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Those who refused to mourn

A year after the dictator’s death several activists and their families still suffer reprisals for refusing to mourn his passing: Eduardo Cardet Concepción, Carlos Alberto González, Darío Pérez Rodríguez, Luis Andrés Domínguez Sardiñas, El Sexto and the Leyva Family.


A year after Fidel Castro’s death, the nine-day period of mourning that the Government imposed on the people still haunts some families. The legacy of the repression of dissent – under unusual criminal charges such as "defamation of the martyrs of the fatherland" and "attack, among others – is ongoing, while the regime engages in a massive tribute to the dictator.

Some who refused to join the collective bereavement have been released, but others remain behind bars. DIARIO DE CUBA runs down the most representative cases known.

Eduardo Cardet Concepción

The national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was violently arrested in front of his house in the municipality of Velasco, Holguín on November 30 of last year, five days after the death of Fidel Castro.

Cardethad previously visited the United States and, in statements to the press, criticized the legacy of repression left by the dictator.

He was sentenced to prison for an alleged "attack," and the Provincial Court of Holguin ratified his sentence: three years of incarceration.

In September the leader's family complained that Cadet should have been moved to an open facility, in accord with his sentence.

The human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) declared him a "prisoner of conscience" and Spain's Peace and Cooperation Foundation awarded him its Annual Freedom of Conscience Prize, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of democracy on the Island.

His wife, Yaimaris Vecino, summed up the dissident doctor's first year of imprisonment:

"It's been too long, too hard for the whole family. And everything has been worse because it's unfair, because he is innocent, and because he has not even been given the same treatment possible for other prisoners, under the law.

All the appeals that we have filed have been denied. In the beginning, bail; then, the appeal, and, finally, we are with the review of the case, which is dragging on, and we don't know what the result will be, or if they will approve it. Our lawyer tells us that if they approve the review his sentence will be reduced.

His family's hope, however, is dwindling. "I don't know anymore. So far all the legal avenues that we have explored have been for naught. Everything that has been done has been done, but we haven't seen any results.

He should be on a farm ("open facility") but they (the authorities) haven't made that decision. We had a scare a few days ago because they told us that he was going to be transferred to the Cuba Sí prison (where conditions are more severe, in the province itself), but then they told us he wouldn't, that it had been a mistake.

We don't yet know what is going to happen to him. We live with the uncertainty. Saturday, November 18 was our last visit. We found him quite strong. He was already preparing for the transfer he had been threatened with. But we are desperate, thinking about what may happen to him in a place where he is surrounded by prisoners with long sentences, who don't mind more years being added to them. We fear for his safety."

Carlos Alberto González 

In December Carlos Alberto González Rodríguez, a 48-year-old engineer, was sentenced to two years of imprisonment after placing a sign that read "Abajo Fidel" (Down with Fidel) in the town of Camajuaní, Santa Clara, on November 26, one day after the dictator's death.

Librado Linares, General Secretary of the Movimiento Cuban Reflexión, explained to DDC that, in the context of Castro's funeral, González Rodríguez "was caught on Camajuaní Boulevard painting anti-Castro graffiti. His arrest involved a great commotion. They went to his house and raided it."

"They then detained him at the Camajuaní police station. After 72 hours he was told that the charges for graffiti were being dropped, but that he was going to be prosecuted as a 'pre-criminal social threat'. All this happened very quickly, suggesting that it was a summary trial. He was prosecuted and sanctioned to over two years of incarceration.

When he reached the prison they put him in a high-security unit, not corresponding to inmates who have been arrested for being a social threat. All this indicates that it was a maneuver to give him a political profile, for him to serve as an example, and to keep him behind bars," said Linares.

He is currently at El Pre, in the city of Santa Clara. He now lives as a political prisoner, but manages to keep his spirits up."

Darío Pérez Rodríguez

In January Holguín's Darío Pérez Rodríguez was sentenced to one year of imprisonment for the crime of "defaming the martyrs of the fatherland," set down in Article 204 of the Penal Code.

Perez, 49, was arrested on December 2 when, at work, he refused to watch the television program featuring Castro's funeral procession.

"When they called him to watch the broadcast, he said 'no,' that it was disgusting," explained at the time Dexter Perez, an activist with the UNPACU (Patriotic Union of Cuba) and Darío Pérez's brother.

His coworkers and officials at the National Bus Transportation Base (ASTRO) notified the regime's security forces of his behavior, and he was arrested.

Pérez Rodríguez was sentenced to one year of forced labor during internment. He was released in October.

Luis Andrés Domínguez Sardiñas

The activist with the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Action Front (FACOZT), Luis Andrés Domínguez Sardiñas, was arrested on November 27 at his home and "accused of 'celebrating' during the imposed period of mourning," according to the FACOZT's complaint at that time on its Facebook page.

Hugo Damián Prieto, the leader of the FACOZT, explained to DDC that Domínguez Sardiñas "spent eight months in the Combinado del Este prison (Havana) for the crime of 'contempt for the Commander'. He was arrested in the context of the dictator's funeral for publicly demonstrating and saying that, after Fidel's death, Raúl Castro ought to be executed."

The trial was held on August 24 and he was sentenced to two years. He is currently on probation, but could be sent back to prison again," noted Hugo Damián Prieto.

The FACOZT leader also explained that he, along with two other activists, Ricardo Luna Rodríguez and Lázaro José Noval Usín, were arrested on the same day that Fidel Castro died.

"We were arrested during the mourning period, out of fear that we would react in some way. We were detained for three days in the seventh unit, in San Agustín, La Lisa. They released us, without a fine or any charges. Danilo Maldonado was detained with us there," he concluded.

El Sexto

Graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado (El Sexto) was arrested after painting "Se fue" (He's gone) on a wall of the ground floor of the Hotel Habana Libre, on 23rd Street, hours after the announcement of Fidel Castro's death.

The painting was visible for about three hours, according to DIARIO DE CUBA associates in Havana.

El Sexto served almost two months in prison, without a trial or charges.

Leyva Family

The Holguín family, made up the activists Maydolis Leyva Portelles and her sons Fidel Batista Leyva, and the twins Adairis and Anairis Miranda Leyva, also suffered imprisonment after the death of Fidel Castro.

They were all prosecuted for the crime of "defamation of the martyrs of the fatherland." The mother was sentenced to one year of house arrest, and the brothers to one year of correctional work during internment, but were released on probation after prolonged hunger strikes, for which they were hospitalized, under strict surveillance.

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