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Cuba Chronicle of Events
Issue No. 10 • February 20-28, 2006


Cuba Chronicle of Events is produced by the Prima News Agency, based in Moscow, in cooperation with the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. Items in this issue are based on reports from PRIMA News Agency, Bitacora Cubana, CubaNet, PRIMA-News, RIA Novosti, AgroFact, Presslingua, and Cuba Verdad.

OPPOSITION

21/02/2006
Ladies In White Hold A February Literary Tea Party

The Ladies in White held the 35th literary tea party on February 18. Early in the morning they went to Havana’s Cathedral in Old Havana for the morning mass. Afterwards they went to the home of Laura Pollán, who lives on Neptuno Street, for a literary gathering. All those present were given Andrei Sakharov prize-winning badges, diplomas, and other memorabilia. Then followed the presentation of Gloria Estefan’s book “Magic and Mysterious Adventures of a Bulldog called Noele,” which is available in Cuba in a single copy. The book has a dedication inscribed by the author. Blanca Reyes, wife of journalist Raúl Rivero, and Pablo Rodríguez, who live in emigration, joined the celebration by the phone.

22/02/2006
15 Branches Of The Martin Luther King Center Founded In Cuba

The director of the Martin Luther King Research Center Carlos Alberto Silva Lozad reported they have opened 15 branches in various districts of Havana to provide Cuban society with information that can not be found in the official mass media censored by the totalitarian Cuban regime. All those wishing to subscribe may visit the branches at the following locations:

Cede del Departamento de Archivo de Información.
Carlos Alberto Silva Lozada.
Lugareño # 1214 Apartamento 7 entre Bouza y Aguilera, Luyanó.

Milagros de la Caridad Soria Fernández.
Calle B #9411 altos entre 1ra y 2da reparto San Juan de los Pinos.
Municipio San Miguel del Padrón.

Amaily Morales Pérez.
4to Bulevar # 455620 entre segundo Lindero y Rosembert. Habana del Este.

Fernando Aragón González.
Corona # 24 apto 2 entre Corrales y Corral Falso. Guanabacoa.

Roby González Torres.
Calle 70 # 27515 apto 3 entre 27 y 29. Marianao.

Fidel Lorenzo Landeiro.
Avenida3ra #24402 entre 2da 44 y mar. Jaimanita.

Julio César Gálvez del Llano.
Ave.59 #19313 entre 198 y 200. La Lisa.

José Alberto Erias Oviedo.
Justicia # 6020 apto 1 entre Herrera y Santa Felicia, 10 de Octubre.

Enrique Vidal O’Donovan.
Calle 9 de Abril # 106 entre Céspedes y Línea del Ferrocarril. Lawton.

Mari Torres González.
Manuel Pruna # 354 entre Arango y municipio, Luyanó.

Lázaro de Jesús Medeiros Valdez.
Lindero  entre Ave. De los Mártires y Villters. Regla.

Aurelio Hernández Martínez.
Albuquerque # 223 apto 22 entre Martí y Maceo. Regla.

Juan Antonio Labaut Sueiro.
Ave.67 # 1627 entre 16 y 20, El Cotorro.

Migue Alonso Santos.
Calzada del cerro #12033 entre 10 de Octubre y Buenos Aires, El Cerro.

Karell de Jesús Larrondo.
# 12034 entre infanta y cruz del padre. El Cerro.

24/02/2006
Threats Against Jorge Olivera Castillo Continue

Jorge Olivera Castillo reported that he had again been summoned to the municipal court in Old Havana. He is to appear before the same judge who, on February 21, imposed on him new restrictive measures that violate his fundamental freedoms. Jorge Olivera Castillo was ordered to appear in court at 10 am on March 1. The journalist was not informed the reasons for the summons but ascribes it to his failure to come to the municipal public health care branch where the court has ordered him to work under strict supervision of court officials, party, and trade union functionaries.

“The ongoing pressure aggravates the symptoms of my disease for which I was granted parole on December 5, 2004,” Jorge Olivera Castillo says. “There is evidently a scheme to get me back into prison,” the opposition journalist writes in a statement published by CubaNet agency.

24/02/2006
Political Police Not Squeamish About Stealing

At 15.30 on February 24, a man in military uniform came to Julia Cecilia Delgado’s home in Havana. He introduced himself as Yoel Martínez, “chief for re-education” at prison #1580 where her son, Francisco Pérez Delgado, is serving a prison term, reported Julia Cecilia Delgado, who is acting chairman of the Liberal Party of Cuba (PLC) and a member of the relation commission of Todos Unidos.

The visitor told her he came for the benefit of her son. He claimed that the prison authorities had an intention to “help” Francisco get an early release and for that purpose both she and her husband were to come for a meeting in a week’s time. Then the man in stripes asked for a glass of water and suggested that the she should write a letter to her son which he promised to collect on his way back from a similar visit. The moment the “guest” left, Julia Cecilia Delgado found that her cellular phone has gone from a book shelf. She is certain that only the “fake” military officer could have taken it.

Julia Cecilia Delgado immediately reported the incident to the police. She says the responsibility is all on the Cuban government and its political police.

POLITICAL REPRESSION

20/02/2006
Civil Rights Activist Detained In Cuba

Activist Carlos Agustín Hernández Chaviano from Santiago de Cuba, who was going to leave for the United States on February 14 under the U.S. refugee program, has been stripped of his “white card,” or official exit permit. This happened on February 10 during the so-called preliminary screening of candidates for emigration in Havana, the activist reported.

Hernández Chaviano belongs to the National Council for Civil Rights in Cuba, an opposition group founded by prominent political prisoner Francisco Pastor Chaviano González declared by Amnesty International a prisoner of conscience. At the time of this report, the reasons for Hernández Chaviano’s detention were not known.

 
20/02/2006
Dissident Suffers From Judicial Arbitrariness

Opposition member Alexis Triana Montesinos from Havana has been ordered to pay a fine to cover his civil liability, an additional penalty that was not mentioned in the court’s ruling, a violation of Cuban law. Alexis Triana, an activist of the Cuban Liberal Movement (MLC), was detained on July 5, 2004 and tried for the alleged damage of public property. José Pérez Fidalgo, a MLC leader, was detained together with him.

A few days ago, Triana was granted a supervised release. He was told he had been sentenced to three years in prison but was now additionally awarded to pay 10,000 pesos for the damage done to the government property.  Alexis Triana Montesinos, who denies the charge, lives in the poorest neighborhood on the outskirts of Havana. He is married and has a little daughter. The imposed fine will further deteriorate his wretched condition.

22/02/2006
Guillermo Fariñas’ Health Deteriorates

Niurvys Díaz, acting director of the independent Cubanacan Press Agency, phoned from Cuba to the Democratic Cuban Action émigré group to say that Guillermo Fariñas has been returned to an intensive care unit at the hospital where he was admitted to on February 10. The transfer took place on February 21 following a non-stop hunger strike which the independent journalist started on February 1 to demand unrestricted access to the Internet for all Cubans. It was reported that female civic activist Noelia Pedraza is also holding a hunger strike at her house refusing to take food but drinking water.

22/02/2006
Independent Journalist Roberto Santana Threatened

Independent journalist Roberto Santana was summoned last week by the political police for questioning. “It concerned my work as an independent journalist,” he said after the questioning. “I was shown a file with all the articles I had written, as well as CDs with my radio reports.” They threatened that next time they would throw me into prison, and demanded that I stop my independent journalistic work,” Roberto Santana added.

22/02/2006
Jorge Olivero Castillo Threatened To Have His Parole Called Back

On the morning of February 21, Jorge Olivero Castillo, an independent journalist and Russia’s PRIMA-News correspondent, appeared before the chairman of the municipal court in Old Havana. The judge told him about new restrictions to be imposed on him because of his parole. Under the newly set restrictions, the journalist is obligated to work at one of the enterprises designated by the judge and to be under constant supervision of party and trade union bodies as well as the court. Jorge Olivero Castillo has been forbidden to leave the city bounds of Havana without court permission and to participate in any public event.

The main point of these repressive measures is the need to report to “the public,” a euphemism for members of the so-called rapid response brigades and functionaries from pro-government organizations such as the Committee for the Revolution Defense, Association of Fighters of the Cuban Revolution, etc. Jorge Olivero Castillo has been warned that should he fail to comply the parole granted to him – without any request from him – in December 6, 2004 for health reasons would be recalled.

23/02/2006
Independent Librarian Harassed

Since Alberto de la Nuez Ramírez opened an independent library in the small town of Aguada de Pasajeros, Cienfuegos province, he has been constantly harassed by state security officers.
One of such incidents happened on February 22. On that day, the librarian and Ricardo Filgueiras were stopped while leaving the house of Pedro Castellanos, a member of the National Delegation of Democracy Movement, and their documents were seized. Later in the day, at approximately 5.30 pm, the two oppositionists were again detained by state security officers at the railway station in Cienfuegos when they were about to return to Aguada. The state security officers took them to the police and confiscated photos taken at the opening ceremony of the above mentioned library.

23/02/2006
“Repudio” Acts Continue

Lorenzo García Rodríguez, chairman of the Transparency human rights movement (Movimiento de Derechos Humanos Claridad), has become target of just another act of repudiation on February 15.

Members of the political police and Committees for the Revolution Defense (CDR) gathered at the oppositionist’s house in Havana (flat 9, house 9, the Alex Urguiola development project) to shout pro-government slogans and threats. A police officer told him that the “repudio” was organized after the authorities learned about his intention to start a hunger strike considered counter-revolutionary and should not be let too happen. García Rodríguez had already been targeted by “repudio” acts on September 21 and 22, 2005, and beaten by an unknown attacker.

POLITICAL PRISONERS

21/02/2006
Surprise Release Of Peaceful Oppositionist

Peaceful oppositionist Camilo Cairo Falcón, who was arrested by the Cuban authorities on      July 13, 2005, was unexpectedly released on February 15 in Havana. For seven months, Cairo Falcón had been held at the prison ward of the Carlos Juan Finlay de Marianao hospital after being beaten by members of rapid response brigades made up of pro-government elements. He was attacked at a bus terminal in Havana. According to his own account, among the attackers was Hassan Pérez Casabona, second secretary of the Union of Young Communists, who kicked him, and an unknown man, who hit him in the face with a shovel. As a result, he suffered broken ribs and a loss of hearing, and afterwards was taken by a patrol car to Zapata police station.

Here is what the activist said about his release on February 15: “Without any explanation, a state security officer told me to pack my things. I thought they were going to move me into prison. They drove me to the town of Marista and then took me home.” Cairo Falcón, 34, is a member of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba and member of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He said that his immediate plans were to improve his health and then to continue his activity in opposition to the government to seek democratic changes and observance of human rights on the island.

22/02/2006
Gabriel Castillo Still On Hunger Strike

Independent journalist and prisoner of conscience Gabriel Castillo continues his hunger strike to demand a parole on health grounds. His wife, Blanca Rosa Echevarria, said that the journalist had been admitted to the prison ward of the Ambrosio Grillo hospital in Santiago de Cuba and that he started his hunger strike on February 13. Mrs. Echevarria fears for her husband’s life. According to her, Castillo suffers from liver cirrhosis and arterian occlusion. She also said that a political police officer had tried to contact Castillo by the phone but her husband refused to discuss his situation over the phone.

Jose Gabriel Castillo, 48, is one the 75 Cuban dissidents sentenced in spring 2003 to lengthy prison terms for their peaceful opposition activity. He is serving a 20-year term.

22/02/2006
Imprisoned Journalist Denied Medical Assistance

Two weeks have passed since Santiago du Bouchet was found to have an intracranial hematoma, but he still has not received any medical treatment at Julio Trigo hospital. His wife, Bárbara Pérez Araya, said du Bouchet had been taken to the hospital’s prison ward in late January with strong headaches which have been torturing him for several months. Pérez Araya added that he had already been suffering from headaches when he was hospitalized on August 6, 2005 after being beaten up by police in June.

Du Boucheta was sentenced to a one-year jail term after being found guilty of “disrespecting” law enforcement officers and “resisting” arrest while he was carrying out his journalistic duties.
He is serving his term in the Melena del Sur prison in Havana.

27/02/2006
Condition Of Hunger Striker At Boniato Worsens

José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, a prisoner of conscience at Boniato prison, Santiago de Cuba, has started hunger strike on February 13 to protest against horrible conditions its inmates are held in.
His wife, Blanca Rosa Echevarria is worried about her husband’s health. Ramón Castillo has been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Members of the opposition in Santiago de Cuba started on February 22 a prayer vigil for the release of all political prisoners and observance of human rights in Cuba. José Gabriel Ramón Castillo is among the 75 dissidents jailed in spring 2003. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

REFUGEES

23/02/2006
Doctor Seeks Exit Permission From The Government

Olga Lidia Esquijorrosa Gómez, a medical doctor who lives in Santa Clara, has applied to the Cuban authorities for the so-called exemption from medical professional obligations. In compliance with the government resolution, she has already waited the required five years working as a doctor in Cuba.  In her letter of February 12, sent to several international, diplomatic, religious and government organizations, she said that the U.S. government had granted her a political refugee visa.

Doctor Esquijorrosa has urged the addressees to put pressure on the Cuban authorities to give her a “medical exemption” for which she had applied nearly five years ago after getting a status of political refugee. I want to start a normal life together with my husband and children. By seeking the permission to leave I am exercising the right guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Cuba is a signatory, she added. The Public Health Ministry’s resolution requires health care professionals applying for exit visas to wait five years before they will be exempted from the obligations before the government and allowed to leave for another country.

24/02/2006
Jailed For Attempt to Leave the Country
A resident of the municipality of Guanabacoa, Félix Dayron Padrón Delgado, has been detained and held in custody in the town of Marista since February 3 for attempting to illegally leave the country. As of February 22, a penitentiary officer called Maidenys could not say what measure would be applied to the detainee. If his attempt to leave the country is proven he could face a fine. Padrón Delgado is an activist of the democracy movement. This fact suggests that such harsh treatment is a punishment for his opposition activity.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

21/02/2006
Fidel Castro Asks the Pope to Visit Cuba

Fidel Castro has invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit Cuba. This information has been confirmed by the Cuban Episcopate, the Italian news agency ANSA reports. Castro extended the invitation to the pontiff via Cardinal Raffaele Martino, who was visiting Cuba as an official representative of the Catholic Church, according to RIA Novosti.

Since the late Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in1998, Cuban believers have found themselves in an even more difficult situation, a spokesman of “Kirche in Not” says. The problem is that many in the West treated the Pope’s visit as a sign of improvement, while in actual fact that had not reflected the state of affairs at that time.  The Catholic Church, to which 40 percent of Cubans belong, survives only with foreign aid.

ECONOMICS

22/02/2006
Cuba to Pay $100 Million for U.S. Corn

Cuba has agreed to import more U.S. corn as part of a memorandum of understanding signed by Alimport, a group representing Cuba’s trade interests and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), according to the Agronetwork IK PRO AgroNovosti. In 2006, Cuba will buy 700,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, 44.6 percent more than in 2004. The value of the agreement is estimated at nearly $100 million. “As Cuba’s tourism industry expands, its people are finding they have more money to buy meat, milk and eggs, thus driving the increased demand for feed grains,” Davis Anderson, USGC chairman said.  Cuba began buying U.S. corn in 2001, twenty years after the suspension of U.S. import.

SOCIAL ISSUES

23/02/2006
Closure of Farmers’ Market Affects Children

Schoolchildren at the Raúl Pedroso Fuentes elementary school in Sibanicú are suffering from measures taken by the municipal authorities. According to one of the parents, the schoolchildren can no longer buy lemonade in the school canteen which they used to buy every day for 25 centavo a glass.
The cold drink was excluded from the school canteen because the man who had produced and sold the drink could not buy lemons on the farmers’ market because of its closure. The National Revolutionary Police (PNR) forbids selling lemons and other fruits in the street or at home.
Pupils are not allowed to leave the school during a school day and buy cold drinks elsewhere. They had to stay on the school premises without having anything to drink.

The Communist Party and the local authorities show no concern for the situation resulting from the closure of the farmers’ market, leaving the children to suffer from the consequences of this measure.

OTHER ISSUES

20/02/2006
Sale Of Foreign Press Banned

An employee of WSP, the distributor of newspapers and magazines sold for hard currency in hotels and other places, has confirmed that magazines Hola!, Mecánica Popular, Muy Interesante, and the newspaper El País have been banned by the government from Cuban news stands. According to the source, materials appearing in these publications were deemed by the government ideologically subversive. From now on, the woman employee said, these publications will be received in Cuba only by subscription available exclusively to diplomats and other foreigners working in this country. The order came from above, she said, adding that government policy is focused on preventing access to anything regarded as ideological plague.

23/02/2006
Havana Municipality Seized By Terror

An unknown culprit has attacked several people with a cold weapon inflicting various bodily injuries to them and speeding away. The incidents happened in the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo in Havana.

The attacker comes by bicycle and tries to slash with a knife people’s faces and backs, seemingly his favorite parts of human body, José Manuel Pereira, a neighborhood resident, told Cuba Verdad news agency. Pereira claimed seven people had suffered from the attack. Other sources insisted there had been dozens of injured saying the criminal acted indiscriminately and attacked both men, women and children.

The perpetrator has become a real terror for the community of Guinera, Trigal, Fortuna, Las Guásimas neighborhoods and for passers-by on Calabazar bridge. His latest victim was a woman, the source said. The criminal rang the door of her house and, when the woman opened it, he slashed her face with a knife. The woman had to have several stitches on her face.

•   •   •

The Cuba Chronicle of Events is produced by the Prima News Agency in Russia in cooperation with the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. Please direct inquiries and comments to Editor, Cuba Chronicle of Events, Prima-News at prima@prima-news.ru or to idee@idee.org.