Forbidden to forget: The first Hearing on Crimes of Castroism

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The International Commission for the Crimes of Humanity of Castroism met on Saturday in Miami with victims and witnesses of human rights violations in Cuba from 1959 to today under the slogan “Prohibido olvidar”.

Those two words by former political prisoner Cary Roque echoed loudly in the auditorium of Miami’s mayoralty, where the first public hearing of the commission set up last March was held to “end impunity for Castroism.”

The commission, chaired by Mexican jurist René Bolio and made up of human rights activists from Costa Rica, Uruguay, Spain, Venezuela, China, Italy and Syria, intends to assemble files on crimes against humanity committed in Cuba and in countries under Influence of Castroism, according to its members.

It is not yet defined the court or courts to which the commission will present the cases when the files are closed.

According to Bolio, they can be the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) or the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But it is also thought of national courts in a country that has incorporated into its legislation the international criminal justice system or of countries of which the victims are citizens.

For five hours this Saturday witnessed the testimony, in many cases interrupted by tears, of people who suffered imprisonment in “subhuman” conditions, such as “wall cells”, or tortures such as “electronic noises.”

Others spoke of the use of electro-shock, not only in the brain but also in the testicles, in penitentiary centers used as prisons, in beatings such as that which “split the pancreas” with a dissident and “historical cases” Of March, “which sank off the coast of Havana in 1994 with about 80 people going to the United States.

Thirty-one people were killed in an accident in which anti-Castro protesters see the government’s hand.

Most importantly, the Spanish lawyer Manuel Zalba, a member of the commission, told Efe is that he is talking about things that are happening right now in Cuba, where instead of the expected opening is giving “an increase of repression” .

That is why, after counting his terrible experience as a political prisoner for 19 years, Cary Roque asked to come on the screen, where witnesses accompanied his story with graphic and audiovisual evidence, a photo of the Ladies in White.

“It is not a totalitarian regime but a regime that imposes state terrorism on each of its citizens, not just those who think differently,” Roque said.

In his view, there has been no parallel to the “cruelty” of the conditions of imprisonment of political prisoners, and especially of prisoners, in Cuba nowhere else in Latin America.

During the hearing many witnesses referred to the dissolved secret services such as the KGB and the Stasi and also the USSR and the North Vietnamese in the war with the US in explaining the tactics employed by the security corps of Castroism.

Several of the witnesses mentioned by the full name or only by the surname to those directly responsible for the crimes they were reporting, in addition to Raul and Fidel Castro and Cuban ministers and generals.

Everything said and the evidence provided by those who came to the rostrum was recorded in the minutes of the hearing.

At the end of the hearing Bolio declared himself satisfied and excited. The next meeting will be in August or September and will not take place in Miami but in Washington or Mexico City, he told Efe.

Among the audience were leaders of Cuban exile organizations in Miami, such as Ramón Saúl Sánchez, Silvia Iriondo and Orlando Gutiérrez, and internal dissidents like Antonio Rodiles.

From Cuba, the dissident Jose Luis Garcia “Antúnez”, who spoke of the last police actions of which he has been victim, declared.

There were also people who will declare at the next hearing Mario T. de la Peña, the father of Mario Manuel de la Peña, one of the four members of Brothers to the Rescue who died when two planes of that humanitarian organization were felled by Cuban fighters in nineteen ninety six.

De la Peña told Efe that he has many proofs of what happened to his son and other members of Brothers to the Rescue and that he hopes that this initiative will serve to pay the culprits.

Protestant pastor Mario Felix Lleonart, who presented the case of Wilfredo Soto, died of a beating that he said was given three young policemen, one of whom committed suicide on the same day, applauded this initiative so that “the truth comes to light and Justice is done. ”

“Political assassinations”, a category in which the commission includes the deaths of dissidents Osvaldo Payá, Harold Cepero and Orlando Zapata, and hundreds of lesser-known cases, will be discussed in upcoming hearings.

 

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