October 2009


Ex-political prisoner threatened with seizure of his farm

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 30  (Roberto de Jesús Guerra, Hablemos Press / www.cubanet.org) – Former political prisoner Ángel Frómeta was ordered to appear in court Monday to prove that the 125 acres he inherited from his father legally belong to him.

A commission from the Agriculture Ministry recently visited his farm and threatened to confiscate it until he produced a title. When he refused, he was cited to appear.

“I told them that I am an independent farmer from Santiago de Cuba who belongs to a cooperative and whose land was inherited from his father, so they’re mine,” he said.

 “They insulted me to provoke me,” he said. “I told them that if they had a document authorizing the confiscation of my land, to show it to me, but they didn’t reply.”

Frómeta grows plantains, coconuts, mango, beans and tomatoes on his land.


Dissident imprisoned for street fight

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 30 (Tania Maceda Guerra, www.cubanet.org)   – Dissident José Rolando Cásares Soto has started a 15-month sentence in the Kilo 5 ½ prison in Pinar del Río because of a fight in the street.

Cásares Soto said he was walking down the street on Aug. 25, 2008, when he someone punched him and he retaliated. Agents from State Security and the National Police arrested him on charges of causing bodily harm.

Cásares Soto is a member of the Cuban Human Rights Foundation and the Circle of Democratic Municipalities.


Dissidents detained for asking about a jailed colleague

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 30 (Ana Aguililla Saladrigas , www.cubanet.org) – Dissident José Candelario Muñoz Suárez says he was detained by political police on Monday when he inquired about the whereabouts of colleague Mario Olivera.

Muñoz Suárez said he and Ricardo Barreto Fuentes went to Section 21 of State Security to ask about Olivera, who had been detained by police and whose family was not informed.

Muñoz Suárez, a member of the November 30 Party, and Barreto Fuentes, a delegate of the Andrei Sajarov Human Rights Party, were taken to separate police and questioned for several hours.


Police detain dissident taking medicine to his wife 

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 30 de octubre, (Ana Aguililla Saladrigas , www.cubanet.org) – Dissident Ricardo Vega Murillo was detained by police when he tried to deliver medicine and clothes to his wife, who’s participating in a protest in the home of  ex-political prisoner Vladimiro Roca Antúnez.

Police examined the goods Vega was bringing for his wife, Elizabeth de Regla Alonso Castellanos, and then took him to the police station.

Police have surrounded the home of Roca Antúnez for several weeks. He heads the independent Cuban Social-Democratic Party and is a winner of the European Union’s Sakharov Prize.


Dissident denied unused land

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 29 (Ángel Luis Bernabé, Isla Press / www.cubanet.org) – The request of dissident Carlos Manuel Pupo for 3.5 hectares (8.75 acres) of unused farmland has been rejected by the government.
Pupo, who has worked in food production in the municipality of San Antonio de los Baños in Havana province for the past 20 years, made the request last year. He said he was recently told, “There’s no land for you.”
The government has been accepting requests for unused, unproductive land.
Pupo is an organizer for the dissident Union for a Free Cuba.

Teenager arrested for possessing lobster tails

CAIBARIÉN, Cuba, Oct. 29 (Maria Caridad Noa Fernández, www.cubanet.org) - Police arrested Raidel García Corcho, 17, for possessing four pounds of lobster tails.
He was one of five persons riding in the back of a truck that was stopped by two police officers Oct. 25.
Police were going to fine him for illegal possession, but he insisted the lobster tails were a birthday gift from a fisherman friend.
Police confiscated the lobster tails and released García Corcho to his parents after three hours of detention.


131 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in Havana

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 29 (José A. Fornaris, Cuba-Verdad / www.cubanet.org) - Statistics released by state media show that 131 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the first seven months of the year.
They said there were 6,767 traffic accidents in the capital of which 464 were caused by pedestrians, most of them by not paying attention when crossing the street.
Horse drawn transport in Villa Clara province was responsible for 16 accidents causing five fatalities.

Seized book prompts hunger strike

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, Oct. 29 (Indiana Rojas Laborí, www.cubanet.org) – Political prisoner Iván Hernández Carrillo started a hunger strike this week after guards confiscated a book given him, according to his mother.
Asunción Carrillo said she had taken to the Guamajal prison on visitors day Oct. 26 a book written by political prisoner Antonio Ramón Díaz Sánchez.
“My son refused to accept food and other books they left pass,” she said.
Hernández Carrillo, one of the Group of 75 arrested and sentenced in 2003, is serving a 25-year sentence.


Political prisoner in solitary confinement

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 27 (Juan Carlos González Leiva / www.cubanet.org) – Political prisoner  Rigoberto Zamora has been placed in solitary confinement after complaining that State Security agents had taken his notebooks and telephone numbers from his cell.

Fellow prisoner Armando Alcántara said Zamora, 49, started a hunger strike in an attempt to recover his belongings.

Zamora was given a two-year sentence in January of 2008 for protesting in public elections organized by the government.

He is serving the sentence at the Mangas prison in Granma province.


Political prisoner has swine flu

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 27 (Álvaro Yero Felipe, www.cubanet.org) –Pablo Pacheco Ávila, one of 75 dissidents sentenced in a mass crackdown in 2003,  is suffering in prison from the H1N1 swine flu, according to dissident Juan González Febles.

González Febles, director of the online weekly Primavera Digital, said he received the news by telephone from a source at the Canelta prison in Ciego de Ávila.

He said the source did not know González Febles’ state of health but assumed it was delicate.


Polls show 69% oppose Raúl Castro

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 26 Leafar Pérez, www.cubanet.org – Polls conducted by two independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) show that 69 percent disapprove of president Raúl Castro.

The NGOs, El Centro de Información Sobre Democracia and Alianza Nueva Nación, polled 1,000 persons in Cuba’s nine provinces.

Those polled said that during Castro’s three years in office the country’s economy has worsened, prices have risen, housing is scarce and corruption continues.

They also questioned the police crackdown on crime instead of giving Cuba’s more freedom to open small business that would employ people.

Castro’s support was lowest in the capital and generally among the young, whose opposition reached 80 percent.


Police leave musician without TV signal

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 26 (Aini Martín Valero, ALAS, www.cubanet.org) – Telephone company technicians backed by National Police National Police disconnected the television dish of popular singer and bandleader Cesar Pedroso last week. according to a neighbor.

Esperanza Torres said the employees of ETECSA, the Italo-Cuban telephone company, broke into Pedroso’s house.

It is illegal in Cuba to install a clandestine dish to pick up signals from foreign television stations, mainly from Miami, such as Univision and Telemundo.

Pedroso, 63, was a founding member of Los Van Van and later formed his own bad, Pupi y los que Son Son.


Carlos M. Castañeda honored by Cuban dissidents

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 26 (Leafar Pérez, www.cubanet.org) – A dissident educational institution is honoring the late Cuban-born journalist Carlos M. Castañeda in a new fall schedule.

The Foundation for Free Expression said the work of Castañeda as editor of El Nuevo Día in Puerto Rico and as a newspaper designer and consultant in Latin America will be the subject of courses at the Popular University, backed by several independent organizations.

The foundation is directed by independent journalists Lucas Garve.

At the time of his death at 70 in 2002, Castañeda was publisher emeritus of El Nuevo Herald in Miami.

A former reporter of the Cuban magazine Bohemia, Castañeda fled Cuba in 1960. He was the founding editor of El Nuevo Día in 1970 and ran the newspaper until his retirement in 1998. Later that year he became editor of El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language edition of the Miami Herald.


Police arrest nine going to gay play

HAVANA, Oct. 23  Aliomar Janjaque, Fundación Cubana LGTB, www.cubanet.org) – After letting 28 people attend a gay theatrical presentation, state security agents arrested nine others who arrived later, according to one of the attendees.

Jaime Durán, 34, who is openly gay, said police gave no explanation as to why they decided to arrest others arriving at the residence of Henry Solís Estévez Nueves, where the play, directed by Yusmania Noublet, was presented.

Those arrested were taken to a nearby police station and released hours later.


Independent journalist expects trial

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 22  (Belinda Salas / www.cubanet.org) – Independent journalist Julio Beltrán was detained by police last week as he was about to pray for the freedom of political prisoners at Friday mass at Our Lady of Carmen church.

Three weeks ago he was detained by police who opened on file on him for allegedly leading a counter-revolutionary group that threatened national security.

 “I’m expecting anything from the police as I was threatened last Saturday again in my home,” Beltrán said. “They reminded me that I’m awaiting a trial that could lead to prison.”


Police prevent dissident from leaving his home

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 21 (Ana Aguililla Saladrigas, www.cubanet.org) – Dissident Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina says political police prevent him from leaving his home in Baracoa.

Rodríguez Lobaina, a member of the opposition Cuban Transition Agenda, said police detained him October 9 after an event of the Juvenile Cuban Forum (Foro Juvenil Cubano) in Bayazo.

He said he was taken to the police operational center in Guantánamo for questioning. He said when police later took him home agents remained outside to prevent his departure.


Three dissidents detained y police

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 21 (Ana Aguililla Saladrigas, www.cubanet.org) - Police detained three members of the “Sons of the Virgin of Regla” last week.

Activists Miguel López Santos, María de los Ángeles Borrego and Jesús Adolfo Reyes said police stopped them Oct. 16 as they were going to the home of fellow dissident Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo in the Boyeros district.

Fonseca Quevedo is the spokesperson for the dissident Provincial Junta of the City of Havana.


Independent journalist sentenced for fight in 2007

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 16 (Magaly Norvis, Hablemos Press / www.cubanet.org) – Independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra has been sentenced to six months in jail because of a fight in which he participated nearly two years ago.

Guerra was accused of “injuring” one of two men when he came to the aid of his brother-in-law whom they were attacking on New Year’s Eve in 2007.

Guerra said the pair had torn off part of his brother-in-law’s left ear.

He was convicted at trial Sept. 25 and sentenced on Oct. 14. He’ll report to jail Oct. 30.


Prisoner’s wife says government violates its own laws

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 15 (www.cubanet.org) – The wife of Dr. Darsi Ferrer says her husband has been illegally held at the Valle Grande prison in Havana for buying a sack of cement.

Yusnaimy Jorge said that the prosecutor had her husband, 36, imprisoned preventively without a trial while such measures are reserved for alleged crimes that “cause alarm” among the populace.

“Darsi started a hunger strike October 13 as a protest against the arbitrary actions of the Cuban government,” she said in an open letter.

“The intention of the government is clear,” she said. “To keep Darsi in jail for political reasons, without any consideration of respect for its own laws.”


Police bar entry to dissident’s home

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 15 (Lucas Garve, Fundación por La Libertad de Expresión, www.cubanet.org) – Police have been surrounding the headquarters of the Community Communicators Network in Havana, said its co-founder, Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello.

“The people want changes, not promises,” she said.

The headquarters is in the home of the other co-founder, Vladimiro Roca Antunez. Last week the police prevented dissidents from entering the house to attend a workshop.


Independent librarian prevented from traveling

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, Oct. 15 (María Antonia Hidalgo / www.cubanet.org) – Dissident Julio Cesar Valcárcel says he was detained by police last week at the bus terminal in Santiago de Cuba when he was about to travel to Las Tunas province for an independent library activity.

According to Valcárcel, he was prevented from participating in the inauguration of another independent library.

“At the bus terminal, I was threatened by Major Feria, who shouted at me that I was going to Las Tunas to create a disturbance among activists and he was not going to permit this,” said Valcárcel, a member of the Republican Party and a leader among independent librarians.

Prisoner collects statistics on Las Tunas prisons

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, Oct. 15 (María Antonia Hidalgo Mir, www.cubanet.org) – Prisoner of conscience Alfredo Domínguez Batista says he has managed to put together from his prison cell statistics on prisoners in Las Tunas province.

Domínguez Batista said 50 prisoners have attempted suicide during the past five years and that 20 have been killed in fights in prison. He said 10 deaths were caused by guards who attributed them to ailments.

“I can’t imagine what has happened in the country over the past 50 years,” said Domínguez Batista, who was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in 2003.

Gay instructor loses government

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 15 (Aliomar Janjaque, Fundación Cubana LGTB, www.cubanet.org) -Henry Solís, coordinator of Gay Freedom Party events planned by Cuba’s homosexual community, has been fired from his government job.

Solís. 27, lost his post Oct. 7 at the Boyeros Municipal Cultural Center where he worked. Twenty-four of 39 parents of children studying there signed a petition of support for Solís.

Solís had graduated from the institution as an instructor.


Detained by police 3 times in 2 days

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, Oct. 15 (María Antonia Hidalgo Mir, www.cubanet.org) – Dissident Arnaldo Expósito Zaldívar says he was detained by police three times over two days in Havana this month.

According to Expósito Zaldívar, all three occasions were when he tried to enter the home of Vladimiro Roca Antúnez for a workshop on Oct. 12 and 13.

Expósito Zaldívar, president of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Cuban Committee, lives in Holguín

According to Expósito Zaldívar, all three occasions were when he tried to enter the home of Vladimiro Roca Antúnez for a workshop on Oct. 12 and 13.

Expósito Zaldívar, president of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Cuban Committee, lives in Holguín


Public telephones stolen in Havana

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 13 (Leafar Pérez, www.cubanet.org) – The block committees in the Havana neighborhood of Arroyo Naranjo are appealing to residents to help crack down on the theft of public telephones, which totaled 57 in the first 10 days of the month.

The telephones are either used personally by the thieves or sold. Cables connecting the phones are also often stolen and sold.


Típico Viejo prison under quarantine

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 12 (Víctor Manuel León, Hablemos Press / www.cubanet.org) - The Típico Viejo prison in the province of Las Tunas has been put under quarantine because of an epidemic of conjunctivitis, an eye infection, that affects 30 percent of the prison polulation, according to political prisoner Alfredo Domínguez.

"The risk of contamination is great because the sanitary measures required of an epidemic have not been taken,” Domínguez said.

There are currently 2,000 prisoners in the prison.


Trial of dissident suspended

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 12 (Aini Martín Valero, ALAS, www.cubanet.org) – Dissident Ernesto Mederos Arrosarena has been detained since August 4 in the Agüica prison pending trial on charges of disrespect.

Frank Reyes, president of the Opposition Municipality of Santa Cruz organization, said Mederos was to have been tried Oct. 7.

Some 20 dissidents showed up outside the courthouse in a show of support for Mederos, but the trial was suspended, Reyes said.

Roundup of peddlers in Isle of Youth

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 9 (Reinaldo Cosano Alén, Sindical Press / www.cubanet.org) – Police in Nueva Gerona, the capital of the Isle of Youth, have carried out a series of raids on street peddlers, issuing fines of up to the equivalent of five months salary.

Independent journalist Lázaro Ricardo Pérez, who reported the raids, said most of the peddlers were elderly persons unable to live on their pensions.

“This isn’t the first time that the police and inspectors from the Agriculture Ministry seize merchandise,” he said. “The fines range from 200 to 2,000 pesos.”

Rice, beans, bananas and onions were the main items seized.


FLAMUR pays for another meal in pesos

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 9 (Julio Beltrán Iglesias, ALAS, www.cubanet.org) – The Latin American Federation of Rural Women (FLAMUR) has for the third time insisted on paying for a meal with pesos instead of convertible currency as required by the restaurant.

The latest target of the “With the same money” (“Con la misma moneda”) campaign was Café TV on Wednesday.

A group of FLAMUR members ordered lunch at 2 p.m. and then gave pesos when the bill came.

“This is the money with which Cubans are paid for their work,” said Yainelys Vitón Ruiz, who was accompanied by her husband, Aloys Barceló Martínez. “We don’t have any other money to offer.”

The waiter brought the manager, who told the FLAMUR group, ”Get out and don’t come back!”


Sales of plastic bags stopped by police

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 9 (Frank Correa, www.cubanet.org) – Police prevented vendors from selling plastic bags at the 19 and B market, one of the largest in the capital, causing problems for buyers of fruits and vegetables.

Some customers bought sacks of yucca for 10 pesos and then added the others vegetables they bought.

When the yucca sold out, customers bought empty cardboard boxes in which to put their purchases.

No explanation was given for the police action.


Carriage driver beaten by police

PLACETAS, Cuba, Oct. 7 (Donaida Pérez, Laureles Press / www.cubanet.org) – Carriage driver Jorge Onelio Acosta says he was beaten by police and called a homosexual when his horse came in contact with a young boy last week.

Acosta Pérez said the incident occurred September 28 in front of the municipal hospital in Placetas as he tried to rein in the horse and prevent injury to the boy.

He said police beat him as nurses from the hospital attended to the boy.

 “They put me in patrol car number 272 and dropped me off three blocks later,” he said.

The carriage driver said the police called him an associate of former political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as Antúnez, who’s coordinator of the Pedro Luis Boitel Prisoners Movement. Antúnez, a native of Placetas, spent 17 years in various prisons for his anti-government activities.


Hospital quarantined because of flu virus

MORÓN, Cuba, Oct. 6 (José Manuel Caraballo Bravo, APLA, www.cubanet.org ).- The "Roberto Rodríguez" provincial hospital was put under quarantine last weekend because of the H1N1 swine flu, according to those who were visiting patients.

Hospital workers were observed wearing protective masks.

“Sunday I went to visit a sick relatives and wasn’t allowed to enter,” said Orestes Vásquez.


Human rights advocate given early parole

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 6 (Juan Carlos González / www.cubanet.org) – High rights defender Norge Vázquez was paroled last week after serving a little more than a quarter of his four-year sentence for demonstrating against the government.

After his arrest April 7, 2008, Vázquez, 40, was sentenced to four years imprisonment for being a “danger” to society. He and fellow dissident Jesús Cordero were carrying banners in Havana protesting the government’s seizure of 120 pedicabs.

Vázquez is a member of the Cuban Human Rights Foundation and the union pedicab drivers. He lives in Consolación del Sur, Pinar del Río, Cuba.


Freed from prison for wheelbarrow purchase

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 6 (Doralis Álvarez / www.cubanet.org) – Human rights advocate Ángel Luis Santiesteban has been released from prison a month before completing a six-month sentence for the alleged illegal purchase of a wheelbarrow.

“The political police wanted to jail him for his work in favor of human rights,” said colleague Martha Díaz Rondón. “For that reason they took away his small tile factory and left him without source of income.”

Santiesteban was tried and sentenced without legal on April 13. He was released September 28.

He’s a member of the Cuban Human Rights Foundation and is an activist in democratic activities in Banes in Holguín province.


Crackdown on illegal film rentals

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 6 (Álvaro Yero Felipe, www.cubanet.org) – Cuban authorities are carrying out raids on residences where they believe videos and CDs are sold illegally.

Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2 some 20 residences were raided in El Moro, Mantilla and Párraga in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo.

A police source said the objective is to stamp out an island-wide network of illegal renters mainly of prohibited films containing pornography or political content.


4 doctors accused of abusing patients

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 6 (Álvaro Yero Felipe, www.cubanet.org) – Four doctors in the La Quinta Canaria psychiatric hospital have been detained on charges of abusing patients, according to sources in the institution.

Family members had sent letters to the Public Health ministry complaining of bruises found on the bodies of patients.

Sources said that an undercover investigation by Public Health officials and the national police showed the complaints to be true.

Alberto Donancio Herrera of the medical staff said the four were found to have abused patients and were arrested Oct. 2 pending charges.

“It’s difficult to really know what happened because those doing the accusing are mentally weak,” said the source.

The source said that one patient appeared to have been sexually abused.


Independent journalist told he can’t be in public plaza

PINAR DEL RÍO, Cuba, Oct. 5 (Rafael Ferro Salas, www.cubanet.org) – Police agents arrested independent journalist Lisandro Herrera Arteta at a public festival and charged him with creating a public scandal.

“I was accompanied by my son and my brother when two agents approached men and demanded that I leave because I was opposed to the regime,” Herrara Arteta, 31, said. “They alleged that the plaza was only for revolutionaries so that I couldn’t be there.”

Herrara Arteta was taken to the police station with his seven-year-old son and fined 30 pesos – about one dollar.

He belongs to the People’s Party and is a correspondent of ABDALAPRESS.


Imprisoned dissident says his trial was unfair

HAVANA, Cuba, Oct. 1  (Luís Cino, www.cubanet.org) -Joel Lázaro Carbonell, president of the dissident Free Cubans organization, said from his prison cell that he was given a one-year sentence at a trial that ignored his rights.

“Once more injustice triumphs,” he said in a letter smuggled out of the Valle Grande prison. He said he wasn’t allowed to make a statement in his defense.

Carbonell, 33, was found guilty of “disobedience and resistance” in a trial Sept 15, held four days after he was arrested in his home by National Revolutionary Police.

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