Pharmaceutical Authorities Say Cuban Vaccines Have Lowered the Mortality Rate in Havana by ‘Six Times’ Without Providing Supporting Data

Vaccination in Cienfuegos is expanding with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. (Dep. Cienfuegos)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, August 31, 2021 — The lethality of covid-19 has dropped in the four Havana municipalities where vaccination began, according to the biopharmaceutical authorities who appeared on the State television  Mesa Redonda (Roundtable) program this Monday, without providing data.

The objective seemed to be to clear the doubts and fears of Cubans about national vaccines against covid-19, an issue that worries a population who now wonder how, despite the progress of the immunization campaign, infections are increasing, deaths are not falling, and foreign vaccines have arrived on the island. But the absolute lack of data, and the absence of any mention of Sinopharm, which is already being injected in Cienfuegos, will not help calm the less trusting.

The Roundtable this Monday thus became an exercise in faith, since none of the graphs showed the segment they were referring to.

Eduardo Martínez Díaz, president of BioCubaFarma, as well as the directors of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), Marta Ayala Ávila, and the Finlay Vaccination Institute, Vicente Vérez, wanted to make clear from the beginning of their interventions the difference between efficacy and effectiveness.

The first refers to the results in the trials, which are carried out in healthy and selected people, while the second refers to the real impact, when applied to the general population. Based on this starting point continue reading

, they explained that any vaccine, despite having obtained excellent results in testing, may fail when inoculated in the elderly or people with pre-existing diseases. But the authorities did not offer a single piece of information that would allow us to analyze these variables.

Martínez Díaz recalled that the objective of the vaccine is, above all, to prevent the disease from developing in a serious way since the Delta variant, which spreads at double the speed of the original strain and has a viral load 1,000 times higher, has ruined the plans of many countries to return to normalcy as soon as possible.

“In clinical studies, many of the vaccines, including Cuban vaccines, showed efficacy rates of 100% or close for avoiding death, for lessening severity; a lower percentage (92.8% in Abdala and 91.2% in Soberana) of avoiding the disease, and a little lower to avoid transmission,” said the president of BioCubaFarma, who recalled that all were developed for less harmful strains and have had to review their data after Delta arrived. “Pfizer has reported that its effectiveness has been reduced by 39% in relation to infection, for example,” said Martínez, without revealing, once again, the data of the national vaccines.

“What happened at the beginning of July? The more contagious delta variant began to circulate in Havana, and the number of cases increased. Unvaccinated people began to get sick and, to a lesser extent, the vaccinated,” said the president of BioCubaFarma. How many in each case? That he didn’t say.

Those present wanted to highlight the decrease in lethality and infections in Havana, particularly in the four municipalities that began vaccination first, but they hardly gave their word as a guarantee. The comparative graph of the Island with Havana indicates the improvement of the capital, as well as the other line that aggregates without differentiating the four pioneers — Regla, La Habana del Este, Guanabacoa, and San Miguel del Padrón.

A brief analysis of the few official data available in this regard shows a mixed result. The page on which these figures have been turned for months allows us to compare the contagions of covid-19 by Havana municipalities. Any of the first four to initiate immunization has, indeed, much fewer infections than Diez de Octubre, one of the last two. But all of them show figures similar to those of the other bottom municipality, Marianao. Although there are more variables, including sociodemographic ones, that could influence this, they are unknown.

In any case, Cubans have almost completely stopped trusting official data. The shortage of PCR tests and the delays that backup their processing complicate having an estimate of the sick and even the deceased, as revealed by the Minister of Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, to Invasor, the provincial newspaper of Ciego de Ávila, two weeks ago.

Beyond the capital, where despite having a huge number of people vaccinated with the full cycle there is still no public data (“we’ve only had eight weeks to measure effectiveness,” said Martínez Díaz by way of apology). The official also stressed that it is being studied in Matanzas and in other municipalities where time has passed after vaccination and “the results are positive.” But he didn’t give a number.

About Abdala, Ayala said that more than five million people have received one dose, four and a half million the second dose and more than three and a half million the third: a total of 13.6 million vaccines administered. “Neutralization is more intense with the Alpha and Beta variant, and with the Delta there is even an important level of neutralization, although that is where it is reduced, an issue that has also been reported for most of the vaccines that are approved worldwide” said the director of the GIGB without enlightening the public with any figures.

The vaccine, however, scored somewhat this Monday, when it received the favorable technical opinion of the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) of Mexico. The experts were in favor of giving Abdala authorization for emergency use, a step prior to reviewing the data by expert personnel from the Sanitary Authorization Commission (CAS).

The Roundtable also spoke of the Mambisa — an intranasal needle-free vaccine — the forgotten candidate which, according to the official, shows “encouraging results.” And in this case there was a figure, 78.8% of those vaccinated in phase I had an immune response.

There were also more details about the study carried out on inoculating minors with Sovereign. If the data offered by Vicente Vérez, from the IFV, are true, the efficacy prospects are better than in adults. In adolescents aged 12 to 18 years, almost 93% responded adequately with two doses of Sovereign 02 and only 7% remained below the required levels. As for children from 3 to 11 years old, less than 1% did not respond, “and that is very good news,” said Vérez Bencomo.

The director of the IFV had more in his hand than anyone else to talk about the inoculation in Cienfuegos with the Chinese vaccine, Sinopharm, which has aroused not a little skepticism both among those who believe that it shows the scarce effectiveness of the Cuban vaccine and among those who think that if it is was going to “renounce, even in part, sovereignty” it could have been done earlier to buy time. However, Vérez made an exit in this regard and it occurred to him, on the contrary, to relate Soberana Plus with others, adding more amazement to the matter.

“Soberana Plus was designed as a booster for vaccination with Soberana 02 and it is planned to use it as a booster of other existing vaccines, such as Sputnik and AstraZeneca, in some international studies that are being done. The sites with which we are collaborating are interested in the ability of Soberana Plus to strengthen immunity, taking into account that it is very safe,” he said.

As for the international recognition of vaccines, and beyond the positive news for Abdala, things are going slowly. Vérez Bencomo said that on August 30, the phase I study in convalescents for Soberana 02 was accepted in one of the Lancet family journals (The Lancet Regional Health-Americas), while Martínez Díaz recalled that Cecmed, as a regulatory authority, is the entity that authorizes or not the emergency use, and not the World Health Organization (WHO), whose mission is to recognize vaccines.

“Soon we want to have a virtual meeting with the WHO representation to show the results and start talking about the recognition process and make our results transparent with them,” he said.

If the authorities have these positive data, perhaps the WHO can see what Cubans still do not know.

Translated by Tomas A.


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 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Rules in Favor of Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara / Cubalex

The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurs call on the Cuban State to cease harassment against artists, journalists, and activists in Cuba.

Cubalex, 14 May 2021 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) and its Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression (RELE) and for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (REDESCA) expressed concern about the escalation of repression against journalists, artists and human rights defenders in Cuba, in particular, members of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), beneficiaries of Precautionary Measures, whom they consider to be in a serious and urgent situation of risk of irreparable damage to their rights in Cuba.

Regarding the situation of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, the IACHR recognizes hunger strikes as a form of social and peaceful protest, and emphasizes the Cuban State’s obligation to guarantee freedom of expression, the autonomy of individuals, and their right to health and well-being, as well as ensuring access to healthcare, in a consensual manner, without threats, pressure or coercion, to those who choose this form of protest.

Faced with the uncertainty and lack of transparency in Otero Alcántara’s case, they call on the international community to follow his case with particular attention. The regional body also referred to increased State control over demonstrations involving the participation of dissidents, who are detained and violently repressed, and called on the State to:

Recognize and protect the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, without discrimination for reasons of political opinion.

Cease acts of persecution against those who exercise the right to free of expression.

Effectively protect the right of all artists, without discrimination, to participate in cultural life and benefit from the moral and material interests in their works.

Read the complete communique here (May 13, 2021)

Translated by Tomás A.

Political Police Attack Activists in Cuba, Including Active Members of #Somos+ / Somos+

Somos+, 4 May 2021 — The repressive organs of the Cuban dictatorship yesterday attacked peaceful dissidents in Camagüey, including members of Somos+. Adrián Quesada, an activist and member of our movement, was violently arrested, along with fellow dissident Yosvani Sepúlveda.

We believe that what happened is the result of the growing rise of dissident activism on the island, and the attempt by the regime’s repressive forces to drown out the voices of those who courageously continue to speak out for change in Cuba. We thank the institutions and information platforms that have echoed the news from the first moment, including the Cuban Human Rights Observer, which denounced it on its official page, and we urge all friends of our cause for freedom to support and demand on social media, especially Twitter, the immediate release of the activists, as a maximum alarm and indicator to the Castro dictatorship that we are not going to passively allow even one more abuse of the Cuban people.

OCDH Complaint

Leyanis Heredia Salazar, Adrián Quesada’s wife and also a member of Somos+, tells us that the police beat the dissidents, including herself and another activist named Yadisley Rodríguez Ramírez, whose youngest daughter was pepper sprayed in the face. Four of them were taken to the third police unit in Camagüey. They were released around 2:00 am on Monday, under a precautionary condition of house arrest. Adrián and Yosvany are still in jail; everyone is being charged with assault.

According to Leyanis, among the policemen who attacked them was a State Security thug named Frank.

According to a report from Cuban Human Rights Observer, with the following unfortunate events a total of 1,018 acts of repression were recorded in Cuba in April 2021:

206 arbitrary arrests

13 with use of severe violence

475 homes besieged

Threats, harassment, fines, physical attacks, house searches, summonses and acts of repudiation, among other actions by the Cuban political police.

Read the full report here

We demand the freedom of all political prisoners and the end of repression in Cuba.






Adrián Quesada

Yosvani Sepulveda

Leyanis Heredia (wife of Adrián Quesada)

Yadisley Rodriguez

Translated by Tomás A.

Sergio Perez, Psychiatrist Who Harshly Criticized the Cuban Regime, Has Died

Pérez resigned from the Cuban Society of Psychiatry due to the lack of institutional transparency. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 29, 2021 — This Sunday morning, the psychiatrist and founder of the World Network of Suicidiologists, Sergio Pérez, died of covid-19. His death was reported by Dr. Alexander Jesús Figueredo Izaguirre, who was expelled from the polyclinic of Bayamo for being “counterrevolutionary.”

“The medical sciences in Cuba and in the world have just lost one of the greatest psychiatrists who ever lived,” he said, and asked that the news be released. “It’s the only thing I ask, as another doctor is buried in the dark because of his ideology.”

The doctor’s death adds to the official statistics of the Ministry of Health, which has registered 5,144 deaths since the start of the pandemic, and 640,438 positive cases from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This Sunday 77 deaths and 6,277 new infections were reported.

Pérez used social networks as a channel to express his critical stance about the Cuban government. “The worst enemies of any government are its corrupt, inept, indolent, and demagogic officials,” he said in a post on August 17.

He was always blunt in his comments, such as when he rebutted Miguel Díaz-Canel’s words continue reading

about putting “heart to Cuba,” which the physician considered a “poetic and manipulative style.”

“Cuba must be given freedom, equality, and fraternity. Cuba must be given food, medicine, decent housing, potable water, good roads, transportation; refrigerators and fans at reasonable prices, because in a hot country they are necessities, not luxuries. Cuba must be given hope and well-being.”

Last May, Pérez resigned from the Cuban Society of Psychiatry in solidarity with Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who was detained for 29 days at the Calixto García hospital without being able to communicate with his friends, and was only seen by means of heavily-edited videos disseminated by State Security. The doctor asked the authorities to explain what was happening with the artist.

Even before being admitted to intensive care at the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Hospital, in Bayamo, Granma province, Pérez lamented that “in Cuba the most there is, is “there isn’t,” alluding to the shortage and chronic lack of resources.

In 2016, before the visit of then U.S. President Barack Obama to the Island, the psychiatrist sent a forceful message to the Cuban regime, saying: “A country is going badly when a prostitute has more freedom than a physician.”

After being denied permission to leave the country on several occasions to participate in international events in his specialty, he predicted that his situation would not change, and he would continue “professionally isolated, controlled, and scrutinized by Cuba’s Ministry of Health.”

Translated by Tomás A.


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.

Beggars Proliferate on the Streets of Havana

Some beggars captured by the lens of 14ymedio in Havana, asking for handouts or rummaging through garbage. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, August 29, 2021 — The most invisible victims of the collapse of the national economy are the homeless. Although beggars have always been part of the usual landscape on the streets of Havana, their presence in doorways, parks, plazas and vacant lots has grown in recent times, and their survival has become more difficult every day.

“It’s difficult for us to care for these people who are assigned to our medical post. Many are elderly who don’t have relatives, nor receive care from any parallel institution and, in reality, what they need is to be admitted in-house for better care of their health,” Yaneysi Ríos, a doctor at a medical office in the capital, tells 14ymedio.

Most of the beggars are usually older adults or people with a mental illness, who lost their homes and families. They are concentrated in Old Havana, Plaza de la Revolución, and Centro Habana, places where they have become accustomed to wandering in search of some coins, which they most often find among the tourists. If a few years ago it was most common to see them sitting in doorways waiting for some money, now they can be seen rummaging through garbage cans in search of food scraps. continue reading

The authorities are most likely to remember them when some VIP or international leader passes through the streets with his caravan of vehicles, or when a major event is held. But with mobility restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic, many of these activities have decreased.

Havanans still remember the visit of Barack Obama in 2016, when brigades from the Ministry of Public Health proceeded to intern the city’s beggars in healthcare facilities to remove them from the public thoroughfares.

With Pope Francis’s first visit to the island in 2015, the retouchings of façades and the relocations of the homeless were so intense along the road that the procession would follow from the airport, that people ironically renamed the route the “Via Sacra” (Italian for “sacred way”).

During the decades from the 60s to the 80s, the so-called “lazy law” was in force in Cuba, which penalized those who neither studied nor worked. Citizens who were prosecuted for this crime were forced to accept a job, generally in agricultural work, street cleaning, and other occupations that the majority rejected because it was hard work for low pay.

With the arrival of the crisis of the 90s and the appearance of a budding private sector, the State could no longer guarantee a job for each person of working age and the legislation was repealed. Which is the reason, according to officialdom, that homelessness on the streets has increased.

Translated by Tomás A.


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.

International Human Rights Organizations Demand Release of Detained Journalist / Cublaex

Cubalex, 27 May 2021 — The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), ARTICLE 19 Office for Central America and the Caribbean, and CUBALEX today demand the release of Mary Karla Ares Pérez, detained since April 30 in relation to her journalistic work.

Ares is being held in the Western Women’s Prison in Guatao, without trial, subjected to interrogations and deprivation, and in violation of her basic guarantees of due process. She was transferred yesterday, May 26, to the outskirts of the province of Havana, far from her place of residence, which will affect family visits and access to a lawyer due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Mary Karla, a journalist for the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP), broadcast live on Facebook the arrests made by police officers and State Security agents of people who were participating in a peaceful protest over the isolation to which Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), was subjected, after he had declared a hunger strike.

During this coverage, agents of the State Security Department (DSE) in civilian clothes, agents of the National Revolutionary Police and of the Prevention Troops, detained her on Obispo Street, in the Habana Vieja municipality, Havana province. They transferred her to the police unit of the Centro Habana municipality, and from there to the unit located in Playa.

This citizen journalist is subject to an investigative process, accused of the crimes of Public Disorder, and Resistance, punishable by three and five years of imprisonment, respectively. According to information provided by her family, she has been denied legal assistance.

You can download the entire statement here.

Translated by Tomás A.

Cuban Soprano Gladys Puig has Died in Havana

Puig began her studies at the Municipal Conservatory of Havana, known today by the name Amadeo Roldán. (Ubail Zamora)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, August 19, 2021 — During the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the prestigious Cuban opera singer Gladys Puig died in Havana at the age of 88 after a long fight against Alzheimer’s, close friends of the artist confirmed to 14ymedio. “For a year a person had been caring for her in her house, because she was previously in a nursing home,” said one of the sources.

Her wake is being held this Thursday morning at the Bernardo Garcia de Zanja y Belascoaín funeral home, in Centro Habana. Friends of the artist point out to this newspaper that the official cultural institutions have not sent “even a single wreath” of flowers.

In tribute to the artist, the tenor Bernardo Lichilín performed the Ave Maria at the funeral home. “My humble prayer to Our Dear Gladys Puig” he wrote when sharing a video about the moment on social media.

A teacher of several generations, the artist was born in the capital on November 26, 1932 into a family of musicians, among whom her father, the conductor Cheo Belén Puig, stands out.

She began her studies at the Municipal Conservatory of Havana, known today by the name Amadeo Roldán. Her first singing teacher was soprano Zoila Gálvez, but she later perfected her technique in Italy with continue reading

maestro Napoleone Annovazzi.

Puig’s professional debut took place at the Musical Theater, with the Gonzalo Roig Lyric Theater under the direction of Héctor Quintero. In January 1958 she performed the Cuba premier of the work El Tabardo, by Giacomo Puccini, with the Grupo Experimental de Ópera. In those years she joined the Pro Arte Musical cast in works such as The Secret Marriage by Cimarosa, Manon by Massenet, and she also participated in the first presentation in Cuba of Puccini’s Sor Angélica.

In 1961 she premiered in Cuba Giancarlo Menotti’s comic opera Amelia Goes to the Dance, playing the title role. That same year she participated in the opera seasons with the pieces Doña Francisquita and Cecilia Valdés, composed by Gonzalo Roig.

The soprano was the founder of the National Lyric Theater of Cuba, created on November 11, 1962, a project in which she developed a wide repertoire of operas, operettas and zarzuelas, almost always in leading roles. She is remembered for her participation in titles such as: The Merry Widow, Luisa Fernanda, María la O, Cecilia Valdes, Lola Cruz, and The Slave.

“Today a great one set out on an eternal journey. Having had the joy of sharing with her in her last stage work, as the old woman Alcina, was a luxury and a tribute that the Lyric Theater offered her for having given so much glory to her country. Beautiful woman, humble, professional, teacher,” wrote professor and countertenor Ubail Zamora on her Facebook profile.

“Always elegant, she was an example to everyone of how to stay beautiful despite the years. You leave us, but you will always be part of the Lyric Theater of Cuba, and wherever you go, a round of applause will sound as the best gift for the great artist, the teacher, and above all, the person we had the pleasure of knowing,” added her colleague from the Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine.

Translated by Tomás A.


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.

Somos+ Calls a Protest Against the Complicity of #PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) with the Havana Regime / Somos+

Press release: SOMOS+ Movement, 8 June 2021

A wave of indignation is sweeping through Cuban communities around the world today. Thanks to the cooperation of Prisoners Defenders and the BBC, we have learned of the complicity in Brussels of several Euro-MPs with the dictatorship that enslaves our people.

The leaked messages reveal that representatives of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (currently governing Spain) “warned” the Cuban embassy in that country in advance to try to “stop” a resolution that other Euro-Deputies were attempting to promote to condemn repression on the Island.

It is devastating to even think that public servants who receive salaries from the European taxpayer are using their influence to cooperate in maintaining the longest-lived and most destructive dictatorship in the American hemisphere. The very founding values of the EU expound the democratic calling and the commitment of all member states to promote Human Rights and fundamental freedoms in the world. continue reading

The history of Europe should leave no doubt about the destructive capacity of these regimes, both materially and morally. That is why we feel the duty to protest publicly and energetically against this baseness of the PSOE, the High Representative Josep Borrell, and [Prime Minister] Pedro Sánchez himself, who is most responsible for this lack of principles.

The efforts, risks, and punishments that so many Cubans suffer daily for demanding freedoms and rights will be of no use if the highest institutions created in the world to ensure those rights turn their backs on us and give preference to economic interests that keep criminals, dictators, and drug traffickers in power.

That is why we are calling on every Cuban, Spaniard, European, and others who want Freedom for Cuba, to join us this June 10th in Miami, Madrid, and in many other cities to demand the end of the complicity, impunity, and shamelessness of the European Union with the Dictatorship.

We wait for you and thank you in advance.

Ing. Eliecer Avila, Pte. Somos+

Announcement released by Eliecer Avila on Tuesday, June 7, 2021

Translated by Tomás A.

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

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

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

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

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

repression of its citizens.

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

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

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

Cubalex, 2 June 2021 — Cubalex monitored the acts of harassment against civil society from May 24 to 31, 2021, as well as background news associated with the government measures applied during the pandemic, and events of shortages of products and basic goods. This report also breaks down the selective internet outages that activists and dissidents have suffered; and highlights the threats, attacks and violations of rights from the official press or profiles related to the government.

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

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

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

Here you can consult and download our full report.

Translated by Tomás A.

Cubalex Denounces Discrimination in New MININT Platform / Cubalex

Zanja Police Station (Cubanet)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Tomás A.

Pablo Moya Dela, Member of Unpacu and Activist, Dies

Pablo Moya Delá, died this Thursday night at the “Juan Bruno Zayas” Clinical Surgical Hospital in Santiago de Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 27, 2021 – The former political prisoner and member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), Pablo Moya Delá, died this Thursday night at the “Juan Bruno Zayas” Clinical Surgical Hospital in Santiago de Cuba due to to the fact that the anemia and pneumonia with which he presented were complicated by a bacterial infection he acquired in the polyclinic.

At the beginning of August, Moya Delá, age 65, was released from prison on a furlough, which kept him disqualified from his citizenship rights, and was transferred to the hospital in serious condition, after spending 40 days on a hunger strike in Boniato Prison in Santiago de Cuba.

Two months before his protest “he had suffered beatings by common prisoners acting at the behest of State Security,” according to a statement of complaint published on Unpacu’s social media, which also stated that he was being denied medical attention.

Moya Delá’s health deteriorated in prison, aggravating his continue reading

pre-existing ailments: “arterial hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, and muscular atrophy in one of his hands due to a neurological disorder,” according to his son, Daineris Moya Garcia. Despite this, he managed to overcome the covid-19 that was diagnosed in March.

“Sister, my father has died, they killed my father,” Moya García said to Kata Mojena, the emigrant activist, to tell her of his father’s death.

In the polyclinic, he had a fever of 102.2 degrees and adverse reactions to medications used as substitutes to treat his ailments, such as administering dechlorpheinate in the absence of dipyrone; which caused his blood pressure to drop “to 90 over 60, then 80 over 60, later 60 over 40 and 70 over 60”, according to what was published on the Facebook account of the leader of Unpacu, José Daniel García Ferrer, who has been detained since July 11.

There were treatments that were not completed due to the lack of medications, said the dissident’s son. “The medicine they are giving me is a medicine that has no effect on me,” Pablo Moya told Ana Belkis Ferrer Garcia, just five days before his death.

Family members and activists blame the Cuban regime for the death of the dissident and former political prisoner.. Venezuelan lawyer Tamara Suju, a human rights defender and executive director of the Casla Institute, denounced: “Another Cuban political prisoner dies, who had been released a few days ago in inhumane healthcare conditions.” And she held Diaz Canel responsible. “He lets them die little by little in prisons, a form of Communist Torture.”

Moya Delá was arrested on October 23, 2020, when he protested against shortages in stores and repression, and was taken to the Eleventh Police Station of San Miguel Padrón, Havana. There, he maintained a 23-day strike despite being in poor health, according to his family, and was later taken to Santiago de Cuba as an “illegal.”

Self-employed, a former sailor, and promoter of Cuba Decides, he lived with his wife in the Cuban capital, where he maintained his opposition activity; but the authorities considered his residence illegal, and every time he was arrested he was taken to Santiago de Cuba, where he was originally from.

Translated by Tomás A.


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.

Cuban Artist Hamlet Lavastida Has Now Been Held for 60 Days in Villa Marista

Lavastida “is not feeling well, he says he is under a lot of stress,” declared the poet Katherine Bisquet, partner of the visual artist.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio / EFE, Havana, August 25, 2021 — Lavastida “is not feeling well, he says he is under a lot of stress,” declared the poet Katherine Bisquet, partner of the visual artist. “I just spoke with Hamlet’s mother and she has requested psychological treatment.”

Bisquet said that “days ago Hamlet had asked his mother to send him pain relievers for his migraine attacks.”

Lavastida, declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, has now served 60 days in the maximum security prison in Havana known as Villa Marista, under the accusation of “instigation to commit a crime.” The artist has been denied a change of conditions of release and three appeals, Bisquet reported.

Given this, she held the Cuban regime responsible for any “physical or mental” damage that could occur to the graduate of the Higher Institute of Art: “What they do is totally illegal, typical of corrupt and despotic continue reading

systems. Freedom for Hamlet Lavastida now!” she posted.

The 38-year-old artist has been in custody since June 26. State Security has made it known that he is being investigated for a conversation in a private chat in the Telegram app of the opposition group of artists 27N (27th November), in which he proposed marking bank notes with logos of the San Isidro Group and 27N, an initiative that never materialized.

Known for his critical works, the Cuban Government considers that Lavastida “has been inciting and calling for civil disobedience actions on public roads, using social networks and direct influence on others,” according to the official website, Razones de Cuba.

Article 202.1 of the Cuban Criminal Code prescribes a penalty of “deprivation of liberty from three months to one year or a fine of 100 to 300 dollars” for instigation to commit a crime, which it defines as “publicly inciting commission of a crime.”

On this subject Bisquet warned: “The expression of an idea in private, even if it foreshadows the possible commission of a crime, cannot be sanctioned if it does not materialize. In criminal law that is called a preparatory act. As a general rule, preparatory acts are not punishable.”

Lavastida returned to the Island on June 20, after completing a residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien art gallery in Berlin and was arrested six days later. Upon learning of the artist’s situation, the German cultural institution spoke out and described him as a “recognized visual artist” and demanded that the Cuban authorities “immediately annul his imprisonment.”

For months activists and human rights organizations have denounced an increase in the repression of dissidents, especially those linked to the world of art and entertainment, whom they claim are routinely subjected to arrests, jailings, and confinements under house arrest.

This past July, the call for Lavastida’s release reached the Arco art fair in Madrid, where the collective performance The ticketing burning the street was held, an action that Lavastida proposed to do in Cuba, but  which never took place.

Those demands have been joined by international entities and institutions that have denounced the situation or expressed concern, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United States Government, and the European Parliament.

The Cuban government, for its part, considers critical voices as agents in the pay of the United States, who seek to subvert public order and overthrow the socialist system.

Translated by Tomás A.


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.

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

Hamlet Lavastida’s image on his WhatsApp account.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e) not to testify against oneself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamlet Lavastida is today a prisoner of conscience.

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

Translated by Tomás A.