Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reason 1

On Friday my phone stopped working, it seemed like it had been cut, so I called 114 to find out what had happened. The customer service girl told me the Commercial Office made a decision to disconnect it. As I hadn’t been late with any payment or had any other kind of problem, I went to the Etesca office at 19 and C in Vedado, my Commercial Office.

All I did was go in and explain the problem to a girl typing on her computer who snarled: “I’m not the one for problems, that’s ‘Reason 1!’ Go in there and see Fulanita.” Fulanita, after trying to communicate with something called MLC and not managing to talk to anyone, typed something, something in her computer as well, and with a smile told me, “Now it’s connected.”

I went home calmly, wondering what could be the problem with this “Reason 1,” how could there be a problem, and who works in the MLC, but I didn’t want to be paranoid. Two hours later I was again at 19 and C, at exactly three in the afternoon (the office closes at four) because they’d cut my line a second time.

From the doorway the girl who doesn’t want problems showed me the way I already knew, the other wrote something on paper and told me the commercial office was exactly there, and they didn’t know anything about anything. I asked her to be honest with me, if they hadn’t disconnected me there, then where, and who had done it: The Higher Powers, she replied. She got up and took the papers to “The Boss” sitting in a little office at the end of the hall, who told me they’d call to see what happened.

The boss was on the phone for like ten minutes and was quite upset. From where I was I couldn’t hear her words but I could read her lips twice: she was saying into the headset that they had to inform her because now she was the one who had to give an explanation; later she said that I was waiting, that she couldn’t put me on the phone again because they would disconnect me again for the one hour maximum.

I was losing patience, I asked to speak to “The Boss” and went into her office, where it was quite hot because the air conditioning wasn’t working. I couldn’t get anything clear, it was a bit cynical. Ultimately I didn’t blame her, I suppose if she told me the truth she’d get into trouble. She told me there was no human way to know what was happening with my telephone, later they would do an investigation of the case to “figure out” what it was, at one point she gave me some analogy between televisions and telephones which I didn’t understand very well. We were both smiling the whole time, it was pure theater, several time I even snickered, especially when she confessed being discouraged by having so many technical things completely outside her control, it would seem that Esteca works through miracles or perhaps the Holy Spirit (or State Security of course).

I will be the whole week without a telephone; on Monday I have to go back even though it became clear that the “answer” was in the hands of “The Higher Powers,” and no one knows who or where they are. As Orlando Luis says, at this stage one could well declare Etesca, Cubalse (or whatever they’re called now), the Ministry of Education, Health, Culture, the cinemas, the theaters, the schools and everything else branches of the Ministry of the Interior. Anyway, we know that “The Highest Power” is precisely the Central Committee.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

Written by Anonymous

Despite the fear it gives me to write these emails (which I’m sure are read by them) I have decided to do it, confident that you won’t divulge my name, if the story seems interesting to you.

A few weeks ago I visited Cuba with my boyfriend who’s a foreigner. Among all the things we set out to do was to go to Cayo Coco or Cayo Largo, because I’d heard about how beautiful the beaches are, and also because finally we Cubans are allowed to visit them. My boyfriend is crazy about boats, ships, and in fact here he has one we go out on occasionally. We saw in an advertisement at the travel agency the opportunity to go out on a catamaran at Cayo Largo and dive, to see the bottom of the sea… finally…

We made our reservations at the Hotel Nacional for a very good price for Cayo Largo, a really good package, including airport transfers, the plane ticket, everything to the cayo and back. The catamaran we would have to pay for separately but we didn’t care. Thank God the person who was making the reservation thought to ask me if I was Cuban (my accent already makes them doubt it at times, especially when I realize they treat me better in those places when they think I’m a foreigner and they don’t look at me like I’m a prostitute). I answered yes, I’m Cuban, but I’ve lived abroad for some time, so what’s the problem. He said, “Ah, but if you’re Cuban you can’t go on the catamaran, you can watch it from the sand.” Do I have to agree that I can experience Cayo Coco without going in the catamaran? I’m accustomed to the bad service there, but I didn’t think they would go so far.

Maybe this story isn’t interesting enough for publication, but I want to share with someone that I felt humiliated, that in my own country (because it’s mine, too) I can’t go in a catamaran.

I’m not telling you all the discrimination I faced there because of my nationality, and what shocked me even more was for being with a foreigner, when you walk with another Cuban you almost don’t notice it, or worse, you restrict yourself from doing things you can’t do and no one asks you anything. My boyfriend had a lot of questions and I could only offer a few answers: Because that’s the way it is, because I can’t go in, well imagine, it’s always been like this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What is a social network?

Photo: OLPL. Paying Gorky's fine of 600 pesos

When Gorky was detained in August, among the blogs of Cubans inside and outside of Cuba we established a social network: exchange of information, giving priority to news about the situation in Havana, etc. From here, we also established a much smaller network connecting the bloggers and prioritizing solidarity. I remember Lizabel Mónica called me and said it could be any one of us who were in the dungeon. If, when we left the protestódromo, a friend with a telephone hadn’t been there to take me on a bike to the home of another friend who had a computer, and I hadn’t had an email account from another friend, I’d never have been able to send out a message about the beatings and arrests. We didn’t know it, but we were a small social network.

What this is, more or less, is a completely independent group of citizens who are not active in the same organization, or who don’t belong to any (like me), and who for solidarity, conviction, or because it works for them and they like it, establish contact for mutual help.

The good thing is that it is NOT an organization and everyone can participate up to whatever point they consider comfortable and convenient. You don’t have to sign anything, write anything, take responsibility, protest, or take any risk you don’t want to take.

I do believe that in Cuba there are people who read the blogs, and I also believe that these people can help other people read the blogs. If you read me from Cuba, you have copies of the discs, pass them around in USB flash drives, renew your copy monthly with the person who gave it to you last month, and pass it on to your friends.

And always remember: You are reading Cuban voices because you like doing it, and that has no risk.

Monday, May 25, 2009

And now what?

Foto: Claudio Fuentes Madan

I waited at 23rd and 10th to get the P4 bus at 7:00 in the morning and got to my destination (Playa) at 9:45. I tried to get on board three buses but I couldn’t do it, and the rest of the time I spent trying to catch a 10 peso taxi, but there were none. A bit strange, what’s happening, I asked myself, while looking up and down a deserted 23rd, normally crammed with taxis.

At 4:00 in the afternoon I was well informed, no one in Havana was talking about anything else: There is an operation and they are seizing cars and so the drivers, of course, are terrified and no one wants to operate. I have several comments on the matter:

- At the bus stations they’re conducting a special operation, confiscating the cars “on site.” Despite numerous calls from the drivers to their contacts in the PNR (National Revolutionary Police), no one can do anything about it.
- Until recently they were giving out licenses, but not anymore.
- A license is unique and not transferable, and represents the car and the owner; this means that only the owner of the car can drive it, not a friend, nor a relative nor absolutely anyone else in the universe.

The consequences? Always the same. Everyone who went by car now has to go by bus. If before it could take you an hour to get aboard, now it can take three, and in 24 hours we’ve returned to the Golden Age of the Post-Transportation Revolution.

Why is the government taking these measures? Beyond control and repression I can’t stop thinking that they must be getting something more, but what? Why not give the licensees a little more flexibility and increase the tax money coming in? Now the bus stops are a crush of people and getting to work is a hardship, with people arriving late or not at all. Not in its wildest dreams can the state transport system meet the demand and nobody wins: not the people, not the taxi drivers and not the state.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

From No to Yes in two weeks

This video is from the lobby of the Cohiba: for some weeks it was No, now it's Yes... The most important thing, I think, is that this Yes continues. Also there could be a day when the government says Yes to connecting all Cubans from our homes... perhaps a day not too far off.

Friday, May 22, 2009

All-Inclusive... Segregation too?

Text: The White Salamander

To see how in history a human being has been capable of so many forms of repression and disdain for his fellow men is a challenge to one’s own sensitivity. To feel in one way or another disdained and deprived of some right, for whatever reason, is quite pitiful. It is also a challenge to one’s equanimity, to not suddenly turn into a violent offender every time they make you part of the segregated human race.

We might think bad thoughts and believe that this is a goal of those who divide in order to provoke something bigger if you rebel and disobey the given order. Because to attack in your own defense could turn you into prey by giving cause to the power entity that segregates you, accusing you of physically or verbally attacking authority. 

I comment on this because for some days I felt very irritated and upset. I was around Varadero by chance and decided to take a dip at the beach, but I needed to go to a bathroom in order to change clothes comfortably, to take off my traveling clothes, to look in my suitcase for the bathing suit and to put it on, and as I went by a small hotel, the Hotel Club Tropical to be exact, I went in through the lobby looking for the bathroom and I felt the doorman calling me. I tried to evade him, but he was quite insistent and when he inquired I responded about my need, to which he said absolutely no. Surely, if I had been a foreigner he would have let me go past with hardly a glance.

As almost always happens, I concluded not to ruin my friends’ afternoon and not to spoil the few hours that we would be on that beach. I decided not to make a case of it and not to make the scene everyone deserved, from the foreign tourists to the manager, but most of all the orders-following-Yeti (in uniform, whose back you see in the picture) for wanting to throw me out of there with manners, as if I was a mangy dog and not a person, a domestic tourist, as Cuban as he or anyone in his family is. Then I called a truce and decided to get out of there in search of another place which ended up being a disastrous bathroom in the cafeteria where the modest price of a ham and cheese sandwich is 1.75 CUC, which is about 50 pesos in national money.

Above all, I left that Club Tropical with the fixed idea of at least writing about this, as a way to criticize or denounce what the fact of being segregated by our own kind, even at this time, means. It is unbelievable that something as simple and humane as going into a bathroom to change clothes is not allowed and that, only after a long time, citizens may once again rent a hotel room (but at what prices!) though we may not have the right to all services provided to foreigners, such as the use of the Internet, where, for example, comments such as this to the outside could damage even more the image of the regime in this country. This country, where those who possess the power and who control us from within pride themselves so much about caring for the inviolable human rights. A country where nobody can come to inspect from the outside, but I hope that at least they may eagerly inspect for real improvements for its people.

P.S.: xenophobia: (from xeno and phobia) f. hatred, repugnance or hostility towards foreigners.

If that were the case, what would be the name of the same thing directed towards the natives? Some Cubanologist should tell me, because perhaps the term already exists and I still do not know it.

Look at the signs of the Club Amigo (Club Friend – but friend of whom?) and All-inclusive, segregation too?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For 3 CUCs

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

Maité works for the Office of the Historian in Old Havana. She’s a museum guard, working Monday to Friday from eight in the morning to six at night, and Saturdays until one. She earns about 350 pesos a month and if she does nothing wrong, is never late and never sick, she receives 10 CUCs along with her salary as an incentive wage.

Entry into the museum is free, although there is a small box where foreigners who feel solidarity with the restoration work of Eusebio Leal can leave something to show their support. Every week a team of collectors goes through the museums and takes the money, which comes in at higher and higher levels.

But Maité’s salary is not enough to live on; sometimes more insightful tourists come into the museum and give her money and it helps a little with the day-to-day. She knows the risks, if the directors of the museum see her taking the tourists’ money, even though they gave it to her, she would be punished or fired from the center (the established rules are clear that one cannot accept ANYTHING from the visitors).

One day she had bad luck, from the floor above the director saw the 3 CUCs given to her and the terrible thing Maité did with them: straight to her pocket.

They didn’t throw her out (the director was kind): they elevated her ‘case’ to personal, had a meeting with all the workers and the union to call public attention to it, fined her salary for four months and made her work in another museum as an assistant cleaner.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

The news on the Havana channel could be described as slightly closer to reality than that on the Television National News, small details make me think there are slightly younger people behind the script. The other day there were talking about the unions and they carried three interviews: two man-on-the-street interviews and one with the head of a union.

The union head explained, not very clearly, that Cuban unions have two missions: to represent the worker and the State. The first was the one everyone knew, fighting for the rights of the worker and ensuring they are not trampled; the second, a little ambiguous, refers to defending the rights of the State, which has the “goodness” to legally recognize the unions, and it was their main task because they, for their part, defended the work of the revolution. He argues that there were contradictions between the interests, but no antagonism. Honestly, I didn’t understand a thing.

The workers interviewed on the street said that their union didn’t exactly represent them, one said “they had to improve the situation.”

When I worked for the State as a teacher I had a contract with an indefinite duration, the type of contract that doesn’t give the worker the right to hardly anything (no retirement, no vacation). After two years I tried to get a fixed contract, as I assumed was my right, but I hit a bureaucratic block: I couldn’t be fixed because the “seat” of teacher was not contemplated at my center.

I talked to the union and asked its help in intervening with the directors and pressing for the creation of a seat. I began to pay almost 100 pesos a year to the union, to go to the meetings, to raise my problem… but nothing happened. The head of my union seemed to be concerned only with collecting the money, attending the meetings (at which she said absolutely nothing) and creating an unblemished Record (everything in order, everything under control). In this same period a colleague of mine got pregnant. Since leave was not covered in our contract, she was informed she wouldn’t get maternity leave. From her first through her eighth month she was working and we were pursuing all the ways to make it happen: we accomplished nothing. The union leaders made jokes in bad taste in the hallways: don’t let me see that you’re pregnant too.

A few months later I stopped paying the union and the following one I cancelled my poor contract, renewable every three months.

Friday, May 15, 2009

More military

Video: Professor The Ciro

Why did the new Education Minister belong to the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR)? Analyzing what meaning the existence of an army might have in society is, without a doubt, beyond my comprehension; that I might dream of a world without armies and without the military is a utopia.

But what is not a utopia is to want a country where the Armed Forces have clearly defined their limitations and where the institutions of civil society maintain, beyond their autonomy, control over military power. The new changes in the government point to increased militarization (if this is even possible) of Cuban society on all levels. All the senior positions that are supposed to be filled by civilians (including the presidency, of course) are gradually being occupied by military men, while the Fidgeter on Olympus announces a change in wardrobe: from white guayabera* to an olive green uniform.

It’s still too early to observe the results of this pyramid of power, but history has already demonstrated to us many times what happens when a society is governed by soldiers.

Translator's note
Guayabera = A Cuban dress shirt

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day, no?

On the second Sunday in May, since I have had the power of reason, 12th and 23rd is filled with people: selling flowers, food, thousands of people go to the cemetery to visit the graves of their mothers and grandmothers. The state allows many small food vendors (not cheap, by the way) and people have fun and celebrate a day that in our culture is one of the most important of the year.

I was walking along 12th and 23rd last Sunday, a little surprised because unlike in previous years and despite the balloons and flowers, I didn’t see a single sign that said, “Congratulations Mom!” I thought maybe they’d been forgotten, in the rush to prepare everything at the last minute on Friday. However a single small sign made me think that maybe I was mistaken, that those of us who were celebrating Mother’s Day were the ones who buying, because those who were selling, it appeared, were celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution… again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Voice Behind Bars

Photo from Payo Libre

Iván García called me at home two weeks ago and was trying to materialize an idea: to open a blog by Pablo Pacheco, an independent journalist and prisoner of conscience since the Black Spring of 2003, sentenced to 20 years imprisonment (to publish what he’s thinking, obviously).

It seemed like a great idea to us, Yoani Sánchez (master of achieving the impossible with 25 kb) was responsible for creating the blog in Voces Cubanas, organizing the categories, and designing the blog; Ciro, a little unsure of his capabilities, made the header (which we haven’t managed to load yet); with a voice recorder I recorded the voice of Pacheco who called me from Canaleta en Ciego de Ávila prison and read me his post; then I downloaded the audio files to the computer and gave them on a flash drive to Iván, who was democratically chosen as “Chief of Composition.”

Despite having everything ready, two long weeks passed between the typical obstacles and the new regulations on the Internet and it took us a little longer than we expected. But now, finally, we can happily say that Pablo Pacheco’s blog—Voice Behind Bars—is on the air.

Here is the unedited recording Pablo gave me for Octavo Cerco, so you can see how a blogger works from a Cuban prison.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Connectivity of the comments

Image: Disks for reading the blogs in off-line versions

From the time I conceived this blog in October 2008 , I decided that I wouldn’t moderate comments, a decision I thought made sense for two reasons: my scarce opportunities to connect to the Internet, and the desire to maintain a relationship between the Eighth Circle that exists on the Internet and the Eight Circle that I live in my reality.

Now to top it off a new resolution seems intent on not letting Cubans connect in public sites, here in Havana it has strangely started with those pubic sites that allow slightly less censored navigation on the web (Wi-Fi connections). Even though I’m not between a rock and a hard place with regards to posting, but the day that posting in this blog becomes a questions of “card or no card,” I’ll plant myself at the hotel, laptop on my back, and we’ll see what happens, as people say with tremendous bravado, because this one thing is inviolate for me (like the principles of the Revolution): my blog continues, Octavo Cerco YES. But I won’t sweat it for a couple days, I’ll wait and see how things unfold, we already know that in Cuba resolutions have three basic periods: The first month with extreme and arbitrary applications; the second month with relaxation of the application and deregulation in the use of the law; the third month with “What regulation?”*

Obviously with these worries about continuing to publish, monitoring the comments would be a step higher than what I can aspire to. But neither do I want, and this then is the second reason: in my country what I say in my blog I can’t say anywhere else, I’m condemned to express myself virtually and like me, all those who think differently, all who differ from the official, all the citizens and independent journalists, all those who favor a change in government policy, in short, all those who exercise freedom of expression to a greater or lesser extent are silenced or punished. That’s why the trolls do their daily work in Octavo Cerco, day by day they show that in Cuba you cannot disagree, and they don’t precisely argue, but rather they insult, abuse, accuse and lie, just as happens in real life, exactly as happens when an ordinary person lets off steam in the street: it’s irrefutable proof of the oppression of freedom of expression. I actually pity them a bit, condemned to offending in the comments when in reality their preference would be to call a repudiation rally against me, or to beat me up in a room at Villa Marista, but times have changed, but not that much, which is why they are still around, so that everyone can see the unchanging repression the Cuban government has exercised and does exercise against those who express themselves freely, the insults and lies are the best snapshot they could give to Octavo Cerco virtual of what happens in Octavo Cerco real, in Cuba there is no debate, we cannot ask them then to do what in Cuba they are not allowed to do: dialogue.

I believe, moreover, that each commentator is responsible for what he says, just as La Salamandra Blanca, Ciro and I are.

*I want to clarify that when the Cohiba hotel was called they said there’s no problem, you can come in, yesterday morning Yoani Sánchez was unable to do so and it’s not a personal matter relating only to her: Cubans are not allowed to buy Internet cards there.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Taken from the saga El Ciro vs. State Security

It is but with great sadness that I must admit that everything that the tattletale Rosa Mirían Elizalde, pseudo-journalist, on the payroll of the geriatric Cuban regime says in her cyber-communist article, published on the “Cuba Debate” website, (owned by State security) is true.

I met this GoDaddy in Vietnam when we fought against Stalin's Red Army (1) and he suggested I get a website for my rock band Porno for Ricardo (2). I said "... nah, that's your shit, GoGo ...” But many years later, a friend of ours who was a Yuma resident happened by and suggested to us to set up a site where we could sell our rabid records.

Then the G2 appeared and told us we had to hang the site on one of the many Cuban servers for those purposes or they would have our PayPal service, used for collecting for the sale of the rabids and for musical espionage microphone donations, canceled. We quickly told them to go fuck themselves, and I called GoDaddy to negotiate a website for my friend. He responded that he had to consult with Google Bush because he had already sent many millions of dollars for concerts and we had spent it on trips abroad.

Finally, Googy threw us a line, not before consulting with the CIA, and our site was opened to the public in 2004. I was bothered as I observed that did not have too many visits from Cuba, since it is so easy to connect to the Internet in our country.

Years later I met Rosa Marta Elizalde and Claudia Cadelo at a party, both were ready for me, but since Claudia was better off, I did not pay Rosa María Elizalde (fat and wearing glasses) any mind and she, disheartened, threw herself from The Focsa’s 40th floor. When she reached the 15th floor, the G2 rescued her and made her into their slave.

Since then she writes awful things about Porno Para Ricardo, dreaming about the day when I divorce and run to her arms.

(1) Joseph Stalin: Communist assassin of whom Raúl Castro is an admirer.
(2) Porno para Ricardo: Best rock band in the world.
(3) El Auditorio Imbécil: Best blog in the world.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Don't say anything

I heard this song for the first time at a party. It would seem there’s no room for this kind of sadness between the rum and the bad dancing, but yes, when we hear, ”Don’t say anything,” we obey immediately: maybe it’s the custom, maybe not.

So they told me in elementary school when I didn’t want to go to the Museum of the Revolution, so they told me in junior high when they took away my right to continue my art studies, in high school when I couldn't adapt and ran screaming through the halls, in technical school when they marked me down for poor political participation… so they tell me at the university when I take tests in history and philosophy.

So my family said when I didn’t understand why they had to be on guard, why they had to belong to the CDR, as did my friend who was with me when we got arrested for taking the night ride, my mother when I didn’t want to sign that the socialist character of the Revolution was immortal (or something like that) in 2003, my boss when I explained I wasn’t going to go on the march, the union when I refused to pay, my cousin at the time of the Gorki thing, my best friend when she found out I had a blog: Don’t say anything, Claudia.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The change I want

Image: Ares

“Things will change, you’ll see,” a friend tells me. She’s not talking about freedom of the press, or expression, or opinion, or about anything related to basic human rights; rather she talks to me about onions and meat, about how to earn a little more money to improve our standard of living. To convince me, she even tells me that they’re going to give the whole world permission to travel; I explain that they’re not going to give permission to “the whole world,” that a few days ago I delivered some 90 signatures to Provincial Immigration so they would give the damn “Go for it baby! Travel!” to a friend.

But she looks at me and ignores my arguments. If you’re not interested in politics why do you want a change of president? If we can stop being poor and buy cars and live well? What does it matter who’s in power? I grudgingly explain I don’t want a “change of president,” what I want is a “CHANGE of government” from top to bottom, but she doesn’t understand me.

I’m happy she thinks that some day she’s going to be able to buy a car with Raul Castro or whomever in the Communist Party it might be who’s in power. I don’t really want to talk about how I came to this point. I don’t know how to explain to someone that exactly what they want to avoid is an economically independent civil society, a prosperous country where people have time to think instead of just to look for something to eat, a country where a piece of meat on the table is not the main objective in the life of a people and where getting it doesn’t mean you keep your mouth shut to hold onto it.

How to explain that if one day everyone has permission to travel, if we can live on our wages, if we can buy a car, and even if tomorrow morning they free all the political prisoners, I will continue asking for CHANGE. The long lines for the bus, the crush on the P4 route, the wages of misery, the permission to travel and all the rest are only the consequences… and I do want them to change the consequences… but what I really want to change is the CAUSE, so there will be no more risks, so that tomorrow I can travel comfortably on the bus, or I can eat on my salary, or I can drive a car, or I can leave the country when I have a mind to; not to then have to shut my mouth and close my eyes, live in fear, read the absurdities that are called news, idolize a liar who carries a list of the dead on his head.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A personal kitchen chorus

All my doubts (or my fears to be honest) about banging the pots were dispelled when I saw the images of the First of May for a few seconds on the TV, I couldn’t hold back any more. Even my mother who is a skeptic said, “But we’re in an epidemiological alert! I’d like to see the face of the ‘doctor’ on the Round Table TV show on May 30 who said there was ‘no risk’ to the massing of thousands of people under the sun in 85 degree weather, I wish I could remember his name… I wonder, at times, how he can sleep.”

A little before the pot banging it was raining cats and dogs, half soaked I got to Yoani’s house at 8:30 exactly when we began, we stopped, hoping to hear an echo but nothing: a solitary kitchen chorus, we baptized it later between laughter and disappointment. Ciro, always the performer, walked along the train line, his little pot and spoon in hand, playing a strange little salsa beat: no one responded but no one asked him anything either.

So while in Cuba the pots still don’t sound, because of people’s fear, the minds sound, and that has to mean something.

Friday, May 1, 2009

About the Official Citation

Photo montage: Lia Villares

After the citations we received in the case of Ciro’s detentions, and in the warning letter for OLPL, we realize that at the very least we need a primer of the laws in order to be able to demand that the Cuban authorities respect legislation when they “cite us” or “apply to us” some kind of penalty.

So this Wednesday Laritza Diversent, independent journalist, blogger, lawyer and vice president of the Cuban Association of Jurists, came to our blogger meeting. Among other things she discovered that my citation was invalid, it didn’t meet the requirements of Article 111, which says that only a magistrate, judge or prosecutor is authorized to issue a citation (mine was from a lieutenant). In addition, the infamous “interview” or “be interviewed” doesn’t apply because it does not involve a crime or offense that would justify a “friendly meeting” with MININT. That is, when someone is cited, they must carefully read the citation and if it’s not valid tell the authority that brought it that they have to take it back and correct the errors and return with one that meets the requirements of Article 86, which is very long.

There are always extreme cases like that of Lia, where there is no one who knows the laws and can take into account the invalidity of the same: it came with the name and surname wrong, the address wrong, and even worse, was delivered by a neighbor who lives ten blocks from her house, a day after the scheduled date for the interview.

Here are the requirements an Official Citation MUST MEET:

Law No. 5, Criminal Procedure Act of August 13, 1977, Article 86 as amended by Decree Law No. 151 "Amendment of the Law of Criminal Procedure" of June 10, 1994, says that official citations have a number of conditions, namely:

1 - Name and signature of the (Magistrate, Prosecutor or Judge) or their assistants (military and assistants of MININT, heads of units of the FAR [Army], CDR monitoring heads, Civil Defense unit chiefs and Cuban Naval or Air Force captains, as provided in Article 11 of the Procedure Act) who is issuing it.

2 – Name and surnames of the person to be cited and their home address or place where such action must be carried out.

3 - Purpose of the summons. On this point we have seen subpoenas "for a conversation," “to define your situation,” and similar approaches. Of course in order “to talk” it’s not necessary to cite anyone to appear at the police station. As we understand it the purpose of the subpoena should more accurately reflect the relationship of summons-crime, investigation-crime, etc.

4 - Place, date and time you must honor the citation.

5 – A warning that if you don’t comply with the summons without just cause you will be fined fifty pesos, and if you ignore a second summons you could be charged with a crime.

The Law establishes three possible ways of issuing the citation.

- In person or, failing that, through a member of the family age 16 or over who resides in the same house, through a neighbor, or through the appropriate Committee for the Defense of the Revolution.

- When the previous is not possible, the one who receives the citation will have the obligation to deliver it to the one cited as soon as they return to their house, or the place indicated above for such action, with the proceeding warnings if they fail to deliver it.

- If the summons cannot be delivered through any of the aforementioned means, it can be sent by mail, telegraph, radiotelegraph, telephone or other means of communication, always subject to precise enumeration of points one through five as stated in this Law.

For its part, Article 90 makes clear that: “Citations are invalid if carried out without observing the provisions” in the articles previously referred to in the Law of Criminal Procedures.

However poor Laritza could not cope with all of our questions: Who can arrest you? What happens when they steal your things? When they erase or change the information described above? What time? Is it a crime to publish the summons?

For the first time two things were clear: The Cuban legislation exists and we, the bloggers, are studying it.