Marialys Arias Laffita is still appealing to the Cuban legal system in search of her father’s vindication.
By Vicente Morin Aguado
December 1, 2017
Roberto Arias Gomez before he was imprisoned.
The daughter was 13 years old when her father, Roberto Arias Gomez, was arrested on November 18, 1991 for the alleged crime called “Enemy propaganda”. It had to do with a poster with the words Down with Fidel!, which they say appeared on a street in Nueva Gerona, Isle of Youth, close to the place known there as the “Fountain of Youth”. Roberto served two years in prison; he had a serious heart problem and died of a heart attack in 1996.
“We were kept completely wet and naked in a dark room, me and your father,” Lazaro Marquez tells her, who now lives in Miami.
Marialys remembers that after six months of prison in the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, the authorities still hadn’t presented a formal charge against her father: “The trial eventually took place in a small theater belonging to Cuba’s Sciences Academy on the Island a year and a half later. He defended himself because the public defender couldn’t say much as he didn’t have any access to investigate what had happened.”
According to the daughter’s testimony, the General Attorney requested 11 years in prison for that alleged poster that was never shown in court. The girl, who is now 39 years old, clears up the matter.
“My father was tried because of his ideas, he was a liberal thinker, always smiling, optimistic, he used to tell us things that are real today and others that still have to come to be, like self-employment, the need to free farmers from the State and especially freedom of expression, of being able to freely discuss the things that were happening in Cuba back then.”
Roberto Arias Gomez never belonged to any opposition organization; he never had any ties to foreigners or embassies. How was the crime of enemy propaganda he was accused of justified? What enemies was he working for? Is pacifically opposing a country’s Head of State a crime?
Marialys at the door of the house where they arrested her father.
Marialys continues to tell her story: “Before he went to prison, he had a heart attack. They decided to let him go from his job as the Head of Irrigation in Agriculture, he was an Agricultural Engineer in Irrigation and Drainage Systems. He was sent to the Soviet Union to study a postgraduate degree, he knew the truth about the farm economy and he was very critical of Cuban reality in that regard.”
“They didn’t have mercy on him in spite of his illness, they could have just let him go but the sadness of being a prisoner did away with his already critical health.”
Time went by and an eagle flew over the sea, as Jose Marti, the apostle of our freedoms once said, and in 2015, Roberto’s daughter went to Sicily, where she had what she calls a “deja vu”.
“I saw farmers promoting their farms, taking their own produce to market, I valued their freedom to produce without so many ties to the State, I inevitably remembered my father’s ideas. When I went back to Cuba, I decided to put in a legal appeal for the injustice committed against my father.”
Serious violations of Cuban laws:
1 – Imprisoned for two years, for the alleged crime of making a poster that said “Down with Fidel!”
2 – Five months in a maximum security prison without any formal charges made.
3 – Rigged trial, where no defense case could be made.
4 – “Enemy Propaganda” crime which never corresponded to the circumstances of the case.
5 – Final sentence after two years in prison, where he was proven to have a serious illness, as he had needed to go to A&E at the Hermanos Amejeiras Hospital in Havana while in prison.
Marialys repeats that “My father’s case figures among crimes against humanity, which attack people’s lives.”
There is more because there are documents relating to the daughter’s complaints, which have gone to the People’s Supreme Court and the Attorney General.
We will continue to follow this case, it’s important and it will show that the Cuban legal system, called “socialist”, doesn’t even abide by its own laws.
To be continued…
Vicente Morín Aguado: firstname.lastname@example.org