The Heavy Hand of Cuban Repression

By Eloy Viera Cañive (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – On November 29th, the trial began against Carlos Ernesto Diaz Gonzalez (known as Ktivo Disidente) in Cienfuegos. Seven months before (April 28th), Ktivo had climbed up a wall on San Rafael Boulevard, in downtown Havana. From there, he called upon the Cuban people to think and act with civic responsibility and asked for the end of the dictatorship and for political prisoners’ freedom. A year before him, Luis Robles was arrested at this exact same spot when he peacefully demanded the release of rapper Denis Solis and for the end of repression in Cuba

Ktivo Disidente has been held prisoner ever since he came down from that wall on San Rafael Boulevard. First, in Havana, and then in his hometown and place of residence, Cienfuegos.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office says that climbing the wall and saying whatever you think about the country’s leaders and political system is reason to be charged with two crimes: contempt and disobedience. 

The fact that Ktivo is being charged with contempt and disobedience makes it harder to appeal his case. Sanctions for both of these crimes don’t amount to more than three years in prison. Thus, during the trial presided by Judge Carlos Ernesto, the Public Prosecutor’s Office doesn’t have to issue Provisional Findings (a document where they write down the facts that the defendant committed, in theory, and the evidence they have against him to prove this). 

In Cuba, Provisional Findings are used by human rights defenders as a tool to demonstrate the brutality behind the prosecution’s reasoning for the crime and as proof of its complicity in human rights violations. However, Ktivo’s case (as in the case of many political prisoners who have been sentenced during what was once called a “summary hearing”), has remained top secret. 

Ktivo Disidente will be taken to trial without the attentive eye of the foreign press, who weren’t able to witness trials for 11J protestors either, and were recently given sentences in Havana. He will also be tried in a small city, where the ability to repress in the shadows is a lot easier.  

Carlos Ernesto has suffered many problems after his arrest. He has reported beatings, abuse, and harassment in prison. His complaints have neither been received by the competent authorities or investigated. On the contrary, Carlos Ernesto’s hard-headedness, which has been reflected in his refusal to put on the prisoner uniform and his defiant response has meant that he has also been charged with attempt, in addition to disobedience and contempt.

Ktivo has been charged with attacking a guard within the prison and then was brutally beaten. The crime seemed to be the only thing that could justify the beating; but because he was shaken up so rough, the charge won’t stick. The Public Prosecutor’s Office preferred to use the space the new Criminal Code gives them and settle the charge by applying the opportunity principle. Therefore, they won’t have to air out this incident during a trial which can always turn into a public platform for an appeal.

In any case, it doesn’t matter what the names of the crimes are being held against Ktivo Disidente. Ktivo isn’t a criminal, he is the victim of a totalitarian State that can’t tolerate dissent and the silence that this repression produces. 

Nobody climbing up a wall to talk to and encourage others to think should be criminalized. Encouraging others to act, to follow behaviors or projects is the very essence of politics. Nobody should be criminalized for taking political action. It’s only in countries where politics is the patrimony of a caste and Party that people like Ktivo go to prison.

Lots of people are wondering if Carlos Ernesto is crazy. People who think like this do so because they believe that only a lunatic would stand up to a system, like Ktivo did, even after it’s shown everyone that it has the power to wipe its feet with everything and those who oppose it.

But Carlos Ernesto is more like your sane and normal citizen. A citizen that acts coherently within an incoherent society full of double standards. This is why many people see him as a madman. Carlos Ernesto’s “craziness” is the clearest expression of somebody who feels free, even if they live under totalitarianism.

The trial of Ktivo is just a formality to legitimize the suffering the Government inflicts with its irreverence. For that reason, we desperately need to pay attention to what happens to him and hundreds of other political prisoners, who are lost in the darkness of Cuban prisons. 

Prisoners who are just a number to those who sit down to negotiate political solutions for their own personal or Party agendas. A number they can easily put on or off the table, just like Cuban totalitarianism swallows and disappears anyone who opposes it.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times