More Than 50 Activists Arrested Sunday In The March Of The Ladies In White / 14ymedio

The writer Angel Santiesteban with the Ladies in White at the Gandhi Park at the exit of the church of Santa Rita (Photo Luis Lazaro Guanche)
The writer Angel Santiesteban with the Ladies in White at the Gandhi Park at the exit of the church of Santa Rita (Photo Luis Lazaro Guanche)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 August 2015 – This afternoon, after Sunday’s march of the Ladies in White on Fifth Avenue in Miramar, Havana, 40 members of this organization and about 15 activists were arrested.

The arrests came after a massive act of repudiation against the Ladies in White, as reported to 14ymedio by several witnesses present at the scene. Among those detained are the blogger Lia Villares, the government opponent Raul Borges and independent journalist Juan González Febles.

The Ladies in White have denounced the increased repression around the walk organized every Sunday at the conclusion of Mass in the church of Santa Rita, in Miramar. This time most of the arrests occurred on the 28th Street at the corner of 3rd, when the activists had left the immediate vicinity of the parish.

Meanwhile in Colón, Matanzas province, nine Ladies in White carried out their march for the freedom of political prisoners under a strong police operation. So far there have been no arrests reported in the province.

‘El Sexto’ dedicates his award to his jailers to show them that he is not alone / 14ymedio

Lia Villares collects the award for Danilo Maldonado, "El Sexto” Wednesday in Oslo. (MileydiMC)
Lia Villares collects the award for Danilo Maldonado, “El Sexto” Wednesday in Oslo. (MileydiMC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 May 2105 – The Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, could not collect the 2015 International Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissidence, in the ceremony organized by the Oslo Freedom Forum. The prize, awarded by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) of New York, was received by the activist Lia Villares, since the graffiti artist has been in prison since last December, charged with contempt, for trying to stage a performance with two pigs decorated with the names “Fidel” and “Raul.”

After presenting a brief music video, with the refrain repeating “Three years [in prison] for two pigs, no,” and closing with the images of a rally to demand freedom for the artist and the phrase, “Contempt should never be avoided,” Villares read a letter written by El Sexto from Villa Marista penitentiary. continue reading

“I want to dedicate this prize also to those who have me in prison, to remind them that I am not alone,” the artist said. The graffiti artist also thanked the Ladies in White, his daughter, the writer Angel Santiesteban (who is also in prison) and the artist Tania Bruguera (arrested this Sunday in front of her house and released shortly afterward).

The other award winners, members of the Sudanese non-violent resistance movement and the Indonesian comic Girifna Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, personally received a representation of the Goddess of Democracy, the iconic statue erected by Chinese students during protests in Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

The Oslo Freedom Forum, which opened Monday in the Norwegian capital and will close on Wednesday, gathers the proponents of freedom and human rights from several countries. This year’s gathering is the Freedom Forum’s seventh, and focuses “on those places where it is impossible to stage protests, which are silenced or attacked, as in Cuba and Russia,” according to its founder, Thor Halvorssen.

Free El Sexto / Lia Villares

To beat me you need weapons, police prisons. For me to beat you I only need spray paint and this  little piece of paper.
Left side: El Sexto, disappeared. Right side: For you to beat me you need weapons, you need police, you need prisons. For me to beat you I only need spray paint and this little piece of paper.

Lia Villares’ tweet: #IAlsoDemand #FreeElSextoNow 1 artist deserves the attention of the free generations of the future free.


State Security Summons Estado de Sats Members to “Warn” Them About “For Another Cuba” Graffiti

Campaign for Another Cuba. Graffiti Collective, #WeWantItNow, June 8 at 10 am, Wherever you are!!! For the ratification of the UN covenants/ (Estado de Sats)

Several members of Estado de Sats were summoned by State Security to a Havana police station this Saturday, to “warn” them about the Grafiti Colectivo Por otra Cuba, organized by the independent project for this Sunday, to support the campaign demanding that the Government ratify the United Nations covenants that it signed in 2008.

“They wanted (…) to threaten us, as always, and to say that they would not allow any type of action,” the visual artist Lía Villares told Diario de Cuba.

“I told them it was an international action, a global movement in support of the campaign, and that they couldn’t prevent what was happening in different parts of the world,” she added. continue reading

Two years since the start of the campaign, Estado de Sats has proposed “simultaneous and collective graffiti,” within and outside Cuba, of the For Another Cuba logo, created by the graphic artist and caricaturist Gustavo Rodríguez (Garrincha).

Also “to document the actions and post photos and videos on social networks, to make this ’collective graffiti’ a media success in support of the message For Another Cuba.”

In addition to Villares, also summoned were the photographer Claudio Fuentes, the writer and independent journalist Camilo Ernesto Olivera, and the activist Dixán Romero, who did not appear because of irregularities in the summonses.

“I went out wearing a shirt with the campaign logo and they were so upset, evidently so disturbed, that they talked to the logo, not to me,” related Villares, who was “warned” by two officials.

“I asked them why they don’t combat corruption, delinquency, why a person like myself sitting there at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon (…) why they were doing this work while the country was falling apart. But that didn’t interest them, they wanted to deliver their threatening and intimidating message,” she added.

The Campaign for Another Cuba demands that Havana ratify the United Nations covenants on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Diario de Cuba, 8 June 2014

CubaRaw2013 – The Project / Lia Villares, Silvia Corbelle, Claudio Fuentes, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 1.25.32 PMCUBARAW: A Photography Project for the Support and Dissemination of Alternative Cultural Activities in Today’s Cuba

Created by Claudio Fuentes Madan and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo in 2009, now continued by Claudio, Silvia Corbelle and Lia Villares, 2013.

The alternative photographic agency CUBARAW is an attempt to launch a database of images (as well as custom images), starting from the work of each photographer involved, but as a collective endeavor to revolutionize both Cuban independent journalism as well as activism in favor of human rights in our nation.

CUBARAW refers to the format “.raw” of maximum digital quality, but also the idea of Cuba “in the raw” without distortion or censorship.

2da temp R 10 -019  copia 1 webIt is a platform for all members of the emerging Cuban civil society interested in developing their photographic abilities, whether professional or otherwise, and whether active or otherwise as communicators tied to agencies, libraries, discussion groups, opposition parties, etc.
continue reading

2da temp R 14 -018 copia 1 webIn Cuba there have been several independent news agencies, with both academic and self-taught reporters and photojournalists. Among the population today there is a fairly high penetration of amateur format digital cameras, which, along with the use of mobile phones (and to a lesser extent iPhones) that allows the collection of a good flow of information about our context.

ROLLo81025 copia 1 webThese photos circulate from computer to computer through discs or flash drives, and often are published on the internet. However, beyond their experiential value, most of these snapshot waste most of their discursive potential–aesthetic and political–with the result that, without notable exceptions, the visualization coming from the dissidence, opposition and Cuban independent press is poor.

ROLLo 8031 copia 1 webThis lack of visualization is hard to grasp from within the island, where internet connectivity is almost zero beyond the capital, especially in the case of civil society actors who never have the privileged connectivity of the State. This is so normal that it’s not considered a difficulty that should be solved immediately and permanently for the future.

An independent photo agency, which also functions as a shared database at the national level (free of charge to national citizens but compensated for interested correspondents) would be a proposal capable of meeting this deficiency in Cuban visual discourse.

2da temp R 44-09 copia 1 webCUBARAW will offer the creation, classification and development of a database of images taken of the day to day reality of contemporary Cuba, photos–(and to the extent possible, videos–valuable for their expressive power in any field of interest: repression, activism, the economy and jobs, education, health and hygiene, manners and folklore, sports, religion, migration, art, concerts, theater, communications and transportation, etc.

CUBARAW will disseminate freely and massively (via DVDs and flash memory), at the national level, the updated image database of the CUBARAW agency, especially among independent social communicators independent official Cuban institutions, preferably if they are in active contact with the emerging civil society, and through promotional postcards with attractive and non-politicized designs.

ROLLo 8036 copia 1 webCUBARAW will make available–physically and virtually–to interested parties, an emerging model photographic course with textual and audiovisual materials, of a theoretical and practical nature, for developing technical and artistic photographic expression among independent Cuban journalists, which in turn could become image partners for CUBARAW, as well distribute this methodological information.

The workshops will be taught by Claudio Fuentes Madan with the objective of providing bloggers and independent journalists a better understanding of photography as a language and a greater autonomy in their work.

Photos in body of text by Lia Villares

#FreeGorki – The Gorki Aguila Case / Lia Villares


The trial schedules for this Tuesday against Gorki Águila, leader of the punk rock band Porno para Ricardo, was postponed because of the health problems of his defense attorney, according to the musician himself on his Facebook page. Gorki spoke about the background of his case with Diario de Cuba.

 Gorki, what are they accusing you of?

The formal citation they gave me said the crimes of pre-criminal social dangerousness and illegal drug possession, with many points suspended.

Were you carrying drugs?

When they stopped me on the street and searched me and found two Tradea pills — methylphenidate — for which I have the appropriate prescription, signed and sealed, which are strong proof that they were bought legally. The police investigation has no evidence beyond those two pills.

Why are they accusing you?

The classic recourse of the government is to tie the “uncomfortable” individual to some prefabricated crime. In my case they didn’t ahve much more and I thought it unlikely that they’d convict me, if it was a free trial, for the (completely legal) possession of two tables of a medication that I need, according to a doctor’s prescription.

What’s your impression of this new trial and now the suspension of it?

It has the same characteristics of the 2008 trial, the same intentions, because a despotic government like ours never renounces the idea of silencing protestors like me by constant threats of prison, whether we are artists, activists, journalists or simply citizens. continue reading

On the morning of the day before yesterday I learned that the trial had been postponed because of my attorney’s health. It was to have been held on Tuesday, the 11th, but was delayed approximately a week. I thought this surprise, without any definitive date, could be dangerous because State Security could use it as a strategy and take advantage of less media coverage so I’d have a silent trial with weaker visibility.

Meanwhile, the government could create a parallel campaign to discredit me on the social networks, which seems like a recurring error on their part, because the exaggeration of creating false situations against each and everyone who dares to denounce them or express an opinion contrary to its purposes becomes suspect.

Castro never could admit that his opponents could be dignified enemies and have a body of more elevated moral principles; his attitude has always been not to recognize opponents and so to underestimate them, but taking care that they are never respected, rather defamed and in extreme cases imprisoned and even assassinated.

What are your expectations for the trial? Why summary?

I understand that these trials are held in very few countries and almost always in times of war, as an immediate lesson. The summary trials in Cuba are produced serially, with little documentation, that is, they can hold several trials on the same day, at the same time, with the ruling made in advance, where the political police has everything to gain. In this sense the regime takes great advantage of them against the peaceful opponents.


In these trials, mostly rigged by State Security — it’s expected that the ruling will go against the accused. So I think it’s extremely important to maintain solidarity among everyone because, as demonstrated in the previous trial in 2008, the more public opinion was moved and the more visibility the case got at the international level, it was possible with everyone to change a decision already decided by the anti-revolutionary injustice, on the  retrograde sense of the Cuban government.

Your case is not isolate…

The government finds in these moments in the practice meant to “neutralize” the various opponents, one of their bad so-called “revolutionary offenses.” This is the case with my friend Manuel Cuesta Morúa, who finds himself under police investigation with absurd charges like “the spread of false news that threatens international peace.”

It’s incredible that someone who threatened the total destruction of the planet earth, could say that a simple opinion or the exercise of free expression could threaten international peace. It’s something as cynical as his persona, someone who dedicated his whole life to launching the false image of “revolutionary and ecologist.”

There was also the case of the independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez, who spent long months in prison simply for exposing the spread of the cholera epidemic in the country, work that should have been the job of the national press, which has never mentioned, with sincerity, news that is alarming to the population.

Tell me how it was in 2008…

I was in the dungeon without knowing anything that was going on outside. At a specific time a cop came with the file and told me what I was charged with would be changed. Then the treatment inside the jail mutated tremendously. When they reduced the charges, some official even said that all those who were there were criminals while I was just there for being “anti-Castro.”

That is, they changed the crime of social dangerousness to the crime of disobedience and from then is where I can corroborate the rapid collapse of the armed farce.  When they substituted the charge of one crime for another following no procedures at all, completely lacking in rigor: what’s missing is the Rule of Law. This leaves the usual arbitrariness of the Cuban judicial system completely exposed, where terms like “legal certainty” or “res judicata” are alien to is citizens, frequently defenseless before such procedures.

Then I knew I had a strong international solidarity campaign and within the country all my friends and activists supported me making sure everyone knew about my situation and the false charges I was accused of.

I’m convinced that the only way to transform these previous designs of the tyranny is to realize that uniting in the demand against injustice we can multiply the message that we all need right now, that of freedom for civil Cuban society, in short, freedom for Cuba.

I would like to thank all the people sensitive to my situation who have signed the petition and who are continuing to pay attention to what could happen with respect to this inadmissible case.

Thank you so much! Hopefully this is the year that yes, it falls!

Diario de Cuba, 12 February 2014, Lia Villares

“The psychological torture was intense, permanent. They wanted to erase his mind.” / Lilianne Ruiz

HAVANA, Cuba, December, was raining heavily in Havana. It was the first day of December and Miriam Leiva had come to Cuba carrying the ashes of her husband and the memories of their almost 40 years together. Oscar Espinosa Chepe had died after a long illness that they shared together like so many things in their lives: work, civic activism and love.

Surrounded by the books and periodicals that he treasured, he was now in the metal urn in the small apartment from which he’d left last March to seek medical treatment in Spain. For those who knew this couple it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

Cubanet– Did he want his ashes returned?

Miriam Leivan– When we arrived at the La Fuenfria Hospital, he was very ill.  He told me, “When the time comes, I want you to cremate me and take me to Cienfuegos.” The doctor came by several times the same day and on one of the visits he told her, forcefully and with tremendous clarity, “Doctor, I want to return to Cuba.” She and I looked at each other, because given the condition he was in this was impossible. And he said again, “It’s hard to say… When it happens, I want to return to Cuba. Because I have always wanted to be in Cuba.” And then she told him, “Don’t worry, your wife already has everything arranged.”

We went there in March and he died at the end of September. September 23. continue reading

Cubanet– Why didn’t you go earlier to improve his health?

Miriam Leiva – They wouldn’t allow him to go abroad and return. That is, we had to leave Cuba permanently. When he got out of prison in November 2004 he could have gone abraod and lived there permanently and gotten medical treatment, and he told me no, not without being able to return to Cuba, he wasn’t going anywhere.

Cubanet– What other limitations were imposed on his life on parole.

Miriam Leiva – When he was released in 2004, he comes to the house. Then they tell him he can’t return to his activities, he can’t write, he can’t speak. I alerted the foreign press that Oscar was here and they all came, everyone who wanted to, tons of correspondents accredited in Havana, and he immediately began writing and speaking.

In a year and a half they called him before the Playa Municipal Court and told him he could not continue the activities he was engaged in, that he was being monitored by the neighborhood “factors” (the Party, the Young Communist League, and the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution) who would report on his behavior.

On the basis of that they gave him a document with some 11 prohibition, among that that he couldn’t leave Havana without permission, he couldn’t engage in exchanges, could not work. All this was in the document, something like 10 or 11 prohibitions. And he continued to do exactly the same things because there is a reality which he expressed in his opinions in a constructive manner and for the betterment of our country, and as he and I have always told them: prove that we are lying. Prove that we are saying something that is incorrect. They can’t prove it; we carry on.

Cubanet– And this year his health worsened?

Miriam Leiva – Last year in June he started to have a leg problem, with a lot of pain and then the problem in his liver started to get worse and he felt badly and lost weight. He was admitted to intensive care in Fajardo Hospital, which where he was always seen, and there they say that the biliary system was clogged, which seemed to have been going on for some time, and it was deteriorating.

The immediate solution was to put a prosthesis in the bile duct endoscopically, or minimally invasive. But this prosthesis lasted 2 or 3 months and had to be changed because it became contaminated by an infection in the bile processes, so they had to change it. He was admitted in December because it was going very badly and they told him they didn’t have an opening for him and he would have to wait until the beginning of January, it wasn’t the beginning it was the middle. But fine, they had an opening and the doctor he saw that time told me the problem wasn’t just an obstructed vile duct, but due to the deterioration of the bile system many of the branches of the ducts were badly damaged and that there was nothing they could do here. Perhaps abroad they would have other treatments but in Cuba there weren’t any more resources, no other possibilities.

Cubanet– And that time did they guarantee he could return?

Miriam Leiva – That was when we started to try to convince him to get treatment abroad because now, yes, if he remained in Cuba he would be dead sooner or later. And it was hard to convince him. Then he said, if they let me return I will go, and that mobilized me. I got in contact with different governments to see what the immediate possibilities were because somewhere else perhaps there was something they could do.

And the government of Spain — where they a lot of expertise in liver disease — said yes, they could offer medical care, but all the other costs would be up to us. And I didn’t ask how much the fare would be, but I said, yes, we will start the paperwork to get permission to leave and return. Here, we asked if he accepted a passport, could he return. Finally it was clear that he could return.

Cubanet– Tell us about Madrid…

Miriam Leiva – I was very afraid he wouldn’t make it to Madrid alive; but luckily he arrived. Very weak, but he got there. I got a travel helper and in the airport he went everywhere in a wheelchair. He didn’t have the strength to walk. We got there on Tuesday and on Wednesday in the morning we were at Hospital Puerta de Hierro. He went to the emergency room. They did everything, all the checks he needed to be admitted and when there was a room available, they took him there.

After some tests they changed the prosthesis. There they discovered that in addition to a diseased liver and the bile problems he had hepatitis B that hadn’t been diagnosed, and a bacterium called Clostridium. He was put in isolation because of the hepatitis. He was there for days while the hepatitis was treated and he was improved. They started a special treatment for the clostridium and he was better. But he was still feeling very very weak. He was hoping for a liver transplant, but given his age, over 70, they couldn’t do it. Besides he was very run down.

Cubanet– In Madrid there were the two professors…

Miriam Leiva – He gave a lecture at the Hispano-Cuban Foundation, which was his last recorded lecture. He had a very high fever that day. Afterwards, when Professor Carmelo-Mesa-Laga was there, he invited us to the hotel where he was staying. By email we told him it would be a huge effort for Oscar. Then Carmelo and his wife came to see us, we had already moved to a smaller and cheaper hostel. It wasn’t bad, I can’t fault the price.

Carmelo invited us to go to his lecture at the Casa de America and another meeting at the Elcano Institute, a very prestigious Spanish institution in the area of Foreign Policy. It was nice because when Carmelo finished speaking in Casa de America, and other people were already asking questions, Oscar didn’t know that he was going to speak at Carmelo’s conference and asked a question. And before answering Carmelo said, “Oscar Espinosa Chepe, who is here.” It was very nice, he said some very nice words about Oscar and they applauded a great deak and that was a nice thing.

Miriam tells the story

Cubanet– Did his health worse in prison, in the Black Spring of 2003?

Miriam Leiva– After the search that begin in hour home at 4:30 in the afternoon and lasted until 3:00 in the morning they took Oscar to Villa Marista. A few days went by before they let me visit, maybe a week, I thought I would get a visit a week. It was a 15-minute visit with the officials in the little room and you couldn’t talk about anything other than family problems. He had already lost a lot of weight. He was sallow, a typical color when the liver is in crisis. Why? Because ot the intense interrogations in Villa Marista.

The Cuban government doesn’t torture in a way that is visible physically, but their psychological torture is suffocating and very intense. And this was what they did to Oscar. Then they simply put him in a cell with three common prisoners, and he could barely walk because it was very small, they had nothing there, no toothpaste, when he wanted something he had to bang on the metal for the jailer to come and open the bars and say “What do you want?”

The interrogators were there whenever it occurred to them, whenever they wanted, and especially when they thought he might be sleeping. So he wasn’t able tog et any rest. Oscar told me about the conversation, basically in his case, for example” how did he think, and why as he involved in this, why, it wasn’t worth it, that ultimately what was he talking about when he talked about reforms, he would give an example, “If even Vietnam and China are making changes and reforms, why can’t Cuba do it?”

The interrogator finally answered on the day of the trial, “Boy, because we’re not Chinese nor Vietnamese.” He continued to say the same things that he said here at home. The intensity of this system of interrogation and the bad food, the conditions, everything, what crowding there… he deteriorated a lot.

Because of our demands they took him to the Military Hospital. There they didn’t do any tests or anything, they told me that because he had been sent to prison he was going to prison. They sent him to the prison in Guantanamo. A journey very difficult for everyone, very hard, because they put them handcuffed in a bus, and they couldn’t talk to each other and they were left in all the prisons along the way until Guantanamo which was the last.

Cubanet– From Guantanamo he was taken….

Miriam Leiva – In Guantanamo he became very ill. I went there. Then they finally put him in the hospital of that city. It began to rain and the hospital only served emergencies, and they sent him to El Cobre Hospital, in Santiago de Cuba, that served the Boniato prison. There They wanted to do all the medical tests they thought necessary there and he said no. They told him if would have the tests they were going to take him to Boniatico, the isolation cells in Boniato. There were others of the 75 Black Spring prisoners in isolation cells there. Then I learned that he’d been sent to Boniatico.

Cubanet – What happened in Boniatico ?

Miriam Leiva – They dragged him off again to Santiago, with a doctor, from our family, and the prison director told me there weren’t any doctors, that I couldn’t talk to the doctors. I said, “Look, the only thing I have to do in my life is take care of Oscar Espinosa Chepe, and to I can stay here in the prison where I won’t bother you, but I will be there.”

Then an official from the Ministry of the Interior appeared and called him aside. This man never spoke the whole time, he simply sat there and when something in the conversation interested him he called an official from outside and told him what he had to do. Three doctors appeared, the head doctor and two others. We explained the whole situation, the doctor explained about Oscar. They went to see Oscar who was obviously very sick and they took him back to the prison part of the El Cobre hospital. They didn’t give him newspapers or anything, they put him in total isolation. They didn’t tell him we were there, that we came three times a day; his mother in the morning, his sister at noon and I at night. They completely isolated him.

Cubanet -From Boniatico to Habana…

Miriam Leiva — One day I learned that the afternoon before Oscar had been taken very ill about 3:00 in the afternoon and at the 11:00 PM they put him a plane for Havana and he was in the C.J. Finlay Military Hospital. This was in August 2003. I asked for a medical report. They said, “Yes, we will give it to you,” and they were going to do that when I met with a doctor in September, what they gave me was a piece of paper that didn’t say anything substantial. It was a tiny little medical history with less than I knew, much less. They didn’t tell my how Oscar was at that time, nor why he was there. You know they don’t give you medical information because they don’t want to. In March of the following year they gave me some information after a great deal of insistence on my part and also under pressure from the international community.

The psychological torture of Oscar Espinosa Chepe was intense, permanent, very malicious, everything. When the inmates were in the hospital they had one visit a week. Oscar had one visit a month and we never knew when it would be. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know, but he was the prisoner and he didn’t know. You know when Oscar found out? When they opened the cell. In this place the cells are rooms, it’s an old house with some little rooms. And he was with common prisoners, he knew Coco Fariñas was there for a time but he didn’t hear him, never saw him.

The prisoners had a right to television, but they never let Oscar see television. When he came from Santiago they took away everything, absolutely everything. They left him in Villa Marist and I I had to go to Villa Marista to find him. They even took his bible. The letters, photos, everything, everything, they took away everything.

On the first visit I showed up with a Bible and said, “Can’t Oscar have this here,” and so he had the Bible. He couldn’t have anything having to do with his life, with economics, with Cuba, with anything. They wanted to erase that man’s mind. They wouldn’t even give him the Granma newspaper. The only time they showed him television, they opened the curtain they had put across the bars of the cell and showed him the television from there — it was when the former foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque said on TV that Oscar was lying about his illness.

Cubanet – Miriam, you were experiencing the punishment imposed by the regime on Oscar; but you continued writing…

Miriam Leiva – Yes, of course, I was writing more than ever. I didn’t stop. Then I was coordinating with the wives of the 75 Black Spring prisoners and we started a strong movement for their release.

Cubanet– Were you afraid at any point?

Miriam Leiva – Look, I’m going to tell you one thing: fear is felt for a moment sometimes, in certain situations. What happens is that you overcome the fear and it doesn’t overcome you. When it gets too much it gets on your nerves and you have to go or overcome it at home. And, well, all human beings are afraid… I think I’ve been very afraid at certain times, but it’s seconds and it passes and I continue on. You understand? The problem is overcoming the fear.

Do you know where I got my greatest strength? I can’t turn away from an injustice, they want to impose on me, they want to blackmail me, they want me to say things that aren’t true. And in addition, they are injuring a person who has done nothing wrong.

Cubanet – And now, what are the personal plans of Miriam Leiva?

Miriam Leiva – I will continue writing and expressing my opinion. My fundamental commitment was to bring Oscar’s ashes. It too two months to resolve the death certificate and to undergo my own medical check up, but I didn’t want to prolong it because I wanted to bring the ashes as soon as possible.

Lilianne Ruíz  

26 December 2013, Cubanet

Photos and Video of Human Rights Day Repression Against the Ladies in White and Estado de SATS

Schoolchildren being used in an act of repudiation against Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares
Schoolchildren being used in an act of repudiation against Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares

Police in front of Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares
Police in front of Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares

Estado de Sats, before the violence. Photo: Lia Villares
Estado de Sats, before the violence. Photo: Lia Villares

The following video shows the violent arrests of Ladies in White and the scene in front of Estado de SATS, with a short interview of Antonio Rodiles inside the conference.

11 December 2013

Antonio Rodiles Arrested With Extreme Violence / Estado de SATS

Plainclothes State Security before the violence. Photo from Lia Villares
Plainclothes State Security before the violence. Photo from Lia Villares

From Agents of the State Security (the political police) just kidnapped Antonio Rodiles, leader of the independent social-cultural group Estado de SATS, using extreme violence, according to what could be learned from the activist and journalist Camilo Ernesto Olivera. Rodiles stepped a few yards off his property to ask some schoolchildren to stop painting signs on the street against the attendees of the Human Rights Conference being held at house beginning yesterday.

There was an altercation with the police and State Security rapidly stepped in. As Rodiles was being detained his wife and his mother, Ailer Gonzalez and Gladys Fernandez respectively, protested and were surrounded by the government demonstrators, children and adults.

Then began a typical act of repudiation (insults and expletives) like those held in the early 80s against those leaving the country. At the time of this writing the two women remain under siege.

On the closing day of the First International Conference on Human Rights being held in Rodiles’ home, the house remained surrounded and the use of children as political mediators, with songs, music and government banners, continued. Camilo Ernesto Olivera underscored how unfortunate it is that the State gets involved in this situation to block the Conference.

The Washington Post carried an editorial in support of the Rodiles: Antonio Rodiles boldly confronts the Castro regime

11 December 2013

Update on Angel Santiesteban / Lia Villares

Photo from Aimara Pérez

For his friends, colleagues, and all who are interested in continuing, in some way, to help: Right now Angel Santiesteban is better [after having been admitted to the hospital for dengue fever], and is no longer in the hospital. They took him back to the military facility, where is he very weak from the time he was without good food.

From Lia Villares’ Facebook

23 September 2013

Dis Tortue, Dors-Tu Nue? / Lia Villares

Fog in the mornings, hunger for clarity,
coffee and bread with sour plum jam.
Numbness of soul in placid neighborhoods.
Lives ticking on as if.

Adrienne Rich

B gets up and goes to the shower. Doesn’t close doors or draw curtains. The water runs vaporously, terrifyingly. Bends to open the blinds, the gown open.

—Dis-moi, what is the best?

—The best and the worst, like the Bukowski poem?

—For him, it was the whores, the beer. The worst: The work, the police stations, the terminals.

—Let’s see, the best is to bathe together. And your mother’s rice pudding.

—For me, the best is the light. Your skin, the hues, what I can’t manage to see, what I see too much of. Before and after, the nights at the Cinemateque, with Helmut Kautner. The photography course only-for-aficionados. The watery and hot cappuccinos on the little table beneath the fly trap: Electric trap for bugs, shaking us with each capture, zapping sound included. Without changing places, reading the tired, almost-never-happy faces of the regulars. We’re dying with disgust. More. The couples stopped by the window pane, faces of hand-holders looking for a place, some empty table for two. The estrangement always evoked by the discredit or that childish surprise over everything that at some point was drawn on its own face. Youthful exhibitors of daily stupidity, an expanded emptiness. The crazy guy with his Walkman moving his head, or paying attention in the dark hall to the fleeting hand that slides along the peeled walls of the stairways of Wong Kar-Wai. The waitresses vomiting their boredom into cups. A vomit of sorrow. Of lack of desire and insignificance.

—And what else?

—The alcohol burner and the saltpeter, one guitar-playing friend used to say. Linen clothes, sans doute. To read Bukowski on the toilet. To write dirty poems.

—Bob Dylan in halves: Midnight and half a bottle of whisky for two.

—Tim Burton poems in the Inbox.

—The best, j’insiste, does not include me?

—Let me see… What’s missing are new books, to hibernate under the blankets, the slippers from Quito…

—Count Basie. Your bedroom at three in the afternoon, if it was possible to isolate it from the telephone-streets-buses.

—Black tea, chocolate with cinnamon. Milord at the accordion, Edith on the speakers.

—Now you’re starting to include me.

After and before on the night buses, fuller than the moon and the bellies. The windows open, stained with collective sweat. To linger, watching a fat woman leaning on a grey, dirty wall. A tiny dress the color of skin, the bare skin coming out of the scanty, tight silk. The girl(s) of thirteen, the downy hair behind the neck, the back, the bony shoulders. Straps fallen from a blouse that holds in the hint of all-too noticeable areolas. (Just looking at her you get goose bumps. When a seat is free you take it, and fast, to be direct: Come, don’t you want to sit on me? And she does not hesitate: She leans back, her lightness taking your breath away.) The loose hairs the color of chamomile, or our braided knots. Both of our hairs messing up with the wind on our faces at the speed of the night. Her glances, lost inside the walls that remained, from rubble to rubble, searching for some color that does not exist, for some hue alive in appearance.


Translated by Juan O. Tamayo

The publication of this story is part of Sampsonia Way Magazine’s “CUBAN NEWRRATIVE: e-MERGING LITERATURE FROM GENERATION ZERO” project, in collaboration with Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, and a collection of authors writing from Cuba. You can read this story in Spanish here, and other stories from the project, here.

17 September 2013