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Subject: Re: Cuba Travel Advisory from the Wall Street Journal
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2002 19:03:19 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2002 21:03:19 MET DST
Organization: Telenet Internet
Dan Christensen" wrote in message
> This one again? Last time, you couldn't provide any corroboration of
> this incident from more independent sources (like Amnesty
> International or Human Rights Watch). I take it, nothing has changed
> in this regard. (HRW does mention this guy and two of his pals being
> "reportedly" stopped and roughed up by police--nothing at AI, though.)
> No mention of anything like you describe.
> Is this just another anti-Cuban propaganda piece to support your
> beloved embargo?
Nope, Dan. False again.
AI called his case a medical emergency.
Below you will find reports from Amnesty International Human Rights
Watch, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, ...
And below you will find HRW stating
AI-index: AMR 25/007/2002 31/07/2002
Ill-health of Juan Carlos González Leiva
Amnesty International's concerns
Amnesty International is concerned for the health of Juan Carlos
González Leiva, a 37-year- old blind lawyer, held in Holguín prison in
Holguín Province, Cuba. He reportedly suffers from chest pain, high
blood pressure and a 'nervous condition' (of which Amnesty
International has no further details). The prison doctor reportedly
told him that there is nothing wrong with him. In addition, he claims
to have received threats from his cell mate, who has said that he will
Juan Carlos González Leiva reportedly had to have four stitches in his
head as a result of the police aggression on his arrest on 4 March
2002. Amnesty International received reports that initially medical
attention was denied to him although he was in severe pain.
Juan Carlos González Leiva was part of a group of human rights
activists who were arrested in Antonio Luaces Iraola Provincial
Hospital in Ciego de Ávila on 4 March 2002. Juan Carlos González
Leiva, Delio Laureano Resquejo, Lázaro Iglesias Estrada, Virgilio
Mantilla Aragondo, Carlos Brizuela Yera, Léxter Téllez Castro, Enrique
García Morejón and his brother Antonio García Morejón had visited the
hospital in support of Jesús Alvarez Castillo, a hospitalised
journalist. Earlier that day the journalist Jesús Alvarez Castillo had
been on his way to cover a meeting of the Cuban Foundation for Human
Rights, but when he was reportedly stopped and attacked by the police.
At the hospital the group of men protested against this attack and
shouted statements such as "Long live human rights". They were later
beaten and arrested by state security officials.
It is not clear what charges the detainees may be facing and they are
currently awaiting trial. Amnesty International is trying to clarify
the circumstances of their arrest to determine their status. The
organization raised concerns for them in an open letter to the Cuban
government on 3 May (TG AMR 25/02.04) and inquired for details of any
investigation into the ill-treatment reportedly inflicted by state
security officials on them, but so far, no information has been
Juan Carlos González Leiva is the president of the Cuban Foundation
for Human Rights [Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos], an unofficial
human rights group.
Please write letters to the Cuban authorities in Spanish or English:
· introducing yourself as a member of Amnesty International's health
· expressing disappointment that as yet the Cuban authorities have not
responded to the concerns raised by Amnesty International in appeals
on behalf of Juan Carlos González Leiva and the rest of detainees on 4
March 2002 (letter reference TG AMR 25/02.04);
· seeking information on his current state of health and asking for
details of what medical treatment he is receiving;
· urging that Juan Carlos González Leiva receive all necessary medical
care in accordance with provisions set out in international human
rights standards, including being transferred to hospital if his
condition requires medical treatment that he cannot get inside the
· urging that he is released unless charged with a recognisable
· asking for an investigation into the allegations of threats by his
cell mate and asking for guarantees for his security.
Head of State and Government
Dr Fidel Castro Ruz
Presidente de los Consejos de Estados y de Ministros
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: via Ministry of Foreign Affairs: + 53 7 333 460
Salutation: Su Excelencia/ Your Excellency
Dr Juan Escalona Reguera
Fiscal General de la República,
Fiscalía General de la República
San Rafael 3
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: + 53 7 669 485
Salutation: Señor Fiscal General / Dear Attorney General
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Sr Felipe Pérez Roque
Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Calzada No. 360
Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: + 53 7 333 460
Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister
General Abelard Coloma Ibarra
Ministerial del Interior y Prisons
Ministerial del Interior
Plaza de la Revolución
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: + 53 7 8301 566
Salutation: Señor Ministro, Dear Minister
Please also send copies of your letter to diplomatic representatives
of Cuba accredited to your country.
If you receive no reply from the government or other recipients within
two months of dispatch of your letter, please send a follow up letter
seeking a response, referring to your previous letter(s). Please check
with the medical team if you are sending appeals after 25 September
2002, and send copies of any replies you do receive to the
International Secretariat (att: medical team).
Monitoring of action
If you have access to e-mail you can help our attempt to monitor
letter-writing actions. If you write one, two, three or more letters,
please send us an e-mail and let us know. Please write in the subject
line of your e-mail the index number of the action and the number of
letters you write
e.g. ASA 25/007/2002 - 3
Please send your message to Thank you.
Blind Christian Human Rights activist beaten and imprisoned in Cuba
A blind Christian human rights activist has been beaten and imprisoned
in Cuba following a crackdown on pro-democracy and human rights
Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, President of both the Cuban Human Rights
Foundation and the Brotherhood of the Independent Blind People of
Cuba, was arrested along with several other human rights activists on
March 5 in Ciego de Avila.
He was severely beaten by government security agents and suffered a
blow to the head, which required four stitches. Gonzalez and a number
of other human rights activists had gathered at a local hospital in an
attempt to draw attention to the plight of a journalist who had been
admitted there after being attacked by Cuban police.
The group was immediately surrounded by the rapid response unit of the
local security forces, who beat them before taking them into custody.
The group has been on hunger strike since their arrest.
On March 10, security forces raided the Ignacio Agramonte Independent
Evangelical Library, set up in Ciego de Avila by Gonzalez. They
confiscated a number of books including materials written in Braille.
Gonzalez was also attacked and beaten by police on Christmas Day,
2001, at the inauguration of the library.
According to Gonzalez's wife, Maritza, he is being charged with public
disorder and is currently being held in a cell with a violent criminal
- a common form of punishment in Cuba. She was able to visit him on
March 12 and said his cellmate seemed extremely aggressive. She also
said that Gonzalez had lost a great deal of weight due to his hunger
CSW met with the 27-year-old Gonzalez, who is also a lawyer and an
active member of the Baptist Church, last February in Havana. At the
time Gonzalez spoke of his hope for the future of human rights and
democracy in Cuba.
There has been a general crackdown on all human rights activists since
a large number of Cubans sought asylum in the Mexican Embassy in
Havana in late February.
CSW is calling for the immediate release of Gonzalez and his fellow
human rights activists as well as the return of all the materials
taken from the library.
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said, "Juan Carlos has paid a
high price for having the courage to stand up for the rights of
others. His treatment at the hands of the authorities has been brutal
"We call upon Fidel Castro to release Juan Carlos immediately and to
make full redress for the injuries he has suffered at the hands of the
government. This kind of behaviour on the part of the Cuban Government
should not be tolerated by the international community."
Other recent news
Blind Christian Human Rights activist beaten and imprisoned in Cuba
Christian prisoner too ill to carry out hunger strike
Political prisoner goes on indefinite hunger strike to draw attention
to human rights abuses
Full News Archive for Cuba
Cuba: Beating and Incarceration of Human Rights Activists Condemned
Letter to President Fidel Castro
New York, April 25, 2002
Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz
La Habana, Cuba
Dear President Castro:
I am writing to urge you to order the release of Juan Carlos González
Leiva, a human rights activist, as well as five other activists (Delio
Laureano Requejo, Lázaro Iglesias Estrada, Virgilio Mantilla Arango,
Enrique García Morejón, and Antonio García Morejón) and two
independent journalists (Léxter Téllez Castro and Carlos Brizuela
Yera) who were beaten and arbitrarily jailed by Cuban law enforcement
authorities on March 4, 2002, in Ciego de Avila, Cuba.
Juan Carlos González Leiva, a blind man, is president of the Cuban
Foundation for Human Rights (Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos) and
the Fraternity for the Blind in Cuba (Fraternidad de Ciegos
Independientes Cubanos). He is currently incarcerated in the
Department of State Security in Holguín, and has been accused of
public disorder (desorden público) and contempt (desacato), crimes
that carry a possible prison sentence of one to three years. No trial
date has been set in his case.
González was reportedly detained during a visit at the Hospital
Antonio Luaces Iraola, where he went to see an independent journalist
who had been beaten by the police earlier in the day. Jesús Alvarez
Castillo, a reporter from the Cuba Press agency, and Lexter Telles
Castro, director of the Free Press Agency of Ciego de Avila, were
traveling to the monthly meeting of the Cuban Foundation for Human
Rights, scheduled to take place on March 4, 2002, when members of the
state security police, the national revolutionary police, and the
special brigades reportedly blocked the journalists' passage and
physically attacked them. As a result of the attack, Alvarez lost
consciousness, suffered a neck injury, and was taken to the provincial
Upon being informed of the incident, Juan Carlos González Leiva went
to the Hospital Antonio Luaces Iraola where Alvarez was hospitalized,
along with several other members of the Cuban Foundation for Human
Rights, members of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento
Cristiano de Liberación), and two independent journalists. During
their visit in the hospital, the group prayed for Alvarez and, for
approximately five to ten minutes, shouted statements such as "Long
live human rights." The group reportedly stopped shouting and sat down
peacefully in a hospital hallway when the hospital staff requested
they be quiet.
According to the reports Human Rights Watch has received, after the
group had been sitting quietly in the hallway for approximately one
hour, the state security police arrived. The state security forces
physically dragged the activists and journalists out of the hospital,
hit and kicked some of them, arrested them, and took them to the
Technical Department of Investigations in Ciego de Avila. The
authorities put González in a patrol car, where they beat him, causing
a wound on his forehead that required four stitches.
Since his arrest, González has been moved to the detention facilities
of the Department of State Security in Holguín, approximately 300
kilometers from his home in Ciego de Avila, making it very difficult
for his wife to visit him. The other activists and journalists who
were arrested with González are currently incarcerated in detention
centers in Holguín, Camaguey, and Cienfuegos.
Human Rights Watch is deeply concerned that González is not receiving
appropriate treatment in prison. The authorities have taken away his
glasses and the cane he uses to determine where he is walking, and no
special accommodations have been made for his blindness. Moreover, the
authorities have reportedly refused to allow him to keep a Braille
Bible that his wife brought to him.
We recognize that shouting in a hospital might be disruptive to other
patients. However, the actions taken by the Cuban authorities against
González and the other human rights advocates and journalists who were
with him - including physical attack, incarceration for over one
month, and charging them with crimes that may carry lengthy prison
sentences - were disproportionate to the actions taken by González and
his colleagues on March 4, 2002.
We urge you to order the release of Juan Carlos González Leiva, the
two independent journalists and five activists arrested with him, and
the many others who are incarcerated in Cuba for exercising their
internationally-recognized human rights.
José Miguel Vivanco
World Blind Union Asks Cuban Government to Protect Blind Prisoner
Following is the letter of the World Blind Union, addressed to the
Foreign Minister of Cuba, requesting the protection and safety of a
blind man imprisoned after participating in a public demonstration.
Dear Minister Felipe Perez Roque:
DETENTION OF JUAN CARLOS GONZALEZ-LEIVA
The World Blind Union (WBU) hereby expresses its deep concern for the
wellbeing of Juan Carlos Gonzalez-Leiva, a blind man imprisoned in
It is reported that on 5 March Sr Gonzalez-Leiva participated in a
public demonstration during which he was forcibly arrested. We are
further informed that he remains in detention and that a hunger strike
has left him in poor physical condition. There is also fear for his
safety because of the aggressive behavior of his cellmate.
The purpose of this letter is not to take political issue with the
Cuban Government, but to intervene in the interest of a blind person
who is being subjected to harsh treatment. Sr Gonzalez-Leiva is the
President of the Brotherhood of the Independent Blind People of Cuba
and it is the responsibility of the WBU to speak out whenever any
blind person anywhere suffers undue hardship. We therefore appeal to
the Cuban Government to release our colleague without further delay or
Cuba is one of over 160 member countries of the World Blind Union and
it happens that the next meeting of our Officers is due to take place
in your country during September. It is therefore very necessary that
this matter be resolved speedily without further incident. The WBU is
the sole voice speaking on behalf of 180 million blind people in the
WBU SPOKESPERSON ON HUMAN RIGHTS
José Miguel Vivanco
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