon took place that provided a pause in the midst of the 18 interesting panels and their debates. For this occasion, the Spanish journalist Vicente Botín, who also served as the special guest commentator on the panel in which I took part, gave a talk that was thought-provoking for all present. continue reading
Botín is a journalist and writer who specializes in international politics, particularly in Latin America. He has produced numerous documentaries in many countries as the managing editor of a well-known television program, including one in Cuba for which he interviewed Fidel Castro. He served as a correspondent for Televisión Española from 2005-2008, and later published two books about Cuba: “Castro’s Funeral,” followed by, “Raúl Castro: The Flea That Rode the Tiger.” Today he is a columnist for El País, El Mundo, and other Spanish newspapers, and resides in Madrid.
His words made so much sense to me regarding the Cuban reality that, upon the conclusion of his remarks, I congratulated him and sought his permission to post them on my blog–receiving from him a most cordial assent–but which unfortunately I have been unable to do until now because of technical problems on my blog which I have only recently been able to resolve.
But, because Botín’s voice still resounds so vibrantly in my mind, with words that have not lost one iota of their relevance–quite the opposite–I share them now with great pleasure so as to place in cyberspace these thoughts which are so sympathetic to the catastrophe of the Cuban people, by someone who also has been directly immersed in our reality, and who cannot get us off of his mind, nor out of his heart.
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 11 August 2016 – Cuba’s immigration authorities prevented activists Ivan Hernandez and Felix Navarro from traveling outside Cuba this Thursday. The former prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring were invited to participate in the 2ndCuban National Conference that be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 12 to 14 August, but were unable to board their flight at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, where they ran into Reinaldo Escobar, 14ymedio’s editor
The answer that each of the dissidents received on presenting their documents to the Immigration and Nationality official was: “You cannot leave a second time.” continue reading
Both Hernandez and Navarro had received, in March of this year, special permission to go abroad “one-time” after being placed on parole, a condition the authorities continue to maintain since release from prison in 2011. All those released from the Black Spring “Group of 75” who continue to reside in Cuba benefited from a similar authorization.
The opponent Librado Linares, also a former prisoner of the Black Spring and general secretary of the Cuban Reflection Movement (MCR), did manage to board his flight on Thursday to participate in the meeting of Puerto Rico, since it was the first time he made use permit leave the Island.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) recently sent a letter to Raul Castro expressing “deep concern” about the “violent treatment” received by the trade unionist Ivan Hernandez on his return to Cuba after his first trip abroad. He traveled on the same flight as the opponent Vladimir Roca and attorney Wilfredo Vallin, of the Law Association of Cuba.
Hernandez was arrested on July 31 and reported that he received a “savage beating” when he refused to be subjected to a search at the time of arrival. During his trip abroad he met with organizations and activists from Europe and the United States.
Both Hernandez and Navarro cataloged the “injustices” and said they will continue trying to assert their right to travel freely.
The Cuban National Conference is a continuation of one held last year, which involved 23 organizations in Cuba and 32 from exile. It has been convened by the Coordinating Liaison Committee composed of Ana Carbonell, Rosa María Payá, Sylvia Iriondo, Guillermo Farinas, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leyva, Rene Gomez Manzano, Mario Félix Lleonart and Saylí Navarro
Among the participants in the conference traveling from Cuba are also Eliecer Avila, leader of Somos+ (We Are More) and Boris Gonzalez, a member of the Democratic Action Roundtable (MUAD). The great absence the meeting will be Guillermo Fariñas, who remains on hunger strike in Santa Clara.
In the early hours of Thursday, Lady in White Leticia Ramos Herrería was arrested while traveling from Matanzas to Havana to take the flight that would also have taken her to the conference in Puerto Rico, according to the leader of the Ladies in White movement, Berta Soler, speaking to this newspaper. The activist was returned to her home where she is under police surveillance.
Event organizers want to use this 2nd Conference to create a “structure of unity of action in diversity,” whose purpose is to “operate inside and outside Cuba, coordinating the efforts of both shores.” In addition, they discussed “the general principles of the new Cuba” desired, an issue that was left pending at the previous meeting.
Mario Lleonart, 22 November 2015 — The winds of God, that blow and lift me, have brought me to the epicenter of a democratic battle, of the ballot in Argentina, the second round of the electoral contest between two candidates for the presidency of the Republic. The plane that brought me to Buenos Aires landed on Sunday November 15th at the very moment when the first presidential debate took place in the history of Argentina. During a very intense week I lived for the first time in my forty years the passionate effervescence of a nation that can settle at the polls today the final decision of a people. continue reading
Beyond the pros and cons, beyond who wins, the value of my experience is witnessing the possibility of a country to enforce Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: The right to democracy! The right of everyone to participate in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives!
I could be in a nation which manifests and asserts its will as a basis for granting authority to a government expressed in genuine elections by universal suffrage conducted by secret ballot. I’m not just having the experience of witnessing but also to serve as an observer accompanying some of the prosecutors in several schools in the city of Rosario.
And as if I were a child, which I am in many respects, I felt an immense curiosity before these first democratic elections I’d observed in my 40 years. We have never had this in my whole life in Cuba. But I hope that we will experience it soon. And I agree with many political scientists who affirm that the results of today’s elections are going to echo across the entire continent.
Today may be the beginning of the end of the fateful rise of populism in Latin America. And if the flutter of a butterfly in Hong Kong can cause a storm in New York, we can say that there will be effects from these elections in Argentina today for those on 6 December 2015 in Venezuela, and next year in Cuba.
14ymedio, Mario Felix Lleonart, Brussels, 1 June 2016 – Cuban representatives who participated in the conference in the European Parliament held last Tuesday in Brussels about relations between the European Union and Cuba were skeptical about the cooperation agreement that will be signed by both sides at the end of the year, or at the latest, at the beginning of 2017.
The Island’s delegation – Rosa Maria Paya, promotor of the Cuba Decides campaign; Pedro Fuentes Cid, spokesman for the Historical Center of Political Prisoners; and the author of these lines, a Baptist pastor and manager of the Cuban National Conference – lamented that civil Cuban society has not been taken into account in the negotiations for the agreement that will substitute for the European Union Common Position which, since 1996, has delineated relations of the twenty-eight EU countries with the Island. continue reading
Also present at the meeting, organized by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), were Ben Nupnau, official from the European Foreign Service Division for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and Pavel Telicka, vice-president of ALDE.
Nupnau expressed Europe’s good intentions for the positive effects that the cooperation agreement could have on democratization and respect for human rights in the Cuba. Nevertheless, the Cubans present argued that the Island’s government had not given the EU any expectation of guarantees about human rights and democratic freedoms, given the persistent signs of verifiable repression in 54 Sundays of harassment of the Ladies in White and the monthly statistics of arbitrary detentions produced by Cuba’s Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission.
The Island’s delegation pointed out the secret character that so far tarnishes the agreement and questioned the fact that neither European nor Cuban citizens had been able to express opinions about its contents.
The delegation also encouraged the EU, if it is in competition with the United States with respect to Cuba, to also compete in support of civil society. The panelists emphasized that, in spite of pressure by Cuban negotiators, the US had not given up doing so, while the EU only supports civil society as conceived of or endorsed by the government in Havana, the very one that has tried to muzzle it.
The EU, according to participants in the meeting, must be aware of the close relations that the Cuban government has with enemies of Europe and of democracy such as North Korea, Russia and Belarus.
The Cuban ambassador in Brussels, Norma Goicochea Estenoz, declined the invitation to participate in the meeting and sent an email to explain that she could not meet in the same place as “mercenaries.” The diplomat acted consistently with the intransigent position of the Cuban government, capable of sitting down to negotiate with the biggest powers, even when, as in the case of the United States, it has to do with its historical enemy, but refusing to engage in dialog with its own people, whom it thus insults and denigrates.
On Wednesday, the official presented a complaint to the European Foreign Service about the ALDE conference. Some supposed that it was going to make clear that its embassy had nothing to do with certain attendees who took advantage of public intervention time in order to question the legitimacy of the panelists, matching the views given in her email. It is supposed that those who suspect that may be right, given that the reason for her urgent visit to the European chancery was to again lash out against the panelists and, in turn, also against Telicka and ALDE.
14ymedio, Havana, 20 March 2016 — Mario Félix Lleonart, a Baptist minister, was detained on Sunday as he attempted to leave his home in the town of Taguayabón, Villa Clara Province. A strong police presence had surrounded his home since Saturday. According to Lleonart’s wife, Yoaxis Marcheco, he was forced into a police car the moment he stepped outside his house.
A few hours before his arrest, Pastor Lleonart sent a statement to this newspaper’s editorial board. In it, he denounces the harassment to which he was being subjected. Here below we publish excerpts of his account. continue reading
The Cuba Barack Obama Will Find
By Félix Mario Lleonart, Taguaybón
The excitement of the past few days has given way to all types of news reports about Cuba. Apart from the ceaseless and flagrant violations of human rights that those of us on the island must endure, we are also aware that Cubans living abroad are having their rights violated as well.
It is no secret that the Communist Party is conducting an all out mobilization of its members in order to fill the Latin American Stadium for the baseball game between the Cuban National team and the Tampa Bay Rays. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, is expected to attend.
While this mobilization is under way, many people are being pressured to not even leave their homes. Moreover, genuine aficionados of our national sport, who always claim “not to care about politics,” because they are “just sports fans,” this time around are being forced to “sit out the game.”
We have also learned that (Cuban-American) Ana Lupe Bustos has been banned from entering Cuba as a reprisal for her work with the Ladies in White. This stands in complete contrast to an experience I had when I came across an émigré while walking around my hometown. When I greeted him, his response was akin to an act of repudiation. This man, who had been president of his Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, was still a genuine CDR supporter, regardless of the fact that he had left the country.
Furthermore, as of Saturday afternoon, numerous State Security and National Revolutionary Police agents have surrounded a property belonging to the Association of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba. The Ebenezer Baptist Church, where my wife and I serve as pastors, and where our daughters live, is located on said property.
For weeks now we have been warned that we would be kept from moving around freely during Obama’s visit to Cuba. These warnings are now being put into effect. As declared by the United Nations, today is the International Day of Happiness, coinciding with Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week observances. I will probably be arrested, although I have no plans of going to Havana.
Mario Lleonart, 29 January 2016 — A few days ago (January 15th and 16th) I took part in a gathering in Miami of the Coordinating Liaison Committee of the Cuban National Meeting, of which I am a member, along with eight others. On the 18th, on Martin Luther King Day in Saint Petersburg, Florida, I paid tribute to King, joining in the parade in his honour distributing copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the 19th I visited locations in Sarasota and Manatti, Florida, which had been pounded by tornados early in the morning of the 17th. continue reading
While I was doing this, the political police made appointments with or visited people who know me in Cuba, who take part in forums of the Instituto Patmos, parishioners, collaborators, friends, neighbours and family members, to warn them that it was dangerous to have anything to do with me, inviting them to cooperate with their secret services, and to turn them against me. After I returned to Cuba some of them dared to tell me about these contacts, pressures, harassment and threats. One of the reasons put forward by the Cuban Gestapo, without any support, was that I had met terrorists in the USA.
In the afternoon of the 20th, I visited Leonardo Delgado, a one-time political prisoner, in his house in Tampa. He has been battling lung cancer for five years. With him was Roberto Pisano, one of his prison companions. His stories about the ancient Cuban prison are shocking.
That morning I had received some mail from Cuba, testifying to the arguments put forward against me by the State Security. Listening to Pisano and Delgado’s stories made me think how ridiculous it was that someone in Cuba would say that I had met terrorists in the US, since it was in fact the opposite.
I replied to the mail saying that if, by any chance I had had a meeting, without knowing it, with terrorists in the USA, it would have been if I had unknowingly met an undercover agent, one of the hundreds illegally infiltrated into the US by the Cuban political police. Like those involved in the shooting down of the four Brothers to the Rescue pilots, or those who specialise in assassinating without leaving any traces.
Mario Lleonart, 19 December 2015 – Although I arrived in Argentina under the assumption that the common notion of Ché Guevara would be the romantic, absurd idea of the mythical nonexistent hero, and not the executioner and murderer that Cuba got to know in La Cabaña, I can’t deny that I was surprised to discover that I was wrong. And I discovered this in nowhere else but Rosario, his city of birth.
My first surprise was finding out that in the house where he was born, an insurance company now resides — and not just any insurance company. It’s MAPFRE, a Spanish multinational that works in the insurance and reinsurance sector, has a presence in 49 countries, and whose stocks are listed on the stock exchanges of Madrid and Barcelona.
The only homage to Ché’s birth is found on the sidewalk, because the property is now completely dominated by capitalism. I understood that even in Santa Clara, Cuba, the Argentinian guerrilla fighter had become a piece of sales merchandise for tourists, but what I hadn’t imagined was that even here in his own birthplace, the system that he fought so hard against was the dominant one.
But my biggest surprise was that, during the days I spent in Rosario, just blocks from there, in a park where he is honored, someone had tossed paint on an image of him, and below that an immense piece of anarchist graffiti declared: “Ché is dead”. And no one seemed to care.
14ymedio, Mario Lleonart, 26 November 2015 — Mauricio Macri won. For those who hope for democracy in Cuba, the best option won. Although the recently-elected President hardly mentioned the island during his campaign, it is clear that the cause of liberty in Cuba will have a friend in him. His references to the situation in Venezuela have also been a wake-up call for the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana.
If he manages the transition well in his country, his will definitely be a major mandate. Nevertheless, Macri needs to get himself prepared for governing Argentina, starting off from the disaster left by Cristinismo [ed. note: Cristina Kirchner’s administration], which will signify quite an achievement in view of the obvious boycott by officialdom, which is showing a certain reluctance in handing over power. A gesture far-removed from what politicians who are really interested in the future of the country, and respectful of the popular will should do. continue reading
An indication of Macri’s intelligence and ability is his new cabinet. In the election of each post one can see a genuine intention to get Argentina to rise again like a phoenix from the ashes. The appointment of Susana Malcorra to the chancellorship was accompanied by the news of a top-class team to lead the country from December 10th.
The up-to-now Head of the Cabinet of the General Secretariat of the UN, a position in which he has performed exceptionally well since 2012, has earned public praise from Ban Ki-moon himself. “I have valued his advice, admired his dedication and benefitted from his leadership,” he once affirmed. Praise which is confirmed in Malcorra’s experience, in relation to international relations, an area in which Argentina has been very lacking.
Without doubt, the head of the cabinet could not be anyone else than Marcos Peña, one of the best thinkers in Macri’s electoral alliance, Propuesta Republicana (PRO). He was also one of the principle interlocutors at the time of laying out discussion points when he was head of the campaign. His youth — 38 years of age — is in keeping with the tone of this new party, which has been capable of destroying such a damaging Peronist tradition.
A demonstration that each Minister has been considered with the necessary care is the appointment of the social activist, ex-Buenos Aires legislator and present National Deputy, Sergio Bergman to the Environmental portfolio. This rabbi, chosen in 2011 as legislator for the City of Buenos Aires for the PRO, is an important and eloquent expert in relation to the present global context.
Bergman has been an unwavering opponent of the Argentina-Iran Memorandum of Understanding, signed by President Cristina Kirchner in relation to the matter of the attack perpetrated in 1994 on the headquarters of the Argentina Mutual Association of Israel (AMIA, its initials in Spanish), which resulted in the death of 85 people. His appointment is further evidence of the change of direction represented by Macri’s victory from the terrible course Argentina has been following.
The delay in naming the Minister of Employment also indicates the respect shown in this instance and says much for the care taken by Macri not to make a quick superficial decision on this position which is of such importance to the Argentinians, especially in times of change such as these.
Working with that team, Macri will be able to put behind them the dark times of scandals like the Chavista [ed. note: a reference to Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez and his and the current administration in that country] briefcase transported to Argentina by a businessman to finance Cristina’s campaign or the unpunished assassination of the Public Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, as well as the squandering of public money.
The new government will put an end to the period of justice denied, as in the case of the attack against the AMIA The renaming of the Centro Cultural Kirchner will symbolise the passing from one era to another.
The first target for Macri in the international field will be his participation in the next Mercosur summit, to take place in Asunción in December. He has already announced that he will insist then on the application of the democracy clause to Venezuela “for the perscution of the opposition.”
What has happened in Argentina will probably be reflected in the next few days in the Venezuela elections. The popularist policies urged by the Havana regime remain stuck in the past.
Mario Lleonart, 30 October 2015 — Once again the name of Ernesto Borges Pérez returns to the public arena, generating new expectations about his release. He has served more than seventeen long years of the thirty to which he was sentenced, after his death sentence was commuted at the prosecutor’s request. Ernesto’s advance disclosure thwarted the illegal infiltration into the U.S. of twenty-six Cuban spies, of the hordes frequently sent there. But at the cost of seventeen unrecoverable years from Ernesto’s valuable life. Everything indicates that he is the bargaining chip long set aside to trade for the spy Ana Belén Montes.*
Ernesto may finally go free and benefit from his heroic action, which by any measure was invaluable, whatever the price paid. I hope that the answer to the prayers we have raised for so long finally arrives. Ernesto’s parents Yvonne and Raul, elderly and ailing, can still experience the greatest happiness of their lives. His brother Cesar, and Paola, his only daughter, in exile, can laugh again. And he, with his tremendous human virtues, strengthened in prison, can still be of great benefit to a world greatly in need of heroes like him.
Mario Lleonart, 18 October 2015 — For the second time they have lied about a release date for prisoner-of-conscience (so designated by Amnesty International) Danilo Maldonado, better known by his artistic name “El Sexto” (The Sixth). First they announced his release for August 24. Then for September 15. But now we know they lied disgracefully on both occasions.
The regime’s own behavior regarding this prisoner of conscience shows the relevance of the performance that he intended to put on when they arrested him last December: “Animal Farm.” They behaved like pigs, just as he thought. His crime was to have the courage to label them with exactly that description: PIGS! There is something Biblical about this! continue reading
When Christ cast out the legion of demons in Gadara, they took over a herd of pigs that rushed into the sea, and there could not be a better judgment against the Roman Empire. Jesus himself called Herod “FOX!” The theological symbolism in the sacred texts whenever pigs are mentioned, with their classification as unclean animals, is well known.
The young graffiti artist El Sexto, detached, and sometimes even rejected from self-righteous church circles, has dared to do what all Christians should have done a long time ago—shout prophetically! But he has given new meaning to Christ’s words: if you are silent, the stones will cry out.
God bless all those who in an upcoming round of the #TodosMarchamos campaign will raise their voices for all political prisoners or prisoners of conscience who like El Sexto are victims of all kinds of harassment in Cuban prisons. God bless even more those like Danilo who dare to shout “pigs” at the tyrants. God have mercy on those who are silent and become accomplices by their silence.