The absurd Law of Pre Social Dangerousness has taken another victim in Cuba. This time, it’s Jose Manuel Rodriguez, a member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in Baracoa, Guantanamo, in the Eastern region of the country.
According to an audio published on ‘Radio Republica’ by Isael Poveda Silva, a dissident and member of ADO-Press, Rodriguez had been receiving a series of acts of repudiation and threats at the hands of police agents until they finally detained him. On Wednesday, October 30th, he was sentenced to 4 years behind bars for the “simple fact of defending human rights and refusing to collaborate with the State Security apparatus”.
Poveda adds that the trial was extremely brief and authorities did not allow the presence of relatives and barred lawyers to participate in his defense.
The Law of Pre Social Dangerousness gives power to the regime to jail any citizen under the pretext that they may commit some sort of crime in the future. It is widely used to punish those who protest against the system as well as the youth.
Jose Manuel Rodriguez is the father of three underage children and he is married. The Eastern Democratic Alliance is demanding his immediate and unconditional release.
His name is Andy Frometa Cuenca and he has practically lived his whole life behind bars. His crime? Trying to leave his own country in search of a better life in a free land, something which the Cuban authorities classify as an “illegal exit”. The day he was taken into prison- May 12th 1992- Frometa was barely 16 years old. “He was a 15 year old kid, he turned 16 shortly after while in a cell of Park Unit 24 in Guantanamo“, explains Caridad Caballero Batista, Eastern Cuban dissident who has been demanding Frometa’s freedom for some time now.
In a declaration by Andy, shared with this blog through dissident Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina in May of the current year when the prisoner was on hunger strike, he narrates his hellish experiences in the Castro gulags where he has been subjected to countless forms of torture, as well as constant vigilance. “I have been subjected to arbitrary punishment under orders of the Cuban political police, which are bent on keeping me confined in inhumane punishment cells in order to damage my physical and mental health“, the young prisoner writes in the letter directed to Rodriguez Lobaina, adding, “Throughout these 19 years of imprisonment I have contracted multiple diseases and because they were not properly tended to by doctors I was declared incurable. The doctors have paid no attention whatsoever. The regime gets more pleasure knowing that human beings die in prison“. Due to these diseases Frometa has been exposed to, he was in a handicap state for three years.
Despite that Frometa has already served 20 of the 42 years he was sentenced to, the regime has not ceased in their attempt to oppress him, because, according to Caridad Caballero, “Andy’s protests and rebelliousness irritates them“. His punishment has not just been because of his attempt to leave the country, but also because of his firm and unbreakable attitude in the Castro dungeons. “His other sentences have been due to ‘penitentiary misconduct’, ‘contempt’, and other similar categories which the regime creates and applies on people who oppose their system“. Andy remained in the Boniatico Prison until he turned 20, and then he inaugurated the Camaguey Kilo 8 Special Regime Prison, popularly known as “I lost the key”. In addition, he has passed through Combinado del Este, Kilo 5 1/2 of Pinar del Rio, the Guanajay Torture Cell, and he was also the first of a group of prisoners to be sent to the prison known as “White Shark” in Combinado of Guantanamo, where he has remained in inhumane conditions during the past 13 years.
Recently, on the afternoon of October 13th, 2011 Andy was transferred from cell #22 in “White Shark” to the penal center Guantanamo, where he continues suffering ongoing tortures at the hands of his oppressors. With 35 years of age, Andy Frometa Cuenca is one of the current Cuban political prisoners who has served the most time in the communist gulags of the island, and one of the many on the island who remain imprisoned due to political reasons. “Andy does not have much family“, explains Caballero Batista, “his wife is the one taking care of him whenever she can. They allow him phone calls every 7 days, family visits are only allowed every two to three months, and conjugal visits are every 4 months. This has been so until the 13th of October, when he was transferred to the other prison“.
Frometa’s health is still very poor. He suffers from progressive myopia, due to a disease he contracted while in prison, and which has led him to be “nearly blind“
In Holguin, State Security threatens human rights activists for participating in non-violent activities by Caridad Caballero Batista
On the 19th of October at around 8:20 in the morning, the activist Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque, from the Pedro Luis Boitel Abraham Human Rights Movement, was ‘visited’ and severely threatened by a State Security official known as “Chapman”. According to Ana Maria, the oppressor told her that if she continued taking part in dissident acitivties, she was going to face serious consequences, and that the would take reprisals against her family. Ana Maria Paneque lives on 18th Street #166, between 33rd and Linea, Pueblo Nuevo, Holguin.
Well-known Eastern Cuban dissident and independent journalist who is vice-Director of the ADO-Press independence news agency, Caridad Caballero Batista, has penned a few reports of repression this week in Cuba. Here is one of her reports about two dissidents who were savagely beaten and then arrested just for trying to travel within their own country:
Two dissidents savagely beaten and arrested as they traveled from municipality of Gibara to the city of Holguin.
At 9 in the morning of Wednesday, October 19th 2011, Leonides Trinidad Rodriguez and Jaime Dario Blanco were both intercepted at the checkpoint of Agua Claro (just a few minutes from the city they were traveling to) by the National Police and the G2. According to Trinidad, an activist from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, the uniformed officials climbed aboard the vehicle Blanco and her were on and, without an excuse to any of those present, commenced the arrest. The officials began to aggressively push the dissidents, and even grabbed their hair and dragged them out of the vehicle. They were then shoved into Operational Guard vehicles and taken to a detention center where they received all sorts of threats, including death threats. They were released at around 6 pm.
In an island where its rulers try to control the flow information with an iron grip, another important step towards freedom was taken on Tuesday October 4th, in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba, when activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance launched ADO-Press, an independent news agency of this opposition group. This agency, with its headquarter in Eastern Cuba, joins the group of various independent news agencies that report what truly occurs in the country.
Independent journalist and blogger and also member of this new agency, Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal was present and reported that there were 18 activists in the home of Isael Poveda Silva, where the event was held.
According to Rojas, who in addition serves as a correspondent for ADO-Press, “the first objective of the organization is to let everyday Cubans know the reality of what occurs in Cuba, without ideological inclinations, considering that the state-run media responds only to one political party and does not respectfully represent the people“. The activist added that in order to be that voice the agency will report news about social problems that directly affect ‘everyday’ Cubans, such as issues of housing, jobs, health, education, along with the human rights crisis on the island which also affects all inhabitants.
In the important meeting they also announced the executive members of ADO-Press. The director is Rodolfo Barthelemy Cobas and the Sub-Director is Caridad Caballero Batista, well known dissident and independent journalist from Holguin.
Caballero Batista emphasized that the goal of ADO-Press is “to continue denouncing the crimes committed against Cubans and so that the world knows of the critical situation occurring on the island“. According to the activist, one of the most serious problems affecting the island is the situation of political prisoners who are punished and tortured for their political ideas and peaceful demonstrations.
In addition, ADO-Press will consist of journalistic work carried out by other correspondents such as Emilio Leyva, Randy Caballero Suárez, Isael Poveda Silva, Raudel Ávila Losada, and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina.
“Previously, we carried out our journalism in a more independent way, each of us on our own“, explains Batista, “now we do it in a more organized form through this agency“, explaining that in addition to the denouncements which ADO-Press will publish, they will also announce dissident activities so that everyday Cubans, that are perhaps not involved directly with the Resistance, know about the latest events, who the peaceful dissidents are, and for what reasons they are fighting.
In order to reach this objective, the Eastern Democratic Alliance, according to Luis Felipe Rojas, will use new technologies “like Twitter and blogs- such as ‘Palenque Cubano’ (the Alliance’s blog), or mine, ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire’, and others- as a platform” in order to send out news from Eastern Cuba to the rest of the country and the world.
In addition to correspondent, Rojas will also be adviser of new technology usage, teaching courses on how to use such technologies in an efficient manner while applying journalistic techniques. He already began teaching some of these classes during the launching of ADO-Press, helping various dissidents to open their own Twitter accounts and sending their first messages, such as Yanet Mosquera (@yanetmosquera), Yoandri Montoya (@yoandrimon) , Julio Mone (@monebor), and Caridad Caballero (@caricaballero).
“Despite all the fear the regime has and all the censorship it applies, we will continue publishing this news and sharing it with the world. It is something very necessary“, affirms Caridad Caballero Batista.
After the ceremony celebrating the creation of ADO-Press, the activists premiered a documentary, produced and filmed by Palenque Vision- the Eastern Democratic Alliance audio visual group- titled “Cuban Prisons: A Sequence of Terror”. The film explores the horrors of Cuban prisons, and according to the spectators, it was a success. Copies of the movie were burned onto CDs and handed out among those present as well as to neighbors and other Cubans on the street.
News agencies such as ADO-Press in Eastern Cuba, and Hablemos Press with its headquarters in Havana, represent a new generation of citizens who are tired of the rhetoric and censorship of the state-controlled media. These journalists/activists have been able to surpass the wall of censorship imposed on information by the government, sending messages to the exterior and informing those outside of the country, but they still face large obstacles in order to form their fellow citizens within Cuba. The oppressive apparatus of the political police frequently interrupts and disables phone signals, prohibits the free us of internet, and censors any news on important events such as massive protests or cases of human rights violations on the national media. It is difficult for a Cuban without links to the Resistance (and in many cases even dissidents themselves) to inform themselves, free of propaganda, in a rapid and efficient manner. Though they are forbidden to partake in any television, radio, or written media spaces in their own country, the professional and extensive work carried out by these activists will continue to be spread throughout the island in whichever way possible, whether it be through handing out pamphlets and CDs or by carrying out public conferences. Agencies such as ADO-Press are willing to confront the obstacles, working towards dismantling the state-monopoly over information, an essential step for achieving the ultimate freedom of a country.