Prisoners Defenders updates its list of political prisoners as of May 4, 2020
- From the 134 convicts present on our list, (see list) this April, and to date, there have been 8 new Convicts of Conscience, a monthly figure that we did not see in many years. These are Yampiel Bernal Ampudia (FANTU), Juan Galbán Hernández (FANTU), Yuselín Ferrera Espinosa (UNPACU), Maikel Herrera Bones (UNPACU), Isáin López Luna (UNPACU), Juan Miguel Pupo Área (MONR), Wilson Quintero Cabrera (UNPACU) and Walfrido Rodríguez Piloto (Movimiento Opositor Justicia).
- José Daniel Ferrer García, Fernando González Vaillant, José Pupo Chaveco y Roilán Zárraga Ferrer, all from UNPACU, were released this April, after passing through an ordeal of solitary confinement and torture that has deserved for more than 6 months the most unanimous international repudiation, but they have been sentenced to various terms of limited freedom regimes under threats to diminish their peaceful pro-democratic activism.
- Jorge Felix de los Reyes Veranes (UNPACU) has fully served his political sentence for the fabricated crime of non-payment of arbitrary fines, and Rafael Puentes Cremé (UNPACU) has also served his sentence for a false crime of contempt. Ayda Expósito Leyva, Christian mother, wife of Pastor Ramón Rigal who is still in prison, also served her sentence and is currently out of prison.
- In the last 8 months, 32 new Convicts of Conscience have entered the list of Prisoners Defenders, but the prison repression carried out this last month breaks up an already unpleasant trend of 3 or 4 new political prisoners per month, confirming a repressive move without precedents that is explained by the weakness of the regime, imposed by State Security and which reports directly to Raúl Castro. This weakness, evident on the other hand, cannot be a cause for complacency as the most repressive scenario of the State of Cuba for many years is taking place at the moment, and this repression aims to neutralize any scenario of changes on the island, at which time it is necessary to apply ourselves much more if possible than before, in order to, on the one hand, put pressure on the repressors and reduce their aggression’s intensity and, on the other hand, send messages among the population and the State officials that empower those who confront or do not agree with these actions of the State Security.
- 30 journalists and civil society actors, based on the information provided to Prisoners Defenders by the Cuban Center for Human Rights in its reports from January to April, and by our own and third-party sources, have been persecuted and punished since January, culminating, only in this month, with more than 10 cases, based on the recent Decree Law 370 “ON THE COMPUTERIZATION OF SOCIETY IN CUBA”, with the sole purpose of controlling public information that, over the regime and its actions, is distributed by social networks in a way already limited by the single telecommunications monopoly ETECSA. The very possible entry into prison of not a few of these arbitrarily fined, pursuant to art. 170.1 of the Penal Code, is the basis of the threat that hangs against them, and not so much the fines themselves. Proof of this is that 7 other condemned and convicted of conscience are already on our list for this precept of non-payment of fines that are previously conveniently imposed arbitrarily and outside the reach of the economy of an average Cuban, including Edilberto Ronald Arzuaga Alcalá, prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, in what constitutes a perfectly systematized pattern of the regime to imprison opponents, dissidents and alternative voices for simple arbitrary fines.
- All the indicators point out that the increase in the repression of the “regime” is due to an ideological weakening of the implanted system and an evident lack of social support, aggravated by a situation of health crisis that increases the risk of the regime’s rupture and generates, therefore, the preventive repressive reaction of those who do not want to move the system towards the Rule of Law. Commitment to defending that future transition to the rule of law is now more important and necessary than ever before, but it also carries greater repressive risks that need to be forewarned and alerted, and which will require more work to counter respond.
- This past month Prisoners Defenders joined a widespread initiative of independent opinion in Cuba by which it was demanded the release of more than 100 political prisoners and more than 8,400 prisoners without crime (pre-criminal convictions, matter further explained in section 2 of this report).
1. Recognized political prisoners in opposition to the Castro regime: May 4, 2020
We recognize in CPD, as of May 4, 2020, 134 political convicts and condemned by opposition to the regime but, in addition, other 11,000 civilians not belonging to opposition organizations, 8,400 of them convicted and 2,538 condemned, as of December 31, 2019, with average sentences of 2 years and 10 months, for charges referred to in the Criminal Code as “pre-criminal”, that is, without any crime, which we discuss in section 2 of this press release. It is unknown whether some of the more than 6,000 released by the regime this April, allegedly due to Covid-19, belong to that group of prisoners without crime.
The 134 political convicts among opposition organizations are divided into Convicts of Conscience, Condemned of Conscience and Political Prisoners of other categories. The classification of these is as follows:
75 Convicts of Conscience
These are prisoners deprived of liberty solely for reasons of conscience, with accusations either completely and proven false or fabricated, or of a non-criminal nature and absolutely of thought. 7 of them have been named Prisoners of Conscience by Amnesty International in the last seven months. They are Josiel Guía Piloto (PRC), Mitsael Díaz Paseiro (FNRC-OZT), Silverio Portal Contreras (previously linked to various organizations but now independent), Edilberto Ronal Arzuaga Alcalá (UNPACU), Eliécer Bandera Barreras (UNPACU), Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces (lawyer and independent journalist) and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (artist from the San Isidro Movement). For Roberto Quiñones, Josiel Guía Piloto, Marbel Mendoza Reyes and Iván Amaro HIdalgo, in addition, the United Nations has highlighted the arbitrariness of their arrests in reports dated November 15, 2019 the first, and February 11, 2020 the second, indicating the need for their release and the cessation of the persecution to which independent journalists and human rights defenders in Cuba are subjected, as well as the dependence of the legal profession and judicial processes to the executive power, as well as multiple mechanisms designed to prevent alternative expression (See UN report on Roberto Quiñones and see UN Report on Josiel Pilot Guide, Iván Amaro Hidalgo and Marbel Mendoza Reyes). Finally, indicate that among those convicted of conscience are 4 inmates for whom the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has granted Precautionary Measures of International Protection: Iván Amaro Hidalgo, Josiel Guía Piloto, Jesús Alfredo Pérez Rivas and Edilberto Ronal Arzuaga Alcalá.
Among the additions to the list of Convicts of Conscience this April, Yampiel Bernal Ampudia (FANTU) and Juan Galbán Hernández (FANTU), were arrested on April 13, accused and summarily convicted of a false crime of contempt, and already weighs on them a sentence of 10 months and one year, respectively, of deprivation of liberty. Everything was caused by a fortuitous dialectic conversation about the situation in Cuba with a Lieutenant Colonel who works as a Criminal Instructor and who was unable to adequately counter-argue the defense of the country’s government management. Instead of continuing the dialogue or leaving the conversation, the aforementioned officer stopped the dialectic and called for their arrest. A political discussion in Cuba unleashes the repression of those who have no counter-arguments or trust that the population can listen to the counter-arguments and feel attraction to similar opinions to those who express dissent.
Yuselín Ferrera Espinosa (UNPACU), has been accused of a false crime of attack with a pending trial, in provisional detention in Aguadores, Santiago de Cuba, since this month.
Maikel Herrera Bones (UNPACU) this April was fined for a political neighborhood discussion in which he blamed the regime for the constant power outages, when a neighbor dressed in civilian clothes was present, who was a police officer, but who does not exercise because he was sanctioned for having caused civilian deaths. Again, to avoid any dialectic, current or future, Maikel was fined, subsequently arrested on April 16, and is currently in provisional confinement charged of the non-existent crime of Attempt, incompatible with the situation and verified reliably by the many eyewitnesses.
Isáin López Luna (UNPACU) is awaiting trial in the Valle Grande prison. He was arrested on April 10 at around 9:00 am when he was conducting a peaceful protest in front of his home. The activist denounced the harassment to which he was being subjected by the head of the police sector in his area in retaliation for his work as a political opponent.
Juan Miguel Pupo Área (MONR), while working as a vendor of food and vegetables, being an activist that was already watched by the political police, was arrested and accused of a false crime of epidemic spreading. He was later sentenced to six months of deprivation of liberty in a closed-door trial and without due process guarantees. He was beaten, abused, and outraged, according to his relatives. The trigger was that he got down his facial mask to light a cigar. He was taken to the police station, and within the police station this new false charge of an Attempt appeared, of which there is no narrative in one sense or another, it simply did not take place. Being a human rights activist, therefore, a false crime of epidemic spreading was insufficient. The cause of the Attempt is pending of trial.
Wilson Quintero Cabrera (UNPACU) was arrested on April 2 for a false contempt he was accused back in 2019. He appealed unsuccessfully and entered prison this April to serve an 8-month sentence of forced labor with internment.
Walfrido Rodríguez Piloto (Movimiento Opositor Justicia) has entered prison as a consequence of the accusation for a false crime of speculation and hoarding, a nature of crime that is also not understood for a human rights activist who hardly receives the income to subsist and feed himself.
José Daniel Ferrer García, Fernando González Vaillant, José Pupo Chaveco and Roilán Zárraga Ferrer were released this April, after spending dozens of days disappeared, tortured and after having been the target of a smear campaign on television, radio and the national press, and finally a trial riddled with irregularities, only with the purpose of dismantling the activism of José Daniel Ferrer and the UNPACU, creating a grotesque arrest that gave rise to the international support of the activist, the most unanimous that has been remembered for years in Cuba. First the NGO’s and the Secretary General of the OAS, D. Luis Almagro, later the UN, immediately the European Union, and in parallel governments around the world, and politicians of all tendencies, such as Joe Biden or the current administration of Donald Trump, as well as newspapers in all languages, the clamor for the detestable action of the Cuban government to stop the dissent of a notable personality, defender of human rights, was universal. It is regrettable that the same demand is not exercised with the same firmness for each of the 134 condemned and convicted for political reasons and conscience, and it wrongly seems that the release of the most notorious human rights activist in Cuba would have solved anything. A brutal and gruesome battle has been fought for those who suffered it with an unexpectedly positive ending, but many others are lost if we think that we have already come to glimpse a way out of the chaotic situation of human rights in Cuba. Each step to climb the road to democracy requires equal or more concentration and effort than the previous one, and in Cuba everything remains to be worked yet. At Prisoners Defenders we are happy to receive the communications of José Daniel Ferrer and his colleagues as a significant sign of hope, not in terms of regime changes, but in terms of its eventual weakness, which is always an engine of change that encourages pro-democratic activism in a country where any change is easily seen as more hopeful than its present and historical reality, in more than 60 years of destruction of liberties, spiritual development and social welfare.
Rafael Puentes Cremé (UNPACU) was released after the complete fulfillment of his sentence for a false crime of contempt.
Jorge Felix de los Reyes Veranes (UNPACU) was released this April when he served his 1-year sentence for non-payment of fines. An important repressive weapon, is the ability to impose arbitrary and abusive fines outside the reach of the economy of any Cuban and later, by article 170.1 of the Penal Code they go on to drive, after the obvious non-payment either due to insolvency or for not accepting to pay the price of the threat to prison, to penalties of deprivation of liberty. This sanctioning weapon is now being exercised by the government of Cuba in a massive, generalized way, through Decree Law 370, article 68, subsection i:
“disseminate, through public data transmission networks, information contrary to social interest, morality, good habits, and the integrity of the people”,Decree Law 370, article 68, subsection i
This is exercised against activists and, particularly, independent journalists.
In the sanctioning praxis, there is no process to determine the “social interest” and its damage, given that in Cuba the debate and criticism of public policies is considered contrary to the “social interest” if they are not articulated under the absolute control of the State, which dissipates its constructive effectiveness and the diversity of opinion. The qualification of “morality” and “good habits” (which at most have the implicit mono-ideological meaning of the Communist Party of Cuba) is also indefinite. Equally ambiguous and dangerous is the broad concept of “integrity of persons”, not distinguishing between the integrity of their personal and private sphere, or the sphere that is developed based on their decisions, positions and statements in a certain public performance that can be the subject of diverse opinion, and could be subject to great and excessive praise, as well as great and excessive criticism, both compatible with freedom of expression if they do not cross the exclusive, intimate, personal terrain of said leaders.
These precepts, ambiguous and arbitrary in their use, remind us of the most retrograde arsenal of accusations against the freedom of expression of certain anti-regime thinkers and activists during the dictatorship of General Franco in Spain, but also the censorship prevailing in dictatorial regimes like it, with the aggravating factor in Cuba of being a systematic that threatens to put them in prison.
30 Condemned of Conscience
These suffer forced domiciliary work, measures of limitation of freedom or parole under threats and, in addition, the State usually revokes and reinserts them in prison if the activist does not cease in his pro-democratic activity. Those present on this list are, therefore, highly threatened and in the process of conviction again any time because of their manifestation of conscience or their activism. Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was a clear example of this during the month of March and Lázaro Rodríguez Betancourt in past months, among many other cases.
José Daniel Ferrer García, Fernando González Vaillant, José Pupo Chaveco and Roilán Zárraga Ferrer have moved from our list of Convicts of Conscience to that of Condemned of Conscience as they are not incarcerated in prison but weigh on them extensive and irregular sentences of deprivation of liberty subsidized by limitation of liberty, a house sentence that represents a very strong threat to return to prison again, and which is intended to severely curtail their lives and their pro-democratic activism.
Ayda Expósito Leyva, a Christian mother, wife of Pastor Ramón Rigal, who is still in prison, was also in prison for homeschooling her children to mitigate the indoctrination of Castro schools, and later received alternative house measures for his condemnation. Currently, she has obtained measures of grace for attending socialist reeducation in prison (which has necessarily been unpleasant to speed up the reunion with her children), and she is already free.
The case of José Antonio Torres Fernández, a state journalist who received a sentence for trying to freely exercise his profession, and of whom no opposition activism is known per se, appears on our list of Condemned of Conscience.
29 other political prisoners
These are not in the previous categories, and among which there have been no releases or premature pardons. These are the ones who support the highest sentences and are the prisoners with longer periods of compliance in the prisons of the Cuban regime.
The complete list can be obtained in this link:
2. Proven: 11,000 prisoners of conscience for convictions defined in the Criminal Code as “pre-criminal”
Prisoners Defenders also recognizes 11 thousand people who were at the end of 2019 Condemned or Convicted of Conscience for Pre-Criminal Security Measures, with penalties of 1 to 4 years. Prisoners Defenders released this report on January 13, as well as transmitted the evidentiary documents to media and diplomats. Given the undoubted analysis of experts presented together with the documents, this information had a relevant impact in many countries (New York Times, Telegraph, ABC, Le Point…). As examples, Prisoners Defenders published a representative part of the hundreds of conviction sheets of said inmates (See real examples of said files).
In all of them, it is appreciated that the cases are not personalized, but qualified with exactly the same 3/4 sentences:
“PROVEN THAT THE ACCUSED WAS NOT FOUND LABORALLY LINKED OR BELONGED TO ANY ORGANIZATION OF MASSES [all the mass organizations are the ones subjugated to the Communist Party], IN ADDITION TO MEETING WITH ANTISOCIAL ELEMENTS AND ALTERING THE PUBLIC ORDER [however, there are no criminal offenses or court cases public order put in place,but it is only a police assessment] IN STATE OF INEBRIATION [in all 8,400 cases the phrases are similar, there are only a few models]. HE WAS INFORMED IN MANY OCCASIONS BY HIS HEAD OF SECTOR AND COMMUNITY FACTORS [leaders of the Communist Party organizations] THEREFORE IT IS PROCESSED TO THE MEASURE OF ASSURANCE BY THE MUNICIPAL COURT OF HAVANA CENTER. CONDEMNATION: 3 YEARS OF DEPRIVATION OF FREEDOM”
A simple police report with evaluative aspects, identical for all those convicted and condemned, and are treated in summary judicial proceedings, without any principle of contradiction, and with an inquisitorial form (without the principle of contradiction or the ability to present evidence to the contrary), it’s cause for 11,000 people, without any offense/crime committed, serve sentences of 2 years and 10 months of imprisonment on average.
These measures, up to 4 years in prison, are applied through articles of the Criminal Code that are infamous and violate the most basic principles of justice adopted by the entire International Community and explicitly prohibited in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The regime arbitrarily qualifies, isolates from the community and subsequently criminally condemns innocents by thousands each year, through the use of its Criminal Code:
- “ARTICLE 72. The special proclivity in which a person is found to commit crimes is considered a dangerous state, demonstrated by the behavior observed in manifest contradiction with the norms of socialist morality”
- “ARTICULE 73.2. There are considered in dangerous state those who … disturb the order of the community…”
- “ARTICULE 75. Who, without being included in any of the dangerous states referred to in article 73, for their links or relationships with potentially dangerous persons [those previously described as antisocial] … shall be subject to warning by the competent police authority … reflected in minutes …”
- Condemnation with 1 to 4 years:
- “ARTICULE 76. 1. Security measures may be decreed to prevent the commission of crimes or on the occasion of their commission. In the first case they are called pre-criminal security measures, and in the second, post-criminal security measures”
- “ARTICULE 80. 1. The reeducational measures are: a) internment [prison] … b) delivery to a work group [forced labor] … 2. The reeducational measures are applied to antisocials. 3. The term of these measures is at least one year and a maximum of four.”
The legitimacy for the application of the previous precepts is determined arbitrarily according to the criteria of the judges and without ordinary criminal proceedings with the right to defense, summarily, according to the provisions of the Law of Criminal Procedure of Cuba, in its Article 404 and in its article 415, where it expressly indicates the summary process:
‘’ARTICLE 404. It is the responsibility of the Popular Municipal Courts to know the Pre-criminal Danger Indices and the imposition of security measures established in each case by the substantive Criminal Law. ’’
“ARTICLE 415. The declaration of the index of pre-criminal danger of antisocial conduct is summarily decided …”
Measure as ultra-communist as Nazi and ultra-fascist, and which portrays the Castro regime
We reiterate that this measure, which was introduced in the 1979 Criminal Code, could well be described as ultra-fascist or ultra-communist, but not socialist, since it has its origin in Nazi and fascist laws, textually, of the Hitler and Franco dictators, in addition to the most radical communist legislative measures taken in Spain before the Spanish Civil War. The radical populist movements of the left and the far right tend to converge both in similar and shared methods to establish their power. Regarding both the radical ultra-right and radical ultra-left origin of these measures, it is enough to write down the evidence:
- Pre-criminal convictions for antisocials are inspired by those present in Nazi Germany, paragraph 42 of the Third Reich Criminal Code of 1937, calling offenders volksschädling (antisocial), a categorization that included, among others, prostitutes, homosexuals, beggars, mentally ill people, repeaters of jokes and comments against the Nazis, but especially those they called “lazy.”
- The Cuban law is a copy, textual in terminologies, and exact extracted sentences, to several Spanish laws, such as the “law of lazy people”, “La Gandula”, which was a law of the Spanish Criminal Order of August 4, 1933 approved by the Courts of the Second Republic, signed by Manuel Azaña as President of the Council of Ministers, and which was highly reinforced by the dictator Francisco Franco in 1954 and then in 1970 with the “law on dangerousness and social rehabilitation”, where in all they establish the terms “social dangerousness”, or “security measures”, exact terms and copied in the law of Cuba. The dictator Franco had the initiative to include homosexuals in the law, what Fidel Castro and his little brother Raul did through the Military Units of Production Aid (UMAP).
Previously in Cuba other measures were antecedents of the Criminal Code of 1979. The evolution of the Nazi and fascist copy is evident. In Cuba, before the “law on danger and social rehabilitation” it was taken the ” law of lazy people” as a model to inspire the “Law against laziness”. Later in 1979, they took the terminologies of the “law on dangerousness and social rehabilitation” from the dictator Franco’s legislation.
In addition, the harassment of homosexuals was inspired by Cuba in the initiatives of the dictator Franco. The Military Production Aid Units (UMAP), for example, were labor camps that existed in Cuba between 1965 and 1968. There were about 25,000 men, basically young men of military age who for various reasons refused to do military service mandatory (members of some religions), were rejected in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba or, above all, for their proven or alleged homosexuality “bourgeois”, and they had to be “re-educated” by the revolutionary government.  Simply disgusting. As are the words of Raúl Castro, then minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, in April 1966:
«In the first group of colleagues who have been part of the UMAP were included some young people who had not had the best behavior in life, young people who had taken a wrong path to society because of the bad training and influence of the environment and had been incorporated in order to help them find a successful path that allows them to join society fully» Raúl Castro, April 1966
These words, together with the indescribable suffering of such people in these UMAPs, leave no doubt about the deep sociopathic and fascist personality that Raúl Castro suffered since 1966.
The Law of the Vague, or “Law against laziness”, Law No. 1231 of March 16, 1971 published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba in its ordinary edition of March 26, 1971, was a law similar to the pre-criminal, in fact, was its predecessor, and was established to solve a problem inherent in the legal and labor vacuum created by the dictatorship itself at the beginning. This law was repealed and replaced by the current Criminal Code of Cuba, which includes pre-criminal law, on February 15, 1979.
The Law of Vagrancy, or Law of the Vague, was born because the intervention of all private businesses by the revolution abruptly changed the order of things. The intervening forces came in the name of the “people” to appropriate the business and all its assets. The excuse was that business was left to the “people.” The problem was immediate: who would be responsible for everything to continue to work? Who had the knowledge and commitment to do so with adequate business knowledge and motivation?
Since nobody planned it, the results were catastrophic for productivity. Some of the workers kept jobs, which in number were diminishing day by day given the low productivity, but the owners were immediately unemployed. What would this people do, used to leading projects, that had also been stripped of their work without even having the right to manifest their disagreement? The State’s creative solution was that they had to work for the revolution or else they had to be applied the “Law of the Lazy.” Thus, the former entrepreneurs became defined as “lazy” if they refused to work in favor of the “revolutionary” State.
With coercive measures, therefore, the slavery of Cuban professionals began at the dawn of the “revolution”, slavery that prevails in the Cuban medical missions, but also with all qualified Cuban professionals on and off the island, including the artists who work on behalf of the State.
By this Law against laziness of 1971 thousands of people were forced to perform heavy manual labor that none of them wanted to do. The composition of the group that the authorities considered “lazy” was finally applied to a mass of very heterogeneous people. There were those who, for various reasons, had been unemployed for a long time, such as the aforementioned entrepreneurs. Also affected were some who were caught in transit from one occupation to another, those who were leaving the country, or those who had just finished Compulsory Military Service and had no work location. It was the beginning of the 70s and Cuba already had a massive slavery law in a society that was just 10 years before of an entrepreneurial nature.
Once in the labor camps, the subjects were considered prisoners: anyone who left the place without authorization would be arrested, tried and sentenced to serve up to five years in prison.
The law fundamentally considers laziness as a pre-criminal state and so that state is clearly determined. An interesting study of this Law, and from which we have taken some references, among many other sources, can be read in this link.
About Prisoners Defenders
Prisoners Defenders is an independent group of analysis, study and legal action, which has the collaboration of multiple opposition groups and families, professionals and officials in order to gather information and promote human rights in Cuba.
Cuban Prisoners Defenders is part of the Prisoners Defenders International Network, a legally registered Association based in Madrid, Spain, whose focus of action is the promotion and defense of human rights and democratic values, and whose Internet address is www.prisonersdefenders.org.
The works of Cuban Prisoners Defenders are adopted by numerous institutions and are sent, among others, to the United Nations Organization, Organization of American States, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Civil Rights Defenders. Freedom House, European Parliament, United States Congress and Senate FNCA, ASIC, UNPACU, Government of Spain, Spanish Transition Foundation, International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, FANTU, Party for Democracy Pedro Luis Boitel, College of Pedagogues Independent of Cuba and the Citizen Movement Reflection and Reconciliation, among many other institutions and organizations of equal relevance.
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 Cuba, Fidel Castro, los gays y el legado de “Fresa y chocolate”:
 Homophobia map. Chronology of repression and censorship of homosexuals, transvestites and transsexuals on the Island, from 1962 to date: