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Cuba Chronicle of Events
Issue No. 32 • March 1-31, 2007


The Cuba Chronicle of Events is produced by the Prima News Agency in Russia in cooperation with the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. This edition is based on reports from PRIMA-News, Bitacora Cubana, CubaNet, Puente Informativo Cuba Miami, Martí Noticias, Directorio Democrático Cubano, Associated Press, RIA Novosti, REGNUM, BBC, ITAR-TASS, Reuters, RBC.

OPPOSITION

26/02/2007
Cuban Dissident Mario Chanes de Armas Dies in Miami

Mario Chanes de Armas, a Cuban dissident, died at the age of 80 in Miami. A former comrade of Fidel Castro, he spent more than 30 years in Cuban jails. The dissident passed away on February 24 in a hospital in Miami, a friend and fellow prisoner, Eleno Oviedo, said on Sunday.

Chanes de Armas fought alongside Castro in the 1953 attack against the Batista regime and was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, serving one-and-a-half years with Fidel in a Cuban jail. After being amnestied and released, the two continued their armed struggle that led to the Cuban Revolution in 1959. After Castro won power, Chanes de Armas went into opposition and  was sentenced by Castro to 30 years in prison in 1962 as a “counterrevolutionary.” While in prison, he held many protests, mainly hunger strikes. He was freed in 1991 in an “amnesty” one day before his term was completed, having spent more time in prison than Nelson Mandela. Under international pressure, Castro allowed him to go to the United States two years later. He spent his final days in a nursing home.  [See also www.ft.com/cms/s/4fdf5468-c8dc-11db-9f7b-000b5df10621.html (obituary in Financial Times) and, for example, Armas’s description of his experiences in Cuba, written in 1993, at www.fiu.edu/~fcf/chanes.armas.html.]

19/03/2007
Italian Politicians, Cuba’s Ladies in White March in Havana

Havana, Cuba. As is their tradition, the group of wives of Cuban dissidents marched silently on Sunday, March 18 to one of Havana’s churches to call for their husbands’ release. This time a group of Italian politicians joined them to express solidarity. “We are with you for the liberty of the political prisoners,” said European Parliament member Marco Cappato on behalf of his Nonviolent Transnational Radical Party.

Around 50 women of the group, known as the Ladies in White for the all-white clothes they don for their marches, held a protest to draw public attention to the fourth anniversary of their husbands’ arrest during a government crackdown in spring 2003. Five members of Italy’s Radical Party carried a banner that read “freedom and no violence for Cuba.” Among the Italian supporters was Maria Fida Moro, daughter of Aldo Moro, the former Italian Prime Minister assassinated in 1978 by the Red Brigades.

The Cuban government generally does not approve of foreign politicians participating in dissident activities on the island. This year the Italian activists did not apply for a government permit to join the Ladies in White in their protest. They said they did not think they would have a problem because the Cuban authorities are tolerant to regular Sunday walks of the Ladies in White and since they are pacifist.

“We are proud of these young men and women,” Laura Pollán, wife of jailed dissident Héctor Maseda, said of the Italians. “I think they should be an example both inside and outside Cuba.”

30/03/2007
Cuban Opposition Group to Kick Off Campaign for Releasing Political Prisoners

A Cuban group opposed to the communist regime on the island announced launching a campaign for the release of political prisoners.

The announcement was made in a joint statement of ANC and the Council for the Liberation of Cuba (CLC), a Miami-based group of Cuban exiles. The National Constitutionalist Alliance, or ANC, which comprises more than 225 home-grown opposition organizations, states their primary and sole goal is to secure the unconditional release of all Cuban political prisoners by the end of 2008.

The organizers of the campaign plan to gather a quarter of a million signatures to free political prisoners and send an appeal to relevant international judicial authorities to take legal actions against the Cuban communist regime on behalf of political prisoners. If the petitioners’ goal is not achieved, they will occupy the main squares of the country, including Jose Martí Square in Havana

POLITICAL REPRESSION

13/02/2007
State Security Interrogates 13-Year-Old Girl in School

Ciego de Avila, Cuba. Captain Creo and a woman officer of the State Security Department questioned a 13-year-old girl at the secondary school she attends. The agents took her out of math class and into a room in the principal’s offices, where they questioned her for about an hour about the activities of her stepfather, a pastor whom they accuse of counterrevolutionary activities.

When she did not give the desired answers, the captain called her a liar and threatened to send her and her stepfather to jail, the girl, Leyanis Domínguez, said. The girl said the officers asked her whether her stepfather works and wanted to know about his activities to promote human rights. Leyanis and her stepfather, Delmides Fidalgo, called the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights to report the incident.

13/02/2007
Independent Journalist’s Wife Fired

Ranchuelo, Cuba. Yolanda Álvarez, the wife of independent journalist Alejandro Tur, was fired from her job after being declared “politically unreliable.” She worked as an attendant in the bathrooms of El Rápido shopping center in Cienfuegos.
The shopping center is owned and operated by the government under its corporate entity CIMEX.

According to Álvarez, the center’s manager, a woman she identified as Majela, told her that an investigation had revealed that she did not belong to any of the government’s “mass organizations” and that her husband was a “well known counter revolutionary.” Her husband said the whole episode was “nothing more than a maneuver by State Security to try to stop my activities in journalism.”

04/03/2007
No Job for Unlucky Rafter

Ciego de Ávila, Cuba. Yosvany Martínez is under a court order to find employment, but nobody will give him a job in Caibarién where he lives. Martínez served a prison sentence for hijacking a boat by force. After the unsuccessful attempt to flee Cuba, he was returned to the island. Once he got out of prison, the court ordered him to find a job in construction, but no one would hire him. He says he has had the same luck at the government’s supply center.

01/03/2007
Police Threaten Journalist

Havana, Cuba. Independent journalist Oscar Sánchez said police in Matanzas picked him up on February 25, took him to the station, and confiscated papers he had on him for the story he was working on.
Sánchez called the incident a reprisal by the Department of State Security for recent articles he had written about social problems in Matanzas, particularly on alcoholism, AIDS, drug addiction, and corruption among government officials in the town of Pedro Betancourt.

Sánchez said several officers questioned him while he was detained. They asked him whether he is an independent journalist, what is independent journalism, and whether he studied journalism and how much he is paid. The Cuban government licenses journalists and does not consider independent journalists to be journalists.

21/03/2007
U.S. Sees Growing Repression during Raul Castro’s Rule

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon said Cuban leader Fidel Castro “remains a controlling political presence.” He also added that repression has increased in Cuba since his brother Raul took over the running of the government.

POLITICAL PRISONERS

30/03/2007
AI Demands to Raise Issue of Cuban Prisoners’ Release

Amnesty International has urged the Spanish government to raise the issue of the immediate release of 65 Cuban prisoners of conscience with the Cuban authorities. Esteban Beltrán, director of Amnesty International Spain, told Europa Press his organization has delivered to Spain’s Secretary of State for Latin America, Trinidad Jiménez, information about each of the 65 political prisoners.

Trinidad Jiménez and the Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Leire Pajin will accompany Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos during his visit to the island nation scheduled to begin on April 2. Amnesty International strongly believes there are no reasons for these people — some of whom have spent 13 years in jail — to remain behind bars.

The human rights watchdog has also expressed to Jiménez their concern about the harassment and intimidation of prisoners’ families in Cuba in 2006 through use of government-organized acts of repudiation or protests in fronts of their homes and work places, Beltrán said.

GOVERNMENT

01/03/2007
Former Cuban Army Officer Accuses Cuba of Developing Bioweapons

A former Cuban colonel who has defected to the United States claims Cuba is developing bioweapons.

The Miami Herald wrote on March 1 that Roberto Ortega, chief of Cuba’s military medical services from 1984 to 1994, said in a speech at the Institute for Cuban and American-Cuban Studies in Miami there was a secret underground bioweapons laboratory near Havana where the government is performing advance weapons research using strains of the plague, botulism, and yellow fever. “They (Cuba) can develop viruses and bacteria and dangerous sicknesses that are currently unknown and difficult to diagnose,” Ortega told the Miami Herald.

Cuba is ready to use these biological agents “to blackmail the United States in case of an international incident such as the threat of a U.S. invasion,” he added. The Cuban defector told the CIA about this underground facility two years ago, but after seeing no action taken he has decided to come forward with this information, the newspaper wrote. The Cuban government denied running any bioweapons research programs.

According to Ortega, who fled to the United States in 2003, the underground lab located southwest of Havana and dubbed “Labor One” employs dozens of scientists. The facility has an aboveground civilian cover, the military defector added. The former Cuban colonel claimed he visited the lab in 1992 when he accompanied a high-level Russian military delegation, reported The Miami Herald. The newspaper did not say whether Ortega had credible evidence that work continued after his visit to the secret facility. In a report last year, the U.S. State Department acknowledged analysts were divided on the issue of whether Cuba has such a program.

24/03/2007
Cuba Replaces Ministers

The Cuban government has removed Roberto Diaz Sotolongo as justice minister and replaced him with Deputy Minister Maria Esther Reus. Jorge Aspiolea Roig, who was in charge of national water resources, will be replaced by Rene Mesa, a construction minister. The Cuban government announced that Sotolongo and Roig would remain in the government but would be assigned other jobs. The reason for the change was not given.

23/03/2007
Castro to Be ‘In Shape’ to Run Again

Havana, Cuba. Fidel Castro will be in “perfect shape”' to run for re-election to parliament next spring, the first step toward securing yet another term as Cuba’s president, National Assembly head Ricardo Alarcón said on March 22. “I will nominate him,” said Alarcón, the highest-ranking member of parliament. “I’m sure he will be in perfect shape to continue handling his responsibilities.” Surrounded by reporters, Alarcón said Castro “is doing fine and continuing to focus on recovery and rehabilitation.”

A lengthy process of nominating candidates for municipal elections will begin this summer, leading to several rounds of voting. By March 2008, Cuba should be ready to hold parliamentary elections that are expected to include Castro, Alarcón said.

FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE

27/03/2007
Archbishop Ortega Calls for Fighting Hedonism among Cuban Youth

The Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, has urged everyone to combat the spread of hedonism through education that favors the path to true love. In a column published by the archdiocesan bulletin Aqui la Iglesia, Ortega calls on teenagers, young people, and even children to be introduced by their elders to the beautiful and fulfilling atmosphere of love through authentic sexual education.

The Cardinal says hedonism is corrupting the virtue of Cuban young people. He said Cuban young people have heard from their infancy, mainly on radio and television, information about safe sex and the risks of pregnancy or diseases, accompanied by moral preaching based on fear: use a condom or else. “The eroticized world of today will have to encounter not an armed resistance, but rather clear counterbalance against eroticism in families, schools, and in the Church. We must offer alternatives to that false eroticism that permeates human behavior in our day,” concludes the Cardinal.

REFUGEES

07/03/2007
Cuba’s Citizens Detained in Nizhny Novgorod while Trying to Illegally Reach the U.S.

The Prosecutor’s Office in Nizhny Novgorod Region in central Russia started a criminal case on March 5 against three Cuban citizens for trying to cross the Russian border illegally, prosecutor  officials told IA REGNUM. The detained Cubans, a man and two women, intended to reach the United States by illegally transiting Russia and Mexico using fake Mexican passports. The three Cubans were detained at Nizhny Novgorod airport just before boarding a Nizhny Novgorod-Frankfurt flight. They have been taken to the pre-trial detention facility, or SIZO, in Nizhny Novgorod pending a decision of the city’s Avtozavodsky district court on their arrest.

08/03/2007
U.S. Gets Ready for Influx of Cuban Migrants

The U.S. Coast Guard is carrying out a training exercise in south Florida to halt a possible mass exodus of Cubans when Fidel Castro dies. The two-day exercise put to the test officers from 85 U.S. law enforcement agencies. Several dozen pretended to be Cuban migrants trying to reach U.S. shores on boats and makeshift rafts. The goal of the operation is to get all the agencies and the military working together to interdict at least 95 percent of the migrants before they reach U.S. shores, said Coast Guard Rear Adm. David Kunkel, chief coordinator of the exercise. In the early 1980s, tens of thousands of Cubans were allowed by the Cuban government to leave the homeland for the United States. As a result, many of them were confined in special temporary shelters in Florida for several months.

30/03/2007
Prague Gives Support to Politically Persecuted Cubans

A ten-member group was offered political asylum in the Czech Republic after arriving in Prague on March 20. The Czech government decided to accept the Cuban refugees at the request of the United States. The Czech Interior Ministry stated Cubans that have been granted asylum in the country were politically persecuted on the island. The ministry’s press department claimed that at least one member in each of the three families on the run had been persecuted or jailed in Cuba for their political or religious beliefs.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

08/03/2007
Bush Hopes Cuba’s System of Government Will Change when Fidel Castro Dies

U.S. President George W. Bush expressed hope that communist rule in Cuba would end when Fidel Castro dies. “I don’t know how long he’s going to live but nevertheless I do believe that the system of government that he’s imposed upon the people ought not to live if that’s what the people decide,” the U.S. president said.
“What I hope happens is that we together insist that transition doesn’t mean transition from one figure to another, but that transition means from one type of government to a different type of government, based upon the will of the people,” Bush said in an interview to Latin American newspapers released in Washington.

14/03/2007
U.S., Mexico Fail to Agree on Policy toward Cuba

“There is, on Cuba,  an agreement to disagree” between the leaders of the United States and Mexico, admitted Dan Fisk of the U.S. National Security Council at a press briefing in Merida, Yucatan, on the U.S.-Mexico summit.

George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon “focused the discussion on the need for the international community to support the Cuban people and to support their aspirations,” he said. Washington believes that the Western Hemisphere, in particular, has a unique responsibility to support the Cuban people and that what the international community should see in Cuba is a transition. And each country is going to have to define for itself when the time is right to stand up for things like free and fair multi-party competitive elections, stressed Fisk.

He did not elaborate on the two presidents’ disagreement on Cuba. On a question whether Mexico asked the United States to ease the embargo against Cuba or to think about a reaching out to Raul Castro, he simply said “No.”

21/03/2007
Sweden, Cuba in Diplomatic Crisis

A diplomatic crisis has developed between Sweden and Cuba. Cuban officials are opening  Swedish diplomatic post and the Cuban ambassador has been summoned to Sweden’s foreign ministry to explain. The row began when Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt gave a speech to the UN Human Rights Council, in which he criticized Cuba’s human rights record.
Cuba’s delegate to the Human Rights Council Cuba retaliated, by calling Sweden an imperial state and accusing Sweden of carrying out ethnic cleansing and persecuting all those who don’t have Viking blood running through their veins. He also accused Bildt of hypocrisy after the Swedish foreign minister failed to mention the United States, particularly the U.S. Guantanamo base in Cuba or the American-led war in Iraq during his speech on human rights. The Cuban delegate also asserted that Cuba had been granted a place on the Human Rights Council, a post for which Sweden was not considered worthy. It might have been better if Bildt had stayed in Stockholm, he exclaimed.

“It is completely unacceptable language,” said Bildt today. The Swedish foreign ministry called in Cuba’s ambassador in Stockholm to explain the comments and apologize on his country’s behalf. However, some time later the foreign ministry discovered that its diplomatic mail had been opened by the Cubans. So the Cuban ambassador is going to be called in again.

28/03/2007
U.S. Denies Cuba’s Claims in the United Nations

The United States government has dismissed Cuba’s accusations voiced in the UN Human Rights Council in connection with the five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States. The U.S. representative to the United Nations emphasized the spies had received the full procedural protection.

Velia De Pirro, Political Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, stated that the arrested Cuban agents had received the full protection of the United States legal system,
including counselors and lawyers. That was her response to Adriana Pérez from Cuba, who claimed keeping the five communist agents in jail since 1998 violated the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights and other agreements.

Speaking in a right of reply, the U.S. representative pointed out that during their trial the five Cubans had never denied their covert activities, nor their services to the Marxist regime of Cuba.
Velia de Pirro stressed the United States government had given the five men the full service of democracy.

28/03/2007
Spanish Socialists Say No to Repression, and Yes to Socialism in Cuba

The Spanish Socialist Labor Party believes there are signs that the Cuban communist regime is heading to its end and there are many people within the regime who could lead a process of change. This opinion was expressed by Elena Valenciano, the party’s secretary for international affairs, in an interview to Europa Press. When Fidel Castro departs, Cuba should move toward democracy, but without abandoning its socialist ideology, said the Spanish Socialist.

Valenciano added she could not accept the lack of freedom in Cuba, pointing out that Spanish Socialists urge Cuba to fully observe human rights whenever the occasion arises, and publicly condemn Castro’s repression during debates in the European Parliament.

Spanish Socialists will make a noticeable presence in a process of change that will soon be underway in Cuba, she said. They will be advocating in strong and unequivocal terms the need for transition toward an open and pluralistic political system.

28/03/2007
Spain’s Foreign Minister to Visit Havana

The Spanish Foreign Minister, Socialist Miguel Angel Moratinos will make an official visit to Cuba on April 2 and 3, report the world’s news agencies, citing sources in the Foreign Ministry in Madrid. The sources say Moratinos will speak with the Cuban authorities about the situation on the island and review bilateral relations.

The minister will be accompanied by the Secretary of State for Latin America, Trinidad Jiménez, and by the Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Leire Pajin. This will be the first official visit to Cuba by a member of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s Socialist government.

The Spanish delegation, Jiminez said, will meet with representatives of all sectors of Cuban society.  Trinidad Jiménez said it’s a tradition for each Spanish government to meet with people from all sectors of Cuban society, and her government has no intention to break this tradition. The high-ranking Spanish official, currently on a visit to Guatemala, told Radio Ser the upcoming visit should arouse no suspicions as her country’s policy is to maintain current relations with all countries of the region.

29/03/2007
Cuban Exiles in Spain Skeptical About Moratinos’ Visit to Cuba

Cuban dissidents living in exile in Spain are looking skeptically at the upcoming visit to Cuba of the Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos. They wish he strongly demands that the Cuban authorities release all political prisoners and stop persecution of dissidents.

Rigoberto Carceller, general coordinator of the Cuba Democracia Ya Platform, told Europa Press agency that while he thinks the visit is inappropriate, he still expects Moratinos to explain to the Cuban government the necessity to improve the human rights situation on the island. He has urged Moratinos to personally meet with dissident groups and expressed hope the minister would not return empty handed though he believes the Castro regime would not take any significant steps in this regard. Antonio Guedes, vice president of the Cuban Liberal Union, believes the visit is aimed at promoting democracy in Cuba but unlikely to serve that purpose.

30/03/2007
OAS Report: Cuba Relies on Acts of Repudiation to Silence Political Opponents

Cuba systematically resorts to so-called acts of repudiation to suppress dissent and political opposition on the island, says the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) in its annual report.  The report describes inhuman prison conditions, violations of labor and trade union rights, and the use of the death penalty without due process.

The Commission denounced the restriction of political rights, freedom of expression and dissemination of thought that violates the fundamental rights of the Cuban people. This is aggravated by the lack of the independent judiciary. The Commission also focused on the lack of free and fair election on the island, based on secret balloting and universal suffrage as an expression of the sovereignty of the Cuban people.

The document also criticized the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba’s communist regime, imposed over 40 years ago.

ECONOMICS

21/03/2007
Cuba to Boost Oil and Gas Exploration

Cuba will expand oil and gas exploration on land and in deep sea areas within an area of the Gulf of Mexico, announced Cuban Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia during the opening of the International Earth Sciences Convention — Geosciences 2007 — in Havana.

The breakup of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s has forced Cuba to review its economic strategies and open doors to foreign capital and technologies to intensify the search for its own energy reserves, said the minister.

According to the Cuban minister, the new approach involves using foreign capital and specialists, particularly from Venezuela, Mexico, Bolivia, Canada, and China. Garcia also said Cuba would soon start exploratory drilling for copper, lead, zinc and silver. In 1999, Cuba opened up part of its gulf exclusive economic zone, letting foreign oil companies drill for oil and natural gas reserves in the area of 112,000 sq. km. In the last six years, Cuba has signed exploration contracts and joint production projects with foreign companies totaling $1.5 billion.

According to expert estimates, Cuba has good prospects for the discovery of new oil reserves not only on the continental shelf, but on land as well, mainly in the western part of the island, in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Havana, Matanzas and even in the vicinity of the capital.

28/03/2007
The Castro Regime Signs Agreement to Buy Food in Nebraska

The Cuban communist regime signed on Tuesday, March 27, an agreement to buy food from the U.S. state of Nebraska, Governor Dave Heineman said. In his view, the deal indicated a continuation and expansion of ties between Nebraska and Cuba, referring to previous trade agreements signed in 2005 and 2006 amounting to $60 million.

Heineman signed the 2007 agreement with Pedro Alvarez, director of the island’s food import monopoly, Alimport. Under the agreement, Cuba will purchase wheat from Louis Dreyfus company and pork from Farmland Foods. Heineman arrived in Cuba on Monday, March 26, leading a trade mission of 30 American businessmen, the largest trade delegation ever to visit the island nation.

SOCIAL ISSUES

22/02/2007
Bus Service Cubans Cannot Afford

Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. The Cuban Bus Transport Association, La Asociación de Transporte por Ómnibus, known as ASTRO, that was recently renovated with new Yuton Chinese-made buses has ordinary travelers here screaming because they say they cannot afford the fares.

The fare for a round-trip from Santiago to Havana is 338 pesos, compared to an average monthly salary of 250 pesos. The minimum fare is 10 pesos, even for short trips of a kilometer or two. The Communist Party organ in Santiago, Sierra Maestra, published on February 17 a schedule of the routes and their prices, justifying the high prices by the high cost of the buses, the cost of spare parts, and fuel.

06/03/2007
City in the Dark

Havana, Cuba. At night, the streets of Santa Clara, a city of 250,000 in central Cuba, allows passersby to star gaze in perfect darkness, since streetlights are so few and far between. The outlying districts suffer the same fate as the center of the city: no lights. The only place with a few lamps is the Leoncio Vidal park in the center of the city. Interestingly, there is a constant police presence in the park every night. But citizens of Santa Clara rarely see police patrols in the dark streets.

OTHER NEWS

28/02/2007
University Professor in the U.S. Sentenced to Five Years as Cuban Spy

College professor Carlos Alvarez and his wife were sentenced respectively to five and three years for spying for Cuba’s communist government. U.S. District Court in Miami, Florida, pronounced the verdict on February 27, saying the defendants were sentenced on reduced charges they received in a federal plea deal.

Carlos Alvarez, a Florida International University professor, also received three years probation, and his wife Elsa was also sentenced to one year of probation. Prosecutors insisted Alvarez did “classic intelligence work” for Cuban President Fidel Castro’s communist government. The verdict read that Alvarez was “exchanging coded messages with Cuban intelligence officials about Cuban American exile groups and prominent figures in Miami.”

Alvarez’ attorneys, however, unsuccessfully argued that he was not Castro’s agent, but was just trying to open new ways of communication between the United States and Cuba. In December 2006, Carlos Alvarez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to become an unregistered foreign agent, while his wife admitted knowing about her husband’s illegal activities but failing to report them to authorities.

24/03/2007
Ex-CIA Agent Claims Discovery of Che Guevara’s Tomb is a Fraud

The remains of the legendary revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara killed in 1967 in the jungles of Bolivia, are still buried in that country, not in a mausoleum built in the Cuban city of Santa Clara.  This statement was made by Gustavo Villoldo, a 71-year-old former CIA agent, in an interview to The Miami Herald on Saturday.  Villoldo claims he was involved in a CIA-backed Bolivian operation to destroy a guerilla group led by Che Guevara after he had left Cuba to “continue revolutionary struggle in Latin America.”

The circumstances of Che Guevara’s death remain unclear. According to CIA’s version, he was killed in combat. However, many sources argue Che was wounded, captured, tortured and then executed. The former CIA agent gives no details of the death of the revolutionary icon, saying “he has not witnessed his death.” Villoldo still maintains he was one of five CIA men ordered to bury Che Guevara and two of his fellow rebels outside the Bolivian city of Vallegrande.

“It was me who was ordered to take Guevara’s body from the hospital’s morgue and take it to the burial site. Everything took place at night. We dug up a shallow pit quickly and dropped there the dead guerillas. But before burying Che, I snipped a lock of his hair. After that I wrote down the burial coordinates on the map. When, 30 years later, I read that the Cuban government had allegedly found and reburied Che’s remains in a specially built mausoleum in Santa Clara, I understood that the Cuban discovery was either a mistake or a propaganda stunt aimed to deceive the world community,” says Villoldo.

Cuba has claimed its anthropological team discovered a common grave near Vallegrande airport in Bolivia. There were the remains of seven men there, they said. One of them was identified as Che Guevara’s. Extra tests at a local hospital allegedly confirmed the skeleton was that of Che Guevara. These remains were brought to Cuba and placed into a mausoleum.

“That could not be true. We buried three men that night -- Che and two of his fellow rebels,” Villoldo says. “Thirty years later, they start digging and find seven men buried? Dead bodies don’t reproduce, they don’t multiply. Another inconsistency. We buried him in a place with no airport or airstrip nearby. The exact coordinates of the grave I have on my map do not coincide with the coordinates of the modern airport in Vallegrande,” Villoldo adds.

27/03/2007
Leftist and Communist Groups Picket U.S. Embassy in Moscow for Cuban Five

Every day, for nearly a month, pickets have been held outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, reports the Collective Action Institute. Activists from various public organizations, parties, movements and groups gather there to ask for the release of the five Cuban men who had been convicted in the United States on espionage charges. There are some 290 Committees to Free the Cuban Five across the world. The first demonstration in support of the five Cubans took place in Moscow on February 26. City authorities refused at first to authorize a picket at the U.S. Embassy’s entrance gate but granted permission after its organizers, the Venceremos solidarity committee, took the matter to court. Every day since March 12, picketers are gathering from 5 pm to 6 pm outside the U.S. Embassy in Devyatinsky Pereulok in Moscow to demand the release of the Cuban spies.

•   •   •

The Review of Cuban Events is produced by the Prima News Agency in Russia in cooperation with the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. Items are reproduced with permission and attribution from other news agencies. Please direct inquiries and comments to Editor, Review of Cuban Events, PRIMA-News at prima@prima-news.ru or to idee@idee.org.