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Prisoner of conscience

14ymedio, Havana, 5 December 2017 — Dissident Eduardo Cardet received a visit from his wife Yaimaris Vecino on Monday, in the Holguin prison where has already served a year, after a trial that his family believes was manipulated by Cuban State Security. Cardet, a doctor by profession and national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement … Continue reading "Eduardo Cardet, a Year in Prison for "Political Reasons"" Continue reading
… also places pressure on the Cuban government, which initially claimed it … from the American embassy in Havana. “There does not exist evidence … and families notified us of,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said … remarks this year, a former Cuban prisoner of conscience described being … Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 7 October 2017 — Cuban dissident Darsi Ferret, who has lived in the United States since 2012, was found dead Saturday in West Palm Beach, as confirmed to 14ymedio by his colleagues and family. Ferret, 47, a doctor, was at a local television station planning to launch in that Florida city when he died in … Continue reading "Darsi Ferret Dies in Miami" Continue reading
14ymedio, Rosa Maria Paya, Miami, 4 September 2017 — In the early hours of September 1st they did it again. It happened just as it did 14 years ago when, in March of 2003, the Cuban regime arrested dozens of Varela Project activists and independent journalists. This time the assault lasted 10 hours. Listening to the narration … Continue reading "“To Set Men Against Men is an Appalling Task”" Continue reading
Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván García

Iván García, 3 May 2017 — Let's step back in time. One morning in 1985,
Yndamiro Restano Díaz, a thirty-seven-year-old journalist with Radio
Rebelde, took out an old Underwood and wrote a clandestine broadsheet
entitled "Nueva Cuba." After distributing the single-page, handmade
newspaper up and down the street, one copy ended up pinned to a wall in
the Coppelia ice cream parlor in the heart of Havana's Vedado district.

His intention was not to criticize the autocratic regime of Fidel
Castro. No, it was simply an act of rebellion by a reporter who believed
that information was a public right. In his writing, Yndamiro tried to
point out the dire consequences that institutional contradictions were
having on the country's economy.

He was arrested and questioned at Villa Marista, a jail run by the
political police in southern Havana. Later that year he was arrested
again, this time for having given an interview to the New York Times.
That is when his troubles began. He was fired from Radio Rebelde and
branded with a scarlet letter by Special Services. Without realizing it,
Yndamiro Restano had laid the foundations for today's independent
journalism in Cuba.

Cuba was emerging from overwhelmingly bleak five-year period in which
censorship was having an almost sickening effect. The winds of glasnost
and perestroika were blowing from Gorbachev's USSR. Some intellectuals
and academicians such as the late Felix Bonne Carcasses decided the time
was right for more democratic openness in society and the media. Havana
was a hotbed of liberal thought.

Journalist Tania Díaz Castro along with young activists Rita Fleitas,
Omar López Montenegro, Estela Jiménez and former political prisoner
Reinaldo Bragado established the group Pro Arte Libre. According to the
writer Rogelio Fabio Hurtado, Cuba's independent press was born out of
the first dissident organization, the Cuban Committee for Human Rights,
led by Ricardo Boffill Pagés and the organization's vice-president
Rolando Cartaya, a former journalist at Juventud Rebelde. In a 2011
article published in Martí Noticias, Cartaya recalled, "When we arrived
at dawn at his house in Guanabacoa's Mañana district, Bofill had already
produced half a dozen original essays and eight carbon copies of each
for distribution to foreign press agencies and embassies."

No longer able to work as a journalist, by 1987 Yndamiro Restano was
making a living cleaning windows at a Havana hospital. He would later be
fired from that job after giving an interview to the BBC. Frustrated by
not being able to freely express himself in a society mired in duplicity
and fear, he joined the unauthorized Cuban Commission on Human Rights
and National Reconciliation created by Elizardo Sánchez.

Along with other journalists fired from newspapers, magazines, radio
stations and television news programs who were eager to publish their
own articles without censorship, Restano decided in 2011 to form an
organization that would allow reporters condemned to silence to work
together. Thus was born the Cuban Association of Independent
Journalists, the first union of freelance correspondents.

In 1991 — a date which coincided with the beginning of the Special
Period, an economic crisis lasting twenty-six years — the Havana poet
Maria Elena Cruz Varela founded Criterio Alternativo which, among
causes, championed freedom of expression. In an effort to crack open the
government's iron-fisted control of the nation, Maria Elena herself,
along with Roberto Luque Escalona, Raúl Rivero Castaneda, Bernardo
Marqués Ravelo, Manuel Diaz Martinez, Jose Lorenzo Fuentes, Manolo
Granados and Jorge A. Pomar Montalvo and others signed the Charter of
Ten, which demanded changes to Castro's status quo.

On September 23, 1995, Raúl Rivero — probably Cuba's most important
living poet — founded Cuba Press in the living room of his home in La
Victoria, a neighborhood in central Havana. The agency was an attempt to
practice a different kind of professional journalism, one which reported
on issues ignored by state-run media.

Now living in exile in Miami, Rivero notes, "I believe in the validity
and strength of truly independent journalism, which made its name by
reporting on economic crises, repression, lack of freedom and by looking
for ways to revive the best aspects of the republican-era press." He
adds, "There was never an attempt to write anti-government propaganda
like that of the regime. They were pieces whose aim was to paint a
coherent portrait of reality. The articles with bylines were never
written so some boss could enjoy a good breakfast. They were written to
provide an honest opinion and a starting point for debate on important
issues. That is why, as I found out, Cuba Press was formed at the end of
the last century."

Cuba Press brought together half a dozen official journalists who had
been fired from their jobs. Tania Quintero, now a political refugee who
has lived in Switzerland since 2003, was one of them.* Once a week,
Quintero boarded a crowded bus to deliver two or three articles to Raul
Rivero, whose third-floor apartment was a kind of impromptu editing
room, with no shortage of dissertations on every topic. An old Remington
typewriter stood vigil as the poet's wife, Blanca Reyes, served coffee.

The budding independent journalism movement had more ambitions than
resources. Reporters wrote out articles in longhand or relied on
obsolete typewriters using whatever sheets of paper they could find.
Stories were filed by reading them aloud over phone lines; the internet
was still the stuff of science fiction. The political police often
confiscated tape recorders and cameras, the tools then in use, and well
as any money they found on detainees. They earned little money but
enjoyed the solidarity of their colleagues, who made loans to each other
that they knew would never be repaid.

Those who headed other alternative news agencies also had to deal with
harassment, arrest and material deprivation. That was the case of Jorge
Olivera Castillo, a former video editor at the Cuban Institute of Radio
and Television who wound up being one of the founders of Havana Press.

Twenty-two years later, Olivera recalls, "Havana Press began life on May
1, 1995. A small group led by the journalist Rafael Solano, who had
worked at Radio Rebelde, was given the task of starting this initiative
under difficult conditions. After working for four years as a reporter,
I took over as the agency's director in 1999 and worked in that position
until March 2003, when I was arrested and sentenced to eighteen years in
prison during the Black Spring."

Faced with adversity, the former directors of Havana Press — Rafael
Solano, Julio Martinez and Joaquín Torres — were forced to go into
exile. "More than two decades after this movement began, it is worth
noting its importance to the pro-democracy struggle and its ability to
survive in spite of obstacles. Those initial efforts paved the way for
the gradual evolution of initiatives with similar aims," observes Olivera.

For the former prisoner of conscience, "independent journalism remains
one of the fundamental pillars in the struggle for a transition to
democracy. It has held this position since the 1990s, when it emerged
and gained strength due to the work of dozens of people, some of whom
had worked for official media outlets and others who learned to practice
the trade with remarkable skill." This is because independent journalism
began with people who had worked in technical fields or in universities
but had no journalistic experience or training. They are self-taught or
took self-improvement courses either in Cuba or abroad, carved a path
for themselves and are now authorities their field. They include the
likes of Luis Cino, Juan González Febles and Miriam Celaya.

Radio Martí was and still is the sounding board for the independent
press and opposition activists. The broadcaster reports on the regime's
ongoing violations of freedom of expression, its intrigues, its delaying
tactics and its attempts to feign democracy with propaganda that rivals
that of North Korea.

In a 2014 article for Diario de Cuba, José Rivero García — a former
journalist for Trabajadores (Workers) and one of the founders of Cuba
Press — wrote, "It is worth remembering that this seed sprouted long
before cell phones, Twitter, Facebook or basic computers. The number of
independent journalists has multiplied thanks to technology and
communication initiatives over which the Castro regime has no control."

Necessity is the mother of invention. Even without the benefit of proper
tools, a handful of men and women have managed in recent years to create
independent publications such as Primavera Digital, Convivencia or 14ymedio.

Currently, there are some two-hundred colleagues working outside the
confines of the state-run media in Havana and other provinces, writing,
photographing, creating videos and making audio recordings. But they
still face risks and are subject to threats. At any given moment they
could be detained or have their equipment confiscated by State Security.
Their articles, exposés, chronicles, interviews and opinion pieces can
be found on Cubanet, Diario de Cuba, Martí Noticias, Cubaencuentro and
other digital publications, including blogs and webpages.

In almost lockstep with the openly confrontational anti-Castro press
there is an alternative world of bloggers and former state-employed
journalists. They practice their profession as freelancers and hold
differing positions and points of view. Among the best known are Elaine
Díaz from Periodismo de Barrio, Fernando Rasvberg from Carta de Cuba and
Harold Cárdenas from La Joven Cuba, all of whom are subject to
harassment and the tyranny of the authorities.

Reports issued by organizations that defend press freedom in countries
throughout the world rank Cuba among the lowest. The regime claims that
there have been no extrajudicial executions on the island and that no
journalists have been killed. There is no need. It has been killing off
the free press in other ways since January 1959.

Since its beginnings more than two decades ago, Cuba's independent press
has sought to revive freedom of the press and freedom of expression. And
slowly it has been succeeding. In spite of harassment and repression.

*Translator's note: Tania Quintero is the author's mother.

Source: Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/independent-journalism-seeks-to-revive-press-freedom-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Iván García, 3 May 2017 — Let’s step back in time. One morning in 1985, Yndamiro Restano Díaz, a thirty-seven-year-old journalist with Radio Rebelde, took out an old Underwood and wrote a clandestine broadsheet entitled “Nueva Cuba.” After distributing the single-page, handmade newspaper up and down the street, one copy ended up pinned to a wall … Continue reading "Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 10 April 2017 — Facing the times that we live in can be an unpleasant task. And doing it without discrimination based on ideological viewpoints and with immediacy, takes visions of daring. This is the challenge that the Center for the Application of Political Marketing and Political assumes with the election of the “politician … Continue reading "“The Politician Of The Week,” A Citizens’ Initiative" Continue reading
… were arrested in Holguín, south-east Cuba, following the death of Fidel … Portelles, remains under house arrest. Cuban authorities set free twin sisters … martyrs of the Republic of Cuba” and “public disorder” for allegedly … free under licencia extrapenal in Cuba, a form of conditional release … Continue reading
Cuba: Thugs Beat Pregnant Pro-Democracy Dissident 'in the Belly,' Put
Father in the Hospital
by FRANCES MARTEL29 Mar 2017110
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An unidentified mob attacked two members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba
(UNPACU) – a pregnant teen and her activist father – on Sunday night,
hurling bottles at them and reportedly punching the woman in the belly.
The activists in question are 52-year-old Ángel López Figueroa and his
18-year-old daughter Ariadna López Sotolongo, who is six months
pregnant. According to Sotolongo's father-in-law, who spoke to the
Miami-based Martí Noticias, a mob formed outside the family home in
Havana on Sunday night and began attempting to break into the house.

"They began throwing bottles at the house, that is when they hurt the
father. They tried to open the front door, managed to pry it open and
attack Ángel," according to Roberto Pérez Rodríguez. Sotolongo,
meanwhile, "received blows to the belly" and injured her hand trying to
fight off the mob. Her 13-year-old sister also received unspecified
injuries, according to Pérez.

Images UNPACU has circulated on social media of Figueroa after the
attack indicate that he sustained grave injuries to the head and may be
suffering a concussion.

Journalist Liu Santiesteban writes on Facebook that Figueroa was "left
for almost dead" following the incident and Sotolongo "barely showed
vital signs" upon arriving at the hospital and "almost lost the fetus."

Pérez told Martí that his family struggled to convince their local
clinic to take in the dissidents. "The doctor said things were not that
way, that he had to [receive care] at the hospital… that the ultrasound
had problems," he explained. "Yesterday we had problems, today they told
me the woman who had to work here didn't come in today. That is how
things are with us dissidents."

The Cuban government often recruits civilian members of the Communist
Party – not police – to commit "actos de repudio," or "acts of
repudiation," against dissident headquarters. These acts typically
involve mob attacks on unarmed dissidents in which they are pelted with
garbage, physically attacked, tarred, and insulted with vulgar epithets.

Given its size and its presence throughout the island, UNPACU is one of
the primary targets of the Cuban government's repression efforts against
the pro-democracy opposition, along with the Ladies in White and the
Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) dissident groups. UNPACU is believed
to have more prisoners of conscience among their members than any other
dissident group.

UNPACU suffered a violent attack on its headquarters in Santiago, on the
eastern end of the island, in early March, in which UNPACU leader José
Daniel Ferrer was arrested and "disappeared" to an undisclosed location.
This attack, unlike typical actos de repudio, was executed by Cuban
National Revolutionary Police (PNR). When Ferrer resurfaced, he
described the holding cell police placed him in as akin to a "horror
movie for how much blood there was on the walls, of prisoners who were
beaten and the mosquitos killed by prisoners."

During that raid, police confiscated over one thousand pounds of food
goods – including rice, sugar, vegetables, and meat, all difficult to
procure for the average Cuban.

Ferrer nonetheless told local media that "the majority of our activists
are in high spirits, this type of attack does not discourage them."

This month, UNPACU lost prisoner of conscience Hamell Santiago Maz
Hernández while imprisoned without due process; Maz was facing charges
of "disrespect," a catch-all crime the Cuban police use to imprison
anti-communist dissidents. UNPACU members told media they did not
believe the official story of his demise, "cardiac arrest," and would
continue investigating the incident.

Violence against anti-communist dissidents has skyrocketed since
President Barack Obama visited Cuba a year ago, attending a baseball
game with Raúl Castro and standing silently beside him as he denied the
existence of political prisoners on the island. In addition to
emboldening the Castro regime by promoting business ties with the
dictatorship, President Obama repealed the longstanding refugee policy
known as "wet foot/dry foot," eliminating the little hope Cubans had of
escaping the island, albeit through the dangerous Florida strait. The
last-minute policy change has stranded hundreds of known Cuban nationals
throughout Mexico, Central, and South America.

"We Cubans gave him our heart and he betrayed us," Luis Pedroso, a Cuban
stranded in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, told the Cuban independent outlet 14 y
Medio. "I lost my life."

Source: Cuba: Thugs Beat Pregnant Pro-Democracy Dissident 'in the
Belly,' Put Father in the Hospital - Breitbart -
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/03/29/cuba-police-beat-pregnant-dissident/ Continue reading
Cuba: Activist sentenced to three years in jail after criticising Fidel
Castro
21 March 2017, 16:58 UTC

A three year sentence against the leader of a Christian pro-democracy
movement after he criticized Fidel Castro is a stark illustration of
ongoing restrictions to the right to free expression in Cuba, said
Amnesty International.

Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation
Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) was sentenced on Monday
20 March, his wife told Amnesty International.

He was charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado) after
he publicly criticized former Cuban leader Fidel Castro a few days after
his death. During an interview with Madrid-based radio station esRadio,
aired two days before his arrest, Cardet described the mourning in Cuba
following the death of Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: "Castro was a
very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people."
His lawyer has ten days to file an appeal.

"For decades, the Cuban authorities have harassed and intimidated
members of the Christian Liberation Movement in a attempt to silence any
dissenting ideas," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at
Amnesty International.

"Despite some recent openness, we see how the Cuban authorities continue
to control free expression. It is beyond belief that people are still
routinely arrested for criticizing a politician or for writing an
opinion on a wall – as was the case of graffiti artist Danilo 'El Sexto'
Maldonado. Sadly, Cuban courts continue to fail to provide a rigorous
check and balance to executive powers."

Despite some recent openness, we see how the Cuban authorities continue
to control free expression. It is beyond belief that people are still
routinely arrested for criticizing a politician or for writing an
opinion on a wall.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International
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"There is no doubt that Dr Cardet is a prisoner of conscience, put
behind bars for speaking his mind. He must not be made to spend a second
longer in jail."

Provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code, such as contempt of a public
official (desacato), resistance to public officials carrying out their
duties (resistencia) and public disorder (desórdenes públicos) are
frequently used to stifle free speech, assembly and association in Cuba.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a
Cuban-based human rights NGO not recognized by the state, documented a
monthly average of 827 politically motivated detentions in 2016.

The Christian Liberation Movement (Movimento Cristiano Liberación, MCL)
is a prominent actor in the pro-democracy movement in Cuba. According to
its website, it is a movement for peaceful and democratic change and
respect for human dignity. It was founded in 1988 by Oswaldo Payá
Sardiñas, who became a visible figure of the Cuban political opposition,
and four other activists.

Amnesty International has documented harassment and intimidation of
members of the MCL for decades. In 1991, after Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
presented a petition calling for a national referendum relating to
constitutional reform, he had his home destroyed by over 200 people,
said to be members of a Rapid Response Brigade. After Oswaldo Payá
announced his intention to put himself forward as a candidate for deputy
to the National Assembly for the municipality of Cerro, Havana, members
of his organization were reportedly subjected to frequent questioning
and short-term detention.

Source: Cuba: Activist sentenced to three years in jail after
criticising Fidel Castro | Amnesty International -
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/cuba-activist-sentenced-to-three-years-in-jail-after-criticising-fidel-castro/ Continue reading
The Prosecution Asks For Three Years In Prison For The Opponent Eduardo
Cardet / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 3 March 2017 — This Friday, the trial against Eduardo
Cardet, a doctor and the national coordinator of the Christian
Liberation Movement (MCL), was concluded. The prosecution has maintained
its original request for three years of deprivation of liberty for the
opponent, who has been detained since November 30 and charged with
"attack on authority." The trial was held in the Municipal Court of
Gibara (Holguin) and the sentence will be handed down on March 20.

The arrest occurred in a violent manner outside the activist's home in
the municipality of Velasco, where he lives and works in the Family
Clinic office. He is charged with an alleged attack on a State Security
officer at the time of arrest.

Cardet's wife, Yaimaris Vecino, was able to enter the courtroom this
morning, but other MCL activists had to wait outside the
building. Marlenys Leyva, Cardet's mother-in-law, told 14ymedio that
only nine family members were allowed in.

A neighbor told 14ymedio that "Cardet was very calm and explained very
well what happened, without contradictions." He asserts that the
opponent has the truth in his hand and that the same could not be said
of the accusation. "They stumbled from beginning to end trying to impose
their lies," he explains.

According to Marlenys Leyva, the access road to the Tribunal was closed
from the early hours and there was a considerable number of members of
the Rapid Response Brigades around the outside of the building.

Cardet, 48, was denied bail on three occasions to await trial at his home

"The people of State Security are here, like Major Juan Carlos
Espinosa." He stated that not only was there a police presence outside
the building but there was also "a large group of officers inside."

Cardet, 48, was denied bail on three occasions to await trial at his
home. Set to begin on February 20, the process was postponed to Friday
without explaining the reasons to either the family or the accused.

According to Vecino, the defense lawyer, Eliécer La Rosa, called four
witnesses during the trial. The lawyer indicated that those presented by
the prosecution are members of the Rapid Response Brigades. For their
part, MCL activists have denounced Cardet's case as being "fabricated"
by the Cuban government to get him to stop his activism.

The extension of the preventive confinement of the opponent has
generated pronouncements of international organizations such as Amnesty
International, which declared him a prisoner of conscience. Similarly,
the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation
demanded his immediate release.

Source: The Prosecution Asks For Three Years In Prison For The Opponent
Eduardo Cardet / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-prosecution-asks-for-three-years-in-prison-for-the-opponent-eduardo-cardet-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 3 March 2017 — This Friday, the trial against Eduardo Cardet, a doctor and the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), was concluded. The prosecution has maintained its original request for three years of deprivation of liberty for the opponent, who has been detained since November 30 and charged with “attack on … Continue reading "The Prosecution Asks For Three Years In Prison For The Opponent Eduardo Cardet / 14ymedio" Continue reading
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana 27 February 2017 – This Tuesday, a campaign launches in Cuba for the liberation of Ana Belén Montes, a former intelligence analyst for the United States Defense Intelligence Agency, condemned for espionage and considered a “prisoner of conscience” by the government of Havana. The initiative includes concerts, conversations, and publications on … Continue reading "Havana Mobilizes For The Liberation Of The Spy Ana Belén Montes" Continue reading
More Than 50% Of Cuba's Political Prisoners Belong To UNPACU, According
To Human Rights Group / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 6 February 2017 – A report released this Monday by the
National Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation
(CCDHRN) counts 478 arbitrary arrests against dissidents throughout the
island during the month of January. The text states that during the past
month, there were 20 arrests more than in December 2016.

The independent body documents "12 cases of physical aggression and 11
cases of harassment" of opponents, a situation that is part of the
"policy of intimidating repression" that "has prevailed in Cuba for
nearly six decades."

The CCDHRN affirms that the Ladies in White movement continues to be a
priority target of political repression, although the Patriotic Union of
Cuba (UNPACU) also is a particular target of "the arbitrary arrests and
destructive raids against its members."

UNPACU, an opposition organization with a strong presence in the east of
the country, has been the victim of "plundering of their means of work
(laptops , cameras, mobile phones, etc.)." These police acts have been
carried out "with a great deal of political hatred," the Commission
points out.

The report conveys the concern of the CCDHRN on "the situation in prison
of Dr. Eduardo Cardet, general coordinator of the Christian Liberation
Movement, who has just been adopted as a prisoner of conscience by
Amnesty International."

For ordinary prisoners, "material conditions and abuse continue to
worsen" in the nearly two hundred prisons and prison camps on the island

The concern extends to the "arbitrary detention for several days, of
Karina Galvez," a member of the editorial board of the
magazine Coexistence, accused of the crime of tax evasion and now
awaiting trial. The economist was released on bail on January 17 after
six days of detention.

The Commission states that "the number of politically motivated
prisoners in Cuba is still over 100, of which 55 are active members of
the Patriotic Union of Cuba." For ordinary prisoners, "material
conditions and abuse continue to worsen" in the nearly two hundred
prisons and prison camps on the island.

The text states that the Government "continues to use prisoners as
semi-skilled labor in various jobs for commercial purposes," including
"the production of charcoal for export, mainly to Europe and the United
States of America," referring to the recent shipment of charcoal made
from the invasive marabou week to the United States.

Last year the CCDHRN documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary arrests, a
figure that "places the Government of Cuba in the first place in all
of Latin America" with regards to arrests of this type, according to a
report by the independent organization.

Source: More Than 50% Of Cuba's Political Prisoners Belong To UNPACU,
According To Human Rights Group / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/more-than-50-of-cubas-political-prisoners-belong-to-unpacu-according-to-human-rights-group-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 6 February 2017 – A report released this Monday by the National Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) counts 478 arbitrary arrests against dissidents throughout the island during the month of January. The text states that during the past month, there were 20 arrests more than in December 2016. The independent body … Continue reading "More Than 50% Of Cuba’s Political Prisoners Belong To UNPACU, According To Human Rights Group / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Amnesty International Calls For Release Of Cuban Opponent Eduardo Cardet
/ EFE, 14ymedio

EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 1 Februday 2017 — The global
organization Amnesty International on Tuesday called for the "immediate
and unconditional" release of Cuban dissident Eduardo Cardet, who has
been detained for two months accused of the crime of assault.

Amnesty International believes that Cardet, the national coordinator of
the illegal Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), is a prisoner of
conscience who is imprisoned "solely for the peaceful exercise of his
right to freedom of expression," according to a statement EFE had access to.

He also says that Cardet was violently arrested when he returned from
visiting his mother on November 30, five days after Fidel Castro's
death, and since then has been held in a prison in the eastern province
of Holguin.

Cardet, according to his wife, Yaimaris Vecino, cited by Amnesty
International, is accused of attacking an agent of the authority, so
that the prosecution could seek a three-year prison sentence.

In the middle of this month, Amnesty International also called for the
release of Cuban dissident graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El
Sexto (The Sixth), also considered a prisoner of conscience who was
imprisoned without trial in the high security Combinado del Este in Havana.

El Sexto was released without charge on January 21 after spending nearly
two months in prison for having written the phrase "He's gone" on a wall
of the Habana Libre hotel in the capital on November 26, 2016, after the
death of Fidel Castro.

Source: Amnesty International Calls For Release Of Cuban Opponent
Eduardo Cardet / EFE, 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/amnesty-international-calls-for-release-of-cuban-opponent-eduardo-cardet-efe-14ymedio/ Continue reading
EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 1 Februday 2017 — The global organization Amnesty International on Tuesday called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of Cuban dissident Eduardo Cardet, who has been detained for two months accused of the crime of assault. Amnesty International believes that Cardet, the national coordinator of the illegal Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), is a prisoner of … Continue reading "Amnesty International Calls For Release Of Cuban Opponent Eduardo Cardet / EFE, 14ymedio" Continue reading
URGENT ACTION
DEMAND RELEASE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

Five days after Fidel Castro's death, human rights defender Eduardo
Cardet was detained and has since been held in provisional detention in
Holguín, south-east Cuba.
He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and
unconditionally.

Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation
Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación,
MCL) since 2014 was arrested in Holguín on 30 November 2016, five days
after the death of the former leader of
Cuba, Fidel Castro. Eduardo Cardet has spent two months in the
provisional prison (prisión provisional) of Holguín.
He has been refused bail on three occasions, according to his wife.
According to five witnesses who spoke to Amnesty International by
telephone on the condition of anonymity,
Eduardo Cardet was pushed off his bicycle and violently detained in the
early evening of 30 November by at least
four plain clothed and one uniformed police officer as he returned home
after visiting his mother. It is not clear on
what grounds Eduardo Cardet was initially detained. According to his
wife, who witnessed her husband's detention
with their two children, Eduardo Cardet is charged with attacking an
official of the state (atentado). This offence is
covered under Article 142.1 of the Criminal Code. One officer is
alleging that Eduardo Cardet pushed him during
his arrest. All witnesses who spoke with Amnesty International counter
this allegation, and state that Eduardo
Cardet was quickly and violently restrained by plain clothed officials,
placed in handcuffs, and beaten, and had no
opportunity for self-defence. The witnesses believe that Eduardo Cardet
was arrested for his beliefs and ideas.
Prior to his arrest, Eduardo Cardet had given interviews published in
international media in which he had been
critical of the Cuban government. In an interview with Madrid-based
radio station esRadio, aired two days before
his arrest, he described the mourning in Cuba following the death of
Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: "Castro
was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our
people". According to the MCL's website,
Eduardo Cardet's lawyer informed the family on 27 January that the
Public Prosecutor is seeking three years of
prison.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
- Calling on the authorities to release Dr. Eduardo Cardet immediately
and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of
conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to
freedom of expression;
- Calling on them to guarantee the peaceful right to freedom of
expression, assembly and association including
for dissident, opponent or activist voices and to repeal all legislation
which unduly limits these rights;
- Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, he is provided with
any medical care he may require; that he is
not tortured or otherwise ill-treated; and that he is granted regular
access to family and lawyers of his choosing.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 MARCH 2017 TO:
President of the Republic
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba Office in
Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission
to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency
Attorney General
Dr. Darío Delgado Cura
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República
Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella
Centro Habana, La Habana, Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/
Señor Fiscal General
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr25/5601/2017/en/ Continue reading
Former Political Prisoner Arturo Pérez De Alejo Dies / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Miami, 25 January 2017 — The former political prisoner Arturo
Perez de Alejo, who was part of the Group of 75, died Wednesday in Miami
at 66, as reported by MartíNoticias .

Pérez Alejo was born in Manicaragua, in the then province of Las Villas,
on 23 May 1951 to a peasant family.

During the nineties, in the middle of the Special Period, he began his
dissident activity. He participated actively in the Democratic Action
Movement, the Nationalist Action Party and the Independent Democratic Front.

In addition, he founded the Escambray Independent Organization For The
Defense Of Human Rights, of which he held the presidency, and he was
noted for his dissemination of the Varela Project, a civic initiative
promoted by the late Oswaldo Payá to demand more liberties in the island.

In 2003 he was imprisoned in the 2003 repressive wave known as the Black
Spring. He was imprisoned for five years, and the conditions of his
imprisonment greatly undermined his health.

During his imprisonment he was recognized as a prisoner of conscience by
Amnesty International. In June 2010, through the efforts of the Catholic
Church, he was released and exiled to Spain.

He later moved to Miami, where he resided until his death. He spent his
last years closely linked to the work of organizations of the Cuban exile.

Source: Former Political Prisoner Arturo Pérez De Alejo Dies / 14ymedio
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/former-political-prisoner-arturo-perez-de-alejo-dies-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Miami, 25 January 2017 — The former political prisoner Arturo Perez de Alejo, who was part of the Group of 75, died Wednesday in Miami at 66, as reported by MartíNoticias . Pérez Alejo was born in Manicaragua, in the then province of Las Villas, on 23 May 1951 to a peasant family. During the nineties, … Continue reading "Former Political Prisoner Arturo Pérez De Alejo Dies / 14ymedio" Continue reading
The Punk Who Didn't Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano

14ymedio, Pablo de Llano, Miami, 22 January 2017 — Minutes after the
announcement of the death of Fidel Castro, last November 25, Danilo
Maldonado Machado passed by his mother's house and knocked on the window
of her room. Maria Victoria Machado opened and her son asked: "Mom, are
you afraid?" She, who had heard the news, told him no: "You know this is
my bedtime." He continued: "Well, I'm going to warm up the track." Mrs.
Machado assumed that her son was going to paint some anti-Castro slogan
in a city, Havana, that that night had been mute, silent, empty. Free
for the cats and for the crazies.

"Have you ever asked him not to expose himself so much?"

"No," said the mother from Havana. "I admire my son."

El Sexto, the artistic alias of Maldonado, left and reappeared a while
later at the side of the Habana Libre Hotel. With a mobile phone, he
broadcast live on Faceboo, speaking directly to the screen and mocking
Fidel and Raul Castro, recalling dead regime opponents, moving through
the desolate streets: "Nobody it outside," he said. "Rare," he
scoffed. "Nobody wants to talk. But how long will you not want to talk,
gentlemen?"

He wore a white Panama hat. Sunglasses hanging from his shirt. Under the
right eyelid, tattooed barbed wire. Headphones around his neck. He was
an eccentric putting on a comedian-politician show in an empty but
guarded theater. The most risky sitcom of the year in Havana. Then he
asked some squire, "Papi, where's my can?"

El Sexto took out a spray can and on a side wall of the Habana Libre,
the former Havana Hilton and the hotel where the father of the Cuban
revolution had immediately taken possession of to set up his first
headquarters after conquering the capital, he scrawled: "He left."

Live. His face in the picture. Risk level one hundred.

He enjoyed it. He looked at the camera and said, "I see panic in their
faces." Six feet five-and-a-half inches tall, thin, bearded, exultant. A
Don Quixote crossing the line.

Hours later, according to the reconstruction of his mother, he was
forcibly removed from his apartment by a group of police and locked up
in the maximum security prison Combinado del Este, outside Havana,
accused of damage to state property. Only this Saturday, two months
later, was he released.

"They gave me my identity card and said I would have no problem
traveling outside the country," the artist told 14ymedio a few hours
after he was released without charges. "I am in good health and I am
very grateful for the solidarity of all those who were aware of my
situation."

During the time he was imprisoned, Amnesty International declared him
a prisoner of conscience. A campaign on Change.org collected about
14,000 signatures for his release. Kimberley Motley, an African American
lawyer specializing in human rights, traveled to Cuba in December to try
to visit him in prison, but was detained and returned to the United
States. The vice-president of the German Parliament, the Social Democrat
Ulla Schmidt, declared herself his "political godmother."

This was his second time in prison. In 2015 he spent 10 months locked up
for planning a performance art piece with two pigs painted with the
names of Fidel and Raul. In his 33 years El Sexto has become a heterodox
figure of dissent. More a provocateur than an activist, he is
essentially a natural punk, a creative thug who in another country would
only have paid a fine for painting a wall, but to whom 21st century Cuba
dedicates the punitive treatment it considers appropriate to a threat to
the security of the State.

When they released him in 2015, after a hunger strike, El Sexto traveled
through different countries and explained in a talk that in the
beginning he defined his political stance as that of an artist in
response to the official propaganda so abundant on the island: "If they
have the right to violate my visual space, I also have the right to
violate their visual space," he maintained.

Years earlier Cuban government proclamations were calling for the return
of five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for espionage. They were
called The Five Heroes. It was then that Maldonado adopted his nickname
"El Sexto" – the Sixth – and emerged as a graffit artist.

"Danilo says that art has to be brave and try to impact people,"
explains his girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, a Cuban-American journalist
he met in Miami. She says that El Sexto is a fan of Estopa, a Spanish
rock/rumba duo, and Joan Manuel Serrat, a Spanish singer-songwriter. She
tells how impressed he was when he went to New York and visited the
studio of artist Julian Schnabel, director of Before Night Falls, the
film about Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban poet who died of AIDS in exile, and
also the director of Basquiat, about the artist who began is career
using the tag SAMO (for Same Old), on his graffiti in the streets of
Manhattan.

Mrs. Machado says that in the case file the cost of erasing her child's
graffiti at Havana Libre was recorded as 27 Cuban pesos

Martinez likes a drawing he has done in his current prison stay,
titled Cemetery of living men. It's a three-level bunk with a man in the
bottom, the middle bunk empty and a cockroach in the upper
bunk. "Someone," his mother says, has been sneaking out of prison the
pages he painted and publishing them on his Facebook page. They have a
surreal style.

He also writes. He talks about his nightmares – zoomorphic guards who
mistreat him; he takes notes of the language of the prisoners –
"fucking: synonymous with food"; and directs messages to his audience –
"I still have not received news of my case," "I draw little because of
my allergy, the excessive dampness and the lack of light, " "the boss of
my unit beat me," "only the cosmic knows the true purpose of this ordeal."

Mrs. Machado says that in the case file the cost of erasing her child's
graffiti at Havana Libre was recorded as 27 Cuban pesos, the equivalent
of one dollar and one cent US. "But they do not forgive what he
painted," she says. Maldonado has written from prison: "Imagine how many
people laugh about me. I'm already famous in jails and prisons." Fidel
Castro left. The bars remain.

_______

Editor's note: This text is reproduced here with the permission of El
País, which published it today.

Source: The Punk Who Didn't Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-punk-who-didnt-cry-for-fidel-14ymedio-pablo-de-llano/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Pablo de Llano, Miami, 22 January 2017 — Minutes after the announcement of the death of Fidel Castro, last November 25, Danilo Maldonado Machado passed by his mother’s house and knocked on the window of her room. Maria Victoria Machado opened and her son asked: “Mom, are you afraid?” She, who had heard the news, told … Continue reading "The Punk Who Didn’t Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano" Continue reading
Artist jailed in Cuba since November for anti-Fidel Castro graffiti may
be released Jan. 28
By Elizabeth Llorente Published January 18, 2017 FoxNews.com

A prominent graffiti artist in Cuba who was jailed the day after Fidel
Castro died for actions that appeared to celebrate the late Cuban
leader's passing, reportedly will be released on Jan. 28, his girlfriend
told FoxNews.com

Danilo Maldonado, known as "El Sexto," has been transported to various
jails since his arrest on Nov. 26. The 33-year-old dissident has not
been charged with any crimes, those close to him say. He is being held
in a maximum-security jail on the outskirts of Havana, according to
Amnesty International, which has been monitoring Maldonado's
imprisonment and on Tuesday demanded his release.

His girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, who lives in Miami, said she is
hopeful but leery about news that Maldonado will be released. Martinez
said Maldonado told her in a telephone call on Tuesday night that Cuban
authorities told him they were freeing him on Jan. 28.

"We don't know if this is just more psychological torture," she said.
"Last week, he called me screaming that they told him they were going to
execute him. So it was shocking to hear yesterday that they are
releasing him."

Cuban authorities have accused Maldonado of damaging state property,
though no formal charges have been pressed, according to those close to
him as well as Cuban exile groups and international human rights
organizations that have been tracking his situation.

Cuba-based news media reported that Maldonado had created graffiti on a
wall in Havana that read: "He's gone," which was seen as a disrespectful
act by Cuban authorities.

"He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and
unconditionally," said Amnesty International in its Tuesday statement.

Amnesty International noted that it has been denied access to Cuban
jails since 1988. It describes the jail that is housing Maldonado as a
place "where convicted murderers and political prisoners being punished
for their political views are traditionally held."

Meanwhile, Martinez said she is looking toward Jan. 28.

"I fully expect and demand that they follow through" with the promise of
release, she said.

Source: Artist jailed in Cuba since November for anti-Fidel Castro
graffiti may be released Jan. 28 | Fox News -
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/18/artist-jailed-in-cuba-since-november-for-anti-fidel-castro-graffiti-may-be-released-jan-28.html Continue reading
Cuba: Authorities miserably fail on their promise to release graffiti
artist unfairly held
16 October 2015, 09:33 UTC

The Cuban authorities' failure to keep to their commitment to release a
graffiti artist unfairly imprisoned nearly a year ago is a painful
illustration of their disregard for freedom of expression, said Amnesty
International.

"Committing to release Danilo Maldonado Machado on 15 October only to
keep him behind bars for no reason other than speaking his mind and
criticising the government is not only cruel but sends a strong message
that freedom of expression is not on the Cuban government's radar," said
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

"Danilo is a prisoner of conscience, deprived of his liberty as
punishment for peacefully expressing his opinions. He must be released
immediately and unconditionally and not be made to spend another second
behind bars."

Yesterday, prison authorities told Danilo's mother that he had served
his time but that they did not know when he would be set free. Danilo,
however, has never been brought before a judge or sentenced.

"Danilo's story has all the elements of a science fiction novel: fist he
was put behind bars under the most ludicrous excuse and then kept there
arbitrarily without even being charged. The fact that Cuban authorities
continue to play with Danilo and his family is just shocking," said
Erika Guevara-Rosas.

Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as 'El Sexto', was arrested by agents of
the political police (Seguridad del Estado) in Havana while travelling
in a taxi on 25 December 2014. Officers opened the taxi's boot and found
the two pigs with "Raúl" and "Fidel" painted on their backs. He was
accused of "disrespecting the leaders of the Revolution" but never
brought to court. Danilo intended to release the pigs at an art show on
Christmas Day.

Source: Cuba: Authorities miserably fail on their promise to release
graffiti artist unfairly held | Amnesty International -
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/10/cuba-authorities-miserably-fail-on-their-promise-to-release-graffiti-artist-unfairly-held/ Continue reading
Dissident Group Denounces At Least 9,940 Arbitrary Arrests In Cuba In
2016 / EFE,14ymedio

EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 5 January 2017 — The Cuban Commission for
Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), a dissident group,
denounced today that it had documented at least 9,940 arbitrary arrests
for "political reasons" in 2016, the highest figure of the last six years.

With a monthly average of 827 arrests, the opposition organization said
that Cuba is in "first place" in Latin America for this type of
"repressive action."

In its monthly report, the CCDHRN reports that in December there were
458 arbitrary arrests of "peaceful dissidents," up from 359 in the
previous month, but a much lower figure than in other months of last
year; data from January to April showed more than 1,000 arrests a month.

According to this organization, in December there were also 14 physical
assaults by political repression groups against peaceful opponents, 37
acts of harassment and intimidation, and two acts of repudiation, "true
civil lynchings without the loss of human lives until now."

The commission notes that the opposition groups most punished by this
harassment are the Ladies in White, who march every Sunday to demand
respect for human rights on the island, and the Cuban Patriotic Union
(UNPACU), which has suffered "vandalism and robbery by the police" at
its headquarters in Santiago de Cuba and at the homes of some of its
activists.

The CCDHRN also expressed concern over the situation of two political
prisoners imprisoned since November: Eduado Cardet, coordinator of the
Christian Liberation Movement, and Danilo Maldonado, the graffiti artist
known as "El Sexto," who is considered a prisoner of conscience by
Amnesty International.

"El Sexto" has been detained since the early hours of November 26 for
painting "He's gone" in a central place in Havana on the occasion of the
death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He is being held in a maximum
security prison without trial.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, led
by the well-known dissident Elizardo Sánchez, is the only group to
record and report the numbers of these incidents in Cuba.

The Cuban government considers dissidents "counterrevolutionaries" and
"mercenaries."

Source: Dissident Group Denounces At Least 9,940 Arbitrary Arrests In
Cuba In 2016 / EFE,14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/dissident-group-denounces-at-least-9940-arbitrary-arrests-in-cuba-in-2016-efe14ymedio/ Continue reading
EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 5 January 2017 — The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), a dissident group, denounced today that it had documented at least 9,940 arbitrary arrests for “political reasons” in 2016, the highest figure of the last six years. With a monthly average of 827 arrests, the opposition organization said … Continue reading "Dissident Group Denounces At Least 9,940 Arbitrary Arrests In Cuba In 2016 / EFE,14ymedio" Continue reading
Amnesty International: Where to Write for Release of El Sexto

UA: 273/16 Index: AMR 25/5244/2016 Cuba Date: 29 November 2016

URGENT ACTION

CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST ARRESTED AGAIN

Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado ('El Sexto') – named a
prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International in 2015 – was
re-arrested on 26 November, shortly after the announcement of Fidel
Castro's death.

Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado (also known as 'El
Sexto') was arrested at his home in Havana, the capital, at
approximately 11.15 am on 26 November, hours after the announcement of
Fidel Castro's death. Danilo Maldonado was on the phone with his
girlfriend when state officials forced their way into his apartment.

According to his mother, Maria Victoria Machado, she and his sister were
initially unable to locate him, before they eventually located him at a
prison later that afternoon. Danilo Maldonado's mother says he is
currently detained in Guanabacoa, Eastern Havana. When Maria Machado
visited him on 27 November, officials did not give reasons for his arrest.

On 26 November, according to Cuba-based newspaper 14 y medio, Danilo
Maldonado had graffitied the words "He's gone" (Se fue) on a wall in
Havana. The news outlet reported that El Sexto's graffiti was one of the
first public demonstrations outside of the state-organized
demonstrations of mourning following the announcement of Fidel Castro's
death.

Short-term arbitrary arrests remain a common tactic to restrict freedom
of expression in Cuba. In October, the Cuban Commission of Human Rights
and National Reconciliation, which like other human rights organizations
is not recognized by Cuban authorities, reported 620 arbitrary
detentions of peaceful protestors and opposition activists.

Provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code, such as contempt of a public
official (desacato), resistance to public officials carrying out their
duties (resistencia) and public disorder (desórdenes públicos) are
frequently used to stifle free speech, assembly and association.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

 Calling on the authorities to release Danilo Maldonado Machado ('El
Sexto') immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of
conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to
freedom of expression;

 Calling on them to guarantee the right to freedom of expression,
including for dissident, opponent or activist voices.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 10 JANUARY 2017 TO:

President of the Republic

Raúl Castro Ruz

Presidente de la República de Cuba

La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba Office in Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)

Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)

Salutation: Your Excellency

Attorney General

Dr. Darío Delgado Cura

Fiscal General de la República

Fiscalía General de la República Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella

Centro Habana, La Habana, Cuba

Salutation: Dear Attorney General/ Señor Fiscal General

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your
country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address
Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
date.

URGENT ACTION

CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST ARRESTED AGAIN

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

On 20 October 2015, Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado ('El
Sexto') was released after spending almost 10 months in prison without
trial following accusations of "aggravated contempt". Amnesty
International considered him a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely
for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression (see:
https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr25/2710/2015/en/).

Danilo Maldonado Machado was accused of "aggravated contempt" after
being arrested on 25 December 2014 for transporting two pigs with the
names "Raúl" and "Fidel" painted on them, which he intended to release
in an art show in Havana's Central Park. He was never formally charged
nor brought before a court during the almost 10 months he spent in
detention.

Name: Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as 'El Sexto'

Gender m/f: male

UA: 273/16 Index: AMR 25/5244/2016 Issue Date: 29 November 2016

Source: Amnesty International: Where to Write for Release of El Sexto –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/amnesty-international-where-to-write-for-release-of-el-sexto/ Continue reading
UA: 273/16 Index: AMR 25/5244/2016 Cuba Date: 29 November 2016 URGENT ACTION CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST ARRESTED AGAIN Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado (‘El Sexto’) – named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International in 2015 – was re-arrested on 26 November, shortly after the announcement of Fidel Castro’s death. Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado … Continue reading "Amnesty International: Where to Write for Release of El Sexto" Continue reading
Dissident artist jailed in Cuba beaten and fed sedative-laced food,
family says
By Elizabeth Llorente Published December 05, 2016

One of Cuba's most prominent anti-Castro artists is refusing to eat food
served by his jailers, alleging that they have laced it with pills that
induce drowsiness, those close to him say.

Danilo Maldonado, known as "El Sexto," was taken by Cuban security
agents the day after the death of former leader Fidel Castro. Maldonado,
33, still has not been charged, but those familiar with the graffiti
artist's actions that morning say
that he posted a Facebook message seemingly gloating over Castro's death
and urging people to "come out to the streets…and ask for liberty."

Maldonado also is said to have spray-painted "El Sexto" on a wall near
Hotel Habana Libre.

His girlfriend, a writer who lives in Miami, said that Maldonado has
been transferred several times since his arrest on Nov. 6. Alexandra
Martinez told FoxNews.com Monday that Maldonado's mother, Maria Victoria
Machado, who has been allowed to visit her son briefly twice since he
has been in the custody of Cuban security police, told her that the
artist was beaten the day he was taken from his apartment, as well as
last Tuesday.

"He's an artist, he's a human being who is just using his voice" and art
for peaceful expression, Martinez said. "There are still no charges. He
was taken to police stations and now a detention center that is maximum
security."

Maldonado had been slated to be at a Miami premiere of an HBO
documentary that features him titled "Patria o Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland
or Death" last week, Martinez said.

"The Cuban authorities have a history of detaining El Sexto ahead of
many planned performances, but Castro's death appears to be the impetus
for this particularly aggressive assault," said Julian Schnabel, the
producer of the HBO
documentary, in a statement quoted by the Miami Herald.

Other Cuba experts say that while Cuban authorities routinely detain
prominent dissidents without pressing charges before, during or after a
high-profile event, in recent years they have kept them in custody for
less than a day, usually a few
hours.

They say that Maldonado's extended detention is particularly hard-line.

"The classic pattern in the last couple of years is that police come and
arrest dissidents either because they're having a demonstration, or
they're planning to have one, and they hold them for shorter periods of
time than before, and then let them
go without charges," said William M. LeoGrande, a professor of
government at American University, and co-author of "Back Channel to
Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana."

"The police has hit upon this as disrupting dissident activity without
processing people through the justice system," LeoGrande said. "For
[Maldonado] to have been in
jail for a long period of time without charges is unusual."

Maldonado, who is active on social media, spent 10 months in jail about
a year ago after he posted a photo of two pigs with "Fidel" written on
one and "Raul" on the other.

The Human Rights Foundation said on its Facebook page that the Cuban
government had charged Maldonado in 2015 with "criminal defamation" for
linking the Castro brothers with the pigs, which the artist had prepared
for a performance of George
Orwell's "Animal Farm."

Amnesty International declared Maldonado a prisoner of conscience, and
Human Rights Foundation awarded him the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative
Dissent after he used the pigs to portray the Castro brothers.

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be
reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com.

Source: Dissident artist jailed in Cuba beaten and fed sedative-laced
food, family says | Fox News -
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/12/05/dissident-artist-jailed-in-cuba-beaten-and-fed-sedative-laced-food-family-says.html Continue reading
Eduardo Cardet, left, and Danilo "El Sexto" Maldonado Cuban democracy activist Rosa Maria Paya says she will present to United Nations human rights officials information about the arrests of activists Danilo Maldonado and Eduardo Cardet in the days after the... Continue reading
Red ink: The high human cost of the Cuban revolution
BY GLENN GARVIN
ggarvin@miamiherald.com
LINKEDIN

Danilo Maldonado's collision with the Cuban revolution is, in some ways,
a silly asterisk to history. And in others, it practically defines the
country's dilemma of the past 57 years, a state that defines itself as
the people's political vanguard, but more often seems to be their jailer.

On Christmas Day of 2014, Maldonado — a dissident graffiti artist better
known as El Sexto — was riding along Havana's waterfront Malecón when
traffic cops pulled his car over. Hearing odd scrabbling noises from the
trunk, they opened it to find a pair of pigs with names scrawled on
their backs: Fidel and Raúl.

Without another word, the cops arrested the 30-year-old Maldonado. (Not
that his explanation would have helped; he was taking the pigs to
perform in an informal production of George Orwell's withering
anti-communist satire "Animal Farm.")

Charged with "disrespect of the leaders of the revolution" — the police
clearly did not believe it a coincidence that the pigs' names were the
same as those of the Castro brothers who have ruled Cuba since 1959 —
Maldonado languished in jail without a trial for 10 months until Amnesty
International labeled him a "prisoner of conscience" and the government
finally turned him loose.

Those 10 months — 300-some days, 7,000-some hours, all irretrievably
lost — are a tiny part of the human cost of Fidel Castro's revolution.
If Castro strode the stage of world history the past six decades,
preaching socialism and making allies and enemies of nations a hundred
times Cuba's size, the price was paid — in jail time, in exile, in blood
— by his unwilling countrymen. It is a price that defies accounting.

"The price? I couldn't begin to give you the numbers," says Carlos
Ponce, the director of the Latin American and Caribbean division of the
human-rights group Freedom House. "I can tell you that 2 million Cubans
live outside Cuba, I can tell you that in the last 10 years, there have
been nearly 18,000 political detainees.

"How many in jail since 1959? How many executed? How many lost at sea? I
can't even guess."

There are organizations that try to track those numbers. But extracting
information from a secretive totalitarian regime that likely doesn't
even know the answers itself is a nearly impossible task and likely to
remain so, even if there are significant changes in the way the the
Cuban government does business following Fidel Castro's death last month.

"Even after the Soviet Union fell, when some of its archives opened up
for a time, all we really learned was the extent of the cover-up, all
the measures the Soviets took to cover up their crimes," says Marion
Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial
Foundation, which studies the human-rights histories of communist regimes.

"But we never got a precise number of victims, or their names. The
Soviets didn't want to keep precise records — they had learned their
lesson from the Nazis, who did keep precise records, which were used to
indict Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg."

Approaching the problem from the other end — compiling statistics based
on accounts from victims or their friends and families — has its own
difficulties, including the human tendencies to exaggerate or even
deliberately falsify information for propaganda purposes.

In the mid-1990s, one of the most visible reproofs to Cuba's
human-rights record was the "Quilt of Castro's Genocide," a collage of
hand-sewn cloth panels bearing the names of about 10,000 Cubans believed
to have met their deaths at the hands of their own government. But
within a few years, the quilt disappeared after many of the "victims"
proved to be alive or to have died of natural causes.

Yet even with all the obstacles, some groups have at least made a start
in establishing the broad outlines of what Castro's government has cost
its people.

DEATHS
The late and widely respected University of Hawaii historian R. J.
Rummel, who made a career out of studying what he termed "democide," the
killing of people by their own government, reported in 1987 that
credible estimates of the Castro regime's death toll ran from 35,000 to
141,000, with a median of 73,000.

"I think that's a good range," says Smith. "It's compatible with what
we're comfortable using, which is 'tens of thousands.'"

Yet the Cuba Archive, the Coral Gables-based organization generally
regarded as the most scrupulous in documenting human-rights abuses in
Cuba, uses a much lower figure of 7,193 (which, incidentally, includes
21 Americans, several of whom worked with the CIA).

"Those are the ones we've documented, using either information released
by the government or the testimony of eyewitnesses, not hearsay or
guesswork," says Maria Werlau, the group's president. "We know the
numbers are much, much higher, but this is what we can actually document
so far."

Part of the difficulty is figuring out what deaths to include. The 5,000
or so executed in the immediate aftermath of Castro's 1959 takeover —
sometimes after kangaroo-court trials, sometimes without even that — are
included in nearly everybody's figures. (Figurative talk about a balance
sheet for the human costs of the revolution turns quite literal when the
executions are discussed; for a time during the 1960s, the Cuban
government extracted most of the blood from the victims before they were
shot, then sold it to other communist countries for $50 a pint.)

But what about the Cuban soldiers killed during Castro's military
adventures in Africa during the 1970s and 1980s? (The official death
toll: 4,000. But a Cuban Air Force general who defected in 1987 put the
number killed in Angola alone at 10,000.) And the county's suicide rate
has tripled under Castro. Should the 1,500 or so Cubans who kill
themselves each year be included? If not all of them, how about the 10 a
year who commit suicide — or die of medical neglect — in prison?

The largest number of deaths is believed to be those lost at sea trying
to escape Cuba on makeshift rafts. For years, the Cuba Archive used an
estimate worked up by Harvard-trained economist Armando Lago of about
77,000 rafter deaths by 2003.

But that number was always controversial. It was derived not from
eyewitness testimony but a shaky mathematical formula. Lago first
estimated the number of Cuban refugees reaching the United States by
sea, then assumed that they represented just 25 percent of the attempted
crossing. The rest were presumed dead.

"After Armando died in 2008, we quit using that 77,000 number," Werlau
says. "We don't really know how many people arrive by sea — the U.S.
Coast Guard does not cooperate with us, and in any event, they don't
catch everybody who comes by sea. And the 75 percent mortality rate,
that was just an assumption that was not really defensible. It might be
lower. It might be higher."

Instead, the Cuba Archive uses a much lower number — 1,134 missing or
dead — collected from accounts of survivors who saw other rafters go
astray. "We know that number is far too low — far, far too low — but
it's what we can prove," she says.

Whatever the real number of deaths that can be attributed to Fidel
Castro's regime, it's clear he was an underachiever compared to other
communist regimes, where large percentages of the population were
killed. "Our estimate on deaths in the Soviet Union is 50 million, and
in China, 60 million," says Smith. "Castro is small chops compared to that."

POLITICAL PRISONERS
Whether you count in cold economic terms as time diverted from
productive work, or as an unquantifiable sentimental loss of moments
with friends and loved ones, the uncountable thousands of collective
years Cubans have spent in jail for political offenses is certainly part
of the human toll of the revolution. But it's a number that no one is
even willing to guess at.

"There is no one list of political prisoners that can be considered
complete or reliable," says Matt Perez, a spokesman for the New
Jersey-based Union of Cuban Ex-Political Prisoners. "Even court records
and prison records wouldn't tell you.

"For instance right after the [1961] Bay of Pigs invasion, Castro
rounded up everybody who might remotely be considered a suspect in
working against the government, thousands and thousands and thousands of
people. They didn't have enough jails to hold them all, so they took
over schools and then houses and just put people inside, so crowded that
they couldn't even sit down.

"Some of those people were released in days, some in weeks, some in
months, and some went to jail for a long time. Most of them never had
any kind of trial and hearing. But every single one of them was a
political prisoner, at least for a little while.

"Perhaps someday, if we're lucky enough and the regime falls and we can
get into the archives, we can know this. If they don't burn them first."

Even the archives might not be enough. Many criminal offenses in Cuba,
from the illegality of owning a boat to the prohibition on farmers
slaughtering cattle to feed their families, wouldn't be crimes at all in
a democracy where people can come and go as they please and sell the
products of their work to whomever they choose.

"In Cuba, telling the difference between a political crime and a common
crime can be very complicated," says Cuban-American writer Humberto
Fontova, author of several books harshly critical of the Castro regime.
"The prohibition on slaughtering cows, for instance — you might actually
spend more time in jail in Cuba for killing a cow than for killing a
person, because they don't want farmers selling their beef to anybody
but government slaughterhouses."

Freedom House's Ponce, during conversations with Alan Gross, a U.S.
government contractor jailed for five years in Cuba on spying charges,
was astonished to learn that Gross' cellmate was in prison for accepting
an unauthorized tip from a foreign tourist. "Five or six years in jail
for taking a couple of dollars from a tourist!" exclaimed Ponce. "Most
human-rights groups do not include those types of crimes when they are
making lists of political prisoners, but I don't know what else you
could call it."

Nearly everyone who has examined the issue of Cuban political prisoners
agrees that, over the course of Fidel Castro's rule, they numbered in
the hundreds of thousands, serving jail time ranging from a few hours to
a few decades. And there is no sign that his death has changed anything.

Within a few hours of Fidel's exit from the mortal coil, Danilo
Maldonado, barely a year out of jail for his renegade pig humor, was
locked up again, accused of writing anti-Castro graffiti on the wall of
the Hotel Habana Libre, where Castro lived for a time following his
victory in 1959. The words Maldonado scrawled: Se fue. He's gone.

Clearly, he's not.

Source: The human cost of Fidel Castro's revolution was a high one |
Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article118282148.html Continue reading
Cuba detains dissident artist for celebrating Castro's death
By Nicole Martinez
Reuters November 29, 2016

MIAMI (Reuters) - Cuban police have detained dissident artist Danilo "El
Sexto" Maldonado, once declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty
International, after he made a video celebrating the death of Fidel
Castro, a dissident human rights group and the artist's girlfriend said
on Monday.

Castro died on Friday at age 90, a decade after he had retired due to
poor health and ceded power to his brother, current President Raul Castro.

Maldonado posted a video on social media on Saturday in which he rants
against Castro and calls him a "mare," a Cuban pejorative.

Such a video could constitute the offense of "disrespect." Maldonado,
33, was previously jailed on that charge for painting the names "Fidel"
and "Raul" on a pair of pigs.

His most recent detention was reported by Maldonado's American
girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, who said she spoke with him moments
before he was detained by Cuban officials, and by the dissident Cuban
Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which said
Maldonado's mother reported the detention on South Florida radio.

Cuban officials have not confirmed whether Maldonado was in custody,
said Kimberley Motley, a human rights attorney contacted by the Human
Rights Foundation to handle Maldanado's case. Cuba does not publicly
report arrests and dismisses dissidents as U.S.-paid mercenaries.

Maldonado has used performance and graffiti art to criticize the Cuban
government.

Following his arrest in December 2014, he spent 10 months in prison and
was released after an Amnesty International statement that he was
considered Cuba's only prisoner of conscience.

(Reporting by Nicole Martinez; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Marguerita Choy)

Source: Cuba detains dissident artist for celebrating Castro's death -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/cuba-detains-dissident-artist-celebrating-castros-death-134637765.html Continue reading
El Sexto Amnesty International has declared Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado -- better known as El Sexto -- a prisoner of conscience after he was arrested not long after he posted on Facebook a video in which he mocked the death... Continue reading
CUBA'S RAÚL CASTRO: REFORMER OR UNREFORMABLE?: THE EVIDENCE TO DATE

Today, even the world's largest democracies have embraced the idea that
unconditional "engagement" with Cuba's "reformist" military dictatorship
will bring about economic and political reform. As a result, they have
afforded it widespread impunity, legitimacy, and support. Yet, Raúl has
been supreme leader of Cuba for over a decade and Cuba's "capitalist"
re-insertion into world markets after the end of Soviet Communism began
over a quarter century ago. The evidence to date shows no significant
empowerment of Cuba's citizens with economic, civil or political rights
during Raúl Castro´s tenure as president. Instead, repression and
persecution against human rights' defenders and members of Cuba's
peaceful opposition movement and independent civil society has greatly
intensified both in scope and viciousness. Internationally, Cuba's
alliances have strengthened with totalitarian/autocratic and rogue regimes.

RAÚL CASTRO´S TRACK RECORD OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

Nothing in Raúl Castro's history denotes a disposition to reform;
rather, he has been directly responsible for unspeakable and systematic
crimes against humanity over the course of the 57 year-old dictatorship
—first as second-in-command and head of the Armed Forces until July 2006
and, subsequently, as "maximum" leader for the last ten years.

Raúl Castro's killing career began early on. During the revolutionary
struggle in the mountains, he ordered the execution of deserters and
alleged informants. When the revolution took power January 1st 1959,
with brother Fidel and Ché Guevara, he masterminded the wave of terror
designed to reduce the population into submission. In charge of Oriente
province, Raúl had hundreds of men executed simply for wearing the
uniform of the Police or Constitutional Armed Forces. In Santiago de
Cuba, he ordered 71 men shot by firing squad without trial. Among the
victims was U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican heritage, Benito Cortés
Maldonado, a policeman put to death on fabricated charges of raping a
woman.

Video testimony of priest Jorge Bez Chabebe on the mass execution
ordered by Raúl Castro in Santiago de Cuba on January 12
1959. https://youtu.be/MS60-myaU3g (9:03 mins.)

During the anti-Communist rural uprising of the sixties in Cuba, Raúl's
Armed Forces executed prisoners on the spot. In Angola, he reportedly
ordered attacks on civilian populations, including with chemical
weapons. On February 24, 1996, MIGs of his Air Force shot down in
international airspace two unarmed U.S.-based civilian airplanes
belonging to a humanitarian group. Four men were murdered, three were
U.S. citizens: Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Peña, Carlos Costa and
Pablo Morales.

Raúl's crimes against defenseless people, including children, have no
precedent even among the bloodiest Latin American dictatorships. For
decades, Cubans have been systematically murdered by Cuba's Border Guard
for attempting to flee the island by sea and through embassies or the
U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo. Cuba's official media showed Raúl
awarding medals to Border Guard sharpshooters who killed Iskander
Maleras and Luis Angel Valverde, as they attempted to swim to the U.S.
base on January 19, 1994.

Raul Castro's Victims: Death and Disappearances from July 2006 to Date
Since Raúl Castro assumed command of Cuba in 2006, Cuba Archive has
reports of 213 cases of death or disappearance of a political nature.
The actual number of victims is likely many times higher, as reporting
from Cuba is extremely restricted. (See "The Human Toll of Raúl Castro´s
Rule: Partial Record of Deaths and Disappearances Attributed to the
Cuban State July 31, 2006 – December 31, 2015" at www.cubaarchive.org
-see Reports).

Notably, in the last ten years of Raúl Castro's tenure as head dictator,
twelve human rights' defenders have been killed or disappeared at the
hands of authorities, some quite evidently, others in circumstances that
suggest an extrajudicial killing by state agents. Some have been
threatened with death, a few have been victims of suspicious
"accidents." (Cuba Archive has received additional testimony since
publishing a report in 2012 on "strange accidents and unexplained
deaths." Because all medical facilities in Cuba are state-owned and
controlled, a strong State Security presence typically accompanies any
treatment for human rights' defenders and many fear seeking medical
attention.

Prominent human rights' activists and opposition leaders
63 year-old, Laura Pollán, leader of the internationally renowned human
rights' group, Ladies in White, died October 14, 2010 at a Havana
hospital. She developed a sudden and undiagnosed illness after being
pricked with a needle by pro-government thugs. A killing by poisoning or
biological agent is suspected. Human rights' activist and former
political prisoner Juan Wilfredo Soto, age 46, died May 8, 2011 at a
Santa Clara hospital following a brutal beating by four uniformed
policemen. The blows severely damaged his pancreas and caused lesions to
his kidneys. 60 year-old opposition leader Oswaldo Payá, recipient of
the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament, was killed July 22, 2012
with Harold Cepero, a 32-year old activist from his movement, in a car
accident reportedly provoked by State Security agents and suggestive of
a state murder.

Lesser-known human rights' defenders

Just a few months after Raúl assumed the lead role in Cuba, Former
prisoner of conscience Miguel Valdés Tamayo, age 50, died January 10,
2007 at a state hospital, his death widely reported to have been
induced. Dissident Luis Angel Lima Machado, age 47, was found dead by
hanging at his house in Havana on October 23, 2007. He suffered from
emotional problems fueled by constant harassment from Cuban authorities.
There is no evidence that his death was not self-inflicted. That same
year, activist Liborio Borroto Monroe, age 65, was killed November 19,
2007 after a horse-drawn cart ran him over at his hometown, Jatibonico,
Sancti Spiritus. Earlier that day three Communist Party members had
visited his home to threaten him with death for placing stickers with
the word "change" on the walls of his house.

Human rights' activist Roberto Franco Alfaro disappeared May 20, 2009 in
Havana, coincidentally on the anniversary of Cuba´s independence and
namesake of his opposition group. State Security had threatened him with
his disappearance. Human rights' activist, Alberto Sigas Hernández, age
32, also disappeared January 5, 2010 after police reported he was being
held at Villa Marista, State Security Headquarters in Havana. State
Security had harassed him repeatedly and threatened him with his
disappearance..

See video testimony on Alberto Sigas' disappearance (4:10 mins.) in
Spanish at https://youtu.be/UCbC4URxo04

Daysi Talavera Ortíz, a female human rights' activist and former
political prisoner, died January 2011 in Matanzas after being run over
by a car in mysterious circumstances. Blind human rights' activist
Sergio Díaz Larrastegui, age 54, died April 19, 2012 at a Havana
hospital. Fellow activists believe he was assassinated, as he had been
repeatedly threatened by the political police. He suddenly became very
ill and died after being diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease and
hepatic cirrhosis doctors attributed to unidentified chemicals. In May
2014, Vicente Medrano Ramos, age 58, was found at home in Guantánamo
with his throat slit. He was a sympathizer of the peaceful opposition
group UNPACU, which had repaired the roof of his home, damaged from
Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Authorities had threatened him with death for
expressing his gratitude publicly all around town.

Continued killing of civilians attempting to flee Cuba
At Guantánamo, things haven´t changed at all —to this day, the U.S.
base is surrounded by an active mine field and Cuban guards with orders
to shoot. Plus, Cuban authorities continue enforcing a longstanding
practice to prevent exit attempts, considered illegal without government
approval. Many caught leaving are detained, some are killed, albeit more
sporadically than in the past.

Recent victims include 18 persons who left Cuba on a small boat from
Isla de la Juventud at dawn on February 1, 2011. 24 days later, Cuban
border guards said they had detected the vessel near the coast of Pinar
del Río with just one body riddled with bullets, that of Wilfredo Peña
Leyva. Among those "disappeared" was 42 year-old Ariel García Fernández.

Cuban-born Italian resident, 32 year-old Diosbel Díaz Beoto, was killed
December 16, 2014 after the boat in which he left Cuba from the coast of
Matanzas (with 7 women, 2 children and 23 men) was shot at for two hours
by Cuban Border Guard and rammed until it sunk.

Yurinieski Martínez Reina, age 30, was killed April 19, 2015 at a beach
in Matanzas by a State Security agent who fired on his group of five
unarmed men after they had been detained for attempting to leave on a
homemade raft. A military tribunal sentenced the perpetrator to 13 years
in prison for involuntary homicide, but it is unknown if he is actually
serving prison.

See HERE Cuban Border Guards aggressive treatment of a group of rafters,
September 2016.
http://yusnaby.com/balseros-filtran-video-persecucion-guardacostas-cubanos/

See a more detailed report on the above in our reports.
http://cubaarchive.org/wordpress/reports/

Source: Raul Castro, Reformer or Unreformable? The Evidence to Date. -
http://us12.campaign-archive1.com/?u=f93aaff2d1c7f165f9da290f6&id=680eedb53b&e=45d9ff4f3c Continue reading
Do Hunger Strikes Work as a Strategy to Pressure the Cuban Government? /
14ymedio

Guillermo Fariñas, UNPACU Activist: "With this [hunger strike] I am
giving the Castro regime leaders to decide if they want to assassinate
me publicly."

Eliécer Ávila, President of Somos+ (We Are More): "I don't see how the
death of leaders who should motivate people and push changes can be
helpful."

14ymedio, 10 August 2016 – This Tuesday, activist Carlos Amel Oliva has
ended four weeks on hunger strike after spending the last five days in
hospital due to the deteriorating state of his health. Eight members of
the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) had seconded his protest and
decided not to eat in solidarity with the opponent's demands, including
State Security returning his personal belongings, the confiscation of
which he considered a violation of his rights.

On 20 July, regime opponent Guillermo Fariñas also began a hunger and
thirst strike, for which he has received hospital care on several
occasions in recent days. Winner of the European Parliament's Andrei
Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, he is demanding that the Cuban
government cease its repression against dissidents and that the
authorities agree to a dialog with the opposition.

In the last twenty years Fariñas has undertaken a total of 25 hunger
strikes, the last of these six years ago when he demanded the release of
a group of opponents from the 2003 Black Spring. On that occasion the
opponent went 135 days without eating, the great part of the time
hospitalized and receiving parenteral nutrition and hydration.

Fariñas began that strike on February 24, 2010, one day after the death
of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died after staging a hunger strike for 86
days while incarcerated.

Amnesty International considered Zapata Tamayo a prisoner of conscience
and many analysts agree that his death was decisive in the negotiations
subsequently held between the Cuban government, the hierarchy of the
Catholic Church and the Spanish government that ended with the release
of many political prisoners.

Previously, a hunger strike had been maintained to its final
consequences by Pedro Puis Boitel, who died in prison in May 1972 after
53 days without food or medical care. The young man was buried in an
unmarked grave in Colon Cemetery in Havana.

Since January 1959 it has been common for activists and opponents to use
hunger strikes as a form of protest against the government and to demand
improvements in prison conditions or political reforms. Currently some
opponents believe that this strategy of peaceful struggle is not effective.

However, other dissidents cite the importance of the hunger strike as a
way to attract the attention of international organizations to pressure
the government and bring about political change.

On Tuesday, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights called on all
opponents to abandon their fasts, considering that it is not an
effective method of struggle and activists are people who are needed
"with all their energy, strength, intelligence and courage in the demand
for freedom, democracy and better living conditions for Cubans."

Guillermo Fariñas, who currently is continuing his hunger strike, has
recently stated in an interview that he has a responsibility given that
he is a person known internationally for the use of this method of
protest. "With this I'm giving time for Castro's rulers, extending my
possible death, so that they can assess, among and political and
ideological international allies and opponents, which really has to do
with my demand, if they are going to publicly murder me," he said.

Eliecer Avila, who on Tuesday wrote a letter asking Carlos Amel Oliva to
abandon his strike, emphasized the importance of activists who are still
alive today being, one day, public representatives of the citizens if
they wish. The leader of Somos+ (We Are More) ended his letter with the
words: " Do not give away your life to these bastards, compadre!"

Source: Do Hunger Strikes Work as a Strategy to Pressure the Cuban
Government? / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/do-hunger-strikes-work-as-a-strategy-to-pressure-the-cuban-government-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Guillermo Fariñas, UNPACU Activist: “With this [hunger strike] I am giving the Castro regime leaders to decide if they want to assassinate me publicly.” Eliécer Ávila, President of Somos+ (We Are More): “I don’t see how the death of leaders who should motivate people and push changes can be helpful.” 14ymedio, 10 August 2016 – … Continue reading "Do Hunger Strikes Work as a Strategy to Pressure the Cuban Government? / 14ymedio" Continue reading
'El Sexto': "Myths are very dangerous, but an idea can break them." /
14ymedio, Maria Tejero Martin

EFE (via 14ymedio), Maria Tejero Martin, Oslo, 24 May 2016 – Danilo
Maldonado is known as El Sexto the name engraved in ink on his skin and
that he paints on the walls of Havana to plant an idea of freedom in his
compatriots, like a seed that flourishes and breaks the "dangerous
myths" that, he says, surround Cuba.

When he was nine he caused his mother grief when he drew Fidel Castro in
his military uniform but with the head of a monkey; by his twenties he
had decided to turn himself into the antihero El Sexto (The Sixth), in
response to the regime's campaign to free Los Cinco (The Five), Cuban
agents arrested in the United States.

In his thirties, after the United States initiated contacts with Cuba
after years of the embargo, Maldonado "knew I would go to jail" he told
EFE, when he was inspired to paint the names "Raul" and "Fidel" on the
backs of two pigs for a piece of Orwellian inspired performance art
which he was unable to carry out.

"The worst thing is that I never got to release them, but I went to
jail, I went to jail for something that never existed, without cause or
role," explained Maldonado, who was declared a prisoner of conscience by
Amnesty International.

His incarceration prevented him from collecting the Vaclav Havel Prize
for creative dissent a year ago in Oslo, and today he is in the
Norwegian capital for the first time, where he is participating in the
Oslo Freedom Forum, although he says that he has already attended this
annual forum of activists and defenders of human rights "in conscience."

This is a basic word for this artist who considers himself a "prisoner
of conscience" who seeks to "awaken" the conscience of Cubans and open
the eyes of foreigners whose romanticism prevents them from seeing that
the vintage cars that circulate around Havana "means that we are stuck
in time."

Meanwhile he draws on a page, showing the Little Prince that he carries
on his long lean arm. And if, as Antoine de Saint-Exupery's character
would say, "the essence is invisible to the eyes," Maldonado feels that
his mission is to attack just there, on the plane of abstract
consciousness, where he "works with things that don't exist to make them
a reality."

Like freedom in Cuba, he laments, although he is "sure" that art will
first bring rights to the island and later allow them to become reality,
in the same way, he explains, that he conceived the hunger strike he
undertook in prison as a work of art titled "Mao's awakening."

"I said that if consciousness could change what is, it should save me
from there, I would die because I would have been talking complete shit.
The bars have to opened by the hands of the repressor himself, only in
this way will art exist. And so it happened," he affirmed.

Maldonado believes that art can serve as a catalyst for any change, like
a predecessor, and says that "an idea can destroy what exists." Even the
regime.

"I want to bring down a dictatorship that has lasted for a very long
time in my country, demystify it and demystify the false canons it was
selling, like that of Che Guevara," says El Sexto.

"Often it sold [the idea] that wearing green and roaming the world with
weapons was cool. And it is not cool. Cool was a guy like Martin Luther
King, Mahatma Gandhi or Christ. But cool is not the type of people who
believe they are rebels and what they are is a murderer who wants to
impose his idea," he added.

Maldonado does not mince words, either to defend the caricatures of
Muhammad or to charge his followers who have spent centuries killing in
his name.

"That is what I don't want to have happen in my country, that I die and
that fucking nutcase passes as a savior. What I want is that my art
demystifies and destroys him, leaves his essence in the base and that
people understand he is not good," he says, referring to Castro.

For him, he is confident that "art can do anything," even with some
"very dangerous myths."

"They manage to go on for so long that if people don't chip away at them
they are more dangerous dead than alive. But an idea can destroy and
undermine anything (…) That is why they fear me and follow me. They took
me prisoner because they know of this influence," says the artist, who
says he will continue living in Cuba and will give his life for what he
considers his duty: "Awakening" consciences.

Source: 'El Sexto': "Myths are very dangerous, but an idea can break
them." / 14ymedio, Maria Tejero Martin – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/el-sexto-myths-are-very-dangerous-but-an-idea-can-break-them-14ymedio-maria-tejero-martin/ Continue reading
Via Twitter, former Cuban prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carillo reports from other the island that the Castro dictatorship has announced that seven of the 11 former Group of 75 prisoners still in Cuba under a type of parole will... Continue reading
“The Editor”, 4 April 2015 — But you are not one of those worthy men who serve a prison sentence in Cuba for raising his voice against the abuses of the dictator. You are a prisoner of conscience, because your … Continue reading Continue reading
Kudos to the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, which has named Cuban prisoner of conscience Danilo Maldonado one of the three 2015 recipients Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent. Maldonado, nicknamed "El Sexto," is a graffiti artist was arrested... Continue reading
Máximo Pradera Valdés Cuban political prisoner Máximo Pradera Valdés, in jail since after he and two others were arrested in 2001 while trying to sneak onto the island, has died, according to Cuban independent journalist and former prisoner of conscience... Continue reading
Cuba: Political dissident must be released: Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez

By Amnesty International, 2 April 2015, Index number: AMR 25/1379/2015

Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez has been detained in Cuba since June 2014. He
was sentenced in December 2014 to one year's imprisonment for "public
disorder". Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience,
imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of
expression.

UA: 77/15 Index: AMR 25/1379/2015 Cuba Date: 2 April 2015
URGENT ACTION
POLITICAL DISSIDENT MUST BE RELEASED

Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez has been detained in Cuba since June 2014. He
was sentenced in December 2014 to one year's imprisonment for "public
disorder". Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience,
imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of
expression.
On 5 June 2014, Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez, a political dissident and
activist who is a member of various independent organizations in Cuba,
organized and participated in a demonstration in the streets of
Placetas, Santa Clara Province, in central Cuba. He displayed a banner
which stated "Student Revolutionary Directorate"
(Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil, DRE) and shouted slogans against
the government such as "Down with the revolution!" (Abajo la
Revolución); "Down with Fidel, down with Raúl Castro!" (Abajo Fidel,
abajo Raúl).
Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez was arrested and subsequently released on the
same day, however on 12 June 2014, the District Attorney of Villa Clara
placed him under house arrest on accusations of "public disorder." On 15
June, in order to visit his father on Father's Day, Ciro Alexis Casanova
Pérez called the local police station to request temporary permission to
leave his house. Although the officer in charge gave him verbal
authorization, Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez was arrested by a police
patrol while on his way to his father's house.
In September 2014, the Attorney General's office charged him with
"public disorder", (desorden público) "public disorder of a continuous
nature", (desordenes publicos de carácter continuado) and "disrespect"
(desacato), and demanded he be given four years' imprisonment. Ciro
Alexis Peréz Casanova was tried in November 2014 at the Popular
Municipal Court of Placetas which convicted and sentenced him on 30
December to one year's imprisonment. The Court rejected the accusations
of "disrespect" and of "public disorder of a continuous nature", and
only found Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez guilty of "public disorder". He
has been serving his sentence at El Pendiente prison until he was moved
to Manaca prison in February 2015. Both are situated in Villa Clara
province.

Amnesty International considers this sentence to be politically
motivated, relating to his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of
expression, and that it is intended to send a message of intimidation to
other government critics. Please write immediately in Spanish or your
own language:
-Calling on the authorities to release Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez
immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience,
imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of
expression;
-Calling on them to repeal all legislation which unduly limits freedom
of expression, assembly and association;  Urging them to ensure that,
pending his release, he is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated; that
he is granted regular access to family and lawyers of his choosing; and
provided with any medical care which he may require.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 MAY 2015 TO:
President of the Republic
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba office in
Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)

Salutation: Your Excellency Attorney General
Dr. Darío Delgado Cura Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República
Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella
Centro Habana
La Habana, Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

And copies to:
Minister of Interior
General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior
Plaza de la Revolución
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)
Email: correominint@mn.mn.co.cu

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The right to a fair trial in Cuba is affected, especially in trials with
political connotations, as courts and prosecutors are under government
control. Cuba's National Assembly elects the President, Vice-President
and the other judges of the Peoples' Supreme Court, as well as the
Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General. In addition, all
courts are subordinate to the National Assembly and the Council of
State, raising concerns over internationally recognized standards for
fair trial and the right to trial by an independent and impartial tribunal.
The Cuban Criminal Code criminalizes a broad range of activities under
the provisions dealing with public order (Title IV). Some Title IV
provisions are worded and interpreted by the courts in ways that allow
the imposition of unnecessary restrictions on freedom of expression. The
Criminal Code gives a very broad interpretation of public order,
allowing the authorities to invoke this provision to arbitrarily
restrict freedom of expression in both public and private spaces.
Article 200 states: "Any person who, without justifiable cause raises
the alarm or makes threats against the general public in public places
or at shows or large meetings, shall be subject to between three months
and a year's imprisonment or a fine… or both (El que, en lugares
públicos, espectáculos o reuniones numerosas, dé gritos de alarma,
profiera amenazas de un peligro común o realice cualquier otro acto con
el propósito de provocar pánico o tumulto, incurre en sanción de
privación de libertad de tres meses a un año o multa de cien a
trescientas cuotas o ambas).

Public disorder charges are commonly used to punish the exercise of
freedom of expression and criticism of the authorities. Under
international human rights law, governments must justify measures that
limit the right to freedom of expression.

In December 2014 the United States of America and Cuba announced the
decision to "normalize" their diplomatic relations and since then,
representatives of both governments have held a number a bilateral
negotiations in Cuba and the USA. On 31 March 2015 delegations met in
Washington DC, "to discuss the methodology, topics, and structure of a
future human rights dialogue" according to the US Department of State.
It follows the release in January 2015 of more than 50 political
prisoners in Cuba including five men considered by Amnesty International
to be prisoners of conscience.

Source: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr25/1379/2015/en/ Continue reading
Amnesty International on Thursday named Cuban opposition activist Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez, in jail since last June, a prisoner of conscience and demanded the Castro dictatorship release him immediately. Amnesty presents the facts of Casanova's case: Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez... Continue reading
Ivan Hernandez Carrillo Independent journalist and former prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo was arrested and detained for several hours, and had some of his belongings, including copies of a dissident magazine, confiscated Thursday in Havana. After his release, Hernandez... Continue reading
[1]Ángel Santiesteban-Prats was and is the victim of Cuban State Security, which wants to silence his voice of opposition.They fabricated a judicial action based on false denunciations from the mother of his son, who properly denied them when he announced internationally that he had been forced by his mother and the political police to declare against his own father.Angel’s innocence has been shown with more than enough proof, and all good Cubans (and others) know it. Before the impotence of puppet justice to “prove” these denunciations, in spite of the fact that international law doesn’t consider one element of the accusation valid, they justified a sentence of five years on the report of a calligraphy expert: “guilty by the height and inclination of his handwriting.”Some secret accords between the administration of President Obama and the dictatorship of Raul Castro, encouraged by his Holiness Pope Francis I (knowing the “Santiesteban” case, since he has received many letters and faxes), have effected the renewal of diplomatic relations between both countries. As a gesture of “good will,” the dictator freed 53 political prisoners, of whom 14 were already released, demonstrating once again how Castro ridicules the whole world, including those who favor treating him in a way he doesn’t deserve.[2]Shamefully, Angel Santiesteban-Prats wasn’t included on that list [of prisoners to be released]. Obama, as well as the “human rights” organizations that composed the list, know very well that the dictatorship’s most effective method is to condemn the opposition for common crimes that are invented in order to take support away from them and in order to deprive them of the possible benefit of amnesty.Nor can those who composed the list of “approved” political prisoners justify the Machiavellian maneuver of the “legal bureaucracy” (not being “bureaucratically” political prisoners, they can’t be on that list, although the trap perpetuated against them has been made public).The fact is undeniable: They ignore and exclude those “common prisoners” condemned because of their opposition and moreover are responsible for the injustice they committed with Angel’s exclusion.It’s worth remembering once more that Angel Santiesteban-Prats must be the only common prisoner on the island who was offered freedom in exchange for abandoning his political posture, many times. Each time he refused.Angel not only remained off this list because he is — according to the dictatorship, the Pope, President Obama, and the intervening human rights organizations — a “common delinquent,” they also laid another legal trap, delaying for more than a year the “benefit” of a review of the ridiculous judgment.This “review,” approved but not yet carried out, left Angel outside any possibility of enjoying his rights as a prisoner, among them conditional liberty, which he should get in April, upon fulfilling half of his sentence. The explanation is again a bureaucratic one: While there are pending “matters” with justice, there is nothing conditional; now Angel has a pending review that will never happen.[3] The ones guilty of this situation are Raul Castro and his always-and-never-dead brother, Fidel. But by the same measure, so are all those compatriots who call themselves “activists” and “dissidents,” who know that Angel IS NOT a common prisoner but a prisoner of conscience. They left him alone and excluded him from the list. You have to ask yourself how many more of those “common prisoners” have also been forgotten when that list was drawn up.Any honest and decent agreement must include the demand (no one demanded anything from the dictatorship) of immediate and unconditional freedom for ALL Cuban political prisoners. Angel Santiesteban-Prats has always expressed this demand in his writings from prison.From here on, and condemning the silence and the complicity of everyone involved in these agreements, WE DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE, UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS. The rest, as the people of Cuba say, is mere jabbering, cheap politicking.The Editor Translated by Regina Anavy15 January 2015[1] https://blogloshijosquenadiequiso.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/razones-de-cuba-declara-enemigo-a-angel-santiesteban.jpg [2] https://blogloshijosquenadiequiso.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/detencic3b3n17.png [3] https://blogloshijosquenadiequiso.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/persecucic3b3n-a-angel-santiesteban-15-de-diciembre-2012-f.jpg Continue reading