By Alberto de la Cruz
Alfredo Álvarez Leyva, a prisoner of conscience on a hunger strike and who is being held in the El Tipico Nuevo prison in the Las Tunas province of Cuba has sewn his mouth shut in protest.The political prisoner is demanding the respect of human rights and adequate nutrition for the prisoners being held by the Cuban dictatorship.
Cuban independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista has reported to Radio Marti that there are 56 prisoners in the penitentiary suffering from severe malnutrition and many more that have not been reported suffering illnesses from malnutrition and the lack of medicine.
(Source: Babalu Blog.)
By Alberto de la Cruz
Miguel Sigler Amaya, brother of Ariel Sigler Amaya, is informing that Guido, the brother still imprisoned in Cuba as a prisoner of conscience, has been placed among common criminals. Guido has received threats and his belongings have been stolen by other prisoners. This is a common tactic used by the regime whereby common prisoners are rewarded for attacking and harassing political prisoners.
This development comes on the heels of Guido receiving a phone call from Cardinal Jaime Ortega pleading with him to accept the regime's offer of forced exile in Spain. Guido informed the Cardinal that he would not accept forced exile in Spain as a condition to his release. He told him that if and when the dictatorship releases him, he will decide as a free man in his home whether or not to remain in Cuba, and only he would decide where he would go if he chose to leave.
Miguel Sigler Amaya states that Guido's transfer to an area of the prison with common criminals and the subsequent threats and theft of his personal belongings is an obvious attempt by the regime to persuade him to accept the Cardinal's offer. Miguel expressed disgust that the Archbishop of Cuba has lent himself to partake in this vile attempt by the regime to persuade his brother through threats of bodily harm to accept banishment and forced exile as a condition to his release.
(Source: Babalu Blog.).
A half-dozen more Cuban political prisoners will soon be released, according to the Catholic Church.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Cuba's Catholic Church on Tuesday said six more political prisoners will be freed and go to Spain, but concern was growing over the fate of 10 others who want to stay and the fresh arrests of eight dissidents.
The church identified the six as Víctor Arroyo, 57, serving a 26-year sentence; Alexis Rodríguez, 40, serving 15 years; Leonel Grave de Peralta, 34, serving 20 years; Alfredo Domínguez, 48, serving 14; Próspero Gainza, 53, serving 25; and Claro Sánchez, 56, serving 15.
An additional 26 already have been released and gone to Spain under an unprecedented agreement between the government and Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega to free at least 52 political prisoners by the end of October.
The 52 were the last still in jail from a group of 75 rounded up in a 2003 crackdown. One wheelchair-using prisoner, Ariel Sigler Amaya, was freed and came to Miami for medical treatment.
But the government has remained silent on the 10 prisoners vowing to stay in Cuba if freed, said Berta Soler, spokeswoman for the Ladies in White, relatives of the 75. Her husband is serving a 20-year sentence.
Soler said some of the women met with Ortega last week and asked about the 10 as well as the two dozen among the 75 who were previously paroled for health reasons but technically remain under penal sanction.
``The government is aware of our questions, but gives no answers,'' she said by phone from Havana.
Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez said he suspects the government will keep the 10 in jail until the end of the process, hoping the extra prison time will make them change their minds.
``It shows the government's bad faith,'' he said.
Sánchez said he's also concerned about the eight dissidents detained this month and still in jail, a shift from the usual government tactic of briefly detaining critics. Only a few dissidents were brought to trial last year, he noted.
Brothers Nestor and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, Enyor Diaz Allen, Francisco Manzanet Ortiz and Roberto Gonzáles Pelegrín were arrested Aug. 12 during a public protest in Cuba's easternmost town of Baracoa. They are under investigation for charges of public disorder.
Manzanet and González went on hunger strikes the day of their arrest and are now in a hospital in nearby Guantánamo, the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate said Tuesday. The Lobaina brothers joined the hunger strike Aug. 20 and remain in a Guantánamo jail.
Three other dissidents -- Michel Irois Rodríguez, Luis Enrique Labrador and Eduardo Pérez Flores -- have been held since Aug. 16, when they read an anti-government declaration from the steps of the University of Havana. Sanchez said he has received reports the three also have declared hunger strikes and could be charged with contempt.
South Florida Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Tuesday demanded the immediate release of the three, saying they ``face the risk of long prison sentences.''
(Source: The Miami Herald.)
We will update with more details as soon as we receive them.
MADRID — Two more political prisoners from Cuba arrived in Spain on Thursday, where they accused the island's communist government of harassing the mother of a dissident who died in a hunger strike.
The two -- Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, 44, and Fabio Prieto Llorente, 47, both journalists -- arrived on separate flights accompanied by a total of 16 relatives, an AFP photographer at the airport said.
Twenty Cuban dissidents arrived in Spain last month and three more on Tuesday following their release by Havana.
One more, 61-year-old journalist Juan Adolfo Fernandez, is expected on Friday.
In a deal struck between the Roman Catholic Church and the government of President Raul Castro that was brokered by Spain, Cuba agreed to free 52 of 75 dissidents sentenced in 2003 to prison terms of up to 28 years.
The releases came after dissident hunger striker Guillermo Farinas nearly starved to death in Cuba.
Another political prisoner, Orlando Zapata, died in detention on February 23 after 85 days on hunger strike.
Herrera and Acosta charged Castro's regime had been harassing Zapata's mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo, since his death.
"They won't allow her to walk to church [to a cross of Christ the King] to pray for her son," Herrera said.
"That's why we call on the world, the European Union, and the community of democratic nations to speak out against this outrage, this barbarism."
Tamayo told Spain's Europa Press news agency she had only been able to visit her son's grave four times as security services had prevented her "by force" from leaving her home.
Both the journalists also accused Havana of using the release of dissidents to hide the repression of its opponents.
"No one should hope that the Castros are going to make changes," said Herrera.
"The regime will remain the same, corrupt and military," added Prieto.
He said the release of dissidents was merely aimed "easing international pressure" on the regime.
Cuban dissidents say that even after the release of the 52, another 115 political prisoners will still be languishing behind bars in Cuba.
Mother of dead Cuban prisoner of conscience prevented from attending church
Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling on the Cuban government to allow Reina Luis Tamayo Danger, the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo who died in Cuban prison earlier this year, to attend religious services and to cease their harassment of Tamayo Danger and her family.
Since the beginning of August, on consecutive Sundays, State Security agents and other pro-government members of the community in the town of Banes have physically blocked the road taken by Tamayo Danger on her way to church, preventing her from attending Sunday Mass and visiting the cemetery where her son is buried.
Video footage sent out of Cuba shows a line of men in uniform interlocking arms across a dirt road, standing face to face with a small group of women accompanying Tamayo Danger. The women are part of a larger movement across the island known as the Ladies in White, made up of wives and mothers of prisoners of conscience. A crowd of people chants pro-government slogans and shouts obscenities at the women who stand in front of them, unable to pass.
According to Tamayo Danger, for over five months she and her family have been subjected to acts of intimidation from government officials, including verbal abuse and threats of violence. Her weekly attendance at Mass at the La Caridad Catholic Church has been particularly targeted. She says, however, that the violence and intimidation is no longer confined to Sundays.
Tamayo Danger requested that the international media to come to Banes to cover the situation. CSW is calling on representatives of European embassies in Cuba to go to Banes to investigate these threats and show solidarity with her.
CSW’s National Director Stuart Windsor says, “No one should be subjected to these tactics of intimidation simply because they are attempting to attend a weekly religious service, a right enjoyed by religious believers across Cuba. We are calling on the Cuban government to cease its harassment of Mrs Tamayo Danger immediately and to allow her to attend Mass and visit her son’s grave without hindrance.”
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CSW is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.
Notes to Editors:
1. Orlando Zapata Tamayo was one of 75 prisoners of conscience arrested and imprisoned in March 2003 in a wave of political repression now known as the Black Spring. He went on hunger strike in at the end of 2009 to protest prison conditions. He died in February 2010 after prison officials denied him water for eighteen days, leading to kidney failure, and withheld medical treatment until it was too late. There was an international outcry following his death and he has since become a symbol for dissident groups across the island.
2. Video footage of the events in Banes can be found on Youtube:
The footage in this link is freely available to the public. CSW does not take responsibility for the content provided therein. Any views expressed on the website do not reflect those of CSW of its staff.
By JORGE SAINZ (AP)
MADRID — Three more Cuban political prisoners arrived in Madrid on Tuesday, bringing to 23 the number who have been released into exile under Cuba's pledge to free dissidents jailed there since 2003.
The three were among six dissidents Cuba's Roman Catholic Church said last week would be freed. The other three are due to arrive in Spain in the coming days.
The trio arrived by plane accompanied by some 15 family members and were taken to a hotel on Madrid's outskirts, where they were helped by Spanish Red Cross workers.
Twenty other dissidents were flown to Spain in separate groups last month.
The men are among 75 dissidents arrested in a March 2003 crackdown and sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges that included treason.
In a landmark deal after talks with the church and Spain, Cuba agreed July 7 to release the remaining 52 prisoners still held.
All released so far have agreed to leave Cuba for Spain, with one then settling in Chile.
The three that arrived in Madrid on Tuesday were Marcelo Manuel Cano Rodriguez, Regis Iglesias Ramirez and Efren Fernandez Fernandez.
They were greeted at the hotel by other former Cuban political prisoners who waved Cuban flags, sang the national anthem and made 'L' signs with their hands for the word "liberty."
"I think we have been freed because the (Cuban) regime needs to clean up its image internationally," said Iglesias Ramirez.
The three said recent public appearances by Fidel Castro showed nothing was likely going to change on the island. A health crisis in 2006 forced Castro to cede power to his younger brother Raul — first temporarily, then permanently.
"I don't think anything will change," said Cano Rodriguez. "We have been obliged to leave and we're not any nearer democracy."
"There is no opening up. The regime is just looking to gain time as the brutal repression dissidents continue to suffer in Cuba shows."
Cuba maintains none of the released is a former prisoner of conscience and insists they are all mercenaries paid by Washington and supported by anti-Castro exiles in Miami whose only goal was to discredit the Cuban government.
Spain has said it will give all the former prisoners work and residency permits.
(Source: The Associated Press.)
Amnesty International Calls on Cuban Authorities to End the Harassment of the Mother of Deceased Prisoner of Conscienceposted on Tuesday, August 17, 2010
August 17, 2010
The Cuban authorities must act to end the harassment of the mother of a prisoner of conscience who died following a hunger strike to push for the release of other prisoners, Amnesty International said today.
Reina Luisa Tamayo, whose son Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in February this year, told Amnesty International she has been repeatedly harassed by authorities and government supporters during the regular marches in memory of her son that she carries out in the town of Banes.
"Reina Luisa Tamayo is simply paying tribute to her son who died in tragic circumstances, and that must be respected by the authorities," said Kerrie Howard, Amnesty International's Americas deputy director.
Every Sunday Tamayo, who is usually accompanied by relatives and friends, walks from her home to the church of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, to attend mass and then they march to the cemetery, where Orlando is buried.
On Sunday August 15, government supporters arrived early in the morning and surrounded her house, Tamayo told Amnesty International, preventing her and her relatives and friends from marching and attending mass at the church.
Ahead of the march, Cuban security forces also allegedly detained in their homes some of the women due to attend for up to 48 hours, without any explanation for the measure.
Tamayo told Amnesty International that six loudspeakers were installed near her house and were used to shout slogans against her and the Ladies in White, an organization of female relatives of prisoners of conscience campaigning for their release.
On August 8, Tamayo was confronted by government supporters, who blocked her path and, according to her account, beat relatives and friends of the family. She said a police patrol was parked nearby watching the events, but failed to intervene.
Amnesty International has also expressed its concern at a series of recent detentions by the police of independent journalists and dissidents. "At a time when the Cuban government has begun to release prisoners of conscience, the campaign of harassment against Reina Luisa Tamayo and the arbitrary detention of journalists and dissident figures shows that the authorities are yet to make significant progress on human rights," said Howard.
Writer Luis Felipe Rojas Rozabal was detained by the police at 7 a.m. on August 16, at his home in the town of San Germán, province of Holguín.
Rozabal's family is unaware of the reasons of his arrest, but they have said they suspect this might be related to his criticism of the government. He has been arbitrarily detained on several previous occasions in similar circumstances.
Several members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, a network of political dissident organizations, have also been detained.
Orlando was one of dozens of prisoners of conscience adopted by Amnesty International in Cuba at the time. The majority were among the 75 people arrested as part of the massive March 2003 crackdown by authorities against political activists.
Currently there are at least 30 prisoners of conscience in Cuba's jails. Amnesty International calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
(Source: Amnesty International.)
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the Florida Congressional Delegation, issued the following statement after hearing an audio tape of Sunday’s attack on Reina Luisa Tamayo, mother of deceased political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died at the hands of the Castro regime. For the last couple of Sundays, Reina Luisa Tamayo has been verbally and physically attacked by state sponsored mobs as she tries to visit a local church to pay respects to her deceased son in her hometown of Banes, Holguin.
“The cowardly, brutal, dying and fearful dictatorship of the Castro brothers once again stoops to its usual low. Their latest attacks on Reina Luisa Tamayo, preventing this infirmed 62 year old grieving mother from attending Sunday church, is yet another example of the ruthlessness of the Castro regime.
A mob of hundreds of state sponsored thugs surrounded Reina’s home in Banes this past Sunday morning screaming vulgar and racial slurs against her and the five women and one girl who tried in vain to attend church. This grieving mother is even prevented from visiting her son’s remains in the town cemetery because the regime fears any possible outpouring of support for Cuban patriot Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died while imprisoned in Castro’s jails.
Only in a failed state such as communist Cuba would the regime send State Security and Interior Ministry forces to keep a grieving mother from properly mourning the death of her son. The international community must come to terms with the sad fact that the latest ploy by the regime of releasing political prisoners is just that, a ploy. Nothing has changed in Cuba and nothing will change as long as the Castro brothers and their feared and repressive apparatus are in control. Anyone who has any doubt need only hear or see the images from Reina’s home this past Sunday morning.”
For more information: August 16, 2010
Alex Cruz, Communications Director
Office 305-668-5994 or 202-225-3931
Cellular 202-225-8200 or 202-225-4630
Alberto de la Cruz at Babalublog reports on his phone conversation with Reina Luisa Tamayo. She sent a message to the world:
For the past two Sundays the Cuban government has not allowed me or my family and supporters to attend church or to visit the cemetery where my son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, is buried. The government has sent people to carry out acts of repudiation. They have pushed and shoved us, beaten us. Both my legs have been injured by the physical attacks I have endured. We only want to be able to go to church and to pay our respects at the grave of my son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo. They, however, will not let us.(H/T Capitol Hill Cubans)
For five months my house has been surrounded by state security. The government has ordered people to harass and repress us. They have brought weapons with them -- clubs and knives. These people wait until uniformed security agents are watching to push and beat us with the hopes that it will curry favor for them from the government. They hope by doing the bidding of the Castro brothers, the government will overlook how they steal from their workplaces and trade on the black market. The government will not overlook their actions because it a government of assassins!
We have been beaten along with fellow members of the opposition that have stood next to me. My son has been beaten over the head and his back. But we will not give up, we will not kneel to the Castro brothers.
The news media has done nothing to help us. The Catholic Church has done nothing to help us. Cardinal Jaime Ortega has never tried to contact me and has done nothing to stop the beatings we are receiving for only wanting to to go church and visit the grave of my son.
This Sunday, at 8:30 am, I, along with my family and supporters, will once again leave the house and attempt to go to church and visit my son's grave. Whatever happens to any us, I hold the Cuban government responsible!
MOTHER HARASSED FOR MARCHING FOR DEAD SON
The mother of a Cuban prisoner of conscience who died after hunger striking has been repeatedly harassed and intimidated in an attempt to stop her from organizing marches to commemorate her son's death. The next march is planned for 15 August.
Reina Luisa Tamayo is the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a prisoner of conscience who died on 22 February 2010, having spent several weeks on hunger strike whilst in prison. Since her son’s death, Reina Luisa Tamayo has organized weekly marches on Sundays in the town of Barnes, Holguin Province, Cuba, to honour her son's memory.
Relatives and friends accompany Reina Luisa Tamayo on these weekly marches from her home to attend mass at the Nuestra Señora de la Caridad Church, in Barnes and from there to the cemetery where Orlando Zapata Tamayo is buried. Last Sunday, 8 August, the group reported that as soon as they tried to leave Reina Luisa Tamayo’s house to start their march, they were confronted a few metres away from the house by hundreds of government supporters who blocked their way and beat some of the participants. They were pushed back to the house and followed into the house’s garden. The participants tried twice more to leave the house and resume the march but they were again violently confronted by the government supporters, who stayed outside the house until late in the afternoon. According to Reina Luisa Tamayo, during all this time a police patrol was close to her house watching as the events unfolded and failing to intervene.
The group have reported how prior to 8 August, they have also been confronted by government supporters and state security officials who have gathered around Reina Luisa Tamayo's house and prevented them from marching, sometimes preventing them from reaching the church, the cemetery, or both. They have also reported how state security officials and police officers have set up check points on the routes to Reina Luisa Tamayo’s house on the day prior to the march to prevent people from reaching the house and joining the march.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Spanish or your own language:
Calling on the authorities to ensure an immediate halt to the harassment and intimidation of Reina Luisa Tamayo by government supporters, and that of her relatives and friends and any other citizens who seek to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association;
Calling on the authorities to permit Reina Luisa Tamayo and others to march peacefully as is their right on Sundays.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 22 SEPTEMBER 2010 TO:
Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz Presidente
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Foreign Ministry); +1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: email@example.com (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
+1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
MOTHER HARASSED FOR MARCHING FOR DEAD SON
Reina Luisa Tamayo is one of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), a group of women relatives and friends of prisoners detained during a major crackdown on government critics in March 2003. In 2003, over several days, the Cuban authorities arrested 75 men and women for their peaceful expression of critical opinions of the government. They were subjected to summary trials and were sentenced to long prison terms of up to 28 years. Amnesty International declared the 75 convicted dissidents to be prisoners of conscience, 32 of them remain in prison.
Damas de Blanco organizes peaceful weekly marches in Havana where they distribute flowers and call for the release of their relatives and friends. In March 2010 Damas de Blanco organized a daily march for a week to mark the seventh anniversary of the arrest of their relatives. On 17 of March 2010, their march was forcibly broken up by Cuban police, who briefly detained several women. Some of the women claimed that they were beaten by the police.
UA: 174/10 Index: AMR 25/012/2010 Issue Date: 11 August 2010
(Source: Amnesty International).
The town of Banes, on the north coast of eastern Cuba, is best known as where Fidel and Raúl Castro were spawned. Before that, it was also Fulgencio Batista's hometown.More, here, at this link.
Some of that ignominy has been washed away in recent months as a current resident, Reina Luisa Tamayo, has courageously carried on the legacy left by her son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a political prisoner who died Feb. 23 after an 86-day hunger strike.
Señora Tamayo and supporters, like their fellow Ladies In White in Havana, march each Sunday on behalf of Cuba's political prisoners, from Mass at a local church to Orlando Zapata's grave site.
And almost every Sunday, goons unleashed by Banes' bastard sons, the Castro brothers, swarm around Señora Tamayo and her supporters, tossing threats and insults and throwing punches and kicks. The greater their fear of this old woman and her friends, the louder and more dangerous they get.
Reina Luisa Tamayo, however, has remained undaunted, her undying love for her son driving her as she becomes one of the inspirational figures of the Cuban opposition.
It happened again today, as security forces and "common" prisoners brought to the scene by the authorities surrounded Tamayo's house, on the Embarcadero highway in Banes.
"They were punching us from behind, hitting and kicking us," Tamayo told Radio Martí. "My son took a tremendous blow to the head."
Tamayo called on the international community to intervene on her behalf, because "there are going to be very many dead on the Embarcadero highway."
Below, pictures of the military presence around her house.
These pictures were taken with a mobile phone on 1 August, brought to La Habana by Reina Luisa and later distributed by Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez.
Dear Sir or Madam:
Every Sunday, we receive, mostly through phone interviews broadcast by the US-based Radio Martí, the same report from Reina Luisa describing how she is beaten, insulted and how [the government directed mob] prevents her from going to the town’s church to pray for her son and the health of all Cuban political prisoners still in jail. The repressive organs of the Cuban regime also impede her to visit her son’s tomb.
It is surprising to us that despite the wide coverage dedicated to Cuban topics, your organization has not reported on this. We know of the limitations to movement within Cuba, but we also understand that any foreign reporter has the means and resources to travel to the Eastern part of the island and give an eyewitness report of what happens there, in front of Reina Luisa Tamayo’s home.
We do not wish to tell the media what they should do, but to share with you our concern for the life of a woman who has lost her son in unjust circumstances and is clamoring for the world’s help to avoid more deaths.
We, the promoters of the #OZT: I accuse the Cuban government Campaign that demands the unconditional and immediate release of all peaceful political prisoners in Cuba and the respect of all Cubans’ human rights; write to you because we know that the international press in Cuba not only bears witness to what happens there, but can also help prevent and stop harassment incidents like those suffered by the Ladies in White in March of this year.
We would also like to know if there is any kind of legal hindrance or of any other sort that prevents your reporter in La Habana from traveling to other regions of Cuba.
We thank you in advance for your reply.
#OZT: I accuse the Cuban government Campaign
Human Rights Cuba reports:
On the 16th anniversary of the Maleconazo, a large scale protest that took place in Havana in 1994 due to public discontent over food shortages and energy blackouts, Cuba’s repressive forces conducted a massive arrest of human rights activists and independent journalists.
The arrested were detained, beaten, interrogated and later released. This took place yesterday near the U.S. Interests Section building on Cuba’s waterfront known as the Malecon. Among the arrested were human rights activists who wanted to peacefully mark the anniversary and independent journalists who were trying to enter the building to use the internet on their scheduled appointment day and time.
Those arrested were:
- Alfredo Guilleuma “El Viejo Alfredo”, an elderly Human Rights Activist
- Carmelo Rodríguez Rodríguez, Human Rights Activist and member of the Movimiento Línea Dura “Orlando Zapata Tamayo”
- Daniel Anselmo Gonzalez, Independent Journalist and Vice President of the Comision for Assistance to Political Prisoners and their Families (CAPPF)
- Ernesto Rodríguez López, Human Rights Activist
- Enrique Labrada, Human Rights Activist
- Hector Julio Cesar Cedeño, Blogger and Independent Journalist
- Heriberto Liranza Romero, Human Rights Activist and member of the Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia
- Hermogenes Inocencio Guerrero, Human Rights Activist and Vice President of Naturpaz
- Hidelbrando Chaviano, Blogger and Independent Journalist
- Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, President of the Movimiento Línea Dura “Orlando Zapata Tamayo”
- Joel Lázaro Carbonell, Blogger and Independent Journalist and President of the Organización de Derechos Humanos Cubanos Libres
- Jose Alberto Alvarez Bravo, Blogger and Independent Journalist
- Juan Carlos Basallo Fregio, Human Rights Activist and member of the Partido Liberal de la República de Cuba
- Juan Mario Rodríguez, Human Rights Activist
- Julio Antonio Rojas Portal, Blogger and Independent Journalist
- Omar Lafita Rojas, Independent Journalist and Attorney
- Roby Gonzalez Torres, Independent Journalist and member of the Comision for Assistance to Political Prisoners and their Families (CAPPF)
- Ruben Carty Lowe, Blogger and Independent Journalist who is the Director of Centro Informativo Cubano
- Silvio Benítez Márquez, Independent Journalist and President of the Partido Liberal de la República de Cuba
Other activists were also detained and arrested whose names were not available at the time this information was reported.
(H/T Marc Masferrer)
Video from Al-Jazeera:
This has been my favorite emblem, starting one day when I believed to have found images alone lacking. Many things have happened since, and I was suspicious of images and had understood, as the creator of that emblem, I think understood that only through the union of image and text could there be a construct that spelled out a truth and included a picture.
One day, Orlando Zapata dies. I search for his image, and found it, but it is a photograph of very poor quality. Therefore, although I had an idea of what his face looked like, it was always in an abstract, blurry manner. This photographic document is also an identification one. The photo seems to have been taken from a [Cuban] identification booklet. I felt crushed when I realized this because this image is not a memory. It is simply an instrument of control, a way to be identified, but by the police.
Apparently, Orlando did not have many photographs. There are two others on the internet, but they are also of low resolution. Paradoxically, it is this image, the one taken to excise control over him, that in some way has become an emblem of his liberty, or more accurately, of Liberty.
Later, I decided to create “Némesis”, a performance piece that consists of projecting that very same photograph on the facades of buildings that shelter representatives of the [Cuban] dictatorship. One of the difficulties I found during the performance was precisely the bad quality of the image, mostly to project it from a certain distance and still keep Zapata’s face recognizable. I think that in some way, and not without some difficulty, this was finally achieved.
A few days ago, (still unsatisfied with this image) I decided to use it as a model, and try to paint a portrait. It was not an easy task because it lacks detail, volume, etc. I had to imagine many things about this face. Today, I have finished the emblem: the portrait is the image; Orlando Zapata is its text.
All who so wish can use this image-emblem. It is my gift to all who desire Liberty for Cuba.
The “#OZT: I Accuse the Cuban Government” campaign asks Raul Castro to abandon his lying and petty outdated rhetoric against the peaceful oppositionposted on Wednesday, August 04, 2010
August 4th, 2010 - The “#OZT: I Accuse the Cuban Government” campaign, which has gathered more than 52 thousands signatures worldwide demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all Cuban political prisoners, laments that Castro regime has lost again an opportunity to show its will to change in order to respect the individual freedoms of all Cubans. The recent declarations of Raul Castro, in which he assures that “there will be no impunity” for the “counterrevolutionaries,” whom he brands “enemies of the motherland” is the evident proof that nothing has changed in Cuba with the announcement of the release from prison of 52 peaceful dissidents, of which 32 still remain behind bars while the other 20 have been automatically deported to Spain.
The language used by Castro to refer to these people, who have not committed any other crime than dissenting peacefully of the status quo, shows that there’s not even a hint of a will on the side of the regime to amend a modus operandi that has violated systematically the fundamental rights of all Cubans for more than fifty years.
The “#OZT: I Accuse the Cuban Government” considers scandalous the statement of Raul Castro in which he considers “sacred” the alleged achievements of the regime and in which ha affirms that the defense “of streets and squares” will continue because “it will continue to be the duty of the revolutionaries, and we cannot deprive them of that right.” We consider that these statements are only meant to justify the reproachable “acts of repudiation” and the daily abuse inflicted upon all who don’t share the opinion that the regime pretends to impose on them. This campaign considers that for the process of release of political prisoner to be believable, the Castro regime must abandon its lying and petty outdated rhetoric against the peaceful opposition.
This campaign insists on its demand to the regime to release immediately and unconditionally all Cuban political prisoners, without imposing deportation as the condition to their release. We also insist on reminding democratic governments and NGOs throughout the world to not validate a false and deceitful process of releasing political prisoners, designed to diminish the pressure on the Cuban dictatorship, and that does not guarantee the respect of all human rights for the Cuba population inside and outside of the island.
Castro forces dissidents to accept exile as the price of release from his dungeons.
The announcement last month that Cuba would exile 52 political prisoners currently in jail was supposed to help repair the regime’s international image in the wake of the death of Orlando Zapata.
It’s not working. The 21 who have already arrived in Spain are speaking out about the hell hole run by Castro that is Cuba. And at least 10 are refusing to leave the country. Zapata lives.
In December 2009, Zapata, who had been rotting in a rat-infested prison cell and repeatedly tortured for almost seven years, launched a hunger strike on behalf of Cuba’s prisoners of conscience. He was protesting the unjust incarceration of nonviolent dissidents and the cruelty inside the dungeons. The regime desperately tried to break him, even refusing him water for a time. This led to kidney failure and his death on Feb. 23.
Zapata’s passing sparked international outrage, and on July 7 the regime yielded to the pressure. It agreed to release the independent journalists, writers and democracy advocates who had been jailed during the 2003 crackdown on dissent, known as the Black Spring.
Yet only the naïve could read Castro’s forced acquiescence as a break with tyranny. It is instead a cynical ploy to clean the face of a dictatorship. It is also an effort to reclaim respectability for the world’s pro-Castro politicians, including Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos. No one understands this better than the former prisoners.
Those sent to Spain have not hidden their joy about getting out of Cuban jails. “There are no words to fairly describe how amazed and excited I was when I saw myself free and next to my wife and daughter again,” Normando Hernández González told the Committee to Protect Journalists in a telephone interview. But Mr. Hernández, an independent journalist, hasn’t minced words about Cuban repression either.
In a telephone interview with Miami’s Radio Republica, he talked about his “indescribable” time in jail. “It’s crime upon crime, the deep hatred of the Castro regime toward everyone who peacefully dissents. It is a unique life experience that I do not wish upon my worst enemy.”
The regime tried to spruce up the former prisoners by dressing them in neatly pressed trousers, white shirts and ties. But they brought tales of horror to Spain. Ariel Sigler, a labor organizer who went into prison seven years ago a healthy man but is now confined to a wheel chair, arrived in Miami on Wednesday.
These graphic reminders of Castro’s twisted mind have been bad for Mr. Moratinos’s wider agenda, which is to use the release of the prisoners to convince the European Union to abandon its “common position” on Cuba. Adopted in 1996, it says that the EU seeks “in its relations with Cuba” to “encourage a process of transition to pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as a sustainable recovery and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people.” Mr. Moratinos’s desire to help Fidel end the common position is a source of anger among Cuban dissidents.
The former prisoners also resent their exile, after, as Mr. Hernández puts it, “being kidnapped for seven years.” He explained to Radio Republica: “The more logical outcome would be, ‘Yes, you are freeing me. Free me to my home. Free me so I won’t be apart from my sister, from my family, from my people, from my neighbors.’” Instead he says he was “practically forced” to go to Spain in exchange for getting out of jail, and to get health care for his daughter and himself.
Cuba’s horrendous prison conditions are no secret. In his chilling memoir “Against All Hope” (1986, 2001), Armando Valladares cataloged the brutality he experienced first hand as a prisoner of conscience for 22 years. A steady stream of exiles have echoed his claims. But another bit of cruelty is less well understood: For a half century the regime has let political prisoners out of jail only if they sign a paper saying they have been “rehabilitated” or, when the regime is under pressure, if they agree to leave the island. Getting rid of the strong-willed, while being patted on the back for their “release,” has been Castro’s win-win.
Now some prisoners are refusing to deal. Ten of the 52, including Óscar Elías Biscet, famous for his pacifism, say they will not accept exile as a condition of release. These brave souls remain locked up.
Of course, if they are released and allowed to stay home, the same “crimes” that landed them in prison are likely to do so again. A particular hazard for dissidents is Article 72 of the Orwellian Cuban criminal code, which says that “any person shall be deemed dangerous” if he has “shown a proclivity to commit crimes demonstrated by conduct that is in manifest contradiction with the norms of socialist morality.”
Cuban dissidents claim there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of prisoners locked up for “dangerousness,” “contempt” and other crimes of dissent. No one knows for sure. But shipping a few dozen out of the country doesn’t qualify as a step toward civilized government. The memory of Zapata demands much more.
Mary Anastasia O'Grady, The Wall Street Journal
H/T: Penúltimos Días