July 2020: 5 new political prisoners and two more IACHR’s condemnations to Cuba

Cuban Prisoners Defenders Bars 400

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Cuban Prisoners Defenders Report, August 3, 2020:

PRISONERS DEFENDERS UPDATES ITS LIST OF POLITICAL PRISONERS AS OF AUGUST 3, 2020…

  • From the 132 convicts present on our list, (see list) this July we have incorporated 5 new Convicts of Conscience, a monthly figure that confirms the growing repressive situation. They are Elio Juan Arencibía Dreque (MLDC), Ramón Rodríguez Gamboa (MONR), Carlos Manuel Arocha del Risco (UNPACU), Yulio Ferrer Bravo (independent) and Ernesto Pérez Pérez (UNPACU).
  • In the last 11 months, 43 new Convicts of Conscience have entered the list of Prisoners Defenders, all of them for causes led by the Cuban State Security, and the prison repression carried out this last month confirms the unpleasant upward trend that has already reached 4 new political prisoners monthly. We clearly perceive, once again, the upsurge of repressive actions to compensate for the social weakness of the regime imposed by the Cuban State Security and the Castro family.
  • Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, already at liberty, has fully served his prison sentence. Orlán Fernández Velázquez and Reinaldo Rodríguez Hernández, for their part, also fully served their sentences (although they served the last period on probation) and they are no longer on our list of political prisoners.
  • Leudys Reyes Cuza and Yeusandor Ochoa Leyva, both awaiting trial and after weeks in prison, have received the precautionary measure of release on bail, while their cases are pending trial. In this legal “limbo” there are dozens of independent civil society activists, who are threatened with imprisonment at any time, despite an incomprehensible abuse of procedural silence, this being a way to try to placate their activism in the short, medium and long term.Los casos de Silverio Portal Contreras y Keilylli de la Mora Valle han merecido la atención de la Comisión Inter-Americana de Derechos Humanos, que les ha otorgado medidas cautelares de protección internacional (Resolución 39/2020 para Silverio Portal Contreras, y Resolución 37/2020 para Keilylli de la Mora Valle), una forma de presión que afecta diplomáticamente a Cuba y desvirtúa su imagen internacional, pero que sólo en algunos casos afecta a las decisiones de represión de la Seguridad del Estado, a quien la afectación gravísima de la imagen de Cuba pareciera no importarle. Silverio, además, ha sido defendido por las Naciones Unidas, que ha exigido su liberación inmediata, y es también prisionero de conciencia por Amnistía Internacional. Su estado es lamentable. Le han causado lesiones por violencia que le han provocado parálisis en la mitad de su cuerpo y la represión que sufre en prisión es al tiempo inhumana, con aislamiento, celda de castigo y prohibición de visitas. Todo ello es un crimen de lesa humanidad flagrante.
  • The cases of Silverio Portal Contreras and Keilylli de la Mora Valle have deserved the attention of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has granted them precautionary measures of international protection (Resolution 39/2020 for Silverio Portal Contreras, and Resolution 37/2020 for Keilylli de la Mora Valle), a form of pressure that diplomatically affects Cuba and undermines its international image, but that only in some cases affects decisions to repressive Cuban State Security, who does not seem to care about Cuba’s serious international image affectation. Silverio has also been defended by the United Nations, which has demanded his immediate release, and he is a prisoner of conscience for Amnesty International. His condition is pitiful. They have caused injuries to him by violence that has produced paralysis to him in half of his body and so the repression that he suffers in prison is therefore specially inhuman, with isolation, a punishment cell and prohibition of visits. This is all a blatant crime against humanity.
  • The case of Aymara Nieto Muñoz continues to be highly worrying. In addition to continuing 600km apart from her relatives without justifying reason, she has continued incarcerated in a punishment cell, for 6 months now. For the past 1 month, moreover, she has not been allowed to communicate even by phone with her relatives. She is a Lady in White (and therefore the Sakharov Prize’s awardee). From the European Union Embassy, however, there has been no meeting or conversation for at least a year with the Sakharov Prizes in Cuba. Neither in their homes, nor do they have face-to-face interviews with them, not even calls, nor, much less, do they visit prisoners with this award (there are currently two, Aymara and Martha Sánchez, but there were 4 who were in prison in 2019) ignoring the recent Resolution 2019/2929 (RSP) of the European Parliament which, in its 12th commandment “Calls on the EEAS and the Commission to actively support civil society groups and individuals defending human rights in Cuba, including through arranging prison visits, trial monitoring and public statements;”. We are also concerned that Berta Soler tells us that she has not even had calls with the Embassy since July 2019. However, the United Nations has formally demanded that Cuba release Aymara Nieto in its resolution of June 4, 2020 (See). “Unfortunately we do not know of a single formal meeting or “demarche” with the Cuban government for Aymara Nieto and Martha Sánchez by the Delegation of the European Union“, Berta Soler has confessed to us. However, Prisoners Defenders have been able to read how Ambassador D. Alberto Navarro is especially active with the press in Havana, with a greater emphasis on the Cuban State media, to extol the regime and human rights in Cuba in just a few weeks (“unimaginable achievements in human rights“) or extolling medical missions (“solidarity of an island of just over 10 million inhabitants“), despite knowing perfectly well that it is proven these missions are carried out in slavery and with billions of dollars of profit per year – more than twice the income from tourism – and never free, with the income being obtained from the supposed salaries of Cuban doctors from which the Cuban government confiscates 90% or more, in many cases (like a few months ago in Mexico, where doctors had to receive 3,500 dollars a month for their services, of which Havana only gave them 220 dollars) and 85% -75% in others (accusatory letter from the United Nations, report from Human Rights Watch, and report and full complaint from Prisoners Defenders at the ICC). These three documents have been delivered to the EEAS (EEAS) and have been examined by its officials. None of them has questioned them, and the reaction has been one of horror at such atrocities. Ambassador Navarro also uses the State media from Havana to attack the foreign policy of the United States and dedicates an endless number of assertions that are well received by State Security and repressive agents in Cuba (“Cuba is setting an example of solidarity, says EU ambassador“, “The Caribbean country is an example of solidarity, which has been demonstrated by the sending of medical missions abroad“, etc.), and which cause despair in the same freedom fighters as in Spain similarly, they faced Francisco Franco. As Ambassador of all Europeans, Mr. Navarro is achieving extremely high levels of complicity with the Castro family and its crimes against humanity, which causes, for us Europeans, the need to understand what motivation can lead to complicit with said disgraceful regime despite the growing, and more numerous than ever, victims of human rights violations in Cuba. Senior officials of the Cuban government, to make the effects more serious, confess that these statements make it impossible for the moderates public servants of the government in Cuba to raise their voices in front of State Security, since the Ambassador publicly whitewashes the regime“, which directly “makes it more cruel in its repressive measures.” Prisoners Defenders requests a change in such actions or, otherwise, the Ambassador’s dismissal, as he is going head-on against European Parliament resolutions and against the letter and spirit of the Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba in its human rights clauses.
  • We have also learned first hand that Yosvany Sánchez Valenciano (UNPACU) without having committed any crime, with a fabricated sanction (public disorder and contempt) and a sentence for this of 5 years and 9 months of deprivation of liberty, remains in the punishment cell known as “the 47” of the Combinado del Este prison in Havana.
  • Former political prisoner Maykel López Sotomayor, convicted but now on probation, was summoned this July 30 to the Popular Court of Camagüey, by the execution judge and the State Security officers identified as Maykel and Kevin, to warn him that if he continues with his human rights activism, he would be returned to prison to finish serving the sentence.
  • UNPACU, for its part, denounced the death of an inmate in the Mar Verde prison in Santiago de Cuba this July after six days without response asking for medical attention. Aismel Blanco, a young man of 20, “was transferred to a hospital in Santiago de Cuba when nothing could be done for him.[1]

1. RECOGNIZED POLITICAL PRISONERS IN OPPOSITION TO THE CASTRIST REGIME

We recognize in CPD, as of August 3, 2020, 132 convicts and political prisoners for opposition to the regime (see list), but we also recognize another 11,000 civilians not belonging to opposition organizations, 8,400 of them convicted and 2,538 condemned, censored with official reports as of December 31, 2019, with average sentences of 2 years and 10 months in prison, for charges designated in the Penal Code as “pre-criminal”, that is, without crime, which we deal with in section 2 of this press release.

The 132 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:

Convicts of Conscience

There are 74 Convicts of Conscience, who are prisoners deprived of liberty solely for reasons of conscience, with accusations either completely and proven to be false and 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 past 11 months. They are Josiel Guía Piloto (PRC), Mitsael Díaz Paseiro (FNRC-OZT), Silverio Portal Contreras (previously linked to various organizations), Edilberto Ronal Arzuaga Alcalá (UNPACU), Eliécer Bandera Barreras (UNPACU), Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces (lawyer and independent journalist) and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (artist of the San Isidro Movement), who was on our list during the month of March and has recently been released. Bianko Vargas Martín, currently in prison, was also previously named prisoner of conscience by AI, as many other convicts of conscience from the current list, such as Oscar Elías Biscet, Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, José Daniel Ferrer, Iván Hernández Carrillo, Librado Linares, Ángel Moya, Félix Navarro, Jorge Olivera and Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, totalling 16 current Convicts and Condemned of Conscience protected and verified by Amnesty International.

Over the cases of Roberto Quiñones, Josiel Guía Piloto, Marbel Mendoza Reyes, Iván Amaro Hidalgo, Aymara Nieto Muñoz, Eliecer Bandera Barreras, Humberto Rico Quiala, José Antonio Pompa López, Melkis Faure Hechevarría, Mitzael Díaz Paseiro and Silverio Portal Contreras, in addition, the United Nations has highlighted the arbitrariness of their arrests in the resolutions dated November 15, 2019 the first case, on February 11, 2020 the following three cases, and on April 29, 2020 the last seven cases, indicating the need for their immediate release, their just compensation for damages, and the cessation of the persecution to which both independent journalists and human rights defenders in Cuba are subjected, as well as the United Nations resolved about the systemic dependence on the legal profession and judicial processes with respect to the executive branch, the lack of the right to effective justice, as well as multiple mechanisms designed to prevent alternative expression.

Let us also indicate that among the convicts of conscience there are also 8 political prisoners for whom the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has granted Precautionary Measures for International Protection: Aymara Nieto Muñoz, Martha Sánchez González, Iván Amaro Hidalgo, Josiel Guía Piloto, Jesús Alfredo Pérez Rivas, Edilberto Ronal Arzuaga Alcalá, Keilylli de la Mora Valle and Silverio Portal Contreras.

Elio Juan Arencibia Dreque (MLDC) entered prison this July to serve 6 months of deprivation of liberty for non-payment of a fine in order to stop his pro-democratic activism.

Ramón Rodríguez Gamboa (MONR) was sentenced to one year in prison for a false crime of “spread of epidemics”. Ramón is a highly effective pro-democratic activist on the ground, which led to the manufacture of this “crime” almost two months after being blamed for “writing objectionable messages on the walls of the Santiago de las Vegas municipality”, for which he had to assume a bond of 1,000 pesos under a process of accusation of “attempt” of which has not yet been “judged”.

Carlos Manuel Arocha del Risco (UNPACU) was accused of a non-existent “Contempt” and sentenced to one year in prison.

Yulio Ferrer Bravo (MONR) suffered the revocation of two old cases of Contempt that had already been fabricated by the State Security for his activism and the distribution of writings among the population. The joint sanction amounts to 3 years and 6 months of deprivation of liberty.

Condemned of Conscience

There are 30 Condemned of Conscience, who suffer forced domiciliary work, measures of limitation of freedom or parole under threats, and that the regime, in addition, the State usually revokes and reinserts 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.

Other political prisoners

28 additional political prisoners, not included in the above categories, in which we find that, after more than 27 years in prison, José David Hernán Aguilera, the current political prisoner who has spent the longest time in prison, remains incarcerated.

THE COMPLETE LIST CAN BE OBTAINED FROM THIS LINK:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1U3quBgy_fu_Yp7nrBtNH98mGWZoKWqGh

2. PROVEN: 11,000 PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE FOR CONVICTIONS DEFINED IN THE CRIMINAL CODE AS “PRECRIMINAL”

Prisoners Defenders also recognizes 11 thousand people who were at the end of 2019 Condemned or Convicted of Conscience for PreCriminal 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.

Current situation

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: 

  1. Qualification:
    • “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
  2. Isolation:
    • 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 …
  3. 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, postcriminal 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. [2] 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» [3]

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 precriminal 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 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.

REQUEST FOR REPORTS: Entities wishing to receive the work of Cuban Prisoners Defenders (list of political prisoners and of conscience, legal studies of political prisoners, legal studies on Cuba, studies on repression and prisons in Cuba, etc) please contact Cuban Prisoners Defenders at info@prisonersdefenders.org or by whatsapp or phone at +34 647564741. Disambiguation: Prisoners Defenders generates its contents and reports in Spanish, and then translates them into other languages with the sole purpose of facilitating reading, but in case of any need for nuance or disambiguation, it will be the reports generated in Spanish that prevail and are official, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Our website is www.prisonersdefenders.org and our facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/CubanDefenders. Our Twitter, in addition, is @CubanDefenders.


[1] Coverage by Diario de Cuba: https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1594890818_23775.html

[2] Cuba, Fidel Castro, gays and the legacy of “Strawberry and Chocolate”: https://www.clarin.com/mundo/cubafidelcastrogayslegadofresachocolate_0_r1qEnWN7.html

[3] Homophobia map. Chronology of repression and censorship of homosexuals, transvestites and transsexuals on the Island, from 1962 to date: https://www.cubaencuentro.com/cuba/articulos/mapadelahomofobia10736

Author: Prisoners Defenders

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