It happened on Wednesday night, they told me yesterday, June 22nd, and I give this alert because I do not know what other incident might happen today, which marks five months since the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo.
It started when Caridad Caballero Batista and Mariblanca Avila were in a car headed for Banes to meet with other friends and the family of Reina Luise, mother of the martyr of our generation, Orlando Zapata Tamayo.
Cari tells the story: Two days before the 23rd we went to help Reina make arrangements at Zapata’s grave and to attend on the 23rd and pay tribute at the end of five months, but we couldn’t reach the family’s house. They stopped the car when it came to Banes. Several policemen ordered us out. I asked why, but there was no answer, just another order, “Get out!” We continued to refuse and told them to explain before all the passengers why they were ordering us to get out. No answer. They attacked Mariblanca and several others and me. They grabbed us, pulled on us, and forced us out of the car. They dragged us along the dusty road and put us into the police car a few yards away. Then they took us down the road to Holguín, but further away to a dark, isolated place and detained us for hours. We were left locked in the car, and when I tried to get my phone to notify family, they saw me. They returned to the car. A new flurry of punches. I have bruises on my breasts and arms because they beat those parts of the body covered by clothing and that generally do not show in public. Then they left and did not stop until we reached the headquarters of Holguin. There I lost sight of Mariblanca. I don’t know if they returned her to her home town, Velazco, or if they kept her in jail. After midnight they returned me to my house. In the morning two policemen were standing guard at my door. They say that even after the 27th I cannot leave. And I know that if I do they will drag me back again to the filthy cell at the G2 operational headquarters.
From Banes, Reina Luisa told me a few hours ago: “Today we went to paint the grave of my son and prepare everything in the cemetery for the 23rd, to bring flowers, pray for his soul, and say there ZAPATA LIVES! ZAPATA LIVES! ZAPATA LIVES!
I do not know if they will stop me from praying at the grave of my martyred son. Here in Banes they have arrested those attempting to come to my house. Everyone be alert because what @reinaozt needs most is solidarity.”
From Holguin I offer this, my solidarity. It is the only option left to those of us who live in the interior of the island, where no microphones or foreign journalists show up to witness the ordeal that Reina Luisa lives through every Sunday and every 23rd.
Translated by: Tomás A.
After being released on parole and hustled off to Spain with a dozen political prisoners of conscience from the cause of the 75 of the Black Spring of 2003, along with their families, and to my right and left Oleivys and Jimmy, my wife and son, I am finally writing my first lines for the blog, “Voices Behind the Bars.” I have reiterated to the press and to my friends that this blog is healthier than ever.
Today, God has allowed me to fulfill my long overdue dream, held during seven long, hard years of captivity as a result of the hatred and intolerance of a system of government that curtails, day after day, the rights of all Cubans, crushing without pity the slightest vestige of disobedience. I am writing these lines from the modest premises of the Spanish Red Cross in hospitable Málaga, using the same method as always, a pen and a notebook — accessories of my conscience — as it is still too soon to be able to count on a computer. I look at the horizon and repeatedly ask myself in silence: Is this a dream or reality?
A tear runs slowly down my face remembering that two days ago I was able, on his 12th birthday, to give my only son the first look, the first kiss, the hug denied for seven years. Happy Birthday my son, I love you so much! “Thank you Papa, I love you too, a lot a lot a lot,” he answered. Seconds later, the most important person in our lives joined us in a familial embrace. Oleivys was crying too.
The day could not have ended better. I chatted with my colleague and compatriot Mabel Fajardo Roig, living here in Spain and working as a correspondent for WQBA. Unconsciously glancing at my watch, I realized it was past midnight. Listening to Willy Chirino on my MP4 player I fell fast asleep hugging Jimmie. Before, I asked God may no other human being ever have to live a story like mine. But this is something very hard to avoid.
Pablo Pacheco Ávila
Former political prisoner of the cause of the 75
The release of 52 political prisoners, who had been sentenced in 2003 to between 6 and 28 years, caused joy on the one hand, and skepticism on the other. The Archbishop of Havana issued a communique, and Miguel Angel Moratinos, Foreign Minister of Spain, gave statements to the press. What is missing is the official government announcement on the matter. Clearly the scenario remains shadowy.
According to Moratinos, there is no reason to continue Europe’s “common position” after the releases. He said he felt satisfaction from “the possibility of definitively settling the question of the prisoners,” when in fact this resolves only a circumstantial situation. The issue of human rights on the island is not summed up by the release of political prisoners. Not at all.
This demonstrates some naivety by the Foreign Minister of Spain. Or perhaps he is only concerned with resolving the most immediate problem, which benefits only the government of the island. So far the existing leadership has made no public commitment and has given no assurance of compliance.
It is no secret that the Spanish minister requested an extension until September for his European Union counterparts to decide whether to reaffirm or repeal the Common Position, which since 1996 has conditioned its relationship with Cuba to progress in human rights.
Does the future of Cubans not matter? What will happen afterward if the “Common Position” is modified because of this gesture by the Cuban government? This should not be blurred by the release process. I recognize it is a positive step, but it in no way represents an improvement in matters of human rights. Not while laws that criminalize the exercise of freedom of expression and opinion are in force.
Moreover, it is suspicious that a state, constitutionally declared to be secular, issues it orders through the Catholic Church. Even more that a representative of a foreign state becomes spokesman for the government on the island, whose foreign policy is uncompromising on the principle of state sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs.
Translated by: Tomás A.
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Lartiza’s Blog: Laritza’s Laws and Legal Advisor.
Thanks be to God who gave me the gift and my family who helped me to cultivate it, aside from being a teacher, I learned many practical things for life.
The year 1959 arrived, and with it, great changes. I lost my job as a substitute teacher but soon afterwards I started working at the Department of Foreign Trade, where I stayed for fifteen years. Later on I worked at a branch of Foreign Relations and, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I realized it was time to go home and do what I loved and had been doing for free my whole life: arts and crafts. I was already a member of the Association of Artisans and Artists (ACAA) and that is how my professional life started.
My first works were on cold ceramics, later on embossing copper, but this aggressive material destroyed my hands and it was affecting my health, so I had to stop, even though I liked it so much. So I started working on patch-work, that is what I have been working on since 1998. This work has allowed me to have some expositions inside and outside of the country.
The pieces, which I have shown on my posts lately, and which a dear friend has explicitly asked for, are totally handmade. I have specialized in faces and believe me, it entertains me, keeps my mind fresh, my spirit calm and overall it brings food to my table, because even though I have family outside the country, they don’t send me any help, first, because they can’t afford to and second, because I never ask. I feel much happier supporting myself with the work I do with my own hands, and not being a burden on anybody. I rather wish I was able to send them something that would make them happy. Also, with this and other techniques I manufacture cushions, bags, angels, table runners and small cases for eyeglasses, cell phones, etc, which I call fast food because they’re cheap and as soon as I sell them I run to the nearest store to buy food. As you can see, a little bit of everything.
Translated by: Angelica Betancourt
In a previous posting, I had commented on the entrance exams for university education, which this year were a disaster, so a second call was made to compete for places that were not occupied by the kids who passed at the first opportunity. For this second call they gave reviews from May until now. The test should have taken place on Thursday July 15, but when the students arrived in the classroom, the test had been suspended. It soon leaked out that the suspension was due to the questions leaking out. I cannot imagine a bunch of kids executing a robbery Mission Impossible-style; rather I see a tempting wad of money passed with discretion under the table. Do you remember a recent post titled “Explode“?
I managed to sneak into the stairway when the workers went to the dining room to scarf down their lunch. It was the summer of 1992 and the temptation to climb to the cupola of the Capitol was stronger than the “keep out” warning written in red letters. Up above, the cobwebs the structural shoring, and the openings in the molding, alternated with objects covered in dust. From the height I looked down, where a shiny dome marks kilometer zero of the national highway.
Havana’s Capitol has been humiliated by its past, punished for seeming too much like Washington’s and embarrassed for having sheltered — once — the congress. Like a symbol of that republic demonized by the official propaganda, the imposing building has suffered the fate of the castigated. The Academy of Sciences established itself there, filling its spacious interior with partitions, and an ancient museum of stuffed animals located just below the chamber. Several bat colonies camped inside, spraying the walls with their feces and making holes is the decorative embellishments. The nooks and crannies of the facade became the most popular urinal in a several bloc radius.
A few years ago word got around that an Italian millionaire had donated a set of lights for this architectural gem. But by bit the light bulbs burned out and the colossus of stone and marble once again went dark. To the surprise of those who already took for a condemned site, billboards have recently been erected around it announcing the restoration of the majestic building. Hopefully the repairs won’t take longer than the brief years of its construction, and the Capitol will become — one day — the site of the Cuban parliament: a magnificent building that houses real debates.
On July 7, The People’s Provincial Tribunal of Havana responded to the group of independent lawyers who filed suit against the Justice Minister, Maria Esther Reus González.
In the response (which was delayed because of a backlog in the chamber) the judge, Alfaro Guillén, Esq., and the lay judges, Núñez Valdés and Figueredo Ramos, required the members of the Cuban Law Association (AJC), to modify the terms of the judicial petition, within 10 days.
The court found it “improper” for Wilfredo Vallin, Esq., president of the organization, to act in the name and on behalf of a legal entity that is not currently constituted. The notice requires the lawyer bringing the action to proceed in his own name.
The Cuban legal system will not recognize an association that does not appear on the rolls of the Register of Associations. The law provides penalties of incarceration for up to three months against a person enrolled in a non-registered association. The punishment is tripled for the promoters or directors of an illegal association.
For its part, the Law of Associations (Law 54 of December 27, 1985) and its regulations, does not impose any legal formality for creating an association. It is sufficient that interested people form a group to achieve a goal. Then they can ask to be recognized by the state as a legal entity.
The highest court of justice in the capital also ordered that the facts of the complaint be reformulated. It does not accept the term “denial of authorization for Constitution of Association”, considering it inconsistent. It asserts that the Justice Ministry (MINJUS) did not respond to a request for certification.
On April 7, 2009, the AJC asked the Register of Associations of MINJUS to certify that no non-governmental association (NGO) existed in the country with the same name and purpose as the association of attorneys. The document is essential to continue the legal process for setting up the guild.
The state institution did not issue the certification. In March 2010 the group renewed its request and received no response. The lawyers appealed to the Minister, Reus González, raising a complaint for breach of the required legal formalities, which also was ignored.
On June 24, the lawyers filed a complaint with the Second Chamber of the Civil and Provincial Administrative Court in the capital, against the Minister of Justice, for denial of the authorization (by administrative silence) for the legal constitution of the guild.
The legal petition was filed in the Court on June 29, under case number 338 of 2010. It seeks to challenge the decision of the Department of Associations of MINJUS. It is the first time that a dissident organization has brought suit against a government representative.
Translated by: Tomás A.
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Lartiza’s Blog: Laritza’s Laws and Legal Advisor.
It was by chance that I heard the story of this twenty-nine-year-old doctor and her husband, Horacio Piña Borrego, 42, a freelance journalist imprisoned for the cause of 75. As she told me the odyssey of her fate, it was as if she was reading from a chapter of Wuthering Heights. These things don’t happen in real life, I thought, but if they do I have to talk to this woman, I have to report this.
A mutual friend connected us and I decided to call her to hear her testimony. Suyoani’s words pierced my heart and although they say everything is more distant on the phone, when she cried I cried too on the other side of the handset. I didn’t think I would publish an interview but rather that I would tell her story; but after recording it, to convert the life of this girl into my own words seemed a sacrilege.
Part One: Canaleta Prison, Ciego de Avila
Q: How did you meet Horacio in Canaleta prison?
We met for the first time in a punishment cell. It was shocking to me because I wasn’t a doctor in the isolation zone, I was on duty and they sent me to look at Horacio who was feeling ill.
When I entered the corridor there was an incandescent bulb, no sunlight enters there because the windows are blocked with a piece of zinc. It was a huge space, I can’t tell you how big it was — it’s incomparable — there were many small cells, extremely small. And there were five there from the Cause of the 75, [from the Black Spring of 2003]: Raúl Rivero, Ariel Sigler Amaya, Luis Milán Fernández, Pedro Pablo Alvarez and my husband, Horacio Piña.
I remember that Horacio had a headache and high blood pressure. When I saw him through the bars it was extraordinary, from that instant the two of us realized something was going to happen. At that time I never thought we would end up getting married, and we would even have a daughter. But it was magical, I have great faith in these conditions, to get to know a person, fall in love there, and to get married and have a family, it really has to be the work of God.
Q: Why were the five of them in punishment cells?
There was no reason for this, it was where the authorities had put them. These were the punishment cells for common criminals, but also the isolation zone. When they were imprisoned they were put there with those condemned to death and life in prison. Horacio was there for a year and four months.
Q: When did you realize you were falling in love?
At first we were just friends, although from the beginning we identified with each other. On May 13, 2004, we had our first kiss — almost a year after we met — because as he was in the isolation zone we rarely saw each other, only once or twice a month.
In the prison the relationship between the prisoners and the guards and doctors is very difficult, they spoke very badly of him to me. My husband told me many times he wanted to start a conversation but he was afraid of disappointing me, or saying it in the wrong way, or other things given his situation. I also wanted to talk to him, but also was afraid.
It took a long time before we could talk, only when they transferred him to the regular population with the rest of the prisoners could we see each other almost daily and we started our relationship. I took care of the chronically ill and he had various diseases.
Our union was, despite so many adversities, very strong; we never talked about something temporary, on the contrary, we always made plans for the future. We had a lot of problems because there are things you cannot hide: State Security realized that something was wrong, that I was helping not only him but the others as well. They started to watch us, and although they never obtained clear evidence of our relationship, they suspected it. After Raúl Rivero wrote a poem about our story, State Security confiscated it.
Horacio is wonderful, the person I chose to model myself on, I rely on him, he gives me great strength to live and to carry on. There are people who say to me, “How is this possible? You’re a young woman, you have your whole life ahead of you. What are you doing joined to a man sentenced to twenty years?” I simply answer: My husband is worth it.
Q: What were the consequences when they discovered everything? In your personal and professional life, what happened?
They came to look for me in the consulting room — I was just attending to Horacio — five State Security officers came and took me to an office, it all happened in front of him. It was a terrible moment, he knew that something was wrong and said to the officers, “Interrogate me! Leave her alone!”
They pressured me so I would confess. I am a doctor, a civilian employee of MINIT (Ministry of the Interior) and I was finishing my social service, we were nothing more than a man and a woman, they couldn’t accuse me of anything. The tried to intimidate me through my family, they threatened me; they told me they were going to tell my parents.
An officer asked in an interview how it was possible that a doctor, a graduate of the Revolution, could be in love with a terrorist. On that occasion I answered, “It seems that you and I don’t have the same concept of what a terrorist is, Horacio Piña is not a terrorist.”
They transferred me to another MINIT unit, and he was then sent to Pinar del Rio. The last interview in Canaleta was July 18. Horacio was transferred on the morning of August 11 to Combinado del Este and then to Pinar el Rio. That is, he only spent a few days in Ciego de Avila after I was sent to a unit made up of offices with nothing to do with prisoners. They said they didn’t want to lose a doctor, so they made a job swap: a doctor in a school was interested in changing jobs, so she went to MINIT and I went to the school.
Q: So they wouldn’t allow you to continue working in prisons?
No, they knew that, having a relationship with him, I was going to help him. They don’t want, they can’t even imagine, that someone could make things easier for him. There were times of great pressure, there was the day I was waiting for a bus to go to work and at the stop one lady said to another, “There is a doctor with a terrorist in prison here in Canaleta.”
That little designation of “Doctor with Terrorist,” they were ordered to disclose back in my province. For my family it was also very difficult, they called my parents from their jobs. They were very hard times for everyone, including for him, because he felt helpless while I was going through the whole situation.
Q: And your family, how did they react to such pressure?
I have a fantastic family… I can hardly talk about it. In the case of my dad, because my mom is a little bit more quiet, he told me, “If we don’t help you, who will then? You are my daughter.” Remembering this hurts. The day State Security interrogated me, they also interrogated my father. The next morning when I was leaving for work he asked if I wanted him to go with me.
“Daddy, I can go alone,” I said, and he told me,
“Then hold your head high, you have done nothing to be ashamed of.”
And I will always be grateful for this, really I have so much to be thankful for because both of their jobs are related in one way or another to the government, to the system. Another family may not have taken this position. The officials even asked my father why I was still living under his roof and he said,
“No way will she leave this house, she is my daughter and I will support her in everything.”
And so he always has done. It’s been almost seven years and here I am in Pinar del Rio. Despite being so far away they have helped me a lot.
Q: What about people, what attitude have they taken to the defamation? Your coworkers and your friends?
I’ve received the support of many people. Horacio is very sociable and easy to love. The nurses help us a lot and he even stays in contact with people in Canaleta. I told him at that time, “You have eyes in the back of your head,” and he explained himself, saying, “The friendships warn me of dangers, they let me know when someone who is harmful to us is nearby.” State Security hasn’t been able to destroy people’s solidarity, it’s a thorn stuck in their throats and that’s why they won’t let me live in peace. I have always been persecuted, I haven’t had a moment’s tranquility. Here in Pinar del Rio, for example, when I start work somewhere the same thing always happens, at first no one says anything, but later, when we know each other, they confess, “Doctor, I have to say one thing, before you came State Security was here and told us we had to inform on you, about everything you do, when you come and go.”
They have called my parents and pressured them to ask me to come back, they say they will give me a job, locate me in the provincial capital, that nothing will happen to me… They’ve even gone that far.
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Claudia’s Blog: Octavo Cerco – English.
UNDERSTANDING THE CURTAIN AS A TRIUMPH
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Do not talk anymore of Havana. Do not talk any more of Cuba. Do not talk anymore about the Revolution. Do not talk anymore.
As naive intellectuals, especially a Dictionary of grandiloquent words. Some Complete Works with patches of politically perfect paragraphs. An Encyclopedia stuffed with containers of lined paper, fucked.
It’s enough. There has already been enough submissive significance. We will be slightly satisfied with the idea that no more ideas will mediate between lyrical language and sparse reality. We welcome the silence with satisfaction. The lack of grammatical encouragement. We are less. Let us be more. The same period and also, to be consistent with myself, syntactically there should then be a period and full stop.
But Havana persists in plumbing our biographies of soldiers of the pen. But Cuba hardens us daily in a leaderless context. But the Revolution resists at the expense of the poor and fevered imagination of our senile forgetfulness, sociolopsistic to the point of suicide.
We cannot avoid this little formula H-C-R, even as a default. Because, in effect, it was right, as almost always, the most pedestrian political propaganda in the paleohistory of this nation. The experiment was a success.
So that, with so much repetition without giving credit, now we pay the price of supersaturation of such grandiose theater. From so much inhalation of its damp smoke,Havana has turned us into its gifted ventriloquists. From so much insult to or by Cuba, Cuba tracheotomized us. With so much rumination on its rhyming puns, the Revolution recruited us.
So again we type, timid and timorous, without being able to extirpate this tumor of three in our throat: histology more laughable than tired (second century (H-C-R). But, instead of the timeless clack-clack of the keys, what is heard is hypocritical whisper of rotting patriotic bronchi. The discursive madness of a terminal patient. The place of our nationalasthmatic obsessions. The mal-formed and metastatic protest of Havana in Cuba in Revolution.
These fossil symphonies speak today the name of our paraplegic intellectual. A ubiquitous and omniscient jargon. More than the sterile specter of an absolute State, these resonances simulate the hollow echo of God. Cynical and sentimental that they are.
Hangar Havana landing with a death rattle.
Cuba without clinical cure, a case already chronic.
Revolution in resurrection at the humiliating hour of say no more about Havana. Speak no more of Cuba. Say nothing more of the Revolution. Do not talk anymore. This full stop, even being an inconsistency with your, syntactically becomes then a full stop.
On this island where even the news circulates of contraband, we have been witnessing a kind of spiritual mass that has brought back to the public sphere the political specter of the ex-president, Mr. F. It is no coincidence that so many public appearances have taken place following the start of the release of the political prisoners of the Black Spring who are still in the regime’s prisons, and while Guillermo Fariñas was making news in the most prominent of the international media. We know that the arrogant vanity of F. could not bear to be so overwhelmingly displaced and, given that he hasn’t forgotten any of his old tricks, he decided to exploit the sensationalism of his image as a nomadic ghost and the eternal “Head of State” who puts aside his useless little brother to take the reins of power in his own “efficient” hands. But I suspect that there is something more that we don’t know behind these renewed histrionics; something sordid, twisted and definitely dark, so we will have to follow the signals in the same way naturalists detect the creatures of the forest by following their excreta. Particularly now that the classic incoherent babbling of his newspaper column, <em>Reflections</em>, has been turned into a free verse version of The Watchtower announcing to us Armageddon, specific dates included. Elderly patients have a tendency to project themselves.
But do not be alarmed, dear readers, this post is not a psychoanalysis of F., to whom my conscience already read the last rights, long ago. It is now only about some legal worries that go around and around in my head and confuse me… Being that I insist on being a citizen in a country where the Constitution is only damp paper, pissed on by those who created it.
So, then, I ask myself: if Mr. F. is no longer the president of Cuba, if he doesn’t occupy any office in the Council of State and only retains that of the First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party (in clear violation of the statutes of that organization, since it has not been ratified because the Congress at which it would need to be “voted on” is eight years behind schedule); I repeat, if he is not legally and officially anyone or anything in this country, by virtue of what authority does he have the right to order specialists to undertake economic research, specialists who, at least in theory, have their own projects to complete as part of their jobs at the institution that supports and pays them? What Latin American country has asked F. for an economic salvation plan, to be developed in just ten days, when it has been precisely this gentleman who has been the successful architect of the economic ruin of Cuba in the last 50 years? How is it possible that he might provide guidance to Cuban diplomatic officials abroad in the management of a war that has erupted only within his own imagination? Where is the Cuban president, who hasn’t said or done a thing, while the founding caudillo of this disaster wanders around trying unsuccessfully to sow terror in the minds of the nation’s people? (Here people are much more frightened of real hunger than of imaginary nuclear conflagrations.)
In short, if we were to be civilized and respect our own laws, following the discourse they’ve been stuffing us with, they should take legal action against this impostor who usurps the powers of our legitimate President, democratically ratified in that responsibility by the National Assembly of People’s Power in 2008. We must prosecute this saboteur who goes along creating instability in the institutions, alterations in the labor discipline of our workers (the National Aquarium does not work at night), and fostering a climate of panic among the people by announcing the end of the world for this coming August 8, just when working people should be enjoying a well deserved rest.
To comment on this post, please visit:
Miriam’s Blog: Sin Evasion / Without Evasion.
Link to Spanish post with the other pages of the documents.
This post is entirely made up of the images of an 8-page report plus an order for a hearing on Yamil’s case within ten days. It is doubtful we can find someone to translate this, but briefly, it appears to be VERY GOOD NEWS. As a result, Yamil has partially abandoned his hunger strike and is eating yogurt, as reported on his Twitter account here. It is not the nature of our translation project to express our own opinions in other people’s blogs, but in this case… it’s time to break the rules: Hopefully, Yamil will soon be a free man!
Here in my small planet, it hasn’t exactly been the wind which has taken everything–or almost everything–away. It seems to be the work of a crazed tornado. And what remains is in such a poor state that it is nearly unsalvageable.
In 1897 Cuban cinema took its first baby steps. Along with its appearance, the first posters were born, then handmade on small printing presses, and photography was also developing. Then movie theaters quickly started appearing, receiving us on their doorsteps with flashy posters or photographs, which gave us an idea what was going to be projected inside. It was a clear invitation to enter. Cinemania was happily taking hold of most of us.
In 1959, we already had more than one hundred thirty movie houses, many of them very modern and comfortable, like the Warner Theater (later called Radiocentro, now renamed Yara), the America (also a live theater), Acapulco, Riviera, Los Angeles, Payret, Miramar, La Rampa, etc. etc. etc. All this, to the delight of about a million people who lived in the capital at that time. We also had three modern drive-ins. Moviegoers had to run to see the more than four weekly releases that were shown.
Half a century later, with almost two million people, only a dozen theaters are operating, most of them in an advanced state of disrepair. Neglect turned many of them into ruins, others have become shelters for various families. Each year, except for the month of the Film Festival, there are fewer options – the films shown are old and many of them have already been seen on television. The wind can still take away what little remains, if nothing is done to stop it.
Translated by: Joe Malda and Tomás A.