The Notice With the Commandments / Lilianne Ruiz

1377270257_130807_00071377270258_130807_0008Communication No. 1

Violations of the Rules of Social Coexistence.

Everything seems to indicate that there are members of the administrative council (neighbors) who don’t know the rules of social coexistence, even though the president of the country, Cop. Raul M. Castro Ruz [dedicated] three-quarters of his speech before the National Assembly of People’s Power to these questions.

We cannot allow these things to deteriorate in our building:

Civil moral values,

Sensitivity to the problems of others

That allow us to live in peace.

Lately recent events have occured characterized by: scandals, loud music at night, defecation and urine in the elevators by rational or irrational animals, as well as throwing solid waste in the areas outside the building and patios, among others.

To the neighbors who have committed scandals and loud music at night and playing board games, you were personally notified. But for the future we will proceed to take notice and if necessary pass the information to the corresponding authorities.

We must give notice that everyone who has pets should take into account that everything done in the common area is the responsibility of the owners, gentlemen find a bag, bucket for the solid waste, don’t throw it in the common areas.

Secretariat of the Administrative Council of the Building

This notice, which I thought it was unusual, was stuck and stuck again on the walls, the front door and the door to the parking of my building. I live at 702 Lombillo Street. My friends who come to visit me have always found it a little crazy — a little eighties-ish — the way the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) has stuck propaganda on the walls. The new signs were put up by the CDR after that speech by the general-president where he called the people scoundrels, he who has been holding the yoke imposed by his family for over five decades, almost without protest.

In the first paragraph there is a gap, a dynamited bridge, between the fact that the neighbors don’t know the rules of coexistence and still haven’t learned them,  even when the general explained to everyone how to live together nicely.

As if presidential opinion was the beginning of havng a conscience. As if we didn’t have a conscience. But in Cuba the people can not understand their responsibilities when they have never tasted what it means to have rights. Rights against the government, which here has been sold as something sacred, unquestionable, supported by the international left. And turned into an ideology, where conscience is drifting, scared, powerless.

If we look closely there is a moment where it says it’s unknown whether the urine in the elevator is the work of rational animals.

It’s not clear to me if it’s a joke, in a communication that displays so much indignation and that has been written, obviously, by someone who has felt satisfied with the definition of “species in danger of extinction,” as the expresident of the Island — who ruled from 1959 — has called humanity.

A tyrannosaurus rex, no doubt. Doomed to extinction.

And the way it is worded it seems like some idiot making jokes in bad taste. However, all is true.

Here we see the end result of this experiment. And the notices are still appearing. I intend to attach photos of them all.

1377270258_130817_0003INFORMATION TO THE PEOPLE

The National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and Member Inspectors are part of the factors confronting social indiscipline and illegalities which include:

– Games in public streets and common areas: baseball, football, dominoes, cards, four square and others.

– Walking on public streets without a shirt.

– Drinking alcoholic beverages on sidewalks, common areas, housing entrances, and walking on public streets and common areas under the effect of alcohol.

– Alterations to the public order at any hour like: discussions in common areas, playing music that affects the community, groups, scandals, discussions,

23 August 2013

Integrity / Lilianne Ruiz

My friend Victor gave me a lovely poem.

The most important is integrity
even before buying a padlock or
Both facts are important
Integrity is a bridge
that leads to a castle surrounded
by a forest of hawthorns, in custody of
a blasphemous dragon.
In this castle there is a woman who is
very wise
who tries to liberate herself with words.
When it is the woman’s time to talk
everything (the dragon, the forest
of hawthorns, the contaminated
and wild water) everything hesitates
like a virtual game and
through the serenity
integrity settles
in the world leaving a
vote of confidence.
The absence of integrity is
this bridge demolished and
the unsteady voice of someone
who is the reflection of a
The padlock secures the gates
through which some girls might
leap into the emptiness.

16 August 2013

Thoughts in Havana / Lilianne Ruiz

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’m wanting to learn to write articles on the reality of my country. Reality is complex. It’s based on a discourse, and our thinking is a discourse. The panopticon described by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish, was implementable in hospitals, prisons and insane asylums and totalitarian societies are a little bit of all these. Yesterday I talked this over with a friend.

During the day I was in a taxi at a stoplight and while the light changed I noticed the car that came up beside us. The classic employees and civil servants of the State were  arguing over papers, probably receipts. I saw this happen so many times in my father’s work. Then they divided up loot. They settled with food. How disgraceful. But we toasted at the end of the year with Chivas Regal. Brought directly from the warehouses of Guatao. My father was a decent man, in other circumstances he wouldn’t have accepted the whisky, the Spanish nougat, or the meat to celebrate. “I had a family to feed,” this is how the Cubans excuse themselves. This is how the dictatorship lives. How it is prolonged. With terror and corruption. This is only going to change on the day that we Cubans make it stop. The day we strike to demand dignity. Here, and personal.

After 8 at night, they were broadcasting Chancellor Rodríguez Parilla’s speach. More of the same. The deceiving bet of Latin America on Socialism.  What a venture. After that it could be half a century before we reach the yearned-for liberty. Why don’t I give more time to this dictatorship. Be careful with wishes in the right mailbox. Mine always come true.

7 August 2013

Independent March in Front of the Capitol Demands Gay Marriage / Lilianne Ruiz

Independent LGBT activists marched before the Capitol this weekend — photo by  Lilianne Ruiz

HAVANA, Cuba, July 2nd 2013, Lilianne Ruiz / — In concurrence with Gay Pride Day, celebrated worldwide every 28th of June, a dozen activists marched past the Capitol last Saturday, led by Leannes Imbert Acosta, director of the LGBT community’s Rights Observatory. Afterwards, they continued the march towards the Paseo del Prado, carrying the rainbow flag.

At this event, the protesters wore slogans supporting marriage between persons of the same sex.  Imbert Acosta had this to say:

“This year the march brings up the topic of marriage between persons of the same sex.  We are announcing the beginning of a campaign to collect at least ten thousand signatures, in order to later present a legal initiative before the National Assembly of Popular Power to grant the right to enter into matrimony to same-sex couples.”

The LGBT Observatory of Cuba since 2011 has called for the march around Gay Pride Day, not only for people in the LGBT community, but also for any citizen who identifies with the cause of ending discrimination on basis of sexual orientation.  Regarding this and other rights, Imbert Acosta stated:

“What we are asking for is not the right to be gays or lesbians… We demand that, being gays and lesbians, the State and society recognize the totality of our rights. One does not lose one’s religious dimension, nor political, nor legal personality by expressing a homosexual orientation. Sexuality is one human dimension, just as are all the others.  Historically we have been discriminated against for cultural, religious, and political reasons.  Nonetheless, a homosexual person must also have the right to share in culture, religion, and politics, as well as enter into matrimony, in the same way and for the same reasons as would a heterosexual couple.”

Asked about the role of the CENESEX official (National Center of Sexual Education) in this sense, Acosta comments:

“Mariela Castro, daughter of the Cuban president, serves more as a government spokesperson to the LGBT community than as a representative of the LGBT community to the government.  It is a means of maintaining control.  Hence many times the title of political group stigmatizes us because we are not in agreement with the Center that she directs.  Nevertheless, we have tried to build bridges for dialogue and they are the ones who have refused, alleging that we visit diplomatic offices, to which we respond that Mrs. Castro also does the same.  We have talked with transsexuals who are affiliated with the center and they tell us that they recognize that CENESEX does not authentically represent the interests of the LGBT community, but they allege that they need their operation (surgical sex change).

“On the other hand, Mrs. Castro does call on the march for World Day Against Homophobia to dance the conga with slogans in support of socialism, which as we all know is the political system which her family heads.  So, she is making a political campaign with the interests of the community.”

Mariela Castro is currently deputy of the National Assembly of Popular Power.  She has expressed on multiple occasions that CENESEX already put forth a draft bill before the National Assembly, “But,” comments Imbert Acosta, “in every case, it only contemplates civil recognition, not marriage as such.  And that is another of the matters that we wish to clarify today.  At the least, we, the non-officially allied LGBT activists of the island and many members of the community, want marriage, not just a civil union law which would leave us where we are situated, in a situation of disadvantage in matters of rights compared to heterosexuals.”

Although it is true that the authorities have not intervened directly against the protesters, it is known that they have made warnings to possible participants to keep them from marching.

A police warning can discourage many in a country with iron control by the State.

By Lilianne Ruiz

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Translated by Russell Conner

6 July 2013

The Welfare State Calls an Ungrateful People Scoundrels / Lilianne Ruiz

“We’re so bad, we’re so bad,” mocked my neighbor in the street, the day after the broadcast of Raul Castro’s July 7th speech to the National Assembly of People’s Power.

Most people agree that the official description of the Cuban society coincides well with reality. However, there is no agreement in the area of who is responsible for our having reached the current situation. Public opinions spread by the official media celebrate the president address, imputing fault to the citizens. In the speech itself the general said, “It is a real fact that the nobility of the Revolution has been abused when the full force of the law has not been utilized, however justified that might be, giving priority to persuasion and political work.”

On the street you hear other comments and you get the impression they are more organic. “Yes, but whose fault is that?” Cubans attribute responsibility for the pathological state of the society, from the ethical point of view, to the top leadership of the State. But why. How can you blame someone else for your own behavior. It’s absurd.

“You have to steal in order to eat and the only thing that matters is to go unnoticed so you don’t go to jail,” said a 40-year-old woman who works in a state warehouse. To the question of whether it’s better to organize a strike as workers elsewhere in the world do when they struggle against unemployment and low wages she said, “What am I going to resolve with that?”

A worker describes his punctuality problems, “There are only two cars on the route that serves my workplace. If one fails you have to get to work an hour early and I’m not going to work an hour for the State for free.”

A young writer, who also asked not to be named, thought the speech “a new escalation of power” that tried to suggest the force of arms. “Soon they will give more power to the police; that is, they will reinforce the armed side of political power because that’s the only way to control the Cuban population that has “gone astray.”

“Starting from where do they want to return honesty to the citizenry? Forcing them to produce in the workplace after having made them lose their moral underpinnings in the face of the politicians’ cult of personality? A citizen forced to shout political slogans or to ride roughshod over his neighbor in the name of ideology, is already apt to be corrupt. Behind every compliance, every appearance of communion between citizens and the State, there is a lot of violence in play,” he said.

For someone to take responsibility for the result of their actions, they must have carried them out freely. They need to be a subject of rights, of ethical laws, to be able to be responsible. They need to live in freedom.


19 July 2013

Life or Death of a Political Prisoner: Instructions in a Sealed Envelope / Lilianne Ruiz

Ernesto Borges Pérez

HAVANA, Cuba, July 2013,

In Combinado del Este Prison, in the presence of a lieutenant from the Ministry of the Interior, a common prisoner threatened political prisoner Ernesto Borges with death.

This past June, the common prisoner, who was appointed by the prison authorities as “Head of the Council of Prisoners” despite being a convicted murderer and drug addict with a reputation for violence, told Borges Pérez:

“I’m going to stab you here (pointing to Ernesto’s liver), and leave you to die. They’ll have to bury you in the United States.” The political prisoner described the threat to this reporter during a private visit.

The visiting area is a dining hall. No Cuban independent journalist or foreign news agencies not serving the propaganda interests of the Cuban socialist state, nor the rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council of the UN, have had access to the inside of the Cuban prison system.

After receiving the threat, Pérez Borges warned the inmate that he would make a formal complaint, and would use as his witness Lt. Javier (known as the “re-educator,” because he was in charge of the political indoctrination of common-prisoners), who had been present for the altercation. But the officer replied:

“I won’t be your witness. I wasn’t here.”

Pérez Borges believes that such a response is a green light to a violent convict to assault a political prisoner.

“In general,” he says, “the prison population respects political prisoners unless State Security intervenes.” He adds: “Every month officers meet in an office with the common prisoner they designate as Head (whom everyone else calls “The Enforcer”) and give him precise instructions on how to deal with political ones.”

Death Sentence Commuted

Borges Pérez was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Military Court of the Cuban Western Army, on January 14, 1999, for the crime of espionage, in case No. 2 of that year. The sentence of death by firing squad was commuted.

He was tried for the crime of having collected the records of 26 “bait agents” of the Cuban secret services, for later disclosure. He was arrested for this action on July 17, 1998.

The prosecutor told the family, at the conclusion of the trial that he would have to serve only one-third of the sentence, ten years, and would then be paroled, because he had been a career soldier with no previous infractions.

Borges Pérez, at left. Photo from his personal album, courtesy of the author.

But Borges Pérez has not backed down ideologically. He has continued to work in exposing human rights violations against the prison population, and has provided written testimony against the 1996 case against Robert Vesco, in which he served as senior analyst of Department 1 of the General Directorate of Counterintelligence, during the interrogations.

Fifteen years after the events that resulted in his imprisonment, Borges Pérez recalls his reasons for moving from officialdom to the opposition:

“There were a number of factors,” he says: “Perestroika, the corruption I saw within Security of State, the influence peddling, the realization that the only priority of the system is to perpetuate the Castro clan in power, the insensitivity of the State and Party to the misery of the population during the years of the Special Period, in order to maintain political and economic control of the country.”

“Cuban State Security,” he adds, “is a bloated and corrupt apparatus, because it has an excess of resources that have no relation to the non-violent resistance that exists on the island, and a culture of violence shielded by the ideology of the Castro regime. After the end of the Civil War, which ran from 1961 to 1966, and with the arrival of the 1970s, the opposition in Cuba has focused on defending human rights and peacefully struggling against the institutionalized violations by the system. But State Security maintains its structure of repression identical to that used during the Civil War. Being oversized in personnel and resources, its counterintelligence operatives create networks of informants in all segments of society, and thus the Police State is born.”

Hunger Strike

In 2012, Borges Perez went on two hunger strikes. The first lasted 9 days, during which he demanded the right to make phone calls regularly, especially to talk with his daughter who lives abroad, as well as the return of his drugs, prescribed for chronic ailments, including bronchial asthma, and access to specialized medical services. He ended the strike when Lieutenant Colonel Vargas, at that time Chief of Prisons Havana, promised that they would meet his demands.

But the authorities did not comply. Less than a month after he suspended the first hunger strike, he began a second, demanding to be released on parole.

On February 28, 2012, after 18 days of starvation, Cardinal Jaime Ortega came to his cell and promised to discuss his freedom with the General-President of Cuba. “For seven days I valued this promise of the Cardinal and abandoned the strike for 25 days,” he says.

A ministerial committee visited him after a month: “They reviewed my prison record for the first time, and said they had recommended my probation to the court my probation, but it’s been 14 months since that visit.”

“When a political prisoner starts a hunger strike,” said Borges Pérez, “they establish a Command Post, which has to report daily to the top chief of the Interior Ministry. Creating a command post means more gasoline for cars, coffee, cigarettes, special food allotments, vacation homes on the beach, certificates of appreciation, promotion. It is a repressive bureaucratic inertia. They live off that. “

After this latest death threat that he denounced by phone, prison authorities made the decision to change the whole makeup of the floor, keeping only Borges and his cellmate and bringing in a new group of prisoners. Also, Javier the re-educator was transferred.

Sealed Envelopes

Borges Pérez, in a little known photograph, courtesy of the author

But on June 29 he was led, handcuffed, to an office in Combinado del Este where a colonel, who introduced himself as a Vice Director General of Jails and Prisons. The threat was repeated: in the event that democratic changes in Cuba begin, said the colonel, “we are prepared, and you also have to prepare. We have precise instructions in sealed envelopes, on how to deal with you.” (He understood this to mean political prisoners.)

This colonel also said that once again his right to make phone calls would be suspended.

On July 5, an officer with the rank of Major officially told him that his telephone calls would occur, from now on, in an office, and he would only be entitled to a 10 minute call per week, at no pre-set specific time, and monitored by Javier the re-educator.

“By doing this, the prison authorities are violating not only internationally established law on the treatment of prisoners, but are also in breach of the agreement reached after the cessation of my hunger strike in 2012,” says Borges Pérez.

From Cubanet

July 12, 2013

In What Corner of History Did We Forget Happiness / Lilianne Ruiz

Bus. Photo from

HAVANA, Cuba, May 14, 2013, Lilianne Ruiz / A bus in Havana is a greasy oven, smelling of sweat; something we would like to avoid. Especially in the month of May at 4 pm. If you get a seat and can escape the crush a little, it seems a touch of fortune. But Cubans have forgotten many important things in the midst of so many speeches.

The buses have yellow seats which people call “for pregnant women and kids.” There are six seats, no more; on some routes there are only three. The picture above of these seats shows they aren’t for old people and you can see grandmothers standing, waiting for the awareness that often takes too long.

A woman who has managed to get on the bus with a child of about seven in a school uniform, after crossing the aisle, is standing in front of a lady of about 50, carrying a pink meringue-covered cake. She’s sitting in the children’s seat. The mother says she will take the cake, but to allow the child to sit because he’s very hot and very tired. But the lady answers that it was an older child and he has no right to take the seat.

The mother’s eyes light up with anger. We try to imagine what time she had gotten up to go to work and bring the child to school, how she copes with the paltry wages to procure food for the family, school snacks, shoes; at what moment fear failed her and she dared to say:

“What you say is the size of the rights of my son, is the size of your humanity. This is what Communism has done to our people: it has made us forget the most important whys of life.”

The seated lady erupted in threats: that she should, “be careful what you say because you have a son to raise and they can make you pay for your words.”

These threats are written in the revolutionary tradition. What one can’t do is convince a significant portion of the people of the “humanitarian intentions” of the regime, where freedom (freedom to disagree!) is not recognized as the most important value of the person.

The lack of a custom of freedom has led to a lack of awareness of individual responsibility.

In an article by Carlos Alberto Montaner, regarding violence perpetrated in the National Assembly of Venezuela against eleven members of Democratic Unity Party, he says: “That’s the logic of Castro in a nutshell: the enemy is intimidated, beaten up or imprisoned to obey. And if he stubbornly resists they can always shoot him as a form of collective punishment.”

Our history is full of examples, that the young mother probably did not take into account when she spoke. That Communism dehumanizes and is incompatible with the International Bill of Human Rights, are further considerations: a mother may, in 20 seconds, destroy the official Cuban discourse.

In addition to being right — about the forgetting cultivated in this system — I continue to wonder in what corner of history we Cubans have also forgotten our happiness.

6 July 2013

“The Lives of Others” Cuban Version / Lilianne Ruiz

Note: This and other photos in this post are of State Security agents.

HAVANA, Cuba, June 2013, Lilianne Ruiz, — On every street in Cuba there are so-called “revolutionary vigilantes,” people who work independently for the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). They meet periodically with an official from the State Security to inform and report on everything that is happening. But it is not a state governed by the rule of law that protects this complex apparatus of  surveillance and repression. State security in Cuba is a political policy meant to prevent political diversity and to guarantee the stability of the country’s sole political party.

As in the 2006 German film The Lives of Others, which had worldwide impact due to the historical period it portrayed, this secret agency relies on auxiliary divisions which are provided with the technical means “to be able to operate in a personalized way and to maintain effective control,” says Raúl Borges Álvarez, who until 1989 served as a counter-intelligence official.

“Sometimes there are people they cannot penetrate with an agent so they are controlled through technical means. Up until 1989 there were more than thirty departments in the General Counter-Intelligence Agency. One of those departments was the 21st, which is in charge of dealing with counter-revolution.”

As a result of the imprisonment of his son, Ernesto Borges Pérez, on political charges, Raúl Borges Álvarez got involved in protest activities, which gradually led him to become part of the island’s political opposition.

He reports that there is a department of visual surveillance, which in Cuba is referred to as K/J. It is involved in following individuals either by trailing them physically or through the the use of surveillance cameras, which are placed at nearby locations to monitor those who enter or leave a building, often an individual’s residence.

“They can even monitor private activities in order to blackmail someone with information about which he might be embarrassed,” adds the former agent.

Surveillance of correspondence such as mail sent to dissidents, also known as K/C, is handled by employees at 100th Street and Boyeros Avenue. This surveillance center is referred to as International because information from all over the world, as well as from inside the country, is reviewed here. The name of the “person of operative interest” is part of a list and the official to whom “the case” has been assigned is informed of the content of the correspondence, according to Borges Álvarez. “Later, copies are made of these letters and it is decided afterwards whether or not to send them on to the addressee.”

Telephone surveillance, or K/T, is carried out twenty-four hours a day. There they are analyzing everything that happens, and transmitting it. When it is communicated to the operative official “who attends the dissident” depends on how interesting the conversation is.

“This way they can disconnect it to block a telephone interview that might be reporting an incident to the foreign media, something that’s not reported in the national media because it is property of the State; they can frustrate a meeting; they can try to sabotage a political project; they can impede the organization of a protest to demand rights.  But above all,” he says, “they are privately studying the profile of that person, to then see how they can control him.  From trying to recruit him by means of intimidation and blackmail, to taking him out of circulation.”

Political police study individual profiles like a serial killer would

The appearance of State Security in the person of an official operative can signify detention, threats, loss of liberty.  All this complex, repressive apparatus that has as its objective the dismantling of efforts for non-violent change on the Island, tries to make believe in the first instance that rights do not exist.

When that is not possible, given the determination of an opponent, they will try then to destroy him. You have to remember that one of the guarantees of the stability of a totalitarian system is maintaining on an individual basis a crisis of identity where the person decides not to take on initiatives that might contradict the views that originate from the top, in this case the “Revolution.”

As it deals with individual aspects like liberty, identity and the demand for rights, the political police, having studied the phenomenon of repression and submission (which was documented since the times of Lenin and Stalin), directs itself to the destruction of the individual.

The most scandalous thing is that in order to carry out the institutionalized rape of human rights in Cuba, the political police study beforehand the profiles of people, as would a serial killer who studies the routines, strengths, weaknesses, fears and hopes of his victims.

On the payroll of Department 21 are agents with violent behavior who are then recognized by the government with orders of distinguished service, rapid advancement, and perks. All those benefits, which stimulate cruelty, are obtained by carrying out arbitrary arrests, surrounding meeting places, doling out beatings which can leave subsequent complications and consequences, mental and physical torture and intimidation against opponents.

The ideological excuse for these abuses rests on the falsehood that those people who engage in politics far from the Communist party, or defend liberties and human rights, are “mercenaries and agents of imperialism.”

Some independent political and human rights organizations on the Island advocate the creation of new legislation that prevents the system and its agents from enjoying powers to seclude, detain, and punish human beings who persevere in their dignity and inalienable rights.

 Translated by mlk

6 July 2013

Discrimination in Accessing Justice / Lilianne Ruiz

Reina Ruiz Perez

“Are you going to tell me that the State has more rights over my grandchildren than I do, I who have raised them since they were born?” was the response of Reina Ruiz Perez to the prosecutor, the day she tried to make her case for adoption before the Havana Provincial Court.

Later, frustrated by the neglect, she warned the representative of authority of her desire to undertake a public protest and ended up detained for the umpteenth time in her life.

The prosecutor had suggested that “after the death of the mother, custody goes to the father. If the father doesn’t want them, (the children) go to the State.”

In 2010, after the death of her daughter, this grandmother started to sue for legal custody of her grandchildren; the fathers of both minors have to objection at all in ceding custody to the maternal grandmother, and in practice don’t take care of them.”

“The children have been living with me since they were born, but there are no legal procedures I can undertake to bring it formalize it,” said Ruiz Perez.

The Cuban courts “have denied (the grandmother) access to justice,” Cubalex attorney Laritza Diversent points out, when consulted on the matter. “In Cuba adoption is processed through a record of voluntary jurisdiction; this means it’s a matter of particular interest. In these cases the procedural law authorized going forward without legal representation. In other words, the grandmothers are legally authorized to adopt their grandchildren.”

Ruiz Perez also tells us that since the ’90s, when she became active in the non-violent opposition to the Cuban dictatorship, she has faced great abuse, which has included being imprisoned without a trial in the women’s prison known as “Manto Negro” (Black Robe); along with innumerable detentions in Police Stations to try to block her protest activities. Many of these arrests occurred within sight of her three children, and at least once she was taken the Police Station with her youngest daughter in tow.

“I went to the Calabazar Station up to four times a week,” the grandmother reports. “Once they locked me up in the Station Chief’s office with my youngest daughter, until the official ’in charge of minors’ came looking for the Station Chief. When she opened the door and saw the girl sleeping in my lap, she was shocked because it wasn’t even 8:00 in the morning, which betrayed that we had spent the night locked up there.”

With a long history of harassment and political persecution, at age 53 Reina Ruiz Perez has obtained a visa to live as a refugee in the United States. The problem lies in the fact that the Cuban State, so far, has not allowed her to take assume legal representation for her grandchildren. In practice, she has been the only one who has taken on the care of the minors, who have lived in her house since they were born, where they get a pension — their mother having been a State worker — which amounts to 100 Cuban pesos per child (the equivalent of $4.00 USD a month).

This legal impediment means that the children haven’t been able to obtain the documentation to travel with her to the United States.

After hiring a lawyer Ruiz Perez was not able to complete the adoption; as it says in the case file, “The process contracted on 29 August 2012 was shelved indefinitely.” Later, following the recommendations offered by Cubalex — the legal information center — covered in the articles of the law that authorize it, she presented a brief to the Court to activate the adoption proceedings herself, but the Court refused to recognize the procedure.

The last time State Security visited Mrs. Ruiz Perez, the agents who presented themselves as “from Immigration” expressed “concern” for the situation of the children, and argued that it wasn’t the Cuban government that was “holding things up,” but “your American government that doesn’t want to give them the visa.”

But it’s not only the political police that has expressed that argument.

According to what is also stated in the case file, the president of the Boyeros Court “treated Ruiz Perez disrespectfully” and said that “it is the fault of the American that they aren’t allowed to leave, not the president of the Court’s, and that there no adoption is accepted.”

One wonders what is the objective of refusing the grandmother in question the ability to complete the adoption as established.

In maintaining this situation the Cuban State is violating the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which demands that the best interest of the children always be considered.

21 June 2013

Zero Violence / Lilianne Ruiz

1368212654_violencia-cero-213In San Luis, a small town in Pinar del Rio, two young men caught the attention of State Security for distributing flyers for the Zero Violence campaign, and were detained.

Taken to the police station, one of them asked the repressor, “Are you in agreement with the violence?”

The cop responded no.

“Then, why stop me if all I’m doing is calling for no violence?”

The guy in uniform responded, “Because I’m not in agreement with what you’re distributing (the message). Give it to some other citizen to distribute.”

“Then I’m giving it to you, so that you will distribute it, among your people who are violent,” concluded the boy.

The Zero Violence campaign is an initiative from within the independent New Country platform, and is being conducted throughout the Island to create a change toward tolerance; which inevitably contradicts — disagrees with — Revolutionary politics; which is by nature intolerant and, let no one doubt it, violent.

“The authorities are trapped in their own contradictions. Between the image they want to sell of a calm and civilized country and their real conduct relative to repression,” says Manual Cuesta Morua, independent journalist, political analyst, president of the social-democrat Progressive Arch party, and national coordinator of New Country.

The victims of the repression agree with regards to the style flaunted by the agents: whether they’re uniformed police or State Security agents; even people recruited to carry out an act of repudiation try to ignore the existence of the other, the right to different, with an attitude masterfully defined once by Padre Conrado — recipient of the Tolerance Plus prize created by the same Platform — as “The Nullification.”

According to Cuesta Morúa, political violence, in Cuba, feeds on marginality, crude language, barbarism. People who are recruited to perform an act of repudiation are rarely the grande dames of the Revolution. Those who are mobilized to carry out these acts of verbal and physical violence are people who inhabit the marginality reproduced by the Revolution.

The Zero Violence campaign aims to work in marginal communities across the country, because from the moment that people learn not to use certain language and not to engage in certain behaviors, acquiring education instead of ideology, it is quite difficult later to break their own rules; also severed is the possibility of the State buying the attitudes of the marginalized for acts of repudiation, which are, as Cuesta-Morúa noted, “the suspension of politics.”

“When you become aware that you can’t, nor shouldn’t, project yourself violently against others, it quickly activated the culture of conversation,” says Cuesta Morua.

The culture of dialogue has been marginalized by the Cuban authorities, who need to be reminded of that phrase of the far-off Voltaire: I disagree with what you say, I completely disagree with that, but would defend with my life your right to say it.

“Violence in education is part of the organizational structure of State violence,” continues Cuesta Morúa. “Children in Cuba are taught to salute the flag with the slogan, We will be like Che.”

“El Ché,” as the Argentine guerrilla Ernesto Guevara is known, was a Communist and officiated for years, running the deaths before the firing squads of La Cabaña. Cuban mothers and fathers have never been consulted about whether they agree that this is the best educational paradigm. Cuban schools are State-owned, and are an investment in the ideological field. “When you teach a child to be like Che, he is subliminally instilling the culture of violence and disrespect for human rights,” added the activist.

1368212656_artistas-y-auspiciadoresThe women who joined New Country created this campaign and are its main promoters. They have organized workshops to teach their peers how to defend themselves in situations of violence, whether domestic or institutional. Through the Zero Violence Help Line, a series of phones have been placed at the service of people who seek advice, literature, or who decide to report an act of violence to the coordinators of the campaign. The coordinators would be responsible for investigating the complaint and for ultimately entering into the Orange Report, created for that purpose, cases of violence that come to their attention. With the hope of seeing what they can do to reduce them to the minimum.

Each year, 18 to 25 November, the Zero Violence Festival will be held, which last year featured guest artists like the rappers the Patriot Squadron, Silvito the Free and the punk band known as Porno para Ricardo. The boys of Omni Zona Franca, who are engaged in poetry, slam, performance, have also joined.

The days of November 18 to 25 coincide with the international day against child violence and gender violence, respectively.

Paradoxical as it may seem, as we said above, there have been a number of arrests of activists and promoters of the Zero Violence campaign in the west and east of the island. They are political arrests, obviously.

Taken from Cubanet.

10 May 2013

Calixto, the Resolute* / Lilianne Ruiz

Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, after his release. Image taken from Cubanet

This past Tuesday, the Cuban authorities finally acknowledged Calixto R. Martinez Arias’s right to go free, after he had served more than six months in prison, initially for the crime of “insulting the leadership figures of the Revolution.” He had no trial.

Martinez Arias twice engaged in what is known in the post-1959 history of Cuban political prisoners as “taking a stand” (literally, “planting oneself”): he declared a hunger strike. In the first, he went 33 days without eating, the second, 22. Until, after the second strike, it was reported by state security that his case had been reviewed and they had “understood” his demand for freedom.

“I started the first hunger strike to protest my stay in the Combinado del Este prison,” Martinez Arias said. “I also refused to wear prison garb. When an inmate declares a hunger strike, the guards use many methods to make them quit. The first thing they say is that you are committing a disciplinary infraction, which hurts your eiligibility for rights such as conditional parole, and for family and conjugal visits. And ultimately they take you to the infirmary where the doctor will take your vital signs and issue you a “suitable cellnotice, which means just that: you are fit to be taken to the punishment cells.”

“The punishment cell measures about 6 by 8 feet. It has no light. It has a “Turkish” toilet, and a water basin you can access twice a day, when the guards allow. There were days when they refused me water because a captain who claimed to be the second-in-command of Building 3, where I was detained, said that I could not drink water and took it away from me.

“By day you have to lie on the floor or stand. To that end, they remove the mattress. They left me my clothes, but took away anything with which I might cover myself. I spent very cold days, especially during the first strike. The cells are very wet and very cold, deliberately prepared to be that way. There were times when I had to sleep sitting on the floor, up against the wall, because the guards would come very late to give me the mattress. Lying on the floor you can contract a lung disease from the cold and moisture. The floor is very dirty because the cells are not cleaned. There are many insects: enormous rats, droves of cockroaches. It is a sacrifice that you have to make, convinced that it is all designed to psychologically torture you.

“During the second hunger strike, of 16 days, they took me to what they call ’the increased’ area, which is more severe. Then they took me out of there after one day to an even harsher cell. There the conditions were more brutal. They kept a surveillance camera on me at all times; they never turned off the light.”

In the second hunger strike, Martinez Arias started bleeding profusely from his gums and his teeth began to fall out. He lost 45 pounds. But he says: “I became a lot stronger.”

The “Official Organ of the Communist Party of Cuba,” the newspaper Granma, on Wednesday April 10, published an account of the “good conditions” in which prisoners live in Cuban jails. Regarding this, Martinez Arias said:

“This is an absurdity. I can assure you that they began preparing this article in December. In the month of December they informed us that journalists from the national and foreign press accredited in Cuba were going to visit the Combinado del Este prison. Major Rodolfo, who is in charge of the building where I was, a building for ’pendings,’ explained to us that the visitors would not be given access to our building because of the appalling conditions. Prisoners there live in a state of overcrowding, because every day many ’pending’ prisoners enter.

“It also has many leaks, and the bathrooms are in an extremely unsanitary condition. The building should be declared uninhabitable. Rodolfo explained that he was not going to take visitors there, because of these conditions, and that this was not a bad decision because, and I can almost quote him verbatim, ’when a visitor comes to your house, you want to show him the best, not the worst parts.’ For that reason, he said, they were going to repair a wing of building No.1. The foreign media should not be allowed to have access to the punishment cells. In fact, in none of the pictures they showed are these cells seen.”

In Cuba, the exercise of the right that everyone has to seek, receive, and distribute information, by any means of expression, without limitation by borders—as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—may be considered a crime. But on occasion, to put an independent journalist in prison, as in the case of Martinez Arias, the authorities bring charges of common crimes against him, to deflect the political nature of the arrest.

On September 16, 2012, Martinez Arias had been inquiring of some terminal-workers near Jose Marti International Airport about a batch of medical aid provided by international humanitarian organizations to address the outbreak of cholera and dengue and that, because of official mismanagement, had spoiled.

On leaving the airport, as he and others took shelter from the rain, perched on the benches of a bus stop to avoid the puddles, a patrol car arrived and gave them all tickets; but Martinez Arias was transferred to the police unit of Santiago de las Vegas on the charge of being “illegally” in Havana, having an address of the province of Camagüey. Martinez Arias claimed in his defense that “the brothers Fidel and Raul Castro are natives of the province of Oriente.”

“Immediately” said the self-described activist “the police handcuffed me, took me to a dark hallway, and beat me hard.”

The police who detained and beat him then accused him of “insulting the figures of the leaders of the revolution.” He was automatically moved to the Valle Grande prison, and from there, as punishment for continually denouncing through his colleagues the human rights abuses of the prison population, he was taken to the maximum-security Combinado del Este prison.

During the first hunger strike, State Security informed Martinez Arias that the prosecutor’s petition stated that he had been “insulting” and “resistant”, for having offended a policeman.

“If I had reacted during the beating they gave me by dodging a blow, or by landing a defensive blow to the policeman who was giving me the beating, I would have been accused of ’attacking,’” Calixto said. Police in Cuba can feel “offended” and “attacked” if you don’t react with absolute passivity to their arbitrariness and brutality, and then they fabricate the charges of “insult” and “attack”, respectively, resulting in the person’s imprisonment.

Martinez Arias believes that the visibility conferred by having been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, together with the solidarity of human-rights activists, independent journalists in Cuba, and many foreign media with the participation of Cubans living abroad, managed to send a message to the government of Raul Castro that a person imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression is not alone, and you cannot keep them in prison subjected to cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment without paying a high political cost that limits your room to maneuver with impunity.

 *Translator’s note: Literally “the planted one”

 Translated by: Tomás A.

This post appeared originally in

12 April 2013

Abandon all hope ye who enter here / Lilianne Ruíz

00-hugo-chavez-venezuela-08-03-13-300x200On March 5 Cuban TV aired the speech of Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan vice-president, where he announced to the world the death of Hugo Chavez; the perspective of Cubans turned toward the future, one that many perceive as tragic with regards to the economy, and that others perceive as hopeful from the political point of view.

The same thing is happening in Venezuela on a different scale. Cubans today share the only equality Socialism can provide, which is powerlessness against the Socialist State. In the Venezuelan case they have not yet reached the point where it is difficult to reverse; they are still going through the seductive chapter of the process.

In Maduro’s speech he emphasized the word “peace” in the doubtful context of the simultaneous announcement of the “deployment of the Armed Forces and the ’Bolivarian’ Police’” to “protect citizens and ensure peace and respect,” making ourselves into “vigilantes” (of peace). Again Maduro reiterated the same word, inviting people to “channel the pain in peace,” calling for the mobilization: “we shall gather in the squares, the people and the Armed Forces.”

In Cuba, there was not a single statement of opposition to Chavism in Venezuela to be seen. Despite the multi-state TV channel Telesur transmitting 24 hours on the Educational Channel 2 on Cuban television.

The mention of the opposition is always associated with conflict. In the broadcast of the March 7, in response to the question, “How is the country’s security?” a General answered, “On the alert, (the opposition) will always be conspiring,” adding, “all the people are in the street defending the Revolution,” and once more he spoke in terms of “deployment” of the intelligence services and the military.

“The Chavista people are united,” Diosdado Cabello said. While Elias Jaua, the current Venezuelan Foreign Minister affirmed, “The people want to continue constructing socialism.”

Cristina Fernandez, Argentina’s president, told Telesur: “This extraordinary concentration ratifies the massive support for Chavez,” referring to what the broadcaster defined as the “red tide” that accompanied the presidential coffin to the Military Academy where his wake is still being held, for 7 days.

More disconcerting still was the statement made by Nicolas Maduro about Chavez’s body, that “it will be embalmed, like Lenin’s.”

The propaganda of “21t century socialism” affirms that it intends to empower the people, down to the very poorest. For Cubans this hasn’t meant anything other than giving up all human rights, in return for receiving – as the crowning achievement of the utopia – a good ration of food, education teaching you to read and write, but which doesn’t favor your learning to think with liberty of conscience, and medical services.

That is to say, social security – which should be the function of any State whatever its political color – in exchange for liberty. Look at the almost religious exaltation of the leader, the emotional link, the comparison with “a father”, which will guarantee on a long term basis the complicated psychological phenomenon of a people submerged in slavery.

In the same way that in socialism (Leninist, Castroist, Chavista) the right to political freedom ends up exterminated; the same applies to economic freedom, because of their close relationship.

Using an allegory, the inclusion of what is called “21st century socialism” there is nothing other than an opening the mouth of the bag to the size necessary to take in more people and, eventually, the majority of votes in the elections (only when the members of whatever Socialist politburo feel obliged to organize free elections); after which, when everybody is inside the bag, the State terror will start to seal up its mouth and the end product will be comparable with the inscription which appears at the entrance to Dante’s “Inferno”: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”.

Venezuelans perhaps still can’t understand that the cult of the leader, alive or dead, establishes hideous social relations between those in power and the public which has been shaped to believe, and to ensure that all popular opinion believes, in a false idyll between the two parties, which results in just one power – the State. They still can’t understand that peace is in conflict with surveillance. And that one day they won’t have the freedom to choose.

Translated by GH

15 March 2013