The Case of Olga Lidia
The Court drew up findings of facts, declared proven by the confession of the ball player Reinaldo Fajardo, who testified that Olga Lidia proposed, by telephone, that he leave the country on a boat that would arrive in Cuba in a few days.
The statement of Chief Acanda was also determinative for the Provincial Court of Havana City. The officer corroborated and confirmed that during the investigation the accused had admitted participating in the events. Olga Lidia claims that twice she was denied the opportunity to change her first statement, a right recognized by law.
“Every crime must be proven independently of the testimony of the accused; the mere statement of the person does not eliminate the obligation to apply the necessary proof to verify the facts,” reads Article 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act. In this case, that was irrelevant for the judges.
The court’s decision argues that Olga Lidia’s contact abroad was Franklin García, a Venezuelan citizen linked to professional sports agents, and that the two communicated through emails. During the investigative process, the correspondence was acquired and offered as proof.
Franklin García traveled to the country on various occasions and was interested in baseball players who wanted to emigrate. As explained by the judges, the communication between García and Olga Lidia was not clear or precise. And they assumed that, for this type of information, it was logical that they had to put it in another context and in a cryptic way, to avoid being understood by others.
The communication was crucial for the judges – once they knew the intentions of the accused, they were convinced of her guilt.
She pleaded innocent. In the Central Havana Collective Firm, she hired attorney Máximo Averoff. She trusted him when he told her not to speak in court. By giving her this advice, counsel made her responsible for the crime of illegal exit from the country.
Olga Lidia refuses to be punished for a crime she did not commit. It never entered her mind to traffic in persons or catch a boat to leave the country. The idea of imprisonment has brought her to the point of suicide. Her expectations have changed. She now searches to exhaust the possible legal ways of proving her innocence. But the silence of the authorities has prevented her from appealing to the Supreme Court.
She lodged a complaint against the officials who represented her. Their answer gave her the possibility of access to justice and to demonstrate the psychological abuse and manipulation that she was subjected to. In an office they read her the response, but didn’t give her a written copy.
She submitted a claim against the attorney to the National Organization of Collective Law Firms, for breach of contract. They sanctioned the lawyer Averoff administratively: for six months, he worked as a messenger in the center.
Although not given a copy, that response is proof of her helplessness at trial and cause for review by the court. The Havana Central Collective Firm, however, has orders not to give her a response in writing.
Recently, she filed a complaint against the institution at the Ministry of Justice. Olga Lidia Ramírez Maura has not lost hope that they will allow her to demonstrate her innocence.
Photo: Olga Lidia and her daughter, taken from Miscellanies of Cuba.
Translated by: Tomás A.