Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca Letter to Interamerican Press Association and Reporters Without Borders

Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca in Havana

Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca in Havana

Havana,13 June, 2015

TO: Representatives of the Interamerican Press Association, and Reporters Without Borders

FROM: *Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, Independent Journalist

SUBJECT: Indiscriminate repression Against Ladies in White, peaceful activist opponents, journalists, bloggers, and independent communicators

By this letter, I am contacting you to make you aware of what is happening against the Ladies in White, activist opponents, journalists, bloggers, photojournalists, and independent communicators, who are committed to the struggle for citizen, human and political rights that have been violated, and seek to disseminate the reality that our country has suffered under the Castro brothers’ totalitarian regime for more than 56 years. Now that the repression unleashed by their specialized entities is worsening, their intent is that we not make known the brutal repression to which are subjected all who unite in demand for the release of political prisoners, and for reforms that will truly benefit the people.

I am not alone in this case. Sharing this situation are my colleagues: Vladimir Turró Páez and Enrique Díaz, collaborators on Misceláneas de Cuba and Primavera Digital; Juan González Febles, director of Primavera Digital; Agustín López Canino and Liván Serafín Moran, independent journalists; and Antonio Rodiles, director of the Estado de SATS project, to name a few among those most persecuted by the political police–a repressive institution that abducts, tortures, threatens with death and holds abductees in Detention Centers such as police stations, as well as the so-called “Vivac” prison, located in the village of Calabazar, at the southern edge of the City of Havana.

We are held in these places for several days with no arrest warrants, nor safekeeping of our belongings. Our cell phones, cameras, flash drives, and USB devices are confiscated, and their contents are erased. In addition, we are verbally and physically threatened; we are beaten inside the detention centers, and in the vehicles in which we are transported to them–even while defenseless and handcuffed with plastic clamps so tight that they cut off our circulation, and we cannot move our hands, etc. Later, they leave us for hours in the sun inside hermetically-sealed police vehicles, inducing serious disorders that have caused many to lose consciousness and present hypoglycemic symptoms.

My case, especially, is notable for the series of arrests, abductions and death threats that have been made. The last three weeks, particularly, stand out because my house has been surrounded by agents from the Department of State Security (DSE) and uniformed patrolmen of the National Revolutionary Police Force (PNR). They explained their presence by telling my neighbors that I had committed suicide. This past May 9, during the night, an automobile rushed at me on 26th Avenue, and almost ran me over. The matter reached a climax last Sunday in an incident that I will recount as follows:

On the morning of Sunday, June 7, 2015, I exited my residence to go to Santa Rita Church, located on 5th Avenue and 26th in the Miramar district, to cover the news of the return of Ladies in White leader Berta Soler from a trip to the United States and Europe. A few blocks from the church, on 7th Avenue and 28th, I was forcefully detained by an automobile carrying four agents of Precinct 21 of the DSE. They handcuffed me and put me in the car, on the floor, and immediately put their feet on me so that I would not move.

In Coyula Park, a few blocks from where I was abducted, they got me out of that car and put me in another, in the same manner as before, and after making several turns we arrived at Villa Marista prison, headquarters of the State Security police. After holding me for all that time inside the car, under the sun, they took me to an office where a gray-haired man–to all appearances, a high-ranking official–without first stating his name, started hurling all kinds of threats at me, so that I would stop going to Santa Rita Church. One such threat was that I would be responsible for any misfortune that might befall me, to which I replied that they could do what they wanted, but I would go on attending the gatherings of the Ladies in White, to cover the news.

At the end of the interview, they again placed me inside another vehicle, in the usual manner. After driving for about 20 minutes, the agent who was at my right got out of the car, drew his weapon (an automatic Browning 9mm or CZ pistol), and they got me out, made me kneel on the grass, and put the gun to my neck. After a few seconds of silence, he said, “You are now on notice about what can happen to you. Do not go to Santa Rita anymore.” He gave me a kick in the ribs that knocked me over. They got back in their Lada, threw my backpack and phone out the window, and left me helpless about 3 miles from the village of Santa Cruz del Norte, which is about 30 miles to the east of Havana.

As may be seen, the methods employed by this dictatorship are worse against independent journalists. This is even more the case following the statements by General-President Raúl Castro during the farewell to French President François Hollande at José Martí International Airport last month–remarks delivered with a burlesque and ironic tone.

Without further ado, I trust that what I am reporting to you will not fall on deaf ears. Perhaps you will agree with me that these procedures do not meet the standards for humane treatment that correspond to the century in which we live. I place responsibility on the government of Raúl Castro for whatever may happen to me and to my colleagues from now on.

Thank you very much,

*Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca
Independent Journalist

I reside at:
Loma Street, ICP Building, Apt.#1
Between Tulipán and Colón
Nuevo Vedado, Plaza de la Revolución
La Habana, Cuba.

Tel: +537-8818203
Mobile: +535-2494085

lazaroyurivalleroca@gmail.com

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

The Broody Serpent’s Egg / Angel Santiesteban

Aleida Guevara, daughter of the infamous “Che” Guevara

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 13 April 2015 — My colleague and friend Felix Luis Viera has written a post about one of the most disgusting human being I’ve ever had in front of me: Aleida Guevara.

Sometimes we ran into each other in our children’s school on 62nd and 5th Avenue, in the Playa municipality. I talked about it once in a post — I also described that facts I am giving you now — when a teacher told me that “Guevara”, as they call her, had been inquiring about my relative. Fortunately, he is out of her reach and her revenge.

On that occasion I commented on the arrogance, pushiness and haughtiness which she displayed and with which she manipulated those around her. In fact, she acted like the school principal, while the actual principal along with teachers nodded their heads in constant assent, fearful of a complaint from that fatso with “commander pretensions,” regardless of the cause and reason, which could get them expelled from the school in the blink of an eye. This woman, as brute as a mule, moved around that institution like a triumphant guerrilla. Continue reading

Committee on the Rights of the Child Queries the Government of Cuba Regarding the Sale of Children and Child Pornography

 

Committee on the Rights of the Child70th Session – 2015, Draft Program

Review of States Parties’ Reports

List of questions relative to the briefing presented by Cuba by virtue of Article 8, Paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol of the Convention for the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

It is requested of the State Party that it present in writing additional and updated information (maximum 15 pages), if possible, prior to 20 August, 2015.

In the dialogue with the State Party, the Committee can address all aspects of the rights of the child referred to in the Optional Protocol.

1. Please provide recent statistical data for children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years (disaggregated by sex, age, ethnic origin, and rural or urban areas), regarding the number of: Continue reading

Antonio G. Rodiles of Estado de Sats Arrested and Beaten / Hablemos Press, Arian Guerra Perez

Hablemos Press, Arian Guerra Pérez, Havana, 6 July, 2015 – Political activist Antonio G. Rodiles, director of Estado de SATS, was beaten this Sunday by Cuban State Security agents, according to activist sources.

Rodiles had to have surgery at General Calixto García University Hospital in Havana because of the fracture, said Ailer María González Mena, his wife. Continue reading

The Generals’ Smokescreen / Angel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 13 May 2015 — Again Raul Castro lies to the world when he says on television that “independent journalists” are graduates from a course at the United States Interest Section (USIS) in Havana, and that they also receive a “stipend” from that agency. Graduates from that course: I have met lawyers, doctors, economists, among many professionals. I remember at some point I was interested in that course, but I never completed my registration. It was not a bad idea. Knowledge is always welcome.

General Raúl Castro, if he decided to mention us, he did it with disdain as usual, by asking his Minister of Foreign affairs about the term “independent” because he thinks that’s the way to denigrate such a worthy condition. He showed the same attitude when he spoke about the autobiography of President Barak Obama, “I’ve read a few passages”, making it clear it did not deserve the space or the necessary importance from his “precious time.” Continue reading

Killing for a Dwelling / Cubanet, Ernesto Perez Chang

A usual scene in Reparto Electrico, whether Holy Week or not

A usual scene in Reparto Electrico, whether Holy Week or not

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Ernesto Perez Chang, Havana, 1 July 2015 – A daughter killed her mother, dismembered her with the help of her boyfriend and then reported her missing in order to be able to inherit her humble apartment in a slum where they both lived. It may seem the plot of a horror movie but it is a real story that barely a year ago shook the community of Reparto Electrico.

It was not the first time I heard such chilling news as that; but more than the blood relationship between the victim and the murderer, the motive of the killer was what accentuated the absurdity, the insanity, especially when in the streets, while the crime was being talked about, equally disturbing stories emerged about family conflicts related to the difficulties in wrangling a place to live.

Before and after that bloody episode, I learned of other similar scenarios, and, according to Orlando Asdrubal, a lawyer who has followed several cases in the Arroyo Naranjo township, the bloody events within families are increasing, all related to housing property rights. Continue reading

To the Righteous (?!) Women from UNEAC*, When is Your Statement Expected’

Lady in White Laura Pollan (now deceased) being dragged by security agents

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 3 June 2015 — There is not a single day of my existence in prison in which I don’t feel embarrassed for those women who, at the beginning of 2013, once I was jailed, made a supposed appeal against gender violence, when in fact it was later shown — by the silence they maintained before other forms of violence exercises against women in opposition to the regime on the island — that they were just intending to comply with government oder, dictated by Abel Prieto personally, spokesman and sinister mastermind, from the darkness of his office as advisor of Raul Castro, the main purpose of which was to smother international solidarity in my favor.

At that time, those women, especially the intellectual ones — whom I had travel with, shared book presentations, events in which they devoted odes to my affability; who I shared emails with daily, dinners, who organized surprise parties for me, and appeared with me in national and international anthologies — once they received the official order, the joined efforts to execute me publicly, just to receive the attention of politicians and cultural officials and looking not to be forgotten when trips abroad are awarded, with which the dictatorship usually rewards their most loyal subjects in the culture field. Continue reading

Honduras Slaps with White Gloves / Angel Santiesteban

After the Congress of Honduras, according to the validity of its statutes, decided to impeach former president Manuel Zelaya, the mafia of leftist Latin American presidents have attacked from all sides the new elected government of Porfirio Lobo, expressing their support for former president Zelaya, who took his dismissal as a coup.

The late Hugo Chavez was the one who led the crusade in his favor. Since that historic event, the “wound has not healed” and, once the new president has committed to give continuity  to Democracy in his nation — Democracy which was reaffirmed during last presidential election when Hondurans did not gave their vote to Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the former president’s wife, and elected instead the agricultural entrepreneur Porfirio Lobo — these pro-Castro governments have joined efforts to plot and make it difficult the advancement of his plans for social, political and economic development. Continue reading

Independence Day / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

Celebration of Independence Day (14ymedio)

Celebration of Independence Day (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 3 July 2015 — The traditional celebration offered by the US Interests Section in Havana, on the anniversary of the Independence of the United States, had on this occasion a special connotation for being the first one to take place following the announcement of restoration of relations between that country and Cuba, and the last one before the reopening of the US embassy in Havana, scheduled for July 20th.

A large turnout of members of the independent civil society participated in the festivities on Thursday July 2nd, sharing the space with known artists, other cultural figures, scholars, and representatives of the Catholic Church, led by Cardinal Jaime Ortega. As usual, there were numerous officials of the diplomatic corps present at the event.

After listening to the national anthems of Cuba and the US, Mr. Jeffrey De Laurentis, Chief of the US Interests Section, delivered a brief speech by referring to the importance of the date and the events that are taking place at this new stage of dialogue between the two governments, while expressing his hopes that soon the ties between our two countries will deepen and consolidate. Continue reading

Hitler, Stalin y Fidel / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban-Prats, 14 May 2015 — Like in an old historical museum of the horror of the Cuban Revolution, the visit of the most powerful rulers to Fidel Castro’s lair is expected. It’s like visiting a living mummy, still able to continue to do harm to those who do not coincide with his directives. They have chosen the photographs instead, because they are ashamed of the grimaces and gestures — that come along age — to be seen by the rest of the world.

For some presidents who visit the Cuban archipelago, leaving without a snapshot alongside the old wolf it is like going to Paris and not being photographed at the Eiffel Tower. I understand that in politics and to any human being in general, being photographed with the old jackal means a moral disgrace. I would not portray myself beside Hitler or Stalin nor even next to their wax replicas. Times of dignity are scarce. Some call it diplomacy, however talking on the phone with Antonio Rodiles, we agree that subject is about telling the truth in a decent and settled way. Continue reading

Drug Consumption in Cuba…”Benefits” of Globalization? / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

Among consumers of alcohol combined with psychoactive drugs are users as young as 12 years old. (CC)

Among consumers of alcohol combined with psychoactive drugs, the youngest users average around 12-years-old. (CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 29 June 2015 — Juventud Rebelde’s extensive report (Alas Trágicas para Volar (I) [Tragic Flying Wings I], of Sunday, June 28th addresses the controversial issue of drug use among adolescents and young Cubans. Putting aside that the presence and alarming spread of this scourge in the Island’s population has been previously revealed on numerous occasions by the independent press and foreign media – which were accused at that time of distorting reality with the deliberate intention of tarnishing “revolutionary” Cuba’s image – it is no less commendable that the official press has finally recognized the existence of this evil in the supposedly exemplary Cuban society.

The article in question also notes other flaws, no less serious, such as increasing alcoholism from an early age and the growing illicit trade in psychotropic and other drugs controlled by the Ministry of Public Health. A string of corruption often starts with theft at the very factories producing the pills and its saga includes shorting at the warehouses, overpricing at drugstores and even at doctors’ offices where some unscrupulous physicians prescribe them, be it for lack of ethics or patient bribes.

A psychologist at the Community Mental Health Center in the Havana municipality Plaza de la Revolución declares that, among consumers of alcohol combined with psychoactive drugs the youngest users average around 12-years-old, a fact that reveals the extent and depth of the problem. Continue reading

The Lives Of Opposition Leaders Have Their Names On The Government’s Blacklist / Angel Santiesteban

José Alberto Botell, Guillermo Fariñas’ assailant

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 3 June 2015If the Cuban dictatorship has an enemy, it is themselves, as an institution of evil. After committing their outrages, the injustices and atrocities carried out by their henchmen who commit the atrocities they are ordered to commit — at any cost — in exchange for benefits awarded them by the governing officials who believe they are the owners of the nation. They cannot hide who they are.

The government has just exposed that there are two penal codes, one for dissidents, and another one for the acolytes who commit crimes on behalf of its totalitarian regime.

Recently they have “sentenced” José Alberto Botell, who was charged with the crime of “injuries,” after wounding five dissidents with a knife, one of them, Maria Arango Percibal, a member of the worthy Ladies in White. Continue reading