CubaBrief: Cuban political prisoner dies. Human rights activist & activist’s mom threatened. Journalist fined under new gag law. Mobilizing and amplifying Cuban voices.

Pablo Moya Delá: Before his October 23, 2020 imprisonment and after being placed on probation in August 2021.

Pablo Moya Delá: Before his October 23, 2020 imprisonment and after being placed on probation in August 2021.

Family members and activists hold the Castro regime accountable for the death of opposition activist and former political prisoner Pablo Moya Delá, who died on August 26, 2021 at the Clinical Surgical Hospital in Santiago de Cuba. He was jailed on October 23, 2020 for protesting socioeconomic conditions and overall repression. He was beaten, mistreated for months, weakened following a hunger strike and after destroying his health released on probation earlier this month near death.

His plight had drawn international attention.

In May 2021 the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) released ten stamps in a campaign titled “Very Important Stamps” that included Cuban political prisoner Pablo Moya Delá  who was highlighted again on June 8, 2021 over Twitter by the Frankfurt based human rights organization in an effort to highlight his case. Criminally, the unjust imprisonment, inhuman conditions, and treatment applied against this human rights defender led to his untimely death.

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Memory of Nations, a Czech initiative to preserve the memory of the Cuban nation, interviewed Pablo Moya Delá on July 15, 2020 in which he spoke about the nature of the struggle in Cuba.

“I stuck to that idea, despite that pain and that hardship, that I had to continue fighting. And this struggle that I am facing is because the freedom and the political and economic rights in this country come together with a fundamental law, which would allow us the right and the guarantee, not only to the self-employed, but to all Cubans. Because I’ve been looking at how Cubans are doing right now. Our people are in a tough and dark situation. Very dangerous. But very very very dangerous. So, in this case, I’m willing to fight until the very last consequence, bro. I have nothing left to lose. Because everything has been taken from me. I reached an age where I really need a retirement for everything I have done working for the state power, however, I’ve got nothing. Which means, that there is nothing left. So the only thing left for me is to keep fighting until the death.”

Today the spokesperson for the German human rights group that had organized the campaign made a statement. “Pablo Moya’s death was consciously accepted. Violence against regime critics and torture of political prisoners are components of the dictatorial regime under the Communist Party of Cuba, which has ruled alone for 61 years. While the Cuban regime is announcing economic reforms, it has not prevented the death of the activist, ” said Martin Lessenthin, speaker of the German section of International Society for Human Rights (ISHR).

The threat against human rights defenders also extends outside the island, but without them little would be know about what takes place in Cuba.

Human rights defender Laritza Diversent's mom threatened by secret police

Human rights defender Laritza Diversent’s mom threatened by secret police

Havana does not release information on arrests, prison population size, and officials lie about it when asked, but other sources provide partial estimates along with concrete data. 14ymedio, the press outfit founded by Yoani Sanchez, estimates more than 5,000 detained. Cubalex, a human rights NGO, identified 875 detained or missing Cubans, related to the protests that began on July 11th, in their database as of August 27, 2021 at 11:50am.

Cuban human rights defenders attempting to document the situation on the island face threats not only against themselves, but against their families. On August 23, 2021 it was also demonstrated that living in the diaspora does not protect you from these threats. State Security visited the mother of exiled human rights defender and Cubalex executive director Laritza Diversent and telling her “that she could end paying for her daughter’s work.” Apparently inspired by the May 23, 2021 “intercept” by Belarusian authorities of independent journalist Roman Protasevich, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega who were on board a plane forced down by a MiG 29, the state security agents said that they would “intercept Laritza Diversent in the United States or another country” to “take her to Cuba” and try her.

Yoel Acosta, sanctioned by Decree 35, the new internet "gag law".

Yoel Acosta, sanctioned by Decree 35, the new internet “gag law”.

Decree 35, that further criminalizes speech online, came into force on August 18, 2021. The German branch of the International Society for Human Rights reported on one of the first activists to be sanctioned.

Cuban journalist Yoel Acosta is among the first sanctioned by the “gag law.” A few weeks after nationwide protests, the Cuban government issued a new Internet decree on cybersecurity on August 18, 2021. Acosta was fined 2,000 Cuban pesos (about 71.06 euros) – equivalent to three average monthly salaries on the Caribbean island.- for critical reporting on the living conditions of people in the city of Baracoa in eastern Cuba. With the fine, Yoel Acosta also received a written warning for “attempting to violate the sovereignty of the country and discredit it with his videos and reports.” He was given 72 hours to pay the fine, otherwise he faces jail time.

This is why it is so important for the Cuban diaspora to mobilize in order to amplify the demands of the Cuban people on the island, and to seek solidarity from others as Cuban American students did at Princeton in an OpEd published on August 24, 2021, and Cubans and Cuban Americans did on August 22, 2021 marching through Miami, and last month in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Madrid, Los Angeles, and scores of other cities around the world. There is an effort underway to boycott 14th Havana Biennial in protest of the human rights situation in Cuba. Now is also the time for international human rights organizations to step up their focus on repression in Cuba and denounce it before international bodies.

It is already happening and it is making a difference. With hundreds, if not thousands, of political prisoners in Cuba enduring inhumane conditions, and new and more restrictive decrees by the Cuban dictatorship there is much more to do.

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Amnesty International has identified six new prisoners of conscience (pictured above), but there are many more that need our solidarity such as Virgillio Mantilla Arango, and Yandier García Labrada who have yet to be recognized as prisoners of conscience. Let others know about them.

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There are several petitions circulating such as but not limited to: calling on Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner to investigate the death of Oswaldo Payá; support artists defending freedom of expression in Cuba; calling for an end to the Castro regime’s internal blockade; and calling on the Biden Administration to prioritize human rights in their policy towards Cuba. Please sign them and share them with others, and let us know if you know of others that we should share.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 27, 2021

Life

‘I have faith in what I cannot imagine, because I couldn’t have imagined what happened July 11’: Philadelphia Cubans on the hope, stress of island protests

Philadelphia’s Cuban community is small but the voices are loud as they organize demonstrations and urge elected officials to help their homeland after the July 11 island-wide protests.

Cubans in Philadelphia, supporting the protests on the island against the Cuban regime, on the steps of the Art Museum July 18. Holding a sign is one of the organizers, Amalia Daché, an Afro-Cuban American scholar and an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The sign next to Daché says "Canel Murderer," referring to Miguel Dí­az-Canel, president of Cuba. This was the biggest protest organized by this community in recent Philadelphia history with around 200 protesters.Image courtesy of Alexis V. Capestany.

Cubans in Philadelphia, supporting the protests on the island against the Cuban regime, on the steps of the Art Museum July 18. Holding a sign is one of the organizers, Amalia Daché, an Afro-Cuban American scholar and an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The sign next to Daché says “Canel Murderer,” referring to Miguel Dí­az-Canel, president of Cuba. This was the biggest protest organized by this community in recent Philadelphia history with around 200 protesters.Image courtesy of Alexis V. Capestany.

by María Paula Mijares Torres

The world was watching Cuba for days after July 11 when a protest in San Antonio de Los Baños, right outside Havana, began a series of island-wide demonstrations that spread like a wildfire on social media as the people challenged the Communist regime that has been governing for the past six decades.

More than 3,500 Cubans in Philadelphia and others across the region were watching, too, as the protesters criticized the government, the economy, the lack of civil rights, and the country’s slow response to the pandemic in 2021.

“The people in Cuba weren’t chanting ‘I want my COVID vaccine’ or ‘I am hungry’ — which they are,” said Marlene Looney, a Cuban from Lancaster. “But they screamed, ‘Freedom’.”

Cries of “Cuba Libre” and “SOS Cuba” inundated the streets across the island. They also filled the streets of many U.S. cities where the Cuban diaspora lives, and the City of Brotherly Love was no exception.

Along with these chants was “Patria y Vida,” a song created by Afro-Cubans inspired by the Movimiento San Isidro, a group of artists and intellectuals in Havana who are opposed to Decree-Law 349, which limits freedom of artistic expression by giving the government the right to fine, seize work materials from and imprison artists for the content of their works. The song has now become the anthem of the uprisings.

The United States has the most Cuban immigrants in the world, with 2.4 million residing here, according to the 2019 U.S. Census. However, the Philadelphia population of Cubans is a minority among the other Latino groups in the city.

The Cubans in Philly say they became more united and discovered how many more were here after the protests. A Facebook group “Cubanos en Philadelphia” that had around 50 members before July 11, now has more than 230.

Members of the Facebook group organized three protests in Philadelphia. The first on July 11 outside City Hall; a second July 14 with a march from the Art Museum to City Hall, and a third on July 18 at the Art Museum. On Aug. 8, they organized a Mass with Archbishop Nelson Pérez, whose parents are Cuban exiles, to pray for the country’s freedom. Now the Facebook group leaders are asking their members to contact elected officials to seek help from the U.S. government in Washington, D.C.

Cuban Philadelphians supporting the protests in Cuba on the steps of the Art Museum July 18. Holding a sign is one of the organizers, Amalia Daché, an Afro-Cuban American scholar and an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. About 200 people attended the protest. Image courtesy of Alexis V. Capestany

Cuban Philadelphians supporting the protests in Cuba on the steps of the Art Museum July 18. Holding a sign is one of the organizers, Amalia Daché, an Afro-Cuban American scholar and an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. About 200 people attended the protest. Image courtesy of Alexis V. Capestany

Strategies

This is the first time Cubans all around the island have taken to the streets in 62 years to protest the government. Afro-Cubans have been protesting since 2018 opposing Decree-Law 349. The Damas de Blanco movement, created by wives and relatives of Cubans who disappeared or were jailed by the government, is comprised of mostly Afro-Cubans.

A month after the July protests, the Ministry of Communications imposed new regulations where those who use social media to oppose the government or “subvert the constitutional order” risk being charged as “cyberterrorists,” according to the Resolution 105 announced Aug. 17.

That same day, the Cuban government also released a Decree-law 35 ordering that Cubans cannot use the internet or other telecommunication service to “undermine” the country’s security and internal order, or transmit false news, offensive information, or content that affects “collective security, general welfare, public morality and respect for public order.” Internet providers must monitor content and even shut down a user’s services if needed.

Amalia Daché, 44, an Afro-Cuban American scholar and associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said she was shocked to see how the U.S. media and Twitter were taking Afro-Cubans out of the narrative and blaming the U.S. and the CIA for the demonstrations. As a scholar who has been conducting ethnographic research on the complexities that race plays in Cuban culture on the island and for Cuban immigrants in the U.S., Daché saw this as a “slap in the face” and decided to use her platform in academia and activism to help amplify Cuban voices.

Daché and most of those interviewed for this article criticized people who have blamed the U.S. embargo and not the Cuban government for the crisis in Cuba.

“The reason that we can’t blame the embargo for food and for medicine is because the embargo doesn’t limit food or medicine,” Daché said. “The Cuban Government is the one that puts limits on food and medicine. So, when I go to Cuba, we are limited as to how much medicine, we can only bring 10 pounds of medicine and 30 pounds of goods. The rest will be heavily fined.”

Daché said the new restrictions are “a government strategy to make illegal social media dissent that has been the major weapon Cubans have to combat the regime’s lies, falsifications and misinformation they tell Cuban people and the world.”

“Any media containing, for example, videos or photos of Cuban hospitals and the collapse of the health-care system is now punishable under this decree,” said Daché, who has been working with lawmakers in Congress to help with President Joe Biden’s ongoing efforts to provide uncensored internet access to Cubans.

Daché was born in Cuba, but migrated to the U.S. when she was three as a Mariel Boatlift refugee. She said her dad gave her, along with her brother, sleeping medication in case they drowned in the ocean, which occurred on other boats. She has been studying how the “Cuban experience” varies in both countries according to their race, where they live, and how they were able to migrate.

She wasn’t aware of the “Cubanos en Philadelphia” Facebook group, until after the protests in Cuba. Daché and her husband — a Cuban who migrated to the U.S. three years ago — became active members and are seeking to keep the Cuban struggle in at the public thought in Philadelphia. She has helped organize the three Philadelphia protests.

The Daily Princetonian, August 24, 2021

Cuba cries ‘Freedom!’: Why Princeton students should support Cuba amid the island’s ongoing crisis

Around 3,000 people gathered for a rally on July 17 in front of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami in solidarity with protests in Cuba. Marie-Rose Sheinerman / The Daily Princetonian

Around 3,000 people gathered for a rally on July 17 in front of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami in solidarity with protests in Cuba. Marie-Rose Sheinerman / The Daily Princetonian

Ana Blanco, Rosmeilyn Jerez, Alejandro Garcia, and Gisell Curbelo

The following is a guest contribution and reflects the authors’ views alone. For information on how to submit an article to the Opinion Section, click here.

On July 11, an unprecedented and overwhelming cry for freedom was heard across nearly every province in Cuba. Protesting the repressive communist dictatorship that has stifled free speech and enterprise for 62 years, people flooded the streets demanding liberty and an end to the regime. While anti-government protests have previously occurred in Cuba, they have never reached this magnitude.

As a group of Cuban American students, most of whom were born on the island, we felt compelled to shed light on the ongoing crisis. Although we hold different ideological and political beliefs, we all agree on one thing: Cuba is in desperate need of liberty. We hope this article will serve as a call to action for the Princeton community to join the Cuban people in their pursuit of this essential human right.

The Cuban government’s reaction to the events of July 11 was a forceful demonstration of violence and repression against the public. Videos have surfaced of Cuban special armed forces beating men, women, and children, shooting at unarmed protestors, and forcibly removing teenage boys from their homes and enlisting them in militias to fight the people.

Internet service was halted and telephone communications were disrupted to prevent videos of the events from being disseminated. Still, the Cuban people continued to protest, and the international community joined in solidarity. Peaceful protests erupted all across the United States and Europe. Cuban American exiles have marched in large numbers to the White House and United Nations Headquarters in New York calling for intervention.

Despite the human rights violations taking place on the island, media outlets and influential organizations, including Black Lives Matter, wrongly portrayed the protests to be a result of the U.S. embargo, or the COVID-19 pandemic’s strain on the island’s limited healthcare resources. While these are all important issues that should be addressed, focusing on them at a time when Cubans on the island are explicitly calling for governmental change denies the sacrifices of those who are putting their lives at risk every day for the right to simply speak their minds.

Life in Cuba is very different from what you read online, or even from what you see if you visit as a tourist. In a nation that claims it has no class distinctions, rich tourists and party sympathizers benefit while the working class suffers.

Although the American embargo on Cuba restricts trade with the nation and does have negative effects on its economy, it does not impose any limitations on the importation of food and medical supplies in Cuba. In fact, Cubans import approximately $150 million worth of agricultural products from the United States annually.

Meanwhile, the Cuban government imposes its own restrictions on the availability of food and supplies for its people. It reserves its best hotels, food, and commodities for tourists while Cuban families are given monthly food rations that are barely enough to survive for a week. With the government-imposed average salary at about 900 Cuban Pesos (37 USD) a month, most Cubans cannot afford much else. For those who can, options are extremely limited. Grocery stores are mostly empty, and the few that do have items often sell them in foreign currencies Cubans do not possess. Furthermore, farmers are forced to turn over most of their produce to the government or face penalties. Whatever government officials do not have time to collect is left to rot. These policies, put in place by the Cuban regime, are responsible for depriving the people of basic access to food and essential items.

Since its foundation in 2018, the San Isidro Movement, formed through the union of freelance artists, journalists, and painters, sparked a new era by outwardly criticizing the regime and showing the citizenry that they are not alone in their desire for freedom. The movement was developed in response to Decree 349 which largely worked to limit artists’ freedom of expression.

Inspired by the movement, a group of Cuban singers collaborated in creating the song “Patria Y Vida” (homeland and life), which has turned into an anthem for Cubans on the island and in exile. The title contradicts the Cuban government’s slogan “Patria o Muerte” (homeland or death) by suggesting it is patriotic to fight for a better life outside of the current system. The artists denounce the corrupt government and the lack of fundamental rights in the country through their lyrics.

However, the Cuban government is meticulous about what information is made public, and it brutally punishes any dissidence on the island. After the release of “Patria Y Vida,” one of the San Isidro Movement leaders, Luis Manuel Alcántara, was detained on his way to join the July 11 protests at Havana’s Malecón boardwalk and transferred to Guanajay maximum security prison. He is facing charges of contempt, resistance, and assault. Like him, hundreds of other protesters have been unjustly imprisoned on the island.

A slogan that has embodied the movement is “teníamos tanta hambre que nos comimos el miedo” which translates to “we were so hungry that we ate our fear [of the government].” Yes, Cubans need resources, but more importantly, they need a governmental system that allows them to express themselves without fear of ostracization, imprisonment, or even death. The situation in Cuba is not an issue of Democrats against Republicans, and it cannot be solved with shipments of food or vaccines. Rather, it is the story of how an oppressed nation finally gathered the courage to say, “enough!”

As Princetonians, we pride ourselves in the motto: “In the nation’s service and the service of humanity.” From the events here at home, to those in Nigeria, Palestine, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and now, Afghanistan, this last year has exposed injustice and human rights abuses across the globe. While distressing and disheartening to see these unfold, the world — and many in the Princeton community — have met these challenges with rallying cries for solidarity, justice, and better governance worldwide. The Cuban people are in need of that same support.

We ask that you do not allow political biases or preconceived notions of Cuba to hinder your ability to advocate for those who are suffering. As Cuban American members of this scholarly community, we also want to emphasize the need for greater awareness and sensitivity to the atrocities committed by the Cuban regime when discussing the island’s history both in and out of the classroom. Together, we can live up to our motto by amplifying the voices of the Cuban people in their fight for freedom.

Ana Blanco is a junior from Miami, FL.

Gisell Curbelo is a junior from Miami, FL.

Alejandro Garcia is a senior from Miami, FL.

Rosmeilyn Jerez is a junior from Miami, FL.

https://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2021/08/cuba-crisis-support-princeton-students

The Art Newspaper, August 27, 2021

Cuba on the brink: artistic voices refuse to be silenced

As Amnesty International calls on “prisoners of conscience” to be released, a movement starts to boycott Havana Biennial

Daniel Cassady

27th August 2021

Demonstrations against the Communist party erupted across Cuba on 11 July, with chants of, “We want liberty!” © Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty images

Demonstrations against the Communist party erupted across Cuba on 11 July, with chants of, “We want liberty!” © Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty images

Last month, Amnesty International named the Cuban artists Hamlet Lavastida, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and four others as prisoners of conscience: “People imprisoned because of their political, religious or other beliefs who have not used or advocated violence.” Both artists, who are outspoken critics of government repression, have been held in maximum security prisons on trumped-up charges for several months. The statement from Amnesty is “a symbolic gesture to the many hundreds more who likely deserve the designation”, says the organisation’s Americas director, Erika Guevara Rosas, calling for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all those imprisoned.

But the Cuban regime shows no signs of loosening its grip on dissenters. Also in August, the government passed a new decree limiting the use of social media and the internet. These new laws make it a crime to incite acts “that alter public order”—such as organising or even showing support for a peaceful protest—and order internet providers to cut access to any users who “spread fake news or hurt the image of the state”. They also set fines ranging from $800 to $1,600 for providing telecommunications services without official authorisation.

Government crackdown

The crackdown started in July, when thousands of Cubans on the island took to the streets in one of the largest mass protests the country has seen since Castro’s 1959 revolution. Starting in the city of San Antonio de los Baños on 11 July, marches burst across the island like fireworks exploding, a great crash and flicker where only moments earlier the streets had been silent. People marched against hyperinflation, growing inequality, a lack of food, medicine and a government that seems unable or unwilling to get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. The protests built on rallying calls for a freer, more liberal Cuba, led by artists including Lavastida and Otero Alcántara, who had been arrested dozens of times over the past few years for anti-government, pro-free speech performances.

The government responded with a protest of their own. President Miguel Díaz-Canel called on “revolutionaries” to flood the streets in support of the government, and state security forces arrested dozens of anti-government protesters.

Otero Alcántara and many others were taken into custody during the mass protests. Lavastida was incarcerated by state security forces on 26 June, when he returned to Cuba from a residency in Berlin, and he remains in prison for what is essentially a thought crime. The government got their hands on encrypted messages sent to fellow activists, in which Lavastida suggested marking Cuban currency with acronyms for the two most prominent artist-led freedom movements, 27N and MSI (San Isidro Movement), but the group never went through with his idea.

“The Cuban Communist party has established a vertical rule for the whole society that obliterates other forms of political representation and participation. It doesn’t matter if it’s Fidel Castro, Raul [Castro] or Diaz-Canal—as long as the Communist party is in power, Cuba will be a ‘dictatorship’ and nothing is going to change,” Lavastida told The Art Newspaper in April.

Artists’ revolt

Lavastida’s comments have so far proved to be true. Over the past year, the Cuban government has clamped down on artists, writers and activists who only seek the freedom to express themselves. They have been targeted, forced to stay in their homes, or thrown in jail and held for protesting, speaking out against the government and, in some cases, for even thinking about what change on the island could look like.

There is a glimmer of hope, however, that the Cuban government’s attempt to control the narrative may be coming to an end. Almost immediately after it was announced last month that the 14th Havana Biennial would be going ahead this November—under the perhaps ironic title, Future and Contemporaneity—cultural leaders and artists called for a boycott of the event. “Cuban artists who respect themselves as human beings should at least choose not to participate,” Sandra Ceballos, the founder and director of Aglutinador Art Space, wrote in a Facebook post. “At this moment, a substantial number of women and men, adolescents, young and old, [are] unjustly imprisoned, savagely beaten, humiliated and incommunicado… Among them are fellow artists, photographers and writers demanding freedom, respect for human and civil rights, and a dignified life for all Cubans. If all artists unite, we will not allow any more violations or blackmail.”

And if the July protests are any hint of what may lie in store for the island, a dialogue between the Communist party government and the people they claim to stand for may happen sooner than anyone is ready for.

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/cuba-on-the-brink-artistic-voices-refuse-to-be-silenced

International Society for Human Rights, August 26, 2021

First Cuban journalist sentenced by “Gag Law”
ISHR: Internet decree aims to nip protests in the bud and intimidate civil rights activists

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Frankfurt am Main/Havana, August 26, 2021 – As reported by the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), Cuban journalist Yoel Acosta is among the first sanctioned by the “gag law.” A few weeks after nationwide protests, the Cuban government issued a new Internet decree on cybersecurity on August 18, 2021. Acosta was fined 2,000 Cuban pesos (about 71.06 euros) – equivalent to three average monthly salaries on the Caribbean island.- for critical reporting on the living conditions of people in the city of Baracoa in eastern Cuba

With the fine, Yoel Acosta also received a written warning for “attempting to violate the sovereignty of the country and discredit it with his videos and reports.” He was given 72 hours to pay the fine, otherwise he faces jail time.

“During the protests, the people of Cuba organized through social media and shared videos online of the regime’s violent response. This allowed the world to be there live and the demonstrations to have such an impact. As a result, the Castrist leadership is trying to further restrict free speech online. Future protest actions are to be nipped in the bud. A free internet is an essential prerequisite for a free Cuba,” explains Martin Lessenthin, spokesman of the board of the ISHR.

Chinese-style information steering and isolation
Watchdogs such as the Open Observatory of Network Interference and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting report traces of Chinese source code and market domination by Chinese ISPs such as Huawei, TP-Link, and ZTE. In addition, the Swedish organization Quirium has learned that Cuba uses Huawei’s eSight network management software to filter web searches. Thanks to Chinese technology, Cuba has the arsenal it needs to silence its population, ISHR criticizes.

China’s fingerprint is clear on Cuba’s telecommunications structure. The Cuban submarine cable ALBA-1, which connects the island’s telecommunications architecture to South America via Venezuela, was partly financed and built by Chinese companies.

https://www.igfm.de/kuba-erster-journalist-durch-knebelgesetz-verurteilt/

Human Rights Foundation, August 26, 2021

HRF Succeeds in UN Petition Against Cuba

August 26, 2021

NEW YORK (August 26, 2021) — This week, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) published a decision concluding that the April 2020 arrest and detention of Cuban prodemocracy activist Keilylli De La Mora was arbitrary and in violation of international law. According to the UNWGAD, the Cuban regime imprisoned De La Mora without any legal basis and concluded that her detention resulted from the exercise of her right to freedom of expression and association in connection to her activism. The UNWGAD also recommended that Cuba provide De La Mora with compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.

“We welcome the UNWGAD’s decision condemning the Cuban regime’s harassment and intimidation campaign against De La Mora. Regrettably, her case is just one among hundreds. Arbitrary arrests and detentions have skyrocketed as a result of the largest prodemocracy protests on the island in recent history,” said HRF Chief Legal Officer Roberto González. “With this decision — along with the recent buildup of international condemnations against the regime — Cuba must understand that, if it continues to deprive its people of their most basic rights and freedoms, the international community will continue to hold it accountable.”

On April 12, 2020, Cuban prodemocracy activist Keilylli De La Mora had briefly removed her face mask a few steps outside of her home when Cuban police used this as a pretext to arrest her with a newly invented charge of “spreading an epidemic.” She was subsequently beaten by the police, subjected to a show trial — where she was denied legal counsel — and sentenced to prison for contempt, resistance, and disobedience. While in prison, De La Mora was subjected to horrific forms of verbal and physical abuse.

In its decision published earlier this week, the UNWGAD determined that the Cuban regime violated its international obligations under Articles 3, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on Remedies and Procedures on the Right of Anyone Deprived of Their Liberty to Bring Proceedings Before a Court, the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), and the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules).

Read the UNWGAD’s decision on De La Mora’s arrest here

Read HRF’s report condemning the Cuban’s campaign of repression against civil society and human rights activists here:

Learn more about the Cuban regime’s persecution of human rights activists and the importance of political freedom and accountability by watching Rosa María Payá’s talk, “Let Cuba Decide,” at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum. Ms. Payá is a pro-democracy activist who currently leads the international campaign Cuba Decide which advocates for free, fair, and plural elections in Cuba.

HRF’s Impact Litigation program provides international legal representation to prisoners of conscience whose cases are emblematic examples of the brutality of dictatorship. HRF regularly submits emblematic cases of arbitrarily imprisoned dissidents and pro-democracy activists to international judicial and semi-judicial bodies of the United Nations system and multiple other special procedures under the UN Human Rights Council.

https://hrf.org/hrf-succeeds-in-un-petition-against-cuba/

Translating Cuba, August 24, 2021

Cuban State Security Threatens to ‘Intercept Laritza Diversent in the US to Try Her in Cuba’

By Luz Escobar

In the image, the lawyer Laritza Diversent, director of the Cubalex legal information center. (Facebook)

In the image, the lawyer Laritza Diversent, director of the Cubalex legal information center. (Facebook)

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 24 August 2021 – On Monday, Cuban State Security threatened the mother of the director of Cubalex, Laritza Diversent, who denounced the incident on her social networks and on the web presence of the non-governmental organization of which she is the founder.

“An agent of State Security went to the home of the family of the director of Cubalex, Laritza Diversent, and threatened her mother because of the work that the organization has been developing,” detailed the official Facebook page of the legal information center which, since the protests of 11th July, and with the help of a group of volunteers, compiles data on the detained and disappeared in a list that exceeds 800 names.

The on-line posting explains that Maricelis Cámbara, 63, “was warned that she herself could be tried for her daughter’s work” in defense of human rights and they threatened to “intercept Laritza Diversent in the United States or another country” to “take her to Cuba” and try her. Cámbara was also asked where Diversent lives in the United States.

“I have been reflecting on this threat and the first thing it shows is that the work that Cubalex is doing annoys them and worries them to the point of going to my mother’s house and threatening her to be able talk to me. Direct threats to put her in jail by insinuating that I send her money and she receives it, for example,” Diversent told 14ymedio .

The lawyer said that they also offered her mother “things that they were going to give her” if she collaborated. “My mother is quite calm but I can’t stop worrying about her and she is worried about what may happen to me here in the United States,” she said.

“I think they are trying to send a message of fear so that one is frightened and leaves the work they are doing. I think that those of us who live outside of Cuba are also exposed, although not at the same level of risk as those who are on the island who receive repression directly,” she added.

Diversent is clear and categorical when she affirms that she is not going to abandon the work she does with her team: “We are not going to leave what we are doing, much less now, we are not going to leave the people imprisoned in Cuba alone, I am going to continue supporting them.”

Cubalex has spent years providing free legal advice to Cuban citizens and activists, journalists and opponents who are victims of repression on the island and whose human rights are constantly violated.

A part of the legal team went into exile in May 2017 after State Security carried out a raid on the headquarters of Cubalex where its members, including Diversent, received attacks and threats.

On her networks, Diversent spoke directly to the agent who went to her mother’s house: “You can come find me and take me to a prison in Cuba. I’m waiting for you (…) whatever you are going to do, do it, but starting now.” She also pointed out that she is responsible for her actions and her work and that “bothering” her mother for what she does “is irresponsible and cowardly.”

Laritza Diversent graduated in Law from the University of Havana and later did a Master’s degree in Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law. On the island, the lawyer directed the work of Cubalex for more than six years and now continues to do so from exile.

https://translatingcuba.com/cuban-state-security-threatens-to-intercept-laritza-diversent-in-the-us-to-try-her-in-cuba/