Cuba Chronicle of Events
Issue No. 4, December 1-10, 2005
The Review of Cuban Events is produced by the Prima NewsAgency in Russia in cooperation with the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe.
Anti-government Posters Spotted in Santa Clara
An anti-government poster targeting Fidel Castro was spotted in downtown Santa Clara on the morning of November 28. The “crime scene” was immediately cordoned off by political police. Public discontent with the Cuban leader has noticeably increased after the government's announcement of higher electricity prices and its launching a crackdown against produce traders at the country’s farmers’ markets.
Independent Library Marks Its Third Anniversary Amidst Government’s Repression
Representatives of opposition organizations marked the 3rd anniversary of the Cuba Verde Independent Library in the municipality of Guanabacoa on November 30. The commemorative event took place despite arrests and “repudio” actions held by rapid response brigades. The Library’s head, Maura Orozco, recounted that “repression against members of the Cuban Workers’ Trade Union (Unión Sindical de Trabajadores de Cuba, Ortodoxa) and the People’s Republican Party (Partido Popular Republicano) had started the day before to prevent people from attending the celebration.”
According to Maura Orozco, agents of Cuban state security and pro-government organizations had paid the so-called warning visits to Ramona Rivera, Daniel Avatier, Bernardino Alfonso, Anabel Rivero, Jorge Álvarez, Ricardo Carmona , Marllulis Rivero, and chairman of the People’s Republican Party Reinaldo Gante and other party activists. When the oppositionists ignored the threats and started for the meeting many of them were stopped and taken to a police station. They were released either later in the evening or next day.
Former Political Prisoner Accused Of Insulting Castro
On November 26, ex-political prisoner Jorge Luis Artiles Montiel got a home-delivered copy of the prosecutor’s statement on his case. The dissident is being accused of shouting slogans against the Cuban leader in his neighborhood on June 12 of this year. The prosecutor demands that he be sentenced to two years in prison on a charge of “affronting the Chairman of the State Council and Chairman of the Cabinet.” Jorge Luis Artiles Montiel, an activist of the Villa Clara for Democracy movement, had already been sentenced to one year and a half in 1993 for “illegal exit” from the country, and in 2002, to the same term for “perjury”after he refused to testify against former state security officers who had sided with dissidents.
Arrest of Opposition Leader
Cuban state security arrested Alejandro Miguel Novoa Saldivar in the metropolitan municipality of Regla on November 28. The provincial representative of the Movement for Democratic Solidarity has been taken to a local branch of the National Revolutionary Police. He is being investigated now. That was reported by Manuel Ramón Alarcón, founder of the Political Prisoners-Plantados for the Freedom of Cuba movement. According to him, posters “Down with Castro!” and “The time is ripe for democracy!” had been spotted on local municipal buildings and in parks the day before. Repudiating actions (“repudios”) and arrests of oppositionists are now sweeping the area.
FLAMUR Elections Frustrated
A meeting of the Cuban section of the Latin American Women’s Agricultural Federation (FLAMUR) has been brutally obstructed by state security officers and rapid response brigades. The incident was reported by Maura Iset González, a FLAMUR representative in the municipality of San Luis in whose house the meeting was to take place. Some female delegates from other provinces were detained and forcedly returned to their places of residence. Others managed to throw off security’s guard and steal to the neighboring house of Pedro Cabello. Having realized this, security agents went straight to the house, broke into it, letting ten more of their men into the house. One of the security men made an attempt to hit Maura on the head with a chair. Ana Belkis Ferrer, sister of the dissident brothers Ferrer (from the famous 75 political prisoners), and two other young women with babies in their arms were dragged out of the house, manhandled and insulted by women officers from rapid response brigades. Anna Belkis’ husband, the disabled Pelayo de Jesús Cagides and Waldimar Parra were subjected to beating. The latter is said to have received a face injury. The raid was videotaped by local members of the Cuban Communist Party.
Police Confiscate Humanitarian Aid
Employees of Cuban political police have confiscated 44 lb of medicines in the municipality of Bahía Honda, Pinar del Río province. The medical drugs were intended for Minerva Corbillón, a local leader of FLAMUR. She has applied for help since there are sick people in her family who need these difficult-to-obtain medicines. The drugs were seized from a person who arrived in Cuba from abroad to visit his relatives living in the same province.
Authorities Try To Wreck Graduation Party Of Independent Journalists
A number of students and lecturers of the Journalistic Courses in the town of Santa Clara could not attend a graduation party on November 22 because of the authorities’ intervention. Alejandro Tur Valladares, director of Jagua Press Agency and a member of the Courses’ examination panel was detained when leaving his house. Alexander García Mujica, director of Villa Blanca Press Agency who studied at the Courses was prevented from leaving his house by Communist activists. Several people were blackmailed by Communist Party representatives who tried to discourage them from attending the function. Still, it took place with nine people celebrating the festive occasion.
The short-term journalist courses (twelve lectures) were organized by the Marta Abreu Forum for Social Studies for independent public correspondents from Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus and Villa Clara provinces. Among the lecturers were independent journalists, including Guillermo Fariñas (coordinator), Niurvys Díaz Remond, Roberto Santana Rodríguez and Félix Reyes Gutiérrez. The next day, Guillermo Fariñas, director of Cubanacán Press and coordinator of the these master classes was visited by three men in uniform. They told him they “would no longer tolerate any independent courses.”
Independent Librarian Subjected To Intimidation
Independent librarian and photo reporter Luis Alberto Pacheco Mendoza made it known that two officers from punitive agencies came to his home in Pinar del Río on October 9 to warn him against holding an opposition meeting on October 10. The meeting was scheduled to take place at the José Ángel Buesa independent library. Luis Alberto Pacheco Mendoza is the head of the library. The visitors threatened to arrest and charge him with civic disobedience if otherwise. On the morning of October 10, police were stationed in front of his house which also accommodates the library. Policemen did not let opposition activists into the house.
Journalists Arrested In Cuba
According to representatives of the Polish Embassy in Havana, Cuban authorities detained two foreign female journalists and a Cuban reporter who acted as their guide while visiting an independent library in the town of Sancti Spiritus in central Cuba on December 1. Anna Bikont from the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and her colleague Nelly Norto, a holder of Swiss and Italian citizenship, came to Cuba on a tourist visa. Cuban authorities seized their passports and air tickets and, after interrogation took the women to a hotel and then to a holding facility for foreigners in Havana. They were arrested on the pretext of alleged violation of a status of tourist. Cuban observer Gerardo Sánchez Santa Cruz was arrested together with them. Head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation Elizardo Sánchez, brother of the arrested, confirmed that Gerardo accompanied the foreign journalists who had arrived on a private visit. However, he did it to help them get acquainted with Cuban society, but not on behalf of the Commission, he stressed. On December 3, the two women were deported from the country. There is a regulation in Cuba which demands that all foreign journalists coming to Cuba for professional reasons obtain a special permit from the Cuban foreign ministry. Those who fail to do that are to be immediately expelled from the country.
Independent Lawyer Beaten In Santa Clara
Independent lawyer and director of the Independent Legal Aid Bureau Regino Vázquez Vega was attacked on November 28. The incident took place in a thinly populated neighborhood in the town of Villa Clara. He was hit in the head with a wooden stick. The day before he was physically assaulted by unknown culprits in another area. The attackers were shouting, “You became the Devil’s advocate.” By a strange coincidence, he heard the same words during the second beating. Previously,Vázquez Vega had worked for the interior ministry as a drug detective for Villa Clara. After resigning from the interior ministry, he began to practise law, and then he had to emigrate to France. Several months earlier he has returned to Cuba for family reasons.
Cuban Journalist Searched
On November 30, state security agents searched the house of independent journalist Carlos Serpa Maceira. For three hours, four security agents had been looking for counter-revolutionary materials. As a result, they confiscated videocassettes, two dictophones, a radio set, note books and various documents. They also took pictures of the place of search.
One of the agents told Carlos Maceira that no one could avoid accusations under Law 88. This law known as the “gag” law among Cubans calls for 20 years imprisonment for “anti-government propaganda.” These days this article has been widely used by Cuban authorities for the prosecution of journalists cooperating with independent Cuban information agencies and foreign publications.
Carlos Serpa Maseira is the head of an independent library. He is also in charge of Luks Infor Press independent news agency and works with the Information Bridge Cuba-Miami news agency.
Mario Enrique Released From Prison
The 41-year-old independent journalist and head of Félix Varela News Agency, Mario Enrique Mayo Hernandez, has been released from prison in his native town of Camagüey in central Cuba on December 1. He was granted an early release on health grounds. The journalist had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for “plotting against Cuba’s independence and territorial integrity” as a result of the government’s crackdown on dissent in March and April 2003. While in custody, the journalist had been held in three prisons, i.e., Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey, frequently under high security. His health has been damaged by prison conditions and hunger strikes. Mayo suffers from glaukoma, high blood pressure, compensating emphysema, inflamed prostate and other diseases.
He is the 15th prisoner among the 75 dissidents jailed in spring 2003 to have been granted an “indefinite conditional release” on health grounds. However, unlike amnesty, that does not imply reversal of a sentence. Sixty other dissidents from this group are still in prison. Eleven of them are said to have been hospitalized because their condition has dramatically worsened recently.
Prisoner Of Conscience Back In His Previous Jail
Political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez (aka Antúnez) has been returned to ?amagüey prison on November 27 after authorities at Juvenile Prison in Villa Clara refused to keep him in their custody. That news came from his sister Berta Antúnez Pernet. This refusal is very indicative: prison warders know Antúnez as a “troublemaker” who persistently exposes violations and abuses in the Cuban penitentiary system.
Detained Journalist Resumes Hunger Strike
Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, a journalist and member of the Corriente Martiana Movement has resumed hunger strike after he was not allowed to complete his medical treatment and was transferred on November 29 from Marianao military hospital to a solitary confinement cell at the Technical Investigation Department “100 y Aldabó” in Boyeros, south of Havana, his wife Iliana Tamayo reported. She has blamed state security for possible consequences and appealed once again to all people of good will to save the life of Guerra Pérez whose health is in dangerous condition as a result of his previous fasting.
Mother Of Political Prisoner Resents Miserable Conditions In Hospital
Ada Rosa Borrego, mother of Horacio Julio Piña Borrego (one of the 75 arrested in 2003) is aggrieved at the treatment of sick inmates in a prison section of Abel Santamaría hospital in Pinar del Rio. Her son, who is serving a 20-year term, was transferred there on November 19. Ada Rosa stressed that only after her numerous appeals, requests and complaints had prison authorities agreed to place her son into hospital. But conditions in hospital wards for prisoners were so poor and outrageous that it did not help. Piña Borrego is nearly deaf, he suffers from pains in the neck, chronic gastritis and rupture. His mother said he could not get adequate food and treatment in the hospital.
Concern Over The Plight Of Jailed Journalist
Mirta Wong, wife of independent journalist Oscar Mario González, has expressed deep concern about his prison conditions. She described them as inhumane and dangerous for his well beign. González was detained on July 22 this year. Since then he has been kept in various investigation facilities and Marianao military hospital from where he has recently been transferred to100 Aldabó special prison.
“Now Oscar is suffering from the worst conditions ever since the day of his arrest. He is being held in a 2x3 m cell together with three criminal convicts. It is stuffy, damp, and there is no ventilation. They breath their own excrements as they relieve themselves into the hole in the floor which is unbearable and breeds infections,” Mirta Wong said. She appeals to human rights organizations to press Cuban authorities for her husband release. Sixty-one-year-old Oscar Mario González is a member of the Dignity journalist group headed by Ana Leonor Díaz. Several members of this organization were jailed by Cuban authorities in spring 2003.
PRIMA-News Correspondent Moved To Another Prison
PRIMA-News correpondent Adolfo Fernandez Sainz, who is serving a 15-year term for anti-government propaganda, has been transferred from the prison in Holguin province to Canaleta prison in the province of Ciego de Avilla. Political prisoner Pedro Argüelles told this during his phone call from Canaleta. No one from his family knows the reasons for Adolfo Fernandez' transfer. That causes great concern among his friends and relatives. Canaleta prison is infamous for its maltreatment of inmates, especially political prisoners. There is a lot of evidence that inmates are denied adequate medical help there. Adolfo Fernandez's transfer to Canaleta prison could result in further deterioration of his health. One year ago he underwent a medical examination in Havana hospital and was found to suffer many illnesses.
Adolfo Fernandez Sains had been working as a PRIMA-News correspondent in Havana since July 2001. On March 2003 he was arrested during a government crackdown on Cuban dissidents. On April 3, 2003, Adolfo Fernandez Sainz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for giving interviews to foreign radio stations and posting “subversive” articles on the Internet. A month ago, Adolfo Fernandez Sains was nominated for the Freedom Award which is annually given by the association of liberal parties and movements of the world known as the Liberal International.
Women in White Honored
The 8th International Human Rights Award of the Spanish-Cuban Foundation has been given to Women in White in a special ceremony in Spain on December 1. The award was received by Blanca Reyes, the group’s representative abroad. Among speakers at the event were members of the editorial board of Revista Hispano Cubana magazine, chairman of the Cuban Liberal Union Carlos Alberto Montaner and others. Carlos Alberto Montaner read out an address of Laura Pollán, press-secretary of the organization and Cuban laureate. Prominent Cuban cultural figures came to congratulate the winners, including Raúl Rivero, a poet, author and journalist.
Police Raid Against Cycle Rickshaws
Confiscated bicycles, fines, arrests and evictions from the capital were the results of a police operation undertaken on November 26 and 27 in the municipality of Habana Vieja against cycle rickshaws. Manuel Román Alarcón and Luis Alberto Torres Cruz confirmed that a total of 150 men were taken to a police station and that a crowd of their relatives gathered there at the time.
New Measures Against Private Entrepreneurs
Following a recent speech by Fidel Castro on combating corruption, a campaign of rigorous check-ups by the so-called people’s inspectors has been launched in Cuba against owners of small businesses and traders. “Now people’s inspectors are coming every day. In the past, we used to give them something from our stocks and they left quietly. But after Fidel’s speech they behave like real extremists,” said a food stall owner in Pinar del Río. A new wave of raids is sweeping the private sector as well. As a result, food prices have soared on the black market in Cuba.
Advocate Sacked For Exposing Corruption
Advocate Niurka Brito, who was fired in March this year for exposing corruption, filed a petition on December 1 for her reinstatement. She wrote it would be particularly relevant now when Fidel Castro has declared war on corruption. Brito said she has been relieved from her post as commercial director at a dairy plant after she testified in court against members of the plant’s administration who plundered 34 tons of dairy products and fuel. They were brought to justice only several months later when Brito made these facts available to the foreign press. State security saw her as politically unreliable and she could not find any job. Brito has been appealing to various authorities, even to the Cuban leader, but got no reply.
Two People Detained For Selling Pork
Two locals have been detained and taken to police in Santa Clara on November 29 for “selling pork illegally.” One hundred pounds of pork were seized from them. The eyewitnesses loudly protested against yet another police interference in private trade. One of the detained cited poor economic condition of his family.
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The Review of Cuban Events is produced by the Prima NewsAgency 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 [email protected] or to [email protected].