JuLY 2010

Police called when independent journalist tries to send a telegram to Raúl Castro

HAVANA, Cuba, July 8 (Adolfo Pablo Borrazá, – An employee of the Cuban Post Office refused to send a telegram to President Raúl Castro from independent journalist Dania Virgen García and instead called the police.

The telegram asked the president to do something to save the life of hospitalized dissident Guillermo Fariñas, who’s on a hunger strike.

The postal clerk tried to retain García’s identity card during the incident on Tuesday, but she managed to keep it and flee the post office when the police were summoned.


June 2010


CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba, June 24, (Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez/ Hablemos Press / ― Two independent are being held by police following their arrest while covering an anti-government demonstration.

José Manuel Caraballo Bravo, director of the Libre Avileña news agency who was taking photographs of the demonstration in Martí Park on Tuesday, and Raúl Arias Márquez, one of his reporters.

“The protest was started at 9 a.m. by a woman named Tatiana, her sister, two of her children and other family members who carried placards that said, ‘Down with abuses and fraud against our family by the government,” said Nilo Alejandro Gutiérrez González, also a member of the news agency.

He said police beat Arias Márquez and local boxers Pedro Hernández Milton and Yordani Hernández Milton when they tried to protect the demonstrators.
Where the two journalists were being held by police was not immediately known.


Independent journalists deported to Camagüey

HAVANA, June 11 (Magaly Norvis, Hablemos Press / – The Political Police deported independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez from the capital and released him in Camagüey last week.

Martínez was arrested May 25 when he was covering an opposition protest in Havana’s Central Park.

He was held in the capital’s detention center without charges being laid until his deportation June 5.

Independent journalist warned not to write about Cuba’s military

HAVANA, June 11 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra, Hablemos Press / - State Security agents warned independent journalist José Carlos Aguilera not to write any more articles like the one about five members of the Armed Forces recently killed in an accident at the San Antonio de los Baños military base.

A lieutenant colonel named Roberto told the journalist that the news item, posted by CubaNet, presented a negative image of the military.

Aguilera said in his defense that the Cuban media often publishes articles about military accidents in other countries, including the United States.

A clandestine seller of Brazilian rice

HAVANA, Cuba, June 15 (Violeta Vargas , – Police inspected a downtown Havana entranceway where a woman had been selling two-pound packages of Brazilian rice at the equivalent of one-third of the average monthly salary in Cuba.

The woman would address passersby and ask in a low voice if they were interested in buying rice. This reporter saw the woman reach behind a staircase and bring out a two-pound package of rice, which she sold for three pesos of hard currency, or 72 pesos.

Absent the seller, police were later seen checking behind the staircase.


Outstanding debts

Amarilis C. Rey (PD)

LA HABANA, Cuba, June ( - Belonging to a family that decided to dissent from the current [political] system in Cuba, to aid political prisoners, and to suffer and denounce the violation of their rights and those of their compatriots; can be dangerous, even for a child........ read more

4-year sentence for living in Havana without permission

HAVANA, Cuba,June 7 (Aini Martín Valero, PD / – Dissident Duartes Miguel Lara Rodríguez has been sentenced to four years in prison on charges of being a “danger” to society because he was living illegally in Havana.

Vladimir Alejo said Lara Rodríguez’s recognized residence is in Holguín province and he didn’t have the government’s permission to live in the capital as required by Cuban law. Alejo said Lara Rodríguez has been deported several times. His wife lives in Havana.

He was sentenced recently by a court in Old Havana.

Independent journalists says telephone company discriminates against opposition

SANCTI SPIRITUS, Cuba, June 4 (Giorge Perdigón, Yayabo Press / -- Independent journalist Ana Margarita Perdigón says ETECSA, the Cuban telephone company, purposely provides poor service to members of the opposition who have cellphones.

“The brothers in the fight constantly tell me that when they call me, the operator tells them my telephone is out of the coverage area,”  she said. “It’s a lie.”

“The case is not unique,” she said. “Just in the central area of he country the same thing has happened to independent journalists Osmany Borroto, of Jatibonico; Bárbara Cristina Alfonso, of Sancti Spíritus; Yesmy Elena Mena, of Santa Clara; Meivis Mulens, of Florida and; Alejandro Tur, of Cienfuegos”.

Independent journalist told to get a government job

HAVANA, June 3 (Dania Virgen García, ) – Independent journalist Julio Rojas says he was cited by the police and told he had to find a months to find a government job within three months.

He said Lieut. Eugenia Peñalver told him May 27 that the National Police force was investigating all unemployed young people.

Rojas said he told Penalver that, as a human rights advocate, he has been turned down for all jobs. He said his church has been helping him.


Anti-Castro sign in Old Havana

HAVANA, June 3 (José Antonio Fornaris, - The words “Down with Castro abuses” was painted on the outside wall of the offices of Mar and Pesca magazine in Old Havana, according to sources.

They said the words were quickly painted over before foreign tourists could see them. The magazine’s offices are in front of the Raquel Hotel.

The sources said uniformed police and State Security agents questioned those in the area.


Journalist begins hunger strike after being returned to prison

Journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias began a hunger strike yesterday, the day he was returned to prison at Havana’s Centro Alternativo de Procesamiento de Detenidos (alternative processing centre for detainees). He was protesting about the forced removal of opposition figures to the east of the country.

State security agents arrested the correspondent for Hablemos Press on 25 May while he was covering a demonstration organised by dissidents in the capital. A week went past before the authorities gave any indication of where he was being held. He has since been put in solitary confinement.

The re-imprisonment of Calixto Ramón Martínez brings to 25 the number of journalists being detained in Cuban prisons. We note however that two journalists, Iván Hernández Carrillo and José Luis García Paneque are among six political prisoners who have been moved to jails closer to their families. These two men were arrested during the “Black Spring” of 2003, along with the Reporters Without Borders’ correspondent Ricardo González Alfonso.

“This is an import step but it is not enough”, said journalist Guillermo Fariñas, who had to be hospitalised as a result of a hunger strike he started last February to press for the release of political prisoners suffering ill health. We continue to demand the release of Cuban journalists imprisoned only for having done their job in defiance of official censorship.

Independent journalist arrested again, 10 days after being released

Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, an independent journalist who works for Hablemos Press, was arrested again by State Security officials while covering a dissident demonstration in Havana on 25 May. Another independent journalist, Carlos Serpa Maceira, and six other demonstrators were also arrested but, unlike Martínez, they were quickly released.

Martínez was due to be transferred to Camagüey the day after his arrest but his present place of detention is not known. He had been released on 14 May after being held for three weeks in Valle Grande prison on a charge of “aggravated insult” at the time of his arrest by police on 23 April. (,37163.html)

Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about the health of three journalists who have been held since the “Black Spring” crackdown of March 2003, when they were convicted on trumped-up charges of spying. They are Normando Hernández González (sentenced to 25 years in prison), José Luis García Paneque (24 years) and Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta (20 years).

What became of the humanitarian gesture that the Cuban government promised as a result of the Catholic Church’s mediation?

may 2010

Chinese in Villa Maristas

Juan Carlos Linares

LA HABANA, Cuba, May 2010 ( – Residents of the neighborhood have noticed the comings and goings of Chinese people to and from Villa Maristas, Cuban Security of State main headquarters. “Chinese from China!” shouted a citizen.

Villa Maristas inspires fear, not only because it is the most infamous of the Minister of Interior’s building, more specifically Security of State, or because its inner interrogation precincts that await visitors, and its underground cells. It is just that once inside, the judicial system evaporates for those detained. Lawyers, laws and judicial procedures can exert very little influence inside this mansion with a [deceptively] peaceful façade that swallows its “guests.”

In democratic countries, government guarantees and defends its citizens’ safety, even against abuses committed by official institutions. There are laws that defend the individual and commissions formed by parliamentarians, jurists, social activists, that protect the citizen. In Cuba, nothing of the sort exists, and the citizen that enters the sinister building at Villa Maristas, is completely at the mercy of the not less sinister Political Police.

On the other hand, the Chinese that enter and exit Villa Maristas do not seem to be “guests.” Their presence there could be related, more than to the physical repression of dissidents, to the technical advise that the Chinese give the Cuban dictators on wiretapping, controlling the information flow on the nets, and interference of foreign radio and TV stations.

It is curious that last February 24th, several bank agencies and other enterprises in the city of Havana, lost their intranet connection. Coincidentally, that day was the 142nd anniversary of the [the beginning of the last] insurrection against Spain, the 14th anniversary of the shut down of two civilian airplanes by Cuban military jets in which four crew members died, and the day before the dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo had died.

As Raúl Castro’s government deteriorates, the regime’s international image crumbles.

Once and again, we shall mention the name of Adrián Leiva, independent journalist who recently died in Villa Maristas after attempting to return to Cuba by sea, after the authorities deny him the permit to return to his Motherland. This incident has not yet been clarified by the Ministry of Interior.



Independent Journalist Duped and Arrested

HAVANA, Cuba, May 7 (Georgina Noa Montes, Hablemos Press / – Independent journalist Julio Beltrán Iglesias thought he was getting into a pirate taxi on Tuesday but instead it was an unmarked police car that took him to the police station where he was fingerprinted and questioned.

When he reminded the driver where he wanted to be taken, one of the two passengers in the back seat with him pulled out his police credentials and said, “Be quiet and don’t make a fuss. You’re under arrest.”

Besides being fingerprinted, Beltrán said the police photographed him and took hair samples. After be warned about his journalistic activities, he was released after eight hours of detention.

Journalist held without trial, more serious charge considered

In the latest ongoing wave of repression, it seems the Cuban authorities are bringing more serious charges against Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, the Hablemos Press reporter, who was arrested with force on 23 April while covering an activity commemorating imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death.

Initially charged with “insulting behaviour,” Martínez is still being held and is now apparently accused of “aggravated violence” against a police officer at the time of his arrest although the authorities have offered no details about what allegedly took place. The vagueness indicates that the authorities themselves are not sure what they are claiming.

During his transfer to Valle Grande prison in La Lisa, on the outskirts of Havana, on 30 April, Martínez insisted that the charges were baseless. “This is an invention designed to stop my work and neither the police nor the prosecutor’s office can agree on the lies they are going to use to convict me,” he said.

Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of Martínez, who has been arrested many times in the past and deported three times to the eastern city of Camagüey, each time in connection with his journalistic work.

The government’s treatment of independent journalists has been worsening of late in a new crackdown on anyone trying to express dissident views under a regime marked by a complete absence of civil liberties.


Man arrested for stealing his own pressure cooker

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, May 6 (José Guillén / - Leonardo Díaz says he taken to the police station in handcuffs on Tuesday because he didn't have proof of purchase of a pressure cooker he was taking to a repair shop.

Díaz said two policemen stopped him on the street because they claimed he looked suspicious. When they looked in the bag he was carrying and saw the used pressure cooker and arrested him on grounds of theft. They told him there had been a rash of thefts of pressure cookers in Santa Clara.

Díaz said fluctuating electric current had burned out the cooker so he needed to have it repaired.

Díaz was released after his wife brought a receipt for purchase of the cooker.


april 2010

Independent journalist sentenced to 15 months imprisonment on undisclosed charges

HAVANA, Cuba, April 28 (Odelín Alfonso / - Independent journalist Diana Virgen García was arrested on Tuesday and within 24 hours submitted to a summary trial and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, according to sources.

The sources said the charge against Virgen García was not immediately known but that it supposedly originated with her own daughter.

She was arrested around 11 a.m. by agents of the National Revolutionary Police at her residence in the Havana district of San Miguel del Padrón and was imprisoned in the Manto Negro woman's prison west of Havana after the trial.

Whereabouts of detained independent journalist unknown


HOLGUÍN, Cuba, April 26 (Redacción Candonga, ).- Independent journalist Yosvani Anzardo Hernández was arrested over the weekend by two State Security agents and his whereabouts are unknown, according to his wife.

Lourdes María Yen Rodríguez said the agents came to their home Saturday with an order for Anzardo’s arrest. She said their car bore Havana license plates.

Anzardo, director of the online Periódico Candonga, was arrested on September 10, 2009, and held for 15 days.  At that time, police seized electronic equipment he sued for his digital newspaper.

Polic de captain under investigation for abuse of power

HAVANA, Cuba, April 27 (Ana Aguililla /Cambio Debate Cuba / - A captain in the National Revolutionary Police force has been accused of selling pedicabs he confiscated from unlicensed owners.

According to Eleuterio Cortés Noroña, who lives in the coastal Havana district of Santa Fe, the captain, named Darbis, was under investigation for abuse of power.

Cortés Noroña said two pedicabs seized by Darbis in Santa Fe turned up in nearby Punta Brava, where they had been sold. He also said the captain was queried about a house he was building.

Anti-government slogans appear in Havana

HAVANA, Cuba, April 23 (Katia Sonia Martín Véliz , - Anti-government slogans were written on Tuesday on the walls next to Havana's Mariano theater and near a police station, according to witnesses who said they saw the writing before police painted it over.

The sources described the slogans as "Down with Communism," "Down with Raul" and "Don't Vote," all in all bad handwriting.

One of the sources said the person did "was crazy" because the area is well transited and near popular sites, as well as the p[olice station.

Independent journalist threatened over news story

HAVANA, Cuba,  April 15 (Odelin Alfonso Torna,  - Two government police agents on Monday night threatened independent journalist  Luís Cino Álvarez over an article he had written about a colleague who drowned trying to return to Cuba.

Cino Álvarez said the agents told him he could be put on trial in the future on common criminal charges.

He said one of the agents, named Octavio, questioned him about the article he had written on Adrián Leiva, a fellow independent journalist. He had blamed Leiva’s death on the “perverse and Orwellian immigration laws” of Cuba.

Since the government wouldn’t give him permission to return to Cuba, Leiva sought to enter illegally by sea. Two persons with him swam to shore but Leiva drowned.

Leiva had left Cuba legally in 2006, but sought to return after he and his wife divorced. She remained in the United States.

Police prevent three independent journalists from attending opposition meeting

HAVANA, Cuba , April 13 de abril, (Odalys Sanabria Rodríguez, – Three independent journalists were arrested by police last week as they were en route to a dissident meeting.

The trio -- Juan Carlos González Leiva, Tania Maceda Guerra and Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo -- belong to the press office of the Cuban Human Rights Office in Havana. Arrested with them on April 8 was activist Julio Ignacio León Pérez. They were heading for a meeting of the Agenda for Transition opposition organization.

González Leiva said they were released after being held for five hours and questioned at the National Police station in the municipality of La Lisa. He said the purpose of their detention was obviously to prevent them from attending the meeting.

González Leiva said that when they were searched police seized from Maceda Guerra two notebooks with telephone numbers.

Zapata’s mother prevented from marching to his graveside

Santiago de Cuba, April 12 - ( Evelyn Ramos Lahera The mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who starved himself to death to protest government repression, says State Security agents prevented her from leading a march in his memory on Sunday.

Reyna Luisa Tamayo Danger said 30 to 40 people had met to march with her from the church in Banes in Holguín province to the cemetery where her son is buried. She said the marchers had gone about a mile towards the center of town when they were stopped by a crowd organized by the agents.

She said the marchers shouted “Zapata lives! Zapata lives!” and Murderers! Murderers!”


March 2010

Independent librarian fired from government job

HAVANA, Cuba, March 23  (Aini Martín Valero, ALAS, - José Ignacio Oropesa Almora says he was fired from his job as a truck driver for the state oil company because he’s an independent librarian.

He said his superior at Cuba Petróleo (CUPET) told him at the beginning of the month that he should resign because he was not a reliable worker.

He said on several occasions when driving a truck he was filmed by state investigators obviously trying to document improper behavior. He said stickers carrying dissident saying “Cambio” (Change)  appeared at the oil company.

Oropesa Almora works at an independent library on Vía Blanca in the Bahía district of eastern Havana.

Ex-prisoner of conscience jailed

HAVANA, Cuba, March 22 (Tania Maceda Guerra,  - Former prisoner of conscience Hugo Damián Prieto Blanco was beaten and arrested last week for demonstrating in support of the Ladies in White, according to his wife.

Bárbara L. Sendiña Recarde said agents from the Political Police told her that her husband could be charged with public disorder. 

She said that on March 17, the day after the arrest, a group showed up at their home and tore down anti-government signs they had posted.

Prieto Blanco, 44, is a member of the Cuban Human Rights Party.

Pedicab drivers fined in Cienfuegos

HAVANA, Cuba, March 19 (Reinaldo Cosano, Sindical Press / -- Tax inspectors fined five pedicab drivers this week in Cienfuegos for allegedly violating terms of their self-employment.

One driver said they were obliged to pay a retirement tax even though their agreement doesn’t mention a pension.

Fines ranged from 50 to 75 pesos, less than a dollar in a country where the average monthly salary is $15.

Canadian students cause spring-break damage

CAYO COCO, Cuba, March 19 (Kallan Poe, APLA/ Canadian spring-breakers burned towels in a hotel discotheque, prompting the intervention of security personnel, according to an employee.

The source said that the incident occurred March 16 when two students tried to create a smoky atmosphere at the NH KRISTAL Hotel.

Students staying at the Tryp Cayo Coco Hotel were said to have trashed rooms while intoxicated and to have stripped naked in some public areas.

“They’re crazy people who go wherever they want,” said the source. “It looks like they came here to do what’s not allowed in Canada.”


Police seize pedicabs and carriages and the horses that pull them

HAVANA, March 17 (Gladys Linares, -- Police in the Havana district of Santa Fe where Fidel Castro has his residence have seized a dozen pedicabs and horse-draw carriages that operated in the area.

Police in the area maintain the traffic flow on Seventh Avenue, the continuation of Miramar’s famous Fifth Avenue. Many government officials who live in the area transit the avenue.

The owners of the pedicabs and carriages – the horses were also seized a week ago – say they’re responsible for transporting many of the 90,000 residents of Santa Fe.

Police seize five bars of soap and issue fine for hoarding

SANTA CLARA, March 12 (María Caridad Noa / – Rafael Gómez says police seized five bars of soap he had bought at the market and accused him of hoarding.

Gómez said a police officer had stopped him, asked for his identification papers and looked at the parcel he was carrying. He said he was taken to the police station when the officer discovered the soap, for which he paid 25 pesos, less than one American dollar.

Gómez said that when he complained the officer wrote out a report seizing the soap and fined him 30 pesos for hoarding.

Photo shop refuses to develop film from independent journalst

HAVANA, Cuba, March 10 (Aliomar Janjaque Chivaz, – The Foto-Servi Tri-Imagen photo store refused last weekend to process a roll of film belonging to independent journalist Carlos Serpa that contained shots of members of the dissident Ladies in White group.

“This establishment belongs to the Ministry of the Interior and we’re not going to let you develop photos in which counter-revolutionary Ladies in White appear,” said the shop manager, a man named Meyvol.
Serpa said the film contained photos of a memorial service at the Carmen Church in honor of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who starved himself to death.

Two political prisoners released

HAVANA Cuba, March 4 (Leticia Ramos and Tania Maceda/ – Two political prisoners have been freed after serving sentences of two and three years.

Daisy Talavera, 39, was freed in from the women’s prison in Matanzas after being sentenced for disrespect of authority.  She’s a member of the Marta Abreu Feminine Movement.

Ramón Velásquez, 54, was freed from the Piedra prison camp in Las Tunas after serving his three-year sentence as a danger to society. He was found guilty of being a danger to society for leading an anti-government protest march from Santiago de Cuba.


Independent journalist held for 10 hours

HAVANA, Cuba, March 1 (Luis Cino, - Independent journalist Juan González Febles was detained for 10 hours last week.

Two state security agents detained Febles February 24 around 3 p.m. on Neptune Street in Central Havana  as he approached the home of

Laura Pollán of the Ladies in White to sign a condolence book in honor of political prisoner  Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who starved himself to death.

Febles, 59, was taken to the Zanja police station where he was held until late in the evening. He is director of Primavera Digital.

FEBRuary 2010

Protesters force police to return sack of rice

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 22 (Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez / - More than 60 passengers on a bus protested the seizure of a 20-pound sack of rice and forced the police to return it to the owner.
“That rice is for consumption by my family,” said the passenger to whom the rice belonged.
The incident occurred Feb. 16 at the Mariel-Cabañas junction in the state of Havana.

When the police put the sack in the trunk of their cruiser, the passengers started shouting and kept it up for half an hour before the rice was returned. “Given the hunger in this country,” one man shouted at the police, “You’re abusing that woman.”

Cuba cancels development baseball league

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 22 (Leafar Pérez, -Cuban authorities have suspended the baseball season of the Development League because of the state of the economy.

The decision means that some 300 players will no longer be available for call-up to play for any of the teams involved in the 49th National Baseball Series.

The development league has 16 teams and operated as a farm system for the top teams.

Wife of dissident threatened with jail

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 18 (Odelín Alfonso Torna, – Carlos Hernández Ojeda of the November 30 Frank País Democratic Party says two political policemen threatened to jail his wife if he continued his dissident activity.

 Hernández Ojeda said the pair showed up at his residence in the Arroyo Naranjo district of Havana on February 11 when he was not at home.

 Hernández Ojeda and Boris Rodríguez Jiménez, a party colleague, were detained February 6 and taken in handcuffs to a police station for questioning. He said they were held for 10 hours without water or food.

He said state security agents accused them of planning a demonstration February 7 at the Havana Psychiatric Hospital where 26 patients were said to have died in January for lack of care.

Human rights advocates arrested and fined in Banes

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 18 (Doralis Álvarez Soto,  - Two human rights activists were arrested in Banes in Holguín state last week and fined for carrying anti-government posters.

 Diagzán Saavedra Prat and Arnaldo Expósito Zaldívar were threatened Feb. 10 with jail but ended up paying a 30 peso fine.

Saavedra Prat said he was protesting because state security agents had his shoemakers license rescinded. He was freed from jail last year after serving a year-long-sentence for being a danger to the public.

He’s a member of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights and the Municipal Democratic Circle in Banes.

Government seeks to identify firearms

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 15 (Carlos Ríos Otero, -The Ministry of the Interior has advised all gun owners that they must go to a police station before the end of the month and certify that the arms they possess are theirs.

According to the Ministry, there are 60,000 legally-owned guns in private hands. Most of them are hunting or target practice long guns.

The order follows a series of robberies by persons carrying handguns.

Russians returning to Havana

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 11 (Lucas Garve, – Some 200 Russians have been invited to the ninth International Book Fair, dedicated to Russia, which opens here today.

The government’s publishing house announced that it would bring out new editions of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Tolstoy’s War and Peace, among others, but no mention was made of the works of Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak, both Nobel Prize winners for literature who opposed Communism.

Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet will perform Saturday night at the Karl Marx Theater.

The first International Book Fair was held in Havana in 1937.

Police raid jewelry shops in Matanzas

HABANA, Cuba, Feb. 11 (Carlos Ríos / – Police raided a group of jewelry shops last week in Cárdenas in Matanzas province, seizing work tools and money.

Police told the jewelers that their permits only applied to the repair of jewels and did not allow them to melt gold and silver and make jewels.

Most affected was the Otero family, makers of jewelry since the nineteenth century, whose three shops were raided.

Independent journalist arrested and  charged

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, February 1 (José Ramón Pupo Nieves,  - Independent journalist Juan Carlos Reyes Ocaña was arrested in his home in Holguín last week and taken to a police station where he was charged with insult, disobedience and illicit economic activity.

Members of the dissident went to the police station last Friday in a sign of support for Reyes Ocaña, who was released pending trial.

Reyes Ocaña is affiliated with Holguín Press, an independent new agency.

Dissidents arrested after wreath laying

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, February 1 (Yesmy Elena Mena Zurbano, – A group of dissidents was arrested last week after laying a wreath at a monument to independence hero José Martí.
Five of the dissidents, members of the Frank País November 30 Democratic Party, were detained in the morning and released in the evening, while a sixth was held overnight, according to one of them, Amado Ruiz Moreno.

Ruiz Moreno, who said he was beaten about the legs, said he and his colleagues had planned to go to the police station to demand the release of political prisoners.


January 2010

Ecuadorian Embassy scene of disturbance

HAVANA (Carlos Ríos Otero. – Police arrested 20 people last week when a fight broke out at the Ecuadorian Embassy among those standing in line for visas to travel to the South American country.

Waiting in line and selling your place has become a minor business in Havana. The price ranges from five to 20 CUCs, a CUC being convertible currency.

The trouble started when those arriving at daybreak January 19 saw others buying their spot from people who had been waiting since midnight. Several persons were injured in the brawl.

Those arrested face penalties of up to four years for creating a disturbance outside a foreign embassy.

Counterfeit banknotes circulate in Havana

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan. 19 (Carlos Ríos Otero, –Counterfeit CUCs, the banknotes that replaced foreign currency, have been detected in Havana.

Police have told shop owners to immediately advise the authorities if someone tries to pass one of the phony bills, which began to circulate shortly before New Year’s Day. The bills have been in denominations of 20 CUCs.

A woman tried to pay with a counterfeit 20 at an outlet of the Ditú fast-food chain in the Managua district. When the bill was rejected, she said she had been given it at a government currency exchange agency.

A minor tried to pay for a soft drink in the San Leopoldo district with a 20. He fled when the falsification was detected.


Independent librarian detained over children’s party

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan. 8(Julio Beltrán, Agencia Libre Asociada / – Independent librarian Ileana Margarita Pérez says she was detained by police on Three Kings Day and questioned during an eight-hour period.

“I was submitted to an interrogation only because I had organized a Three Kings Day party for children in my neighborhood,” she said. “I was warned that such seasonal things were prohibited in Cuba because they’re capitalist.”

Besides being the director of the Héctor Riverón Independent Library, Pérez is a delegate of the dissident Latin American Federation of Rural Women, known as FLAMUR, its Spanish acronym.

She said one of the agents told here, “There’s a file on you for being antisocial and, if you don’t know it, there are jails for problematic women like you.”

Police try to stop sellers of bread

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, January 11(Yoel Espinosa / – Since the beginning of the New Year, police in Santa Clara have been pursuing private sellers of bread, which is considered a crime.

Police in cruisers and on foot have been seen chasing the vendors, who usually use bicycles. Those who are caught are fined 1,500 pesos, the equivalent of three months’ salary for the average Cuban. Police also confiscate their bicycles.

“Each new measure they take is to hurt people who are no longer able to buy bread in the street,” said resident Julia Salterio. “The breadmen on their bikes are the ones who let us each bread at breakfast.”

Anti-government sign appears in Santa Clara    
SANTA CLARA, Cuba, January 11 (José Guillén / – An anti-government sign was painted on an electric light post next to a bus stop in the town of Caguagua in Villa Clara state last week.
The sign read: “51 years without freedom! Down with the Castros!”

Political police and members of the National Police with sniffer dogs took photos and fingerprints and tried to find a trail of the sign maker.

Dissident’s telephone tapped

HAVANA, Cuba, January 11 (Ana Aguililla / – Independent librarian Luz María Barceló says she was insulted by someone who tapped into a telephone conversations she was having with the mother of a political prisoner.

She said a man who identified himself by the initials KT came on line as she was talking with Gregoria, the mother of Luis Campos on January 3.

“The gentleman greatly offended us,” she said. “This isn’t the first time this has happened. On other occasions he let it be understood that he was acting on orders.”

Pharmacies in Santa Clara don’t have aspirins

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, January 11 (Yoel Espinosa / –A health worker says common aspirins are unavailable in local pharmacies because of a demand for them in hospitals.
“We hope the situation will be normalized next month,” said the worker.

Said Juan Agramonte as he left the Arnaldo Milián provincial hospital, “They say we’re a medical power but we don’t have any aspirins.”