According to members of his band, punk-rock musician Gorki Águila was arrested on 25 August 2008 and faces up to four years’ imprisonment for ‘peligrosidad’ — socalled pre-crime social dangerousness.
‘Peligrosidad’ literally means ‘dangerous’ — used as a loose legal term to brand, apprehend and incarcerate citizens viewed as ‘dangerous’ to the Cuban government.
The 39-year-old punk-rock singer Gorki Águila has long been an outspoken critic of Cuba’s government, receiving international exposure and media attention, and he has been detained and imprisoned by Cuban authorities several times.
This time around, it is expected he will be placed before a judge and tried under the Cuban penal code on 29 August 2008. Since his arrest he has been kept incommunicado, detained at the police station Quinta Unidad [Fifth Unit] of the PNR [National Revolutionary Police]. During the first two days of his arrest, his father, Luis Águila, was reported to have taken numerous trips to the police station without being allowed to see him.
The head of Cuba’s illegal, but tolerated, Human Rights Commission, Elizardo Sanchez, confirmed during a news conference with a Cuban opposition leader on 26 August that so far no-one has been allowed access to visit the musician, and he had yet to be formally charged.
On 27 August, however, Gorki’s father told the news agency Associated Press that he had been allowed to talk with his son, and that Gorki had been well-treated in the police custody, and was in good spirits.
Search for a lawyer “We are in the process of finding a lawyer willing to help him,” said Elizardo Sanchez, who also told he had spoken with Gorki Águila’s family. “If there is a trial on 28 August, we will try to be present for that, if we can.”
According to Freemuse’s sources in Cuba neither Elizardo Sanchez or Gorki’s family and friends have yet been able to find a lawyer who will defend him, and members of his band wrote in a press release on its website on 27 August that the trial is now scheduled for Friday 29 August at the Playa Municipal Court in western Havana.
According to Miami Herald, the Cuban American National Foundation had offered to provide Gorki an attorney for his trial, but knowing that Gorki wants to be apolitical, his band members refused to accept funding from political groups.
A knock at the door Fellow band member Ciro Diaz, who is guitarist in the band, learned that the police had been inquiring about him in the streets of his neighborhood. On the band’s website he is quoted as an eye witness, explaining in Spanish how they were about to work on overdubbing vocals on a new tune at 10 AM on Monday 25 August 2008 when a police man showed up and took Gorki away from his house:
“Just as we were about to begin recording the song, we heard a knock at the door. Gorki opened the door and from the bedroom I heard someone ask, “Are you citizen Gorki Águila?” It was a policeman who requested that Gorki accompany him and told him that he was only following orders. The policeman continued to address him in a courteous fashion. I followed them to the police sector and waited at the corner lest they should decide to arrest me as well and there be no one left to relay the news of Gorki’s arrest.
When the patrol car had left I approached the arresting officer who was still there and asked him where Gorki had been taken. He answered: the station at 3rd and 62nd, popularly known as La Quinta. On my way back I met with Gorki’s father, who on learning the news of his son’s arrest became very nervous and proceeded to La Quinta to inquire about him.”
According to the website of Gorki’s band, “it is no coincidence that Gorki faces this kind of intimidation, persecution and repression” just as he and his band are about to release a new album in the coming weeks. On the other hand, there are also rumours that the arrest could have to do with on-going complaints from Gorki Águila’s neighbors because of the very loud music / noise from their rehearsals in his home. According to some sources, Gorki did receive a warning 60 days ago: that if he did not stop rehearsing loudly in his apartment the police would come and pick him up.
Arrested in June Gorki Águila was taken from his house without an arrest warrant by a policeman who said he was following orders from a certain Jesús, a delegate in the Assembly of the People‘s Power.
Gorki Águila — photo from pornopararicardo.com
Gorki (full name: Gorki Luís Águila Carrasco) was also arrested shortly two months ago, on 17 June. He was allegedly taken to a police station by the same delegate, who threatened him with jail for his ‘anti-social’ conduct. Gorki secretly made a recording of the interrogation where his own refusal to abandon his art or to sign a confession admitting to his alleged ‘social dangerousness’ can be heard as well, according to a friend’s report. Gorki was released again relatively quickly after the interrogation.
An official at the state-run press office told the American tv-channel CNN that Cuba had no comment on the recent arrest. CNN has had their eyes on Gorki Águila’s case since they broadcasted an interview with him to the world in May 2007. (See link below).
The band has been getting hundreds of emails — with more ticking in every minute — from people supporting Gorki, and numerous media outlets has published the news world-wide. (See link to Google News below). The arrest has also caused an avalanche of criticism from bloggers in Cuba and in the US.
Banned Porno Para Ricardo is banned from official airwaves and from performing in public in Cuba. With the help of a friend outside the country, the band put its songs on the Internet, and its albums are distributed only by hand in Cuba.
In 2003, Gorki Águila was jailed on drug charges in what he said was an attempt to silence him. Freemuse then ran an international campaign for his release. He was released in March 2005.
Defense Fund for Gorki A Gorki Legal Defense Fund has been established, and it is possible to donate directly to the band and the Fund at the band’s website via Cuba Underground on PayPal.
On the website, a petition signed by guitarist Ciro Javier Díaz Penedo, bass-player Hebert Luis Domínguez Brito, and drummer Reanay Kayrús Pérez, reads:
“We invite all people who want to help Gorki to write an e-mail asking the government for his release: webmaster[a]one.gob.cu ”
They also give e-mail addresses to the Granma Newspaper, the United Nations, the National Assembly and ‘Nation and Emigration’.
Gorki Águila and his band, Porno Para Ricardo
Photo: courtesy of Cuban film director Aaron Alayo who is presently working on a film about Gorki which was shot in May 2008
Photo: courtesy of Cuban film director Aaron Alayo
UPDATE 28 August 2008
‘Fear of unfair trial’
Amnesty International recommends: “Send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:
• urging the government to release Gorki Águila immediately and unconditionally, unless he is to be charged
with a recognizable criminal offence and tried according to international standards for fair trial;
• calling on the authorities to cease the harassment, intimidation and persecution of citizens who seek to
peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association;
• calling on the authorities to eliminate from the Criminal Code provisions regarding “dangerousness” and all
other provisions that might contribute to arbitrary detentions.
Send your appeals to:
Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: + 53 7 8333085 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or + 1 2127791697 (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: email@example.com (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/ Your Excellency
Dr Juan Escalona Reguera
Fiscal General de la República,
Fiscalía General de la República, San Rafael 3, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: + 53 7 860 4268
Salutation: Señor Fiscal General / Dear Attorney General
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Sr Felipe Pérez Roque
Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Calzada No. 360, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
Fax:+ 53 7 8333 085
Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister
COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of Cuba accredited to your country.
Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if
sending appeals after 2 October 2008.”
A group of musicians has criticized new U.S. regulations that will further limit travel to Cuba, urging the United States to build bridges to the island instead of tearing them down. The musicians tied their comments to the release of the album: Bridge to Havana