Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Amnistia Internacional-Fear for Safety of Antúnez

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 25/003/2009

30 March 2009

UA 89/09 Fear for safety

CUBA Jorge Luis García Pérez, usually known as Antúnez (m), activist

Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera (f), his wife

Carlos Michael Morales Rodriguez (m), journalist

Diosiris Santana Pérez (m)

Ernesto Mederos Arrozarena (m)


Activist and political dissident Jorge Luis García Pérez, usually known as Antúnez, began a hunger strike on 17 February, in protest at the human rights situation in Cuba. Since 17 March, police and State Security officers have surrounded his house, threatening him, his wife Tamara Pérez Aguilera, Carlos Michael Morales, Diosiris Santana Pérez and Ernesto Mederos Arrozarena who joined him in the hunger strike. All five are in grave danger.

Antúnez and his companions are carrying out their protest at his house, in the town of Placetas, 300km east of the capital, Havana. They are calling on the authorities to stop the "repression and torture" of Antúnez's brother-in-law, Mario Alberto Pérez Aguilera, who is imprisoned at Santa Clara Provincial Prison. They are also calling for the release of political prisoners, the ratification ofhuman rights treaties and provision of adequate housing to all Cubans. On 15 March, with their health failing, the group switched from a hunger strike to a restricted diet, eating only fruit and drinking fruit juice.

Since 17 March, at least 20 state security and police officers have been keeping guard in front of Antúnez’s house and have cordoned off the street, stopping friends and relatives trying to visit Antúnez. No one has been allowed to approach the house. Antúnez’s brother has tried to visit him several times, and been detained every time.

According to Antúnez, the officers keeping guard have shouted, "Antúnez, if you don't quit this protest you're going to die" (Antúnez o te mueres o suspendes esta protesta). He told Amnesty International that on the night of 25 March, pepper spray was fired into the house through an open window. On other nights, thehouse has been pelted with stones, and a pile of rubbish has been dumped at the house entrance.

Carlos Michael Morales and another man who had been taking part in the hunger strike were arrested on 2 March at Placetas Hospital after they went to seek medical treatment. Carlos Michael Morales was given eight days' house arrest, after which he managed to return to Antúnez's house to resume his protest.

Antúnez told Amnesty International that "the siege to my home prevents us from getting almost any of the provisions we need to continue our fast, or any medicine" (This constant harassment outside my house, keeps us from going out to aquire the necessary fluids needed to continue with this liquid fast, as well as aquiring medications).

Antúnez is a well-known dissident, who was released in April 2007 after 17 years in prison. He had been detained in 1990 and sentenced to five years on a charge of "enemy propaganda." In May 1993 he was sentenced to an overall total of 15 years' imprisonment on new charges of "enemy propaganda," "attempted sabotage" and "illegal possession of a weapon," all supposedly committed while he was briefly at liberty after escaping in October 1992. His sentence was later increased for "attempted escape".

Rock musician Ciro Díaz and photographer Claudio Fuentes went to Placetas on 24 March to visit Antúnez, but were arrested, apparently for "public disorder." They were both released without charge the next day, and brought back to Havana by State Security officials.


Freedom of expression, assembly and association are severely limited in Cuba. Those who attempt to express their views, organize meetings or form organizations that contradict government policy or the aims of the state are likely to be punished by imprisonment, loss of employment, harassment or intimidation. Political dissidents are routinely detained for around 24 hours, during which they are interrogated.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:

- urging the authorities to stop the harassment and intimidation of Antúnez, Iris Tamara Pérez Aguillera, Carlos Michael Morales Rodriguez, Diosiris Santana Pérez and Ernesto Mederos Arrozarena, and allow them to come and go from their house freely, without fear of reprisals or arbitrary detention;

- calling on the authorities to allow those who want to visit them to do so without harassment;

- calling on the authorities to reform the laws, regulations and administrative practices which curtail freedom of expression, association and assembly.


Head of State and Government

Raúl Castro Ruz


La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

+1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)

Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)

Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency


Dr Juan Escalona Reguera

Fiscal General de la República,

Fiscalía General de la República, San Rafael 3, La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +53 7 860 4268

Salutation: Señor Fiscal General/Dear Attorney General

Interior Minister

General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra

Ministro del Interior y Prisiones

Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba

Salutation: Señor Ministro/Dear Minister

COPIES TO:diplomatic representatives of Cuba accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 11 May 2009.

Monday, March 30, 2009

One minute per person of liberty-Claudia Cadelo

From Cuba-Caudia Cadelo of Octavo Cerco narrates to us about the few minutes of freedom, artists and writers enjoyed last night in Havana, Cuba. This has no precedence. Let Freedom Reign!

Yoani Sanchez said only: "There is a performance, it will be good and I'm going to participate, be there at the Wifredo Lam Center at 8 in the evening."

I could never have imagined finding a podium and a microphone ready for all, for each of us. The place was crowded, to make it to the front row I had to slip through the multitude saying I want to get permits from the microphone. Everything began with a woman, white dove on her left shoulder, made a face without sound, (I should mention that this is meant as a mocking of Castro, who 50 years ago, stood before the Cuban people with a white dove on his shoulder, right before his reigh of terror began) while two boys, dressed in the uniform of the MININT, had the time to give an end to its intervention and throw her back to the muted plebs.

Yoani happened right after, she talked about the blogosphere, the censorship, and there was total silence and lots of applause when she finished, people knew and were happy. Then I ran and it was my turn, I was very nervous and had not had a microphone in front of an audience and listen to me since I was 9 years, when dressed in a pioneer uniform I assaulted a CDR(Commeteis in Defence of the Revolution) reunion, to read an incomprehensible statement, over time I developed a sort of phobia to that device only served to mask the reality my country.

I prepared a text which I read with a knowt on my throat:

That one day we will all have all the minutes of the day in front of a microphone to say anything we want. And incidentally also now have that opportunity, take a minute or even less, to tell the truth.

I got off, but I had so much more to say, then Reinaldo Escobar went up, he did not have enough time to finish, and the two in military unform took him down and the opportunity was the last they heard of his speech and with the feet placed on the floor. Time elapsed and no one else went up, people were frightened, and an artist said:

I am very afraid.

I walked toward the podium again and said: that one day freedom of speech in Cuba will not be a performance.

I remember other interventions:

Claudio Fuentes asked for a vote, after talking about dictatorship and of political prisoners called for the lifting of hands from those who agreed to change things, almost everyone raised their hands.

A Puerto Rican said that although he lived in a colony, in his country he had freedom of expression and asked to leave the microphone open 24 hours.

An American: I do not speak Spanish but: ¡viva la cambia!

Reinaldo Escobar with a black bag over his head took a second opportunity and said: I think this should be banned.

Hamlet Labastida, a plastic artist, called for democracy and for at least one more to go up to the podium, at least one.

Ciro Diaz was going to sing "The Commander", but time was up and not the boys dressed in military uniform, but a sullen sound man walked up and shouted: It's over!, While ordering: Disconnect it already!

A sizable audience was shouting: Ciro, Ciro, Ciro!, Like a "Porno Para Ricardo" concert asking for another song.

The rapid response squad was poor, with only two people, and I suppose they felt strange being the minority without power on the stage: a completely new experience for them.
Posted by Claudia at 5:32