JULY 2009


Jailed dissident doctor to be charged

HAVANA, Cuba, July 28 (Juan Carlos Linares Balmaseda / www.cubanet.org)- Government officials have verbally advised the family of Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramírez, a prominent dissident held by police since July 21,  that he will be charged with actions against the government and receipt of stolen property.

Ferrer’s wife, Yusnaimy Jorge Soca, said she was meeting at their home with lawyers July 25 when two officials showed up. They told Ferrer’s mother, who lives with them, that charges will be laid.

The receipt of stolen property charge is apparently connected with two bags of cement taken from Ferrer’s home during a police raid July 9.

Ferrer, a medical doctor, is director of the Juan Bruno Zayas Health and Human Rights Center.


Dissident doctor on hunger strike

HAVANA, Cuba, July 27 (Leafar Pérez, www.cubanet.org)  - Yusnaimy Jorge Soca says her husband, dissident medical doctor Darsi Ferrer Ramírez, has been on a hunger strike since his arrest July 31.

 Ferrer, director of the Juan Bruno Zayas Health and Human Rights Center, has been held without charge at the Valle Grande prison.

According to his wife, police said her husband had not been arrested but was being held for questioning about events that occurred July 9, when agents broke down the door to his home and removed two sacks of cement.

For the past few years, Ferrer has been a main organizer of a protest march every December 10 in front of the UNESCO headquarters in Havana. He has also been involved in publications denouncing poverty in Cuba.


Independent journalist detained in cemetery

HAVANA, Cuba, July 27 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, CHIPRESS, www.cubanet.org ) – State Security agents detained independent journalist Carlos Serpa Maceira last week as he was taking photographs of the grave of Pedro Luis Boitel, a student leader who died in prison in 1972 following a hunger strike.

Serpa said he was held for two hours during which time his head was slammed against the floor and his camera, tape recorder and notebook confiscated.

Detained with Serpa were Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antúnez), Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera and Carlos Cordero who were among human rights activists taking part in an activity of the We’re All the Resistance Campaign (Campaña Todos Somos Resistencia). Their whereabouts was unknown.

Serpa said the State Security agents advised him to practice his journalism at home and not to cover future civil disobediences activities.


Serving a 30-year sentence for stealing a cow

HAVANA, Cuba, July 27 (Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez / CIHPRESS, www.cubanet.org ) - Juan Sánchez Ruiz, 58, claims he has served 19 years of a 30-year prison sentence for rustling and slaughtering a cow.

Sánchez Ruiz has spent the last five years in a prison medical unit after suffering three heart attacks.

“I was tried in the Pinar del Río Provincial Court and found guilty of the crime of stealing a cow and sacrificing it and sentenced to 30 years in prison,” he said. “I only killed a cow and I did it to feed my family. I didn’t plant a bomb.”

Sánchez Ruiz is trying to obtain his release on health grounds.


Dissident fined month’s salary on public disorder charges  

HAVANA, Cuba, July 22 (Ana Aguililla , www.cubanet.org) -Mario Alberto Hernández Leyva, a member of the dissident Opposition Movement for a New Republic, has been found guilty of public disorder and fine 392 pesos, the equivalent of a month’s salary.

Hernández and fellow member Yoel Arteaga Coello were detained by political police July 14.

Arteaga was released the same day, but Hernández remained jailed until July 18 when he was put on trial.


Dissident arrested in Guantánamo

HAVANA, Cuba, July 22 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra, Hablemos Press / www.cubanet.org) - Yoel Sevila, a member of the Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement, was arrested in Guantánamo last week by police, according to the group’s spokesperson, Jorge Corrales.

Corrales said that sources close to the police said that Sevila’s name was one of eight on a list of dissidents to be arrested, but that there are no known cases of arrests. Sevila was arrested July 14.

“Several policemen showed up at Yoel’s house on Oeste 7 corner of Emilio Giró in Guantánamo and took him away,” said Corrales.


Sports employee sentenced for helping baseball agents

HAVANA, Cuba, July 22 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) - Olga Lidia Ramírez, 44, who worked at the Sports Academy, has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for allegedly trying to help baseball agents to get players out of the country.

She was detained by police and placed in the psychiatric wing of the Julito Díaz clinic after allegedly trying to commit suicide July 17. She allegedly threw herself under a truck after a court ratified her sentence.

“The No. 2 Tribunal condemned me for the imaginary crime which I didn’t commit of trafficking in people,” she told this reporter.


Alleged killers of Spanish priest captured

HAVANA, Cuba, July 21 (Aini Martín Valero, ALAS / www.cubanet.org) –Two young men and a young woman have confessed to killing Spanish priest Mariano Arroyo Merino last week in Regla, according to some of the residents.

The residents said that robbery was apparently the motive as US$1,200 was stolen from the Virgen de Regla church and hidden in a nearby garbage container.

Arroyo’s body, gagged, stabbed and partially burned, was discovered July 13.

The alleged killers range in age from 19 to 23.


Anti-government placard in Santa Clara

 SNATA CLARA, Cuba, July 20 (Yesmy Elena Mena Zurbano / www.cubanet.org) – Someone placed a placard saying “Down with Raúl” on the corner of Tristá and Alemán streets in Santa Clara last week.

Roque Emilio Martínez Angulo, a resident of the neighborhood, said State Security agents and members of the National Revolutionary Police with trained dogs blocked off the area around the placard.

Other anonymous residents said the placard, placed July 10, was a protest against the shortage of food and the rationing of electricity.


Independent journalist threatened with prison

HABANA, Cuba, July 16 (Georgina Noa / www.cubanet.org) – Police detained independent journalist Julio Beltrán last week as he was walking on a Havana street and threatened him with a prison sentence if  he kept reporting on life in Cuba.

“We have an open file on you and this is your last warning,” a police official told him.”We’re not going to permit any more counterrevolutionary acts from you, nor allow terrorist elements to meet in your house.”

He was threatened with charges under the “social danger law” that carries a prison sentence of four years.

Independent journalist receives award

HAVANA, Cuba, July 16 (Ana Aguililla / www.cubanet.org) – Independent journalist Frank Correa has received a prize for essay writing sponsored by, among others, the UNESCO Cultural Center in Puerto Rico.

The prize is given for the best essay on the subject of liberalism in Cuba. Besides UNESCO, the sponsors were the Cuban Liberal Unity Party, Disidente magazine and el Centro Empresarial de Impermeabilización del Caribe.

This was the second time the prize has been awarded. He was given a medal by the UNESCO center.

Frank Correa is a press officer of the Cuban Liberal Unity Party and belongs to the Agenda for Cuban Transition, an independent journalism organization.


Rotten eggs thrown against journalist’s home

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, July 15 (José Ramón Pupo / www.cubanet.org) - The front of the home of independent journalist Yesmy Elena Mena in Santa Clara was hit by rotten eggs thrown by unknown persons.

Said Mena, “Behind this act of vandalism against my home are the hands of the political police who want to frighten the defenders of human rights.”

Mena said her neighbors called the act cowardly.


Pacifist receives death threats

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, July 15 (José Ramón Pupo / www.cubanet.org) – Pacifist Reinaldo Rivera, a resident of Banes in Holguín province, has been threatened with death, according to Arnaldo Expósito, president of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Democratic Committee.

Expósito said the deaths threats originated with Rivera’s co-workers at the Institute of National Sport.

Said one of Rivera’s neighbors, “The conflict was orchestrate by the p[political police who use this type of threat against us when they see they’ve lost the battle of ideas.”

Rivera is director of the José Martí independent library and a member of Expósito’s Democratic Committee.


Police stop entry to U.N. AIDS activity

HAVANA, Cuba, July 15 (Aliomar Janjaque, Fundación cubana LGTB Reinaldo Arenas / www.cubanet.org) – Police agents arrested 19 young homosexuals who tried to attend a weekend of an AIDS prevent group held in the basement of the Capital building, according to a gay and lesbian group.

The Reinaldo Arenas Cuban Foundation of Lesbians, Gays, Transvestites and Bisexuals said the police also deported eight youths to their hometowns in the interior.

The foundation said the activity was sponsored by a United Nations AIDS and HIV awareness group.


Dissident faces possible 4-year sentence

HAVANA, Cuba, July 14 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra, Hablemos Press / www.cubanet.org) – The National Liberal Cuban Party says one of its members, Marcos Rivas, has been arrested in the municipality of Gibara and faces a prison sentence of four years.

Miguel Batista, the party’s provincial vice-coordinator, said that the Political Police told Rivas’s family that he will be charged as a danger to society and having been involved in anti-social activities against the government.


Independent medical doctor arrested

HAVANA, Cuba, July 13 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) - Police arrested prominent dissident  Dr. Darsi Ferrer and his wife, Yusnaymi Jorge, last week, according to Ferrer’s sister-in-law.

“A man dressed in green and accompanied by two police officers came to the couple’s house in a patrol car and one of them told Darsi they were there to check the house, which he opposed,” she said in a telephone call. “Minutes later they left with him and my sister.”

 Ferrer is president of the Independent Health Center and the Juan Bruno Zayas Human Rights organization.

The reason for the arrest, which occurred last Thursday, was  unknown, but Ferrer planned a walk at the Hotel Nacional which dissidents have called Dream Walk.


Police crack down on illegal TV antennas

HAVANA, Cuba, July 13 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) – Police supported by workers from ETECSA, the Cuban-Italian telephone company, removed homemade parabolic antennas and cable connections last week, according to an activist from the Republican Party of Cuba.

Raimundo Cuevas said he counted 17 police cruisers and a similar number of telephone company vehicles in the Veracruz district of Havana. He said more than 30 men were involved in cutting cables and scaling roofs to remove the dishes


Dissidents protest colleague's removal from Banes

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, July 9 (MarÍa Antonia Hidalgo / www.cubanet.org)“ Dissidents in Banes in HolguÍ­n province congregated in front of the headquarters of the National Revolutionary Police after one of their human rights colleagues, Ezequiel Morales, was arrested.

According to Marlon Martorell, president of the College of Independent Teachers in the eastern region, Morales had been detained on several occasions.

When they learned that Morales had been “deported” from Banes, the dissidents shouted “Down with the dictatorship!” and “Long live human rights!


Police prevent journalists from attending meeting¨

HAVANA, Cuba, July 9 (Aini Martín / www.cubanet.org) A husband-and-wife team of independent journalists was prevented this week from attending a meeting of the Agenda for Cuban Transition dissident organization.

The Agenda organization said in a press release that agents from the political police stood guard outside the home of Iván and his wife, AinÍ­ MartÍn, preventing them from leaving for the meeting in the municipality of Regla.

The police stayed until it was too late for the couple to attend the meeting.


Prisoner complains of conjugal visit facility

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, July 7 (José Ramón Pupo, Holguín Press / www.cubanet.org) – Prisoner of conscience Alfredo Dominguez says the room provided for the last  conjugal visit by his wife to the Las Tunas provincial prison was unsanitary.

Dominguez said his wife, Melba, was kept waiting for two hours at the prison before anyone attended to her. When they finally went to the room, he said it was dirty, lacked sheets and towels and a ventilator. “The heat made one feel like he was in a steam bath,” he said.

Domínguez, one of the Group of 75 considered prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in 2003.


Restrictions on beach near Interests Section

HAVANA, Cuba, July 7 (Aleaga Pesant, www.cubanet.org)  - The government has placed new restrictions on swimming and fishing off the beach in front of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

According to fishermen, the restrictions were imposed as a result of the landing at the beach last month by a group of rafters who might have been planning to leave for the United States by sea.

They did not specify what the new restrictions were.


Phone company facilitates monitoring of calls  

HAVANA, Cuba, July 6 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) – Since it seized cellphones belonging to an activist and his brother, State Security has been monitoring international telephone calls, according to an official source.

State Security agents seized the cellphones April 27 when they arrested Rolando Rodríguez of the Youth for Democracy Movement and his brother Néstor. “It’s not convenient for them to call you now since the police are aware of everything you receive from abroad,” a source told Rolando Rodríguez.

Several workers at ETECSA, the Cuban telephone company partially owned by Italy’s Telecom Italia, said the company facilitates the monitoring of foreign calls.


Tuberculosis in provincial Havana prison      

HAVANA, Cuba, June 30  (Ana Aguililla / www.cubanet.org) – Authorities at the Quivicán Prision in Havana province are x-raying and taking blood samples of prisoners after several cases of tuberculosis were discovered, according to activist Ramón Balsinde.

Balsinde said five prisoners with tuberculosis were recently transferred to the prison hospital of the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, one of them, Mario Luis Menéndez, reportedly in serious condition.

He said that an undetermined number of prisoners were in quarantine at the Quivicán Prison after tests showed they had tuberculosis


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