This week's Political Prisoner of the Week profile comes from CubaNet, which tells the story about political prisoner Miguel Pérez, imprisoned because of his family:
Amarilis C. Rey (PD)
LA HABANA, Cuba, June (wwwcubanet.org) - Belonging to a family that decided to dissent from the current [political] system in Cuba, to aid political prisoners, and to suffer and denounce the violation of their rights and those of their compatriots; can be dangerous, even for a child.
Miguel Pérez, 18 years old, has been serving, for the past three months, a prison sentence for an alleged crime of “social dangerousness.” His cousin, Janet Pérez, states that this is [nothing but retaliation] from the government. Both youths are the grandchildren of late dissident Mirta Villanueva.
“The local chief of police—[Janet] says—would not let my cousin live. He was always looking for him and watching him. I am sure that he was just waiting for [Miguel] to turn 18 to put him in prison. My cousin made many efforts to start working, but always something outside his control prevented him. He told me that Ramón, the chief of police, tried to recruit him to be an informant for them, but my cousin never accepted such thing.”
The trial of Miguel Pérez happened in March, and he was sentenced to three years. The family appealed, and the hearing took place on 20 May at the [Ciudad de la Habana’s] Provincial Tribunal. However, neither his family nor his lawyer, were notified.
“When I learned that the appeal hearing had already happened—narrates Janet—everything was over. My cousin’s “re-educator” called me on the phone to inform me that now the sentence was two years. I was so distraught and said so many things that he let me speak to my cousin to make things a bit better. He was upset and kept telling me that he had not admitted to anything. They didn’t notified his hired lawyer, and [instead] they had a court assigned one."
Janet remembers that during the first trial, the [hired] lawyer, during a recess, scolded her for not telling him about the “counter-revolutionary” meetings that occurred at the youth’s home.
“I was surprised—she says—and clarified to him that back then he [Miguel] was a child, and I was [a teenager]. My grandmother was who conducted such activities at our house. I never imagined this would come out now. The lawyer did not know what to say.”
Miguel Pérez is serving his sentence in the Juvenile Prison of El Cotorro, in Ciudad de la Habana’s municipality of the same name.
Mirta Villanueva was a member of Partido 30 de Noviembre Frank País [30 November Frank País Party] and worked in the party section for the assistance to political prisoners. Her son, Camilo Pérez Villanueva, was a Cuban intelligence officer who served ten years for opposing the regime. He now resides in Spain, but the family continues to pay the price of dissenting from a political system on which they some time ago believed.
Translated by Ernesto at the I Accuse the Cuban Government blog.