Five of the 11 young Cubans who attempted to divert a passenger boat across the bay from Havana to Florida on April 3, 2003, remain in prison. In a summary trial held on 8 April, three of them were sentenced to death, a sentence carried out on 11 April. Given life imprisonment were Harold Alcalá Aramburu, Ramón Henry Grillo, Yoanis Tomás González and Maikel Delgado Aramburu, held at Combinado del Este prison. While Wilmer Ledea Perez, 19, was given three decades in the prison of at Guanajay.
The sentences are excessive because the attempt failed and there were no deaths or injuries. The rulings of the Court and the urgency in the executions coincided with the so-called Black Spring of Cuba, which put behind bars 75 peaceful opponents, 15 for each of the Castro spies convicted in the United States, which demonstrates the subordination of Island’s legal system to the opinions of the warlord who has ruled the destiny of the nation for half a century.
In the United States, the five Cuban spies were tried two years after being arrested, with all guarantees and independence of the American legal system, which agreed to several reviews of the cases, while the five prisoners of the boat Baraguá are still denied their requests for review. The spies are represented by lawyers paid by the dictatorship and their families travel, undertake campaigns on their behalf and enjoy official patronage.
Who are the youth who attempted to escape the island? Under what conditions do they remain behind bars? Why are they kept in the prisons of Combinado del Este and Guanajay, where they have been from the spring of 2003?
Last month a an Open Letter to Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, president of the Cuban Parliament, circulated on the Internet, in which Julia Estrella Aramburu, mother of Harold Alcala and Maikel Delgado’s aunt, described the hardships suffered by the convicted five. The document, signed by the rest of the family, blamed the government of Cuba for the lives of these children, who remain in narrow cells two-person cells in each of which live four people, with no sanitation, no running water or access to sunlight they are made to eat on the floor, a porridge of rice and corn; they are visited only every two months in a room where they are restrained and chained at the waist.
Maikel Delgado’s case is compounded by the lack of appetite, hair loss and the death of his mother, who “died for God’s destiny,” said Dr. Ofelia, Fajardo Hospital pathologist, where she went on foot for a routine checkup and three days later she was dead. The family still awaits the outcome of the autopsy.
Of the five prisoners only Ramon Henry Grillo was not from Havana. He emigrated to the capital from the town of Mella, Santiago de Cuba province, and lived with his sister Maritza, who says that he joined the boat at the last minute because he was tied to an oil business and he didn’t want to work for the State.
Yoanis Thomas Gonzalez, 32, is the only one who had a criminal record, but he had served his time, he is not violent and is characterized by his warmth and happiness. He only receive visits from his wife Yudaisi Berita War, though he shares space with Henry Grillo and is supported by the mother of Harold Alcala.
Harold is a Vedado boy who worked in the restaurant located at Gloria and Aguila, in Old Havana, together with the boy from Guanabacoa, Wilmer Ledea Perez, and the late Lorenzo Enrique Copello, the one who used the gun to hijack the boat, but later gave it out without hurting anyone. Harold loves swimming and is a voracious reader. Wilmer lived in Barreras with his mother and brothers and went to the weekend dances in the social circles of Guanabacoa.
In reviewing out the pieces of the pie ordered by Fidel Castro the Court threw out the alleged crimes of terrorism, which does not justify long sentences faced by young people who attempted to escape the island. Relatives of the five prisoners of Castro await justice. Hopefully soon.
September 21, 2010