After a year and a half in prison, after he was accused (without proof) of “sacrificing a cow” (in other words, of having killed a cow) and sentenced to 10 years, the Matanzas resident Michel Martinez Perez has been released on the night of Thursday, March 14th, according to a report by former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre). Hernandez added that the liberation of Martinez is all thanks to the solidarity which he received on behalf of people inside and outside of Cuba, as well as the pressure generated against the regime.
Seeing as the authorities had refused to re-open his case, Michel Martinez Perez carried out various hunger strikes to defend his innocence, which put his life at risk each time. The most recent lasted more than 40 days and ended in December of 2012. His mother, Lazara Perez, turned to human rights activists in the province of Matanzas, especially Ivan Hernandez, to denounce her son’s case after all governmental institutions she had visited refused to offer her assistance, despite her persistence. The dissidents responded by spreading all the details of the situation through Twitter, audios, and written reports. This was quickly re-posted outside of Cuba through diverse media outlets, especially independent blogs and through other social networks.
“Michel called me on the phone as soon as he got to his house. He greatly appreciates all the voices which rose in his favor”, read one tweet by Hernandez Carrillo. Another said “in the name of Michel, I thank all those exiled Cubans who contributed with their denouncements for his freedom”.
It has been proven once again that solidarity with those who are persecuted in the island and pressure against the regime does, in fact, work. Thanks to this, a mother can now embrace her son and have him home again, without worrying that his life runs danger in a dungeon because of something he did not do.
Human rights activist and former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo announced this past weekend that Michel Martinez Perez, Cuban citizen from Matanzas province who was unjustly jailed in August 2011 under accusations of “theft and sacrifice of a cow” but without any proof, has suspended his hunger strike, which lasted more than 46 days. The suspension of the strike came after prison authorities assured Michel that they have sent his case to the Supreme Tribunal for “revision”.
“Lazara Perez, mother of Michel Martinez Perez, appreciates all the people who have displayed solidarity with the very difficult situation of her son“, read another tweet by Ivan Hernandez (@ivanlibre) published on December 9th. Mrs. Perez- as expected from any mother- has suffered greatly with the incarceration of her son and has demanded numerous communist functionaries to revise his case, to free him, and treat him humanely while in prison, denouncing that on many occasions he has been beat and kept in inhumane conditions and in dark punishment cells. During the last few weeks of his most recent hunger strike, Lazara has been denied her right to visit Michel in prison, despite the fact that she has had to travel long distances to do so.
If the authorities do not comply with the promise, Michel Martinez has left it very clear that he will “retake his hunger strike to prove his innocence“, according to another tweet by Hernandez Carrillo.
Although the news of the cancelation of the strike is good, Michel Martinez Perez is still unjustly behind bars. Various human rights activists in Matanzas have echoed his situation and have been the ones denouncing the case on a national and international level.
With already more than 40 days on hunger strike, the prisoner Michel Martinez Perez, who was sentenced to 10 years behind bars under accusations of ‘theft and sacrifice of a cow’ after a quick trial without any proof, is at serious danger of losing his life, according to his elderly mother, Lazara Martin Perez.
Recently, Michel was transferred to the Hospital of Colon, in Matanzas, where he is supposedly in ‘Section C’. This past Tuesday, November 27th, when his mother traveled some miles to see him during the visitation hours, the authorities refused to let her pass.
“Last Tuesday they denied my visit and now, this Tuesday the 17th, they have done it again“, denounced Lazara, “They told me that they can’t allow visits, they said it’s something I must ask the authorities of Aguica Prison. But, what is the reason that they are denying me the right to see my son? It’s been 15 days since I last saw him and I currently do not know what they are doing with him“.
The Cuban mother fears for the worse, considering that her son- unjustly jailed since August of 2011- has been confined to dungeons under conditions of torture. She expects anything from his jailers.
“Not too long ago I had a discussion with the penal authorities because they had Michel in a punishment cell during the recent cold nights, and they had him without a sweater, a blanker or any sort of sheets. He was nearly naked“, recounts Lazara, “he had on some very short shorts and a sleeveless shirt“.
On other occasions, she adds, guards have hurled buckets of cold water on Michel and left him naked in sealed off dark and damp cells, all with the purpose to crack his spirit, but he remains firm in his protest. He has carried out several hunger strikes during his imprisonment but the current one has been the longest and the one which worries his relatives the most.
In her desperation in seeing that no functionary of the regime has even remotely tried to fix the situation for more than a year, Martin Perez has turned to human rights activists in Matanzas, like former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo and dissident Francisco Rangel Manzano. Both Hernandez and Rangel, as well as others, have used their voices- and their Twitter accounts- to denounce the abuses against the young Matanzas native who just turned 32 on November 5th.
“The authorities have not given me any information about my son“, assures Lazara, “I don’t even know if they have him with an IV now or if they have him thrown there like an animal. They only tell me that I cannot see him. I take sweaters, clothes and socks for him but I highly doubt they are giving these things to him… they must be hiding something… they are destroying him“.
Lazara Martin asked that her testimonies be published and be sent to different outlets of the international press because she claims her son is in a very critical situation, between life and death, and that it would be a severe injustice to let him die, especially when he is in prison without having committed a crime.
“My message to the world is they are abusing my young son“, expressed Lazara, “Here in Cuba the youth has no future… they are only tortured. As the mother of Michel Martinez Perez, I demand justice, because I do not know what conditions he is in right now“.
For more information on this case, contact:
Francisco Rangel Manzano- Cell Phone: +5353-287-437 // Twitter: @JFRangelCuba
In this letter, the mother of Michel Martinez Perez, a Cuban citizen who is unjustly imprisoned and who has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days in a prison of Matanzas, recounts all the details of her son’s case (courtesy of former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, who has been denouncing this situation for months).
It is the clamor of a desperate mother, of a Cuban who demands justice:
To Whom It May Concern
With this letter, I want to denounce the following situation:
On August 5th 2011, 3 citizens- among them William Martinez Perez- were detained in the town of Union de Reyes. On the 10th of the same month, 3 other people were detained, among them Michel Martinez Perez. The detainees were driven throughout the town in police vehicles, with sirens blasting, as if they were terrorists. The police created a sense of fear amongst the locals. At the same time, workers of a local clinic brought stretchers thinking that there had been some sort of massive accident, considering the constant ringing of the sirens. The young detainees were taken to the Technical Investigation Department of the Ministry of the Interior of Matanzas, under accusations of theft and ‘sacrifice’ of a cow.
In the mentioned detention center, the detainees suffered psychological and physical mistreatment at the hands of the instructor, Alain. Michel, in addition to being beat, was tortured, as he was placed in an air conditioned room after having been soaked with cold water, only wearing an undershirt. At that moment, Michel Martinez Perez declared himself on hunger strike- a protest which lasted 12 days and which caused physical and mental complications. In fact, he was taken to the provincial hospital, presenting a grave state of dehydration and weight loss. On August 23rd of 2012, he was taken to the Combinado del Sur Prison of Matanzas. Four months later, in that same place during visit hours the instructor Maria Suarez La Guardia (also from the town of Union de Reyes) accused Michel and William of armed robbery. She then commenced to interrogate Michel, forcing him to give finger prints as well as smell and hair proofs. When Michel noticed, he declared himself on hunger strike, this time for 20 days, for not agreeing with the accusation. If he was already jailed, how is it possible that he could be in two places at once, and how can there be fingerprints in the place of the ‘crime’, after being in prison for 6 months?
On February 21st 2012, at 10 AM, in the provincial tribunal of Matanzas, a trial was carried out corresponding to cause 487/2011, where two different causes were analyzed at the same time- theft and sacrifice of a cow and armed robbery, and there were was no proof against William and Michel. They unjustly remain in prison. After the trial, Michel entered another hunger strike, which harmed is health as he vomited lots of blood and lost lots of weight. The prison authorities spoke to him, trying to convince him to eat, assuring him that his situation would be solved. Seeing as he had been lied to and tricked on various occasions, and that they had not solved his problem, he declared himself on hunger strike again on June 19th 2012. During this strike, he fainted, vomited blood again and lost lots of weight again. Upon seeing his state of health deteriorating, they threatened him to stop and took him to the prison of Canaleta in Matanzas. Afterward, he was taken to the municipal hospital of Colon, in critical state, and 10 days later was when they told his family of his situation. He was kept there for more than a month, where his health deteriorated sharply. He lost 35 pounds. While he was in the hospital, he spent days without showering, seeing as they did not heat up the water for him. He also didn’t even have a fan to cool off the heat, which caused him to sweat a lot and suffer from dehydration. On Saturday, July 28th, after 49 days, he was visited by Mederos (Chief of Prisons in Matanzas) and other functionaries. They all insisted that Michel stop his hunger strike because they were going to solve his situation. That same day, he started to eat in the hospital of Colon, where he remained until August 1st 2012.
In afternoon hours of August 1st 2012, he was taken to the Technical Investigations Department of Versalles in the province of Matanzas, where he was interviewed by an instructor named Orli, but in a very isolated cell, lacking even the most basic of conditions for a human being. Without access to a bathroom, Michel had to carry out his necessities in a plastic bottle. The bottle remained, filled with urine, next to Michel the entire time, with that bad odor. He also had to defecate there and, eventually, in order to shower he had to call a guard which would take him to the bathroom, and they would purposely take long. The mattress to sleep was given to him at 10 PM and taken away around 4 or 5 AM, interrupting his rest. I do not know why people being instructed by this revolution, if one can even call it that, violate the concept of revolution, which says that we should all be treated as humans. They have been so inhumane that they have not even taken his poor health into consideration after 49 days of hunger strike.
Lacking a response to his situation, on August 18th 2012 Michel was taken to the Combinado del Sur penitentiary where he was told they were going to interview him and assist him, but there was no response to his situation as of October 18th 2012.
On April 2012, an annulment process was carried out and on October 17th 2012 the results came in, which dictated that the 10 year sentence was to be upheld.
As for the scent tests, they did not provide any proof for the tribunal or the fiscal process which would incriminate Michel in the events. Then other proofs were analyzed, none of which reflect his culpability.
As of October 19th 2012, Michel started another hunger strike, and as a reprisal he was taken to the Aguica prison on October 23rd 2012, which is located in the Central Road of Colon, in Los Arabos, on Kilometer 9 ½, in Matanzas province.
On Tuesday, October 30th 2012, I went to visit him there at Aguica and 5 people received me, among them the chief of the unit, Captain Pepe and three women. They questioned me and accused Michel, as if they were fiscals or instructors. They told me he was guilty and I responded that there are many innocent people in prison, including my son.
Afterward, Captain Pepe took me to a room to meet with my son. When I saw him, I was shocked by his physical health. When I started talking to him, it was so painful for me. I had to fight hard so that he would not see me cry. He told me he was in a punishment cell, where there is nothing but a tiny cement bed. In order to rest (if you can call it that) he had to lay down on his side because he couldn’t stretch himself out, and he had no blankets, no sweaters, no sheets or anything like that to cover himself on cold nights. He is only covered by a sleeveless shirt and a pair of shorts. They also took away his tooth brush, and I noticed the bad breath. An animal is better taken care of than him. Considering his physical and psychological conditions, he should be in a clinic with special care. After the visit, which didn’t last more than an hour, Pepe accompanied me out of the prison. He wouldn’t stop offending and accusing Michel. I told him that he was not a fiscal to being judging and I asked him if they had given him sheets, sweaters, or any covers to keep him warm and he firmly said yes. And it is there where one can see the lies and the cynicism, where one can see that they don’t even respect their own principles which say that we should all be treated like humans, to never lie and to not violate ethics.
During the day and the night of Wednseday, October 31st 2012, I could not stop thinking of the conditions I saw my son in. On Thursday, November 1st, I went to the delegation of Matanzas and spoke to Midiala, who is in charge of the complaints of the people. I told her everything my eyes had seen and that my ears had heard.
On Friday, November 2nd 2012, at 4:30 PM, I spoke via telephone with the prison, specifically with the official on guard who says to be called Jorge. I asked him about my son. He responded that since Thursday, November 1st, they had transferred him to the clinic, gave him a bed sheet, a sweater and other clothes, as well as being seen by a doctor, all of which turned out to be false.
On Sunday, November 4th 2012, during morning hours after 9 AM, I spoke to another official who did not say his name and he told me that my son was still in a cell. So, seeing as there is nothing concrete according to what is happening with Michel, I personally went to the Aguica Prison on Tuesday, November 6th to know the truth, seeing as the only thing they know how to do is lie, trick, and mistreat people. When they direct themselves to the world, the reflect a façade of being the good guys, of lending medical attention to anyone in need, while in reality they are friends of deceit, hypocrisy, mistreatment, lies, and abuse. They never demonstrate that side to the world.
This past November 5th 2012, during night hours, he was takern to the prison’s clinic.
This has been a denouncement from his mother:
Lázara de Jesús Pérez Martín from the town of Union de Reyes. General Betancourt Street, #37, between Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo. Matanzas Province, Cuba.
The following report has been put together by a friend of this blog: human rights activist Maria Camas. You can follow her on Twitter for more fresh news about Cuba: @mspianoteacher.
Lazara Martin Pérez is the mother of two young men which the Castro tyranny is bent on keeping jailed in the most inhumane conditions possible. One of her sons is Michel Martinez Perez, who has been tortured in different forms, all the way from constant interrogations, being confined for hours in rooms with very cold air after having been stripped of his clothing and having been soaked with buckets of icy water, to having him confined in sealed-off punishment cells for weeks, only accompanied by rodents and roaches. He has not even had a blanket or mattress to spend his seemingly endless days and nights.
Michel Martínez Pérez has been on hunger strike since last Octobter 5th. Because of this protest, the authorities of the Combinado del Sur Prison of Matanzas decided to send him to Aguica Prison so he could carry out his strike while closed off in a horrid punishment cell, isolated from any sort of human contact, while the authorities have showed less than minimal interest in his health, and in sum, his life. This is not the first time which Michel has declared himself on hunger strike. In addition, he has been transferred from one prison to another. Michel has passed through the Department of Technical Investigations of Matanzas, by the penitentiary of Canaletas, by Combinado del Sur, and has now been locked up in a punishment cell of Aguica, a prison notorious for abuses against all prisoners, whether they be “political” or “common”.
In her desperation, Lazara Martin Perez has called on the international community to please join her in solidarity so that, any person of goodwill, exert enough pressure over the regime to keep her son from dying on hunger strike, a protest which he has taken on to prove his innocence.
The communist regime of the Castros is accusing Michel of “stealing” and “killing” a cow. In other words, the regime is accusing the young man for suspecting that he has killed a cow to feed his family. This is a crime which Michel has denied through 5 hunger strikes.
Putting the ridiculous reality of Cuba aside, where innocent citizens are sent to prison for 10 years for killing an animal and eating it, we must keep in mind that the regime placed Michel behind bars since they detained him on October 5th 2011, before they had even carried out a fair trial against him. Once the trial took place, despite the fact that there was no proof against Michel, he was sentenced.
The following audio (in Spanish) is of Lazara. It is the voice of a worried mother, asking for actions of solidarity so that this crime of the Castro dictatorship is halted. It is courtesy of former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo.
In the clip, Lazara explains, for example, that Lieutenant Colonel Mederes, the Chief of Prisons in Matanzas, has not even met with her. This same person promised Michel Martinez Perez on August 2nd 2012 that he would “solve the situation” if he stopped the hunger strike. Evidently, the agent lied then and continues lying now.
Also, she narrates the fiscal Jesus Dario Ortega, from the town of Alacranes, sent Michel to prison while he worked in the Union de Reyes unit. Currently, the mentioned official has retired. It seems that he already executed his unjust duty.
Lazara Martin Pérez lives in Unión de Reyes, Matanzas
General Betancourt Street #37 between Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo.
Unfortunately, Martin doesn’t not have a phone. She has sought the help of dissidents in the city of Colon. These dissidents have replied and have been spreading the word on Michel Martinez Perez.
For more information from Cuba: +011-5352- 599-366, phone number of Iván Hernández Carrillo.
Michel Martínez Pérez, a Cuban citizen from the province of Matanzas, was arrested in 2011 under accusations of ‘theft and sacrifice’. In Cuba, this means to kill an animal- specifically a cow- which is considered a crime by the state. However, countless citizens are left with no other choice than to carry out this action in order to the increasing amount of hunger in the country. Nearly a yer later, Martinez Perez remains behind bars, and has now been accused of another crime- this time “robbery by force”, which Michel and his mother, Lazara de Jesus Perez Martinez, both assure is false.
This Cuban mother, worried about her son’s life (he is on hunger strike and has suffered countless beatings and tortures behind the bars) is holding the Cuban regime accountable for Michel. She is also making an urgent call on the international community so that their be an intervention in her son’s case, considering that he is still in grave danger of losing his life, if not remaining in prison for many years for something he never did.
The following text is a letter penned by Lazara herself this 27th of July, 2012, regarding her son’s situation:
To whom it may concern,
With this letter, I’d like to let you know about the following situation:
On August 5th, 2011, 3 Cuban citizens were arrested in the town of ‘Union de Reyes’, among them William Martinez Perez, and on the following 10th of August they detained 3 more people. Among this second group was Michel Martinez Perez. Upon the arrest, the detainees were driven around the entire town on a police vehicle which had its police siren at full blast, as if saying the detainees were terrorists, and also creating fear within the locals. In fact, the clinic workers rushed out of their centers with stretchers, thinking that their was some sort of major accident, considering that the sirens kept going off.
These youths were then taken to the Technical Investigation Department of the Provincial MININT offices in Matanzas, under accusations of “theft and sacrifice” of cattle. Once in that center, they suffered physical and psychological abuses under the orders of the instructor known as Alain. They were tortured and kept in a very cold room without shirts and the guards threw water on them. From that moment, Michel Martinez Perez declared himself on hunger strike, and his physical and mental situation eventually were affected, so much so that he was taken to the provincial hospital, seeing as he was gravely dehydrated. On august 23rd of the same year, he was transferred to the penitentiary center known as Combinado del Sur, in Matanzas. After 4 months of being in that place, the instructor and guard of the Union de Reyes town, Maria Suarez, accused Michel and William of armed robbery, and interrogated Michel, threatening and forcing him to give his finger prints. During this process, Michel declared himself on hunger strike again, this time carrying out the protest for 20 days. He was protesting because he considered the accusation to be false, seeing as that it is not possible that, 4 months later, his fingerprints appear at the scene of the “crime”.
On February 21st, 2012, at around 10 AM, William and Michel’s case was taken to trial, under cause number 487-2011, where there were no proofs or testimonies against either citizens. They unjustly remain in prison. After the trial, Michel once again took up a hunger strike, this time his health was seriously affected, as he vomited blood and lost lots of weight. The authorities of the penitentiary spoke to him so that he would eat, telling him that his situation would be solved. Upon seeing that he had been lied to on various occasions and that they have given him no response as to his problem, on June 9th 2012 he declared himself once more on hunger strike. During this protest, he has fainted numerous times and has been vomiting blood. The authorities, upon seeing that his health has been deteriorating, are threatening him to stop the strike, and as punishment they have taken him to the Canaletas prison in Matanzas. He is in critical condition thanks to the injustices of this country. 49 days have passed as of today, Friday the 27th of July, as I write these lines and Michel continues in this condition as long as their is no favorable answer.
This letter has been written by his mother, Lazara de Jesus Perez Martin, from the town of Union de Reyes, General Betancourt street #37, between Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo. I am desperate when it comes to the physical and psychological situation in which I saw my son on June 19th, 2012, when I was urgently summoned by the chief of Combinado del Sur.
I trust in you all “because real justice is not the one that is spoken, but the one that is done”. His life is in danger.
Lazara has also provided an audio (in Spanish), where she details her son’s struggles and also denounces that she is being prohibited by the authorities from visiting him in prison. It is the voice of a desperate mother: