CubaBrief: Denis Solís González, the Isidro Movement and turning solidarity into action in the midst of police violence

“Puede ser que me metan a la celda por el peso de mi voz, pero necesité el valor para decir la verdad”- Denis Solís González, Sociedad Condenada.

#NoToPoliceViolence #Cuba (Source: Movimiento Isidro)

#NoToPoliceViolence #Cuba (Source: Movimiento Isidro)

Back in 2018 the Cuban rapper Denis Solís González posted a music video titled Sociedad Condenada (Condemned Society) onto his Youtube account in which he sang about repression in Cuba and predicted his future with the lyrics “it maybe that they put me into prison cell for the weight of my voice, but I needed the courage to say the truth.” FreeMuse, the Danish NGO that advocates for artistic freedom of expression, reported on his November 9, 2020 arrest “Rapper, activist and member of the San Isidro Movement Denis Solís González was detained in La Habana after sharing a video on 6 November of a police officer entering his house without a warrant, reports ADN Cuba.”

Denis Solís González jailed for eight months for disrespecting political police

Denis Solís González jailed for eight months for disrespecting political police

Cuban journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez Denis, in his Spanish column in The Washington Post published today described the arrest and aftermath as follows, “Solís, a young rebellious Cuban rapper, called a policeman “a coward wrapped in a uniform” who on November 7th entered his house to harass him without his permission. He filmed the altercation with his cell phone and posted the video on his social networks. In a summary trial, without a defense attorney, Solís was sentenced for contempt to eight months of deprivation of liberty.”

FreeMuse followed up with how other artists demonstrated their solidarity with Denis. “On 12 November, several members of the San Isidro Movement protested outside of Cuba y Chacón police station, demanding freedom for Denis Solís. Among them were Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Iliana Hernández, who requested information on the whereabouts of Solís, but were detained while trying to do so. The other members from San Isidro Movement that were detained, though released later in the day, include Anamely Ramos, Maykel Osorbo, Oscar Casanella, Jorge Luis Brian, Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho, Esber Rafael, Braulio Hastié and Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna.” The protests continued and the numbers grew.

The following night the violence of the Cuban police against nonviolent activists became more evident, and drew international attention. The International Society for Human Rights, a Frankfurt based human rights organization, reported that during “a peaceful sit-in strike in front of a police station, the well-known Cuban professor Omara Ruiz Urquiola was brutally beaten by a police motorcycle patrol on November 13th. On Facebook, she shared a video of the assault and showed the blood-smeared dress she had worn during the abuse.” She was advocating for the release of Cuban pro-democracy activist and musician Denis Solis together with other artists and intellectuals. The video of the attack was broadcast over television on Telemundo 51, and reached a broader audience.

University professor Anamely Ramos González, currently at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement in Havana, described how she arrived there with others, “peacefully, on Monday, November 15, 2020, with the objective of developing a program of cultural activities in pursuit of the freedom of Denis Solís González.” Anamely described how the secret police laid siege, and limited their right to movement. She also recounted how “they have chemically attacked us by poisoning the water in the cistern with acid, they have threatened our neighbors, they have restricted access to the block, they have detained family and friends who came to see us, even the mother of Iliana Hernández.

Oscar Casanella analyzes the liquid thrown into the headquarters. (Movimiento San Isidro)

Oscar Casanella analyzes the liquid thrown into the headquarters. (Movimiento San Isidro)

But above all, they intercepted the neighbor who was bringing us our food and cleaning supplies on Wednesday [November 18, 2020] . And as is documented in the videos of that day, that was the reason for the beginning of the hunger and hunger and thirst strikes, which began at 3:00 pm.” The hunger and thirst strike, according to the professor, was imposed upon them, and the “decision was also a survival measure for Omara Ruiz Urquiola, because when we counted the food that was left, we realized that it was not enough for everyone.” Initiating the hunger and thirst strike were Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Esteban Rodríguez, Maykel Castillo and Humberto Mena, and starting the hunger strike were Iliana Hernández, Yasser Castellanos, Adrián Rubio, Oscar Casanella and Osmani Pardo.

Activists under siege at the Isidro Movement headquarters in Havana, Cuba

Activists under siege at the Isidro Movement headquarters in Havana, Cuba

Earlier today Yasser Castellanos and Humberto Mena ended their respective strikes. Anamely concluded made a statement over Facebook that warned of the grave consequences for the hunger strikers, and called out to the European Union.

“I, Anamely Ramos González , Cuban citizen of legal age, professional, professor at the University of the Arts for more than ten years, in fullness of my mental and physical faculties, hold the Cuban State responsible for what may happen to the seven people who continue the strike and who already, as of today, begin to weaken. I also ask the European Union to take an interest and speak out on the profound injustice that has been committed against Denis Solís and on the humanitarian crisis that we are experiencing in San Isidro at the moment.”

According to Amnesty International, “Denis was detained on 9 November, and then tried and sentenced on 11 November to eight months in prison for “contempt” (desacato), a crime inconsistent with international human rights law. He is now imprisoned at a maximum-security prison, Valle Grande, located just outside Havana.”

Events continue to unfold, and CubaBrief is monitoring the situation.

Facebook, November 20, 2020

Facebook message by Anamely Ramos González posted on November 20, 2020 at 10:25AM

Anamely Ramos González (Cubiatnow)

Anamely Ramos González (Cubiatnow)

Translated to English by the Center for a Free Cuba

From the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, we accuse the Cuban State and State Security Organs of the constant and invasive siege that has been imposed on us since we arrived here, peacefully, on Monday, November 15, 2020, with the objective of developing a program of cultural activities in pursuit of the freedom of Denis Solís González.

We have not committed any illegality. They, however, have limited our right to mobility, they have chemically attacked us by poisoning the water in the cistern with acid, they have threatened our neighbors, they have restricted access to the block, they have detained family and friends who came to see us, even the mother of Iliana Hernández. But above all, they intercepted the neighbor who was bringing us our food and cleaning supplies on Wednesday. And as is documented in the videos of that day, that was the reason for the beginning of the hunger and hunger and thirst strikes, which began at 3:00 pm.

We want to emphasize that they have thrown us on a hunger strike. That decision was also a survival measure for Omara Ruiz Urquiola, because when we counted the food that was left, we realized that it was not enough for everyone.

I, Anamely Ramos González , Cuban citizen of legal age, professional, professor at the University of the Arts for more than ten years, in fullness of my mental and physical faculties, hold the Cuban State responsible for what may happen to the seven people who continue the strike and who already, as of today, begin to weaken. I also ask the European Union to take an interest and speak out on the profound injustice that has been committed against Denis Solís and on the humanitarian crisis that we are experiencing in San Isidro at the moment.

Freedom for Denis!

Life for all!

Future for Cuba!

Original Spanish text

https://www.facebook.com/anamely.ramosgonzalez/posts/1975184179291335

International Society for Human Rights, November 16, 2020

Cancer suffering Cuban professor beaten bloody by police in peaceful strike

Source: IGFM

Source: IGFM

Frankfurt/Havanna, November 16, 2020 – During a peaceful sit-in strike in front of a police station, the well-known Cuban professor Omara Ruiz Urquiola was brutally beaten by a police motorcycle patrol on November 13th, as reported by the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR). On Facebook, she shared a video of the assault and showed the blood-smeared dress she had worn during the abuse.

Omara Ruiz demonstrated for the release of the Cuban democracy activist Denis Solis, who was arrested for publicly and peacefully standing up for another imprisoned democracy activist.

The Cuban, who is suffering from cancer, has been harassed for years and taken into collective punishment for her brother, biologist and environmentalist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola. She was expelled from the university because of her criticism of the regime.The Cuban authorities also deny an effective cancer treatment to Omara Ruiz. This refusal is the method of punishing the lack of loyalty to the government and intimidating other civil rights activists, criticizes the ISHR.

The exacerbated crisis in the Cuban economy, the lack of tourists because of Covid-19, and the ongoing problems of supplying the population with food and consumer goods have made the regime even more nervous. Any criticism is violently suppressed. In recent weeks, many Cuban activists have been arrested nationwide, according to the ISHR.

https://ishr.org/cancer-suffering-cuban-professor-beaten-bloody-by-police-in-peaceful-strike/

FreeMuse, November 18, 2020

Cuba: Member of San Isidro Movement arbitrarily detained

18 November 2020

9 November: Rapper, activist and member of the San Isidro Movement Denis Solís González was detained in La Habana after sharing a video on 6 November of a police officer entering his house without a warrant, reports ADN Cuba.

Solís was taken to El Vivác prison, which is known to hold political prisoners, without his family and friends knowing the reason for his arrest. In the video he shared, Solís throws the police officer out of his home, and sources close to the activist claim this can be used by the authorities as a “contempt of authority” act.

The rapper was among other members of the San Isidro Movement that were arrested on 10 October to prevent their concert for the freedom of Cuba to take place, which was covered by Freemuse. A few days later, on 19 October, Solís tattooed on his chest “Cambio Cuba Libre” (Change Free Cuba) as a statement to his discontent to Cuban authorities, adding on Facebook that “they have to tear the skin of my chest apart”.

On 12 November, several members of the San Isidro Movement protested outside of Cuba y Chacón police station, demanding freedom for Denis Solís. Among them were Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Iliana Hernández, who requested information on the whereabouts of Solís, but were detained while trying to do so.

The other members from San Isidro Movement that were detained, though released later in the day, include Anamely Ramos, Maykel Osorbo, Oscar Casanella, Jorge Luis Brian, Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho, Esber Rafael, Braulio Hastié and Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna.

In Freemuse’s State of Artistic Freedom 2020 Report, Cuba was evaluated in the top 10 Countries to have detained the highest number of artists in 2019. Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, for instance, was arrested more than a dozen times in the same year.

https://freemuse.org/news/member-of-san-isidro-movement-detained-arbitrarily/

Amnesty International, November 20, 2020

Cuba: Harassment of San Isidro movement exemplifies ongoing assault on freedom of expression

amnesty.png

In response to reports that members of Cuba’s San Isidro movement have been detained, had their human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of movement restricted, and been criminalized simply for peacefully exercising their human rights, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International said:

“The ongoing harassment and intimidation of members of the San Isidro movement, at the forefront of challenging Decree 349, a dystopian law that stands to censor artists, shows Cuba’s ongoing repression of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression in the country. Authorities can continue to harass, intimidate, detain, and criminalize artists and alternative thinkers, but they can’t keep their minds in prison.”

According to the legal NGO Cubalex, between 9 and 19 November, authorities arbitrarily detained and harassed multiple members of the San Isidro movement, sometimes more than once. Members of the movement, which is composed of artists, poets, LGBTI activists, academics, and independent journalists, have in recent days been protesting the imprisonment of the rapper Denis Solís González.

According to information Amnesty International was able to obtain, Denis was detained on 9 November, and then tried and sentenced on 11 November to eight months in prison for “contempt” (desacato), a crime inconsistent with international human rights law. He is now imprisoned at a maximum-security prison, Valle Grande, located just outside Havana.

“No one should be imprisoned for ‘contempt’ against a public official, a provision of the criminal code that Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have consistently called on the Cuban authorities to repeal,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

By 19 November, eight members of the group were on hunger strike at the San Isidro movement’s headquarters in Old Havana in protest over Denis’ imprisonment, according to Anamely Ramos González, an art curator and member of the movement.

Images that Amnesty International verified show that at one point the authorities appeared to cordon off the block of the headquarters with yellow tape, limiting the group’s freedom of movement. Members of the group said they were under 24-hour surveillance by plain-clothed state security officials and feared they would be detained again if they tried to leave.

In March, Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, a former prisoner of conscience and member of San Isidro movement, was imprisoned solely because of his consciously held beliefs, and later released. He is among those the authorities have held in short-term detentions in recent weeks, according to Cubalex. 

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/11/cuba-harassment-exemplifies-ongoing-assault-freedom-expression/