HAVANA TIMES — The Spanish-Cuban Grand Master Arian Gonzalez was released this Thursday after spending more than ten days in jail for participating in the protests of July 11, his wife Massiel Hernandez confirmed to 14ymedio. The chess player, who faces trial soon, is charged with the crime of “disrespect,” Hernandez said.
[Editor’s note: In Cuba, any type of peaceful public protest is considered a serious crime by the Communist Party government.]
At the time of his release, Gonzalez was in La Pendiente prison, in the province of Villa Clara, where he was held after his arrest. He then carried out a hunger strike for several days.
The 32-year-old chess player, residing in Orense, Spain, arrived on the island at the beginning of July to take care of his mother, who is diabetic and lives in the Villa Clara municipality of Camajuaní. Like so many thousands of others, he joined the demonstrations last week, with the difference that he did it alone, and got no support from of any of his neighbors.
Regarding Gonzalez’s arrest, his colleague Leinier Domínguez said: “I know that in addition to being a brilliant and talented chess player, he is an excellent person. Far from being a criminal, he is right at the other extreme, the good one, a person of virtue and decency.”
In turn, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov asked the Spanish authorities on Wednesday to comment on the case of Grand Master Arian Gonzalez.
“Are there updates on the arrest in Cuba of a Cuban/Spanish citizen, Grandmaster Arian Gonzalez? He was there visiting his ill mother. Has Spain been silent about the latest crackdown on human rights in Cuba?” he wrote on Twitter.
Kasparov thus responded to another message on social media in which the Ecuadorian chess player Carla Heredia had tagged him. “Our friend and colleague GM Arian González needs us, chess players around the world to speak up. Hopefully Kasparov can send his solidarity to Arian and bring attention to this case,” commented Heredia.
At the moment, different groups and entities have expressed their concern about the situation of the chess player. Meanwhile the Embassy and the Consulate of Spain in Havana contend that they are limited because he is a person who has dual nationality.
On social media, several chess players criticized the arrests recorded during the protests on the island against the increasing food shortages during the pandemic. One of them, Sandro Pozo Vera, asked “all the people of Camaguey in exile” to share his post “to get our brave brother out of prison,” referring to González.
Likewise, the Liceo Academia Postal de Orense club, where Gonzalez plays, sent a letter to the Cuban ambassador in Madrid conveying its “concern and desire” that “as soon as possible” the chess player can return to Galicia, where he has lived for about five years, after a long stay in Catalonia.
The Spanish Chess Federation also contacted both the Higher Sports Council and the Cuban Chess Federation to check on González’s situation.
The chess player, who won the Spanish University Championship and who combines chess classes with law practice, planned to return to Galicia in August and compete in the Marcote Chess Memorial, which will take place from August 15 to 22.