Activist and Blogger Agustin Lopez Charged with Crime of ‘Receiving’

Activist and blogger Agustín López Canino

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 March 2018 — The activist and blogger Agustín López Canino has been charged with the crime of “receiving” after a police search of his home last Friday, where a personal computer, camera and other objects were seized. The opponent could face a sentence of up to one year in prison, according to the criminal code.

Last Friday, around seven o’clock in the morning, several members of the National Revolutionary Police and State Security agents went to the home of López Canino to search it, according to the activist speaking to 14ymedio. continue reading

“There were two police cars, three agents on their bikes and Lieutenant Colonel Kenya,” he details. “They assaulted my house and it was only after my things were on the table, the computer and other objects like disks, that they looked for two witnesses from the block.” Cuban law requires two civilian witnesses be present any time a home is searched.

López Canino states that “at no time” did the officers show him a search warrant, although current legislation establishes that the document must be shown before proceeding to search a home.

“They collected things from the trash, they took my laptop, a camera, a DVD burner and everything they could, even cables that did not work,” adds the editor of the independent publication El Gran Blondin.

At the end of the search, which lasted more than three hours, the activist was arrested and taken to the Santiago de las Vegas Police Station, where he was charged with the crime of “receiving.” After 72 hours he was released this Monday, after paying a bond of 3,000 CUP. The penal code considers that for “anyone who… exchanges or acquires goods” that come from a crime; the punishment specified is “deprivation of liberty from three months to one year or a fine of 100 to 300 shares* [CUP] or both.”

López Canino, born in 1955 in Santo Domingo, Villa Clara, in the last decade has engaged in an intense activism, linked to opposition groups. He graduated as a naval engineer, and worked as a navy officer and merchant marine.

In 2010 he opened his blog Dekaisone, denouncing the lack of liberties on the island and the violation of human rights.

*Translator’s note: The Cuban penal code establishes fines based on ’shares’ so that the entire list of fines can be changed by the single action of redefining how much a ’share’ is.


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Tribute To Orlando Zapata Leads To Dozens Of Arrests / 14ymedio

Activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba marched this Sunday despite the arrests. (UNPACU)
Activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba marched this Sunday despite the arrests. (UNPACU)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 February 2016 — The events organized on Sunday to remember the late activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo resulted in dozens of opposition members arrested throughout the country. Several civil society organizations had also called for a tribute to honor the four Brothers to the Rescue pilots on the twentieth anniversary of their death at the hands of the Cuban Air Force.

Zapata Tamayo died on 23 February 2010 after a prolonged hunger strike to protest his prison conditions. The death of the dissident led to a wave of indignation in Cuban civil society and strong pronouncements from international bodies devoted to respect for human rights. continue reading

The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) confirmed to this newspaper the arrests of 134 of its members. The arrests occurred when opponents tried to “reach Catholic Churches to attend mass, from Guantanamo to Camaguey, as part of the actions within the We All March Campaign,” according to a statement from UNPACU.

In Havana about 37 Ladies in White managed to walk down 5th Avenue, supported by 34 activists. At least seven women were prevented from reaching the place, in the west of Havana.

“Fifty members of the Interior Ministry, some dressed in olive green uniforms and others in police uniforms, overpowered the protesters at the scene,” the blogger Agustín López Canino told 14ymedio at the scene. In his report, the activist added that those arrested were being put into “paddy wagons and taken to detention centers.”

Also present were “civilians” of the rapid response brigades who shouted pro-government slogans against the dissidents.

Estado De Sats Holds Workshop On Rights And Freedoms / Cubanet, Arturo Rojas Rodriguez

Participants in the first Rights and Freedoms Workshop at Estado de Sats (photo by the author)
Participants in the first Rights and Freedoms Workshop at Estado de Sats (photo by the author)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Arturo Rojas Rodriguez, Havana, 12 February 2016 – On Thursday, members of several opposition groups participated in the first “Rights and Freedoms” workshop. The event brought together twenty participants and took place at Havana’s Miramar neighborhood.

Sponsored by Estado de Sats (State of Sats), those present included Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White. In his presentation, Antonio Rodiles, director of Estado de Sats, called for an analysis of the Roadmap for the Forum for Rights and Freedom, taking as a point of departure the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Rodiles emphasized, especially, the rights of workers in the private sector. continue reading

Raul Ciriaco Borges Alvarez, president of the Christian Democratic Social Party of Cuba, said that the work of the opposition has to be designed to encourage people, and primarily workers, to know their rights, to demand them, empowering them ever more with the tools that will allow them to “free themselves from the fear that constrains them.”

Agustín López Canino, blogger and freelance journalist, highlighted the role of various organizations and projects within civil society to convey knowledge, using forums, workshops, conferences and other spaces “of vital importance,” which only require a careful attention of those present, so that from their families, communities and frequented circles, they disseminate what they learned.

In response to a controversial debate about the popular discontent over state management and the fear than many profess about saying or doing anything about it, Rodiles pointed out that they need to connect with people and tell them, “look at what’s going on, if you’re afraid and don’t want to protest, at least stop supporting the regime.”

The workshop highlighted the role of the #TodosMarchamos (We All March)), with the participation of the Ladies in White and the Patriotic Union of Cuban (UNPACU) as cornerstones in the demand for an Amnesty Law and the release of political prisoners, among other actions to achieve a true state of law in Cuba.

Workshop participants agreed on the need to support fundamental actions to promote economic progress with the active role of the private sector and agreed to prepare a document for dissemination and analysis.

Email for Arturo Rojas Rodriguez:

Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance Front Holds Congress in Havana / Cubanet, Arturo Rojas Rodriguez

Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez and Egberto Escobedo (photo by the author)
Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez (r) and Egberto Escobedo (l) (photo by the author)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Arturo Rojas Rodriguez, 3 December 2015 – This morning, in the Havana municipality of Boyeros, 53 members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance Front, representing several regions of the country, held their first congress and launched the campaign “No, No and No to Dictatorship.”

The event, which discussed among other issues the need to diversify the scenario of peaceful struggle and develop a set of strategies to promote it, was presided over by the human rights activist Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez,” and was attended by, among others, Agustin Lopez Canino, director of the digital portal Cubanos de Adentro y de Abajo, and Raul Borges Alvarez, President of the Party for Christian Democratic Unity of Cuba. continue reading

Speaking to this media, Antunez said: “We developed this conclave at a crucial moment in our struggle. The members of the front I represent agree not allow the reformation of ‘Raulismo’ under the complicit gaze of the United States government and we are convinced that this is the time to move to a higher phase of the struggle.”

Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance Front leader, calls for strengthening the peaceful struggle (photo by the author)
Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance Front leader, calls for strengthening the peaceful struggle (photo by the author)

“We divorce ourselves from the schematic and routine methods of struggle and assume an offensive position to confront and overthrow the Cuban dictatorship,” he added.

The activity opened with a minute of silence in tribute to the deceased historic leader of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan.

Participating in the activity were female delegations from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance Front, members of the Christian Democratic Party of Cuba, and the Committee On Aid To Political Prisoners And Independent Journalists.

The Ladies In White Face Another Sunday Of Repression In Havana / 14ymedio

Ladies in White during the pilgrimage this Sunday. (Angel Moya)
Ladies in White during the pilgrimage this Sunday. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 October, 2015 – Fifty-nine Ladies in White and 20 activists gathered this Sunday in Gandhi Park in Havana’s Playa district, despite the arrests previous to their traditional Sunday peregrination. After a summary of their weekly activities, the dissidents were detained, according to a report from witnesses at the scene.

From the early hours, the regime opponent Martha Beatriz Roque denounced the arrests of 12 human rights activists who had traveled to Santa Rita parish. Among those arrested with the mother and siblings of Zaqueo Baez Guerrero, one of the members of the of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who had approached Pope Francis in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

Others arrested on Sunday included the regime opponents Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles, Ailer Gonzalez and Felix Navarro. The latter lives in the town of Perico, Matanzas, and traveled to the capital to show his support to the human rights movement.

Blogger Agustín López Canino denounced his arrest and reported that he was handcuffed at the corner of 5th and 30th streets, in the Playa district, together with two other colleagues. The activists detailed that he was “taken to the outskirts of Havana” to prevent his accompanying the Ladies in White during their Sunday march.

Meanwhile, in Colón, Matanzas, independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported ten Ladies in White marched in Colón, Matanzas, for the release of the political prisoners.

The leader of the Ladies in White movement, Berta Soler said that Yaquelín Boni, an activist detained since Thursday during a protest outside Combinado del Este prison and accused of “disobedience,” has now been released.

Ladies in White Denounce Arrests That Began Early Sunday Morning / 14ymedio

Ladies in White in front of the church of Santa Rita, on 5th Avenue in Havana this last June (14ymedio / File)
Ladies in White in front of the church of Santa Rita, on 5th Avenue in Havana this last June (14ymedio / File)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 30 August 2015 — The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, reported several arrests of opponents and independent journalists beginning early today. Those detained were prevented from attending Mass at Santa Rita Church and from participating in the traditional Sunday march along Fifth Avenue. Despite the strong police operation deployed around the parish, at least 40 Ladies in White and 15 activists managed to arrive at the site.

The blogger and activist Agustín López Canino was prevented from leaving his house by the police car with the number 632 and reporter Juan Gonzalez Febles was arrested before reaching the location of the march, according to sources from the dissidence. This newspaper was able verify the existence of a strong police operation on several streets around the meeting site of the Ladies in White at Gandhi park starting before ten o’clock in the morning.

For her part, the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque reported via Twitter the “troubling proximity between the forces of repression” and the Ladies in White who were able to reach the park. In particular, a rapid response brigade gathered at the corner of 3rd avenue and 24th, as reported by the regime opponent Juan Angel Moya.

As they left the place, the police proceeded to violently arrest the assembled activists. To date their whereabouts are unknown, but in the past the women have been transferred to a processing center in Tarara, east of Havana and men to the place known as Vivac in Calabazar.

Dozens of Activists Detained in Havana Following the Ladies in White March / Diario de Cuba, Angel Moya

Ladies in White marching this past Sunday, 26 July*, in Havana (Ángel Moya)
Ladies in White marching this past Sunday, 26 July*, in Havana (Ángel Moya)

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Angel Moya, Havana, 26 July 2015 – Some 60 activists were arrested this past Sunday in Havana following the customary Sunday march of the Ladies in White, reported government opponents on social media. The arrests took place within the context of an act of repudiation described by the opponents as “violent,” and were carried out by “civilian mobs,” tweeted Ailer María González Mena.

The Ladies’ Sunday march was preceded by the arrests of several of the women, along with independent journalists, dissident sources were reporting as of midday. continue reading

The women, as usual, attended mass at St. Rita’s Church, and later met at Mahatma Gandhi Park, from where they began their march along Fifth Avenue.

During the meeting they paid homage to the deceased opponents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, who died under mysterious circumstances three years ago last week.

Former political prisoner Ángel Moya posted on his Twitter account that the Ladies Oilyn Hernández and María R. Rodríguez were arrested, as well as blogger Agustín López. Other activists had their residences surrounded by State Security agents.

Activists had predicted there would be a major police presence in the area.*

*Translator’s Notes: *26 July is the date commemorated by the Cuban government as the start of the Revolution

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Arrests This Sunday Of More Than A Hundred Activists Across The Island / 14ymedio

Activists supporting the Ladies in White on Sunday June 21 on 5th Avenue. (14ymedio)
Activists supporting the Ladies in White on Sunday June 21 on 5th Avenue. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 June 2015 — Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), reported early Sunday the arrest of 48 members of that opposition organization to prevent them from reaching the Sanctuary of Cobre in the east of the country. In Havana, fifty Ladies in White were also arrested at the end of their pilgrimage near the Church of Santa Rita, with over a hundred arrested across the country.

The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, and her husband, Angel Moya, were intercepted leaving the headquarters of the movement in the Lawton neighborhood and prevented from going to Mass, according to the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque. Both were taken to a detention site located in Tarará, east of the capital, where presumably they found the other detained Ladies in White.

The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, and her husband, Angel Moya, were taken to a detention site located in Tarará

Other activists reported that their homes were surrounded, as was the case with the independent reporter Agustín López Canino. The home of this activist, in the village of El Globo on the outskirts of Havan, was surrounded by a wide operation that he managed to evade, although later the police intercepted him in the vicinity of 5th Avenue in Playa municipality.

So far, the complete list of those arrested is unknown. It was planned that around five in the afternoon, the Ladies in White of Aguada de Pasajeros in Cienfuegos would try to attend Mass at the Jesus of Nazareth Catholic Church, where they were prevented from attending on 21 June by the church’s priest, Padre Tarciso.

Two activists from the United Anti-totalitarian Front (FANTU) are still on a hunger strike to demand that the priest reverse his decision and allow the women to enter the temple.

Cuban Police Arrest More Than 220 Dissidents, According To Activists / Hablemos Press, Roberto de Jesús Guerra

The most arrests took place on Sunday in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba
The most arrests took place on Sunday in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba

Hablemos Press, Roberto de Jesús Guerra Peréz, Havana, 29 June 2015 — Offices of the National Police, the Department of State Security, and other members of the Interior Ministry arrested at least 226 Cuban activists and dissidents this past Sunday, 28 June, 2015.

Police operations were carried out in various provinces of the country to keep activists and opposition members from attending Mass.

Among those arrested in Havana were Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White Movement, Antonio G. Rodiles, director of Estado de SATS; José Díaz, of Opponents for a New Republic Movement; photographer Claudio Fuentes; and several of the former political prisoners who were released in January 2015. continue reading

In Havana, the arrests of various members of the Ladies in White and others of the opposition took place as these individuals were departing their residences early in the morning, and they remained surrounded by police officers throughout the day.

Besides Soler, Ladies in White executive committee members María Cristina Labrada Barona and Lismeri Quintana Ávila were among these detainees, along with eight other women.

Another 39 arrests of women activists took place in the area around Santa Rita Church, after the women completed their customary march along 5th Avenue in the Miramar district of Playa municipality, and gathered in Gandhi Park (adjacent to the church) to review the week’s activities. In addition, approximately another 41 activists and opponents–men who accompany the Ladies on their march–were arrested in the capital.

2Algunos de los activistas y opositoresDozens of Interior Ministry agents blocked the streets around St. Rita Church to arrest the Ladies and other dissidents, according to the activists.

The Lady in White Aidé Gallardo Salazar was struck and dragged by female officers. “They hit me on the head and face, and they tried to asphyxiate me,” Gallardo averred.

Other arrests of Ladies in White occurred in these provinces: Holguín (4); Bayamo-Granma (2); and Aguada de Pasajero in Cienfuegos (9). In the last province, additionally, “17 men who accompanied the Ladies were arrested,” according to activist and former political prisoner Iván Hernández Carrillo.

The independent reporter Agustín López Canino also was arrested upon exiting his home in the El Globo district, located on the outskirts of Havana.

“I will continue going there to St. Rita for as long as they’ll let me,” said López Canino when interviewed. “What I do is take down the facts and forward them to various media.”

He adds that, “The repression against the opposition movement has increased extraordinarily within the last six months and cannot be allowed to go on without attention focused on it.”

The former political prisoners Ramón Alejandro Muñoz, Eugenio Hernández Hernández, Ángel Figueredo Castellón, Mario Alberto Hernández, and Rolando Reyes Rabanal were also arrested in Havana.

The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), headquartered in Santiago de Cuba, reported the arrests of 103 of its members when they attempted to travel to the village of El Cobre to attend Mass.

José Daniel Ferrer: 103 arbitrary arrests and a suspicious accident. Yesterday Sunday 28 June, in Santiago province. // Yusmila Reyna Ferrer: #Havana #Cuba: Mireya Ruiz Mesa, Carlos A. Calderín Roca, and Eric Ramírez Alonso of #UNPACU@jdanielferrer are violently arrested.

The agents used violence to detain the opponents, who were transported to police stations and military bases, according to activist sources.

Ladies in White affirm that, “The regime wants to destroy the opposition, but we are prepared to give our lives for the freedom of the political prisoners,” stated Ibón Lemos y Mayelín Peña.

Soler attests that the repression increased 11 Sundays ago, ever since the Ladies in White initiated a new campaign to demand the release of political prisoners, among them: the writer Ángel Santiesteban Prats, the artist Danilo Maldonado Machado (“El Sexto”); and the dissidents Santiago Roberto Montes de Oca, René Rouco Machín, Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta, Yosvani Melchor Rodríguez, Rolando Joaquín Guerra Pérez, Eugenio Ariel Arzuaga Peña, Yoelkis Rosabal–in total, more than 50 individuals.

The reports received at Hablemos Press included figures totaling 226 opponents arrested across the Island on Sunday, although the actual number may be greater.

Translated By: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Cuba’s Ladies in White Repressed on Their Sunday March Today / 14ymedio

Ladies in White walking down 5th Avenue in Miramar. (14ymedio)
Ladies in White walking down 5th Avenue in Miramar. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 June 2015 — Security forces have lashed out against the Ladies in White this Sunday, as they have on the previous ten Sundays. This time they carried out several preventive arrests among the activists who often accompany the Ladies in White in their march on 5th Avenue, at the end of the Mass at Santa Rita Church in Miramar.

According to information provided by a 14ymedio reporter present at the site, 61 Ladies in White and 18 men, among them activists and independent journalists, attended the Mass.

Arrested before arriving were photographer Claudio Fuentes, independent journalist Juan González Febles and activists Agustín López Canino and Hugo Damian. Also reported, at 11:30 am, were the arrest of four Ladies in White and 8 men to prevent them from arriving at the church. continue reading

After the conclusion of the Mass, at the corner of 5th and 30th, a police patrol made up of uniformed men and woman violently arrested Jacqueline Boni as she tried to join the march. Meanwhile, Agustin Lopez was released about two in the afternoon and wrote in his Twitter account, “I was just released, incredibly they neither handcuffed me nor beat me but they violated my rights.” This newspaper was able to confirm that the security forces arrested a total of 68 people, including Ladies in White and other activists.

Today marks the 640th Sunday of marches by the Ladies in White along a stretch of 5th Avenue in Miramar, at the end of Mass at Santa Rita Church, which is located at 5th and 24th in the Miramar neighborhood. The first march occurred on 30 March 2003, when the arrests of the 75 opposition figures of the so-called “Black Spring” — carried out earlier that same month — were still recent.

On the previous nine Sundays, after “allowing” the walk along the avenue’s boulevard, there have been acts of repudiation and arrests, some of them with notable violence.

Arrests for political reasons nationwide nearly doubled in May as compared to April. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation counted a total of 641 arrests for political reasons, the highest monthly figure in the last ten months.

The Caravan Of Terror Expands Its Impunity / Agustin Lopez

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Dekaisone, Agustin Lopez, Havana, 8 June 2015 – It is 8:30 in the morning on Sunday, 7 June. I am at my sister’s house and go down to the street with the intention of buying bread for breakfast. A People’s Revolutionary Police (PNR) patrol car with two uniformed police officers and a henchman from Castro’s Gestapo, are waiting for me a few yards from the exit and don’t allow me to realize the action. During the previous days I had been warned to stop attending Sundays at Gandhi Park.

I engage in a conversation with the dictatorship’s assassin, who after using various dirty and perverse methods of persuasion to keep me from attending Mass at Santa Rita Church, including subtle threats, orders me to accompany him. I am put into the patrol car under the express orders of senior commanders and after riding around various places on the outskirts of Havana I am abandoned on a central highway some 12 miles from the city with threats not to go to Santa Rita next Sunday. continue reading

Because the Ladies in White movement has continued to mark the difference between a fair and dignified act of justice and some degrading relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States, giving in to the dictatorial wishes of the Castro government. The tyranny of Raul Castro has done everything possible to break up the movement, using against its members and other people who support them or show up at the place all possible methods of repression: blackmail, bribery, subtle direct and indirect threats, slander, attempts to smear and defame, perverse acts of repudiation by mobs lacking the slightest thread of of dignity, and psychological tortures.

Having failed and seeing for themselves the impossibility of silencing their voices, since 17 December 2014 when Obama announced the reestablishment of relations between the dictatorship and the United States government, without conditions relating to human rights, they have intensified the violence and direct torture of their physical bodies as an last resort.

Every Sunday after being violently arrested all the peaceful people of both sexes who gather in the place, are led harshly handcuffed to prisons where they are held with the handcuffs tightened for several hours. Now, for many, has been added arrest on leaving their homes and threats to be abandoned in places far from the city.

A few of us independent journalists who dare to go to this place, after being arrested the images that we take with our phones are erased with the intention that people won’t know about it and it will not get out to other countries.

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Fearful Debates at “Topics” Magazine / Agustin Lopez

“Last Thursday”

Don’t talk about politics because they’ll hang you, but I hung myself first and talked about politics afterwards.

In front of me there are four panelists, I imagine that they’re people who are knowledgeable about the matter, prominent scholars on the subject of Cuba and its miseries, but full of demagoguery and revolutionary utopias, they were born, grew up, and came of age within the political fanaticism of socialism, submissive and obedient to the directives of the Party and the whims and the ego of the Maximum Leader, so they substituted their needs and looked for sustenance, listening to and making what was bad, and they didn’t deal with looking for what was good.  I’m not judging, I am trying to be just and find reason.

The debate presented today is: Bread winning: incomes and standards of living.
Maria del Carmen psychologist and scholar on the subject, presents the moderator.  Jose Luis Rodriguez prestigious professor.  Betty Anaya Cruz also an expert on the subject and the pompous reporter Yasley Carrero Chavez.

Between them they make a detailed presentation of income, salaries and standards of living.  At no time do they explain how to obtain a salary that covers the necessities, incomes that raise us to a dignified standard of living and earn us our bread in an honest, honored form.  Of course, the means don’t exist in a socialist system and even less in this mutation implanted in Cuba.  They concur that salaries only cover 50% of the necessities and the other 50% comes from other sources of income.  They don’t dare say that it comes from corruption or from selling or exchanging dignity and decorum for leftovers from the State.  If they make direct political critiques they’ll hang.

A leading official representing the State in matters of commerce states that: “Not even if they raise the salary several times will it cover basic necessities and resolve the problem.”  Fuck, I say to myself, why is this mediocre person here if he already committed suicide, he is more dead than socialism, I hope he goes home and runs his errands to the corner store, and to think that he represents society and has a prominent post.

The panelist Jose Luis Rodriguez uses data to show that people’s savings in banks have grown.  Wow! Damn! Now I believe that shame has a price in the stock market.
So I wrote my first question on a scrap of paper that was on the seats.

If the system implanted in Cuba is socialist, based in Marxism and Leninism, and I read in one of Lenin’s books that the salary earned by the worker in a socialist system serves to satisfy his basic material and spiritual needs within the society and still have a little left over for other enjoyment:  What has happened that this hasn’t come true, does the system work?  Could we reverse the situation without political changes?

I didn’t believe they would give me the floor for my question but they gave me three minutes in front of the microphone and so I repeated what I had written and I added these words about the increase in savings: Was it the honest and honored worked who had saved his salary?  The worker can’t save anything.  Therefore it’s not saving but robbing, embezzlement, corruption and other undignified forms of raising income.  

I understood that all this problem of salary and everything else has been engendered by a socialist system and we are going to solve it with more socialism; that’s like a doctor faced with a bacterial infection wanting to heal it with more bacteria.  Thank you I’m done.  

They finished by giving a social and economic tint to the debate, supporting the new reformist model, as always avoiding the subject of necessary political change.  Terror and demagoguery.  If they directly confront politics they hang.

TOPIC: What is the income? What is the standard of living? What is the relationship between them?

19 July 2013

Another Fateful May 1st / Agustin Lopez

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Once again it is the first of May, once again the Plaza is filled, slogans that will never be accomplished, unattainable challenges, huge flags carried as if over coffins, people raising their fists and shouting against the ghosts of fear, and above, on the tribunal the tribunes, the Caligulas of this empire waving their arms like Caesars, hands up, hands down. Like petrified mummies. Perversity in those above and perversity in those below, and over the city the black wings of opprobrium.

Many eyes reflect indifference, others fright and confusion. There are those threatened at their workplaces with the loss of their little bag of goodies handed out at the end of each month with some toiletries, or with the loss of a few dollars added to their salary as a prize for fulfilling their monthly slavery, as well as those looking for the opportunity to leave on international missions where they could earn in a few years what would take their entire working life on the island, those who attend universities and others who have started working for themselves and who prosper thanks to corruption, also the heads of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution who, on every block, applaud the Revolution. All threatened with the loss of something they need. They have never thought that this lie of their existence denies their identity and blocks their salvation making them live in the most absurd and miserable way.

It hurts to see a nation whose modesty is accumulated in landfills and whose honor is in the sewers. Tomorrow they will return all to the same things, stealing, lying, cheating, corrupted to the core, humiliating themselves to beg for a modicum of freedom and a crumb of rights.

If the José Martí of the Plaza, in front of whom they parade, weren’t made out of stone he would have fled the city in terror of a Cuba so shameless and vile. I hope there aren’t many of these May Days left in storage for the future.

3 May 2013

Seeing Berta Soler off at the airport / Agustin Lopez





Between hugs, handshakes and some tears we said goodbye at the Havana aiport last night, Sunday, 10 March, to the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler.

She was accompanied more than fifty of these brave women and about thirty friends and admirers (including the political police brigade that never misses these events) but not along the the usual route of the Ladies in White through the streets of Cuba to demand freedom for political prisoners. Rather she is taking advantage of a part of Law No. 13, embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, violated for 53 years by the authorities of the Cuban government led by Fidel Castro Ruz, before, and now by his brother Raul Castro the leader of the Communist party, the only party allowed to exist under the constitution created by them and approved by fear. A violation that had motivated thousands of Cubans to make an out-of-control exodus in which many lost their lives trying to escape the dictatorship. For 53 years Cubans could only leave the island to work in international missions (serving as doctors and other positions), in sports delegations, or on cultural tours, all well-controlled by government authorities, but still many members risked desertion under the strict eyes of State Security. Thus numerous talents in all branches of learning and doing fled the island.

A few minutes before leaving this reporter asked Berta Soler two questions:

What will make you return to Cuba?

Berta: My commitment to my people, to political prisoners who remain in prison, to freedom. To demand the rights that are still violated by the dictatorship. I go out into the world only to bear witness to the truth of Cuba and to fight for our rights. We are not mercenaries as we are painted by the dictatorship but patriots, people of any social class who lose the fear of repression and hold to citizenship in search of democracy.

Are you afraid to return home?

Berta: No, not at all. Fear of the tyrant has plunged this country into misery, has made this people mediocre and isolated from the rest of the world, not knowing how to relate to their own brothers. Even the government itself has confessed that it has failed to create a generation within the Party capable of replacing the old and worn out satraps who govern. God willing, I will return to new streets, that do not belong to the Party, to a government or to a dynasty, but to all Cubans, those here and our brothers who have been banished into exile, because for me we have all been banished, expelled from out country, the land that by right belongs to us.

Now on the point of crossing over the high wall of the Revolution, her husband, Angel Moya Acosto, a political prisoner from the Black Spring Group of 75, hugs her and says, “Do the right thing, not one step back. Our best weapon is the truth. Give the world this message. We are here, waiting for you.”
Laughter, applause, excitement, and the cameras clicking, until the Afro-Cubana leader is lost behind the curtains of customs.

11 March 2013

Interminable Poetry / Lilianne Ruiz #Cuba #FreeSantiesteban

Luis Eligio d'Omni reading his poetry at Yoani's and Reinaldo's house
Luis Eligio d’Omni reading his poetry at Yoani’s and Reinaldo’s house

Last Friday a group of  us friends met at the “Y Scares Vultures,” as Agustín calls Reinaldo Escobar and Yoani Sánchez’s house, for the penultimate round of the Endless Poetry festival. The poetry reading started this time with Luis Eligio d’Omni reading a poem of his to Celia Cruz in slam style, as attractive as The Letter of the Year which opened the festival with the slogan “Love your rhythm, rhyme your actions. Poetry is you.”

Agustin Valentin Lopez reading his poetry at Yoani and Reinaldo's house
Agustin Valentin Lopez reading his poetry at Yoani and Reinaldo’s house

Agustín waited 20 years, isolated and rebellious, to read Mi Tengo to be published in the next issue of the magazine Curacao 24. Reinaldo Escobar, usually Magister Ludi, chose a very beautiful one titled Motivos del Lobo (Reasons of the Wolf), that I am going to ask him to repeat here. And El Sexto believing in Things Unseen, as tender and unforgettable as his graffiti.

Reinaldo Escobar flanked by Yoani Sanchez and Luis Elegio d'Omni
Reinaldo Escobar flanked by Yoani Sanchez and Luis Elegio d’Omni

It was the time of fellowship, because we are all joined a similar fate in many ways. As I remember Munch’s The Dance of Life, so I felt that night, because I can reproduce every hour in my memory from the influence left on me by the conversation with the swell of sympathy.

Liliane Ruiz + Angel Santiestaban at Yoani and Reinaldo's house
Liliane Ruiz + Angel Santiestaban at Yoani and Reinaldo’s house

The tide threw me up on Ángel Santiesteban’s beach. All we Cubans have to defend ourselves with against the system power of the dictatorship of the State is our solidarity. Angel faces a fate* that threatens to swallow him alive. Everything that the prosecution charges him with to remove him him from public life, which is the true final objective of end file prepared by State Security, has been manufactured against him by the system itself. I ask again the solidarity of many people and I hope to write about the case a later post.

*Translator’s note: Recent posts about the prison sentence Angel faces are here, here, here and here.


Liliane Ruiz

January 4 2013