Update and Legal Analysis on the Case of Jailed Rapper Maykel ‘Osorbo’ Castillo / Cubalex

Maykel remained in the middle of the street with his handcuffs hanging from his wrist, an image that has become an icon and evidence of the State’s repression of its citizens.

Cubalex, 3 June 2021 — On May 18 Maykel Castillo was arrested while he was at his house having lunch. They took him away without a shirt or shoes, and for 13 days he was in “forced disappearance.” The people close to him who went to ask about him at the police station were denied information–the police claimed that Castillo was not registered in the system. His whereabouts were unknown until May 31, when it was learned that he had been transferred to 5-y-Medio Prison in Pinar del Río.

During this time neither State Security nor the police released information about Maykel or the reasons for his arrest. The political police even went to his house and seized his cell phones without a search warrant or a record of expropriation.

On April 4, as the musician was about to arrive at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, the police carried out a forced detention, without legal justification and in violation of his right to move freely. After being confined in his home for days by agents of State Security, the San Isidro neighborhood intervened so that they would not take him away, blocking the patrol; Maykel remained in the middle of the street with his handcuffs hanging from his wrist, an image that has become an icon and evidence of the State’s continue reading

repression of its citizens.

According to the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) the act was committed on April 4, 2021, when Maykel Castillo interfered in the action of the police. But it was not until May 18 (44 days later) that he was arrested and transferred to the Investigative Body of the MININT, decreeing the prosecutor’s precautionary measure of provisional imprisonment.

He was transferred on May 31 from Havana to the province of Pinar del Río, without knowing the reasons for his relocation, in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis on the island and scarcity of resources. Being far from his place of residence makes it difficult to have access to his lawyer and his family visits, due to the closure of provinces with Covid-19 restrictions.

It is striking that Cubadebate’s account asserts that the crimes for which he is being prosecuted are: Attack, Public Disorders, and Evasion of Prisoners or Detainees. But when the First Criminal Chamber of the People’s Provincial Court of Havana issued a judicial Resolution on May 24, 2021, it acknowledged that it had carefully examined the Preparatory Phase File 24/21 OEI-DCSE for the crimes of Attack, Resistance, and Contempt. The file was opened almost a month after the event occurred, all of which leaves room for a question: Who is lying, judges Alennis Vázquez Flores, Zamira Narrero Morgado, Greta Bernal Vila, Liliam Portel Gil, and ZeydaTorres Medina or Cubadebate, the official state information medium?

It is important to remember that the IACHR (The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; in Spanish, CIDH), issued a precautionary measure on February 11, 2021 as stated in Resolution 14/2021 in favor of the members of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), among whom is Maykel Castillo. The IACHR asked the Cuban State to adopt the necessary measures to protect their rights against acts of risk attributable to the Cuban authorities themselves and to guarantee that they can carry out their activities as human rights defenders — everything that is being violated by his arrest and submission to an unjustified criminal process.

Translated by Tomás A.

Update on the Transfer to Prison of the Obispo Protesters / Cubalex

Cubalex, 28 May 2021 — The six protesters arrested during the peaceful protest on April 30 on Obispo Street in Old Havana have already been transferred to remote prisons, outside the capital and in different provinces from Pinar del Río to Matanzas.

Yuisán Cancio Vera was transferred to the Pinar del Río provincial penitentiary and Thais Mailén Franco to the Occidente women’s prison in Guatao, on the outskirts of Havana province in the La Lisa municipality, on May 22.

On Friday, May 21, Inti Soto Romero was transferred to the Guanajay prison, in the province of Artemisa, but this was not communicated to his family until the 24th, when they went to visit him at the headquarters of the Department of State Security, Villa Marista.

On May 26, ICLEP (Cuban Institute for Freedom of Speech and Press) announced that Mary Karla Ares González, citizen journalist and member of the Network in Defense of Human Rights, was continue reading

being transferred to the Occidente women’s prison, in Guatao, in La Lisa, as confirmed later by her father to Cubalex.

Another journalist Esteban Rodríguez, a collaborator of ADNCuba media, was transferred to the Valle Grande penitentiary, far from the city, in the La Lisa municipality, on May 26.

Luis Ángel Cuza Alfonso has been transferred to the Combinado del Sur Prison, in Matanzas Province.

Seclusion in other provinces, or far from their place of residence, in this case Havana, in the midst of mobility restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will make it difficult for lawyers and families to access the imprisoned activists, which itself is a form of punishment.

All the protesters face the same charges of public disorder (Article 228) and resistance (Article 159 of the Penal Code), with sentences ranging from 3 months to 5 years imprisonment. Requests to change pretrial confinement measures were rejected by the court.

The lawyer for the protestors has not had access to the files during the preparatory phase. On May 9, an appeal was filed against the denial of habeas corpus issued by the Provincial People’s Court of Havana. The TSJ (Supreme Court of Justice) does not usually respond to urgent appeals.

From Cubalex, we demand the immediate freedom of the Obispo protesters.

Translated by Tomás A.

Activists Transferred to Prison and Others Besieged: Report of a Week in Cuba / Cubalex

Cubalex, 2 June 2021 — Cubalex monitored the acts of harassment against civil society from May 24 to 31, 2021, as well as background news associated with the government measures applied during 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 or profiles related to the government.

During the week, 68 events were recorded, for a total of 269 events that our organization has monitored during the month.

Of the repressive events, 92% were against members of independent civil society and 70 people in total were affected, 28 of them women. Five of Obispo’s protesters were transferred to prison, three were sent to prisons in provinces other than their places of residence, which will make access difficult for their families and lawyers. Meanwhile the reporter Mary Karla Ares, who covered the protest, was released on May 31st, but continues to be under investigation.

Our weekly summary highlights the medical discharge of Luis Manuel Otero, detained and held incommunicado for a month at the Calixto García hospital. The release occured the same day that rapper Maykel Osorbo was transferred to a prison in Pinar del Río. The musician, one of the performers of Patria y Viva, has been in forced disappearance since the 18th.

Here you can consult and download our full report.

Translated by Tomás A.

Cubalex Denounces Discrimination in New MININT Platform / Cubalex

Zanja Police Station (Cubanet)

CUBALEX, 29 June 2021  — Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (MININT) announced the launch of five new services aimed at individuals through its web portal. From Cubalex we observe with concern that:

1. These services can only be accessed from Cuba (the page does not open abroad). This is an example of discrimination and an illegitimate limit of access to personal information. For example, if you started a procedure on the island and then travel, you cannot follow up remotely  on your case, violating the principle of proactive transparency.

2. The information can only be accessed after having created a user account, unjustifiably forcing the subject to enter personal data that violates privacy.

3. The data required, merely for registration, is sensitive information that violates the fundamental right to the protection of personal data of its holders.

4. On the legislative agenda for 2021 is the Decree Law on Protection continue reading

of Personal Data, scheduled for February 2021, but so far the content and scope of the regulation is unknown. The State has failed to meet its own schedule. According to international standards, only name and email should be requested for this registration. But this page also requests: identity card, volume and folio.

* Cubalex objects that there is information requested that should not be required to create an account and to access personal information held by the State. And that there are no legal or institutional mechanisms for the management and protection of this information, which can lead to serious violations of rights, and impunity for the subjects obliged to safeguard it.

Translated by Tomás A.

An Artist is the Latest Political Prisoner of the Cuban Regime: The Case of Hamlet Lavastida / Cubalex

Hamlet Lavastida’s image on his WhatsApp account.

Cubalex, 30 June 2021 — After spending the first 6 days after his arrival on the island in an isolation center, the artist Hamlet Lavastida, from the 27N [27th November] group, has been jailed in the Villa Marista State Security Investigation Unit. The artist has been under investigation since June 26 on the charge of instigation to commit a crime, file number 42/2021.

According to his friend, the writer Katherine Bisquet, his file is currently in the Attorney General’s Office. The criminal investigator in charge explained to Bisquet that yesterday a second procedural term began, also 72 hours long, pending the Order of the Prosecutor’s response. Lavastida will then be able to appoint a lawyer in the event that the case proceeds. Meanwhile he continues to be interrogated, without legal counsel, due to this investigative procedure.

Regarding this, we denounce the interrogation of Lavastida without the presence of a lawyer to advise him not to incriminate himself, and thus guarantee that he is not subjected to coercion to force him to testify.

This term of 7 days that they have imposed before he can obtain a lawyer is continue reading

a violation of the right to defense and of the Constitution itself.

We point to ARTICLE 95: In criminal proceedings people have the following guarantees, among others:

b) to have legal assistance from the beginning of the process;

c) to be presumed innocent until a final judgment is issued against them;

d) not to be victimized by violence or coercion of any kind to be forced to testify;

e) not to testify against oneself.

“The evidence” for which Hamlet is being investigated is a conversation on the private chat of the 27N group’s Telegram, illegally monitored and disclosed by Humberto López in the National Newscast.

In that (we repeat) private conversation, Hamlet mentions the idea of marking [existing Cuban] banknotes with stamps designed with the acronyms MSI and 27N, in order to extend their brand. “This idea was not followed up as a civic action by the 27N group, and was never made public by any member, including Lavastida,” explains Bisquet. We emphasize that the current Penal Code does not deem the act of writing on or marking bills a crime.

The act of using as evidence private conversations that were published in the media violates ARTICLE 48 of the Constitution: “All persons have the right to the respect of their personal and family privacy, their own image and voice, their honor and personal identity.”

By exposing these confidential chats, the press media, led by the Party, also violated the Privacy of Correspondence guaranteed in article 289 of the Cuban Penal Code. In the event that this crime is committed by “a public official or employee, with abuse of their position, the penalty is deprivation of liberty from six months to two years or a fine of two hundred to five hundred shares*.” Under the Cuban legal framework, it is Humberto, as a member of the Party’s Central Committee, who should answer to the law.

Therefore, our organization emphasizes that this evidence must be excluded for violating the Law of Criminal Procedure and constitutional rights. Section C of Article 95 provides that each person, as a guarantee of legal security, enjoys due process both in the judicial and administrative spheres and, consequently, enjoys the right to offer relevant evidence and request the exclusion of what has been obtained in violation of established law.

Also, having been broadcast in the press means a possible influence on the judges who saw that NTV program (also available online), which can prejudice Lavastida.

As to the crime for which he is being investigated, “instigation to commit a crime,” it was an idea that Lavastida expressed in a closed environment that never came to fruition. A private comment, even one linked to a future commission of a crime, should not be sanctioned if it is not consummated. In law, preparatory acts are generally not sanctioned, unless they are related to crimes against the security of the State.

Cubalex agrees with and shares this fragment of legal analysis published by Katherine Bisquet:

“Article 125 of the Criminal Code recognizes that the act of ’inciting another or others, by word or in writing, PUBLICLY OR PRIVATELY, is punishable as an act preparatory to executing any of the crimes’ included within the title of crimes against the security of the State.

“But if this article were applied to Hamlet’s idea of marking currency, the Cuban authorities would have to charge him with a different crime than Article 202’s Instigation to commit a crime. To apply article 125 to Lavastida they would have to accuse him of one of the crimes designed to protect the security of the Cuban state. And this would confirm that accusing Hamlet of a crime against the security of the State for offering the idea of marking bills with the logos of the civic groups MSI and 27N would be about politically motivated repression.”

Hamlet Lavastida is today a prisoner of conscience.

*Translator’s note: Cuba’s Penal Code sets fines as a number of ’quotas’ or shares, with the value of one share defined in a separate section.  In this way, the value of all fines in the code can be adjusted with a single change.

Translated by Tomás A.

What’s Happened to Human Rights in Cuba During the Pandemic? / Cubalex

Cubalex, 29 June 2021 — During the last two years Cubalex has monitored the epidemiological situation and the restriction of human rights in the context of the pandemic

Our organization concludes that the Cuban State is using the health crisis as a justification for suspending human rights without having declared a State of Emergency, as required by international law. We observed that:

Disproportionate and discriminatory actions against human rights defenders have increased, including: deprivation of liberty, and arbitrary home confinement.

The economic context worsened due to high unemployment rates and has been aggravated with the implementation of the ’ordering task’*. continue reading

They increased repressive measures against non-state sectors to control the high prices of food and basic necessities.

Excessive application of severe fines for carrying out economic activities, especially those related to sale and resale.

In this report we break down some of the violations that the country’s government has committed and feature those affected.

The report — a series of slides — is available in Spanish here.

*Translator’s note: The so-called ’Ordering Task’  (Tarea ordenamiento) is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency; raising prices; raising salaries (but not as much as prices),; opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards; and other actions throughout the Cuban economy. 

Translated by Tomás A.

ARTICLE 19 and CUBALEX Demand the Immediate Freedom of Journalists Detained During the Protests in Cuba

Cuban activist Henry Constantin. (Twitter)

UPDATE July 20, 2021 — In follow-up to the communique that ARTICLE 19 and CUBALEX published on July 16, which stated that as of that date the following people had been detained: Henry Constantin, director of La Hora de Cuba, along with his colleagues Iris Mariño, and Niefe Rigau; Orelvys Cabrera, from Cubanet News; Pedro Luis Hernández, from the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and Press (ICLEP); and Mario Félix Ramírez, from Arbol Invertido. Today we update the situation of these jailed journalists.

At the time of this update, journalists Henry Constantin, Iris Mariño and Niefe Rigau, of La Hora de Cuba, and Orelvys Cabrera, of Cubanet News, remain jailed.

In the case of the director and the collaborators of La Hora de Cuba, ARTICLE 19 contacted Henry Constantin’s relatives, who reported that a writ of habeas corpus was filed with the Camagüey Provincial People’s Court as a result of his arrest. On July 15, the Court declared that the Habeas Corpus proceeding filed on behalf of Henry Constantin, Iris Mariño, and Niefe Rigau was invalid and consequently ordered “that they be kept in custody.” continue reading

The Court found that “the citizens . . . were arrested on July 11 as part of the disturbances caused that day by a group of people, among whom were these citizens, carrying out public disorders in the streets, behaving in an offensive and violent manner by making disrespectful demonstrations and committing aggressive acts by using sticks and stones with which they attacked the people who confronted them, and acting in preventive support it was necessary for the authorities to conduct them to the police stations to carry out various investigations, and in the specific case of the aforementioned citizens, the three were charged in Complaint 10946/2021 with the crime of aggravated public disorder . . . and they are subject to the imposition of the precautionary measure,” which implies that they will be in prison until their case is decided.

It is important to point out that since July 11, the date of their arrest, the three were detained in the Second Police Unit of Camagüey, where they were held incommunicado until the 16th, when they were transferred to the UTI, an infamous site where tortures are carried out against detainees, according to Henry’s family.

The situation of Orelvys Cabrera, a Cubanet News contributor, is similar. According to the story that his family shared with ARTICLE 19, Orelvys was detained by agents of the State Security Department on July 11, while he covering the mass demonstrations in Cárdenas, Matanzas Province. So far the authorities, using the pretext of the pandemic, have not allowed his family to see him.  Nor has his family been informed of the charges against him, and he has no defense lawyer. The only information they have is that he is under investigation by the Department of State Security.

Given these facts, ARTICLE 19 demands that the State of Cuba guarantee fair and impartial judicial processes for the detained journalists and that it investigate any indication of abuse of authority committed by officials of the Executive and Judiciary.

Mexico City / Havana, July 16, 2021 — ARTICLE 19 and Cubalex have documented the arbitrary detention of at least 11 journalists in Cuba following the citizen protests that began on July 11. At the time of this update, 5 have not been released.

Since then, we have been able to observe how the Cuban government criminalizes and attacks protesters, through the excessive and disproportionate use of force – which has resulted in an undetermined number of people injured and detained – and police operations in the homes of journalists and activists, restricting the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly, expression and demonstration, dissemination and access to information.

On July 11, Henry Constantín, Iris Mariño, Niefe Rigau and Mario Félix Ramírez were arrested in Camagüey; Maykel González, in Havana; Niober García and Rolando Rodríguez, in Guantánamo; and Orelvys Cabrera, in Matanzas. The following day, Camila Acosta Rodriguez was arrested in Havana. And, on July 15, Alberto Corzo, in Matanzas, and Pedro Luis Hernández, in Sancti Spíritus, were arrested.

Henry Constantin, director of La Hora de Cuba, along with collaborators Iris Mariño and Niefe Rigau; Orelvys Cabrera, from Cubanet News; Pedro Luis Hernández, of the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and Press (ICLEP) and Mario Félix Ramírez, of Inverted Tree, are still in jail.

Some people who have been attacked already had a history of systematic harassment, such as Camila Acosta, a collaborator with the ABC of Spain and Cubanet News, who is being kept under house arrest after having been released.

An example of the constant siege against the press is the case of Iliana Hernandez, who since April of this year has been under house arrest, unable to go out to carry out journalistic or personal activities. Her situation has been replicated these days with journalists such as María Matienzo, Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho, Katherine Bisquet and Luz Escobar, among others. In addition, it was possible to record the digital attack on the Diario de Cuba site on July 14, which made access to the portal difficult.

Added to these attacks are the imprisonments carried out on April 30 against journalists Mary Karla Ares from Cibercuba and Esteban Rodríguez López from ADN Cuba in the context of the protests in the vicinity of the house of artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who was on a hunger and thirst strike at home but under a sentence of house arrest. Likewise, the journalist Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, detained on June 15, remains deprived of his liberty.

As on other occasions, elements of the National Revolutionary Police, the Anti-Riot Brigades, and the Department of State Security have been identified as perpetrators of the attacks.

Due to this situation, ARTICLE 19 and Cubalex echo the call for dialogue that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, made today for the government of Cuba to immediately release all the persons detained, address protesters’ demands through open dialogues, and respect the rights of individuals to peacefully assemble and exercise freedom of opinion and expression, as well as to fully restore of access to the internet and social media platforms.

Translated by Tomás A.

Cubalex Lawyers Give Their Opinion on Decree-Law 35, Recently Approved by Cuba’s Council of State and Council of Ministers

Cuban protesters on 11 July2021.

CUBLEX, 7 August 2021 — On August 17, Decree-Law No. 35 (DL35) was published in the Official Gazette: “On Telecommunications, Information and Communication Technologies, and the Use of the Radioelectric Spectrum” and Resolution 105 “National Action Model for the response to Cybersecurity incidents.”

What are the implications of these new rules? Do they criminalize freedom of expression on the internet?

Cubalex shares the opinions of our legal team on the matter:

Laritza Diversent: The state is appealing to its sovereignty in order to restrict human rights. This new legal regulation irrationally restricts freedom of expression. National sovereignty cannot be used as a legitimate basis to restrict human rights, according to international standards. Therefore, the Cuban State’s argument for publishing this decree is not based on international law.

If they are going to act within “legal frameworks in accordance with universal practice in telecommunications,” as the decree says, the decree is not consistent with the international conventions they have signed, nor with the services associated with this instrument, because the services have nothing to do with the content of the publications that could be punishable by applying DL35.

The State has to hunt for other resources to protect its services without the need of falling into rules that penalize freedom of expression, especially in social networks, which is the objective of this new censoring decree, and now with special interest as a result of the protests of #11J (11 July 2021).

Julio Ferrer: It’s worth asking the Council of State, which has resumed the practice of issuing decree-laws (one after the other and without the National Assembly of People’s Power meeting), whether Decree-Law 370 is still in force. The recently issued Decree-Law 35 makes no reference to it. They’ve returned to the nefarious practice of promulgating and continue reading

approving a large number of legal rules to regulate the same subject matter. They prefer to rule on the basis of decrees.

Alain Espinosa: Sovereignty is not violated or put at risk by the exercise of rights inherent to human beings. That is the first manipulation, then above that I see violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which establishes the causes that can lead to a restriction of rights, and then expressly establishes a group of them that  can never be restricted.

Giselle Morfi: This is the whip of free speech. It is a rule focused on State Security and not on the rights of citizens. The Law of Transparency and Access to Information was foreseen in June 2021 in the Cuban Legal Calendar; instead this regulation comes out and the only thing it does is censor.

In a preliminary or superficial analysis, just reading the introductory titles of the decree, we are faced with a stamp of prior censorship, which establishes limits that are too broad and abstract and that go against all international standards of human rights related to freedom of expression and the right to information.

Regulating false or fake news as a crime is very dangerous. For example, let’s remember what’s happened in China and Venezuela, where without concrete evidence of actual harm and with discretionary limits left to the authority that applies the norm, they can sanction any person for “cyberterrorism,” directly undermining freedom of expression without any legitimacy. Decree-law 370 is nothing compared to Decree-Law 35.

Laritza Diversent: According to Article 2 of Decree-Law 35, any form of publication on social networks from Cuba within the category of “telecommunications” could be sanctioned with this rule. They don’t stipulate which are the specific contraventions except those that are highly dangerous. Aside from sovereignty and this broad framework that covers any publication on social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook mainly, or even in WhatsApp or Telegram groups, this regulation has complementary legislation that already establishes fines.

From now on we watch with concern that one of the consequences is that arguments from Decree-Law 35 offer the possibility for State institutions to restrict human rights, but we are not only talking about freedom of expression, but also the use of technologies, because there are fines for the importation, use, or possession of certain equipment that today would allow people to have greater access to the Internet. And with it to publish and share more information.

That is, there is not only the part that affects my right to express myself, but it goes further: it would limit the use of devices such as antennas, nano and repeaters that allow greater connectivity on the Island and are essential to exercise the right to information and free expression. They will limit people to consuming the few national television channels and official media, which only broadcast political propaganda. They also prevent the economic development of people who want to expand, grow, or exercise self-employment, since the technological restrictions cut the ability to earn income.

Thus, the State would be justified in continue to persecute other types of economic activities that represent a threat to it. We already see how it constantly carries out operations against certain entrepreneurs such as the so-called “coleros”* for example [people who stand in line for others], in times of pandemic, but there are many other examples in the difficult task of survival of the self-employed in Cuba. One of the questions that we have been asked since the publication of this decree is whether it could be applied retroactively to the protesters of July 11. Laws cannot be applied retroactively, it is a principle of law, only criminal laws can be applied retroactively, as long as it is for the benefit of the accused person.

Alain Espinosa: To the question of whether this and other harmful decrees could be deregistered, we must refer to article 108 of the Constitution that establishes the powers and obligations of the National Assembly and among them is:

e) exercise control of constitutionality. (A subject that has a lot of fabric to cut through in our legislation.)

g) To totally or partially revoke decrees, laws, etc., that contradict the Constitution or the laws. (This is the case with Decree-Law 35 because it is in direct contradiction with article 54 that guarantees freedom of expression).

To this we must add that in Cuba there is no judicial control over  constitutionality — no entity having the last word on declarations of constitutionality for each specific case. And today the new currents of constitutionalism suggest that all the powers and organs of the state are obliged, each in its sphere, to exercise control, not only of constitutionality but also of conventionality [i.e., general acceptance], in direct accordance with international human rights treaties.

Julio Ferrer: Yes, the appropriate legal action against Decree-Law 35 is to urge the Assembly not to ratify it and to declare it unconstitutional.

Cubalex has not been able to unravel all 75 pages of the decree, but for the Hotline on Wednesday the 25th, or the one for tomorrow, August 18, we promise a more in-depth analysis.

The entry “Our lawyers give their opinion on Decree-Law 35, recently approved by the Council of State and the Council of Ministers” was first published in Cubalex.

Translated by Tomás A.

Cubalex’s Analysis of Filmmaker Anyelo Troya’s Case and Sentencing / Cubalex

Cuban photographer and filmmaker Anyelo Troya.

Cubalex, 23 July 2021 — Anyelo Troya’s* summary trial took place on July 19, 2021, and it was done through the legal figure called atestado directo (summary trial without witnesses/evidence).

Troya was the defendant in a kangaroo trial where the most elementary principles of the criminal procedures and due process guarantees were violated.

They had a legal services contract signed prior to the hearing, and still the judges proceeded to judge the photographer without his defense attorney being present.

This trial should be voided for the following reasons:

1-The hearing did not happen in front of an independent judicial branch.

2- Anyelo could not exercise his right to have en effective defense. He was not allowed to have direct communication with his attorney, and his attorney did not have access to any evidence or part continue reading

of the investigation, or the docket filed with the courts. His defense attorney could not represent him during the hearing.

3- The court reached its ruling and issued an oral judgment on July 20, hearing only the evidence provided by the police, which contradicts the principles of equality between the parties and impartiality of the judges.

4- The allegations could not be corroborated since the defendant was not allowed to present evidence.

5- The judges illegally destroyed the premise of “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

6- The judges usurped all parts in the legal process, acting as prosecutors and judges.

This trial violated the public principle, since it did not allowed the attendance of more than one family member during the oral proceedings, preventing citizens’ accountability of judges’ behaviors.

This, along with the isolation of the defendant and the fact the sentencing process was done orally, exposed the secrecy of a process that, by nature, must be public.

The court violated all transparency principles of the process and acted in collusion with the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Police.

The prosecution must ensure compliance with legitimacy of the process from the beginning and it failed to do so.It allowed an individual who did not commit a crime to be charged and sentenced, and it hindered the defendant’s opportunity to make the case for his innocence. Nor did it protect the dignity of the defendant and it colluded with other parties to violate the existing criminal procedural law.

The State denied Anyelo his right to an effective legal remedy before the courts, to protect him against the violation of his constitutional rights, after being arbitrarily and violently arrested.

What did Anyelo do?

He is a photographer and was only taking photos on 11 July 2021, near his house, in the Habana Vieja municipality of Havana, Cuba.

This act is not prohibited by any law. Quite the contrary, is a fundamental human right enshrined in the different international and regional human rights declarations, including the Cuban Constitution: the right to freedom of expression.

It is a key right to be able to guarantee the rest of the individual rights and liberties any human being has, and it includes not being disturbed, being able to investigate, receive and disseminate information and opinions, as well as disseminating them without limitation by any means of expression.

Therefore, his actions were completely legitimate, unlike those of the authorities who can only do what is established by law and cannot exceed their powers, as they did.

Troya’s right to work — as established in Article 64 of the Cuban Constitution — was violated by the authorities.

Given his arbitrary detention, a Habeas Corpus procedure was filed with the courts and it was immediately dismissed by an order issued in the tribunal for crimes against state security, acting as criminal court, based solely on the fact that he was detained under a precautionary measure, ordered by the Centro Habana municipal court, in the case 452 of 2021.

The court reached its verdict in violation of the principle of legitimacy, violating his  constitutional guarantees and his rights inherent to his condition of human being when Anyelo’s statement was rejected and his request to have a hearing to present evidence by his defense attorney was dismissed.

The court dismissed the fact that an arrest record was not immediately issued, did not ruled on the physical violence the defendant was subjected to while in custody, nor regarding the violating of his right to immediate communication with his family (which was denied by the police), or regarding the lack of information on the accusation against him, blindly obeying what was said in a report by the National Revolutionary Police, against which an arbitrary complaint had been filed.

The documents provided by the prosecution and the police were considered sufficient to justify the legality of the detention, when the guarantees of the arrest had been previously breached.

This assessment written by Cubalex on the case of Anyelo Troya, a filmmaker sentenced to one year in jail, was first published on Cubalex.

*Translator’s note: Anyelo Troya is the film-maker, residing in Cuba, who did the portion of the video clip from the song ’Patria y Vida’, turned into the anthem from the #11J (July 11) Cuba uprising.

Translated by: Mailyn Salabarria

Tortured in Prison or on House Arrest: The Life of Cuban Activists / Cubalex

Cubalex, 10 June 2021 — Cubalex monitored acts of harassment against the civil society from June 1 to 6, 2021, as well as news related to government measures taken during the pandemic. This report also breaks down the selective internet outages that activists and dissidents have suffered, and highlights the threats, detentions and illegal subpoenas that members of the civil society have suffered in the past week.

Eighty-seven percent of the repression events recorded were against members of the independent civil society, with a total of sixty people affected, twenty-seven of which were women. One of them, activist Thais Mailén Franco, one of the Obispo protesters and the only woman that remains imprisoned for this event, has not been allowed access to medicine since her arrest last April 30, denounced her husband, Michel Hernandez Corria, who has only been able to talk to her once by phone since her arrest.

Our weekly report highlights another violation against an inmate in Cuba. Political prisoner Virgilio Mantilla Arango is in a punishment cell, handcuffed hand and foot to a pole, for denouncing the tortures and ill-treatment of inmates by jailers at the prison.

The incidents of repression most carried out by state agents were: home detention with permanent surveillance (25.8%), repression of persons deprived of liberty and arbitrary detention (22.6%).

You can consult our report here [in Spanish, but the report contains very clear charts].

Translated by: Rita Ro

Cuban Government Forces Young Men to Join Forces of Repression / Cubalex

Cubalex, 13 July 2021 — The Cuban army is forcing young men (aged 16 to 20), who would have to enlist in mandatory military service, to repress the people.

Imagine that your son is doing military service and they order him to go out in the streets to beat his own family, his people, and if he doesn’t do it, he can be court-martialed, and detained for disobeying an order.

This is what is happening today in Cuba.

Denounce these cases and #contact us at #WA:+1 901-708-0230

Translated by: Rita Ro

People in Cuba Have Been Detained or are Missing for Protesting. Help Us Find Them! / Cubalex

Cubalex, 13 July 2021 — Between July 11 and July 13 at 9:00 am, Cubalex, in collaboration with journalists and activists, started receiving and recording information about detentions or disappearances of 148 people, of which only 12 have been released.

On the 136 people still unaccounted for we can say that:

We are in the process of verifying the status of 81 identified on social media.

It was confirmed that 46 were detained on July 11 and 9 on July 12, most were arrested in their homes or as they were going out.

MISSING PERSONS BY PROVINCE

July 11-12, 2021

We have received reports of detentions or forced disappearances in 12 of the 15 provinces of the country and the Isle of Youth municipality.

Until now we have not received specific information about the number of persons who have been injured or have died.

If you have any information, please contact us here: https://bit.ly/3AX3ERO

Or call: +1 901-708-0230

info@cubalex.org

Translated by: Rita Ro

Report on Government Actions and Repression in Cuba / Cubalex

Central Havana

Cubalex, 13 April 2021. Summary: Coronavirus cases are continuing to increase and the government announces new coronavirus strains in the country. Repression of activists, members of the opposition and journalists continues before the Party Congress

Government actions

April 5th. New measures in Ciego de Avila against increasing number of coronavirus cases. These include restriction on movement starting at 4 pm, closing of all state and private services at 3 pm, and limits on entry and exit of private cars from the province.

April 6th. Díaz-Canel announces on Twitter the enactment of more severe measures to control the health situation. Referring to these measures, in Havana, the PCC First Secretary Antonio Torres called them “decisions of war”.

April 6th. Among the new measures announced by the Cuban government are maintenance of patrols in the main avenues and increasing them in neighbourhoods to guarantee order and compliance with keeping indoors; rigorous implementation of penalties and fines on parents and/or teachers who allow children out into the streets, failure to use a face mask or to comply with social distancing rules; provision of public transport only for prioritised economic or social activities; increasing control of traffic, only permitting the minimum possible movement (only authorised persons); establishing identification of houses and institutions where there are self-isolating persons. They also said that in the coming days they will announce more rigorous measures for Havana. continue reading

April 8th. Jardines del Rey International Airport stays open, receiving Russian tourists.

April 9th. The government of Bayamo decrees 24 hour restriction of movement in 15 areas of the authority, as part of the new measures to fight coronavirus.

Litigation and breaches by the authorities

April 5th. Agent Yoel tried to detain Esteban Rodriguez in the street. Esteban resisted and was violently detained by the police. He was let out about 3 pm, near William Soler Hospital with lesions on his wrists from being handcuffed.

April 5th. State security agents stop children going to a birthday party organised by Luis Manuel Otero. Luis goes out to the corner to give out sweets and is violently detained. He disappeared until the following morning.

April 5th. Along with Manuel Otero, they detain Manuel de la Cruz Pascual, who was dressed as a clown to entertain the children. They took him handcuffed to the Aguilera police station, in the Diez de Octubre district. There they took away his phone, got into his facebook profile, and entered messages, as if from him, against the San Isidro movement, and denigrating comments against himself. They released him about 8 at night. They fined him 3 thousand pesos for “spreading pandemic”, even though Manuel was wearing a mask and and he was arrested just as he was leaving the house, before he could go near anybody.

April 5th. Anyell Valdés, Osmani Pardo, Yasser Castellanos and Verónica Vega, Héctor Luis Valdés, Amaury Pacheco and Iris Ruiz, Jorge Luis Capote, Osmani Pardo, Oscar Casanella, Iliana Hernández, Camila Acosta, Carolina Barrero, María Matienzo and Kirenia Yalit, Abu Dyanah, Tania Bruguera started off their day surrounded by security police.

April 5th. Hector Luis Valdes, who had completed 36 hours of a hunger strike, left his house and was violently arrested. They kept him for an hour sitting in the sun in a patrol car, in the Plaza of the Revolution area, and then they let him go.

April 5th. The activist Kirenia Yalit Nunez is arrested with violence when she was trying to leave her house. They drove her to the police station at El Cerro. She was released  at around 5 in the afternoon.

They detained the journalist Maria Matienzo when she left her house to go to the El Cerro police station to inquire about Kirenia Yalit. They took her to the Zapata station and let her go around 5 pm.

April 5th. Dr. Nelva Ismarays Ortega, Fátima Victoria Ferrer (16 years old) and the activist  Yaniris Popa were arrested when they went to visit the striker Niuvis Biscet, whom they found in a bad state of health. Nelva is the doctor who took on the health care of activists on hunger strike in the UNPACU HQ. Popa was released after a short time and Nelva and Fatima around 8 at night.

April 6th. They arrested AfriK when he left his house to check on the situation with Luis Manuel Otero. He was let go a few hours later.

April 6th. State Security has used the coronavirus to stop Carolina Barrero leaving her house, while the rest of her neighbours could come and go as they liked. Carolina went out to throw out the trash and asked why was that and for that the police arrested her. They took her to the station at Cuba and Chacon, they fined her 3 thousand pesos and then they let her go.

April 6th. State security met with Marina Paz Lavaceno because she received help from UNPACU directed to people in need.

April 7th. Maykel Osorbo reported he had an officer following him around everywhere.

April 7th. State security met with a couple who wrote an article complaining to the government about lack of medicines. They told them they were accused of selling illicit articles to take abroad.

April 7th. The Cuban government attempted to try Barbaro de Cespedes, who, on Good Friday, walked around the streets of Camaguey with a cross which had slogans against the system written on it. They attempted to try him for alleged violations of sanitary measures against coronavirus. “After 8 days in the clink when he was not allowed to make a phone call or be visited by his family or my lawyers, El Patriota de Camaguey (Camaguey Patriot) was let out on house arrest until they finished “the process” they had started.

April 8th. The small children of of two independent journalists of ICLEP in Mayabeque were attacked by other kids, incited by some people who had systematically had a go at their parents for political motives. When they went out to find out what had happened, those people responded by questioning their ideological orientation.

April 8th. Iliana Hernandez, Thais Mailen Franco, Janet Balbuena and Eliecer Romero were arrested, while they were walking down Obispo Street. They were taken to the station at Infanta. They were let out at midnight with fines of 30 pesos for alleged public nuisance. The police damaged Iliana Hernandez’ phone.

April 8th. Oscar Casanella found himself surrounded in his house, being monitored by the head man “Angel” of State Security.

April 8th. State security met the singer El Funky at 1 pm, and at 5 pm no-one had any information about him nor could they contact him. At the Cuba and Chacon police station they threatened to lock him up  and told him that because of his connections with the San Isidro movement, also the fines and detentions he had had, and for being unemployed, they would get a six months control order in which he would have to report to them once a month and they would put a tail on him.

April 8th. They detained Lázaro Alonso and Marlen Alonso, members of the opposition group New Republic , for public disorder. They took them to unit 5 of the PNR (National Revolutionary Police). They released them at 4 pm. They imposed a fine of 2 thousand pesos on Lazaro Alonso for incorrect use of a face mask, and issued Marlen with an official warning.

April 8th. The Special Forces of the Ministry of the Interior and police barged in to the home of the opposition leader Fernando Santana Vega, in Ciego de Avila, and took him away in a violent manner. They also attacked his wife and brother.

April 9th. They threatened Tania Bruguera, Amaury Pacheco and Iris Ruiz, Camila Lobón and Katherine Bisquet, Iliana Hernández, and Luis Manuel Otero with surveillance. Maykep Castillo was also kept under surveillance.

April 9th. They told the activist Raux Denis to present himself that same day at Unit 3 of the PNR in Santa Clara. The reason for the summons was having published in social media a drawing of a Mambi guerrilla with a ’Patria y Vida’ poster. “They threatened my mama, my girlfriend, my family and my brother who is in jail with being beaten up,  and they threatened to kill me in the street,” he reported.

April 9th. On three occasions State Security tried to get the influencer known as El Gato de Cuba [The Cuban Cat] to go with them for an interrogation, but unofficially.

April 9th. Major Edilse Matos summoned Manuel de la Cruz to appear that same day at the El Cotorro police station. When he got there he waited for lieutenant colonel of state security “Camilo”, who interrogated him for 9 hours and threatened him with being jailed.

On Friday the Cuban authorities evacuated an illegal settlement of more than 50 houses which had been put up in Jamaica, in San Jose, Mayabeque.

April 10th. Diasniurka Salcedo tried to leave the house, but a police vehicle pursued her.

April 10th. Iliana Hernandez found herself surrounded by security agents.

April 11th. Homes of AfriK, Luis Manuel Otero, Carolina Barrero, Luz Escobar, and Iliana Hernández were surrounded and monitored.

April 11th. Berta Soler and Angel Moya were detained on leaving the HQ of Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White). They put them in a private car and then let them go, leaving a surveillance operation in the area.

Internet

April 5th. In the morning they cut Fabio Corchado’s internet connection.

April 5th. In the morning, they cut Iliana Hernandez’ data connection and cellphone connection.

April 11th, Two days after removing the siege, they again cut the connection to the HQ of UNPACU in Santiago de Cuba.

April 11th. Various members and people connected with 27N (27 November) woke up to find themselves without telephone or internet service.

Other things

April 6th. The Ministry of Health indicated “the identification in Cuba of 5 variants and 6 mutations of variant 614 (a strain identified from the start of the pandemic in the country), with 4 new strains circulating (initially detected in South Africa, California, USA, the UK, and Wuhan, China) recognised internationally as highly contagious and with high mortality rate.”

April 7th. The Secretary General of the OAS issued a communique expressing concern for the hunger strikers at UNPACU and held the Cuban government responsible for whatever might happen.

April 9th. The Ministry of Health reported the death of 2 children and 2 gravely ill in the neonatal service at Guantanamo hospital, resulting from an adverse reaction to a medicine.

April 9th. Jose Daniel Ferrer stated that the Cuban government removed the siege around the UNPACU office. He wrote in Twitter that two MININT generals and the governor of Santiago de Cuba, Beatriz Johnson, left the place to get in touch with their people.

April 10th. The singer La Diosa de Cuba reported that her friend’s mother was obliged to participate in the test of the Soberana vaccine, under pain of being fined 5 thousand pesos. Responding to the pressure, the lady participated in the study and died after receiving the dose.

Translated by GH

Diaz-Canel vs Ordinary Cubans: Equal Before the Law?

Díaz-Canel appearing on the Roundtable TV show on Cuban State television (pre-pandemic) (Twitter)

Cubalex, Lawyer Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo I myself, Julio Alfredo Ferrer, filed a complaint against President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez with the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic (FGR) for the crime of spreading epidemics. José Luis Reyes Blanco, promoted in August 2019 to FGR prosecutor by the State Council, quoted me and responded verbally.

Reyes Blanco argued that the president’s conduct did not constitute an administrative or contraventional offense nor did it typify the crime of Spreading of Epidemic, because there was no contagion or transmission of the epidemic. In view of the institution representing this criminal figure, according to doctrinal definitions, it was a crime of concrete danger.

Such an argument is an error and an attempt to guarantee impunity to public officials to the detriment of the right to equality and non-discrimination of Cuban citizens. continue reading

Debate of recognized experts on criminal law on the differences between “abstract danger” and “danger”

According to Doctor of Legal Sciences Renén Quirós Pírez, the classification of offenses of danger into “abstract” and “concrete” by Santiago Mir Puig had obscured the issue. He added that Gonzalo Rodríguez Mourullo understood that it was a contradiction to continue talking about abstract danger where there was indeed a concrete danger.

According to Dr. Quirós, the terminological question did not change the concepts. The jurist defined crimes of “concrete” danger as those in which the danger to the good as protected by criminal law is a requirement of the crime itself or one of its constituent elements. He exemplifies it with the following crime from the Cuban Penal Code:

“It is punishable by deprivation of liberty from three months to one year, or a fine of one hundred to three hundred shares*, or both, for: while having the responsibility of the operation of a drinking water supply for the population, for negligence or non-compliance with established standards, damages the quality of the water, endangering the health of the population.” [1].

This crime is of concrete danger, because the standard requires that the person who commits it, either by negligence or non-compliance with established standards, damages the quality of the water.

Crimes of “abstract” danger are those in which the act is punished because the behavior itself is dangerous. It adds, that action or omission is prohibited, because it creates a situation in which it is possible to damage the good, as protected by criminal law. The person driving a vehicle in a state of alcoholic intoxication is punished, even if in such a state he does not run over or injure someone or cause damage [2].

The Danger in the Crime of “Spreading Epidemics”

The Penal Code sanctions with imprisonment of three months to one year or a fine of between 100 and 15 thousand pesos to “in breach of measures or provisions issued by the appropriate health authorities for the prevention and control of communicable diseases and programs or campaigns for the control or eradication of serious or dangerous diseases or epidemics” [3].

On 27 May 2020, the First Criminal Chamber of the Provincial People’s Court of Cienfuegos ratified the one-year and six-month penalty of deprivation of liberty for Keilylli de la Mora Valle for a number of crimes, including the spreading of epidemics.

The Appellate Sentencing Act says “that the crime of spreading epidemics only requires that the perpetrator fails to comply with the measures provided by health authorities for the prevention and control of epidemics, and the prosecutor argued that, “in the case under review the accused actually failed to comply with one of those measures which is the correct, permanent use of a mask when taking to the streets…”

President Díaz-Canel Bermúdez also did not wear the mask correctly or maintain social distancing, when on November 29, 2020 he participated in the rally called “TANGANAZO”in Parque Trillo. He wore a mask like a bib while delivering a short speech, practically on top of the people gathered there.

All, including the highest executive authority of the Cuban nation, broke the measures or provisions issued by the appropriate health authorities in order to confront Covid-19. The Ministry of Public Health established as mandatory the correct use of the mask outside homes or places of residence, and social distancing in all public and private spaces[4].

Following the judgment sustained by the First Criminal Chamber of the Provincial People’s Court of Cienfuegos, regarding the danger in the crime of Spread of Epidemic, the President of the Republic must be held criminally liable in the same way as Keilylli de la Mora Valle, who was imprisoned for less dangerous acts than those committed by Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.

The right to equality before the law

The Public Prosecutor’s Office should seek the same legal treatment that it gave to the President of the Republic, to all those who like De la Mora Valle were punished for the crime of Spreading of Epidemic. It should push forward in favor of these others, the Review procedure before the Supreme Court, by requesting annulment of sanctions and compensating those who were unjustly imprisoned.

In the television program Mesa Redonda (Roundtable) of June 6, 2020, the Attorney General of the Republic, Yamila Peña Ojeda, reported that the spreading of epidemics was one of the criminal conducts associated with the pandemic, and that by then they had referred 1,868 criminal cases to the courts. Rubén Remigio Ferro, President of the Supreme Court, noted that 1,856 people were tried and 1,839 sanctioned for failing to comply with health measures to deal with COVID-19.

This issue is of vital importance to Cubans, especially to those imprisoned for the same crime for which the President of the Republic was exculpated. I take this opportunity to convene all the jurists inside and outside the Island to offer their considerations on the corrupt actions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

[1] Paragraph ch) of Section 1 of Article 194 of the Penal Code

[2] Paragraph a) of Section 1 of Article 181 of the Penal Code

[3] Paragraph 1 of Article 187 of the Penal Code

[4] Paragraphs a) and c) of Section “Tercero” of Resolution 128/2020 of the Ministry of Public Health

*Translator’s note: In Cuban legal codes fines are expressed as “shares.” In this way the definition of a “share” can be changed in one place, and all the fines throughout the code are automatically changed.

Translated by Hombre de Paz

Luis Robles, the Young Man Who Peacefully Protested With a Poster In Havana Vieja Who is Under Arrest / Cubalex

Luis Robles Elizastigui protesting in Havana against the imprisonment of the rapper Denis Solis

Cubalex, 16 December 2020  — On December 5th, Luis Robles Eliazastegui demonstrated in Blvd. San Rafael in central Havana. Various people videoed his protest and also the moment in which police officers arrested him without any opposition or resistance on his part.

According to information we have received he has been held at the State Security headquarters in Havana, known as Villa Marista, accused of disregard of the legally-constituted Authority and of terrorism. In Article 56 of the present Constitution, the state recognises the right to licit and peaceful protest, which does not breach public order and accords with established legal precepts.

The right to protest  is an element of freedom of expression, but in Cuba it is criminalised in relation to those who criticise the government. But, on a discretional basis, the Penal Code considers participation in protests to be an offence against public order if there is infringement of the regulations pertaining to the exercise of such rights. continue reading

To date, there is no law which protects our right to demonstrate. Nor are there legal or administrative procedures for notifying or requesting authorisation for a demonstration, nor legal mechanisms for appealing against decisions to deny permission for a demonstration. While it is clear that the exercise of human rights may be restricted in order to safeguard public order and the general wellbeing of a democratic society, it is not acceptable in international law to impose restrictions on human rights based solely upon motives of discrimination.

Discretionally, and based upon political motives, demonstrations in defence of government ideology are permitted, such as in the case of Trillo Park a few days ago, and this constitutes discrimination institutionalised by political motives.

We would remind the Cuban government that no state or group of people is permitted to undertake or develop activities or take actions intended to suppress any of the rights or liberties recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We demand the immediate release of Luis Robles Eliazasteguis.

Translated by GH