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The Cuban Judicial Puzzle

10 Sep

photo/Luis Felipe Rojas

Using the defence of national sovereignty as a refuge, the secret police in Cuba are utilizing methods of repression against internal dissension that aren’t dictated by the courts, nor is their implementation in that fashion even considered in the Constitution or the Penal Code.

House arrest, detentions, and the ban on leaving or entering certain provinces are part of the low intensity repression that is practiced silently and to the beat of a policy of tyranny.  With the offices of Attention to Citizen Grievances and military district attorneys at their feet, the so-called Seguridad del Estado (State Security) applies the tourniquet of improvised jurisprudence that squashes the weakest.

Ex-political prisoners like Abel López Pérez and Anderlay Guerra Blanco of Guantanamo, immediately upon their release, have been banned by Counterintelligence from leaving the first and second peripheries, respectively, of the city.  Did a judge order this?  Is it on their release forms?  Is it a special regulation decreed only against social nonconformists?  No one knows.

Two friends of mine, jurists of officialdom, who went to school with me back at the University of Oriente in Santiago de Cuba say yes, that it’s a violation, but “the powers acquiesce to manu militari“.  I’ve asked many dissidents across the island up until now if they’ve ever been presented with an order of detention signed by a judge and they’ve said no.  Never.  The same goes for the issued extent of the official summons, which is applied verbally or on some little scrap of paper that won’t appear in any file.  If the summoned refuses, then he or she is automatically detained, but his or her name will never appear in the police station’s registry as a detained person.  To the eyes of the statistics that could serve as a report, that person was never there.  That’s just how complicated the Cuban judicial system is.

The provincial-level military district attorneys receive the complaints against their colleagues with reluctance, and even more when they’re on behalf of peaceful dissidents.  The offices of “Attention to The Populace” have a wretched mechanism for the receipt of the grievance, notice of investigation, and results thereof, that makes even the greatest optimist give up on the complaint process.

Before such judicial neglect, few dare to play that diabolical game of chess where the secret police fancies itself a supreme God in order to move white and black pieces alike on the same turn.

And that’s how checkmate is declared upon the Constitution.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

The Double Standard Policy, a Daily Routine

24 Aug

Photos / Luis Felipe Rojas

The Alianza Democrática Oriental (Eastern Democratic Alliance) energetically condemns the imminent arrests under a prosecution devoid of legal guarantees of five brave activists from Eastern Cuba. 

Néstor and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, Enyor Díaz Allen, Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortíz and Roberto González Pelegrín received non-written communication, that is, only verbally from the secret police, that they would be prosecuted for the supposed crime of public disorder, an action they did not commit at any time and which was actually carried out by the police in Baracoa themselves.    

This story surpasses the recent incident of 11 August, when Yordi García Fournier and Heriberto Liranza went to Baracoa to attend a session of the Foro Juvenil Cubano (Cuban Youth Forum), along with other activists and residents.  Immediately, the police detained García and Liranza and decided, without cause, to expel them from town; they were then notified that they were under ‘deportees’ status and, by order of the high command, were barred from returning to Baracoa.  Their friends who witnessed the incident reacted without hesitation and demanded an explanation as to why the police themselves were violating citizens’ rights to move throughout the country and to meet with whomever they choose.  The response once again was, ‘you can’t come back here.’ 

The only method available to Cubans facing injustice is to protest in a peaceful manner, chant slogans, or display banners with demands, even if later they’re worked over by a good beating or thrown in jail.  That’s what the remaining activists did, only this time not in broad daylight nor in groups along the main avenue.  They went to Néstor’s and Rolando’s house and from the balcony of the third floor they displayed banners that demanded freedom of mobility, they chanted slogans such as ‘Long live human rights!’ and ‘Orlando Zapata was murdered!’ The trained mob soon appeared. From the ground-floor entrance of the building, kids, elderly, men and women in a tight crowd chanted slogans of praise for some guy named Fidel and some other guy named Raúl and said that the streets belonged to those two. No policeman made a single arrest, nor scolded the mob that, from the groundfloor of the building threw stones and bottles, shattering apartment windows.

There was a nighttime pause on the 11th but daybreak on the 12th was more turbulent. 

The protest activities from above and the aggressions from below continued.  Later came the detentions.  From the third floor the police brought down, in handcuffs, the five men who remained up there.  They raided a residence where a young girl, a pregnant woman, and an elderly woman had witnessed the entire spectacle and from which they were expelled for the 12 hours the police took to search the home.  They took whatever objects they pleased, including cell phones.   

As those who know well the brutality of the Cuban police can attest, the five activists were the victims of a disturbance brought about by the mobs at the service of the National Revolutionary Police in Baracoa and yet they are the accused.  International public opinion has been informed, as have organizations that monitor human rights on the island been informed that the judicial prosecution will be carried out against the five for the crime of “public disorder.”  All this, after a brutal wave of repression was conducted in the eastern region of the country between July and well into August resulting in more than 50 detentions and a fierce smear campaign by the government against the Alliance’s platform.

The possible sentencing of the five dissidents from Guantánamo confirms yet again the double standard policy assiduously practiced by the government as part of its greater foreign policy.  On one hand they release some dissidents from prison, on the other those who attempt to say ‘I disagree’ get shoved behind bars.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

Amnesia, Spells, and Survival

21 Aug

Photo / Luis Felipe Rojas

I have to admit that the kids of this current generation really manage to try to live with the pulse of the times.

Increasingly, I run into more and more people on their way to the babalao* or tarot card reader; there are those who at night go into downtown Holguín to take courses in Positive Energy.  I have two friends that are introducing Buddhism to Moa, the City of Nickel.

It’s been a long time now since I’ve been to a bembé** or saint’s feast.  Before, I used to go and have fun all night eating and dancing or watching the acrobatics and spasms of those who say they’re “mounted by the dead,” but I’ve known that many people who go also want to leave the country, to meet an American, to get a doctorate, want their boss to break a leg or that chick to finally get kicked out of the union “because she’s a real snitch.”

They ask for everything.  They bring everything that the priest asks for the spell and sometimes it’s as expensive as the trip itself or the miracle they wish to accomplish.

I don’t know if they ask for the police and the worst elements of the army to be abolished once and for all; for an official decree sending state inspectors to cut sugar cane at 12:00 noon; or for the unattainable merchandise in the foreign currency stores to be finally marked down.

I started asking some neighborhood pals, if they went to Yiyí the Santería priestess, what they would ask for, and these were the most common requests:

- For the economy to improve (but nothing about Economic Freedom).

- For all to able to travel without having to ask permission (but nothing about the Freedom of Mobility).

- That there be (said two or three, almost in a row) many TV channels and that the Internet be free (but they didn’t even mention Freedom of Expression).

It’s astonishing: there are people who don’t know that in the Spanish lexicon the word LIBERTAD (Freedom / Liberty) is one of the most beautiful and luminous.

Translator’s notes:
* Babalao: Yoruba term used in Cuba for a priest of the Santería religion.
** Bembé: A ritual party thrown in honor of the Santería dieties, wherein they are exhorted to descend and join by way of channeling through, or “mounting,” the gathered priest/ or priestess/mediums.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

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