May 2009


Independent journalist threatened with internal deportation     

HAVANA, Cuba, May 29  (Ana Aguililla / www.cubanet.org) – Two State Security agents detained independent journalist Carlos Serpa on Monday, taking him to the Zulueta Street police station for questioning.

Serpa said he was detained because State Security knew that he was going to report on a protest march by former political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as “Antúnez.”

Serpa said he was warned that he would be sent back to the Isle of Youth, where he has his official residence, if he continues reporting on opposition activities.


Two independent journalists detained after workshop

HAVANA, Cuba, May 28 (Frank Correa / www.cubanet.org) -  Two independent journalists were detained separately by State Security agents after attending a workshop last week at the U.S. Interests Section.

David Águila was stopped by two agents at 3:30 p.m. on May 21 and taken to a nearby park where he was questioned and released. The agents took a copy of El Nuevo Herald of Miami that he was carrying as well as some papers.

An hour later, Reinier Vera was detained by agents who took him to the police station in Párraga for questioning. The police said they were planning a “pretty surprise on graduation day” for the journalists.

Águila and Vera had attended a videoconference workshop given by the International Media Center of Florida International University in Miami.


Police car hits independent journalist in apparent accident

HAVANA, Cuba, May 28  (Luis Cino / www.cubanet.org) – A police cruiser struck  independent journalist Odelín Alfonso and his wife on Tuesday, but she said she didn’t think it was intentional.

Chief of police Lt. Michael Hodelín witnessed the accident, which occurred in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón at 10:40 a.m. when the driver of the cruiser apparently lost control of the vehicle. The couple was not injured.

“I don’t think there was any intent on the part of the driver, who lost control because he was driving too fast,” said Alfonso’s wife, Yaquelin Cutiño.

When police asked Alonso for his identify card, he refused to show it, saying, “Arrest me.” He was placed in the cruiser that hit him, but the police chief ordered his release, and he left with his wife.


Activist fired from government job again

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, May 28  (Yudelmis Fonseca / www.cubanet.org) – Liliana Morfi, 21, said she was fired from her job as clerk in a government store because of her membership in three dissident organizations.

Morfi says she has lost all of her jobs because of her political activity. “Last May 15 they kicked me out of La Viajera bodega,” she said.

She belongs to the Municipal Democratic Circles of Cuba ( Círculos Democráticos Municipales de Cuba) and the Rosa Parks Feminine Movement (Movimiento Femenino Rosa Parks) and the Cuban Foundation of Human Rights (Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos.


Prisoner forsakes day of freedom as a protest

ISLE OF YOUTH, Cuba, May 28  (Clara Lourdes Prieto / www.cubanet.org) – Prisoner of conscience Fabio Prieto says he refused his hour of freedom last week in protest over his treatment at the Guayabo Prison on the Isle of Youth.

Prieto, 46, said he took the action because of harassment and physical attacks.

Prieto was among 75 arrested and sentenced in 2003 for anti-government activities. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

He suffers from spinal disorder, stomach problems and hypertension


Journalist Arrested

Havana, Cuba. May 21 (Georgina Noa / www.cubanet.org) – Independent journalist Julio Beltrán was arrested at home May 18 by two officers of the political police as he was preparing to go out.
The officers took Beltrán to the Playa municipality police station where they questioned him. Beltrán said they warned him if he persisted in his counterrevolutionary activities he would be charged and end up in prison.
The officers set him free at 4:30 in the afternoon, Beltrán said.

Cuban Capitol Is 80 Years Old

Havana, Cuba. May 21 (Lucas Garve, Fundación por la Libertad de Expresión / www.cubanet.org) – The Cuban Capitol, inaugurated May 20, 1929, is 80 years old.
The former legislative seat now houses the Ministry of Science and the Environment. The ornate structure is also a tourist attraction, housing as it does the world's third largest indoor statue and the so-called “Capitol Diamond”, a diamond set into the floor that marks milepost zero of Cuba's Central Highway.
The statue represents the Cuban Republic and was sculpted by Angelo Fallini in Italy. For years the building was the tallest structure in the Cuban capital. It is a smaller-scale replica of the Capitol in the U. S. capital and was built by local craftsmen and professionals.
Before the present government came to power in 1959, the building was the seat of the Cuban legislature; its two main halls, locally called “hemicycles”, housed the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives.

Provincial Hospital Deteriorating

Santa Clara, Cuba. May 19 (Yesmy Elena Mena  / www.cubanet.org) – The Celestino Hernández Robau provincial hospital in Villa Clara is deteriorating by the day, said government opponent Yoel Mariano Bencomo, who pointed out the facility's failings.
According to Bencomo, the hospital is infested with vermin. “The bathrooms are filthy and leaky, the doors and windows are broken, the matresses are in poor condition and missing covers, the bed sheets are stained, and the food is poorly made and low in protein.”
Bencomo said that it is difficult for patients' relatives to obtain information and that they had complained about delays in the ambulance service and about the lack of medical specialists.

No Dentist For 2,000 Prison Inmates

Ranchuelo, Cuba. May 19  (Félix Reyes, Cubanacán Press / www.cubanet.org) -
The 2,000 inmates of Ariza prison in Cienfuegos have been without dental services for two months.
Humberto Becerra, a political prisoner, said that since March 20 inmates have not had access to dental services because the dentist, authorities told them, is on vacation. But a prison guard told a group of prisoners that the real reason is that the dentist shipped out to Venezuela in “international service.”
The lack of dental services led inmate Osvelis Medina to pull his own tooth with a guitar string.

Cuban Free Press in Mortal Danger

Lázaro González Valdés

The news couldn't be worse. “Cubanet is going through a difficult economic situation that could imperil its very survival”, said the article published by the staff at the non-profit organization.

MIAMI, Florida, may, (www.cubanet.org) -The news couldn't be worse. “Cubanet is going through a difficult economic situation that could imperil its very survival”, said the article published by the staff at the non-profit organization.

But we must not allow Cubanet to die for many reasons.


Coffee Peddlers Go AWOL

Santa Clara, Cuba. May 18.  (Guillermo Fariñas, Cubanacán Press / www.cubanet.org) – The illegal peddlers who usually hawk coffee in the streets of the provincial capital of Santa Clara have been gone for three weeks now. The reason? No beans to sell.
Police have set up check points on the roads leading into the city from Manicaragua and Báez, effectively stopping transportation of the coffee from the Escambray mountains, where it is grown.
Police have also been searching passengers arriving by train from the eastern provinces. As a result, supplies of coffee have all but dried up in the city, at least at a price that would allow the illegal peddlers to compete.
An old lady who said her name is Eumelia who usually sells coffee around La Chirusa neighborhood said: “Things are tough with coffee, because they are not allowing it to come down from the hills, and if you are going to buy it at the dollar stores, you'll go broke.”


Independent journalist struck by motorcycle

HAVANA, Cuba, May 15 (Ana Aguililla / www.cubanet.org) - Independent journalist Frank Correa was hit by a Susuki motorcycle like those used by State Security agents.
The driver of the motorcycle accused Correa of causing the accident.
The driver of an American car who witnessed the accident stopped and offered to take Correa to a hospital, but the journalist declined medical attention. He suffered light injuries to his left ankle and right hand.
“Thrown to the ground and a bit groggy,” Correa said, adding the driver of the motorcycle could have been a State Security agent since they use Susukis.
The motorcycle suffered a broken headlight.

Women insist on paying in pesos

HAVANA, Cuba, May 14 (Julio Beltrán, Agencia Libre Asociada / www.cubanet.org) – Members of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women (FLAMUR) ate and drank at El Piropo in Havana’s exclusive Vedado district, and refused to pay the bill in hard currency, the only banknotes the restaurant accepts.

When the group offered pesos, part of its “With the Same Money” campaign, the waiter said, “This is a hard currency establishment. You know this money has no value here.”

When he realized the group wouldn’t pay in hard currency, he accepted the pesos and told them never to return.

The group consisted of members Niurka Caridad Ortega and Magaly Urrutia and sympathizer Oscar Sierra.


Sentenced to a year for selling candies

HAVANA, Cuba, May 13  (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) - Lázaro Melanio Vidal Hernández, a member of the Democratic Pacifist Line Movement, was recently sentenced to one year of forced labor for selling home-made candies, according to the dissident party’s president, Rodolfo Ramirez Cardoso.

Ramirez said Vidal Hernández was obliged to sell the candies in order to support his family. He said he will serve the sentence at the Amistad Cuba-Corea farm in Bejucal, Havana province.

“That’s a crime,” Ramírez said.


Series of arrests of dissidents in Baracoa

HAVANA, Cuba, May 12 (Tania Maceda / www.cubanet.org) - State Security agents have been arresting dissidents following raids on their homes in Baracoa, Guantánamo province.

The latest detentions were those of Keiber Rodríguez and Rolando Rodríguez and Rodríguez’s brother Néstor. They were taken to the Centro de Instrucción Policial de Guantánamo.  

On May 1, dissidents Roberto González and Francisco Luis Manzané were arrested at their homes, according to human rights activist Carlos Manuel Hernández.   

Keiber Rodríguez is a president of the Juan Pablo II Liberation and Reconciliation Movement. Néstor and Rolando Rodríguez are leaders of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democrcy.

All those detained have been released, but police did not return three cell phones and a computer taken from Rolando Rodríguez’s home.


Campaign against foreign currency establishments continues

HAVANA, Cuba, May 12 (Georgina Noa / www.cubanet.org) – Members of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women are continuing their campaign to be able to pay with Cuban pesos in hard currency establishments.

Their “With the Same Currency” (Con la misma moneda) campaign has been operating from east to west in Cuba. The latest target was the Conejito restaurant in Havana’s Vedado district where three men, Fernando Lezcano, Reinier Montano and Victor Alejandro Rodríguez, tried to pay the bill with pesos.

Rodríguez was arrested and held for two hours. He was warned he’d be charged with deceptive practices in the future.


 Activists jailed in Havana

HAVANA, Cuba, May 12 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra / www.cubanet.org) – A group of activists belonging to the February 24 Movement has been arrested in Havana, according to relatives.

Among those arrested were Adeley Álvarez, Omara Álvarez, René Ramón González, Lázaro Martín Souto, Dagoberto Berger, Norberto León Batista, Efraín Ortiz and Juan Guillermo Rosales.

The arrests followed a meeting in Mantilla at the home of Alfredo Fernández, president of the November 30 Movement, where it was agreed to hold a workshop on freedom and democracy.


 Activist starts hunger strike because of harassment

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, May 12 (Juan Carlos Reyes, Holguín Press / www.cubanet.org) - Former political prisoner Lorenzo García says he started a hunger strike May 5 because of police harassment.

According to García, since the beginning of the year police have been stopping him, citing him and preventing his free movement.

García reached his limit at 1 a.m. on May 5 when a police agent threatened to return him to prison.


Children of independent journalist threatened 

HAVANA, Cuba, May 11 (Ana Aguililla Saladrigas, www.cubanet.org) – Political police agents paid a visit to independent journalist Ainí Martín Valero Saturday night during which they hinted something might happen to his young children if he kept up his dissident activities.

Martín Valero said the agents questioned him about his frequent presence at meetings of the Liberal Unit of the Republic of Cuba (Unidad Liberal de la República de Cuba). He said he told them as a journalist he has the right to go to places of professional interest for his work.

He said they suggested in a menacing manner that he keep away from the group and that he could be sentenced to four years in prison if he didn’t. Then the “reminded” him he had two minor children, a threat as other independent journalists have been told their children might be taken away from t hem and placed in institutions for the incorrigible.


Jailed for transporting 10 liters of milk

 HAVANA, Cuba, May 8  (Reinaldo Cosano, Sindical Press / www.cubanet.org) - Leonel Pérez Fonseca, 33, spent two days in jail in Loma del Tanque, Alamar, for transporting 10 liters of milk.

“They questioned me at the police station about where the milk came from,” Pérez said. “I told the officer but he didn’t believe me. They threatened to charge me with the transportation and illegal sale of milk”

Pérez was released after his wife asked farmer René Alfonso, the 80-year-old owner of the seven cows and two goats that provided the milk, to clear her husband of any wrongdoing. Alfonso told police the milk was for family consumption.


Lifeguard arrested for allegedly renting umbrellas

HAVANA, Cuba, May 8 (Reinaldo Cosano, Sindical Press / www.cubanet.org) – Lifeguard Justo Sánchez, 30, was detained by police this week for allegedly renting umbrellas to tourists at Guanabo Beach.

The charge was dropped on Monday when a search of Sánchez revealed he carried no money and no tourists were at the beach at the time of his detention. Nor were any witnesses to an illegal transaction located.

Sánchez is a member of the Free Union of Workers in Cuba (CONIC).

Sánchez’s grandfather, Bernardino Izquierdo, suggested political motives behind the arrest.


Prayers banned at funeral homes

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, May 8  (Yosvani Anzardo / www.cubanet.org) – Funeral home operators say the government has prohibited prayers or any religious act at funerals.

According to the operators, the prohibition is contained in decree that makes no religious distinctions. They say that non-religious observations, such as from brotherhoods, are not permitted either.

“This measure is a new attack on freedom to worship,” said one mourner.


Fisherman protest decision of PESCACUBA

HAVANA, Cuba, May 7 (Leafar Pérez / www.cubanet.org) – Fishermen working for the government’s PESCACUBA are complaining that payment for their catches has been cut in half.

The company announced the reduction in April. The fishermen gave an example of one fish that brought then 1,500 pesos a ton now brings in 800.

One of the fishermen, Osvaldo Nieves, said the fleet of fishing boats is not well maintained. “Some boats have been at anchor for five months because of a shortage of anchors, compasses and motors,” he said. “When the boats are tied up, we don’t get paid.”


Counterfeit appear in Havana  

HAVANA, Cuba, May 6 (Aini Martín, Agencia Libre Asociada / www.cubanet.org) – Merchants in the capital’s commercial zone say some 10 and five peso banknotes they accepted turned out to be counterfeit.

According to some of the affected merchants in the Regla district, the banknotes appeared May 2 and were difficult to detect as counterfeit.

redchnats, the En la zona comercial donde se recoge el depósito de las bodegas, lecherías y puestos de viandas del municipio Regla, se detectó el pasado 2 de mayo una alarmante suma de billetes falsos.

Según los testimonios de las personas afectadas, el dinero falso carece del sello de agua y es difícil de detectar. Las autoridades están tratando de descubrir el origen de las falsificaciones, sin que hasta el momento hayan obtenido resultados satisfactorios


Three dissidents detained in Baracoa

GUANTÁNAMO, Cuba, May 6 (Yosvani Anzardo / www.cubanet.org ) – Three dissidents were detained by police last week in the municipality of Baracoa in Guantánamo province.

The home of the trio, Rolando Rodríguez, Néstor Rodríguez and Keiber Rodríguez, were searched by police.

They said the police confiscated books, a radio, a computer and two pullover sweaters.


Gas costs US$4.16 a gallon in Cuba

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, May 5 (Yosvani Anzardo / www.cubanet.org) –The price of gasoline in Cuba remains at the equivalent of US$4.16 a gallon, a little less than half the monthly salary of the average Cuban.

The government had decreed a price increase following Hurricane Ike last year on grounds that prices were going up worldwide.


Dissident barred from leaving his municipality

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, May 5 (Yosvani Anzardo / www.cubanet.org) – Activist Alejandro Antonio Cervantes was detained by police last week and threatened with a 20-year prison term if he continued anti-government activities.

Cervantes is the regional coordinator in Sibanicú, Camagüey province, of the Committee Against Unfair Treatment.

He said following his detention April 24 police prohibited him from leaving the municipality and said Law 88 would be applied if he continued his activities. An act of warning was issued.


Government interference of Radio Martí increases

HAVANA. Cuba, May 4 (Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez / www.cubanet.org) - Listeners of Radio Martí in the Mariel municipality of Havana say the government is interfering with the signal 24 hours a day for the first time.

Various listeners throughout the area said the signal had been received with no or little interference until the end of last year.

A man named Rafael, a constant listener to the U.S. government station, said, “They only lessen the interference when there’s a major league baseball game is being broadcast. If it’s broadcasting news or hot commentary it’s impossible to receive the signal. It’s as if the radio is going to break because of the vibrations.”

A neighbor of Rafael’s nicknamed China said, “Wouldn’t it be better to use the money being wasted on interference to instead solve problems like the shortage of water, transportation, damage caused by hurricanes, the shortage of ambulances and other problems we face?”


 Anti-Castro signs appear at university

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, May 4 (Guillermo Fariñas, Cubanacán Press / www.cubanet.org) – Two anti-Castro signs appeared last week on the campus of the Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas (UCI) in Villa Clara.

The signs written by hand were in front of computer rooms on the first and second floors. One said, “Down with the dictatorship of the Castro brothers,” and the other said, “No to the Castro family dynasty.”

Agents from the Interior ministry questioned faculty, students and service workers April 26.


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