Cuba’s Political Prisoners Have Faces: the Siblings

Design: El Toque

By El Toque

HAVANA TIMES – Many siblings took to the streets together on July 11th to take part in the protests and exercise their right to protest. Many of them were arrested, beaten and charged with crimes, together. They have shared cells, harassment and torture together. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed requests for prison sentences for them together; and they have waited and gone to trial where excessive sentences are being sought.

Who are they? 

Here are the profiles of some of the cases we know about, thanks to records from Justicia 11J and public complaints filed by their families.

NADIR AND JORGE MARTIN PERDOMO

Nadir and Jorge Martin Perdomo are brothers. They are 38 and 37 years old. On July 17, 2021, National Revolutionary Police (PNR) officers showed up at their home, in San Jose de las Lajas, with an official summons that didn’t explain why they were being summoned, or what time or where they should go. Although the police officers insisted that they accompany them immediately for “an interview”. They haven’t been back home since. They had been identified in videos of the 11J protest in Mayabeque. They protested peacefully.

Their family didn’t know where Nadir and Jorge were being held exactly for 62 days. Their cousin, Betty Guerra Perdomo told El Toque that they were being held at the AIDS prison, but that no competent authority confirmed their whereabouts until two months later.

On July 24, 2021, the brothers’ mother, Martha Perdomo, received a phone call telling her that her sons had been given a preventive measure of pre-trial detention. The document was never physically delivered to her, nor was she told where they were being held or what they were being charged with. Requests to change this preventive measure were presented in September, October, November and December. They were all rejected.

Provincial public prosecutor Yerandy Calzadilla Davalos issued the provisional findings of Nadir and Jorge’s case on September 23, 2021. Jorge Martin Perdomo will be charged with the crime of public disorder, attempt and simple and aggravated contempt; for which the Public Prosecutor’s Office is asking a 10-year prison sentence. Nadir is being charged with the same crimes without aggravating circumstances, and an 8-year prison sentence is being sought against him.  It wasn’t until October 5th 2021 that the lawyer told the family about the existence and content of the Public Prosecutor’s request. “Apparently, they hadn’t had access to the document,” Guerra Perdomo explains.

In mid-October 2021, the brothers were transferred to the Quivican prison facility, without notifying the family. On the 28th of that month, 103 days after their arrest, Nadir and Jorge’s family were allowed to visit them for the first time. Martha Perdomo has denounced on numerous occasions the human rights violations, punishments and torture – both physical and psychological – that her sons have been subjected to.

Their cousin, Betty Guerra, gave details about this abuse:

“They were both stripped naked and handcuffed in front of a wall, and while they beat Nadir, who is the weakest, Jorge wasn’t allowed to see everything he could hear them doing to his brother. Nadir caught COVID-19 because he was in a cell with 20 prisoners and there was a single glass which they all had to drink water from. He was very sick and they waited right up until the very last moment to give him the medical assistance he needed.”

“Nadir suffers from malabsorption syndrome, he has the helicobacter pylori bacteria, he suffers from gastritis, renal colic and a kind of epilepsy that results in fainting fits when he’s under a lot of stress. He needs to follow a very strict diet so as not to be malnourished – he is level 1 malnourished right now. After a lot of pleading, a neutral committee assessed him and seeing all of the above, they still said that he was totally fit to remain in prison and without any kind of care.”

“Jorge was in solitary confinement without seeing sunlight for two weeks. He was thrown water and food as if we he were a dog and whenever they felt like it. When they took him out of there, the lock was jammed shut because it hadn’t been opened in so long,” Guerra Perdono said in conclusion.

Nadir is an English and French teacher; Jorge is an IT engineer. They are both loved and respected in San Jose.

Their trial had been set for December 6, 2021, but “it was suddenly canceled for no credible reason,” Betty Guerra explains. Pandemic-related reasons were given, but other trials were held that month in different towns all over the country, including San Jose de las Lajas.

January 25, 2022 was the new date that’s been set for their trial. The trial won’t take place in San Jose, where the Public Prosecutor’s Office prosecuting them is located, but in Quivican.

LISDIANI AND LISDANI RODRIGUEZ ISAAC

Lisdiani and Lisdani Rodriguez Isaac took to the street in Placeta, in Villa Clara, and peacefully protested on July 11th. “Three days later, there was a knock at our door at 2 AM,” Barbara Isaac Rojas, their mother, told Cubanet. “It was a policeman and two [State] Security agents, dressed as civilians, to take my daughters away. They refused to go with the three men at this hour because they didn’t feel safe. They went the next day with me and they arrested them.”

With a preventive measure of pre-trial detention, the two women were admitted to the women’s prison in Guamajal on July 18, 2021, without their mother being able to see them before they were transfered. Lisdani and Lisdiani are twins and are 23 years old; the latter is the mother of a three-year-old girl, who is now being looked after by her grandmother.

Lisdani and Lisdiani are teaching assistants. The Municipal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Placetas has requested a ten-year prison sentence for both of them. They are being charged with public disorder, contempt and attempt.

In August 2021, their other wrote a letter to the president of the Supreme Court, Ruben Remigio Ferro, asking for her daughters’ release. The request was denied.

On December 14, 2021, the trial of the Rodriguez Isaac sisters began in Placetas. It ended three days later and they are currently awaiting their sentence.

EMIYOSLAN, YOSNEY AND MACKYANI ROMAN RODRIGUEZ

Emiyoslan (who turned 18 years old in prison), Yosney (25) and Mackyani (who turned 24 years old in prison) Roman Rodriguez are residents in La Guinera, Arroyo Naranjo. They were arrested on July 12, 2021 for taking part in protests in this Havana municipality.

The father of the three siblings, Emilio Roman, reported that it was the black berets that came to arrest his children at their home while their mother, Teresa de Jesus Rodriguez, was at work. They broke down the front door, dragged them out of bed and took them away in handcuffs, he explained to Diario de las Americas. They were under investigation at the police station on 100 and Aldabo streets and were then transfered to different detention centers, with a preventive pre-trial detention measure. That was on July 22, 2021. Yosney was admitted to the Combinado del Este facility, Emiyoslan to the Prision de Occidente and Mackyani is in the women’s section of this same facility.

Emilio Roman told DW that his children “went outside to buy cigarettes and got caught up in the protest. As they had never seen anything like this in Cuba before, they joined the group and began to shout because everything is in shortage.”

The Public Prosecutor’s Office is filing a motion against these siblings, charged with sedition, asking for up to 15 years in prison for Emiyoslan, and 25 and 20 years for Mackyani and Yosney, respectively. Their trial began on Monday January 17th 2022 and came to a close two days later.

JOSÉ ANTONIO AND FRANDY GONZÁLEZ LEÓN, AND SANTIAGO VÁZQUEZ LEÓN

Jose Antonio Gomez Leon (34 years old) Frandy Gonzalez Leon (27) and Santiago Vazquez Leon (21) are being held at Combinado del Este prison. All three of them, along with a fourth brother, Adonis Alexander Ramon Leon, took part in the protests that took place in the La Guinera neighborhood, on July 12th 2021. They were all arrested on that very same day.

Adonis Alexander was released with a preventive measure of home arrest and is awaiting a final ruling for his case. His brothers are still in prison.

Jose Antonio Gomez is being charged with public disorder and attempt; no information about his trial has come to light yet. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has asked for a 20-year prison sentence for Frandy Gonzalez and Santiago Vazquez for sedition; their trial was held between January 17th-19th 2022. The Public Prosecutor’s Office hasn’t filed a motion for the other brothers yet.

MARIA CRISTINA AND ANGELICA GARRIDO RODRIGUEZ

The Public Prosecutor’s Office is asking for 10 and 15-year prison sentences for sisters Angelica and Maria Cristina Garrido Rodriguez, respectively. They were both among those who took part in the 11J protests in Quivican, Mayabeque province. They are being charged with public disorder, propagation of an epidemic, attempt and resistance.

They were both arrested on July 12, 2021 at approximately 10 AM. They were detained at the AIDS prison and at the DTI in San Jose de las Lajas for 30 days. On August 13, they were transfered to the Guatao prison, La Lisa municipality, with a pre-trial detention order.

Maria Cristina, who turned 42 years old in prison, is an artist and human rights activist; her sister, who was 39 at the time of her arrest, was a house cleaner. They were both mothers, Maria Cristina of three children and Angelica of two children, who are now being cared for by family members.

Michel Valladares Cala, Maria Cristina’s husband, says that after their arrest, he was unable to see her for 18 days; he has also reported the abuse, torture and beatings his wife has been subjected to: “they forced her to shout out “Long live Fidel”. Every time they did, and she resisted, they would beat her with their batons, to the point that she urinated twice,” he said.

Valladares has said that both of them have been denied family visits, phone calls and exchanging letters, and requests for a change in their pre-trial detention has been denied three times.

The Garrido Rodriguez sisters’ trial began on January 20th 2022.

KATIA AND EXEYNT BEIRUT

Katia took to the street to protest with her father – 64-year-old Fredy Beirut – on July 12, 2021, in La Guinera. The day before, her brother Exeynt had been arrested in Guantanamo, after he took part in public protests in this province. He is being charged with public disorder and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Katia’s arrest came seven days after she took to the streets; while her father was arrested on the 12th. Katia is facing charges for sedition and during her trial – which took place between December 20th-23rd 2021 – the Public Prosecutor’s Office asked for a 20-year prison sentence.

Note: There is news of other siblings being held in detention after the 11J protests, but information about their trial situation and other details are still unknown or basic. Their names are: Yordis and Niober Garcia Fournier; Katherine and Mariam Martin; Cruz Santa Misa Gomez and Johander Perez Gomez; Rene Serrano Hernandez, Angel Serrano Hernandez and Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez; and Yilian Lucia Oramas Garcia and Maykel Armenteros Oramas.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.



4 thoughts on “Cuba’s Political Prisoners Have Faces: the Siblings

  • “Any dollar that specially the Canadian tourist give to the dictatorship is CB use for more repression.” I disagree.

    What is meant by “ . . . the Canadian tourist . . .” in this context? I suppose Olgasintamales has a valid point if he is referring to those tourists who pack into Cuban all inclusive resort hotels, and do not venture outside of those vacation packages remaining cocooned in a Cuban make believe paradise.

    However, there are many Canadian tourist who visit and stay in “casas particular” which are homes owned by Cubans who are trying so desperately to make a living acting as hospitable entrepreneurs renting out room(s) to any foreign tourist who does not want the all inclusive resort vacation package. Who is this helping?

    Obviously, the Cuban home owner is benefiting in more ways than one. Is the Cuban communist government also benefiting from this arrangement? Yes, of course through the taxes the Cuban home owner must provide to the government for operating his rental establishment. Is this arrangement a bad thing, a scourge on the Cuban people, a means of repressing the Cuban entrepreneur? I do not think so.

    The “casa particular” Cuban home rental concept is a win-win situation for the Cuban home owner and a win for the Canadian tourist. The win for the Cuban home owner is obvious. He/She receives a much needed revenue boost to their daily financial life struggles and is able to put food on the table and clothe his/her family. The home owner’s sense of belonging to his community, of contributing to his community domestically and internationally, his/her feeling of a modicum of financial autonomy is, no doubt, an immense satisfaction. If the entrepreneur is astute, smart, economical and efficient in his business, the home rental business can expand and s/he can add further rooms to their property and increase profits. Isn’t that a good thing for an ordinary Cuban? Not repressive at all.

    The tourist choosing to spend their vacation in a casa particular also reaps many benefits. A congeniality, a deep friendship is built up between the host family and hospice. More often than not the vacationer wants to return to the same location where he/she received excellent service and the Cuban home owner receives repeat business. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

    The tourist has the option of coming and going as s/he pleases spending perhaps a few days in one casa particular in say, Trinidad, and then wondering off and exploring another area of beautiful Cuba, in say Matanzas province or Baracoa. The vacationer is spreading his Canadian currency to numerous Cuban home owners who, as indicated, profit immensely both financially and socially from the business. Plus, the tourist has to eat and drink while venturing off to visit other Cuban vacation spots so again this contributes to the profits of those private restaurant owners strewn all over the island who appreciate the business. Again, no one loses or is inconvenienced, or repressed, or disadvantaged here.

    To conclude, every Canadian dollar that a tourist brings to Cuba certainly does benefit the communist government to some degree, unfortunately. I totally concur.

    However, the financial and social benefits to the ordinary Cuban clearly outweighs the negatives. The most important element in this scenario is the amount of benefit those Canadian dollars are doing for ordinary Cuban home owners who have the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit and skills to add some additional income to complement their meager life style and provide some “esprit de vivre” to their unending miserable mundane existence.

  • Only problem Olga is even without tourism the communist regime will continue with it’s ways.
    Much less tourists have been going to Cuba and the regime is even worse now.

    The communists have zero interest in ever allowing an opposition voice, free speech, free elections no matter what happens.
    No matter if Canadians come or not, the tyranny does not change.

  • Any dollar that specially the Canadian tourist give to the dictatorship is CB use for more repression.

  • And this is a Society that Canadian or any Tourist from around the World is to Vacation in as the Cuban People live in Fear. The Cuban Economy that Tourism provides will suffer as will the People of Cuba.

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