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Posted April 26, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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By David Usborne | Independent.co.uk

Cuba appears to have taken a step towards blunting international criticism of repression on the island with the release of seven political prisoners, including the well-known dissident leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez. He had served 17 years in jail and wrote a book from his cell about his imprisonment. Cuban opposition and human rights groups confirmed that Mr Perez, more widely known as Antunez, was freed on Sunday.

On Tuesday, the authorities released another six men, whose arrests in 2005 led to the adoption of sanctions by the European Union, which have since been lifted temporarily.

The releases come ahead of a high-level meeting between Cuba and Spain at which Havana will seek the permanent end of EU sanctions. The six freed men are Lazaro Alonso Roman, Manuel Perez Soria, Elio Enrique Chavez Ramon, Jose Diaz Silva, Emilio Leyva Perez and Dulian Ramirez Ballester.

While buoyed by the releases, opposition groups in Havana warned against over-interpreting their significance, noting that most had served their full terms.

They contrasted the releases with the recent sentencing of two other men at closed trials, one for a term of 12 years for writing anti-government graffiti on public buildings, distributing critical literature and exposing state secrets.

None of those freed this week were among the 75 journalists and critics arrested in a crackdown in March 2003 that sparked worldwide condemnation of Havana. Of those, 16 have been freed but only for medical reasons.

“We don’t see anything special in this,” said Elizardo Sanchez of the Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a group in Havana barely tolerated by the regime. Of Mr Perez, he added: “We are happy for his release, but he is coming into the streets of a country under a government that doesn’t respect any civil, political and economic rights.”

Fathoming the true intentions of the Cuban government remains difficult with Raul Castro in control. He took over last July after his brother Fidel, founder of the revolution, had what appears to have been botched intestinal surgery.

Months later the true condition of Fidel remains obscured in mystery. Pictures were released of a more robust looking Fidel in a tracksuit during a meeting with Chinese government officials last Friday. It has since emerged that the meeting took place inside a Havana hospital.

Observers in Washington believe that it is unlikely that he will return to power given the length of his illness. “An 80-year-old man who ... still wears a tracksuit when he meets with foreign dignitaries suggests this is an extremely serious illness still,” one official said.

According to human rights and opposition groups there are nearly 300 dissidents imprisoned in Cuba for political reasons. The regime continues to assert that there are no political prisoners behind bars except for those it considers counter-revolutionary mercenaries in the pay of the United States.

Human rights groups are meanwhile continuing to highlight the cases of two men recently sentenced.

One, Rolando Jimenez, is reported to have been given a 12-year prison term last weekend at a closed trial, from which his family was barred. He did not have a defence lawyer and has already spent four years in prison.

Earlier this month, an independent journalist, Oscar Sanchez, was reportedly sentenced to four years in prison after being charged with alleged, “social dangerousness”.

Mr Sanchez had been writing about dissidents in Cuba and was apparently arrested on 13 April and tried the same day.

CASTRO’S PRISONERS

JORGE LUIS GARCIA PEREZ, 42

One of Cuba’s best known political prisoners, he served 17 years and 34 days in prison after being convicted of “verbal enemy propaganda”, “attempted sabotage”, including setting fire to sugar cane fields, and failing to respect the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. Perez, more widely known as Antunez, was among prisoners that Pope John II petitioned the regime to release before a 1998 visit to Cuba.

Status: freed

MANUEL PEREZ SORIA, 55

On his release, he said he had been arrested and imprisoned for so-called “public disorder” during an anti-government protest rally in Havana in July 2005. Defiant still, he insisted: “I am an opponent of this government and my life is fully dedicated to this, because I am on the right side. This country is screaming for economic, political and social changes.”

Status: freed

ROLANDO JIMENEZ, 36

The dissident lawyer was jailed without charge four years ago. In 2004 Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience. Accused of writing anti-government slogans, including “Down With Castro”, on public buildings and revealing state secrets, he was sentenced to 12 years at a closed trial last weekend where he was barred from defending himself.

Status: in prison

OSCAR SANCHEZ MADAN, 44

An independent journalist who wrote for a Miami-based website, CubaNet, was arrested at his home on 13 April and convicted the same day at a closed trial on the vague charge of “social dangerousness”. He had been writing articles on the hardships faced by the people of Cuba and about the work of dissidents. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Status: in prison

  1. Follow up post #1 added on April 29, 2007 by Don

    The above article does not give the full picture, but rather implies that if anyone speaks in a “critical” nature about Cuba and its leaders they go to jail. I would like to see this “asumtion” found in the Cuban constitution.

    The text of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba, Special Edition No.3 of January 31, 2003.

    ARTICLE 1. Cuba is an independent and sovereign socialist state of workers, organized with all and for the good of all as a united and democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity.

    The constitution states that Cuba is a democtatic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom

    ARTICLE 54. The rights to assembly, demonstration and association are exercised by workers, both manual and intellectual, peasants, women, students and other sectors of the working people, and they have the necessary means for this. The social and mass organizations have all the facilities they need to carry out those activities in which the members have full freedom of speech and opinion based on the unlimited right of initiative and criticism.

    This constitutional authority clearly give wide sweeping freedoms including that to criticize, freedom of speech, and rights to have opinions, and to carry out activities in this regard not only in a material (manual) world but also “intellectual”. Also to assemble and rights to demonstrations is a constitutional right guaranteed to every citizen of Cuba.

    ARTICLE 63. Every citizen has the right to file complaints with and send petitions to the authorities and to be given the pertinent response or attention within a reasonable length of time, in keeping with the law.

    No where is political freedoms denied to citizens of Cuba.
    ARTICLE 68. g) freedom of discussion, criticism and self-criticism and sub-ordination of the minority to the majority prevail in all collegiate state bodies.

    These same rights of political freedom, the right to criticize, is constitutional authority in all of Cuban academies.

    What cannot be done in Cuba is stated here:

    ARTICLE 11 (c):

    Economic, diplomatic or political relations with other states shall never be negotiated under aggression, threat or coercion by a foreign power.

    Meaning that under Cuban jurisdiction foreign powers are NOT included to influence diplomatic, political, or economics using threats or coercion, against the state of Cuba.

    In the event of being charged with a crime:
     
    ARTICLE 59. Nobody can be tried or sentenced except by the competent court by virtue of laws which existed prior to the crime and with the formalities and guarantees that the laws establish.
    Every accused person has the right to a defense.

    It is also stated, by Cuban constitutional authority,  that every person has the rights to a defense for any alleged crimes.

    By the above article, I am asked to believe the Cuban government has total disregarded to their own constitution, I think not.

    Don


  2. Follow up post #2 added on April 29, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Don,

    You say

    “By the above article, I am asked to believe the Cuban government has total disregarded to their own constitution, I think not.”

    As usual you do think wrong.

    And, if you continue to destroy humanitarian threads with your asinine wrong assumptions I will ban you permanently.

    This is your final warning.



    Cuba consulting services

  3. Follow up post #3 added on April 29, 2007 by Don

    Request for information


    Please define for me, in simple words what are “humanitarian threads”, so I will know and so others will know. What do “humanitarian threads” mean to you?

    I will accept your definition to the end to curtail any of my post to the contrary. Alternatively, are people to learn by osmosis?


    I will not argue with nor respond to your definition of “humanitarian threads”.  This is a polite request for clarification and information.

     

    Don


  4. Follow up post #4 added on April 29, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Articles posted in the Politics section and Humanitarian category. You can see that in the header.

    Articles are dissidents are humanitarian.

    I give you warnings because I just don’t understand how you can stick up for the Cuban constitution when it says one thing while actions of the Cuban government say something else.

    You have this naivety in your belief that just because there is document in a totalitarian regime that somehow the document is perfectly enforced.

    Fidel and Raul Castro enforce their laws and the constitution comes second. The sooner you realize that the more understanding you will be of the Cuban dissidents’ situation. 

    I have never met anyone who supports the Cuban government over peaceful dissidents.

    You can reply without a ban but keep it short and for God’s sake make some sense.



    Cuba consulting services

  5. Follow up post #5 added on April 29, 2007 by Don

    Publisher:

    Articles posted in the Politics section and Humanitarian category. You can see that in the header.

    Don:

    OK I will look for it and NOT post there.

    Publisher:

    Articles are dissidents are humanitarian.

    Don:

    OK, I will not respond to artcles on disodance on this board.

    Publisher:

    I give you warnings because I just do not understand how you can stick up for the Cuban constitution when it says one thing while actions of the Cuban government say something else.

    Don:


    My intent is not to anger anyone. I stand for HUMAN FREEDOMS. YES, I agree, when constitutions say one thing and actions show an other,——I am the greatest dissonance and rebel one can find. In real life I rebel by laws and statutes using the courts, NOT destroying personal/state property, nor inuring life and limb,  nor committing violations of international laws.

    Constitutions are the final say of the STATE (any state), supported by courts and police powers. Constitutions “can be change” when they are in violations of human common rights, by lawful vote. I support this.

    Publisher:

    You have this naivety in your belief that just because there is document in a totalitarian regime that somehow the document is perfectly enforced.
    Fidel and Raul Castro enforce their laws and the constitution comes second. The sooner you realize that the more understanding you will be of the Cuban dissidents’ situation. 
    I have never met anyone who supports the Cuban government over peaceful dissidents.
    You can reply without a ban but keep it short and for God’s sake make some sense.


    Don:

    I think you greatly misunderstand me Publisher. If the Cuban constitution say what I agree with directly related to human rights and constitutional supported political and civil freedoms, I must, by the vote those common people, stand by what they voted on. Where is the error in the Cuban constitution?—I have found none.


    My argument IS NOT to support those that in hypocrisy, as political/civil freedoms in words only, but in lawful actions. I support these actions shown to be legitimate by the courts of jurisdiction, and allowing people to have free expression as guaranteed by the constitution even that of criticisms—- be it USA or other wise.


    I am saying the Cuban constitution supports dissidence but not by foreign powers to excite to riot. This is NOT allowed in any State, NOT allowed in the USA, and there are penalties for the destruction of property, be it intellectual or other wise.


    I am saying—NOT that Cuba is perfect, but the constitution is the standard to measure to, as in any modern State, and the Cuban constitution is just and fair—now it is time for enforcements—just as in the USA—- and Castro CAN BE recalled—by the Cuban constitution.


    You will NOT find a greater fighter than I for compressive human rights, but NOT to the point where blatant vandalism is justified. I do not want China in the USA with their billions dictating the interpretation of USA laws and constitutions, and I am against the USA doing the same to Cuba.

    I would like to see Castro, and several others, out of power, but “legally” and not by civil riot, nor intervention by foreign powers.


    Don


  6. Follow up post #6 added on April 29, 2007 by Don

    It is people as I that have stopped a full military invasion of Cuba by the USA, in history to this date, save when the USA declared Cuba an independent nation (independent state) in 1902, and even that was of selfish reasons of the USA.  The fact of the Cuban nation does exist, was resolved by the Cuban nationals, long before 1902, without dispute.


    I refuse to see a people demonized by the USA so called “free press” with USA supported lies on top of lies, where every lie on top lie is a good lie if it demonetizes a people.


    There is a message to send to Cubans i.e.  Your constitution is very good! Now live by it, as we USA Americans strive to live by our constitution daily in every court battle imaginable—many taking place every day.

    I cheer human rights and freedoms. I abide by Torts called common law, so common even kings and dictators had to relent and give way from faraway history past, to this date, by the mandate of the common vote of the people being ruled over—and our battle in the courts is not over yet, not over in real human life, and will not end in my generation.


    On this basis, I want Castro to retire, but NOT by lies, not by fraud, not by propaganda, but as to the over all “fact” good to the Cuban nation. Nations of standing are not built on one person, and there is a time where one must say, the people rule (as they always have) as Castro fought for. What was fought for in freedoms never ends, and never does end with one person.


    This is why I posted my dissent to the article above.


    Don


  7. Follow up post #7 added on April 29, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Don,

    Did you read this?

    “You can reply without a ban but keep it short and for God’s sake make some sense.”

    Do you think you kept your TWO posts short?

    If you don’t show this site some respect you will never have a voice here again.

    PS. Thanks for ruining yet another article with your meaningless drivel.



    Cuba consulting services

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