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

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

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

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

Criminal Court Division One continue reading

Writ Granting Hearing in Habeas Corpus Proceeding

President – Gerardo Peña Canales

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

In Las Tunas on April 28, 2021

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

Judge Gerardo Peña Canales presiding –

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

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

The Court Agrees:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

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

A Doctor of Law Lies in the Official Media / Cubalex

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

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

Elements of forced disappearance

1. Deprivation of liberty

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

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

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

Continuous or permanent nature of the enforced disappearance: continue reading

The act of disappearance and its execution

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

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

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

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

not to be arbitrarily detained,

not to be subjected to torture,

to life and to the recognition of legal personality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When responding to the petitions presented, the acting judges:

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

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

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

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

Lack of judicial control in the domestic context:

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

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

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

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

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

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

The activist Mario Alberto Hernández Leyva (Courtesy)

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*a notorious Secret Police torture facility and jail]

Translated by Tomás A.

‘Our People’ Do Not Want to Return to Capitalism, Asserts Cuban Minister of Economy

A Cuban may not own more than one business (though it may have widespread activity), since it is contrary to the socialist principle against accumulating wealth. (yelo34)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, September 1, 2021 — The ministers of the Government’s economic area, led by Vice Prime Minister Alejandro Gil, appeared on the Mesa Redonda (Roundtable) television program on Tuesday, presumably to give the “Necessary answers regarding the actors of the Cuban economy.” Although little news came out of this tedious exercise, there was time to finish the program by denying that the approval of the MSMEs [micro, small, and medium-size enterprises] could mean a return to capitalism which, as they argued, is not what the people want.

Gil contended that the approval of the norms that regulate non-agricultural cooperatives and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which comes into force on September 20, is nothing more than an improvement and modernization of socialist principles. “We do not want a capitalist and neoliberal style project,” he argued, despite the fact that the Cuban economy is increasingly on the path to a ruthless state capitalism.

“We are going to achieve a country with greater coherence, where people can develop their life project. This is more socialism and more Revolution,” Gil claimed in a kind of final argument.

Along the same line, the ministers had already referred to the impossibility of having more than one company per person, a rule that is based on the constitutional (socialist) principle of avoiding the concentration of property and wealth. Nor, for the same reason, can one company be continue reading

a partner of another. “It would be laughable if successive MSMEs were set up where the owner was always the same person. If this happened, it would be in a way breaking the rule,” they warned. Of course, they pointed out that the company’s corporate purpose can be so broad that it includes multiple services.

The ministers went over the most frequent doubts that have circulated since the legislative content became known, but the answers did not clarify much, when all they did was limit themselves to repeating what was already known.

For example, they insisted on pointing out what they have considered priority sectors for the first phase — which will be food production, technology-based companies related to additive manufacturing, robotics or the creation of new materials or establishing technology parks, local development projects — without explaining how they plan to manage, right off the bat, such a radical change in the country’s productive fabric.

The Minister of Economy also referred to the possibility of foreigners investing and, in that sense, recalled that the rule is the same as for the state-owned company: only a company that is set up as a mixed-ownership company may be formed with capital from a resident in Cuba and another abroad. But according to the Foreign Investment Law (2014), a “mixed company” is a “commercial company that takes the form of a corporation,” something that is prohibited to individuals and reserved to the State.

Nor does it change anything with respect to exports and imports, which can be done as long as they are channeled through a state company, and they are “prohibited” for professions, such as architects, lawyers, engineers, teachers, journalists or veterinarians.

Gil argued that professionals can work in the private sector, but cannot create a company dedicated exclusively to an activity that is not allowed, so that, based on their statements, a lawyer, for example, could offer legal services to a company, but could not represent it in court.

“There are a range of malicious opinions that say that if you are a professional you cannot work in a MSME or that if you work in one you have to develop an activity for which you are not qualified. This is not the case. . . . What is not allowed are activities that are dedicated only to professional services. Computer scientists, the pet veterinarian, the bookkeeper for accounting activities are allowed.” A short and very restrictive list.

The Minister of Labor and Social Security took on one of the questions that will remain to be answered later. Maria Elena Feito Cabrera gave assurance that the salary of workers in private companies may be decided by employers with the participation of workers through a collective agreement and with the participation of unions. But she did not specify whether there could be unions other than the official ones and whether employees could form their own collectives to look out for their interests.

The worst of last night’s news came from the Central Bank of Cuba, which affirmed that companies will be able to request loans in Cuban pesos, but not in foreign exchange, though in all probability they will have to buy a multitude of raw materials and supplies in the international market.

“To grant financing in that currency [freely convertible] we would have to have individuals involved who have income in that currency and the capacity to repay the financing, hence the possibility of withholding money for exports, or liquidity for sales to Mariel [Port of Mariel Special Development Zone], or for sale in MLC [Freely Convertible Foreign Currency] stores,” he explained.

Translated by Tomás A.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Convenience of the Inactivity of the National Assembly / Cubalex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

More Than 400 People Continue to be Detained After the Cuban Protests of July 11

No one detained during the 11th July protests is still listed as missing by Cubalex. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, September 1, 2021 — At least 405 people arrested during the protests in Cuba that began on July 11 remain in prison, according to a report by the Cubalex legal advice center. These data, collected independently with the help of a group of volunteers, show that of the total number of arrests (898), the crimes most commonly charged are “public disorder,” “contempt,” “instigation to commit a crime,” and “assault.”

One of those who remains imprisoned is Liliana Ferrer, 20, arrested in the La Güinera neighborhood of Havana in the heat of the July 12 protests. The young woman is currently in the Guatao prison accused of assault. Her mother, Lizandra Ferrer, tells 14ymedio that she spoke with her by phone this Wednesday but that “she doesn’t know anything about her legal proceedings.”

“She’s accused of assault but there are many charged with the same crime who were bailed out for 2,000 pesos. Then they paid a fine and are now free,” she says in anguish. “So I don’t understand what’s happened with her. They haven’t held a trial. I already hired a lawyer but he hasn’t gotten a change of status for her so she can be at home.”

She explains that on the block where they live the authorities have done “like three investigations” regarding her daughter’s social behavior and continue reading

that she knew that they have always “spoken highly of her, that she doesn’t meet with antisocial people and that she is a good little girl. I don’t understand why she’s going through this.”

The mother claims she doesn’t know precisely what evidence they have against Ferrer. “Some people, including the lawyer, have told me that they accuse her of having a bottle in her hand and that in a photo of her you can see when she gives it to a man who asks for it,” she explained.

The sisters Lisdani and Lisdiani Rodríguez Isaac, both 22 years old, are in a similar situation. They are being held under a “precautionary measure of provisional imprisonment” in Guamajal Prison, in Placetas, Villa Clara, for the crimes of “public disorder, contempt, instigation to commit a crime, assault, and the propagation of epidemics.”

Also in prison awaiting trial on assault charges are Livan Hernández Lago, from Artemisa; Luis Felipe Castillo Ochoa, from Havana, and Maykel Armentero Oramas, in Villa Clara. María Cristina Garrido, from Mayabeque, charged with the crime of attack, is also accused of “public disorder, resistance, and the propagation of epidemics.”

In Holguín province, Marco Antonio Pintueles, a business student, is also accused of assault after his arrest in the Plaza de la Revolución in that province. The young man is currently in the Provincial Prison, according to a report by his mother, Dairy Marrero, speaking to Radio Martí.

The woman says that she went to the Prosecutor’s Office seeking information on her son’s case but didn’t get answers “anywhere” and considers what happened “an injustice.” “He’s a boy who just turned 18. I didn’t know he’d been arrested until about five days ago when he called me from prison,” Rivero explained this Tuesday.

The crime of assault, according to the Cuban Penal Code, carries a prison sentence of one to three years.

On Cubalex’s list, no detainee is reported as missing. One of those who had been included in this category is the dissident José Daniel Ferrer, but his family reported this Friday that they had received a letter signed by him, which they are “fairly certain” is from him. In the letter, Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), said he is being held in Mar Verde prison, in Santiago de Cuba.

“We give some credence to it, but we can’t guarantee that it’s really his own handwriting,” said his sister, Ana Belkis Ferrer García. The dissident has been incarcerated since July 11.

The activist also said that the letter complains that since August 12, Ferrer “remains confined semi-naked in an isolation cell, in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions” and that “on two occasions they have forceably put him in the uniform of a common prisoner. They refuse to give him his own clothes, so he’s in his underwear.” Regarding his health, she said that he had “serious problems with heartburn and constant stomach pain.”

Translated by Tomás A.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can consult our report for further details.

Translated by Tomás A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read all the details in our weekly report.

Translated by Tomás A.

What Happened to Freedom of Expression in Cuba in 2020? / Cubalex

Cubalex, 19 May 2021 — The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression [of the  Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)] documented a continuation during 2020 of the pattern of restrictions on freedom of expression and access to public information in Cuba.

The annual report issued by the organization indicates that acts of threats, harassment, and persecution had been observed against journalists, dissidents, activists, artists, and teachers who question the regime, or who disseminate information or opinions on issues of public interest. Although these forms of harassment are not new, the IACHR  and its Rapporteurship also observed that they have increased during 2020 in the midst of the pandemic.

The provisions of Decree-Law 370 “on the computerization of society in Cuba,” protect a large part of the persecutions against expressions of criticism. This rule criminalizes social media posts and affected dozens of Cuban citizens during the year.

The rapporteur noted that, in addition to the fines limiting freedom of expression in networks, harassment against independent journalists includes intimidation against their families, and confiscation of their work resources.

For example, on January 8, agents of the National Revolutionary Police and the Cuban Intelligence Directorate raided continue reading

the home of CiberCuba reporter Iliana Hernández, in the town of Cojímar, east of Havana. According to the information available, the officers took several of her personal belongings, including her personal computer and her cell phone.

In the second half of the year, the report highlights the release of journalist Roberto Quiñones, a few days after serving a year of imprisonment. The independent journalist complained that in prison he was denied “all the benefits” he was entitled to, in addition to denouncing the overcrowded conditions, poor quality of water and food, and the lack of medical attention. The Cubanet reporter was sentenced on August 7, 2019 by the Guantánamo municipal court to one year in prison for the crimes of resistance to authority and disobedience. The authorities arrested him when he tried to report on a trial in his home province.

It should be added that the Office of the Special Rapporteur learned of complaints of the blocking of certain applications and websites, as well as interference and alteration of mobile-phone data by the government. Many of these events took place in the setting of an agitated social climate and calls for protests, thereby preventing communication and coordination of citizens. The internet cuts were also selective, mostly targeting activists and journalists.

Thus, for example, on November 29 an “intermittent blockade” of social networks and internet services was reported, which would be linked to the events that occurred of the previous days, among which were the eviction and arrests of activists, who remained locked up and on strike as a protest, at the San Isidro Movement headquarters and the artists’ demonstration of in front of the Ministry of Culture.

In the report that you can download at this link, the IACHR and its rapporteur break down the acts contrary to freedom of expression that affected Cuban citizens during 2020.

Translated by Tomás A.

Independent Organizations and Media Call on the Government of Cuba to Respect the Right to Demonstrate and Freedom of Expression and to Stop Violence Against Demonstrators / Cubalex

Cubalex, 25 May 2021 — Cubalex, as one of the signatory organizations, condemns the Cuban government’s repression of the citizen protests registered on July 11, 2021, and which are continuing to occur. Likewise, we urgently call on the administration led by Miguel Díaz-Canel to stop all acts of violence and violations of the human rights of citizens through the use of force, police repression, and the call for confrontation between Cubans.

You can download the full statement here

Translated by Tomás A.

Polish Officials Prevent a Cuban Family From Crossing the Border With Belarus

“They were very violent,” said the Cuban who spoke with the Belarusian authorities. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 31, 2021 — A family of five Cubans, including a minor, was returned to Belarus at gunpoint on Monday by Polish border guards. The migrants were trying to cross into Poland and request asylum, they stated.

In a video shared by the Belarusian Border Guard, the Cubans, standing in the cold and rain, said they were beaten and threatened by the Polish soldiers. “We arrived here [in Belarus] forced by them, threatening us with their weapons, forcing us to jump the border,” said a Cuban who spoke on behalf of the group, also made up of a woman and two young people. The migrant also clarified that they requested political asylum in Poland, and even asked for a doctor to attend to them, but the border guards “did not understand.”

The video shown by the Belarusian authorities included a recording of the Cubans when they were intercepted in the neighboring country. The moment was recorded when the guards opened the door of the vehicle and the migrants, upon being discovered, demanded to see the police while the uniformed men tried to drop off two other foreigners who were also in the car.

In another part of the material, Cubans are heard shouting “human rights” and the girl, between sobs, pleading: “Please don’t hurt me.”

“They were very violent,” said the Cuban continue reading

who spoke with the Belarusian authorities, who also confirmed that they were beaten, their claims were not heard, though he specified that “they did nothing to the girl and the woman.”

The expulsion of the Cuban migrants from Poland, happened almost two months after Belarus president Alexandr Lukashenko, in response to the sanctions of the European Union (EU), said that he was not going to stop the migratory wave toward Poland. It was not been the first time that Lukashenko threatened to open the floodgates to illegal migration to that geographical area in response to political and economic pressure from the EU, reports La Voz de Galicia.

In recent years Russia has become an irregular gateway to Europe for hundreds of Cubans. At present, the Eurasian country does not require a visa for nationals of the Island. Many arrive in Moscow with the intention of emigrating to other countries across borders, often starting with Belarus.

A report from El Diario.es in mid-July stated that one of the busiest routes for Cubans to reach European soil is through the Balkan peninsula. In 2017, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned of the increase in the migratory flow in that area. That year alone, at least 168 refugees were recorded who remained stranded in detention centers in Serbia, faced with difficulties in successfully crossing its border to continue on their way to a European country.

 

[from Russian] A family of refugees was forcibly taken to the Belarusian border

Translated by Tomás A.

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