More than 200 Activists Arrested Throughout the Island / 14ymedio

Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). (14ymedio)
Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 March 2016 — The arrests of 209 activists is the final result this Saturday, a day on which several opposition groups demanded the release of political prisoners. The majority of those arrested are members of Unión Patriótica de Cuba (Cuban Patriotic Union, UNPACU), according to a statement to 14yMedio by its general coordinator, José Daniel Ferrer.

The bulk of the arrests took place in the eastern provinces and in the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud (the Island of Youth, formerly the Island of Pines) when the activists demanded publicly “the release of political prisoners, respect for human rights and the end of repression against the Ladies in White,” stated the activist formerly imprisoned following Cuba’s Black Spring. Continue reading “More than 200 Activists Arrested Throughout the Island / 14ymedio”

The School for Others / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Havana International School on 18th Street in Miramar
Havana International School on 18th Street in Miramar

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 2 February 2016 — She is not wearing a uniform, she is not carrying a bag with snacks, nor does she have a kerchief tied around her neck. However, at nine years of age, Malena is on her way to school, a learning center for the children of diplomats where she has been able to register with her parents’ economic means and a Spanish passport – a legacy from her grandmother.

Cuban education is no longer the same for everyone. There are classrooms where students enjoy unlimited internet connection, air conditioning and new furniture. In the dining halls, the menu is varied, vegetables are plenty and it is common to hear a child talk about how he or she spent the weekend at the exclusive Cayo Coco resort or that his or her dad got a new truck.

Founded more than forty years ago, the Havana International School was originally designed for the children of ambassadors and consular personnel. In the 1990s, the children of foreigners working for joint venture firms arrived, but as of a few years back Cubans who can afford the high tuition fees and show a foreign passport have appeared. Continue reading “The School for Others / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”

Don’t Get Too Close, Brother Francis / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Works in progress to build the altar for the Pope in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana. (Luz Escobar)
Works in progress to build the altar for the Pope in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana. (Luz Escobar)

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 14 September 2015 — A Cuba of different points of view and clashing passions is what the Bishop of Rome will find when he begins, in a few days, his visit to the island. A country that wants to enter the future, but that remains clamped in place by a political discourse that died in the 20th century. This context will require all of the diplomatic skills of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, but it is worth advising him of the imposing verse from Ruben Dario: “Don’t get too close, Brother Francis.”

On his arrival in Havana a massive welcome and the corresponding family photos will await the pope. He will have to pose next to a power that decades ago ordered a the tearing off of scapulars, prohibited crucifixes, and forced the portraits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be hidden in the depths on our homes. The same government that blocked, under fear of reprisals, several generations of Cubans from being baptized or entering a church. Continue reading “Don’t Get Too Close, Brother Francis / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Why Cuba could not build the new man promised by Che Guevara / Regina Coyula

All photos from the BBC
All photos from the BBC

Regina Coyula, from BBC Mundo, 4 June 2015 — One of the most attractive promises of the 1959 Cuban Revolution for a Third World thirsty for paradigms, was, undoubtedly, the prospect of a generous, industrious, learned and well-mannered human being.

This New Man would be the result of the new schools that as the cradles of a new race, together with the Marxist and Martist[1] combination of work and study, would forge a personality without the burdens of a bourgeois education.

Mass produced, the new man would put the collective interests above his own, and would take the future by assault to build a superior society. Continue reading “Why Cuba could not build the new man promised by Che Guevara / Regina Coyula”

Alan Gross, the hook that ended up being swallowed / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Demonstrations demanding the release of Alan Gross
Demonstrations demanding the release of Alan Gross

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 17 December 2014 – With the pessimism that has now become chronic in our society, many Cubans thought that Alan Gross would only leave Cuba, “in a box,” in an image allusive of a fatal outcome. The stubbornness shown by the Cuban government in its relations with the United States didn’t presage a short-term solution for the contractor. This Wednesday, however, he has been exchanged for three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States, bringing to a close a long and complicated political chapter for both parties.

Gross was only useful alive and his health was rapidly deteriorating. And Raul Castro knew this very well. Hence, in recent months he raised the decibels around the proposed exchange for the agent Antonio Guerrero and the officials Ramón Labañino and Gerardo Hernández, all serving long sentences in the prisons of our neighbor to the north. To the extent that the 65-year-old contractor grew thin and lost his vision, official campaigns grew increasingly insistent about the exchange. When Gross threatened to kill himself, the alarms if the island’s government went off and the negotiating schedule accelerated. Continue reading “Alan Gross, the hook that ended up being swallowed / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Alfredo Guevara In His Own Words / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

A recent interview published in the magazine Letras Libres, reveals Alfredo Guevara’s mood months before his death. The meeting, that came to be thanks to filmmaker Arturo Sotto, brings us closer to a man conscious of being on the last stretch of his life. His words try to find, or give sense to his existence, to justify some horrors and exalt some achievements.

Caustic but careful, Guevara ventures in topics of the past such as the divisions within the 26 of July Movement and its clashes with the forces of the Popular Socialist Party . Between one anecdote and the next, he reveals—perhaps without intention—details of a power taking shape among betrayals and rivalries. The scene of Celia Sánchez who lived with Fidel Castro in a house in El Vedado and would ask Guevara to expel the old communists from the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) “by kicking them in the ass,” slips through his words, he lets it go just like any other story. Continue reading “Alfredo Guevara In His Own Words / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

dreaming in gUSAno* / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The dreams begin, comrades.

Noises in hotel rooms.  I begin to hear noises in the hotel rooms where I stay from coast to coast in the United States.

In Cuba, I was never a victim of the homeland paranoia; I only had the certainty of being spied on with criminal cruelty. Millimetric, butcher. I am sorry for Castroism: it failed to sow in me the syndrome of suspicion.

But, in Philadelphia, for example, or in Washington DC, in LA, in Miami, in La Crosse, in Madison, in Chicago, in Boston and who knows in what other city of the union, it is very different.  There are hotels, those labyrinths that in Cuba are a rarity in terms of civility.  And in the hotels things are heard late at nights.  Sounds, whispers.  And a cosmic cold that penetrates the soul and only then do you understand that you do not exist here.

Halfway through the late hours of the night, frantic knocks on my room door wake me up.  Or not.  Perhaps they are at the room across, who knows.  The fact is that I wait and wait, but the assault does not repeat itself. Until the next day, during the wee hours of the night, at any time after the silent midnight.

They drag cleaning carts at random times. They scratch the parquet or the cardboard walls that make every building Made in USA.” They walk loudly.  They speak a language of unknown accent that in Havana I would have perceived as English.  There are little permanent lights that come in through the curtains or fall from the ceiling tiles in the form of a sea of alarms that never cease.  And then begin my dreams. My North American dreams.  North American dreams about Cuba, it is understood.

At this point in history, to dream of Cuba is purely a preservation instinct.  I dream that I am back there, of course. And I laugh, I laugh like a madman.

I laugh at the assassins paid by the powers-that-be who did not arrest me or search my things with the twisted pleasure of rapists at the airport customs. I see things as if they were very small, dilapidated, but with an insane shine, like a drug addict.  I see the houses of my city, the ones that I can recognize with my eyes closed.  I see the small house of wooden planks, the only one in my life, the one in which I was born and died several times in Lawton; and I see my sacred objects, the ones I barely said goodbye to; and then someone tells me (usually someone I loved a lot, but not anymore): “When are you returning to the United States?”

“Never,” I reply, and suddenly I cannot breathe in the dream, and at that point I invariably wake up crying.  With pouting.  A baby’s cry, a cry of mental patient.

To return.



The United States.

The agony of the fighting fish.  Their branchiae wide open, like swords. The oxygen of an atmosphere  that will never be my atmosphere. Not having ground under my dreams.  To be without existing.  Orlando, Orlando…why have you forsaken us…?

I open my eyes. It is not dawning yet. I want to forget. My temples hurt. There are weird noises in the rooms around me. I am alone.  Desolate.

If one day I go out on a walk, if it snows, and I get lost erasing my footsteps, who and when is going to ask about me?  Who takes care of me?  Who misses me?  Who will feel sorry for my loved ones if one bad day my country’s military death reaches me by edict so that I do not live my life after Fidel?

I turn to the other side of the bed. I sleep naked. I curl up under the blankets and sheets which the American hotels provide me from coast to coast in the nation.  The beds are cold here. More than exciting, they are pure erection. I cannot resist myself.

Nor am I sleepy now, but I surrender very quickly.  I yawn, I must be exhausted. I nod. I myself make the noises and whispers that are going to reach, incognito, the other room.  Strange. I do not stop myself. It is warm and tender like the deep light of the northern skies.  Like the smile of teenagers who dispense insipid dishes at a cafeteria while they complete their PhD. I swallow air. I retain it. I am choking. I am not here.

I think about collecting all the Cuban dreams of exile.  They are not here.

I am asleep, we are asleep.  Soon it is about to be dawn.

*Translator’s note: The word “Dreaming” appears in English in the original. “Gusano” (worm) here refers to the insult hurled by the Cuban regime and its vassals at every person who has opposed the regime in any way, or who has left the country to escape it.

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

29 September 2013

Oscar in Memoriam / Rosa Maria Rodriguez

Photo from

I met Oscar Espinosa Chepe† at the home of another opposition activist around the year 1997.  Later, I had the opportunity to interact more with him when he would go to the headquarters of CubaPress, then situated in the residence of Ricardo González Alfonso, in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood, so that the editor of that press agency could edit his next article to be published.  So careful was he when stating his opinion responsibly and in the best way possible, that after a while, Germán Díaz Castro told me that the articles that Chepe would bring him did not need editing.  In his effort to “say and to write well” he had acquired the necessary dexterity to provide with discernible journalistic skill his economic observations of the Cuban situation.

Years of opposition activities led us to running into each other several times, and in him I always found a decent, cordial, solicitous and supportive fellow citizen, a comrade in peaceful fights so polite that he never “threw the chalk piece”* of bad behavior against his comrades in the struggle.  His path of economist, civic and opposition activist, plus the intolerant and dictatorial nature of Cuban authorities, led him unjustly to prison in March of 2003.  He was sentenced to twenty years, and released on parole the next year, for health reasons.  He came out with the same humility and simplicity, without the rancor that corrodes and weakens moral and character, and which are the trademark of the dictatorial men in charge that ordered his confinement.  From prison he came out marked by the ailment that closed his eyes to life a few days ago, and opened them to immortality.

This past Sunday, September 22nd, he absented himself physically.  I prefer to remember that part of Chepe’s biography that I knew: educated like a diplomat, and as humble and as much of a dreamer as any patriot opposed to the totalitarian regime.  The man who worked so much for Cuba that for many years we will have the light shone by his analyses and his wisdom guiding our democratizing economic paths.  Those that inevitably will come to create and encourage laws that stimulate trade and production so that our country can definitely prosper without this failed planning socialism –centralism- in which the government has been the flogging and destructive gendarme of our economy and the archipelago in general.

I send my sincere condolences to his widow and other relatives for the death of Oscar, as well as to all who like me, are afflicted by this grievous loss.  R.I.P.

*Translator’s note: Cuban expression that means to misbehave in a furtive way.

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

26 September 2013

Eugenio Yanez Remembers Oscar Espinosa Chepe

Miriam Leiva and Oscar Espinosa Chepe
Miriam Leiva and Oscar Espinosa Chepe

Oscar Espinosa Chepe was a person convinced of what he did in life, without any extremist opportunisms or false remorse about his “revolutionary” phase from his earliest youth. A person of integrity, when speaking or writing he did not care about what his bosses (when he had them) would like to hear; or, after breaking up with the regime, what opposition activists and exiles [would like to hear or read], but [about] the analyses needed to understand the Cuban reality. His didactic virtuosity made any topic that he took on look easy and simple, but the rigor of his analysis and the depth of his conclusions showed a professional committed to the pursuit of the truth. As an economist, independent journalist and opposition activist, he is an example to all Cubans on both shores of the Florida Strait.

Eugenio Yáñez. Writer and Columnist. He edits Cubanálisis-El Think-Tank

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

From Cubaencuentro

24 September 2013

The Anti-Gospel According to Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

1 I, that had no motherland, have lost my motherland.

2 The motherland is, of course, the place where your neighbor will mourn over your dead body.  3 And, I never wanted this. 4 I resisted from the time I opened my eyes and saw.  5 Everything was so ugly, so false, so Cuban around me. 6 That I never wanted to give them the only thing that made me good and real. 7 My body.

8In the silent night of childhood. 9 In the fading light of adolescence.  10 In the early mornings being nude on stairwells and neighborhood alleys. 11 In the youth devastated by the nightmare of the 1990s. 12 In the two thousand-nothings when all who were to die had died and love still had not shown up. 13 Now. 14 When I want the least to be mourned in my country or to have a street named after me in democracy.

15 I do not want to be mourned. 16 Seriously. 17 But I want a country. 18 Please.

19 Life is too much of life for it to be humiliated by death. 20 If life ends in a wake, then it was not worth living it. 21 Life opens to life or it will never be life at all. 22 I wish to live.

23 I am going to repeat it slowly because these are two verbs that we Cubans did not know how to execute from that arrogance of beings living in freedom: to wish, to live. 24 We Cubans, who massacre each other in that mystic rapture called Motherland to achieve our most heroic state of slavery.

25 Neither wish. 26 Nor live.

27 Cuban politics is the organ (what a creepy word: organ) in charge of diplomatically avoiding these two vital verbs, to have them forgotten through pure patriotism and terror, to manipulate them in its image and convenience to cheat us out of our time and humanity. 28 That is why the people does not exist. 29 Because it has no body, just mass.  30 Because we fuse as a whole, as a something, as a living organism. 31 Because we are that: scattered organs. 32 Decrepit 33 Lifeless viscera.

34 That is why the Revolution and Castroism will have no day after. 35 It is impossible to resuscitate what has not even died, but continues to live in perpetuity.  36 An unlivable life.

37 The lyrics of the National Anthem are foreboding in that sense. 38 A macabre song, of incarnation of Evil in men and women who were already departing and in those who were yet to come. 39 Demoniacal march, just like the sight of its author on a horse in the outskirts of a city that should have been capital and ended up being holocaust. 40 Mortuary music composed precisely on a Horse*, apocalyptic beast that in less than a century will implement that same anthem to its last poetic consequences.

41 Poetry, and not Cuban politics, has been the main genocidal compulsion in what was on the verge of being my country. 42 Cuba, scaffold.

43 The word “motherland” is not better than the word “impiety.” 44 Someone had to state it for you, Cubans. 45 The word “hope” is not sterile, but breeds sterility exclusively.

46 On the claustrophobic line of the horizon 47 In the planetary twilight of the one thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine exiles. 48 In the bodies abandoned in the stampede. 49 In the love promptly betrayed.  50 In the invisible beauty. 51 In the family that vanished.  52 In the weightless home. 53 In the Cuban body constantly constrained to the cadaver that is going to inhabit it.

54 Men and women of my country, I have loved you from the distance of the most intimidating inner space. 55 From these trachea and intestines I have seen things that you, Cubans, would never believe.

56 Mercy is not enough. 57 You, that never had a motherland, will never lose the motherland. 58 And that pain is unspeakable.

59 May you remain, then, in the posthumous peace of my words.

*Translator’s note: From Spanish “El Caballo,” “the Horse,” one of Fidel Castro’s many nicknames among Cubans.  It denotes masculinity and vigor, and it is deeply rooted in that Cuban tragicomic “machismo.”

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

19 August 2013

Alejandro Armengol Remembers Oscar Espinosa Chepe

mail4-300x168Two qualities, among others, were always prominent in the articles by Chepe that appeared regularly both in Cubaencuentro as well as other publications like El Nuevo Herald.

One of them is that he could achieve the delicate balance that allowed him to present a balanced article or analysis while making clear his point of view.  To this end he would always base his writing on data and reflections free of bombastic criteria, the usual demagoguery and opportunism.

The other quality was the use of data supplied by the Cuban government itself, supported by other from international organizations, to support his analyses. That way he never conceded to the convenient argument that all information from the island is false; an argument that may have some truth to it, but that also brings an easy and complacent negativism among certain groups of exiles. It is not that Chepe believed all that the regime said, on the contrary, he knew what to question and how.  In that sense, he and professor Mesa Lago have set the precedent, and have valuable information where others refused to look.

Personally, and during the time in which I had the pleasure of editing his works for Cubaencuentro, aside from an honor, it was always a pleasure to have such a precise intellectual, both in the numbers he offered as well as his composition and spelling, all of this done with absolute humility.  He was what be said easily, but that is almost impossible to find: an example.

Alejandro Armengol. Journalist.  Editor in Chief for Cubaencuentro.

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

From Cubaencuentro

24 September 2013

Haroldo Dilla Remembers Oscar Espinosa Chepe

indexDespite living for so long on an island so small, I never met Oscar Espinosa Chepe in person. It would have been an honor and an opportunity for me, mostly after discovering him in one of his incisive articles for the late magazine Encuentro during a night of insomnia on a plane in route to Madrid.

Since then, I have read him faithfully. And every time, the acumen of the analyst and the consistency of the democrat, but most of all the integrity of the intellectual, have gratified me. Despite spending several years in prison for doing nothing other than thinking well and differently, Chepe never allowed his emotions to overcome his professionalism.  And, this makes him one of those intellectual figures called to be enduring.  And for that, we will continue reading him for a long time for the good of the prosperous, equitable and democratic that he advocated.

Dr. Haroldo Dilla Alfonso, Sociologist and Historian

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

From Cubaencuentro

Carmelo Mesa-Lago Remembers Oscar Espinosa Chepe

oscar-espinosa-chepe_menuOscar Espinosa Chepe was one of the best informed and courageous Cuban economists. Despite the difficulties to access the internet, he was always up to date on the regional and local [Economics] organizations’ publications; and his works were always well documented and objective.

His criticism was based on publications and official figures, but he also criticized the US embargo as an instrument that had failed to end the [political] system while being used as a scapegoat for all its economic failures.

To me, Chepe was always a source of inspiration, his articles are abundantly quoted in my own publications, and I had the honor of writing the foreword for two of his books.

When he came out of prison in Cuba, due to the bad state of his health’s, I was able to get two dozen prestigious economists from around the world to sign a letter to the Head of Government of Spain requesting his exit [from Cuba], but in the end  he decided to continue writing in Cuba.  He offered his life and his health for Cuba.

We met in person in Havana in 2010, and the tiny and modest apartment that he and Miriam inhabited surprised me; filled with books, magazines and papers, almost leaving no space for daily living.

He was a humble man, frugal and amiable, who loved his fatherland very much. I was able to see him in Madrid this past June and he was staying with Miriam in a tiny room of a hostel. Although already very sick, he attended the presentation of my book at Casa de América and I publicly paid him my last homage. We are going to miss him very much.

Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh.

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

From Cubaencuentro

24 September 2013

The Great News / Enrique del Risco

madagascar—Did you hear?

—What? About the robbery of the giraffe from Havana’s zoo?

—Yeah, a giraffe, four monkeys and a pony, but I’m not talking about that…

—Those guys must have been ninjas.  A Cuban version of “Madagascar,” “Calabazar[1]: The Story of How a Group of Zoo Animals Trying to Prevent their Friends from Becoming Giraffe Sandwich”

—No, I am talking about Robertico Carcasses, who was banned from playing music the other day.


—For singing…

—The truth is that he’s never been very good, but a ban seems excessive to me…

—Well, it was more for demanding direct elections, freedom of information and equal rights. You know, and it happened at a concert for the release of The Five[2].

—Listen, can’t you count?  A giraffe, four monkeys and a pony are six, no five.  Well, I guess what’s important is the solidarity with the poor little animals.

—No, dude, I’m talking about the five spies jailed in the Yuma[3].

—What do the five spies have to do with the giraffe?

—Nothing, you made that up. The deal is that Robertico Carcasses said all those things at the Anti-Imperialist Stage[4] and on live television.

—Ah, I see.  When did they shoot him?

—That’s the interesting part: they only thing they dared to do was to ban him from any state-owned stage in Cuba, indefinitely.

—In my time, for less than that Robertico would end up worse than the zoo’s giraffe.

—What? They already know what happened to the giraffe?

—That’s exactly what used to happen, you’d never hear of them.  Now, they only beat you up, and if you resist, they’ll throw you in jail for five years charged with contempt. Times change.

—Well, this time there was a commotion and even a member of Calle 13[5] protested the ban.

—Which one?  The one that looks retarded?

—No, the other one, the one that doesn’t sing.  The deal is that even they didn’t know how solve the imbroglio when Silvio Rodriguez[6] himself stepped in.

—Jeez! I thought it was the blue unicorn[7]. I was afraid that on top of the giraffe we would now have to deal with Silvio’s little animal.

—So, Silvio showed up saying that what Robertico had done was a great faux pas, but that the punishment should be something else.

—I see, like King Solomon…


—Nah, just spreading the blame equally.

—Or like Cardinal Ortega, who intervened when the government had run out of things to do against the Ladies in White.

—Well, the Cardinal Ortega of UNEAC[8] got the penalty lifted.  He had to announce it himself because for the official media Robertico has never sung.

—See, we agree on something. The Comandante[9]’s words to the intellectuals[10]have been transformed into “With Silvio, everything, without Silvio, nothing.”

—Bueno, ya eso es un cambio importante. Ahora todo radica en que Robertico no deje que lo confundan con la jirafa.

—Why? Because they are going to eat him?

—No, it’s just that he’s not good at taking care of animals.  Look at what happened to the unicorn.

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

18 September 2013

[1] Calabazar is a town south of Havana.

[2] Also known as the Cuban Five.  These are five convicted Cuban spies serving sentences in the United States since 2001.  They were part of a large group called The Wasp Network (Red Avispa).  Twelve were arrested, only 5 pleaded non-guilty.  These are the only ones that the Cuban regime defends.  One of them was released in 2012 after serving his sentence. He renounced his US citizenship, and moved to Cuba. So, The Five are really The Four now, but the Cuban regime has never been good at Math.

[3] The Yuma (el Yuma or la Yuma) is a Cuban slang term for the United States. The origin is murky, but some trace it, unlikely, to the 1957 movie 3:10 to Yuma.

[4] Tribuna Antiimperialista in Spanish.  It is a large stage set up in front of the United States Interest Section in Havana to show state-sanctioned protests against a number of actions by the US.

[5] Puerto Rican hip-hop group and a darling of the dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.  They have performed at the Anti-Imperialist Stage.

[6] Silvio Rodriguez is a famous Cuban singer-songwriter who after a brief period of rebellion in the 1960s, became one of the regime’s official troubadours and later on even a delegate to the National Assembly.  He wrote among many songs, one titled “My Blue Unicorn” dedicated, according to many, to a lost trophy in the shape of a blue unicorn.  It has become his avatar.

[7] See previous.

[8] UNEAC is the official Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba.

[9] Fidel Castro.

[10]“…within the Revolution, everything goes; against the Revolution, nothing.”

The Prosecution Requests Long Sentences for Sonia Garro, her husband Ramon Alejandro Munoz, and Eugenio Hernández / Diario de Cuba

soniaindexCuban prosecutors have requested long prison sentences for Lady in White Sonia Garro Alfonso, her husband the activist Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González and the also dissident Eugenio Hernández Hernández, according to the independent Center for Information Hablemos Press.

 According to statements by Muñoz González from Havana’s prison Combinado del Este where he is being held, the regime has asked for 12 in prison for him, 10 for Garro and 11 for Hernández on charges of “assault, disorderly conduct and attempted murder.”

There are conflicting reports regarding the sentences for these opposition activists.  Other sources within the internal dissidence state 12 years for Garro and 14 for her husband.

Muñoz claimed to have in his hands the document produced by the prosecution on Hernández’s case on which the sentence requests for the other accused also appear.

The three dissents have been remanded in custody since March 2012. If the sentences become true, these would be among the longest imposed on dissidents since the imprisonment of the Group of 75 in the spring of 2003.

Garro and Muñoz were arrested during a violent police operation in which the authorities used Special Troops and rubber bullets.  The Lady in White was injured in one leg.

Muñoz said that the Prosecution accuses her of attacking a female police officer and shouting “Down with Fidel and Raul.” He is accused of throwing a television set at a member of the commando that raided his home.

“That is a lie. That is not true. They arrived shooting into the house.  At no moment did we injure anyone.  We were the injured,” replied Muñoz.

“[They did] Not prove that there was (a murder) attempt.  There was an attempt, but from them on us. The only murderers here are the Castro brothers,” he said.

He reckoned that the requests for long sentences show that “they (the rulers) will never forgive the fact that there are men that fight for Cuba’s freedom.”

“The dictatorship has retaliated against peaceful fighters, defenders of human rights […] I think this is one of the greatest injustices against the opposition in the last few years,” said Muñoz.

“We are fighters, and we will continue to be, no matter how long we are in prison,” he assured us.

During the year and a half that they have spent in prison, both Muñoz and Garro have been the victims of beatings and other punishments by the authorities and by common prisoners egged on by the former. Both have passed through punishment cells.

Last month, the Lady in White received a beating by four prison guards that were subsequently suspended.

Activists and relatives have requested in numerous occasions, to no avail, that they be declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez

From Diario de Cuba

17 September 2013