Semi-Annual Human Rights Report on Cuba (June – November 2008)

PIN’s semi-annual Human Rights Report on Cuba is comprised of various reports sent directly from the island by five different independent Cuban human rights groups that gather information and verify all of the charges.

I. General Overview (June 2008 – November 2008)
During the month of June, at least four common criminals hung themselves in prison and three dissidents were prosecuted or imprisoned.  In addition, 53 peaceful activists were detained at police stations, received summons or were victims of other hostile acts.
July was an extremely repressive month this year. More than 500 human rights defenders have been affected across the entire country.  State security used various methods, including detentions at police stations for up to 24 hours, home arrests, deportations from Havana to the interior provinces, cutting individuals’ telephone service, summons to police stations, visits to the homes of human rights defenders, taking away identity cards, threats of imprisonment, acts of repudiation and others.
There were 117 police station arrests and 56 home arrests documented during this month. Three dissidents were imprisoned and one common criminal died in the provincial prison of La Canaleta in Ciego de Ávila due to neglect and negligence by prison authorities.
During the month of August, at least nine dissidents were processed or imprisoned, three common criminals died due to the harshness of prison conditions, 57 peaceful activists were detained at police stations and many more received summons or were victims of other hostile acts. These groups were not able to provide all of the names, surnames, addresses and telephone numbers of each of the victims and witnesses.
During the darkest hours of our natural tragedy, Círculos Democráticos Municipalistas, the Municipal Democratic Circles, made an urgent plea for help to the international community and especially to Cubans. The groups that contributed to this report worked tirelessly in every district to put together lists of names, surnames, addresses and acts of hostility committed against dissidents, whom the Cuban government denied assistance in regaining their homes and property following the hurricanes.  Ike caused at least 7 deaths and, in some areas such as Holguín and Las Tunas, it destroyed upwards of 80% of all homes.
At least eight dissidents were processed or imprisoned, six common criminals died due to  prison harshness, 52 peaceful activists were detained at police stations and many were summoned and victims of other hostile acts.
October was characterized by the harshest police tactics and judicial repression against the Cuban people in 2008.  Hundreds of modest people were condemned to prison sentences of one to three years for simply trying to survive, for ‘illegally’ transporting food that they had privately produced in amounts small enough to only be sufficient to feed one family, such as less than 60 eggs, 46 kilograms of manioc or a little less than 20 pounds of cheese. The regime’s actions not only terrorized the people, but the elimination of the small amounts of free commercial activity exacerbated the overall lack of supplies in stores and markets and worsen the plight of tens of thousands of those affected by the hurricanes that managed to survived without any help from the state.
At least 14 people were processed or imprisoned for political reasons and 103 peaceful activists were detained at the state security police stations, many were summoned and were victims of other hostile acts and three common criminals died in prison as a result of subhuman conditions.
II. Prisoners Dying in Custody
  • On June 5, 2008, Fiss Casa Fábrega (35), a common criminal, hung himself in a wretched solitary confinement cell in Cerámicas Rojas prison in Camagüey. Edberto Ángel Escobedo, a prisoner of conscience, said he was only found early in the morning, because the cell is so isolated that guards generally don’t go there, it is walled in, and without light. Sometimes they stop bringing food and leave these convicts naked or only clothed in underwear. Prisoners with AIDS and members of the Plantados movement are often held here.  Often these prisoners are screaming for hours and can barely be heard at a 10 meter distance. He added that Fiss had been on a hunger strike for nine days.
  • On June 15, 2008, Juan Aparicio González (60) hung himself in Las Mangas de Granma prison. According to the information provided by a prisoner of conscience, José Luis García Paneque (75 years), Juan was found hung early in the morning.
  • On June 24, 2008, Leonardo García Rivero, a common criminal, hung himself in his prison cell in Kilo Ocho prison in Pinar del Río.
  • On June 26, 2008, José Antonio Delgado Cabrera, a prisoner, hung himself in a solitary confinement cell in the provincial prison of Canaleta in Ciego de Ávila. He had been beaten by the guard for demanding medicine, the right to a telephone and family visits.
  • On August 19, 2008, Santo Abelardo Toledo Pérez (40) hung himself with bedclothes in a bathroom of Arizas prison in Cienfuegos, according to a report by Luis Cueto Echevarría, a dissident and prisoner.
  • On August 22, 2008, Alexánder Márquez Consuegra, a common criminal, died in Kilo Nueve prison in Camagüey early in the morning. His jailors had denied him his right to a medical examination, reported by telephone Faustino Cala Rodríguez, a dissident and prisoner, who said that Márquez Consuegra was found dead by other inmates and that the prison management claimed that he had died of heart attack.
  • On August 31, 2008, Sixto Herrera Casamayor died in sector 2, section 2 in Ariza 2 prison in Cienfuegos around 11 p.m. as a result of an asthma fit, as reported by prisoner of conscience Yosbani Socarrás González, who reported that the prison guards had suggested that there were no means of transport to take him to hospital. In the past eight months, 14 inmates have died in this prison, mostly due to ill treatment or heart attacks resulting from the cow suet which they get as fat in meals.
  • On September 13, 2008, Gabriel Sánchez Sánchez (22), a common criminal, died in Kilo Siete, Camagüey at noon, after falling from the roof of the building where he worked as part of a prison working unit. His brother, Odelio Rodríguez Sánchez, said he lacked physical protection and that they were reconstructing parts Camagüey that had been destroyed by Hurricane Ike.
  • On September 14, 2008, Yoagy Franco Fernández (19) died in section 3 in Ariza 2 prison in Cienfuegos on 14 September.
  • On September 17, 2008, Misael García Medina (33), a common criminal, was shot dead in Combinado del Este prison in Havana, as reported via telephone by his brother Adalberto García Mena, who added that the prison guards shot him before crossing the first cordon, a zone where the use of fire arms is forbidden.
  • On September 17, 2008, Juan Reyes Montero (38), a common criminal, died of heart attack in the provincial prison of Las Mangas de Granma. Yoandri Gutiérrez Vargas, a prisoner of conscience, reported that Reyes Montero had complained about severe chest pains at 2 a.m., but the jailors refused to take him to hospital with the excuse there was no means of transport despite the fact that the prison doctor recommended his transport to an emergency unit, because she diagnosed possible heart attack.
  • On October 1, 2008, Juan Carlos Padilla Cabrera hung himself in the provincial prison of Ariza in Cienfuegos, as reported by Luis Cueto Echevarría, a prisoner and dissident.
  • On October 16, 2008, Alberto Martínez Sotolongo was stabbed to death by the prisoner Frank Magdiel in Pre prison in Santa Clara in the afternoon, as reported by the prisoner of conscience Javier Delgado Torna.
  • Evelier Rojas Mendoza hung himself in the provincial prison of Las Tunas, reports José Daniel Ferrer García, a prisoner of conscience from the Group of 75.
III. Detained and Condemned People
  • Since December 2, 2007, Vladimir Alejo Miranda has been in Agüica prison in Matanzas waiting for a trial when he was beaten and arrested in the Guanabacoa Park for having raised a poster calling for freedom.
  • On March 25, 2008, activists Adel Ramón López Nápoles and Santo del Pozo Rodríguez were sentenced each to three years’ imprisonment by the Municipal Court of Isla de Pinos accused of the alleged crime of illegally leaving the national territory.
  • On April 3, 2008, Israel Sagarra Martínez sentenced by the Municipal Court of Aguada de Pasajeros to three years of correctional work without internment, accused of being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’ for being in contact with dissidents Juan Alberto de la Nuez and Pedro Larena Ibáñez.
  • On April 7, 2008; Norges Vázquez Suárez was condemned in a summary trial with the exclusion of his family to four years in prison for being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’. Arrested together with Jesús Cordero Suárez by the state security agents and interrogated at the Dragones police station after having gone to the streets of Havana to protest with posters against the confiscation of some 120 bike-taxis and repression in general. Both are activists of the Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos (Cuban Foundation of Human Rights) and leaders of the Sindicato de Bici Taxistas Independientes (Trade Union of the Independent Bike Taxi Drivers).
  • On May 2, 2008, Gilberto Martínez Martínez (43 years) condemned to four years’ imprisonment by the Municipal Court of Artemisa that accused him of being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’ for being friends with Héctor Cruz Hernández and his family.
  • On May 28, 2008, Yunier Blanco Fernández, a dissident, was imprisoned in Artemisa. His conditional release was revoked by the state security agents. He had been condemned to five years’ imprisonment for attack in early 2006. He worked in state companies, but refused to pay the trade union and on a public meeting in the local cinema, he told the examining magistrate, Madelín Pereda, that he opposes the government of Fidel Castro.
  • On June 4, 2008, the young dissident Yosbany Socarrás González was condemned to two years in Ariza 2 prison in Cienfuegos by the Municipal Court in Aguada de Pasajeros for being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’ and imprisoned on 14 August. During a public hearing without the presence of state security agents, he was charged of meeting antisocial elements, but he said he is always in the company of Alberto de la Nuez and other human rights defenders.
  • On June 19, 2008, José Rolando Cásare Soto, a dissident, was sentenced by the Municipal Court of San Juan y Martínez in Pinar del Río to one year of correctional work without internment, accused of being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’. According to Cásare, the hearing was not public and lacked process guarantees.
  • On July 7, 2008, José Alberto Heira Oviedo, a dissident, was notified by the Municipal Court of Plaza de la Revolución that he would be tried for the crime of disrespect for wishing death to Fidel Castro. According to an independent journalist, Jaime Leygonier, the prosecutor’s request says as follows: The detainee started to shout: If only the comandante died, I am tired of all those lies. As a consequence, he was detained by some people when shouting: Long live human rights, The Police are terrorists. On July 2nd, Heira was visited at his place by two security officers who threatened him that if he would not drop his activities, he would go to prison. On July 3rd he received the prosecutor’s request, which substituted a one year prison sentence for correctional work without internment.
  • On July 11, 2008, six members of a Sancti Spíritu family were imprisoned following a peaceful protest against the government in front of the local tribunal that had condemned and punished one of the family members to one year in prison for being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’.  Alberto Naranjo Rodríguez, Margarita Naranjo Rodríguez, Diamelis Rodríguez Naranjo, her husband Lidier Rodríguez VandónPedro Rodríguez Doscurro andDiana Bernal Rodríguez were detained. All of them were advised by the authorities to find defense lawyers, because they would be tried for their crime.
  • On July 13, 2008, Orlando Almenares Reyes, a common criminal, requested a new trial after the Supreme Court confirmed his sentence. He maintains his innocence.  Reyes telephoned the Consejo de Relatores (Council of Reporters) to lodge a complaint with international organizations and accused Fidel, Raúl as well as the Cuban government of imprisoning innocent people, since he claims to have been sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment for murder without having committed any crime.
  • On July 17, 2008, Edilberto González Pérez was sentenced by the Municipal Court of Playa Havana, to one year of correctional work without internment after being accused of disrespect and offending Fidel Castro.
  • On July 26, 2008, Benito Ortega Suárez had his conditional release revoked due to his activity in support of human rights. He was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for attacking and disrespecting Fidel Castro. He is in La Pendiente prison in Santa Clara. He is a member of Coalición Central Opositora (Central Opposition Coalition).
  • Jorge Ramírez, a dissident, was sentenced by the Municipal Court of Trinidad in Sancti Spíritus, where he lives, and sent to Nieves Morejón prison, accused of attack.
  • On August 6, 2008, Hugo Damián Prieto Blanco, a prisoner of conscience, had his conditional release revoked and was imprisoned in Combinado del Este prison in Havana, as reported by his wife Lázara Bárbara Cendiña Recalde, who said security officers arrested him at his home and told him he would stay in prison until May 2009 because of his counterrevolutionary activities.
  • On September 3, 2008, human rights defenders Yordis García Fournier andIsael Poveda Silva were sentenced by the Municipal Court of Guantánamo to one year and one year and four months, respectively, for resistance. They had been arrested on August 31st. Jorge Ceballos Corrales, who reported this, said it was an offensive by the political police designed to eliminate the Movimiento Cubano Jóvenes por la Democracia (Cuban Movement of Youth for Democracy).
  • On September 3, 2008, an activist from the Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos (Cuban Foundation of Human Rights), Yaser Puides Jiménez, was sentenced to three years of correctional work without internment and fears he will be taken to prison. He was subject to a summary trial by the Municipal Court of San Miguel del Padrón, Havana, after being accused of being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’ due to his human rights activities.
  • On September 17, 2008, young dissident Erick Jesús Valdés Álvarez was tried by the Provincial Court of Santiago de Cuba after being accused of procuring goods illegally. His mother, Teresa Álvarez Sierra, claims that her son is innocent and that the whole thing is revenge for his activities as a member in the opposition movement group, Jóvenes por la Democracia (Cuban Movement of Youth for Democracy). She said he had been imprisoned on 25 April 2008 when his sentence to three years of correctional work without internment was revoked. In October 2007, he was subject to a summary trial for being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’.
  • The Supreme Court confirmed the sentence of five years’ imprisonment for dissidentRaumel Vinajera Estive. He was supposed to go to prison on September 17th at 8 a.m., but he locked himself in his home in protest. On September 16th his wife, Tania Montoya Vásquez, said that, in February, he had been sentenced by the Court of Palma Soriano in Santiago de Cuba for a fabricated crime of felony assault due to his opposition activity and said it was the state security that sent him to prison. Raumel Vinajera Estive is the director of Círculos Democráticos Municipalistas (Municipal Democratic Circles) in Palma Soriano.
  • On September 26, 2008, Juan Miguel Valdés Mayor, a common criminal, was notified of 15 more years of imprisonment, accused of “disorder in a penitentiary centre” and two attacks. The proceedings were held without defending lawyer, because when he was in Taco Taco prison, he climbed to the ceiling shouting, among others, “Away with Fidel”, “Long live human rights” and “Down with tyranny”.
  • On September 30, 2008, Jesús Santo Cruz, a human rights defender, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by the Municipal Court of Plaza de la Revolución, Havana, accused of being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime.’
  • On October 2, 2008, Orestes Paino Viera, a peaceful activist,was imprisoned in Kilo Cinco y Medio prison in Pinar del Río at 11 a.m. after being arrested and beaten by state security officers. He repeatedly denounced harassment to which he was subject, including seven arrests this year and three beatings due to his human rights activity.
  • On October 7, 2008, the Holguín Provincial Court confirmed in appellate proceedings the sentences of the Veguita Mine protesters imposed by the Municipal Court a week earlier. The sentences were reported as follows: Yoandri Rivas Flechas, nine months of house arrest, Rafael Labañino Toirá two and a half years’ imprisonment, Marcial Mendoza two and a half years in a forced labour camp,Maryoris Mendoza and Bárbara Pena, six and nine months of house arrestand Yolainis Matos one year of house arrest. The condemned people were arrested on September 26, 2008 after taking part in the Veguito Mine protest.  The protesters were calling for the environmental contamination to be stopped and for living conditions to be improved.  They managed to block the road for six hours, paralyzing transport of the mineral. The protest was broken up by riot police who dispersed the protesters violently, resulting in injuries being inflicted on both sides and several arrests.
  • On October 9, 2008, Abel López Pérez, director of the Movimiento de Derechos Humanos Resurrección Martiana (Human Rights Movement Martian Resurrection) and representative of the Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos de Cuba(Council of Cuban Human Rights Reporters) in Guantánamo, stitched his mouth with a wire to protest against having been accused of an attack.  He had been returned to prison on April 21, 2008. He had been sentenced to four years in prison in 2005 for disrespect, but had received a conditional release due to severe health conditions that included hepatitis B, chronic renal failure and osteoarthritis.
  • On October 15, 2008, Rafael Moultan Vargas was sentenced by the Municipal Court of Jobabo, Las Tunas, to 18 months’ imprisonment during a closed hearing.
  • On October 30, 2008, Julián Antonio Moné Borrero, a prisoner of conscience, went into convulsion and lost consciousness several times, before recovering. He had been on hunger strike for more than a month.  He was arrested on 30 September and taken to the state security police station in Guantánamo where he was accused of attack and faces a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. He is the president of Movimiento de derechos humanos Miguel Valdés Tamayo (Miguel Valdés Tamayo Movement for Human Rights) and he had actively denounced human rights abuses since he was released several months ago.
  • In October, the president of Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos de Cuba (Council of Cuban Human Rights Reporters), Margarito Broche Espinosa, made an appeal to the international community and public opinion regarding the life of prisoners of conscience Abel López Pérez, Orlando Zapata Tamayo andJulián Antonio Moné Borrero, who went on hunger strike to protest against the injustice that they, peaceful activists and human rights defenders, face on a daily basis from state security officers, prosecutors and prison guards.
IV. Violent or Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners
  • On June 11, 2008, the Cuban government moved Juan Antonio Bermúdez Toranzo, a prisoner of conscience, from Valle Grande prison in Havana, to Canaleta in Ciego de Ávila, more than 400 kilometres from his home.
  • Aurelio Antonio Morales Ayala (fromHolguín)and José Ángel Simón Rodríguez (from Santiago de Cuba), dissident prisoners, were taken to Guamajal in Villa Clara and Guanajay in the Havana province, respectively, more than 1000 kilometres from their homes.
  • On June 20, 2008, Miguel Ángel López Herrera, a prisoner of conscience, stitched his mouth in protest against unjust imprisonment of Cuban prisoners of conscience. He said that the guards had beaten prisoners 57 times in the past months and that 396 were suffering from malnutrition due to the lack of food.
  • On July 8, 2008, Eduardo Díaz Fleita, a prisoner of conscience, was taken by wardens at Cinco y Medio prison in Pinar del Río and put into solitary confinement after complaining about being denied medical assistance and despite his poor health.
  • Santos Armando Martínez Rueda, a prisoner of conscience, is schizophrenic and suffers from severe nerve disorders. He was accused armed infiltration for entering the country to fight the communism using violence and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment on 31 October 1996, a sentence he is serving in the severe provincial prison in Las Tunas.
  • The life of Aurelio Antonio Morales Ayala, a prisoner of conscience, is at risk in the Guanajay prison in the Havana province, as he reported by telephone on 19 June in the morning. He said: Yesterday I had to knock on the padlock and shout at the top of my lungs “Away with Fidel”, because they keep me in a small cell with a dangerous murderer who stabbed soldiers and who keeps threatening me that he will tear me into pieces. I’m tired of calling the state security and the guards, but they laugh at me, because they are the actual authors of torture and are responsible for it. It is revenge for my protest against the conditions in Combinado prison in Guantánamo.
  • On June 26, 2008, Héctor Raúl Valle Hernández, a prisoner of conscience, was violently moved from his cell into solitary confinement in the extremely harsh prison in Guanajay, the Havana province. He was transported at noon after having shouted slogans against injustice and demanding medical assistance.
  • Carlos Rojas Álvarez, a common criminal, completely lost his sight after a beating from the guards in Taco Taco prison in Pinar del Río.
  • Jorge Cervantes García, a political prisoner, went on hunger strike to protest conditions in Guantánamo’s Combinado prison. His brother, Agustín Cervantes, reported that Jorge’s protest is the result of being denied a conditional release and not receiving two month salary for construction work. He is also protesting the continuous harassment to which he is subjected to and the violation of his human rights. Jorge Cervantes García serves his sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment for disrespect, attack and evasion. He was born in Contra Maestre in Santiago de Cuba.
  • Rámdol Roca Mursulí, a prisoner of conscience, has been interned in a punishment cell in the provincial prison of Canaleta in Ciego de Ávila for more than 120 days. He has been deprived of all his belongings and sleeps on the floor among insect and mice. He has also been denied telephone communication, correspondence, time outside in the fresh air and other penitentiary rights. Rámdol Roca Mursulí was imprisoned in 2002. He has been accused of being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’ and evasion and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for throwing stones at an exchange office shop-window and drawing posters saying, Down with Fidel.
  • Pedro Argüelles Morán, Adolfo Fernández Sainz and Antonio Ramón Díaz Sánchez, all prisoners of conscience, went on a three day hunger strike in the provincial prison of Canaleta in Ciego de Ávila in protest against the fact that the authorities confiscated Adolfo’s Spanish newspapers and ecclesiastic literature.
  • A member of the Damas de Blanco, Reina Luisa Tamayo, the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, went on a hunger strike for more than a week demanding that her son be immediately moved from the Cuba Sí prison in Holguín where he had been attacked by very dangerous common criminals and beaten by guards. She explained Zapata had been on hunger strike since October 1st and his deteriorating health is putting his life at risk.
  • Ariel Sigler Amaya, a prisoner of conscience from the Group of 75, is in extremely poor health condition in a provincial hospital in Cienfuegos. His wife, Noelia Pedraza Jiménez, a member of Damas de Blanco stated that he has been confined to a wheelchair in a provincial hospital in Cienfuegos since September 22nd suffering from polyneuropathy according to doctors from the Interior Ministry.  Ariel also suffers from gastrointestinal disorder, gallstones, calculus in the left kidney and chronic gastritis. He was in perfect healthy when imprisoned on 18 March 2003.
  • Yordis García Fournier went on an 18 day hunger strike demanding that he be released from Combinado Prison in Guantánamo. Isael Poveda Silva was more than a week on hunger strike in the same penitentiary centre requiring he be moved from 2B sector, since his life was being threatened by murderers working for state security.
  • On October 10, 2008, state security officers and guards in Cinco y Medio prison in Pinar de Río have allegedly taken revenge against political prisoner Pável Hernández Manfarrol. Nelson Molinet Espino, a prisoner of conscience from the Group of 75, reported that, on October 10th ten officers handcuffed Manfarrol, threw him on the floor violently, took his clothes off and put him in a common criminal uniform. Subsequently, the guard Chala, el gordo, threatened him saying that “if he should take the uniform off, he would pull out his teeth.”
  • Aurelio Antonio Morales Ayala, a prisoner of conscience, went on hunger strike for several days, because he had been harassed by the guards in Cuba Sí prison in Holguín and was severely beaten at the beginning of October.
  • On 24 October at 8 a.m., Orlando Almenares Sánchez was punched by guards, who split his lip, in the provincial prison of Canaleta in Ciego de Ávila for shouting anti-government slogans when transported to the provincial hospital. Almenares shouted: “Down with Fidel”, “Away with dictatorship” and “I am innocent”. Orlando Almenares Sánchez has been serving 30 years’ imprisonment, accused of an alleged participation on the murder of a deputy prosecutor in the Cienfuegos province. He has been imprisoned for three years and more than 100 days in a punishment cell and solitary confinement for shouting anti-government slogans and writing them in the penitentiary centre.
  • On October 30, 2008, political prisoner Orestes Yumar Julién Gómez reported by telephone that he has been totally abandoned in the provincial prison of Nieves Morejón in Sancti Spíritus, despite his physical disability.  Julién said: “I have been imprisoned for my complaints about human rights violations committed by the police on a daily basis. I have been beaten, insulted and denied the medical examination necessary to get a conditional release. I have not received medicine despite my severe health condition. There is not even aspirin here and I only managed to get painkillers thanks to other inmates.  After a tracheotomoy, I have a cannula that forces me to breathe through my throat.  I am epileptic and suffer from thousand other problems that I cannot even describe here. One day they’ll find me dead. I have been abandoned like a dog.”
  • Omelio Lázaro Angulo Borrero, an ex prisoner of conscience, is now in a provincial hospital in Camagüey in severe health condition waiting for a surgery. On 26 October, he explained by telephone he suffers from urethra swelling as a result of tumour, fever and high creatinine level, that he suppurates heavily and feels like dying.
V. Actions against the Free Flow of Information
  • On June 11, 2008 at 5 p.m.,independent journalists, Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, Álvaro Llero Felipe and Osmani Ricardo Segura García, were arrested on the corner of L and 27 street in Vedado, Havana, to be prevented from a dissent activity in Melena del Sur, the Havana province. They were interrogated and threatened for two hours at the Capri police station. They were told they would go to prison under Act 88. Guerra was arrested five times in June.
  • Francisco Blanco Sanabria, an independent journalist, has been suffering harassment by the state security in Cienfuegos, as he reported on 26 October 2008. Blanco said he had been arrested and threatened with imprisonment several times in the past weeks. On 16 October, Lázaro Rodríguez Campo, a major of the security opened him a file saying they would apply Act 88 on his case. He filmed him at the Cruces police station.
  • Leticia Ramos Herrería, a reporter of this information centre, has been constantly harassed by the state security, as she reported by telephone on 10 October. She said top-level officers of this repressive body detained her at a local police station jail threatening her with 30 years’ imprisonment, because they are tired of her reports for Radio Martí and other foreign-based media. Her husband and other relatives were also imprisoned. She is also deprived of electricity supplies and, since several months, she has been charged electricity rate exceeding 750 pesos. They also restrain her freedom of movement to the capital and slander her in front of the neighbours saying she is crazy. Leticia Ramos Herrería is also a member of Movimiento Femenino Marta Abreu (Women’s Movement Marta Abreu) and is a coordinator of Círculos Democráticos Municipalistas (Democratic Municipal Circles) in the district.
VI. Repression against Peaceful Dissidents, i.e. Detentions, Interrogations, Physical Acts of Aggression and Acts of Repudiation
  • On June 2nd and 4th, Marielis Castro Fernández Rubio, an activist, was summoned to the state security station in Guantánamo where she was interrogated and threatened that she would be charged with disrespect. Leonor Padilla, a dissident, was also interrogated.
  • On June 4, 2008, 15 activists were arrested in Havana to prevent them from commemorating the victims of Chinese military repression at Tiannamen Square. The event was organized by the Movimiento Cubano Jóvenes por la Democracia (Cuban Movement of Youth for Democracy) at the monument to the Chinese erected in the capital. The site was surrounded by political police, who detained 15 opposition activists, held others at the National Bus Terminal and sent them back to the interior of the country. The affected were: Idania Yánez Contreras, Yesmi Elena Menas Urbano, Yuniesky García López, Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez, Iris Pérez Aguilera, Ana Margarita Perdigón Brito, Bienvenido Perdigón Pacheco, Blas Fortún Martínez, Benito Ortega Suárez, Nitza Rivas Hernández, Ernesto Medero Arrosarena, Roberto de Jesús Guerraand Cristian Toranzo Fundichelli.
  • On June 4th and 17th, eight activists of the Partido pro Derechos Humanos de Cuba (Cuban pro Human Rights Party) affiliated with the Andrei Sakharov Foundation were interrogated at the Güines and San José de las Lajas police stations in the Havana province. They were summoned or arrested for the interrogation. Luz Marina Barceló, the source of this information, said the state security threatened them with imprisonment if they do not drop their opposition activities.
  • On June 8th and 12th, respectively, Juan Enrique Medina García and Arcenio Torres Salazar, opposition activists, were summoned and threatened at the San Luis police station in Santiago de Cuba. They belong to Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos (Cuban Human Rights Foundation).
  • On June 10, 2008, Silvia Reguera Guada and Miguel Alpízar, activists, were summoned to the Cruces police station in Cienfuegos and threatened by state security. Silvia, the source of this information, said they had been told they would be charged with being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’, denied an exit visa to prevent them from leaving the country legally.
  • On June 13, 2008, Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, a dissident leader, was detained at the Dragones y Zulueta police station where he was beaten by several policemen. They stomped on him while he was on the floor and released him hours later. Lobaina said they wanted to fabricate a charge of foreign currency trafficking against him for having changed CUCs at 10 registered state exchange offices.
  • On June 18, 2008, Rosa Rodríguez, a niece of Conrado Rodríguez Suárez, a prisoner of conscience, was fired from her job. Rodríguez said they also took away her telephone line which she used as an extension.
  • On June 20, 2008, six opposition activists were beaten and arrested for 15 hours in Matanzas: Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez, Idania Yánez Contreras, Iris Pérez Aguilera, Yesmi Elena Mena Urbano, Benito Ortega Suárez and Blas Fortún Martínez. They challenged the state security and protested against imprisonment in far-away provinces and penitentiary abuse by Cuban authorities.
  • On June 20, 2008, Máiky Martorell Mayans and Roberto Tamayo López were detained at the Third police station in Las Tunas and threatened with prison if they do not drop their civic activities.
  • On June 29, 2008, Blas Fortún Martínez, a dissident,was grabbed by the neck by two state security members, who threatened to kill him, as reported to Radio Martí by Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez.
  • Eleven activists were detained at Palma Soriano police station in Santiago de Cuba after protesting against the arrest of a member of their organization. Their identity cards were taken away and they were told by a captain that they deserved to be shot because they are traitors and counterrevolutionaries. The detainees were: Raumel Vinagera Estibe, Alexis Cuán Jérez, Yordis García Fournier, Jorge Corrales Ceballo, Yuniesky Domínguez González, Ángel Lino Isaac Luna, Raudel Ávila Losada, Michael Osorio Ramírez, Fabricio Bustamante Trujillo, Eduardo González Jeréz, María Serafina Jérez Gutiérrez andRubén Adrove de Arma.
  • Héctor Raúl Valle Hernández, a prisoner of conscience from the Group of 75, was denied adequate medical assistance in Guanajay prison in Havana.
  • On August 5, 2008, the relatives of José Antonio Mola Porro, a former prisoner of conscience, were forced to get off theirr plane at José Martí airport in Havana, despite being with a little girl and a physically disabled person after having travelled more than 500 kilometres and giving away their clothes and personal belongings.
  • On August 10, 2008 at 10 p.m., Ramiro Machado Victoria, a state security collaborator, threw stones at the house of his dissident neighbours Lázaro González Adán and Marilyn Díaz Fernández. Machado Victoria later injured Adán with a machete. On 11 August, González Adán reported by telephone that Machado Victoria threw a big slab of cement at through the curtains of the children’s bedroom. He added they were repeatedly forced to leave the house as a result of constant intimidation. The above mentioned agent blocks their house with his truck and subjects them to very loud music 24 hours a day, along with endless beating and killing threats and offences. González and Díaz are important members of Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos de Cuba (Council of Cuban Human Rights Reporters) and are held hostage by the Cuban government which has denies them exit visas to prevent them from being able to leave the country legally.
  • On August 14, 2008, the Interior Ministry denied an exit visa to Maura Iset González Jurquet, a leading human rights defender. González said the immigration officers required a release from the public health service, where she worked as a nurse over 15 years ago and with whom she has nothing to do with anymore. She accused the state security of political revenge. Maura Iset González Jurquet is the former president of the FLAMUR (Latin American Federation of Rural Women) and led the Single Currency campaign. She has been subjected to several acts of repudiation.
VII. Repression or Workplace Exploitation
  • On August 10, 2008, over 20 bike-taxis were confiscated by police officers in Havana, according to Jesús Cordero Suárez. He added that over 300 bike-taxis had confiscated this year in Havana. Expropriations continued throughout the year, leaving a number of families (who were denied operation licence by the government) without means to earn their living.
  • On August 22, 2008, Alberto Suárez Vega, a dissident was fired for wearing a T-shirt saying: With a Single Currency.
  • At least 28 inmates are being exploited as prison labor in a shoe plant being financed with Mexican capital.  The plant is located inside of Havana’s of Guanajay prison. According to José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, a prisoner of conscience from the Group of 75, inmates work 10 hours a day between Mondays and Saturdays with the obligation to produce about 260 pairs of Hércules brand, a number which they daily exceed by more than 90.
VIII. Restrictions and y Repression against the General Public
  • On August 14, 2008, the Ávila Rivera family went on hunger strike in front of the municipal seat of the Communist Party in Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara. They had been forced to abandon their refuge by the police and they remained without a place to stay, because their house was likely to fall down. The young couple Anet ÁvilaRivera and Alaín Benítez Fleite are dissents that belong to the Frente Democrático Independiente (Independent Democratic Front). They said they were accompanied by three other family members: Eraisis Ávila Torres, Adriana Rivera Suárez and Alexánder Rivera Suárez.
  • Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez and Idania Llanes Contreras went on a long hunger strike in protest against violence of the state security officers against members of Coalición Central Opositora (Central Opposition Coalition) and their relatives.
  • On October 13, 2008, six members of Círculos Democráticos Municipalistas (Municipal Democratic Circles) and Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos (Cuban Human Rights Foundation) were summoned to the Cruces state security station in Cienfuegos, interrogated and threatened with prison. Silvia Reguera Guada, the source of this information and one of the affected persons, said the officers accused them of being mercenaries working for Yankee imperialism, told them they would not be allowed to get together to make contra revolution, because the country is in a sort of war and threatened them that Act 88 on independence and national sovereignty would be applied to their case. Intimidated activists include: Francisco Blanco Sanabria, Miguel Alpízar San Martín, Ernesto Ramón Domenech Espinosa, Jorge Luis Cásares Duartes and Pedro Rodríguez Ucha.
  • On October 21, 2008, Sonia Fariña Orta with her three little ill children was forced out of her home in Mantilla, Havana.
  • On October 25, 2008, María del Carmen Jérez Guevara, a member of Damas de Blanco, reported that she was recovering from a blow to her back caused by Ramoncito, a policeman, when he was trying to arrest a citizen in a queue. She challenged him and was detained at a police station, fined 150 pesos and threatened with prison; the policeman told her he does not believe in human rights.
  • González Acosta, a former prisoner of conscience and coordinator of Círculos Democráticos Municipalistas (Municipal Democratic Circles) in the western region, said he had been arrested four times recently and has been prevented from working at his mother’s garden.
IX. Religious Persecution
  • On June 18, 2008, Yogli González Pérez, a Christian shepherd, reported by telephone that he had been forced out of his home by the police and the housing authority.  He said that “the police hid in neighboring houses and when I opened the door they jumped over me taking all my belongings and throwing them on a truck. Then they forced me to get out and stamped my house where I lived for 15 years and which I inherited from my uncle. I don’t know where to go.
  • On July 9, 2008, Adalberto Ramírez Rodríguez, a Methodist church with up to 150 members reported that their space will be confiscated by the Communist Party and local authorities.
  • The repression against the Apostolic Church of Central Élia in Las Tunas continues.Tomaza Victoria Ayala, the shepherdess, denounced that she had been given an ultimatum by the authorities to abandon the house by the end of July. As a consequence, her husband and her filled the walls of the house, which serves as a church at the same time, with protest posters saying, “This Is Our House”, “Long Live Jesus Christ” and others. She said they had been living in the house legally since 28 years and paid it up in 2007.
X. Fines for Dissidents
  • On June 23, 2008, Ricardo Pupo Sierra and Ariel Dueña Fonseca, peaceful opposition activists, were arrested. They were fined 30 pesos each and their cameras were confiscated.
  • On August 20, 2008, Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, a peaceful opposition activist, was tried and condemned by the Municipal Court of Placetas. A fine of 500 pesos was imposed on her for the alleged crimes of resistance and disobedience. Around 40 human rights defenders were present at the hearing despite a big state security squad placed on site and the arrest of some activists.
  • On August 29, 2008, Gorki Ávila, leader of the band Porno para Ricardo (Porn for Ricardo) was sentenced by the Municipal Court in Playa to pay a fine of 600 pesos.
  • On September 1, 2008, Lázaro de Arma Urra, a peaceful opposition activist, was imposed a fine of 600 pesos by the Municipal Court of Arabos in Matanzas for an illegal sale of refreshments. In addition, he had his tricycle confiscated, he reported by telephone.  He said it is revenge by the state security for supporting Antúnez in his recent protest in front of the provincial prison of Matanzas. He is convinced they are trying to ruin him economically, because he cannot work now. He is 51 years old and belongs to the Movimiento Independiente Occión Alternativa.
  • On September 11, 2008, Fidel García Roldán, a former prisoner of conscience, was fined 1000 pesos by state security and police officers and subsequently released.
  • On September 19, 2008, four human rights activists were imposed a fine of 500 pesos upon their release. Niúvel García Fournier, Pastor García Fournier, Rosaida Ramírez Matos and Rogelio Tabío López remained four days in custody of the state security in Guantánamo after chanting anti-Castro slogans in an appellate hearing against their friends and relatives Yordis Garcías Fournier and Isael Poveda Silva.
  • On October 9, 2008, Fidel García Roldán, a former prisoner of conscience, denounced he was condemned by the Municipal Court of Holguín for refusing to pay a fine of 1000 pesos imposed by the state security in September. The court confirmed the fine deducting 100 pesos for the days he remained in custody. He was arrested on 5 September at 9 p.m. after chanting anti-Fidel and anti-Raúl slogans from a taxi station wall in San Fiel in Holguín, at which moment he was heavily beaten and dragged away by three policemen.
  • The president of Movimiento Cubano Jóvenes por la Democracia (Cuban Movement of Youth for Democracy), Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, was imposed a fine of 2000 pesos by the political police after a 48 hour arrest.
XI. Recently Released Political Prisoners
  • On June 16, 2008, Tomás Ramos Rodríguez, a prisoner of conscience, was released having served 18 years of 20 years’ imprisonment for rebellion, enemy propaganda and other acts against the state security. He had been imprisoned on 16 October 1990 and had been in the Havana prison Combinado del Este.
  • On July 1, 2008, Virgilio Mantilla Arango, a prisoner of conscience, was released on 1 July after serving his seven years’ sentence in Kilo Nueve in Camagüey.
  • On July 4, 2008, Juan Luís Rodríguez Desdín, a prisoner of conscience, was released having served his two years’ sentence. He was accused of being ‘socially dangerous with a disposition to commit a crime’ for belonging to Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos (Cuban Human Rights Foundation).
  • José Relvis Estepe Bernal, a prisoner of conscience, was conditionally released.  He lives in Tunas de Zaza, Sancti Spíritus.  He had been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for enemy propaganda.
  • On August 27, 2008, Eduardo Pacheco Ortiz, a prisoner of conscience, served his sentence of two years’ imprisonment in Canaletas, Matanzas.
  • On October 22, 2008, Dioselis Blanco, a prisoner of conscience, was released in the morning. He said that he feels healthy, even thought he has been kept in a closed forced labour camp of Briones for three years and a month out of five years.

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