14ymedio, Havana, November 12 2019 — The non-governmental organization Cuba Archive has categorized the visit of the Spanish royals, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Havana together with “the representatives of the regime” that for decades “has usurped the sovereignty of the Cuban people,”as “shameful real amnesia” in a statement released on Monday.
A few hours before the plane carrying the Spanish royals landed in the Cuban capital to begin their state visit, Cuba Archive warned that the government of the island “has committed crimes against its people and deployed violence against many other peoples.”
“The royals will visit the Loma de San Juan in Santiago de Cuba to honor the Spaniards who fell in the Spanish-American War of 1898,” the text details. “However, the program does not mention the 71 Cubans shot there on January 12, 1959 by direct order of Raul Castro.”
The Miami-based NGO explains that in January 1959, after Fulgencio Batista fled the country, members of his regime’s police and armed forces “were subjected to a summary ’trial’ (circus) without defense lawyers or evidence. “That same morning, they were taken in trucks to the Loma de San Juan and lined up in pairs, shot in front of a newly dug grave.”
The statement adds that this shooting left “loved ones devastated and many orphans. The massacre was ordered to sow terror in Cuba.”
Cuba Archive also says that “there is no act to remember the Spanish victims of the Cuban dictatorship,” in Felipe IV and Letizia’s program, which lists at least nine names but warns that “it is thought that there are many more.”
The document also includes five names of Spanish-Cubans who “fell in combat against the dictatorship in the province of Las Villas.”
On the other hand, on Monday the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) published a letter in which its members expressed concern that the royal visit will be interpreted as a gesture of approval “to the communist regime of the only party that we have suffered for sixty years on the island, and is in frontal opposition to the values of freedom, plurality and reconciliation that made Spain overcome its last period of dictatorship.”
In the letter, the activists detail the case of José Daniel Ferrer, the leader of Unpacu, who has been in custody since October 1st. They made a humanitarian request to the royals to intercede for his release and recall that, in 2003, he was part of the group of 75 opponents prosecuted during the Black Spring.
The signatories of the letter warn that a gesture of that sort made by the royals “would represent a very important contribution for the present and future of Cuba.” Among the signatories are the wife of the opposition leader, Nelva Ortega Tamayo, and his brother, Luis Enrique Ferrer.
Last week, Unpacu issued a statement recounting Ferrer’s encounter with his family in the Aguadores prison in the province of Santiago de Cuba. According to the document, although the meeting lasted only five minutes, the dissident mentioned everything that he has experienced in prison the last month “very hastily.”
The visit ended when Ferrer “tore apart the prison uniform that had been forcibly put on him, at which point the family was able to examine the signs of torture all over his body,” the text states. The dissident leader also said that he is forced to live in the same cell with another prisoner who beats him every time he protests.
Amnesty International sent a letter to King Philip VI, asking him, in his bilateral meetings with the Cuban authorities, to take an interest in the dissident.
Translated by: Rafael Osorio
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.