The Garcia Case: The Facts
The arrest and prosecution in Havana of Dania Virgen Garcia, an independent journalist, blogger, and supporter of the Ladies in White (referred to from here on as the “Garcia case”), made headline news about Cuba. There is little information about the facts, and many questions. Everything indicates that the Cuban government, once again, is using the justice system as a tool to suppress dissent.
Dania Virgen is 41 years old and divorced. She lives at 19305 110th Street, between 119 and San Miguel Road, in the San Miguel district of Havana. She has a daughter, named Zuzy, age 23, and a two-year-old grandson. They do not have a good family relationship.
She was arrested at her home during the afternoon of April 20th. This fact was confirmed by another independent journalist, Luis Cino. They spoke that day by telephone at about 1:00 pm. The complaint against her was filed by her daughter about 15 days before the arrest, according to statements made by Garcia to Cino. Dania’s family does not approve of her opposition political activities and refuses to give information about their role in the process.
The disputes, the basis of the charge, started because the daughter wanted to stop living with the mother, the current owner of the dwelling, insisting that she divide or swap the house. Garcia’s closest neighbors confirm that she was often seen at home alone, her daughter occasionally visiting with her grandchild. Many times the little one was left in Garcia’s custody and care. As of the evening of April 28, the chairman of the local Committee of Defense of the Revolution was not aware she had been jailed.
Julio Rojas and Luis Cino, independent journalists close to Garcia, say that there were several violent physical confrontations between mother and daughter, none of them causing injuries that required medical treatment. But the way the police have proceeded in this case is unusual.
Generally, in cases of physical assault between two people where there are no injuries requiring medical treatment, the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) give an official warning to each of the parties involved in the incident, and a fine for public disorder, which in the majority of cases does not exceed 30 pesos national currency. They also usually refrain from intervening in family disputes.
The Garcia case was different. The trial against her took place on Friday the 23rd at about 12:00 pm. The San Miguel Municipal Court found her guilty of the crime of “arbitrary exercise of a legal right” and sentenced her to 20 months of confinement. Garcia is being held in the Manto Negro women’s prison in Havana.
Translated by: Tomás A.