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New Reforms to Emigration Policy? / Laritza Diversent

June 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Although recent legislative changes to immigration laws in Cuba represent a step forward, they still retain aspects that are political and restrictive in nature and in violation of the right to free movement.

The changes to immigration regulations do improve the legal wording and drop any reference to entry and/or exit permits and to the letter of invitation, which had been a tacit acknowledgement of Cubans’ inability to travel from an economic point of view.

In practice the situation remains the same. The requirements of most of foreign embassies located on the island and the high fees charged for travel documents, which must be paid in hard currency, make the possibility of traveling overseas an impossible dream for most Cubans.

However, new policies have been put into effect and new categories have been created. In residential real estate, for example, guarantees are now being offered to foreign residents and their families as well as to owners and renters of real estate on the island.

The state is clearly focusing on sectors with economic potential: foreigners and emigres. The latter are being given the opportunity to reclaim a residence on the island and with it the right to take part in elections, become self-employed, buy cars and homes, etc.

However, the possibility that the Ministry of the Interior might grant this right to Cubans living overseas — to people not physically living in the country — no doubt means that it will choose which emigres shall and shall not regain their rights.

16 June 2014

What Can an Independent Lawyer do in Cuba? / Laritza Diversent

June 14, 2014 1 comment

In Cuba, professionals can’t work for themselves in the specialty in which they graduate. Legal counseling and consulting are not recognized as self-employed activities, the only actions that a lawyer can perform independently. The few that make this decision have to do it for free.

It’s also difficult to form an autonomous association. The red tape required to legalize a non-profit organization assures that the State has absolute control over it.

To these limitations economic dependence is also added. The lawyer who doesn’t work for the State doesn’t earn anything. In order to survive, in a system where the economic crisis is permanent, independent lawyers collect extra honoraria, even when the regulation on the practice of advocacy, among other causes, considers it a serious shortcoming to receive honoraria that are not established or are better than those officially approved, whether in cash or in kind. A double morality is imposed by these conditions on the practice of advocacy in Cuba, and with it comes total submission to the system.

See Artículo 59.3 inciso c, Resolución No. 142/84 “Regulation on the practice of Advocacy and the National Organization of Collective Law Firms.”

From Jurisconsulto de Cuba, by Laritza Diversent

Translated by Regina Anavy

9 June 2014

Will a Complaint Be Enough to Defend Our Rights? / Laritza Diversent

June 13, 2014 Leave a comment

According to international legal instruments, “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals to be protected from acts violating their fundamental rights granted them by the constitution or by law.”

No national competent institution regarding the promotion and protection of human rights is recognized within the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba[1]. The Cuban government considers that such an institution is not an identified need for the people of Cuba, based on their willingness to continue to build a society that guarantees all justice[2].

According to the Cuban government, the state has a complex and effective inter-institutional system, which includes the participation of NGOs, in order to receive, transact and respond to any complaint or request made by individuals or groups, concerning the enjoyment of any human right.

The system provides for the reception of complaints, mandatory responses but no restitution if it was proven, and their transmission through the courts. The term to respond is too long and doesn’t provide for an exception for urgent cases or for irreparable damages.

In practice, none of them will go deep into the investigation of the case to verify alleged violations. Nevertheless, according to the government “this system has proven effective in practice and has the capacity to respond to the interests, complaints and denunciations of alleged human rights violations”.

Learn about the state bodies that intervene in this system and the obligations they have on: “National Institutions for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights”, in the legal Cuban system?

[1] Information brochure No. 19 of the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, “National Institution for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights”

[2] Report of the working group for the Universal Periodic Review – Cuba, Council of Human Rights, 2009

Translated by: Michaela Klicnikova

11 June 2014

Manual of Rights and Duties / Laritza Diversent

March 9, 2014 1 comment

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 11.03.01 PMMost Cuban citizens do not know the legal system in force on the Island, and the procedures they must follow to exercise a certain legal action, be it a civil, penal, administrative, family matter, etc., principally those that relate to their civil and political rights. Frequently they are victims of the arbitrary and selective application of the law.

With respect to Cubalex — the Center for Legal Information — tries to expand the pro bono representation and legal analysis available in Cuba, as well as the capacity for self-defense by dissidents, human rights activists and citizens who have no apparent political motivations, living inside or outside the national territory.

Cubalex offers its clients detailed information about the Cuban legal system, the legal the legal rules that apply to their case and the procedures to be followed in response to government, regional or international institutions.

The Manual of Rights and Duties / on-line, offers information about the ways in which Cubans can defend their rights as citizens facing an arrest, official summons, and search of their homes.

8 March 2014

Court Suspends Eviction

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Digital StillCamera

Laritza Diversent

On January 21 the Havana Court suspended Yamilí Barges Hurtado’s eviction, planned for March 22, from her house facing the Cohiba Hotel, as well as that of the heirs of the other partner in the house-swap in the east of Havana.
According to Barges Hurtado, a sheriff from the court of justice announced the decision to representatives of the state-run organizations in her neighborhood, at approximately 5 pm. The official said the court of justice suspended the eviction because of questions of security. “Nobody told me,” Bargas Hurtado said.

Eleazar Yosvany Toledo Rivero, 34, responsible for removing Yamilé from her property, was also informed, by a phone call from neighborhood leaders, of the decision. Supposedly the plaintiff told the court on January 18 of the impossibility of carrying out the eviction for lack of transportation.

The excluded heir asked the Court to nullify the swap undertaken by both families ten years ago, and for the right to occupy Yamile’s house facing the Cohiba. The court granted the property without acknowledging her.

Regardless of the court, he didn’t give up. He called the heirs of Rivero Dominguez heirs and representatives of the state-run organizations of the Vedado and Bahia neighborhoods, to a hearing on 25 January. “I wasn’t summoned” adds Barges Hurtado, who says the eviction is scheduled for February 5.

Yamile learned of the suspension by the heirs of the other property in the trade and neighbors summoned by the court of justice. “It is a psychological war,” she says. On November 15 the eviction was planned to occur and didn’t happened. “I can’t take it anymore, I have psychiatric problems, whatever happens,” she adds.

In Cuba it is not common for courts to order evictions. Evictions, called “extractions,” are made by the Department of Housing, after declaring the occupants of a building illegal. In the case of Barges Hurtado, the administrative body acts when the People’s Provincial Court recognizes the property ownership one of the heirs at issue.

The heirs of the other property in the trade plan to sue Eleazar try to demonstrate their right to the house and to stop the eviction. Yamile will be presented in the process as a stakeholder. She needs legal advice and only the lawyers affiliated with the State-run National Organization of Collective Law, the only one of its kind in the country, can represent people before the courts or state agencies. She does not trust anyone.

According Yamile she contracted the services of three lawyers to defend her. The first, Mrs. Clara Elena Diaz Olivera was bought by the counterparty, Ms. Alba Rosa Perna Recio. The others, on learning who was representing the excluded heir, gave up the case as a lost cause.

Barges Hurtado says there is corruption in the case because with the judge Dania Pardo Garcia, former president of the Judges Commission, there are friendly relations. “At the last hearing, the went to lunch together,” she says.

February 14 2013

Deputy Attorney General of Cuba Questions the Conviction of Inmate Michel Martinez Perez / Yaremis Flores

February 14, 2013 Leave a comment

07 SEPT 2012

Young man sentenced to 10 years for “illegal slaughter of cattle” based solely on evidence from a dog, granted new trial.

By Yaremis Flores

Carlos Raul Concepcion Rangel, Deputy Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba, asked the Supreme Court to review the penalty of 10 years imprisonment imposed on Michel Martinez Perez. The common prisoner has gone on hunger strike over 3 times, insisting on his innocence.

“There have been breaches and inaccuracies in the criminal proceedings,” Conception Rangel acknowledged in writing, in his request which was granted by the highest court on the island.

The Provincial Court of Matanzas, in March 2012 found Martínez Pérez, along with other defendants, responsible for the illegal slaughter of cattle, theft and robbery with force. The only evidence against him was an “odor print” taken at one of the crime scenes.

This type of test only indicates his presence in the place, but not necessarily participation in the crime. Its level of certainty does not resemble that of a DNA test. It is debatable how the trace is collected, which relies on the canine technique, because a dog is the one who determines if the smell matches the suspect.

Regarding the smell test, “Irregularities appear in the proceedings that cast doubt on the quality of it,” said the Deputy Prosecutor, adding that there is a “logical contradiction” between testing and inspections of the scene.

The deputy prosecutor said Michel denied involvement in the events at all times, but it his co-defendants identified his as involved at the start of the investigation. This was placed into doubt when, after the investigative phase, the co-defendants recanted during the trial, but the judges only considered the incriminating statements.

The law of criminal procedure requires a court to rule on the basis of the evidence presented at trial. But Cuban judges, given the authority to freely assess the evidence, often violate that mandate.

“Since his arrest in August 2011, Michel tried to draw the attention of the authorities to the process,” said Iván Hernández Carrillo, a former prisoner of conscience who has supported and followed Michel’s case.

Pérez Martínez was reported under the care of physicians when, in June 2012, he began a hunger strike that would extend to almost 50 days. His last voluntary starvation was undertaken from October 19, after the results of the judgment on appeal of the Supreme Court.

The same court that agreed today to review the decision of the Matanzas judges, maintained the same sentence against Michel when it re-examined the record in 2012.

As a consequence, the prisoner refused to eat for 48 days. He then spent almost two months in hospital. “My son has lost weight and his health deteriorated, everything that happened is an injustice,” said Jesus Lázara de Jesus, his mother, by telephone.

Within 10 days, as of January 28, Michel should hire a lawyer for the holding of the new trial. In acceding to the request of deputy prosecutor, the conclusion that he committed the crime should be set aside and another reached, conforming to the guarantees of due process.

According to a source that will not be revealed for security reasons, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights allegedly requested information from the Cuban government about the legal status of Michel Martinez Perez.

February 12 2013

Mother Murders Her Children / Lartiza Diversent

February 11, 2013 6 comments

Mantilla, Arroyo Naranjo, La Habana

By Laritza Diversent

A 23-year-old nurse murdered her two minor children on the afternoon of January 3, in Mantilla, in the capital municipality of Arroyo Naranjo. It all started when the young mother, her hands covered in blood and with marks on her neck, called the police from the nearby pharmacy, according to what this reporter was told by Juan — a spectator who observed the actions of the criminal investigators.

“She said it was the second time she called and the didn’t do anything,” commented Juan, “they said she said on the phone she’d done something very bad,” he added. “Minutes later a police car came and confirmed the murders,” he concluded.

She worked at the Mantilla polyclinic, in a suburban neighborhood with a incidence rate of violence. For two months she had illegally occupied the medical office as a home. A source who preferred not to be name said that the murderer tried to commit suicide when they studied together in junior high school, although she did not remember her name.

The event shocked the community, however, law enforcement authorities do not usually give explanations about the crimes committed in the city or nor does the local media touch these issues. There is speculation in the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods about why and how the incident occurred. Some say she beat her children to death, because her partner abandoned her. Afterwards she tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide.

In the streets they said that she suffered from schizophrenia and is currently hospitalized in Mazorra psychiatric hospital in Havana. Others say she had threatened to take the life of the children. The age of the children is also unknown. According to comments they were a girl and a boy between two and six years. The funeral for the children was held in Mauline on January 4.

February 11 2013

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