Archive for the ‘Translator: Hank’ Category

What is the Job of an Attorney in Cuba?

January 24, 2012 1 comment

I have been asked this and other questions. I do not know what the work of a lawyer in Cuba is, however there are some aspects that are noteworthy:

“The bullet entered the body of Izquierdo Medina in the left buttock. It destroyed the femoral vein crossed to reach the kidney and lung. Death was almost instantaneous. The funeral home gave the family a death certificate that certified cause of death, acute anemia. Despite the demands, Legal Medicine never gave the autopsy report to the family.”

Known: the existence of the shot and its lethal effect, so the death certificate is a falsehood.

So I ask the following questions: 1. Is there a crime of falsifying documents in Cuba? 2. If so, is there a judicial procedure to process to the funeral home?

“To date, the whereabouts of the former official are unknown.”

It is clear that, an innocent person having nothing to hide, his flight betrays him.

1. Could his flight be incriminating evidence at his trial?

“The mother of the victim, Raiza Medina, believes they want to exclude her from the trial of the murderer of her son.”

1. Is there no lawyer representing the mother?

2. Does the mother have the right to be assisted by counsel at the trial. Or to ask the same question in another way: would the mother be represented by a lawyer at the trial if she were an important person?

We mustn’t forget that Cuba is a socialist state. I understand perfectly that Laritza Diversent cannot answer the questions, because of her difficult internet connection. However, the questions have been posed.

First: Even I do not know the mission of a lawyer in Cuba. I was with the family of the teenager, they wanted me to be their lawyer of course, but I was there as a mere spectator, looking on and without the power to say anything. You can not imagine how frustrating it was for me to be in that courtroom as a spectator, not only trying to pass unnoticed, but to witness it all and I have to admit, I can do more as a journalist than as a lawyer.

Second: There is a crime of forgery in Cuba. The problem is that the funeral home did not give a false opinion. I was present at the trial. I heard the coroner address the court and affirm death as caused by acute anemia. Then explain that the bullet entered the body of the teenager in the lumbar region, crossed the left kidney, the aorta, the right lung and exited the right shoulder.

Like you, I can not relate the acute anemia with a murder, that opinion is not related to a gun shot, it seems that this is the diagnosis of a chronic disease, what’s more you can relate it to a hemorrhage, but if you look at all the vital organs that the missile destroyed it is beyond all doubt that the teen had died from loss of blood, in fact the death was almost instantaneous.

Third: In Cuba, the victims are supposedly represented by the prosecutor, or, and it’s the same thing, the State. They do not need a lawyer’s representation at trial nor to appear assisted by one. If they are not satisfied with the sanction they have the right to make appeals or to appeal through the prosecutor.

In the case of Raiza, the teen’s mother, she was not invited to trial, the prosecution barely notified her of the decision, in which case it will be very difficult for her to appeal the court’s decision.

Angel Izquierdo’s family is unhappy with the prosecutor’s request, 17 years in prison for a crime that has a standard sentence of between 15 and 30 years. The State asks for more if you kill a cow. They protested at the same trial. Of the whole spectacle, what touched me most was the anger of mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins, all cried tears of helplessness. They asked me if they could appeal. I told the truth. We must await the decision of the court, however it is unlikely that the prosecution would seek a penalty greater than what it asked for in its own petition.

You asked more questions, I think with these comments I have responded to them all.

Translated by:  Hank

January 19 2012

Trial of a Former Policeman Who Shot a Black Teenager

January 6, 2012 1 comment

The trial of Amado Interian was held on the afternoon of December 13th in Courtroom Number 7 of the Havana Court.  He is a former police officer who shot a 14-year-old teenager named Angel Izquierdo.  The trial had been suspended on December 9th due to a nonappearance by the defendant.

Amado Interian was dressed like an inmate, but it was not possible to find out in which prison he was being held pending trial.  The former policeman exercised his right to testify but he did not answer any questions.

The former policeman, in open court, cried and testified that he did not intend to kill anyone and he asked the victim’s family for forgiveness.  He also showed the court all of the injuries he received while serving in the police force.

The hearing began at 1:00 pm when the defense attorney arrived.  It lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes, with disorder and commotion in the courtroom.  The teenager’s family showed their disagreement with the trial and the charges brought by the prosecution and the way they tried to reduce his liability.

In its report, the prosecution acknowledged that Amado had no reason to fire his weapon at these helpless kids and kill one of them.  However, they only asked for a sentence of 17 years in prison for murder, a crime which is punishable by a sentence of 15-30 years in prison, or death.

Interian, who is 54 years old, underwent a psychiatric examination and was determined to be mentally fit and that at the time of these events, he had the capacity to understand the measure and extent of his actions.  However, there was no explanation during the hearing as to why he still had a license to carry a firearm even though he retired five years ago.

The police officer lives and works in the Montecito estate, in the village of Lajas in the Mantilla district of the municipal capital Arroyo Naranjo, where the events took place.  In the trial it was said that the estate belonged to him yet no reference was made to a deed which authorized his right to the property.

Nevertheless, it was made clear that the fruit tree was some distance from the residence of the accused and that the victim was up the tree when he was shot.  Marzo, as one of the witnesses identified themselves, owner of the estate neighbouring the ex-soldier’s and who witnessed the events, did not see when Interian fired his Colt, the murder weapon.

The witness told the court that on the afternoon of 15th July 2011 he went towards Interian’s house looking for his livestock.  He heard some voices.  He went running, machete in hand, and the ex policeman put on his shoes, shirt and took his weapon.

Interian’s neighbour first arrived at the bush where Ismael, 17 years of age, Angel and Yandi, both 14, were climbing.  All boys were of black ethnicity.  He ordered them to climb down when he heard the first shot.

Whilst the boys got down he heard the ex-policeman uttering profanities and asking his neighbours to ‘kill a black boy and f*** them up’.  Marzo heard the second shot and one of the teenagers groaning.  Angel became tangled in a branch and fell upon the impact of the bullet.

The medical expert testified in court and reasserted that the cause of death was acute anemia caused by the impact of the projectile.  The bullet entered the victim’s body in the lumbar region, went through the left kidney, the aorta and the right lung before exiting the shoulder.

The defence lawyer insisted that it was a simple case of homicide, that he was anticipating a sentence of 7 to 15 years, and that the court took into account the previous good conduct of the ex-policeman.  He also presented the medals that Interian had received during his 30 years of service in the National Revolutionary Police Force.  Maria Caridad Jiminez Medina, first cousin of the victim, exploded with rage as the defence gave its closing statement.

Immediately after, Lacadio Izquierdo, Angel’s uncle,  stood up to block the ex-soldier who moved away, guarded by more than a dozen uniformed officials of the Prisons Service of the Department of the Interior.  The officials, on more than one occasion, prevented relatives from reaching the accused.

The ex-policeman was chief of the area where the victim lived and is described as a violent and abusive man.  ‘In this country you get 20 to 25 for killing a cow and for killing a child this man got 17’, said Nidia Medina, aunt of the murdered teenager.  ‘We’re not going to resolve anything here, here there is no justice’ said others trying to calm the most upset.  The protest paralyzed the trial and continued in the street.

Translated by:  Hank, Sian Creely

January 5 2012

The Havana Tribunal will judge a former military man today who shot a teenager

December 10, 2011 1 comment

Various witnesses were called by the Havana Tribunal to participate in a murder trial which began this morning, December 9th, against Amado Interian, a retired police officer who is accused of shooting a black, 14-year-old teenager on July 15th of this year.  The teenager’s name was Alain Izquierdo.

According to Ismael Suarez Herce, a 17-year-old cousin of the victim who is an eyewitness to what happened, Interian (also known as “El Pinto”) caught the two of them climbing a mamoncillio tree on a farm.  The approximately 60-year-old man got mad and said to them “Hey, negro, you’ll see what’s going to happen to you,” and then he shot his 45 caliber revolver.  At the time of these acts, the former military man had a license to carry firearms.

The bullet entered Izquierdo’s body through his left buttock.  It destroyed his femoral artery, passed through his kidney and reached his lung.  Death was almost instantaneous. The funeral parlor gave the family a death certificate stating that the cause of death was acute anemia. Despite the demands of the family, the coroner never gave them any autopsy information.

The farm where this happened is located in Las Lajas, in Mantilla, a marginal neighborhood with a predominantly black population of low means which is relatively dangerous.  Suarez Herce said that they dared to go there in order to jump into the Abelardo dam in Calvario to swim.

The former policeman, Amado Interian, was the head of the police sector in various localities in Arroyo Naranjo, the poorest and most violent municipality in the Cuban capital.  Neighbors and family of the victim describe Interian as an angry man who was trigger happy.  As a retired military man, he will be tried under the civil penal code which provides a penalty for the crime of murder of up to 15 to 30 years of incarceration.

The current location of the former official is unknown.  He was being held in Valle Grande, the same place where the older brother of his victim was, awaiting trial.  Prisoners residing in the Mantilla zone are sure that he is not there or in Combinado del Este, the maximum security prison located in Havana.

The victim’s mother, Raiza Medina, believes that they want to exclude her from participating in the trial of the man accused of killing her son.  She has not received any summons as an affected party.  An official named Aiza, who attends to victims at 100 and Aldabo, told her that affected parties are not summoned.  She recommended that Raiza contact the official in charge of the case.  As of today, no one in the criminal investigation division has responded to her calls.

Translated by:  Hank

December 9 2011

Tomorrow the Havana Tribunal will try the former military man who shot a teenager

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Tomorrow, December 9th, the Havana Tribunal will hear the case against a former military man named Amado Interian who is accused of having used his 45 caliber pistol to shoot a teenager named Alain Izquierdo Medina — a black 14-year-old who was coming down from a tree in Mamamoncillo.

Translated by Hank

December 8 2011

“That Old Newspaper Yellowed With Age“

December 8, 2011 1 comment

Yaremis Flores Marín

A few days ago I read in Granma, the official mouthpiece of the Central Committee of the Party, an article about the end of the debate by the Parliamentary Commission, in whose mind they had analyzed among other things, the effectiveness of the economic model.

What they were saying to the population was “we are working for…, we are analyzing…, we are satisfactorily completing…”

To summarize, all of the Commissions inflated in one way or another, efficiency; and those that did not meet some parameter, they justified with those empty slogans which we have become accustomed to — that they work to achieve the development of the country and the satisfaction of the people.

A few days ago, dusting off memories, my grandmother found an edition of Granma dated Wednesday, July 12, 1989.  It was yellow with age. She had saved it as though it were a relic. I was just a girl back then.

The first thing that surprised me about that old edition of Granma was the size of the publication (twice what it is today). Aside from that, on its first page it talked about the subjects that were to be debated during the 5th National Assembly.  From that day forth the subjects of construction, public services and worker protections were all on the table.

Moving forward to the present, the failure is evident.  The housing situation is precarious; the shortage of building materials; public services in decline; and don’t even talk about the protection of the workers, when today we’re all threatened by the era of “availability”, which is simply a word that tries to put lipstick on what I prefer to call “unemployment.”

So I ask myself, do I have to wait another 20 years to read another edition of Granma which will capture the same thing?

Translated by: Hank

December 6 2011

Work in Progress

December 6, 2011 1 comment

Roberto Lopez arrived early at the Arrroyo Naranjo Property Registry.  His plan was to divide his house.  One part of the house was to be donated to his only granddaughter and the other was to be sold.  He is 70 years old and he needs resources to live.  He was number 10 in line that morning, but when it was his turn, they told him that he could not register his house.

As of the enactment of the new norms decreed by the Council of State, which modifies the law regarding housing, Cuban property owners are running en masse to the Notary of Property Registration in order to comply with the new laws required to place their titles in compliance with the new legal standards.

The now traditional lines in front of these institutions start in the early morning, and by the end of the day there are always people who have not been seen.  Not all has been resolved.  Time ran out to get things done, but the government does not provide an adequate infrastructure or sufficient personnel to deal with the demand required  by the new laws.

It doesn’t matter, Cubans are used to it.  With incredible patience, they wait for their turn to be attended to.  There is, however, no shortage of people who lack the right paperwork.  After waiting four hours in line, it is not easy to deal with not achieving your goal simply because of omissions or errors that are not your fault but which are the fault of the office that granted the title to the property in the first place.

“You need to update your title in order to sign up your house on the Property Register,” the specialist tells Roberto. The procedure is required for those who want to sell, trade or donate their houses. “What does that mean?” asked the old man disconcertedly.

“The measurements, boundaries and also the area are missing in the description of your house,” responded the lawyer who was looking over his documents. An omission that most of the property titles written before 2003 suffer.

“First you should go to the office of the community architect and request his services to carry out a technical opinion and an appraisal, then, with the architectural document, you need go to the notary so they can rectify the omissions, and last return here to request the registration of your property,” added the specialist.

It sounds easy enough, but the process would require getting up early and losing a day of work to stand in line at the architect’s, another day at the Notary’s, and yet another day at the Property Registry. That’s without counting the time that each step would take. “It looks like my plans will take at least three more months,” commented Mr. López without much enthusiasm.

The buyer for Roberto’s house is not disposed to wait. He plans to pay to speed up the process. Haste is valid in all parts of the world, but it signifies corruption for the Cuban government, one of the aggravating battles of life on the inside.

That’s how the island’s recently approved regulation has begun to be applied. It permits the buying and selling of houses and eliminates one source of illegalities. It also increases the workload of the state functionaries without increasing their salaries. No doubt the corruption and prevarication of those workers remains as a work in progress.

Translated by: Hank and Scott

December 3 2011

To The Final Consequences

April 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Another death demonstrates that life is worth nothing without freedom.  Adrian Leiva, a Cuban residing in the United States, was buried in Havana on Tuesday, April 6th.  According to authorities at the Ministry of the Interior, he drowned while trying to return to the island on a raft.

The people who saw his lifeless body say that he looked like he was in a deep sleep.  He died peacefully.  There was nothing to regret.  He did everything he could to realize his dream: return to his country with or without permission. A right that the “Revolutionary government” has denied us for 50 years. He knew the risk: the loss of his life, and he accepted it.

These were the same dreams Orlando Zapata had during his 86 day hunger strike.  Yet we are left with fewer means to achieve the goal: freedom.  Each one of those means leads us closer to death.  Yes, this is pessimism, fear and pain.  How many more lives must be sacrificed before the Cuban government stops believing that it rules our existence?

I cannot tolerate this degree of insensibility or the intransigence of a few who have taken for themselves the right to speak for eleven million Cubans.  They talk about not yielding to pressure or blackmail, but they extort at their whim thousands of sons, fathers and mothers who will not forget what unites this land.

“Definitive Abandonment” and exit without return, I hate these words.  What right do they have to prevent a Cuban from returning to his homeland?  What is the reason?  Who answers for those who have died on the high seas, the United States government or the Cuban?  Who calms the pain of a mother when she loses a child?

We know very little, or nothing, of the circumstances surrounding the death of Leiva.  But if we think of the deaths that occurred on that tugboat on July 13, 1994 and the patients who died in the psychiatric hospital, Mazorra, we can imagine how he died.

In the middle of that uncertainty, in that silence, you feel the fear which was theirs and which is ours.  Those at the top are desperate and capable of anything to try to extend the final moments of their power and impunity.  We, those who dissent, know full well that our bodies are at their mercy, but we have decided to confront them to the final consequences.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by Hank

A Ride on the P Line

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Solidarity is a term which is commonly used to describe the Cuban people.  However, that perception is lost when you climb aboard a public transport bus.  Yes, a Metrobus from P-1 to P-16, including the P-C.  One does not have to be a deep observer to notice that sensitivity and manners have been lost.

The first thing you’ll notice is an overwhelming mass of people trying to get on or off the bus without paying attention to the pregnant or the elderly.   A man looks through the window to the opposite side of the street in order to avoid making eye contact with a woman who is standing next to him with a child in her arms.

A father tells his adolescent son to hurry and sit down in a vacant seat where an old lady is about to sit.  Someone gets bothered when a handicapped person asks if they would be so kind to give up their seat.

The driver accelerates while taking a curve as if he were transporting livestock.  This causes an argument among the passengers because someone did not hold on well enough and fell on top of someone else.  Fights also usually arise as result of someone stepping on someone else’s toes, or pushing.

Sometimes the driver intervenes in these fights.  Often, the bus stops away from the bus stop. Beastly blows above the doors is the immediate response. Other times there are even challenges, between aggressive behavior and actual threats of a fist fight.

On the P line, as these new mass transit buses are called, you must carefully guard your wallets, bags, chains, wristbands, or watches.  It is very probable that you will not even notice if you lose them.

If you are a woman and find yourself in the middle of this tumult,  make sure you don’t get bothered if you feel the touch of “something.”  The situation is bad, they will quickly tell you to go take a taxi.  In sum, a ride aboard the P line is just like watching a Saturday movie: adult language, violence, and sex.

But be careful!  Don’t make any snap judgments.   It is logical that, pretending or truthfully, a profound sleep will overcome you after waking up at 6 in the morning.  Making the trip of an hour while standing the whole way and all cramped up among so many people, or even having to take various “P’s” just to make it to work.

You get frustrated when they step on a callous on your foot, while you are thinking that you have nothing to cook at home, or if there is no soap to shower.  It really puts you in a bad mood, knowing that you do not have enough money to replace your child’s broken shoes so he could go to school.

The sea of problems that Cubans confront in their daily lives slowly leads them to a state of decadence.  It is an irony that citizens of this country, which does more for the poor of the world, a country free of illiteracy, must itself return to barbarism.   It’s like going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by Raul G with a little tinkering by ricote and Hank

Bravery and Bravado (II and Final)

November 8, 2009 Leave a comment

“…When Juanes talked about the political prisoners, morally, the opposition should have lifted the banner and raised its voice for Freedom for our brothers unjustily imprisoned. There was no action because the opposition is inoperative. The cell phones, laptops, printers, the support they receive from outside, none of it serves any purpose. They could not coordinate even the smallest gesture to attract the notice of the international press covering the event in the Plaza…”

The preceding is the opinion of a reader who left a comment on one of my blogs. He earnestly asked me to write about it, so now I will.

While I do this, I want to make it clear to the people who think as he does — those of us who live in Cuba and publically dissent are no one’s puppets.

If you wish for action and violence, come and be the protagonists.
If TV in Miami bores you, go to Little Havana and make the news of the day.

If you want blood and confrontation in Cuban streets, come and spill your own blood.

If you want a human heart on a sacrificial altar, come and decapitate an executioner with your own hands.

I am an attorney, independent journalist, blogger and housewife. Tasks that I responsibly and peacefully assume. I do not and will not do anything to satisfy frustrations and foreign anxieties.

If the would-be help offered to the dissident movement inside of Cuba — who in reality are the ones who are at risk in all of this — is on condition that we “take to the streets,” then stop sending the help right now.

It is true, actual Cuban youth do not have the drive of Venezuelan youth who combat Hugo Chávez. But, in the case of those who criticize us — while they lived here — did they manage to bring people together and get them out of their houses carrying sticks and stones or even simple pots and pans?

A little while ago I watched the indifferent looks of passers-by as an opposition group protested in public. No one ever joins these protests — people look on as though the demonstrators are crazy or criminal. These passers-by are the Cuban people of whom we should first demand a conscience. Because it is their reaction that is representative of the vast majority of the population.

Think as you may, go so far as to say that I am an unpatriotic, cowardly woman. Who said I am not afraid? Afraid not so much of the harm they can do to me personally, but what they can do to my family. No one could ever compensate me for that.

I don’t think I should test my bravery, and I don’t aspire to becoming a heroine of the opposition or of independent journalism. Doing what I do, I complete my obligation as a citizen. But the fact that I am a mother makes me think about all of the consequences of my actions.

So, to those who endeavor that others achieve the goal that they did not have the courage to attain, I beg you: enough with incitements and comparisons!

From the outside you see things differently — in other colors. Above all when you live without political prisoners or repression. We have enough with the manipulation of the government without also having to deal with the manipulation of Cubans who decided to throw in the towel and leave.

I want to tell you loudly and clearly: Cuba does not need more political prisoners. Or martyrs. We can attain liberty, democracy and national reconciliation by peaceful and rational means. As did the Chileans, the Germans and the South Africans.

Photo: Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, with his wife Elsa Morejón, before being sentenced to 25 years in prison, in April 2003. Dr. Biscet believes in nonviolent action, as proclaimed by Mahatma Gandhi.

Translated in part by: Hank

The Imprint Of A Concert

November 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Finally, the controversial Juanez concert materialized in Havana. As I have written before on this blog, everything remained the same afterwards. Cubans here continue in the same routine: problems with public transportation, water, electricity, food; salaries that are insufficient, lack of freedoms and more than 200 political prisoners. A slight distraction in the middle of the storm.

Of course, some things happened. For those outside of the Island, a renewed interest in debating matters of common interest. Messages on the Internet have multiplied, emails in which national reconciliation is present. All attempts are valid. For those on the island, the possibility of demonstrating that we have free will.

It wasn’t necessary for bus service to improve. Under an intense sun, on foot, pressed up against or hanging on to the doors of buses, more than a million Cubans, in white costumes, were there in the Plaza. This time for peace.

And in the middle of it all, a bridge. A path those of us here and those who are abroad must care for so that we can traverse it together. An opportunity to unite the people who were born in this land. A new way to communicate. I hope it happens again!

Before the concert, there were extreme positions taken between those who were in favor and those who opposed it. What a shame that Cubans here on the Island could not add their opinions. As a spectator to the discussion, I consider the result a positive one. Part of the exile community demonstrated that it is not the same as it was 50 years ago. These exiles are renovated and are ready to struggle for their country in an intelligent way, without playing the game of the Cuban government.

For those who thought that with reactionary positions anything might be achieved, your arguments were very well utilized by the official media on the Island, to discredit you before your compatriots on this side of the ocean. But in the end, the concert left us with a grand truth. We Cubans are divided by the distance that separates us and by the pain of thousands of families.

In addition to peace, the concert brought reality. Isolated Cuba realized that her exiled sister feels for her. A message of love which brought goose bumps or tears to many. It also showed us that we can and must talk. But afterwards, hug each other.

For me, that was the imprint of the concert “Peace Without Borders” in Havana. It did not bring the desired change, but it demonstrated that, apart from politics, differences and extremism, Cubans are one nation. And wherever we may be, we love the country of our birth.

Translated by the team of: Hank