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An Adolescent is Killed for Trying to Eat Genips* in Havana

July 19, 2011 2 comments

On the afternoon of July 15, 2011, the town of Mantilla, on Havana’s outskirts, was shocked by the death of Angel Izquierdo Medina, a 14-year-old black teenager, who died from a gunshot to the femoral artery by Amado Interian, a retired police Major.

According to the victim’s family members, three boys, including Angel, entered the property of the ex-police officer, to take genips, also known Spanish limes, from a tree. When the ex-cop caught them in the act, he fired two shots from his pistol. Before retiring, Interian had been a police chief in the area.

The child’s body was laid out in the Mauline funeral home, at the entrance of Santa Amalia residential neighborhood. More than 500 people attended the viewing, most of them fellow students, in shock from the news, and also teachers and neighbors.

“Oh my God he was the same age as my son, because a mischief, that only can be done by an extremist”, said one of the spectators sobbing, while passing by the coffin.

Agents of the State Security Forces dressed in civil clothes took over the funeral home because the mourners had been threatening to protest. Around midnight there were incidents reported at the site, without arrests being made. The burial was on Saturday July 16, 2011, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, in the Christopher Columbus cemetery.

Mantilla is a Havana suburb, with a low income population and high levels of dangerousness. It belongs to the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, the most violent and poor of the capital city.

So far, we don’t know if the ex-police officer will be prosecuted because of the adolescent’s  death. As is usual in Cuba, when things of this nature happen, the official media prefers to keep silent and not to report what happened.

Photo: Mamoncillos. With its sweet flesh, it is one of the most preferred fruits in Cuba. But as with so many fruits, after 1959 they were scarce in the market and could still be consumed only  by those who have a tree of Melicoccus bijugatus (its scientific name) in the backyard. The genip along with the sugar apple, soursop, custard apple, cashew, canistel, loquat, plum and apple banana, is listed as one of the extinct fruits after Castros took power. Years after this barbaric event — one of the tasks of the ‘famous’ Che Guevara’s invasion brigade was to uproot fruit trees from the fields where it passed by — little by little the fruits started to reappear again — mangoes, guavas , mamey and avocados — among others fruits that have been always been greatly eaten by Cubans. With the only difference that before the bearded men, with 10 or 20 cents you could buy a mamey or an avocado and now days you cannot find them for less than 10 or 20 cuban pesos. (Tania Quintero)

*Translator’s note: Melicoccus bijugatus, commonly called Spanish lime, genip, genipe, quenepa, mamoncillo, limoncillo, it is a one-inch, round fruit with a green leathery skin at maturity. Each fruit has a large seed inside, the same ovoid shape as the fruit itself , the seeds have a fleshy tan-coloured edible sweet and juicy seed coat.

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Translated by: Adrian Rodriguez

July 19 2011

A Nightmare in Las Tunas

July 10, 2011 Leave a comment

On June 21st the offices of the National Institute of Housing in Las Tunas issued an ultimatum to evict from their home the daughter and grandchildren of the deceased Gustavo Valeriano Sanchez Urquiza, a fighter who participated in the guerrilla warfare fought by the Rebel Army in the oriental zone.

The Provincial Directory of Housing of Las Tunas received from the Prosecutor, and from the Department of Criminal Investigation and Operations of the Interior Ministry, instructions to confiscate the property occupied by Deysi Graciela Sanchez Rivero and illegally leased by her daughter to a foreigner.

According to the resolution decreeing the forfeit of the right to the property, and illegal occupants to the actual dwellers, “The property was rented on an hourly basis, in an illegal way, a room and a bathroom, to the foreigner Andrea Ghiotto, so that he could have sexual intercourse with females.”

The sentence No. 92/2011 of Las Tunas court claims that Andrea Ghiotto, of Italian nationality, organized a local soccer team in the years 2006 and 2007, with the consent of the Sports authorities. He even organized international matches and made substantial donations of supplies, because he is a man with a lot of money.

Andrea, famous all over the province, is considered the king of fiscal fraud in Italy. Accused of corruption in his country, he obtained his freedom thanks to a confession implicating public officials and more than a hundred businessmen.

In March of 2010, Ghiotto made his last trip to The Tunas territory. At that time he was arrested and deported from the island, after he admitted to having sexual intercourse with more than thirty girls in private homes.

Generally, the Cuban authorities prosecute citizens who rent rooms to aliens without authorization, for the crime of procuring and human trafficking, and in an independent administrative process, order the confiscation of the property, according to the decree-law 232/03 of the State Council.

That legal disposition says that “the confiscation could be ordained against the owners, including those hosting a third party who commits the crime,” whenever the occasion or the circumstances make evident or lead one to rationally suppose that they have knowledge or connection to the acts.

For more than four years, she has lived with her mother, Theresa Esther Rivero Vargas, an 89-year-old elder, diabetic, with breast cancer and a hip fracture, who also collaborated with the rebel guerrillas.

According to the authorities, the owner knew of these activities because she had solicited authorization to rent a room and it was denied, the house being situated without 75 yards of school. The fact, once appreciated as an attempt to comply with the law, turned out to be an aggravation in the case.

Deysi Graciela, daughter of the Revolutionary fighter Sanchez Urquiza, appealed the verdict of the Provincial Directory of Housing of Las Tunas before the President of the National Institute of Housing, who reaffirmed the confiscation. As the last option and facing the impossibility of asking for justice before the courts, she requested the mediation of the President of the Province Government, but he admitted he did not have the power to resolve her case.

“It is a nightmare”, said tearful Deysi Graciela, who is still appealing to the authorities to defend her rights over the property. “This can not be what my father fought for and was prepared to sacrifice his life for. Thanks be to God he is not longer with us, because he would have died of disappointment.”

Laritza Diversent

Photo: Eyanex, Panoramio. Las Tunas, Fountain of the Antilles.

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 Translated by: Adrian Rodriguez

July 7 2011

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