Moratino’s Airplane

There is a lot of speculation these days about the possible release of the political prisoners. The official press, as always — half asleep between growth statistics and old speeches taken from the files — neither confirms nor denies these rumors. A careful reading of the daily paper, Granma, tells us that Spain’s Foreign Minister has arrived on the island to condemn the American blockade, talk about climate change, and to try to get the European Union to abandon its Common Position* against Cuba. If we let ourselves believe what the announcers, with their throaty voices and striped ties, say, nothing is happening here… Or almost nothing. But we all know that in the dark recesses of diplomacy, in the high political terrain woven on the backs of the people, things are moving.

Whispers come and go. In them, the word “liberation” has been stuck to a term with nefarious connotations: “deportation.” “They will go directly from the prisons to the planes,” a gentleman who keeps his ear glued to the radio told me, based on what he hears on the prohibited broadcasts from the North. Forced expatriation, expulsion, exile, has been standard practice to get rid of dissenters. “If you don’t like it, leave,” they tell you from the time you’re small; “Get up and go,” they spit at you if you insist on complaining; “Why’d you come back?” is the greeting if you dare to return and continue to point out what you don’t like. The ability to rid themselves of the inconvenient, the skill to push off the island platform anyone who opposes them, this is a talent in which our leaders are quite adept.

Moratinos would have to have a very large plane to fit all those who obstruct the island’s authoritarians. Not even a jumbo jet could transport all those potentially at risk of going to prison for their ideas or their civil actions. A veritable airline with weekly flights would be necessary to remove all those who don’t agree with the administration of Raul Castro. But, as it turns out, many of us do not want to go. Because the decision to live here or there is something as personal as choosing a partner, or naming a child; it is not permissible that so many Cubans find themselves caught between the walls of prison and the sword of exile. It is immoral to force emigration on those who might be released in the coming days.

One question, simple and logical, jumps out at us with regards to this issue: Wouldn’t it be better if the ones they carried on this plane were “them”?

P.S. A link to the Archbishop’s statement is here.

Translator’s note:
European Union Common Position on Cuba: Adopted in 1996, it makes cooperation with the communist regime conditional on improvements in human rights and political freedom. The text can be read at this link
.

The Shame of Others

Reading the declarations formulated by Dr. Caballero in the newspaper Granma about the  state of health of the dissident Fariñas, and the attention paid to it, I can only feel pain and embarrassment for others.

How is it possible that a gesture as selfless and courageous as the voluntary hunger strike of this dissident, be talked about as if he had just on a whim decided not to eat?

The only thing that Coco has called for all this very long time has been the release of twenty-five prisoners of conscience who are in poor health, and serving sentences passed down some  years ago, simply because they dissent from the regime, and express it publicly.

Did they not think they could have saved all these costs they’re talking about having to incur to try to save the life of Fariñas, by simply agreeing to his fair request?

The life of this citizen, and the responsibility for his imminent death, as he himself expressed today, rests exclusively on the Cuban government.

Distinguished leaders, time is running out!

Exploited

The workers of Ali Bar took exploited people by adulterating the products and prices. Those of the consulate of Spain by selling citizenships. Those of Rio Zaza by stealing from the Treasury and other et ceteras. The high school teachers exploited the students of the high school Comandancia de La Plata by selling exams. Housing inspectors of the Plaza municipality by accepting bribes. A cosmetic surgeon in Ameijeiras Hospital by converting a new bathroom in his house into implants in the operating room. The Party secretary of Havana by influence-peddling … And so on.

The denominator of this conglomeration is corruption. A phenomenon that has metastasized in our country, sometimes facilitated by government figures or government structures, sometimes without the government able to avoid it. The truth is that we have become a people of swindlers,receivers of stolen property and related crimes, because the morality of survival is permissive and semantic trickery disguises a guilty conscience.

Those who steal are said to “fight,” to divert resources is to “resolve.” We will have a democracy when the laws of biology take effect, but it will be difficult to return to people the perception of where evil deeds begin. The laws may be violated not only by taking the bills from someone’s pocket or the application of violence. Those born after 1959 have never known it, though perhaps they heard of it, and understanding what the rule of law is and moral learning will take time.

I’ll know things are progressing when one can purchase milk or cement in the same market at an affordable price relative to incomes.

Good Faith or Bad Intentions?

Written by: Yadaimí Domínguez

Since Monday 14 June, a colonel in the Ministry of the Interior (MINIT) who, according to him, is named Lazaro Martin Diaz, began to visit my brother in the hospital at Combinado del Este. The details of the first conversation they had I will not reveal, given that Jamil gave his word that it would not be published.

Visits of this officer continued. His insistence that my brother should take yogurt, juice, milk or ice cream “seemed” to be his goal, but even so we have our doubts. Not Yamil nor we, his family, have any confidence in the good intentions of the officials of this body. What is this man trying to do with his request? The review of case # 11 / 2008 of the Provincial Court of Havana, which unfairly punished my brother, is a right that any citizen has as a RIGHT in the whole length and breadth of legal science. Meanwhile, unless his demand is met, he does not intend to abandon his peaceful protest.

This Colonel, on presenting himself to Yamil, said he should look on him as a father, and hinted that if he abandoned his position he could be enjoy better prison conditions, and as a citizen of the United States he wouldn’t necessarily have to complete his ten year sentence in Cuba, maybe just five years, when he could be released on probation. What kind of offer is this for a man who should not be punished. What are they trying to hide and what do they fear to extend that attitude to Yamil? I doubt that, at any time, this official has watched over my brother as if he were his son, because a father does not ask a child to pay for a crime he did not commit. A father never asks a son to abandon his word because that is the definition of a man.

On Friday, June 25, the colonel met with Yamil again but this time the “conversation” was much more tense. He said that Yamil’s hostile attitude was not going to break this government. What hostile attitude is this colonel talking about? Who said that demanding a right with good reason and with it justice is an attempt to break the government?

I keep all the paper and digital documents that are filed in the case of Yamil, and all the letters and inquiries we’ve made to the domestic courts since my brother was arbitrarily arrested at an International Port on October 13, 2007. Some of the documents, especially those that express the obvious injustice against Yamil, appear in the Legal Documents section of this blog. Mr. Colonel has not harassed my brother any more. Don’t take advantage of the weakness of the human condition in which Yamil finds himself to achieve his particular purpose.

When you are sure of what you are defending, when you know your rights and assert them above all, when the truth is in your hands, then there is no room for fear or coercion. Let those who lie tremble, let all the liars who defend their positions at any price tremble. The case of Yamil Dominguez is for many one of the major violations of human rights in Cuba in recent times.

Why instead of harassing my brother doesn’t he suggest and order a family visit with him, whom we haven’t seen for a month?

Why doesn’t he take care of the urgent orders for a medication (NUTRICON) so necessary for Yamil but “sold out in the hospital”?

Why, when he has the ability which we know he has, doesn’t he intervene in the streamlining of the review procedures of the case?

With these actions, he would more closely be able to pretend to be a father with a son. You can offer your small contribution to this miscarriage of justice and so achieve your claimed objective of getting Yamil to start eating.

We have walked on the paved roads. We bring trust but then they disappoint us, and we are already tired. Therefore we need to walk carefully. We know that beneath any stone, a toad may be hiding.

Cuba, Born Again!

On the night of June 22, in the Cotorro municipality in Havana, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the coming of the Evangelical church to this country.

At Villa Rosa Baptist Church the different denominations of the town were brought together: Church of God in Christ, God of Prophecy, Assembly of God, The Open Bible, First Pentecostal, Full Gospel Church, Brethren in Christ, Free Baptist and Western Cuba Baptist. Also represented were churches from the cities of Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, Texas, in the United States of America.

It was the Western Cuba Baptist church that started the missionary activity in El Calvario in 1930. And so the pastor of this church gave the sermon. He called for the unite of Christians. For living in harmony with the faith, and firmly defending the unity of the family. And to boldly keep all the good that God has given us.

I remember that in the decade of the seventies the evangelical seminaries were closed and the students were put in forced labor camps. The law of Obligatory Military Service was also established and those who for reasons of their faith refused to take up arms were put in prison.

Therefore it was gratifying to confirm that it works to eliminate the traces of hatred and resentment. The young guides will convey to their congregations a message of peace, love and family unity. They will seek to rescue the values that years of materialistic atheism destroyed.

We know that the struggle for civil rights led by the Rev. Martin Luther King was conceived and developed in the evangelical churches of black communities. These people were brought together by their faith and shared way of life, which enabled them to act as one to fight for full integration into society.

In our country, for decades, they have promoted hatred, violence, and confrontation between people. And so it is commendable to see preachers reclaiming, peacefully and with strength and determination the inherent rights of human beings. To instruct people in education programs and to train people in programs for non-violence forms the future leaders of our community and government.

Request from Guillermo Fariñas Hernández to the Newspaper Granma

Imagen: La redención de Horus, por Luís Trápaga

Taken from the blog Hunger Strike

Request from Guillermo Fariñas Hernández with regards to the interview by Deisy Francis Mexidor, of the newspaper Granma, Saturday, July 3, 2010, with the Chief of Intensive Care at the University of Arnaldo Milián Castro Hospital.

The request was dictated by phone by Guillermo Fariñas to Licet Zamora Carrandi

The journalist Deisy Francis Mexidor intentionally omitted to detail the entire medical team attending Guillermo Fariñas Hernández. It includes: Dr. Armando Caballero López head of Intensive Care and Specialist in the Second Degree, Dr. Elias Becker Garcia, Second Degree Specialist in Nutrition Parenteral, Dr. Luis Alberto Pérez Santos, Second Degree Specialist in Intensive Care, Dr. Mauro López Ortega, Second Degree Specialist in Intensive Care, Dr. Mario Rodríguez Domínguez, Second Degree Specialist in Intensive Care, Dr. Rodolfo Delgado Martínez, Dr. Israel Serra Machado, Dr. Ernesto Fernandez Aspiolea, First Degree Specialist in Intensive Care, Dr. Marcos Castro Alonso, First Degree Specialist in Intensive Care, Dr. Yoniel Rivero Lóbrega , Third Year Resident in Critical Care and Dr . Cartaya Carlos Herrera, who is not part of the medical team because he is fulfilling a mission to Venezuela but on a visit to Cuba he has attended, every morning, the discussions of the medical team with respect to the progress of Guillermo Fariñas, because of his years of experience with the various strikes previously carried out.

Professor Armando Caballero made a slight error because I entered weighing 53 kilograms on March 11, and on occasion have been as high as 69.75 kilograms. All this has been thanks to the nutritionist Dr. Elias Becker, which makes us certain that Orlando Zapata Tamayo was assassinated because had he been given the medical attention that the newspaper Granma reports that I have been given, at this time he would not be deceased.

She omitted explaining the reason for my fast and suggested in the newspaper that it is a suicide and it was not explained to the readers that Guillermo Fariñas has been on a hunger strike since last February 24, demanding parole for 25 of the political prisoners in Cuban prisons as prisoners of conscience because they are in poor health.

I believe that because of my serious condition they have used the humanitarianism of the doctors to prepare the international media for my future death. I am aware of my upcoming death and consider it an honor to try to save the lived of the 25 political prisoners of conscience which our country needs as leaders. The only ones responsible for my future death are the brothers Fidel and Raul Castro. I trust in the medical and paramedic team treating me. That is why I have rejected the various offers that have been made to me to go to other countries. I want to die in my country under the noses of the dictators with their guns, rifles, canons and bombs. I have only the moral standing of a member of the ordinary people, misled and subjugated for 51 years by those who have weapons, violence, totalitarian laws and misgovernment from above.

Guillermo Fariñas Hernández

From an MP4 to Silence

Today could be a special day, and in fact, it is. In addition to the marital pavilion meeting, my unrivaled wife handed me an emotional letter from Sebastian Lebriel, a Dutch television host. I will respond to this letter soon through my blog, Voices Behind the Bars.

Too good to be true, I thought. Thirty minutes after I returned from the pavilion, the functionary from the Order of the Interior of Detachment 3 informed me that I had to accompany him to the room at the entrance of the prison. Something must be wrong, I thought. I completely forgot about the dialogues between the Cuban Catholic church and the government in favor of the Cuban political prisoners. Perhaps these 7 years of captivity and of suffering from the darkest part of humanity activated my intuition. The sense of smell that I have been using these days for the World Cup did not fail me. I was lead to the room of lawyers and was being questioned by none other than the State Security Chief- Agustin- who is in charge of the prisons of Ciego de Avila province. Also present was the infamous Lieutenant Jose Marino, chief of Political Police Operations and main culprit for the pompous searches of my home and the home of Pedro Arguelles Moran on the 18th and 19th of March 2003.

If I say that I was not afraid, I’d be a flat out liar. Just like if I say that I did not foresee something negative coming, I’d be lying to myself. The State Security officials told me that thanks to a diverse range of sources, they knew that I had a digital memory device and that these technologies were strictly prohibited in Cuban jails. They told me that I had to turn it in and that they would be responsible to hand it back to Oleidis. I acceded without a fight, though I must say that such ridiculousness gave rise to an uncontrollable and ironic laughter in me. This apparently surprised the main henchmen.

It is an incredible fact that the international community must know that in the jails of this island video and photo cameras, radios, DVDs, recorders, fans, cell phones, and phones in service for prisoners are all either restricted or constantly monitored. Flash drives, Ipods, MP3s, and MP4s are all prohibited as well.

What is interesting about this story is that I simply use my 4 GB MP4 to listen to music, to play mind challenge games, and to stare at pictures of my beloved family. From today on I will have to do without staring at the one thing that I long for the most from within this wretched place. Such an insignificant thing is capable of worrying the informants of the Investigative Technical Department, Interior Order, Internal Control, and State Security of this detachment B of the provincial prison of Canaletas in Ciego de Avila, especially in galley 43.

It’s quite possible that the culprit of so much denunciations has been observing me for days on end, to inform his employers as they violate basic rights. Perhaps while I record this story the architect of passing on so much valuable information will hear this and applaud it. Their lack of human value leaves a lot of things unanswered. Even so, I’d still help him with whatever I can, but please, I won’t accept that someone will manipulate my intelligence. I am solidary by nature and if I have learned something during these 87 months of captivity it has been to forgive my fellow human beings. Even if so much human misery makes it seem absurd. We must keep in mind that such kinds of men are only pawns of the government and their political game. This is very common in Cuban prisons.

Sebastian Lebriel is right when he says in his letter that it is very terrible that one must live through such an injust struggle in this lifetime. But, my friend, if it is not me, it will be someone else. As long as evil exists in this world there will be men and women determined to fight against it. I do not doubt that one bit.

In addition to being prohibited from freedom, I am also prohibited from entertainment, from listening to music, and from seeing the pictures of my Odeilis and my only son, Jimmy. But it doesn’t matter, this means that I will only have more time now to continue what I dedicate myself to in prison: writing down what my conscience dictates and denouncing the constant violations of human rights in Cuba.

Pablo Pacheco, Prisionero de conciencia

Hunting in Placetas

Agents of State Security in PlacetasAgents of State Security in Placetas

In the early morning hours they arrested Adriano Castaneda Meneses while aboard the Yuton bus on its way back from Sancti Spiritus. He was detained at the entrance of Placetas by a national political police unit. Officer Idel Gonzalez Morfi, aka “Railroad Spike”, did not notice Yordanis and only charged Adriano. When Yordanis got to his house, the dissidents Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Jose Cano Fuentes, Isael Poveda Silva, and Idalmis Nuñez Reinoso were all there. I told Yordanis and the others that “they are going to arrest you for sure.” Since the night before last the chief of the political police has been prowling around my house, and the presence of these titans had them (the police) terrorized. The meeting called by Yris, along with the situation of Coco Fariñas, was more than enough to alarm them.

“He has the message of an arrest on the tip of his tongue,” I insisted to Lobaina, “although Blas would go with you all to the terminal to let me know what happens.” In fact, about ten minutes later my cell phone rang with the message of the arrest. Upon his return, Blas told us that they were waiting for them at the Marti house, they arrested them, and that Idalmis was beaten just for screaming slogans in favor of human rights. That all happened at around 11 AM, but at around 2 PM I got the same text message on my cell, this time from Yordanis’ phone. He said that he was arrested along with them. Rolando, Jose, and Isael were transferred to their Guantanamo province. The next morning Yordani called me to tell me that he had been released along with Adriano. Now, these dissidents from Camagüey, Virgilio Mantilla Arango and Belkis Barbara Portal Prado, are honoring me with their visit. They will most likely be arrested when it is time for them to return. All that can be said is that, as opposed to repression, the solidarity is increasing and becoming stronger.

Translated by Raul G.

The Right of Association

Pedro, a commentator on the site, asked me how a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) could be established in Cuba. I will dedicate several entries to explaining this issue according to Cuban law.

To associate for any lawful purpose is an element of freedom that is protected, in principle, in Article 54 of the Constitution of the Republic, stating that:

“The rights of assembly, demonstration, and association are exercised by manual laborers and intellectual, peasants, women, students and other sectors of the working people for they have the means necessary for such purposes.”

The associations give life to entities with legal personalities distinct from their members. The term is defined as a voluntary group of people pursuing a common purpose, on a non-profit basis. They respond to a form of freedom that corresponds to the exercise of other rights such as speech or petition.

As a recognized human right, this implies the right to form associations, to not be compelled to belong to one, and the right to resign from the association to which you belong. If a public servant interferes in this right, it is a violation.

That is, if they impede the creation of an association, or of someone’s becoming a part of one, without legal grounds to justify it; or, where appropriate, someone consents to it. It is also a violation to force someone to be belong to an association or, conversely, to force someone to leave one.

The right of freedom of association has legal restrictions on its exercise, since the purpose must always be lawful. It is enshrined in international law, and in some cases expanded upon.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrines the right of peaceful assembly as a freedom for all people. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also guarantees it. Children also require this right, as recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Basic principles regarding the role of lawyers establishes their right to freedom of expression, belief, association, and assembly; in particular the right to participate in public discussion of matters relating to legislation, the administration of justice, and the promotion and protection of human rights.

The instrument also emphasizes that lawyers are entitled to form professional associations or to join them in order to represent their interests, promote their continuing education and training and protect their professional integrity.

Marcos D in NYC

Another Crime Committed by the Foreign Minister

Placetas, July 5, 2010

I confess that I am one of those who feel justly scorned by the servile and complicit posture of the Spanish Foreign Minister. I commented sincerely while I was reading the official newspaper, Granma, which took up the task of misinforming us about the situation of our brother hunger striker. That article, I thought, was a ratification of his death sentence. In this very moment, there is one person who can save the life of Coco, and that is Moratinos, when he arrives here on Monday. But today, we Cubans heard on the news on Radio Marti that the Spanish chancellor, Miguel Angel Moratinos, will not be visiting Guillermo Farinas Hernandez. Once again, the feeling of human sensibility and the hope that there would be miracles faded, while this chancellor and his government ratify the conspiracy and also, in my opinion, are complicit in the possible death of this peaceful and courageous Cuban who continues on his mission of giving his life for the freedom of his jailed brothers.

Translated by Raul G.

Guillermo Fariñas in the Newspaper Granma

Saturday’s Granma newspaper featured an extensive interview with the doctor treating Guillermo Fariñas at the hospital in Salnta Clara. I was overwhelmed by so many technicalities. Although the interview does not mention figures, I sense that so much attention could cost a considerable sum of money. Money that could be saved.

The unusual presence of such information in the official media tells me that Fariñas is in critical condition and the defensive posture of the government will focus on showing Fariñas died because of refusing to eat, because the doctors did everything to avoid it. And that is certain, but it is not the truth.

In his hunger strike, Fariñas is not asking anything for himself. Fariñas calls for medical parole of sick prisoners. Prisoners who attacked no barracks, who placed no bombs,  that was bombed, who executed no enemies, who undertook no kidnappings. Inmates who continue to pray to Marti, a man who said: a man who does not dare to say what he thinks is not an honest man.

I have discussed with my family and friends, the impression it makes on me that Fariñas does not want to die but is prepared to die. The cries will come for the  intensification of the media war, and garmets will be rent at such an injustice. But the death of Guillermo Coco Fariñas will be a shadow over the current Cuban president everywhere he goes because he could have avoided it.

Moratinos Wants to Score a Political Goal

Everyone knows that the Spanish Foreign Minister has character. No one doubts that Miguel Angel Moratinos is a diplomat of the old school. Of those who don’t try to sugar coat the pill. A guy who speaks frankly and looks you in the eye.

But on the subject of Cuba he has achieved little. The Cuban government always has managed to fool the Iberian executive. Anyway. Above all the presidents of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE).

They are their favorite targets. The Castros delight in showing up the Spanish socialist leaders as fools. Felipe González knows this well. The Seville attorney always believed that in his game with Fidel Castro he held the winning hand.

The old guerilla, shaken by the collapse of the USSR and suffocated by the lack of hard currency in state coffers, lowered his head and seemed to listen to the political advice of his friend, who invited him to make changes on the island.

In the first change, Castro took off the mask and did the exact opposite of what he’d been counseled to do by the Baron of the PSOE.

I fear that the situation is different now. Not because the Castro brothers want to make a 180 degree turn in the state of things in this country. It happens that in this summer as hot as Africa there are few traps and alternatives left to choose from in the commandante‘s trunk of tricks.

The Castros are up against the wall. The economy raised the white flag a long time ago. After 51 years of authoritarian government, people want a different kind of life. The mandarins have two options: either make the urgent changes that Cuba needs, or lose power in the medium term.

And the throne is pancakes with honey for those who have enjoyed it for half a century. Moratinos does not plan to come in as a bullfighter to deliver the last thrust. No. He plans to come to the rescue. Provide oxygen and a decent way out of the debacle that has engulfed the regime after the death on hunger strike of the opponent Orlando Zapata.

Right now, the psychologist and independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas is on the brink of death after four months without food in a bed Arnaldo Milián Hospital in the province of Villa Clara, 300 kilometers from Havana.

The government can not afford another martyred opponent. Not at this time. Fariñas is demanding the release of 26 prisoners of conscience of the more than 200 found on the island, according to Amnesty International.

The United States, the European Union and half the world have also asked for this. And of course José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Foreign Minister Moratinos. The Castro want the pressure removed. They’re going to toss ballast overboard. They may release a significant number of prisoners. Perhaps all those imprisoned in March 2003.

Although it remains to be seen who will reap the political laurels. America is the permanent enemy. The sullen and impassive European Union has treated the government of Havana rudely in recent years. Then you look at Spain. In the end, it is the one with the key that can unlock the Common Position of the 27 European countries.

Either way, the PSOE is the least of the enemies. And Spain, with its habit of mediating in Cuba’s thorny problems, the perfect actor to score the goal. Moratinos is the man chosen by the Castros to sing the victory song.

Closed societies like Cuba are unpredictable. And it only takes an inappropriate word, an outburst on a bad day for the leaders or for distrust, and everything goes down the tubes.

In authoritarian governments the heart counts for more than reason. Moratinos is about to score a political goal. But he’ll need to keep a sharp eye out to be sure the government doesn’t spring a trap. And he falls out of the game. With the Castros, anything is possible.

Administrative Silence

Parties to cases who exercise the right of appeal can expect their applications to be rejected by administrative silence (negative silence).

Administrative acts that result from administrative silence may be also be asserted before the public administration. They are effective upon the expiration of the final deadline for the issuance and notification of the written decision (or attempted notification), even if one hasn’t been produced, and its existence may be attested by any form of evidence legally admissible, including the certificate attesting it was produced by silence, which can be requested by the competent decision-making body (the court).

The deadlines for filing legal appeals have to be calculated from the expiration of the final deadline for decision and notification, applying the general rules (subject to adjusting the deadlines from the notification of the written decision).

Translated by: Tomás A.