Archive | February, 2013

Bad — Very Bad — News

25 Feb


Among the somewhat reasonable excitement over the traveling out of Cuba of some of the most glamorous of the dissidents like Yoani Sanchez, Rosa Maria Paya, and Eliecer Avila, extremely alarming things are happening. Two independent reporters arrested (they released Cedeño but Calixto Roman continues to be locked up). Angel Santiesteban gets of every morning in Havana with the shock that they could send a patrol car to pick him up to serve his five-year sentence. The number of arbitrary arrests, the beatings and the hours of harassment of human rights activists and opponents in general is increasing, and as events go, it could become a fateful record.

The Cuban Democratic Directorate reported that the Central Opposition Coalition (CCO), the internal resistance in the center of the island, reported on the afternoon of February 16, 2013 the death of inmate Roberto Antonio Rivalta Junco, who began a hunger strike demanding his innocence, according to Damaris Moya Portieles, president of the CCO.

Major Luis Alcantara, director of Jails and Prisons of Villa Clara, who knew of the case, is ultimately responsible for the death of Rivalta Junco, say these sources. Another life added to the list of people who prefer to immolate themselves rather than admit to a crime they did not commit or endure harassment by their military in charge of their custody.

The Christian Liberation Movement activist Antonio Rodriguez, died on February 19, just a few hours ago, “during a car accident that also injured the Jesuit priests Ramon Rivas and Ignacio Cruz Magariño, who were treated at the Gustavo Lima Aldereguía Provincial Hospital in Cienfuegos, according to several sources, including former prisoner of conscience Iván Hernández Carrillo.

The news came originally from the Twitter account of the writer and former political prisoner Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, winner of a prize from the International PEN Club, and a resident of the town of Aguada de Pasajeros, where the tragic accident occurred; this was reported on the Facebook account of the Radio Martí journalist Idolidia Darias.

Dozens of peaceful fighters are fenced in like animals in the east of the country so that they cannot travel freely throughout the country, while some deluded celebrate with full honors the imaginary immigration and travel reform, undertaken by General President Raul Castro to silence dissenting voices; entertained in the auditorium and continuing with the Roman circus, although lacking the usual bread needed by the masses.

February 20 2013

The Covenants, Five Years Later

25 Feb
Cuba cambia si tu quieres

Cuba changes if you want it to.

Five years after Cuba’s representative signed the United Nations Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the situation with regards to fundamental rights in Cuba remains precarious. The violation of fundamental rights is not only a part of the repressive apparatus of the State, but our national legislation itself imposes restrictions on these freedoms enshrined in international law.

The Cuban Constitution formally recognizes the fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression, but immediately establishes limitations that barely allow the exercise of them. The practice of these rights can always be considered contrary to the interests “of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism,” and therefore swept away with great violence and impunity. In short, none of the fundamental rights are legally guaranteed.

February 20 2013

Hablemos Press Spokesperson Released*

25 Feb
Foto: LuisFelipeRojas

Photo: Luis Felipe Rojas

Independent journalist Héctor Julio Cedeño Negrin, was released after spending 12 days in a detention center on a charge of assault.

The spokesperson told that he must report in weekly at the police station in Old Havana, pending investigations into the reasons why he was arrested. He was also warned that he should maintain strict house arrest.

“I declared a hunger strike from the time they arrested me,” Cedeño said, adding: “I’m not going to report in and I’m not going to sign any document that incriminates me because the ones who committed the crime are the inspectors who were extorting people.”

Taken from *

February 18 2013

Confessions of a Novelist for His Defenseless Angels

24 Feb

IMG_1978 - Copy

The writer Rafael Vilches from Bayamo-Holguin supports his colleague Angel Santiesteban, now that they want to imprison him.

By Rafael Vilches Proenza

Angel as you were that morning at the presentation of my Defenseless Angels, and have been all these years of friendship with my martyrdoms and happy times, the last time we saw each other was not at Maria Antonia’s house, but in the house of some friends and we talked a lot. Now I raise my hand for justice and I know what I’m exposed to.

I thank everyone who read my novel and gave me their valid and sincere opinions; Edgardo Higinio Fonseca who in his time wanted me to rewrite; Hector Garcia Quintana who when he was editing for the Spanish publisher El Barco Ebrio (The Drunken Boat) and he made me reread the novel calmly because he felt that it lacked complete fragments; Yoenia Gallardo who read the first printing; Yulia Carrazana who in copying the novel ate some piece and was guilty of this rewrite; Eliezer Almaguer who forced me to rewrite it entirely sitting beside me as a fussy editor and as the friend and brother he is. And again the El Barco Ebrio Publisher for trusting in me and publishing it. Thanks friends.

I am one voice joined with other voices for the cause of the writer and friend Angel Santiesteban, knowing the consequences. Freedom for Angel Santiesteban. Where are those who said they were his friends? Where are those who told me that he was the best narrator of Cuba?

We are all afraid. But there is something worse than fear. Human misery.

PS: Juventina Soler let me know that the person who presented by book in Havana was Guillermo Vidal

February 21 2013

Cuba Doesn’t Matter or We Still Can’t Cry Victory… Yet

21 Feb
Yoanis Sánchez sale de Cuba .- Foto AFP

Photo: Yoani Sanchez leaves Cuba. AFP Photo.


By Amir Valle

I’m sorry… I can’t cry victory only because (finally!) Yoani Sánchez, Eliécer Ávila, Rosa María Payá  and others who, of course, will do it in the next months, now can travel without the humiliating exit permit. I read that many people are happy and sing victory and sentences abound like, “We won this battle,” and “We kicked the Castros’ ass.” “Now with freedom to enter and leave the island, the opposition can launch a strong campaign from the Exterior.” …even when all these and other “changes” are pure face makeup, more than ever, for the convenience of the regime in Havana.

I repeat, although it sounds alarmist: I don’t think that now is the time to claim victory. A dictatorship, even less so the Cuban one, never offers its arm to be twisted. A regime that rearranges itself in order to guarantee its future (that’s the only thing that has happened today on the island) does not take false steps.

I’ve learned that well. And I know that taking these steps that the world catalogues as “changes,” although they have been forced by some circumstances, already the masterminds of power in Havana must have established their national strategies, elaborated their connections with other similar powers in the rest of the world, and positioned their soldiers in the new game that they have already planned as well as possible and future plays.

One of the most recurrent mistakes that we Cubans have made during these five decades is to gloat over supposed victories against the Castro totalitarianism, which, as history has already shown, this dictatorship has not delayed in molding, demonstrating how silly we were to believe ourselves victors.

And it’s under this impact that, since they announced a couple of years ago that they were modifying the migration law, I have been poking around in certain historical sources that show the strategies used by Leftist dictatorships against the political opposition; I have been digging into, with my questions, the experience of established political analysts of the Socialist block; I have been irked with some investigative encomiendas (system of tributary labor in colonial Spain) and journalist colleagues of several countries where the “Cuban issue” still appears in the news from time to time.

“Do we Cubans want a true democratic change on the island; are we prepared to face something like that”? I wondered when I read the annotations that I made in all this time of investigation.

And the dictatorship plays cards that I already knew but which it held only to throw down so thoroughly as, I’m sure, it did on January 14, 2013, when the new migration law went into effect.

Translated by Regina Anavy

February 18 2013

9th Anniversary of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO)

18 Feb
Foto del 8vo aniversarioArchivos-ADO

Photo of the 8th Anniversary — ADO Archives

Today marks the 9th anniversary of the creation of the Eastern Democratic Alliance. It was in the village of Antilla, overlooking the bay of the same name, where the Virgin of Charity of Cobre once appeared. Pardinas, Consuegra, Garcís, I am relating only names of people who had the beautiful idea of uniting, in one body, the efforts of pro-democratic forces in eastern Cuba.

It has been almost a decade of setbacks and fortune, but none greater than knowing we stuck with the common people. When in any corner of these places people look “to the human rights people” to file a complaint that the government doesn’t manage to solve, to ask for advice or material help, hence the effort of the Alliance has been worth it. It is the day to remember that woman have played an important role on this stretch of the road, Marta Diaz Rondon, Caridad Caballero Batista, Idalmis Nunez in Santiago de Cuba and women in Guantanamo, Las Tunas and Bayamo that drive every minute of the struggle.

Scattered throughout the world, many Alliance members … still considering it as theirs and support in the effort to bring it down, to them, too, Congratulations!

Congratulations to those who are now standing up under police persecution, arrests, beatings and the dungeon door every day while dreaming of freedom. Congratulations on keeping alive that bit of hope. Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina takes the reins today from Baracoa, that piece of Cuba that seems to emerge from the alligator, but that pushes hard toward the awaited day. Thanks to everyone and congratulations.

Celebracion de AniversarioArchivos-ADO

Eliecer Consuegra Rivas (Ex-Presidente de la ADO) en sesion de trabajo, 2008

Activistas de la ADO en un recorrido y actividades de Trabajo por Bayamo, 2008

Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, al frente de la Junta de Coordinadores de la ADO, en sesión publica en Las Tunas, 2 de Febrero de 2010

Marcha de activistas de la ADO por Camaguey, exigiendo la liberacion de Orlando Zapata el 3 de febrero de 2010, cuando el valerozo opositor agonizaba en un hospital de esa ciudad

February 16 2013

Ladies in White… Ladies of Cuba

17 Feb
Laura Pollan al centroFotos: LuisFelipeRojas

Photos like these have been seen a thousand and one times, but these are “mine,” they are “my Ladies in White,” the ones my eyes saw. The coming days are going to be tough with a Cuba given to the coming vote, this electoral farce that happens with the world turning its back.

Saturday the 23rd will be one more anniversary since the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on hunger strike, defending his rights and the dictatorship continues to rage against men and women who want freedom like they want air. This is my tribute to them, for them, they who give their all in the streets, they who are prey, and they whom they forced into exile.

Fotos: LuisFelipeRojas




February 17 2013

SOS Urgent Action for Hector Julio Cedeno: Amnesty International

14 Feb

Hector Julio Cedeño Negrin, another detailed Cuban independent journalist. Photo: Luis Felipe Rojas

We need to join our voices for this independent journalist who is not one of the best know in Cuba. I send this letter to Amnesty International, you can write your own:

Dear Sirs of AI:

This February 5 the independent journalist Héctor Julio Cedeño Negrín was arrested taking photos of an abuse committed by State Inspectors against independent workers in the streets of this city.

Cedeño Negrín reported via telephone from a police station to the “Hablemos Press” Press Agency that the soldiers and members of the inspectors corp threatened him, he returned to his house for a camera and tried to capture the harassment being committed, but he was beaten by several of those present and during his arrest he tore the shirt of a police officer who was hitting him, and now the want to charge him. Those are the facts.

This time it is again a brave opponent who daily confronts the Cuban political police with his writings, taking to the streets to talk with his neighbors and with people and actively participating in various demonstrations. On several occasions he has been beaten for trying to put flowers on the Malecon in Havana to commemorate the victims of the March 13 Tugboat, for recording the activities of the Ladies in White and for being a strong advocate of human rights.

Hector Julio Cedeño sends each of his writings to government political bodies, national and provincial newspapers, and every person of the Communist Party he believes appropriate. For these actions he has been threatened several times. The known represser of State Security, Col. Tamayo, personally threatened him with jail about four months ago. At other times, even when I was at his house, young police officers to ordered him not to leave his house when they were undertaking any demonstration, orders, which of course he did not obey.

Right now we are afraid that one more injustice is being committed and they will end up trying him or Detaining him for several months without charges, as happens with other compatriots. The issue is someone who is active and confrontational that the forces of repression want out of the way.

On behalf of hundreds of activists and intellectuals, I hope that you will issue a statement as something from you puts the authorities of my country on high alert and shows the solidarity with his case.

Thank you for your attention,

Luis Felipe Rojas, author of the blog “Crossing the Barbed Wire”

February 10 2013

Not All Is Lost

13 Feb


“We are also concerned about the fate of the writer Angel Santiesteban-Prats, sentenced to five years in prison on December 8, 2012, officially for “housebreaking and injuries” after a process in which the charges were fabricated and witnesses bought.

“An intellectual recognized in Cuban society, who has received several awards, the only thing Angel Santiesteban-Prats did was criticize the government in his blog, The Children Nobody Wanted.

“They could imprison him at any time. Finally, Reporters without Borders learned of the arrest on Feb. 5 in Havana, of Hector Julio Cedeno, just for having photographed a group of government inspectors who were harassing hawkers. The independent journalist is still in custody.

“Are these obstructions and persecutions really the critical debate that you defend?”

February 12 2013

Journalist on Hunger Strike About to Turn 60

12 Feb
Hector Julio Cedeío Negrín Foto: Luis Felipe Rojas

Héctor Julio Cedeño Negrin. Photo: Luis Felipe Rojas

Héctor Julio Cedeño Negrin, a native of Banes, Holguin will be sixty years old in three months. Cedeño Negrin declared a hunger strike on Tuesday February 5, on being arbitrarily arrested while taking photographs of police abuse in Havana, where he has lived for more than five decades.

Cedeño Negrin told Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez of Hablemos Press that he feels weak and has some dizziness. “An officer of the political police officer came to see me in the cell, but no one else has communicated to me about my arrest. It is a small cell of 9’ x 12’,” he told the news agency, adding that he continues not to take food or water.

The freelance writer has repeatedly denounced abuses of the Ladies in White, human rights activists and the general public, specifically in the district of Jesus Maria, a neighborhood with difficult living conditions in Habana Vieja.

Cedeño Negrin is not one of the better known independent journalists from the Cuban alternative press, for this reason it is necessary to make an urgent call the international organizations responsible for ensuring freedom of the press and protecting internal dissidents and regime opponents. Cedeño Negrin has also been arrested when he went to show solidarity with his brothers in the struggle at the times of arrests, beatings or hunger strikes.

This is the time to be with him in the defense of his rights.

February 12 2013