Following Up on the Case of the Fired Biochemist

Oscar Casanella awaits his final sentence from the Municipal Court

Yanelys Nunez Leyva

Oscar Casanella
Oscar Casanella

HAVANA TIMES — On October 26th 2016, the biochemist Oscar Casanella didn’t receive his sentence from the Municipal Court as had been expected, because they thought that it would be best to discuss some of the evidence that had been presented during the case during a new session, before they gave the final verdict.

Casanella finds himself in the middle of a legal process, where he is demanding that the drastic measure that has been applied to him by the National Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology of Cuba (INOR), be suspended.

The new hearing was meant to take place two days later, but it didn’t happen because one of the parties involved was absent, the representative from the center’s administration which permanently laid him off.

The new date was then set for November 8th. That day, Casanella’s lawyer, Francisco Javier Tapia Pacheco, refuted some of the rebuttals that had been made against his defendant and presented some evidence that revealed the indefensible arguments which back up this disciplinary measure.

Here are some of them:

One of the accusations made against Casanella is that he shouted at an official from the Ministry of Interior who “was looking after” the INOR workplace. The administration claims that the identity of this agent had been revealed to the center’s employees. Oscar put forward a document that had been signed by several of his colleagues which proves that the center’s employees didn’t know why this person was in the Oncology Department.[1]

In another one of the documents provided by the defense, and which had also been co-signed by INOR employees, Oscar mentions that the supposed affray that took place on the day of his Public Hearing was due to people who weren’t related to the center[2] who stopped, without identifying themselves, witnesses and family members from entering the room where the hearing would be held.

The other piece of evidence that the lawyer presented was a copy of an email that had been sent from the Oncology Department’s vice-director, Lorenzo Anasagasti, to the head of the Biochemistry Department at the Biology Faculty, Maria del Carmen Luzardo. In this email, it was explained that the sanction imposed on Casanella at INOR invalidated him from carrying on teaching classes at Havana University.  This was a job that Oscar did on the side, for many years, and which he didn’t earn anything for. This sanction which Anasagasti refers to had been applied to Oscar between December 15th and January 15th, and the academic year which Luzardo asked for him to be approved again, began in February, so he had already fulfilled his sentence.

The vice-director’s ill intent is proven in the copy of this email, however, there’s another underlying plot. It should be noted that Oscar was given this punishment because he had exposed the poor working conditions of the center at a meeting with all of his colleagues. And it’s worth clarifying, in CAPITAL LETTERS, that beforehand, and before Oscar’s complaint, this sanction had been VOIDED, in July, by the Provincial Labor Board and Plaza’s Municipal District Attorney’s Office.

These were the pieces of evidence that were discussed during this session. The Court will issue its ruling in the first half of December.
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[1] Of course we have to highlight the fact that the aforementioned State Security agent was summoned to appear at the first hearing of this case and didn’t turn up.

[2]Who were suspected of being State Security Agents.


Yanelys Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.

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