At 71, Moises Leonardo Prosecuted for Promoting Human Rights at the UN

Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez has been accused by the authorities of “clandestine printing.” (Hablemos Press)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 22 February —  Promoting Human Rights and advising civil society groups has cost the activist Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez an accusation from the authorities of “clandestine printing.” After a spectacular police search of his home last Tuesday, and the confiscation of several of his tools of the trade, the opponent was released on Wednesday.

In conversation with 14ymedio, Rodríguez, 71, explained that a State Security official attributed his detention to the advice he has given to eight civil society groups “to submit reports to the [United Nations] Universal Periodic Review (UPR),” which the Cuban Government must pass in May.  Through this system, the international organization evaluates the quality of human rights in its member states.

The activist, coordinator of the Corriente Martiana*, also offered his experience so that a dozen independent organizations can jointly present a report on violations of their rights, which will be part of the documents presented to the UPR.

He explains that, in addition, when asked about the reasons for the search, the agents mentioned the work promoting human rights carried out by Ernesto Guy Perez, focused on teaching and training in the preparation of these reports according to UN standards. “This has annoyed them greatly,” he said.

“On Tuesday after nine o’clock in the morning, six individuals dressed in civilian clothes arrived at my house with a search warrant searching for counter-revolutionary objects and documents,” he told this newspaper.

The activist related how among those who searched his house was an investigator from the Ministry of the Interior, named Iturralde. Two supposed neighbors [as required by law] who live in Cabañas (Artemisa), witnessed the operation. They confiscated “a laptop, a computer tower, a USB stick, a printer and even a blackboard.”

The uniformed agents also took “United Nations documents and others submitted to the Government of Raúl Castro, such as the proposal Para una Cuba Martiana.” The search was so intense that the agents did not hesitate to take even the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, according to Leonardo Rodríguez.

At the end of the search, the activist was taken to Artemisa’s police station along with his youngest daughter and his wife, Ileana de los Ángeles, who accompanied him on a voluntary basis. During the more than 24 hours the detention lasted he refused to drink water, eat, take medications or talk to the agents.

A police investigator assured Rodriguez that they will not return any of the papers found in his house and that he was being prosecuted for the crime of “hiding of printed matter,” which sanctions the preparation or dissemination of publications that do not indicate the place of printing, or that do not specify the identification of their author or their origin.

“They warned me that my eldest daughter, who lives in Havana, could not travel outside the country and that, in my case, I will never travel.” Leticia, his daughter, is also an activist and for the government opponent it is clear that these prohibitions “are issues that State Security imposes outside the law.” Among the illegal actions are threats against his family, something that worries him “extremely.”

The Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner condemned the “illegal arrest” of the activist on his Twitter account. The entity was concerned about a “pattern of short-term arrests” against Cuban activists and the “confiscation of equipment to limit the exercise of fundamental freedoms.”

The crime of “clandestine printing” of which Rodriguez is accused can be punished, according to the Penal Code, with a sentence of “deprivation of liberty from three months to a year” or a fine of 300 CUP.

Earlier this month, four members of the Pro Press Freedom Association were questioned by State Security after sending a report on press freedom to the UN last December. The document includes the pressures, arbitrary arrests and confiscations of tools of the trade against independent journalists during the last year.

*Translator’s note: Corriente Martiana [(José) Martí Current] describes itself as a ’patriotic, humanitarian and cultural organization in service to Cuban civil society.”


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