Monday, February 11, 2008

Student arrested?

There is a report from an independent journalist in Cuba that Eliecer Avila, a student from las Tunas who questioned Ricardo Alarcon at the recent university meeting, has been detained.

There are two unusual elements in the story: that the son of Carlos Lage, until recently the head of Cuba’s university student federation, is said to have participated in the arrest, and that Lage reportedly told the family not to worry because Avila would soon be appearing on the Mesa Redonda television program.

Original report here; Herald report here; translation and comment at Uncommon Sense; more discussion, including accounts of phone conversations with the Havana journalist who wrote the report, at Penultimos Dias.

14 comments:

Mambi_Watch said...

Radio Mambi confirms most of this information today with a phone interview with Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, president of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights.

According to the interview (which seems to rely on second-hand information), Avila was picked up by the son of Carlos Lage with others to soon appear on "La Mesa Redonda" political talk show. Avila left his home saying that he would not retract his comments from the publicized university video.

Gonzalez Leiva stressed he had no other information about where exactly Avila could be or what could be happening, but believes that perhaps Avila is being pressured to retract his public statements from the university video.

It seems that no one really knows what is going on exactly. That is until "La Mesa Redonda' airs with Eliecer Avila.

Phil Peters said...

Thanks for that. Radio Mambi, as always, adds to the story.

Anonymous said...

The story appears fake. I was in contact with a teacher at UCI and she said the guy was at the school today. The Herald has also pulled the story from the internet, probably because they have determined its untrue.

Anonymous said...

Of course, a UCI teacher won't say openly "Yes, he's been arrested" - why would the family members lie, specially when their lives may be at stake? The Miami Herald probably pulled the story upon further investigation.

Anonymous said...

The teacher is a good friend of mine and I believe her. The story doesn't make sense because UCI (which is in Havana) doesn't have another break until June and the claim is he was arrested in Las Tunas (1,000 kms away) by the son of Lage (which is also ridiculous). The family members didn't lie because the entire story is fake. I think people are just trying to stir things up. Time will tell what's true or not.

Omar said...

If there is taking place a move around Eliecer Avila it is not one of repression as many of the Radio Mambi kind are suggesting. These guys are always off-spot. An interesting show in Cuba could be on the make, if any.

Agustin Farinas said...

Let's see, Eliecer went to his hometown and according to his own words on the video from Cuba Debate,Lage's son, who happened to be in Ciego de Avila, went to his house personally in Oriente to "request" (aided by other members of his entourage) for him to come to Havana to dissipate the rumors flying through the Internet. Then, he appears on the video from Cuba Debate, hands and feet shaking, to quell any rumors he can possibly be in trouble because of what he said in the meeting with Alarcon. What is wrong with this picture?
Where else in the world has anyone seen this type of performance? Why does a university student have to go in front of national TV camaras to disprove he said anything wrong or agaisnt the system? Only in Cuba, only in wonderful and revolutionary Cuba, of course. End of story. All is well at the UIC now that the flock has returned to the fold.

Mambi_Watch said...

Farinas,

You are exaggerating and manipulating what was seen in the Cuba Debate video.

Avila, nor any of the other students on the video, appear overly nervous or stressed. As a matter of fact, most of them for the majority of the video appear relaxed, smiling and fully concentrated. They do not show any signs of intense pressure.

Furthermore, Avila, or any other student, DO NOT retract or change their comments from the university video. They affirm their comments made to Alarcon and stress that they were delighted to have a debate with him.

On the other hand, Avila gives his side of what has been reported for most of yesterday about him being "arrested."

It is very likely that Avila was not arrested, and is being honest in the new video.

Jose said...

I don't know but all the comments I see here, does not seem to be a debate, it sounds more like a cuban mercenary trying to explain the world that this guy is not in troble. if you ever live in that country as I did for 26 years, you would know thta he is in big trouble and he may not have a future for just expressig what he believes in.

Omar said...

Jose, you lived in Cuba for 26 years, but when did you leave? I won't dispute the notion you defend, but I disagree with the timing. It is absolutedly true, that there are plenty of examples of people who did something like what Elicer did and had a hard time afterwards. The punishment wouldn't have being death penalty, but it could had been losing the job, suffer from social repulsion and even jail if engaged in political activism. That's true, period. However, things have changed ... or I and others like me, were just lucky 6 years ago. Few years before I decided to leave Cuba and still belonging to the Communist Youth I openly and passionatedly expressed my opposition to having Fidel still ruling the country, or to repudiate those colleagues of mine that taking advantage of a trip to a foreign country decided not to return. Nothing happened to me. I was certainly afraid, but still, nothing happened. What are you thought about this?

Anonymous said...

Farinas has it exactly right. Eliecer hands and legs are SHAKING, not relaxed.

The whole thing is sick and twisted. Formal "arrest" or no - - it is wicked.

Agustin Farinas said...

M.W.
Sure, sure, they are just nervous. Or maybe is just the after effects of the anesthesia used to take out his wisdom teeth. Fear not, I did not expect any thing different from you. You always seem to find the right and proper excuse to apologize for the Cuban regime. This is no surprise, there is nothing new here, you are just being your true self. At least Leftside did not have to go through all of these ideological contorsions to explain himself. You, well, you are "different" but once the ideological twists and contorsions are stripped away, is basically the same thing.
By the way, did you know that some of the accused in the Moscow trials also trembled and shaked uncontrollably when making their depositions? May I refer you to the book "The Great Terror" by Robert Conquest for an enlightening history. Oh, And they did not have any problem with their wisdom teeth, because they had lost all of them in the dungeons of the GPU through "friendly persuassion" at the hands (or should I say "paws") of the GPU goons. You see, no teeth, no problem.

Alex said...

Omar: what happened (or didn't happen) to you is that a camera wasn't there filming and there were no blogs to distribute the images of a Cuban student challenging a regime official. If it were, you would have been called in and given the "talk": "you see what you did, now the enemy is using your words against us. You didn't mean wrong, we know you are a revolutionary, grateful for all the revolution has done for you and you'll do the right thing". And you'll know the implications even if they didn't tell you: expulsion from school, never being able to go to college again, possibly being sent to military service or EJT. That's your life going away.

It has happened before. we all saw somebody who "se tirĂ³ a la candela" and blurted out some hard truths in a meeting. But in this case, the world was watching. That's the difference.

Anonymous said...

Here on the ground in Cuba we saw an enraged people suddenly and effectively succumb to the government response of a staged conversation. The retort of the student statement diffused any hope and all excitement that a new precedent had been set in citizen-government dialogue. People deflated immediately and returned to their normal griping. No lasting support was shown for the student or for the cause, and that is at the heart of why change is so doubtful. That the most active in Cuba accept the status quo and that fearfulness gives in to scare tactics. We are skeptical that the international community, though they love to watch cuba, will support the movements that could make a difference. A brave soul needs an army of support not squabbling over the nature of things.