Mother and son on hunger strikes
HAVANA, Cuba, June 29 (Frank Correa / www.cubanet.org) - Isabel Ramos continues her hunger strike in support of her son, Arturo Suárez, a political prisoner who started a hunger strike June 10.
The latest news Suárez’s family received is that he’s in the infirmary of Havana’s Combinado del Este prison.
He started his strike after authorities demanded that he wear a prison uniform for conjugal visits. He has served eight years of a 30-year sentence.
Ramos shortly afterwards started her hunger strike in support of her son and other political prisoners. The walls of her home in Jaimanitas is covered with signs demanding their release.
Sales licenses come with a catch
HAVANA, Cuba, June 24 (Frank Correa / www.cubanet.org) – The government has started to issue new licenses for sales in Havana by the self-employed, provided they’ve reached what Cubans call the “third stage” of life.
However, the government hasn’t specified what the minimum age is. Some people near 50 have been reported requesting the licenses, but it is not known if they received therm.
The vendors are limited to selling artisan works and items made at home. They must give the government 20 percent of their income from the sales.
Gay youths fined for alleged lewdness
HAVANA, Cuba, June 24 (Aliomar Janjaque Chivaz / LGBT Cuba Noticias Hoy, www.cubanet.org) – Seven youths were detained last Sunday at Havana’s Chivo beach apparently because of their sexual orientation.
René Alonso, 18, who reported the detentions, said he was fined 30 pesos for lewdness.
“Some of us resisted being removed from the beach,” he said. “They have no right to remove us just because we’re homosexuals.”
Lawyer’s prison sentence ratified
HAVANA, Cuba, June 22 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) – The provincial court in Holguín last week ratified a prison sentence of five years against José Manuel de la Rosa, a lawyer who is a member of Corriente Agramontista, a group formed by independent lawyers.
De la Rosa was arrested in his home on Nov. 25, 2008 and accused of common crimes, said his mother, Ramona Pérez. His arrest followed an argument with a neighbor, who denounced him to the police.
He has been held in the in the Holguín prison.
Independent journalist’s home
HAVANA, Cuba, June 22 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) The government’s Rapid Response Brigade raided the home of independent journalist Pedro Enrique Martínez in Santiago de Cubna province.
Martínez said 18 persons who involved in the and that they removed various sayings of José Martí and Antonio Maceo that were written on the exterior and interior walls of his house.
10,000 new communists chosen
HAVANA, Cuba, June 22 (Carlos Ríos / www.cubanet.org) – More than 10,000 teenagers joined the Union of Young Communists last week.
The new communists, boys and girls aged 14, were accepted into the organization on June 14, the date commemorating the births of Che Guevara and Antonio Maceo.
To be selected, the youths must have high marks from primary school onwards and participate in political activities which promote the Communist Party. Without membership, acceptance at university is difficult.
Prisoner of conscience teargassed
HAVANA, Cuba, June 19 (Belinda Salas / www.cubanet.org) - Political prisoner Fabio Prieto Llorente says he was tear-gassed by guards when he complained about conditions at the Guayabo Prison on the Isle of Youth.
Prieto, 47, said in a telephone interview that the tear gas was used when on June 8 when he started to shout at the guards that he wanted the human rights of the prisoners to be respected.
“The tear gas irritated my skin and my eyes and affected my breathing,” he said. “It was one of so many violations that are committed daily in the jails of Cuba.”
Prieto, sentenced to 20 years as one of the Group of 75 in 2003, has been declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International.
Easy money part of film shoot
HAVANA, Cuba, June 19 (Frank Correa / www.cubanet.org) - Pedestrians were surprised early Thursday when bundles of Cuban pesos were thrown from the window of a car being driven at high speed on Havana’s Fifth Avenue.
They scrambled to pick up as many bills as possible, all of them of small denomination.
The reason for the bills being thrown became apparent when they saw a cameraman in a following car film the action.
Activist cites discrimination against her children
HAVANA, Cuba, June 18 (Ana Aguililla, www.cubanet.org) - Elizabeth De Regla Alonso Castellanos, responsible for public relations of the Opposition Movement for a New Republic, says two of her children recently suffered discrimination because of her political activities.
She said her daughter, Elizabeth Sissy Paredes Alonso, 17, was denied acceptance in medical school even though she met all the academic and other requirements.
She said her son, Rodolfo Arturo Rafols Alonso, 10, was mistreated and cursed at by his teacher at the “Primero de Mayo” primary school.
She said the news of her daughter’s non-acceptance and the incident with her son occurred on Tuesday.
Cancelled conjugal visit sparks hunger strike
HAVANA, Cuba, June 18 (Julio Beltrán, Agencia Libre Asociada / www.cubanet.org) – Political prisoner Arturo Suárez, serving a 30-year sentence since 1987, declared a hunger strike after refusing to wear a prison uniform for a conjugal visit with his wife.
The conjugal visit was suspended and he was allowed a visit instead by his mother, Isabel Ramos.
Suárez , 45, started the hunger strike June 10.
Eggs thrown at dissident’s home
HAVANA, Cuba, June 18 (Frank Correa / www.cubanet.org) – Someone threw eggs at the home of Francisco Chaviano, leader of the Agenda for Cuban Transition last Sunday.
Neither Chaviano nor his wife was home at the time, but the incident frightened his older sister, who was there.
Police round up 30 homosexuals
HAVANA, Cuba, June 18 (Aliomar Janjaque Chivaz, LGBT Cuba Noticias / www.cubanet.org) – Blogger Amauri Dovodelavilla Torriente, who has a blog dedicated to the fight against HIV/AID, was arrested last weekend in a police round up of some 30 homosexuals in Havana.
The arrests, carried out by National Police, took place around the Capitol.
“I was arrested at 10 on Saturday morning and released at 2 in the morning Saturday,” said Dovodelavilla Torriente. “When I asked the motive of the arrests, no one responded. It is humiliating and inhumane to be arrested without reason just because one is gay and wants to speak to colleagues in a public place.”
Fire May Be Linked to Power Outages
Havana, Cuba, June 12 (Carlos Ríos / www.cubanet.org) – The fire that burned down a shopping center in East Havana may have been intentionally set, some people here say.
The fire that burned through the Rina shopping center in the Camilo Cienfuegos neighborhood May 29 coincided with a power outage, and, some people say, power company officials had received anonymous threats regarding payback for interruptions in electrical service that had been announced by the government due to “excessive fuel consumption.”
During the period of economic hardship in the early nineties, authorities decreed rolling power outages to save on fuel, and some made use of the blackouts as opportunities to damage or sabotage shopping centers, among other establishments.
Electrical Service Not Enough To Cook With
SANTA CLARA, Cuba, June 12 (Yoel Espinosa / www.cubanet.org) – More than 50 residents of the area around the Santa Clara Air Force base say they haven't been able to cook for two years due to the deficiencies of the electrical service they are provided.
“Ever since they (government authorities) took away kerosene and made us cook with electricity, sometimes it'll be ten o'clock at night and we haven't been able to finish cooking because of the low voltage, the bulbs barely give off light,” said area resident Leticia Vargas.
She also pointed out that the 65 people living in 24 housing units have been getting their electricity since 1980 through a hanging wire going through a single electric meter.
Vargas said residents have complained repeatedly to authorities to no avail.
“A substantial investment that the country is in no condition to make is necessary,” she said is the unvarying response by authorities.
Anti Government Graffiti in Government Building
HAVANA, Cuba, June 15 (Aini Martín / www.cubanet.org) – Anti government graffiti showed up in several public places in Regla and Guanabacoa municipalities June 11.
On the wall of the building housing the local government offices in Regla, someone wrote several phrases derogatory of the government, and at the corner of Maceo and Perdomo Streets someone painted slogans against the revolution.
Police in Guanabacoa detained dissidents Juan Carlos Bous, Santos Rivero and Antuán Clemente in connection with the graffiti, performed handwriting tests and fingerprinted them. They released them by 11 pm that same night.
Emerging Teachers Suspected in Sex Case
ISLA DE LA JUVENTUD, Cuba, June 11 (Lamasiel Gutiérrez, Isla Press / www.cubanet.org) – Two emerging teachers, known only by their first names of Yandri and Orlenis, have been held at the municipal police station since Sunday after several parents complained they had improperly touched their daughters during a camping trip.
The parents said at least two girls, aged 11 and 12, complained after a weekend-long camping trip for 5th and 6th grade students that they had been groped and given liquor to drink.
The students were supposed to interact with nature at the Arenas Negras campground at Bibijagua beach, 8 kilometers from the island capital of Nueva Gerona.
Subsequently, school authorities ordered teachers and students not to comment on the matter.
Prisoner of conscience hospitalized
SANTA CLARA, Cuba, June 11 (Bárbara Jiménez / www.cubanet.org) - Ariel Sigler Amaya, a designated prisoner of conscience who was one of the 75 dissidents arrested and imprisoned in 2003, was hospitalized June 5, according to his wife.
Noelia Pedreza said her husband, serving a 20-year sentence, was taken to the Dr. Gustavo Aldereguía Lima hospital in Cienfuegos in a “delicate state” of health.
She said Sigler Amaya asked officials at the Ariza prison to take him to the hospital as he was feeling ill. She said his health has been deteriorating for the past nine months, but she didn’t what his ailments were.
Police carry out roundup off the Malecón
HAVANA, Cuba, June 9 (Aleaga Pesant , www.cubanet.org) –Border guards and national police carried out a roundup last Saturday of fishermen, boaters and divers off the Malecón.
The operation started at 4 p.m. and involved the seizure of fish and the sinking of rafts. Those arrested were taken to a police station, where fines of up to 1,500 pesos, the equivalent of more than three monthly salaries for the average Cuba, were meted out.
Two cigarette boats were used in the roundup.
Those who fled on foot were captured by police in patrol cars.
A source related the roundup to the coming ashore last week of rafters on the coast near the U.S. Interests Section. That incident resulted in police swarming the area.
Under Cuban law, fishermen need government permission to fish and to build boats or rafts from which to fish.
Dissident press winners announced
HAVANA, Cuba, June 8 (Leafar Pérez / www.cubanet.org) – The dissident Foundation for Freedom of Expression (Fundación por la Libertad de Expresión) yas announced the winners of its 2009 awards.
Independent journalist Lucas Garve, who established the awards six years ago, named the following winners: independent journalist Jorge Olivera Castillo for “his commitment to the defense of freedom of expression in Cuba,” Periódico Consenso, “for its quality and efforts to reach a professional level;” and Semanario Primavera, a blog, for its contribution to the development of a free press.
Thirty evangelical pastors arrested
HAVANA, Cuba, June 8 (Juan Carlos González / www.cubanet.org) – Thirty evangelical pastors were arrested last week by State Security agents and members of the National Police in Santa Cruz del Sur, Camagüey, preventing them from holding a convention.
Several of the pastors called the dissident Council of Human Rights of Cuba, asking that news of the arrests be made known.
“The world should know that the Cuban government continues to pursue Christians,” said Bernardo de Quesada Salomón, leader of the group. “The only thing we’re doing is getting together 200 pastors to praise God.”
De Quesada Salomón has been arrested several times.
Bad cheese causes two deaths
HAVANA, Cuba, June 8 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) – Two persons died after some 100 became sick and were hospitalized June 1 after eating bad cheese sold in Güines in Havana province, according to reports.
According to human rights activists, the dead included a minor. Julián E. Martínez, secretary of the Pro Human Rights party, “The Leopoldito Martínez hospital is full of poisoned people and many have been sent to hospitals in the capital because of the state of their health.”
Independent journalist detained by police
HAVANA, Cuba, June 3 de junio (Roberto de Jesús Guerra, CIHPRESS / www.cubanet.org) – Independent journalist Julio Aleaga Pesant was detained by State Security last week and questioned about his participation in a videoconference journalism course at the U.S. Interests Section .
Aleaga was stopped May 29 as he dropped off his young son at school. He was released more than three hours later.
Besides being questioned about the course given by the International Media Center at Florida International University, Aleaga was asked about upcoming elections in the dissident Liberal Party of the Republic of Cuba.
Prisoner of conscience in solitary confinement
HOLGUÍN, Cuba, June 3 (José Ramón Pupo, Holguín Press / www.cubanet.org) –Prisoner of conscience Alfredo Domínguez was placed in solitary confinement after protesting demands made of him, according to his wife, Melba Santana, who said he’s now on a hunger strike.
“Alfredo declared himself on a hunger strike to protest this outrage,” she said, adding that political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer joined her husband in the strike, which began May 29 .
She said Domínguez was placed in the cell after protesting requirements made by jailers, which she did not specify. She said the cell was surrounded by dirty water and rats and insects were jumping about.
Five prisoners on hunger strike in Camagüey
HAVANA, Cuba, June 2 (Ana Aguililla / www.cubanet.org) – Human rights activist Osmany Fuentes and four other prisoners at the Kilo 8 prison in Camagüey started a hunger strike May 20, according to a report from the prison.
The prisoners are demanding better medical treatment, religious attention, the right to call family members and transfers to prisons in their home provinces.
The other hunger strikers were identified as Nelson Vázquez, Silvio Valdés, Yerandi Reyes and Ángel García.
Police carry out arrests of youths in Havana
HAVANA, Cuba, June 1 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) – The National Police Force staged a series of raids last week in the capital, arresting dozens of youths, among them homosexuals and prostitutes.
The police asked for indentify cards from those walking around in places such as Vedado and the Malecón. Some of those stopped were taken to police stations for questioning.
"These raids take place almost daily against young blacks, whites and Orientals,” said Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement.
Protestant evangelical pastors harassed and arrested
HAVANA, Cuba, June 1 (Juan Carlos González / www.cubanet.org) – Various protestant preachers were arrested last week in the province of Las Tunas y Camagüey and threatened with jail on charges of being a “social danger,” to society, said one of them, Luis Yoel Barbuena.
Barbuena said the police chief in the area where he lives came several times to his home and told him he could be jailed for four years for evangelizing and using audio equipment without a license. He said he preaches in his own home, not in a church.
He said Pastor Bernardo de Quesada and his wife, Damaris Machín, were arrested on the highway to Santa Cruz del Sur when they tried to go to Camagüey for the trial of a dissident.
Pastors Tomasa Victoria Ayala and Jorge Zellero said they lost their livelihood when police closed the carpenter shop which they operated on their own.
Subsidized food quotas top be reduced
HAVANA, Cuba, June 1 (Laritza Diversent, www.cubanet.org) –The government is reducing the quantity of food available at subsidized prices under rationing books.
The quota for black beans, currently 10 ounces per person per month, will be cut to five.
The quota for salt will go from 333 grams per month to 174.