Report by Cuban Prisoners Defenders, 1 October 2020:
PRISONERS DEFENDERS UPDATES THE LIST OF CUBAN POLITICAL PRISONERS AS OCTOBER 1, 2020…
- This month we have culminated a long period of collaboration and understanding with the Cuban Centre for Human Rights (CCDH), brilliantly led by the Prisoner of Conscience of the Group of 75 Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, which now culminates in dialogue and consensus on each case presented, the global list and the transfer of the details of these cases, which we hope will continue in subsequent months. The CCDH also has an additional key mission in Cuba, as it monitors every month the repression that occurs prior to political imprisonment, including arbitrary detentions.
- Of the 138 prisoners present on our list, (see list) this September we have added 3 new Convicts of Conscience, 1 new Condemned of Conscience, sentenced to forced work without internment, and 2 other political prisoners. The first four are Xiomelys Padilla Bello (Movimiento Consenso Ciudadano and UNPACU), Manuel Santana Vega (MONR) y Onelvis Flores Hechavarría (UNPACU). The new Condemned of Conscience is Roilán Álvarez Rensoler (UNPACU). And the two other political prisoners are Panter Rodríguez Baró and Yoel Prieto Tamayo (not affiliated to any organization, allegedly members of the group «Clandestinos»).
- In the last 12 months, 47 new Convicts of Conscience (an average of 4 per month) have entered the list of Prisoners Defenders, not counting neither the Condemned of Conscience nor the other political prisoners, with which the sum would be a total of 51 new political prisoners in 12 months. To these figures, we must add the hundreds of arrests and constant monthly house illegal police raids reported by the CCDH, among other repression acts, which are the most widespread repressive actions against pro-democracy activism in Cuba.
- In all 51 cases actions have been directed by the State Security, the repressive weapon of the regime under the direct mandate of Raúl Castro, and not of Miguel Díaz-Canel as it is erroneously believed, a multidisciplinary and multi-ministerial body that has under its command, for what it selectively requires, the revolutionary national police and other security forces, the criminal instructors (the criminal case instructors in Cuba are policeman, not judges) and the prosecutors, and which also extend their domains by intimidating judges and lawyers. The latter suffer reprisals if they dare to try to establish justice.
- The headquarters of UNPACU has been under siege for weeks and more than 30 international human rights organisations have demanded the exoneration of their leader José Daniel Ferrer and an end to the harassment of their headquarters and UNPACU, the most repressed organisation on the island. This month, UNPACU has added another 3 political prisoners to a total of 49 political prisoners, of which 35 are Convicts of Conscience and 14 are Condemned of Conscience.
- Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces served his full one-year prison sentence, and was released on September 4. Mirdael Matos Gainza also served his sentence and was released from prison this month, as was Daniel Salcedo Aguirre who was released from prison exonerated of criminal offences with the imposition of a fine, solely for not having to recognise the injustice committed against him and his family.
- Mitzael Díaz Paseiro has been transferred to the Guamajal prison in Santa Clara. In less than a week, in the La Pendiente prison he was beaten up by prison guards and held in handcuffs, as so was the young prisoner Didier Eduardo Almagro Toledo. After the beating,, Mitzael was transferred to the maximum severity prison Las Alambradas de Manacas, where his wife, Arianna López Roque tried to visit him, but they did not let her. High officials visited him in that prison, threatening him, and later took him to the prison in Guamajal, Santa Clara, where he is currently held.
- The couple, Miguel Álvarez Sánchez and Mercedes Arce Rodríguez, have been in prison since 3 March 2012 for an alleged case of «espionage», sentenced to 30 and 15 years respectively. However, there are reasons to maintain that it was an arbitrary affair, caused by a high command and other political motivations. Their trial took place behind closed doors, through a military tribunal, after 19 months of pre-trial detention. An extravagant period without trial, even for the Cuban judicial system. He is suffering from cancer for some time now and is terminally ill in the prison ward of the National Hospital in Havana. His three children, who have not been allowed a single phone call or visit and who defend the complete innocence of their parents, have respectfully requested the Cuban government to treat Miguel’s last days humanely and to allow them to say their last farewell. Prisoners Defenders joins this request and will take the necessary steps to investigate the matter further and, if necessary, take it to the highest diplomatic authorities if such a gesture of compassion is not made immediately, as Miguel’s life is already terminal. His son, Noel Álvarez, can be contacted through his Facebook page.
1. RECOGNISED POLITICAL PRISONERS IN OPPOSITION TO THE CASTRO REGIME
We recognise in CPD, as of 1 October 2020, 138 condemned and convicted political prisoners among the opposition to the regime (see list), but we also recognise another 11 thousand civilians who do not belong to opposition organisations, 8,400 of them convicted and 2,538 sentenced, registered with official data as of 31 December 2019, with average sentences of 2 years and 10 months in prison, for charges denominated in the Criminal Code as «pre-criminal«, that is, without crime, which we deal with in section 2 of this press release. The 138 politically condemned among opposition organisations or for their human rights activism are divided into Convicts of Conscience, Condemned of Conscience and Other Political Prisoners from other categories. The classification of these is as follows:
76 Convicts of Conscience
These are prisoners deprived of their liberty solely for reasons of conscience, with accusations either completely and demonstrably false and fabricated, or of a non-criminal nature and absolutely related to thought.
Amnesty International: 7 people on our list in the last 13 months have been named Prisoners of Conscience by Amnesty International. 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, who is now free) and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (artist from the San Isidro Movement), who was in prison and is now in pseudo-freedom, as he is constantly being detained. The last of these arrests, as we write this note, is being studied now. Bianko Vargas Martín, currently in prison, was also previously named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, and many other convicts of conscience on 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, making a total of 14 convicts and prisoners currently under the protection of Amnesty International. Despite the fact that in recent months there have been dozens of new political prisoners, scarce human resources and impediments arising from Covid-19 have made it unfeasible for AI to even study or contemplate the appointment of new cases.
United Nations: for 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 as well, the United Nations has highlighted the arbitrary nature of their arrests in resolutions dated 15 November 2019 for the first, 11 February 2020 for the second three, and 29 April 2020 for the last seven, indicating the need for their immediate release, fair compensation for damages, and an end to the persecution to which both independent journalists and human rights defenders are subjected in Cuba, as well as the United Nations resolved on the systemic dependence of the legal profession and judicial processes on the executive branch, the lack of the right to effective justice, as well as multiple mechanisms designed to prevent alternative expression.
IACHR: also, indicate that among the convicts of conscience are 8 political prisoners for whom the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has granted precautionary measures of international protection: Aymara Nieto Muñoz, Martha Sánchez González, Iván Amaro Hidalgo, Josiel Guía Piloto, Jesús Alfredo Pérez Rivas and Edilberto Ronal Arzuaga Alcalá, Keilylli de la Mora Valle and Silverio Portal Contreras.
Below are the most significant changes in this section of the list:
- Xiomelys Padilla Bello (Movimiento Consenso Ciudadano and UNPACU). On 10 September 2020 he was walking along the Boulevard de Cienfuegos on his way to the «Rápido», a place that offers food to the population, to eat a pizza. When he entered the premises he noticed that a Red Beret official was there, accompanied by his mother, who approached him in bad manners, indicating that he should put on his mask. Xiomelys replied that to address people it should be necessary to use proper manners. This response sentenced him. Automatically, the official’s mother, who was standing next to him, with an umbrella in her hand, attacked him. The aggression was consummated while Xiomelys started to demonstrate with prodemocracy slogans such as «Down with Communism«, «Long live human rights«, «Down with Repression«, and similar ones. For this incident, he was arrested and taken to the Police Unit of the Municipality of Cienfuegos. There he was accused of contempt, and on September 16 he was transferred to the Provincial Prison of Ariza in Cienfuegos. On the 24th September, he was informed that his trial was going to take place in the Municipal Court of Cienfuegos, obviously without the right to an effective defence, which later it was concluded for sentencing. Since we have not yet received the sentence, there are doubts as to whether he has been accused of three crimes or one, since he was told verbally that the request would be reduced. However, it is common to deceive detainees, who later see even more charges appearing in the sentences than those with which the detention began.
- Manuel Santana Vega (MONR). On 7 September 2020, he decided to write slogans against the regime’s abusive system on the wall of his own house. That day, at eleven o’clock in the morning, the State Security and the police entered his house without a search warrant and with violence, breaking down the door and taking him out by force. He was taken to the PNR station in Cotorro, Havana. He was later taken to the so-called the «Técnico» Centre of the 5th Police Station, in Playa, Havana, and accused of «Desacato». He has been transferred twice to the Valle Grande prison, but has been returned to the Police Unit on both occasions because the prison is under quarantine.
- Onelvis Flores Hechavarría (UNPACU). For his pro-democracy activism in the Patriotic Union of Cuba, he had been arrested in May, and released to await trial at his home for the alleged crimes of «Disobedience» and «Contempt». He was arrested on 16 September, a few days before the organisation held civic activities in different parts of the country to commemorate the 125th anniversary of José Martí’s fall in combat, in order to prevent him from taking part, while at the same time setting in motion the fraudulent judicial process that has finally convicted him.
32 Condemned of conscience
These suffer forced labour at home, measures limiting their freedom or probation under threat, and who the regime is accustomed to revoking and reinstating in prison if the activist does not cease his pro-democratic activity. Those present on this list are therefore highly threatened people in the process of having been sentenced, who at any moment return to prison for no other reason than their manifestation of conscience or activism.
- Roilán Álvarez Rensoler (UNPACU) has been sentenced to one year and six months of subsidised prison for Correctional Work without internment. Aged 34, Álvarez was already imprisoned in 2013 for the alleged, and fabricated, crime of theft. However, after going on a hunger strike to protest his confinement, which he considered unjust, he was released. He has been, in years, one of the most beaten up and attacked activists by the repressive forces of the Cuban regime, which in recent weeks has also increased its siege of its headquarters and the arrests of its members. His case of unlimited mistreatment was already documented in 2018 by Prisoners Defenders. In 2016, after being brutally beaten by an agent, which caused scars on his face, Roilán declared that he did not remember the number of beatings he had received since then: «There have been so many times I have been beaten that I could not list them”. In this new fabricated case, he was accused of having refused to hand over his identity card on 14 April to Sector Chief Felix Elías Arévalo, and of taking part in illegal games such as dice, ball games and cockfights. However, everything is false and all started from a summons to go and be interrogated by the State Security in the municipality of Julio Antonio Mella, Santiago de Cuba. When he presented himself, several police officers fabricated the situation, which is common in the Police and State Security Stations in Cuba with dissidents. The police officer, who later accused him of “Attempt”, offended and tried to beat him, to which Roilán did not respond with violence. After months of waiting, the trial took place on 4 September.
30 other political prisoners
These are not falling into the previous categories, in which we have included two new cases, Panter Rodríguez Baró and Yoel Prieto Tamayo. After more than 27 years in prison, José David Hernán Aguilera, the current political prisoner who has spent the longest period in prison, is still being held.
We explain below the two new cases on this list:
- Panter Rodríguez Baró was accused of being part of the group that called itself «Clandestinos«. We have decided to include this case in the list of «Other political prisoners«, although we express caution about the case. We have taken two direct testimonies, and there are still certain unknowns, which have led us to keep the case under study for many months, although we have considered that the political motivation is sufficiently proven. Panter was initially arrested for being, along with Yoel Prieto Tamayo, members of a group of protest actions called «Clandestinos» which allegedly carried out a series of graffiti on public statues and published them on social networks. Although they confessed to being part of this group in what was a public witnessing public impeachment carried out by the political police, derived from the alongside dissemination of the case inside and outside Cuba, both would have been subjected to strong coercion and/or psychological torture to obtain their testimony. We have confirmed that, after their arrest and being accused of «damaging» public property, State Security raided their house. This raid, which cannot be justified by the alleged crime, was politically motivated in order to prosecute him for new crimes, which is a common State Security operation to make prison mockery. The raid confirmed that traces of marijuana use were found at his home. The mother’s statement of consumption and the traces of marijuana found in their house were used to prosecute him for «drug trafficking», which is disproportionate and further attests to the political and arbitrary dimension of the case. Given the possibility of committing a crime of «Damage» to public furniture, apparently real but which we cannot assume to be true either, he cannot be included, preventively, in the list of «Convicts of Conscience» and therefore, given the political conditions that have weighed heavily on his case, he has been included in the list of «Other Political Prisoners».
- Yoel Prieto Tamayo, a colleague of Panter, was also accused of being part of the «Clandestinos» group. We have documented the case from the reconstruction of the facts with details of the case of his colleague Panter Rodríguez Baró. Both suffered public scorn, disproportionate measures for their accusation of «Damage» to public furniture, and at least one house raid in the case of his partner, Panter Rodríguez Baró. The alleged consumption of marihuana by the latter, using the mother’s confession of this consumption, was disproportionately used by State Security to accuse Yoel also of «Drug Trafficking», another proof of the political involvement of the case. Given the possibility of committing a crime of «Damage» to public furniture, apparently real but which we cannot assume to be true either, he cannot be included, preventively, in the list of «Convicts of Conscience» and therefore, given the political conditions that have weighed heavily on his case, he has been included in the list of «Other Political Prisoners».
THE COMPLETE LIST CAN BE OBTAINED FROM THIS LINK:
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 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”Real example of a Police record of a 3-year pre-criminal indicted
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, 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.  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 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.
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 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/mapa–de–la–homofobia–10736