Pico y pala: Ariel, una fuerza de la Naturaleza.

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[en français ci-dessous. Par: Alejandro Gonzalez]

[In english thereafter. More of the context in this version. This one by Ale too.]

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Ariel, estás ahí? Es cierto?

Los que abajo firman tienen diferencias en cuanto a cual ha de ser el rumbo a seguir por Cuba en esta hora, otra vez crucial. Los hay Fidelistas y anticastristas. Sin que falten los que no son ni lo uno, ni lo otro. Pero hay al menos un par de cosas que los unen. Una es el deseo que Cuba sea el mejor lugar que puede ser y la otra es la convicción de que no hay nada en este mundo que justifique el encarcelamiento de Ariel Ruiz Urquiola ni la cancelación de su proyecto de desarrollo sostenible en el Valle de Viñales. Muchos conocemos a Ariel y a su hermana Omara. Y hemos quedado marcados para siempre por su nobleza, talento y energía sin límites. Lo queremos libre, alumbrando. Para seguirle o llevarle la contraria. Pero alumbrando.

Este es un texto vivo, en contenido y forma. Se irá actualizando a medida que aparezca mas información. Habrá algún que otro impromptu, fieles al carácter de nuestro Ariel.

IMPORTANTE: Desde el 14 de Mayo se están colectando firmas de apoyo para una carta abierta a enviar al Consejo de Estado y otras instituciones del Estado Cubano, buscando llamar su atención sobre el caso de Ariel. Si le interesa firmar contacte a los organizadores en la dirección solidaridadarielcuba@gmail.com. También puede enviar su testimonio a esta dirección con no mas de 50 palabras. Excelente iniciativa la de la carta que incluye destellos de pasión tan característicos de nuestro Ariel y muchos de sus admiradores: "Luego de esto no habrá justificación alguna para que el uso desproporcionado y abusivo del poder que ha coartado los derechos y libertades del biólogo Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, generen trascendencias de alcances ilimitados." Suavana! Hablando de impromptus. Dónde esta la versión de las autoridades cubanas?

17 de Mayo del 2018: Hoy se cumple otro aniversario de la primera Reforma Agraria en Cuba, uno del puntos claves del Programa del Moncada. Y posiblemente el mayor evento privatizador en la historia de Cuba, descontando la colonización. Miles de campesinos desposeídos se hicieron propietarios. Mientras tanto Ariel, también pequeño agricultor, está en la cárcel arriesgando la pérdida de su proyecto, de las tierras que tiene en usufructo. Curiosamente, en estos últimos días la Mesa Redonda, habitual programa de la televisión cubana, se ha enfocado en el manejo forestal en Cuba. 

16 de Mayo del 2018: Algo nuevo? Diario de Cuba vuelve a publicar un video de Omara tomado en Estado de Sats dónde comenta una serie de asuntos relevantes. El video fue publicado por primera vez el 8 de Mayo. En este caso se hace énfasis en los posibles motivos de la excesiva condena a Ariel: el interés en despojarlo de su proyecto. Comenta tambien Omara lo importante del mismo para el cuidado de la Naturaleza de la zona y lo despojado que está todo este empeño y la defensa de Ariel de cualquier tinte político.

15 de Mayo del 2018. La carta abierta va sumando firmas. Nombres y apellidos de cubanos y gente del mundo buscando llamar la atención de las autoridades cubanas en las más altas instancias hacia el caso de Ariel. Si le interesa firmar contacte a los organizadores en la dirección solidaridadarielcuba@gmail.com.

14 de Mayo del 2018. Nada de Ariel en la versión digital de Guerrillero, el periódico de Pinar del Rio. Dónde buscar? Diario de Cuba. Una carta abierta para llamar la atención del Consejo de Estado.

13 de Mayo del 2018. Para no variar, Diario de Cuba es quien trae algo de información fresca sobre los últimos acontecimientos en torno a Ariel. El abogado de la defensa presentó una apelación! Los familiares temen que sea el mismo fiscal el que esté a cargo de procesarla y que el resultado sea el mismo. Está Ariel en huelga de hambre aún? Bárbaro, come algo anda. También en Diario de Cuba se puede leer sobre la familia de Ariel. Cierto, los Ruiz Urquiola son de los que hacen. They walk the walk. Dónde está la versión de las autoridades cubanas? Dónde se pueden encontrar las actas del juicio? Una nota de prensa al menos. Pelá, sin entusiasmo, no importa, pero algo.

12 de Mayo del 2018. Último día para apelar la condena a Ariel. Pero es sábado. Quizás sea entonces el Lunes 15 ... un año de cárcel por soltarle ´Guardia Rural´ a un guardaparques en Viñales. No puede ser. Dónde está la versión de las autoridades cubanas?

11 de Mayo del 2018. Queda solo un día para apelar. Ayer Omara tuvo dificultades con la administración del medicamento que mantiene bajo control el cáncer que padece desde hace muchos años. Sobrevida posible gracias a la entrega de Ariel. Esta es una historia increíble que habla como pocas de quienes son estos dos hermanos.

10 de Mayo del 2018. Quedan 2 dias para apelar. Van apareciendo elementos que pueden explicar la exagerada respuesta de las autoridades. Ariel tiene una trayectoria de denuncia de irregularidades que lo hace incómodo. Esta es una explicación un poco más razonable, aunque igual de injusta. No estarán queriendo acabar con el mensajero? Un ´Guardia Rural´ como ofensa esta mal, pero no merece cárcel. No es solo injusto, parece tambien hipócrita.  'Menos mas que existen los que no miden que palabra echar, ni siquiera la última', le acabo de oír yo a Silvio Rodriguez ahora mismo. Como llevaron a Ariel a ese punto? Donde está la versión de las autoridades cubanas?

9 de Mayo del 2018. Diario de Cuba reporta una condena de un año por desacato. Y la fiscalía pedía 4! Calma, Cuba, calma. Algo hay que hacer con Ariel y con los que lo llevaron al punto de decir tal cosa. Pero en ningún caso la cárcel. Dónde se puede encontrar la versión de las autoridades cubanas?

8 de Mayo del 2018. Diario de Cuba cita a Omara (la hermana de Ariel, la flaca bella de la frente ancha) informando que Ariel esta en huelga de hambre, que el juicio será hoy a las 2 de la tarde y que el principal cargo es desacato. Le dijo 'Guardia Rural' a una autoridad. Conociendo a Ariel, no es de extrañar. Pero la reacción de las autoridades es una exageración. Calma, Cuba, calma. En que momento se te ha ocurrido soltarle eso a la autoridad Arieeel?!!! Es verdad? Donde se puede encontrar la versión del Gobierno?

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Ariel, es-tu là? Est-ce vrai?

Nous, soussignés, avons une diversité d’opinions sur ce que l’avenir de Cuba doit être en cette heure cruciale. Il y a des Fidelistes et des anti-Castristes, sans oublier ceux qui ne sont ni l’un ni l’autre. Cependant, il y a au moins une poignée de choses qui nous unissent. L’une d’entre elles est le souhait que Cuba soit le meilleur endroit qui soit possible et une autre, la conviction que rien dans ce monde ne justifie l’emprisonnement d’Ariel Ruiz Urquiola ni l’arrêt de son projet de développement durable dans la vallée de Viñales. Beaucoup d’entre nous connaissons personnellement Ariel et sa sœur Omara et nous avons été profondément touchés par son humanité, par son talent et par son énergie inépuisable. Nous le voulons libre et rayonnant, pour lui témoigner notre soutien ou notre désaccord, mais libre et rayonnant.

Ceci est un texte vivant, dans sa forme et dans son contenu. Il sera mis à jour au fur et à mesure que des nouvelles informations seront disponibles. Le langage est spontannée, fidèle à l'esprit de notre Ariel.

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Ariel, are you there? Is it true?

We, undersigned, have different views on what the future of Cuba should be in this crucial moment of its history. Some are “Fidelists” other “anti-Castrists” and of course, some are neither one nor the other. There’s at least a couple of things that unites us all though. One is the wish for Cuba to be the best place it can possibly be, and another is the certainty that nothing in this world, can justify the imprisonment of Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, or the termination of his sustainable development project in the Viñales Valley. Many of us know Ariel and his sister Omara, and we have been moved by his kindness, his talent and his never-ending energy. We want him free and shining, to support him or to confront him, but shining.

This is a living text. It will be updated as more information comes. Here and there you might find it impromptu, faithful to Ariel’s character.

IMPORTANT: An open letter to get the attention of the State Council (The highest governing body in the Cuban State) and other important institutions of the Cuban State to the situation of Ariel Ruiz Urquiola is recruiting signatures. The letter can be found in Spanish here and signatures can be sent to solidaridadarielcuba@gmail.com. An English version of the letter is below the following text describing the context of this case.

Some context

Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola is a Cuban scientist, PhD in Biological Sciences, with a long history of research projects and different activities aimed at the preservation of natural resources and biological patrimony of different regions of Cuba. Over the years he has developed a wide variety of projects ranging from the protection of swamps and their endemic species, the development of sustainable fishing and agricultural projects and the study and preservation of different endangered species (reptiles, turtles, birds, etc.). In doing so he has managed to embark all sorts of people from local communities, always amazed by his dedication, his tireless hard work, his enthusiasm and the strength of his ethics and principles which he preaches with his example.

In his struggle, Ariel has also faced all sorts of opposition including that of some officials and private persons, who don’t hesitate to (illegally) destroy Cuban natural resources for their own benefit and financial profit, even in protected natural parks. Ariel has always faced this opposition with a great deal of courage and has always stood up for his principles and for the defense of Cuban nature.

For the last several years Ariel has put in place a sustainable development project in the famous Cuban region of Viñales. There again, he has faced the harassment of unscrupulous people for whom the work of Ariel represents a threat. Even worst, members of local authorities (Park ranges, Police, court officials, amongst others) haven been complicit and even part of this harassment.

The last episode of this unfortunate saga happened on last Thursday, may 3rd, when the chief of the area’s park rangers came over to Ariel’s domain in Viñales with another park ranger, asking for authorizations related to the fence Ariel was working on, to his working tools and to the activity of cutting the trees to be used to build the fence.

As they all walked to the house to retrieve the documents, the park rangers begun raising the tone towards Ariel and tried to confiscate his tools (for which Ariel had all appropriate documentation and authorizations) Ariel refused to give them his tools and asked the chief if he was a rural guard. After this incident he was taken into custody.

The expression of “rural guard” was eventually retained by the prosecution, as the only “evidence” sustaining the charges of contempt, for which he was taken into trial on Tuesday, may 8th (only five days after the alleged felony happened!), resulting in a 1 year prison sentence. Within these five days, the prosecutor changed the charges against Ariel four times, as the initial charges (illegal possession of tools, illegal tree cutting and illegal construction of a fence) turned to be unsubstantiated, given the fact that Ariel had all the required authorizations, as he proved since the beginning of this incident. Finally, the prosecution came up with this contempt charge based on the one and only fact that Ariel asked the park ranger a question: “Are you a rural guard?”

After the sentence Ariel was immediately transferred to a prison in the Pinar del Rio province where, as we speak, remain behind bars.

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                                    OPEN LETTER

                                              Cuba and the world, may 10 2018


To:
State council of the Republic of Cuba
Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba
National headquarters of the service of park rangers of Cuba
National Center for Protected Areas of Cuba
Attorney General’s office of the Republic of Cuba
Ministry of Agriculture of Cuba
Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment of Cuba
Representation of the FAO in Cuba.


Those who subscribe to this letter are Cubans from inside and outside Cuba, as well as citizens from all over the world. Hereby we wish to express our profound concern by the injustice perpetrated by local authorities of the region of Viñales (Cuba), on May 12, 2018, against the Cuban citizen, PhD in Biological Sciences from University of Havana, Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, unjustly imprisoned.
Ariel and his family run an agricultural domain in the province of Pinar del Rio, under the usufruct rights, legally granted to him by the competent authorities. This domain represents the ultimate life project of this biologist, after he was terminated, both as a researcher in the Center of Marine Research (CIM) and as a professor at the Faculty of Biology from his alma mater, the University of Havana; due to reasons not clearly established and unproved by labor authorities involved in the case. In this domain, Ariel, his sister, his mother and a number of colleagues and friends, have developed, with their own resources and a great deal of effort and sacrifice, an agroecological project, which values the local and national biological patrimony and its natural resources, in full compliance with all applicable national laws and regulations. This project aims at the management and preservation of such resources, in coherence with local and national regulations, as well as the international regulations on environmental management and sustainable production of which Cuba is a signatory. This project has the approval of the Agroforest company “La Palma” and that of the municipality of Viñales’ local representation of the Ministry of Agriculture. The activities of crop planting and clearing the domain, were recently evaluated by both institutions as meeting the necessary criteria. Moreover, Ariel has was duly sanctioned by the secretary of the University of Havana’s section of the Cuban Communist Party, who also certified in writing that Ariel had all necessary skills to undertake agricultural research and land working activities, given his academic education, background and experience.
Ariel and his family’s project and its results has a substantial impact, not only from an environmental point of view, but also economically and socially wise. The goal of this project is to put in place an economically viable and environmentally friendly agricultural production project, capable of supplying the state food distribution system, with agricultural products, based on the believe that this activity is of paramount importance both to the country and its people, as well as to the creation and preservation of a genetic material bank, based on Cuban forest patrimony, which will allow the repopulation of regions formerly dedicated to growing timber species of economical value for the country.
In spite of all this, this family has had to face, besides all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles, a great deal of local resistance to the implementation of environmentally viable initiatives. This exhausting resistance has taken the shape of a continuous harassment, including in several occasions, local farmers trespassing and undertaking a whole lot of violent activities within the area for which Ariel has the legal usufruct, operating under the protection of some local authorities. After having made attempts to respond to these acts of violence via the appropriate legal channels, Ariel and his family have only found that the perpetrators benefit from the protection of local authorities, which in turn have systematically treated them (Ariel and his family) as socially reprehensible.
In this context, Ariel and his family have denounced the existing network of corruption in the management of the environment of this Cuban protected area.
In recent days, and after having suffered this continued harassment, after some alleged officials showed up having an inappropriate behavior towards Ariel, he compared them to the infamous “rural guard” from the pre-revolutionary Cuban regime, as a response to the alleged representatives from the park ranger’s corps, refusing to show any identification as any person acting in an official capacity is legally bound to do. This simple act resulted in Ariel being trialed for “contempt” charges and sentenced to the maximum possible sentence: one-year imprisonment.
We believe that every person, regardless of his political beliefs, has the right to express himself freely and is entitled to be treated with dignity as much as he is entitled to an unbiassed trial for his actions, in agreement of all appropriate legal provisions. This is furthermore in full agreement with what national authorities have expressed in this respect. Nevertheless, a certain number of these legal provisions have been violated in this case. As a result, we demand the immediate release of Ariel and an immediate thorough review of this case by the highest level’s authorities of the institutions involved in this blatant injustice. We believe the measures taken upon Ariel, disproportionate, unjustified and irrational, in a context where the complains filed by the family (for trespassing, verbal threats and other violent acts), have all been treated lightly and dismissed, in a clear violation of the appropriate legal procedures in place. The delicate health condition of Ariel’s sister is an aggravating circumstance, as she has been a cancer patient for years and Dr. Ruiz Urquiola has taken upon him her treatment after having realized a number of irregularities associated to this treatment. Moreover, Ariel’s elderly mother is also going through a very difficult emotional situation as a result of all this context.
Several generations of Cuban Science and Biology professionals, amongst other professionals from other countries’ world-level prestigious Universities, have had the opportunity to have Ariel as a colleague and to admire his qualities as a scientist and as a human being. And we are many to see him as an outstanding moral example of sacrifice for the study and preservation of Cuban nature, a person with the highest level of integrity, always faithful to the truth and expecting the highest level of excellence from others, but above all, accepting nothing other than the highest level of excellence from himself. This affection and great respect we have for Ariel, based on his exemplary life, and as a result, the total certainty that he’s being the victim of a scheme fabricated by the local authorities of the region of Viñales, are the reasons supporting our decision to appeal to you.
Moreover, the recent sentence of one (1) year in prison for Ariel, appears to be aimed at keeping him away from his land for a period longer that six (6) months, which will automatically result in the extinction of his usufruct rights over the land surrounding his house where he develops his eco-agricultural project. In spite of the fact that his sister regularly takes all necessary responsibilities related to the work and management of this land during Ariel’s academic stays in Universities outside Cuba, and her firm decision not to give up this project she is, and has been since the beginning, a very active part of.
An appeal has already been presented by the defense, which argues “Non-conformity with the FACTS the court takes as proven, taken into consideration that significance and criminal repercussion is given to the language used (…), whereas the typical elements of the offense of contempt are not present*.”
We believe that the possible consequences of this case should be assessed by the highest levels’ authorities of the institutions involved, in a realistic manner and within a proper timeframe, to avoid an irrevocable loss of credibility before the Cuban people and the world. We know that Ariel will be faithful to the truth and will stand up for his rights, no matter what the consequences may be. We wish to prevent further consequences for him and for everyone else. From this point on, there will be no further excuse for the disproportionate abuse of power exerted on Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, crushing his most elemental rights, to provoke unforeseeable consequences.



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