Rafters Prosecuted After Tragedy at Sea / Yaremis Flores

Yaima Nach Remedios

Yaima Nach Remedios

HAVANA, Cuba , September 25, 2013 , www.cubanet.org.- On September 4 , the Mayabeque Provincial Prosecutor accused Yaíma Nach Remedios and her stepson, Yasmany Torres Hernández, for allegedly convincing other people to illegally leave the country, in exchange for money and help to build a boat.

Yaíma (with no criminal record) and Yasmany, a young man only 23 and with no criminal record, face charges of 4 and 5 years in prison, respectively. Cuban courts impose penalties of up to eight years in prison on those enter, try to leave or leave the country, “without completing legal formalities.”

Nach Remedios — who does not belong to any opposition organization –claimed Wednesday that only false witnesses could suggest it was only she and her stepson who organized the departure. “We and 14 other people, by mutual agreement, tried to reach the United States,” she confessed.

They have used us as guinea pigs, as the other crew members are free and without charges,” she lamented.

Among the four witnesses that the prosecution called to testify, there is a coastguard and a first lieutenant instructor from the Unit of Crimes against State Security.

Tragedy on the high seas

On March 7, 2013, Yaíma and a group of 15 people threw a boarded a makeshift boat with an engine, with the dream of reaching the coast of the United States. According to what they said, they were sailing for three days and three nights, but during the voyage they were surprised by a storm.

“We try to return to find land, and wait for the calm, but all the shores had dog-teeth (sharp rocks) At 9:00 at night, the board turned around Yaima said, in a loud voice and with watery eyes, without starting to cry.

“Everyone tried to get out of the water to go their own way,” Yasmany continued. One of us never appeared. It was almost dawn when we found Yaima with her ankle cut up and bleeding. Given that, we decided to give ourselves up to save her.”
Today Yaima walks with a prosthesis on her left leg. Her husband, who had nothing to do with the events, was detained for four months, before being released for lack of proof against him.

Currently, the penalties are suspended by the migration agreements between Cuba and the United States, with respect to emigrating Cubans intercepted on the high seas by the American authorities, or who illegally enter the Guantanamo Naval Base.

The U.S. Government promised to return them to Cuba and on the Cuban side the promised not to take legal reprisals against them, on their return to their place of residence on the Island.

From Cubanet

25 September 2013

Thousands of Cuban Doctors to Brazil: And For Us, What? / Yaremis Flores

HAVANA, Cuba, September, www.cubanet.org – Since Cuba announced on August 24th the medical cooperation agreement with Brazil, Granma, the Communist Party newspaper, has reported on the front page the arrival of groups of physicians in that country.

All the stories omitted the fact that the offering of “solidarity and love” will pay about $4,200 per month per doctor, according to disclosures by Brazilian authorities.

The National Federation of Physicians of the South American country said the Cuban professionals “will receive a fraction of that.” Some Brazilian organizations have characterized the Cuban collaboration as slave labor.

“Typically the monthly payment received by Cuban doctors is less than $100,” said Yasser Rojas, a Cuban doctor who works with civil society organizations.

Nevertheless, physicians are competing to be selected to go on international missions. Every year thousands of them are posted outside Cuba to provide services, in order to give their families a slightly more prosperous life.

The source said that a general practitioner practicing on the island earns a monthly salary of 480 to 535 pesos in national currency (about $20).

“The doctor’s thinking is: I will sacrifice myself for a while, I will get my usual salary, I will save the payment for the collaboration and the food allowance, together with the gifts that patients offer, for a phone or even a plasma TV,” he said.

Analysts believe that the export of professionals, mainly doctors, provides the principal income of the country, about six billion dollars annually. As the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Public Health said, “Cuba does not export doctors, Cuba exports health services.”

Brazil is one of the nearly 30 countries that receive Cuban medical services for a fee, out of a total of 58.

More doctors in Brazil, fewer doctors in Cuba

“A contingent of 4,000 professionals will arrive in Brazil through the end of 2013,” according to a press release from the Ministry of Public Health of the island. Meanwhile the quality of health services on the island continues to deteriorate, although according to the World Health Organization, Cuba has the highest number of doctors per capita in the world: one per 148 inhabitants.

Government officials recently informed the United Nations, “The National Health System in Cuba, through the governmental and social character of medicine, and universal free access to health services, has been instrumental in raising the health indicators of the entire population, particularly those of women and children.”

There are no polls or surveys to give an idea of popular discontent with medical care. Complaints can be heard daily in any hospital waiting room in the country.

Regla Ríos suffered the negligence of the medical staff at Children’s Hospital of Havana. His minor grandson was admitted for an infected insect bite on his foot. “They prescribed a drug that is for vision, his condition deteriorated, and we waited for him to get better, otherwise they had to operate,” he lamented.

Another elderly woman, who declined to be identified, said that she went to the Mario Escalona Polyclinic in Alamar to make an appointment with a specialist and they gave her one for almost two months later. The lady, in her seventies, said “I could die by then!”

Dr. Rojas asserted that, “Every day it’s harder for the ordinary citizen to find a good specialist, because they have an excess of daily consults, or have emigrated, or are abroad for the collaboration programs.”

“In the end, it’s the people who suffer the worse of it,” Regla commented pessimistically. “With the missions, the doctors at least excel professionally and strengthen the economy. For it’s part, the Government receives economic benefits and international respect.”

And for us, what?

From Cubanet

4 September 2013

Federation of Cuban Women: Reasons to Celebrate? / Yaremis Flores

HAVANA, Cuba, August, 2013 www.cubanet.org – At age 16, every girl who is part of an “integrated” and “revolutionary” family, automatically becomes a “federated” woman. Perhaps, like me, the only memory they retain of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) is when a neighbor came by the house to collect the dues.

On August 23rd, the only state organization that “defends” the human rights of women celebrated its 53rd anniversary. At the time, extensive articles in the official press accentuated stories about Heroines of Labor, including a female crane operator, among others.

They stuck to those cases of women who were able to overcome the barriers of sexism, but as usual this is a government strategy to hide those Cuban women who are victims of discrimination and of domestic and institutional violence.

Recently, Cuba was examined by the Committee against Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, for its acronym in English) and the FMC was challenged about the absence of complaints on this issue.

As noted by one of the experts, “the absence of complaints does not always mean the absence of problems; sometimes it’s because of fear and various other reasons that women do not get around to making the complaint.”

In fact, Cuban women do not recognize the House of Guidance to Woman and the Family, nor the FMC, as potential organizations to resolve their problems. This is demonstrated by the low numbers provided by the State regarding assistance to members of the Federation in cases of violence between 2006 to 2008.

Eloísa Ricardo, after a history of mistreatment and abuse by her former husband, a government official, looked in vain to the FMC. On the other hand, Mrs. Regla Bárbara complained to the Federation, and received a response letter sending the case to the Prosecutor’s office, which is standard practice.

The FMC reached this anniversary under the disappointed and concerned gaze of international bodies such as CEDAW, for failing for, so many years, in getting the  Parliament to pass a specific law protecting women.

By Yaremis Flores

August, 27, 2013

From Cubanet

Translated by: Tomás A.

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

Cuba’s Civil Society Is Transnational Says Rodiles / David Canela

From left to right: Antonio Rodiles, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, Yaremis Flores, Jorge Olivera, and Manuel Cuesta. Photo by the author.

HAVANA, Cuba, July 22, 2013, David Canela/www.cubanet.org — Last Saturday the independent Estado de SATS project sponsored a panel discussion among Cuban civil society activists. The participants included attorney Yaremis Flores, journalist Jorge Olivera (one of seventy-five dissidents imprisoned during the 2003 Black Spring crackdown), Roberto de Jesús Guerra, director of the news agency Hablemos Press, and Manuel Cuesta Morúa, a political analyst. The topic of the event was the current situation on the island following the latest political reforms and especially after recent trips overseas by many independent activists.

In regards to the experience of trying to be part of a globalized world, Flores emphasized that “the issue for Cubans is the lack of information.” Referring to his work representing those involved in legal cases, whose rights have often been at risk, he said, “If you cannot travel (to Geneva), they can send you information.”

Guerra and Olivera emphasized the need to strengthen the intellectual and organizational capabilities of the peaceful opposition. We must “continue organizing and empowering opposition groups,” said Guerra. For his part Olivera pointed out that the government “tries to manipulate international public opinion and buy time, which means we must adopt a more articulate and professional approach.”

According Cuesta Morúa, “the government has moved the battle of ideas abroad, and in Cuba tries to present a friendly dissent or a loyal opposition.”

The trend to a more balanced and dynamic migration flow would be a catalyst in the modernization of the country, as there is now a “transnational Cuban civil society,” as Rodiles called it.

As for the present, not all agreed with the idea that we are in a political transition, — as the journalist Julio Aleaga said — although this has not been officially declared. He explained that the reforms in China had begun in 1979, although its results were visible a decade later, with the Tienanmen protests, and that the Soviet Union no one imagined, in 1985, that Perestroika would be the dismantling of socialism.

Olivera believes that in the future “there will be a negotiation between the government and the opposition, because the country is in ruins.” In this regard, the journalist José Fornaris enunciated that “we have to prepare a program of government,” and not be ashamed to admit that we want to be part of the new government.

When the panel was asked what recommendations would that give to those traveling abroad, the lawyer Yaremis Flores suggested bringing evidence and documents on specific cases that demonstrate the problems of Cuban society that are not exposed in international forums, and so give a new face to the society, that humanizes it, and belies the manipulated figures from official groups of the government.

Cuesta Morúa added to avoid saying “I speak on behalf of …”, “I am the voice of …” He said there are receptive people abroad, who don’t want to hear protests, but rather proposals. And with regards to his experience at the last meeting of the Latin American Study Association (LASA), he noted that for the first time they broke the monopoly and the image (official) of Cuba at these academic meetings, due to the actions of independent sectors of the Island

This coming Saturday will be the three-year anniversary of the Estado de SATS project.

22 July 2013

From Cubanet

Some Gays Boast About Spies / Yaremis Flores

Mariela Castro, CENESEX director and Rene Gonzales, one of the "Cuban Five"

Mariela Castro, CENESEX director and Rene Gonzales, one of the “Cuban Five”

During this month the island is celebrating the sixth edition of the Cuban Day Against Homophobia. The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community on the island, in their eternal struggle against rejection and exclusion, joins in an apparent cultural celebration organized by the government.

The smiling faces of several LGBT people, marking the day, suggests a satisfied community.

However, the government has not taken any firm steps with regard to respect for sexual rights. The island does not recognize same-sex couples let alone allow their adoption of children. No accusations of gender discrimination may be brought in the Cuban courts.

Under slogans like “Socialism yes, homophobia, no,” Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and director of the National Sexual Education Center (and also a Deputy to the National Assembly), leads the activities of the day. Unofficial sources reported that some detractors of the Deputy were prevented from attending some events.

On the night of Saturday May 11, the Cuban Gala Against Homophobia was being held with the presence of Cuban agent Rene Gonzalez, who was officially recognized, as was reported in Granma, the Communist Party mouthpiece newspaper. Also, the Gala was chaired by the First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel, and the President of the Cuban Union of Writers and Artists, Miguel Barnet.

“More than a cultural gala it appeared to be a political act,” said one gay college student attending the event. “There was a great presence of uniformed and plainclothes police. The performances of the transvestites (men who dress as women’s clothing as an art form) took place in front of photos of “The Five,” the student said in reference to the five spies sentenced in the United States.

According to this observer, the speakers of the evening repeated, “Long live diversity and freedom for the Cuban Five!” He questioned, “I do not understand what one thing has to do with the other, why do they flood our few spaces flooded political slogans?”

Lissy, an LGBT member, confessed her discomfort in one part of the gala in which a transvestite speaker, paraphrasing the famous gay expression (“Out of the way, Mirtha Medina*, Annia Linares* has arrived”), replaced it with “Out of the way, Obama, Mariela has arrived.”

“The worst thing is that many at the joke, I don’t know, but the most culture they had was the closing song by Los Van Van,” he said.

A gay intellectual who requested anonymity criticized that spaces for debate are only granted to discuss the issue of homosexuality in the context of the day. “There hasn’t been a lot of outreach about the activities and in many of the events there is little gay presence.”

According to this year’s report to the UN Universal Periodic Review, by the Cuban government, on the island they are “promoting respect for freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity.” Brazil recommended to the Cuban delegation that they expand the opportunities for dialogue and interaction on these issues. However, beyond dialogue, the Cuban LGBT community needs laws to protect their sexual rights.

May 17 is World Day Against Homophobia. In over 50 countries homosexuals are persecuted and in at least 8 they are sentenced to death. In other countries there is cause for celebration because of the advances with respect to their rights. We hope that this event will be held in Cuba without ideological manipulation and a common message: non-discrimination.

*Translator’s note: Both are Cuban singers.

Text taken from Cubanet and posted in Wendy and Ignacio’s blog

17 May 2013

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

Just Sitting Around Waiting for Internet Access / Yaremis Flores

cartel020213With another year of the period of pretend “reforms” implemented by the Government ending, free access to information remains distant and unchanged. Besides buying and selling homes and traveling abroad, internet access is one of the most anticipated changes Cubans.

However, in 2012 the Ministry of Informatics and Communications (MIC) issued no legal statute to open the possibility of connecting for individuals. One of the justifications most commonly tossed out was that “economic and technological constraints prevent a broader distribution of that service.”

At least twenty of the resolutions issued last year by the Minister of Information, Medardo Diaz Toledo, allowed the preparation and circulation of postcards and stamps in tribute to historical dates and events like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day , etc … But only one statute alluded to internet access. In May, the MIC charged the State-owned phone company ETECSA with the task of implementing programs to provide this service at the headquarters of state associations of disabled people.

Some speculate that the connection charge will be reduced to 6 CUC an hour, still excessive. Others, more optimistic, aspire to surf the web from home, a grace which, in Cuba, only high government officials and personalities linked to culture, science and sport enjoy.

A senior MIC official insisted that even with the installation of a fiber optic cable, it is impossible to guarantee massive internet access “due to internal problems of a technical and financial character.”

“There are many homes that still do not have telephones and the local computer platform will not support an avalanche of connectivity,” he said.

According to statements by Hilda Arias Perez, director of ETECSA Mobile Services — the only telecommunications company in Cuba — the island has more mobile phones than fixed.

“The total number of fixed telephone lines has reached 1,162,000, of which 109,000 correspond to the alternative fixed-line mode,” the official newspaper Granma announced on 18 January.

It also said that, “It is the country’s will to bring cellular service to the people.” Commercial activity for 2013 seeks to increase the number of mobile users, which amounts to about one 1,680,000.

Supposedly, the MIC is not focused on developing fixed lines, and so has to improve internet. So, Toledo Díaz reduced the rates for cellular telephony. In a short time it reduced the cost of the call from 60 to 45 cents CUC, and the cost of sending text messages from 16 to 9 cents CUC.

On January 11, the Official Gazette of the Republic published reduced the cost of voice calls from 45 to 35 cents a minute CUC.

In the last Universal Periodic Review, four years ago, the Cuban government accepted Vietnam’s recommendation about “improving information infrastructure for the benefit of society.” The government will be further reviewed at the Human Rights Council from 22 April to 3 May.

For now, only a select few have access to information. Access will continue to restrict digital pages that are “contrary to social interests, morals, good customs and affecting the integrity or security of the State,” and specific locations to connect to the network at prohibitive prices will be maintained.

A law that protects the free access to information on the Island? Might as well sit around waiting.

Translated from Diario de Cuba

2 February 2013

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.

Amnesty International Calls for the Release of Antonio Rodiles — Letter Campaign, YOU CAN HELP RIGHT NOW

Antonio and his friends and family in support. His parents are seated in the chairs.

URGENT ACTION

CUBAN MAN TARGETED FOR GOVERNMENT CRITICISM

Government critic Antonio Rodiles has been charged with “resisting authority”. It is believed the charges may be used to punish and prevent his peaceful criticism of Cuban government policies.

A coordinator of a civil society initiative calling on the government to ratify international human rights treaties, Antonio Rodiles, has been charged with “resisting authority” (resistencia). He has been placed in pre-trial detention (prisión provisional), but no date has been set for his trial.

Shortly after the arrest of the independent lawyer and journalist Yaremis Flores on 7 November, Antonio Rodiles, his wife and several other government critics went to the Department of State Security headquarters, know as Section 21 (i) in the neighbourhood of Marianao in Havana, to enquire after her whereabouts. Before they could reach the building they were approached by 20 people, all plain-clothed, as two officials from the Ministry of the Interior looked on. Antonio Rodiles was reportedly knocked to the ground and pinned down by four men. Several of the other activists were also manhandled and were forced into a police vehicle and sent to various police stations around Havana. All were released by 11 November, except Antonio Rodiles.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office (fiscalía) informed Antonio Rodiles’ wife on 14 November that he was being charged with “resisting authority” but a formal charge document has yet to be issued.

Antonio Rodiles is one of the coordinators of Citizen Demand for Another Cuba (Demanda Ciudadana Por Otra Cuba), an initiative calling for Cuba to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the country signed in 2008. Amnesty International believes the charges against him may be being used to punish and prevent his peaceful activities as a government critic and is gathering further information on his case and treatment.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

  • Calling on the Cuban authorities to release Antonio Rodiles immediately and unconditionally if they are unable to substantiate the charges against him, and to investigate reports that he was ill-treated during his arrest;
  • Calling on them to immediately cease the harassment of all other citizens who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association.Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
  • Calling on the Cuban authorities to release Antonio Rodiles immediately and unconditionally if they are unable to substantiate the charges against him, and to investigate reports that he was ill-treated during his arrest;
  • Calling on them to immediately cease the harassment of all other citizens who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 27 DECEMBER 2012 TO:

Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba office in
Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission
to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Attorney General
Dr. Darío Delgado Cura
Fiscal General de la República,
Fiscalía General de la República,
Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella,
Centro Habana,
La Habana, Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

And copies to:
Interior Minister
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior,
Plaza de la Revolución,
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)
Email: correominint@mn.mn.co.cu
Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Journalist Yaremis Flores was held for 48 hours before being released without charge. During her detention she and was threatened with charges of “disseminating false information against international peace” (difusión de noticias falsas contra la paz internacional), which carries a prison sentence of one to four years, if she continued her work as a journalist.

Antonio Rodiles has been charged under Article 143 of the Cuban Criminal Code. This covers the offence of resistencia, which refers to resistance to public officials carrying out their duties and is often used to deal with alleged cases of resisting arrest.

Article 143 is broad enough to encompass non-violent forms of resistance; it is sometimes used in ways that unlawfully restrict freedom of expression.

On 20 June, Citizen Demand for Another Cuba handed in a petition with 500 signatures to the National Assembly of People’s Power (Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular) – Cuba’s legislative body located in Havana – calling on the government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these covenants constitute the International Bill of Rights and are the key international human rights instruments. Since Cuba’s signing of both covenants in 2008, Amnesty International has called on the authorities to ratify them in order to bring them into force and begin their implementation.

Antonio Rodiles is also the coordinator of State of SATS (Estado de SATS), a forum which emerged in July 2010 to encourage debate on social, cultural and political issues.

Name: Antonio Rodiles
Gender : m
UA: 333/12 Index: AMR 25/026/2012 Issue Date: 15 November 2012

 

Reasoning with Antonio Rodiles / Reinaldo Escobar


Translator’s note: Our apologies for not having a subtitled version…

As of this afternoon the latest chapter of Citizens’ Reasons will be available, dedicated to discussing a topic that is abstract but essential: Legitimacy. Participating on this occasion are Dagoberto Valdés, Miriam Celaya, Antonio Rodiles and, as moderator, this humble servant who is pleased to announce the program.

Of particular interest is the presence of the animator of the space Estado de Sats — Antonio Rodiles — who was arrested just as we were finishing editing the chapter.

As its title indicates, this edition of Citizens’ Reasons tries to respond to the question of to what extent we citizens should recognize the legitimacy of the “current” Cuban government and what we must do from civil society to achieve our own legitimacy.

The arbitrary arrest of Antonio Rodiles occurred confronting a department of State Security while participating in a civic and peaceful action to inquire about the situation of the attorney Yaremis Flores. There he was brutally beaten, but it was not his attackers who had to answer to the law, but rather the victim, accused of “resisting arrest.” At the time of this writing the courts have not ruled on the matter.

This has been the reality that gives the context to what is discussed in the most recent chapter of Citizens’ Reasons. I recommend that you watch it.

16 November 2012