Laritza Diversent Petitions Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Behalf of Cubans Detained on July 11 / Cubalex

Laritza Diversent

Dear Commission Members:

My name is Laritza Diversent. I am the director of Cubalex.

Working in collaboration with the group Justicia 11J [11 July], we have recorded the detentions of 1,130 people since July 11, 572 of whom remain incarcerated. Several people who have been released report incidents of torture and mistreatment including beatings, verbal assaults, threats of sexual violence and the use of dogs to intimidate prisoners. They were forced to undress and shout slogans in support of the Cuban revolution such as “Viva Fidel” and “Viva Diaz-Canel.”

According to our records, at least thirty-three have contracted Covid-19 since being imprisoned due to deplorable sanitary conditions and overcrowding in jail cells. We are concerned for those detainees with chronic illnesses, such as HIV, who have reported being denied access to medication. We draw your attention to the situation of five people with disabilities, who require regular psychiatric treatment.

Several of the protesters were temporarily subjected to enforced disappearance. Cubalex is aware of forty people about whom the authorities have declined to provide information as to where they were being detained. We have learned of twelve cases in which courts never issued rulings on this serious violation, a practice which is systemic in Cuba and that must be monitored to prevent it from becoming more common and acute.

We are concerned about the invisibility of certain vulnerable social groups who lack information of the status of those being detained and the their family members who are afraid to come forward. Although some of these groups are not the most representative, the repression against them has been disproportionate so as to have a deterrent continue reading

effect on their communities. We note that belonging to civil society groups perceived as critical of the government has been a decisive factor in filing criminal charges that carry severe sentences.

We are concerned about the effects of detention on youths and adolescents. At least 326 are between the ages of 14 and 30. There are 159 who remain behind bars, including two minors under the age of 16 who are in correctional centers. There are eight between the ages of 16 and 18 who are still incarcerated. In these cases, the State has failed to comply with its obligation to apply the standards on justice as they apply to minors.

We have recorded detentions of thirteen people between the ages of 60 and 75, six of whom remain incarcerated, among them the political activists Carlos Manuel Pupo Rodriguez and Felix Navarro, ages sixty-seven and sixty-eight respectively.

We have recorded detentions of 185 women, sixty-one of whom remain incarcerated. We draw your attention to the plight of single mothers whose family situations have not been taken into account, especially those situations in which minors or other relatives depend on these women for special care.

According to data we have obtained, of the cases involving people of African descendant, 24% of detainees were released from prison compared to 40% of white detainees. There are five people who have real or perceived [non-traditional] sexual orientations and/or diverse gender identities.

Equally concerning is the treatment on journalists covering the protests, who were attacked in an attempt to restrict the flow of information. Assaults were reported on eighteen journalists — five women and thirteen men — from eight independent media outlets in several provinces. Most of those who have been released are under ongoing, illegal house arrest, a situation made worse by selective and deliberate denial of access to internet services.

Lastly, we draw your attention to the statutory framework adopted by the government to limit freedom of expression on digital platforms. Legal Decree No. 35, which took effect in response following the July 11 protests, imposes massive restrictions on internet access and forces operators and providers of public telecommunication services to monitor content on their sites. Under these regulations, live broadcast of demonstrations and online calls for public protests can be treated as harmful dissemination, cyber-terrorism, cyber-warfare and social subversion. Thank you.

The article “Laritza Diversent Petitions Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Behalf of Cubans Detained on July 11” was first published on Cubalex.

Cuba’s Decree-Law 35/21 is Incompatible with International Standards / Cubalex

(There are no subtitles for this video. Our apologies.)

Presented by Laritza Diversent, Director of Cubalex, for the Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament on September 6, 2021:

Decree Law 35/21 is incompatible with international standards as it indirectly restricts freedom of opinion and expression in the digital context and promotes discrimination based on political opinion or that of another nature and is an assault on the right to equality. Although the State has the right to regular public telecommunication services, in international rights, national sovereignty is not a legitimate motive to restrict the fundamental rights of people subject to its jurisdiction.

These restrictions contradict Articles 8, 40, 41, 47, 54 and 228 in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba and are contrary to the international treaties ratified by the State, which form part of the national legal order and specifically protect freedom of expression. Among these are the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

By virtue of signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, the Cuban State is compelled to protect freedom of expression. Said commitment is confirmed in Article 47 of the Cuban Constitution which recognizes the rights of people to freely develop their personality, and in Article 54, which obliges the State to guarantee freedom of expression, necessary for the enjoyment of human rights, the illegitimate restriction of which assumes a violation of the principles of indivisibility, interdependence and progressiveness of human rights recognized in Article 41.

Read the complete statement [in Spanish] in the following pdf file:

Analisis-DL-35-21-EDITADO

This entry first appeared on Cubalex as “El D-L/21 es una normative incompatible con los estándares internacionales”

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Role of the Judges in the Proceedings Against the July 11 Demonstrators / Cubalex

14ymedio biggerCubalex, 24 September 2021 — In our work of informing and advising Cuban citizens, we share this interview with our lawyer Julio Ferrer about the role of judges in the proceedings against the July 11 demonstrators.

What is the function of a judge in the proceedings that are under investigation, with respect to the guarantees of due process, for example, or the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof?

In the prosecutorial system in Cuba, the judge has no function at all with respect to criminal proceedings during the investigative or charging phase. What I say is evident in that the criminal procedure law of Article 105 (obsolete yet still in effect), establishes that the prosecutor exercises control over the preparatory phase that is carried out by the instructor. In other words, the prosecutor has a monopoly during the investigative phase.

The last paragraph of Article 109 of the law itself entrusts such functions during the investigative phase, exclusively to the prosecutor, by establishing, I quote: “during the processing of the preparatory phase, the prosecutor will also supervise compliance with the law in the execution of the actions, proceedings, and procedures as well as in the legal qualification of the facts, will follow the course of the instruction and when it is necessary it will have the practice of actions and proceedings essential for the verification of the crime, the determination of the author and other essential circumstances or the it will carry out by itself and will ensure respect for the procedural guarantees of the accused, for the protection of the rights of the victim or injured party, for the crime and for the interests of the state and society.” continue reading

From my point of view, such a rule itself creates a conflict of interest, since the prosecutor must not, in strict observance of the guarantees of due process, assume two functions that are totally opposed: representing the interests of the state by taking criminal action against a citizen who allegedly committed a criminal act, while at the same time being the watchman who makes sure that the citizen’s guarantees to due process and the presumption of innocence are observed.

Do judges have legal tools in order to supervise the actions of prosecutors and police officers in the event of abuses or excesses in the exercise of their functions or authority?

As I explained in the answer to the preceding question on the prosecution system in Cuba, the judge has no role whatsoever with respect to criminal proceedings when they are in the investigative or instruction phase, since the prosecutor monitors the investigative phase, judges do not have any legal tool to supervise the actions of prosecutors or police agents in case of abuse or excesses in the exercise of their functions and powers.

It is necessary to clarify that in the prosecution system in Cuba the judges hear the case from the moment they are presented to them by the police or the prosecution in correspondence with the crime that is charged to the accused. Phase of the process in which the judges, that is, the court must control the legality of the actions carried out during the investigative process and if they do not comply with the established legal norms, the case can be returned to the prosecutor so that they can be corrected. granted to the judges by Article 263 of the criminal procedure law. Faculty that as a general rule, judges do not use.

Are judges obliged to respect the Constitution and the international human rights instruments to which Cuba is a party?

Yes, but the obsolete and still in force criminal procedure law does not impose on the judges the duty to carry out a constitutional or conventional control of the cases they process and resolve.

Julio Ferrer

In deciding criminal appeals, can the judges impose a harsher sentence [than the one imposed by the lower court]? 

In criminal law, an ancient principle that has come from Roman law prevails, and that is that the appeal must never be detrimental to whomever intervenes, that is, to the appellant, that is to say that the judges when resolving an appeal, will never do so in a way that aggravates the situation or the sanction imposed on that appellant or recurring sanctioned person. It is necessary to explain in this matter that there is a case in which the appellant’s situation may be aggravated and that is when, in addition to the sanctioned, the prosecutor appeals requesting the aggravation of the sanction imposed on the accused and the prosecutor’s appeal is successful.

We have recently seen prosecutorial petitions in which the victim is a witness and the only evidence to destroy the presumption of innocence of the 11 July protesters, is it correct that the courts (judges) receive cases like this?

It is not illegal or incorrect for the court or the judges that comprise it to receive and admit to processing a criminal proceeding in which the only evidence to destroy the presumption of innocence is the testimony of the victim without further witnesses or other means of proof. Well, it’s not about quantity but quality. In other words, it is possible that this single testimony has such forcefulness and evidentiary quality, capable of destroying the presumption of innocence.

Are the courts in Cuba independent and autonomous?

The courts in Cuba are not autonomous or independent at all, as the president of Uruguay explained at the CELAC conference, despite the fact that the constitution in Articles 148 and 150 provide for it. In reality, the opposite occurs, since the law of the courts in Article 1 establishes that the courts are subordinate to the National Assembly and the Council of State and receive instructions from these bodies through their governing council.

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This is How the Cuban Government Repressed its People on October 10th / Cubalex

Cublex, 11 October 2021 — October 10th, which commemorated the beginning of the battles for Cuban independence in 1868, was converted by the Ministry of the Interior into one of the most repressive days in recent years.

Unlike October 10th of last year, when we documented the arrest of 21 people in Havana, yesterday we documented 29 incidents that resulted in a deployment of MININT agents in several provinces, including Havana, Matanzas, Pinar del Río, Camagüey, and Villa Clara.

Below, we present details of incidents we’ve documented through our monitoring.

Havana (23 incidents, detailed by area below)

Playa (2 incidents)

The police captain showed up at Ariel Maceo’s house to summon him to an interrogation. He was interrogated and threatened. Surveillance of Yunia Figueredo’s home.

Revolution Square (4 incidents)

In their homes, Luz Escobar, Oscar Casanella, Héctor Luis Valdés and Eralidis Frómeta are under surveillance by police operatives and State Security.

Old Havana (1 incident)

Ányelo Troya is besieged and under surveillance in his home.

Boyeros, San Miguel de Padrón and East Havana (11 incidents)

The homes of José Díaz Silva, Juan Lamas Martínez, Anyell Valdés Cruz and Lourdes Esquivel Nieto and the headquarters of MONR on Alamar and San Miguel de Padrón are besieged and under surveillance, a joint operation continue reading

of the police and State Security.

Members of MNOR Tomás, Ramos Rodríguez, Frederit Otero Angueira, Rolando Díaz Silva and Ohauris Rondón Riveros have been arrested.

Osmani Pardo is under surveillance at home.

Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez and his daughter, Leticia Rodríguez Iglesias, both member of Corriente Martiana, are under arrest.

Cotorro (2 incidents)

Manuel de la Cruz is under surveillance at home.

Richard Marchante García was summoned by police to an interrogation scheduled for the following day.

Guanabacoa (1 incident)

The police summoned Yonatan Valdez Vego to an interrogation.

Other locations (1 incident)

Manuel Cuesta Morúa’s home is under surveillance.

All week (3 incidents). Havana: The homes of Iliana Hernández, Carolina Barrero and Camila Acosta are besieged and under surveillance at home.

Matanzas (1 incident)

Cárdenas: Leticia Ramos Herrería is besieged and under surveillance at home.

Pinar del Río (1 incident)

Pinar del Río: Alexeys Blanco was summoned by police to an interrogation after attempting to deliver a letter to authorities in Briones Montoto requesting permission to peacefully march on November 20th.

Camagüey (2 incidents)

Camagüey. State Security summoned Ailex Marcano Fabelo, the mother of a young man detained on July 11th, who uploaded a viral video on social media denouncing the conditions under which her son is being held.

Villa Clara (2 incidents)

Saily González Velázquez is under surveillance at home. The State Security agent on watch threatened a person who recorded him with a cell phone. “It will cost you dearly. You’ll remember me,” he said.

Santa Clara. Leidy Laura Hernández and Omar Mena are under surveillance at home.

Así reprimió el gobierno cubano el 10 de octubre, was first published on Cubalex.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Las Tunas Court Accepts Habeas Corpus Petition Prepared by Cubalex for Detained Activists / Cubalex

Cubalex, 29 April 2021 — The Provincial Court of Las Tunas has accepted the special Habeas Corpus petition, presented through legal assistance from Cubalex, in favor of the activists Taimir García, Adrián Góngora and Damián Hechavarría, detained on April 21 after peacefully demonstrating in that eastern city. The court required the police to present the detainees at a public hearing.

The public hearing, which seeks to clarify the facts, will take place on April 29, at 2:00 p.m., at the courthouse.

Cubalex applauds Jorge Luis García Fajardo, Annia Naomi Cortés, Jesús Canales Romero and Luis Fernández Reyna, judges of the judicial body, for working with the independence that their positions require, to comply with the provisions of the law and guarantee due process in this case.

Criminal Court Division One continue reading

Writ Granting Hearing in Habeas Corpus Proceeding

President – Gerardo Peña Canales

Judges –   Jorge Luis García Fajardo, Annia Naomi Cortés, Jesús Canales Romero, Luis Fernández Reyna

In Las Tunas on April 28, 2021

Granting a petition for habeas corpus presented by citizen Holmis Rivas Carmenate in favor of the detainees Taimir García Meriño, Adrián Miguel Góngora Santiesteban and Damián Hechavarría Labrada against the detention carried out by officers of the National Revolutionary Police

Judge Gerardo Peña Canales presiding –

As a result of the proceedings, the Court finds that a habeas corpus procedure has been filed on behalf of the detainees Taimir García Meriño, Adrián Miguel Góngora Santiesteban and Damián Hechavarría Labrada which requests that a hearing be held, seeking their immediate release on the grounds that their arrest and subsequent transfer to the Provincial Investigation Unit of Las Tunas is arbitrary.

Considering that the petition is exercised in the manner prescribed in article 467 et seq. of the Criminal Procedure Law, conforming as required, and according to what is pertinent.

The Court Agrees:

To schedule the date, time and place to hold a hearing for a habeas corpus proceeding.

Requiring the Provincial Instructor who handles the process to present the detainees Taimir García Meriño, Adrián Góngora Santiesteban, and Damián Hechavarría Labrada, to hold the hearing that will be held on April 29, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. in the Provincial Court of Las Tunas, having to submit a written form stating when and the reason for the arrest of these people, the crime charged, the dictated resolutions in effect and the other arguments considered in respect to the denounced violations by the person who presents the process, who must be served with a copy

In the more than 10 years that our organization has been assisting its clients in filing this legal remedy, this is the first time that a court has complied with the country’s rules and respected international standards. We believe that this first step could create a precedent for justice and respect for human rights.

The habeas corpus petition was filed in Court the day after the activists were arrested, when they protested a fine imposed on Hechavarría for selling medicinal plants. The event was broadcast live on Góngora’s Facebook profile and disseminated on social media with expressions of support for the activists. Hours later the altercation was covered on the Cuban TV Newscast. Humberto López described them as “criminals with terrible social behavior” and said that they would be turned over to the authorities.

Cubalex denounces such behavior as violating the principle of presumption of innocence. “When they report it [like this], all the judicial officials begin to prejudge it,” explains lawyer Giselle Morfi.

“In addition, most of the time, due to the inefficiency of the Central Criminal Registry, they don’t prepare a timely update of the record of prior offenses and they also bring that up without it being correct.”

The specialist adds that it also lends itself to confusion and parallel trials regarding prior criminal records because they impose fines that do not leave a record and people assume it is true, and their criminal history expands many times, without having it. “This goes against another important principle, which is the social reintegration of the arrested person. How can someone, who has been portrayed under a high-magnification lens as a criminal, return to their pre-broadcast state, even if they are tried and acquitted? It is unethical for press professionals to participate in this,” concludes the lawyer.

With some 30 habeas corpus proceedings presented by Cubalex to the country’s courts from January through March 2021, this is not the first time that a Court has granted the petition, recognized in Article 96 of the Cuban Constitution and enacted in the Criminal Procedure Law. On February 3, activist Hanoi Morán Dime was released after the Provincial Court of Havana considered the habeas corpus petition drawn up by Cubalex. But on that occasion the judges did not clarify the circumstances of the request or hold a public hearing, as required.

Translated by Tomás A.

CUBALEX Answers Questions From Our Users About the Events and Repression After July 11th / Cubalex

Cubalex, 6 September 2021

Why shouldn’t the July 11 protesters be prosecuted?

The protesters of July 11 cannot be prosecuted for the crime of public disorder, or any other. Firstly, Article 56 (New Constitution of Cuba, 2019) provides that “the rights of assembly, demonstration, and association, for lawful and peaceful purposes, are recognized by the State as long as they are exercised with respect for public order and compliance with the precepts established in the law.”

What is the penalty for the crime of public disorder?

The lawyer adds that the criminal code provides for a prison sentence of from 3 months to a year, for a person who without just cause, in public places, entertainments, or large gatherings, shouts alarms, or utters threats of a common danger. Obviously what happened on July 11 has nothing to do with the crime of public disorder.

The July 11 protesters did not commit a crime, they exercised a right that is recognized in the Constitution. The law conditions the exercise of the right of demonstration to continue reading

what is established in the law.

What is the law that governs the procedure to request permission for or to give notice of a demonstration?

There is no legal rule, therefore no type of crime is designated. The people who came out on July 11 to shout “Freedom,” to demand respect for their rights, were not committing any type of crime. It is also worrying that the people mobilized by Díaz Canel are not being judged. Are they selectively applying this law? Of course! They’re only applying it to those people who demonstrated against the system.

The people who participated in the July 11 protests as counter-protesters, members of the “rapid response brigades,” are not on trial. That’s called selective application of the law – applying it in a discriminatory way according to one’s way of thinking.

Let us not forget that the right to think freely — freedom of conscience, thought, and religion — is an absolute right, which does not admit restrictions even in times of pandemic such as we are in now, or in exceptional situations. I add that Cuba has not declared a state of emergency to restrict human rights.

It is true that it is an epidemiological situation, but if Diaz-Canel called a demonstration days after July 11 in the middle of a pandemic, what is the difference between one and the other? Well, the difference is the selective application of the law, and discrimination when it comes to prosecuting these people for the public interest.

Making an example is what they are doing.

They are seeking that Cuban society, that Cuban citizens, will inhibit themselves from expressing publicly and exercising their rights that are well-recognized by the constitution. All these proceedings against your families and against your friends, are so you in your community will not go back out again to demonstrate, to demand your rights, as recognized in the constitution. And that is why it is necessary to broadcast that “freedom is not requested, it is exercised.” That is what they are punishing, that people have exercised their freedom.

Read more: What to do about arbitrary detentions in Cuba 

Translated by Tomás A.

The Current Status of Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara’s Health / Cubalex

Garotte Vil Performance by Luis Manuel Otera Alcántera (Democratic Spaces)

Cubalex, 10 May 2021 [please note date*] — We present a summary of our report, which you can read in its entirety at this link.

The situation that Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is going through is the result of the unequal relationship between the power of the State and that of the citizen who expresses disagreement with government decisions and demands respect for and the guarantee of fundamental rights.

The State abuses its power, and one example of this is that on May 2, after being on a hunger and thirst strike for a week, Otero Alcántara’s home was raided and he was forcibly transferred to the “General Calixto García” University Hospital, where he has been forced to abandon his strike, based on the medical treatment that was imposed on him, contrary to the Declaration of Malta, which the government claims to respect.

Previously, the State itself had denied on more than one occasion that the strike was real. The denial remains when they allege that Otero has a state of “self-reported voluntary starvation” and, paradoxically, has been confined and incommunicado for 9 days, under the supervision of a “multidisciplinary team that guarantees the recovery of his state of health.” The last note from the Provincial Health Directorate, the only source of partial information available, insists that he has recovered calories and that continue reading

a dermatologist gave him “a treatment,” without explaining which treatment and the reason for it.

The institution violated his right to medical self-determination, by not allowing him to voluntarily choose his admission, treatment, and the doctors who would attend him, functionaries of the State: Dr. Carlos Alberto Martínez Blanco, director of the hospital, deputy to the National Assembly and member of the Council of State, and Dr. Ifrán Martínez Gálvez, deputy director of the hospital, who represents himself as head of the specialized team that attends him personally, and even walks with the patient through the hospital complex, on camera. They also violated his right to informational self-determination when they disseminated the medical results from his clinical record through official media, presumably without his consent.

Currently, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara remains incommunicado and only the official version is known without being able to verify with him or his relatives who have had closer contact, because the government refuses to provide detailed information to the press, to his friends, and to the San Isidro Movement that represents Luis Manuel. Meanwhile, lack of transparency continues to reign in Cuba and the principle of maximum disclosure is violated, by preventing access to information, contrary to international standards for the protection of human rights.

Translated by Tomás A.

*Ed. note: We currently are ’catching up’ on translations of Cubalex and reaching back to earlier months. Please note the dates on these posts.  Thank you.

A Doctor of Law Lies in the Official Media / Cubalex

Cubalex, Laritza Diversent, 2 September 2021 — It is irresponsible (as a professional and as a teacher) for the “Doctor of Legal Sciences” Mayda Goite Pierre to give her opinion on things she doesn’t know about or hasn’t even studied. If silence is bad, a cover-up is worse; her opinions misinform the public and confuse her students.

Ms. Goite, at least take the trouble to read the International Convention against Forced Disappearance that the Cuban State signed and ratified, and is therefore obligated (erga omnes) to follow.

Elements of forced disappearance

1. Deprivation of liberty

2. Direct intervention by state agents or others, with their consent and protection

3. Refusal to acknowledge the arrest and/or to reveal the fate or the whereabouts of the person concerned

MININT (Ministry of the Interior) agents have been committing crimes of forced disappearance before and after 11J (11 July).

Continuous or permanent nature of the enforced disappearance: continue reading

The act of disappearance and its execution

1. It begins with the deprivation of liberty of the person and the subsequent lack of information about the fate of the person;

2. It lasts as long as the person’s whereabouts are not known and the person’s identity is determined with certainty.

Once committed, the crime can be prolonged continuously or permanently until the moment when the fate or the whereabouts of the victim is established.

Forced disappearance is an illegal act that generates multiple and continuous violations of fundamental rights:

not to be arbitrarily detained,

not to be subjected to torture,

to life and to the recognition of legal personality.

Victims who suffer forced disappearance are treated contrary to inherent human dignity while in state custody.

Forced disappearance places the victim in a state of complete defenselessness and involves related crimes: the detained person is in a serious situation of vulnerability and risk of suffering irreparable damage to life and personal integrity due to the mere fact of prolonged separation and coercive isolation, which represents cruel and inhuman treatment.

Although the presentation of a Habeas Corpus petition obliges the courts to carry out judicial supervision of the actions of agents of the PNR (National Revolutionary Police) and State Security, under the guarantee of due process, there are legal obstacles and judicial practices that render this remedy ineffective.

Mrs. Goite, take the trouble to study the records that have been filed in the Provincial Court (I’m sure that you do have access) related to the requests to initiate this procedure and you will find a series of legal obstacles that make the Habeas Corpus petition ineffective, especially because they do not meet the standards that guarantee the protection of people against torture, ill-treatment, and forced disappearances, for the following reasons:

1. The law requires the petitioner for Habeas Corpus to designate “the place where the person is being deprived of it [liberty]; and the [government] authority or its agent, or the official who is maintaining” the deprivation of liberty against the person in whose favor the order of liberty is being requested. This requirement leaves people unprotected against possible forced disappearances, rendering the remedy ineffective.

2. The Criminal Procedure Law does not provide for the possibility of initiating a Habeas Corpus proceeding if a “provisional sentence or  arrest warrant” was issued in the process, which makes this remedy ineffective against arbitrary detentions.

If you follow my recommendation, you will also find judicial practices in the processing of this remedy that violate the fundamental principles that govern the judicial function, those which show the dependence on and complicity of judges with the agents of the Ministry of Interior, whom they are biased in favor of, to the detriment of the fundamental rights of detained persons.

When responding to the petitions presented, the acting judges:

1. Limit themselves to verifying that the documentation required by criminal procedural legislation was presented in the proceedings, without verifying the information provided in the request, and they only accept as valid the version of the authorities responsible for the arrest.

2. They never pronounce on the reasons for detention, violence, or use of force in arrests, incommunicado detention, forced disappearance and the right of access to defense, and they rarely report on transfers and places of detention where the person is held.

3. They almost never agree to hold an oral hearing, which is mandatory, and so they do not check for themselves the whereabouts and condition of the detained person.

4. Most of the time, they declare the petition inadequate and “improper”, arguing that the arrest took place “with all the procedural guarantees and within the established legal bounds.”

Lack of judicial control in the domestic context:

Judges evade their responsibility regarding judicial control of the actions of law enforcement officials and thereby:

1. They do not comply with the application of the law and fundamental principles of rights that govern the judicial function.

2. They favor arbitrariness, abuses of power, and violations of fundamental constitutional rights, especially the right to liberty and personal security.

3. They limit access to justice and fail to comply with the State’s international obligations regarding the prosecution of international crimes such as torture and forced disappearance, which are currently not included in [Cuban] criminal law, despite the fact that Cuba is a party to the respective international treaties.

There can be no doubt that the judges who have heard and denied the habeas corpus petitions presented as a result of 11J, are necessary cooperators in the serious human rights violations committed by agents of the Ministry of the Interior under orders from the political group that controls the State and Government, in order to guarantee their permanence in power, without political alternatives.

Translated by Tomás A.

Detentions and Besieged Activists: No One Can See Luis Manuel Otero / Cubalex

Cubalex, 12 May 2021 [please note date*] — Cubalex monitored acts of harassment against civil society from May 3rd to 9th, as well as government measures taken in the context of the pandemic and events of shortages of products and basic goods. This report also breaks down the selective internet outages that activists and dissidents have suffered, and highlights the threats, attacks, and violations of rights from the official press.

In one week, our organization documented some 15 people who were victims of home confinement. Most of them were surrounded throughout the week to prevent them from reaching the Calixto García hospital where the authorities are keeping Luis Manuel Otero incommunicado. In addition there were also 20 arrests mainly related to the status of Luis Manuel and the impossibility of accessing him.

We also recorded two incidents of violence against women activists at the hands of the police or public officials. In the case of Carolina Barrero, she was stripped and beaten by women agents in the presence of a male officer. Also in Havana, the activist Yeilis Cruz reported having been beaten by the member of the Party’s Central Committee, Humberto López, when she was filming him on the public street. The activist is currently being detained in the 100th and Aldabó prison in Havana, accused of an assault.

Download our weekly monitoring report on the human rights situation on the Island for more details.

Translated by Tomás A.

*Ed. note: We currently are ’catching up’ on translations of Cubalex and reaching back to earlier months. Please note the dates on these posts.  Thank you.

What’s Happened to Luis Manuel Otero Since he was Imprisoned? / Cubalex

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara

Cubalex, 12 May 2021 [please note date*] — On April 25, after suffering constant acts of repression, Luis Manuel Otero made the decision to go on a hunger strike as a protest. On April 30, members of his family reported that he was very weak. On the seventh day of the strike, Luis Manuel Otero declared: “If my body dies, I hope it will continue to be a spark for the freedom of Cuba.”

On May 1st, he was in a precarious state of health when the authorities tried to access his house against his will, as reported on social media. So taking advantage of the early hours of Sunday, May 2, State Security agents entered his home and took him away. He was forcibly hospitalized in the Emergency Center of the General Calixto García University Hospital. Since then he has been isolated and held incommunicado. The only information filtering out about him is what is  allowed by State Security.

In this report we analyze the events begore his hunger strike and what has happened to Otero Alcántara since he was imprisoned.

Translated by Tomás A.

*Ed. note: We currently are ’catching up’ on translations of Cubalex and reaching back to earlier months. Please note the dates on these posts.  Thank you.

Activist Fined for Trying to See Luis Manuel Otero Alcantera / Cubalex

The activist Mario Alberto Hernández Leyva (Courtesy)

Cubalex, 13 May 2021 — The activist Mario Alberto Hernández Leyva of the Opposition Movement for a New Republic was fined yesterday, May 11, for trying to enter the Calixto García hospital to inquire about the health status of Luis Manuel Otero. The activist took with him the response that the Court issued to the Habeas Corpus drafted by Cubalex, following our recommendation, where it was clarified that Otero was not incarcerated against his will, but rather was hospitalized as an ordinary patient.

Not only was he unable to visit the patient, but he was fined for circumventing the security that surrounds Luis Manuel. Mario Alberto was sanctioned under Article 2, subsection h of Decree 141, which specifies that: “Contravening the rules of collective security is subject to a fine and other measures indicated and will be imposed in each case in which: h) security devices to prevent the commission of crimes are destroyed, damaged or disabled, of 100 pesos and the obligation to restore, repair or pay the amount for doing so.” The activist had been arrested along with other members of the Movement on May 3 after trying to corroborate Otero’s state of health in the hospital where he was being kept isolated and incommunicado.

After showing up at the hospital information desk, they were intercepted by State Security agents, who were notified by the hospital’s own employees. They were interrogated, threatened, and told that they were forbidden to go near the hospital. If Luis Manuel Otero is hospitalized voluntarily as an ordinary patient, as the Court has certified, why does this leader of the San Isidro Movement not have access to his phone? Why has each person who has tried to see him ended up fined or detained? Why are such measures applied only to him and his visitors, and not to other patients? What is happening to Luis Manuel Otero? Is he a patient, as the health authorities subordinate to State Security claim, or is he a political prisoner?

Translated by Tomás A.

A Member of the Central Committee Assaults a Woman in Cuba, and She is the One Who is Arrested / Cubalex

Cubalex, 13 May 2021 — On May 8, Yeilis Torres Cruz, a former prosecutor and human rights activist, approached Humberto López, the journalist and member of the Party’s Central Committee, who was on the public street after leaving a rental house in the La Lisa neighborhood of the Coronela, while not in the performance of his official duties, and asked him in a friendly, peaceful manner in a conversational tone of voice, how he was doing, as a form of a greeting, along with another question about his personal life. Humberto López responded by attacking Yeilis and trying to grab her cell phone. This can be seen in the video.

A short time later, Yeilis was shown in another video where she appears with injuries to her face and arms, very nervous and crying, after having had to defend herself from a man who threw her to the ground and took advantage of her plight to try to rip off her cell phone while hitting her in the belly and kicking her arm.

Humberto López touched her genitals while searching for her cell phone, and exposed her buttocks in the middle of the street, a situation that he used to take photos of her half naked, with the intention of disparaging her. Torres Cruz had to go to her house barefoot, because continue reading

her sandals broke trying to flee from the beating that the journalist gave her.

Although State Security agents swarmed her home, she was able to get to the hospital to seek medical help. The doctors acknowledged her injuries, but refused to issue a complete medical report, claiming that they would only do so if requested by the police, after she filed the complaint.

She went to the Police Unit to file a complaint but they refused to accept it.

Yeilis Torres Cruz is currently detained at 100 and Aldabó*, far from her two children, one of them only 6-years-old, for having been officially accused of the crime of assault, after being brutally violated by the State spokesman, Humberto López.

In the last video from her, planned in advance and published today, Yeilis asks the community for support for her family in case the government detained her for political reasons. Which is what happened.

[*a notorious Secret Police torture facility and jail]

Translated by Tomás A.

The Convenience of the Inactivity of the National Assembly / Cubalex

Central Havana Municipal Assembly of People’s Power. Solutions from the Communities. (Screen capture)

Cubalex, Julio Ferrer Esq., 2 September 2021 — “The assembly is not in session, during which time governance is by decree, and the approval of laws in the legislative schedule is still pending. To this we add that the president affirms that the country’s institutional framework is being strengthened and reinforced.”

It is necessary to ask Homero Acosta, Secretary of the Council of State, how is it possible that the Municipal Assembly of Central Habana can meet, yet the National Assembly, the highest legislative body in the country, cannot?

Could it be that Covid-19 only represents a danger for national deputies? Is it not convenient for the Cuban government that the highest legislative body should meet? If it did, it would have no option but to comply with the Legislative Schedule and approve the much-announced and long-awaited laws such as that of the claim, before the courts, for violation of constitutional rights, and of Criminal Procedure, and of the one that should implement the right to peaceful demonstration and protest.

The legislative inactivity of the National Assembly allows the authorities to continue enjoying the state of impunity that they have always enjoyed, especially after July 11, 2021. They continue to apply obsolete legal provisions untempered by continue reading

the new Constitution, as is the case with the archaic Criminal Procedure Law, dating back more than 44 years. This law permits holding summary trials without an appearance by a defense attorney, in outright disregard of what is established in article 95, subsection b, of the Constitution.

In my opinion, believe me I wish I were wrong, the Constitution will continue to be disrespected in Cuba by the very authorities who are responsible for asserting the superiority of that Magna Carta. Cuba continues to be governed by decrees, resolutions, agreements, etc., in a manner less democratic, less inclusive, and less participatory for ordinary citizens. Their opinions are not taken into account in the drafting and editing of these decrees and other normative provisions, issued without being prepared in the Legislative Schedule.

And so the President asserts that in this way the country’s institutionality and the “Socialist State of Law” are strengthened and reinforced. This term, which according to him was embodied in the new Constitution, still waits to be defined or conceptualized: at this point we do not know what the “Socialist State of Law” is.

Translated by Tomás A.

Detentions, Food Shortages and Forced Disappearances: This is How a Week Goes By in Cuba / Cubalex

Cubalex, 25 May 2021 — Cubalex monitored acts of harassment against civil society from May 17 to 23, 2021, as well as related news associated with government measures taken during the pandemic, and instances of shortages of products and basic goods. This report also analyzes the selective internet outages that activists and dissidents have suffered, and highlights accounts from the official press of threats, attacks, and violations of rights.

Our organization corroborated the deterioration of the population’s quality of life, which translates into longer periods of power outages, and worsening shortages of food and basic essentials throughout the country, together with the difficulties to get them, such as long lines, even in MLC (hard-currency) stores.

Seventy events were documented during the week of May 17-23, for a total of 201 events that our organization has monitored during the month of May.

On Tuesday the 18th, State Security and the police detained Maykel Osorbo while he was having lunch at his home, arresting him without a shirt or shoes, and as of the date of this report they have kept him in “forced disappearance,” which constitutes a crime under international law.

May 23rd was the day of greatest impact, although the repression was also evident on May 19 and 20, dates that coincided with the anniversary of the death of José Martí and the founding of the Republic.

We followed up on incidents that occurred in 13 of the country’s 15 provinces; 40% of them occurred in Havana.

You can consult our report for further details.

Translated by Tomás A.

The Cuban Government Will Not Put Up With Dissent (Even From Abroad) / Cubalex

Cubalex, 20 May 2021 — Cubalex monitored acts of harassment against civil society from May 10 to 16, 2021, as well as related news associated with government measures taken during the pandemic, and instances of shortages of products and basic goods. This report also analyzes the selective internet outages that activists and dissidents have suffered, and highlights accounts from the official press of threats, attacks, and violations of rights.

There has been a deterioration in basic living conditions of the population. Electric power outages have begun to be reported, the range of products sold in MLC (hard-currency) stores has increased, and the frequency of transport between Havana and the provinces has decreased. At the same time, the reported cases of Covid-19 and the difficulties in acquiring food continue to increase.

In one week, our organization documented 35 incidents of repression, including acts of repudiation, home confinement, and arrests; which affected 53 people, 16 of them women.

One of them was the activist Yeilis Cruz who is detained at the 100th and Aldabó station, accused of an attack, after filming the television presenter Humberto López on the street. López himself, director of the program “Hacemos Cuba” (We Make Cuba), presented on this program continue reading

a series of laws, including Law 88, under which 75 journalists were imprisoned in the 2003 Black Spring. A  lawyer on his show once again threatened maximum penalties for those who disagree with the government. In addition, the guest spoke of the possibility of trying in absentia or extraditing Cubans who are outside the country who finance, cooperate with or coordinate activities that the country considers to be crimes.

Of the events monitored by Cubalex, 63.3% occurred in Havana, and one part related to the state of isolation in which they are keeping Luis Manuel Otero. Several activists who tried to get to the hospital to inquire about him were arrested, including Adrián Curuneaux, a member of the Opposition Movement for a New Republic (MONR), who is still imprisoned for this reason.

You can read all the details in our weekly report.

Translated by Tomás A.