An Open Letter to Castro and The Cardinal / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Translator: Unstated
By Luis Eligio D'Omni and Amaury Pacheco D'Omni: (Artists currently on
tour in the United States of America)
1- On The 13th of April, Hector Riscart Mustelier (El Ñaño), the leader
of Cuban alternativity, musician for and director of the band Herencia
[Heritage], and Bobo Shanti Leader in Cuba, will be tried behind closed
doors, without witnesses, and without defense counsel, for a cause
constructed by special police agents.
He is being tried despite the silence those of us who are worried about
his situation have sustained, expecting that justice would come from the
highest levels of government, and avoiding by all costs to turn Ñaño's
case into a political campaign. To this aim we have sent letters to the
president of the Communist Party and of the Cuban government, Raul
Castro Ruz, to the President of the Parliament, Ricardo Alarcón Quezada,
and lastly, to a high Catholic Church figure, cardinal Jaime Ortega,
given that Ñaño's case is that of a religious artist.
Today, Bob Marley would raise his voice in a song of glory for Ñaño,
would they prohibit it in our television?
Next, we will publish the letter we sent to Raul Castro and to the rest.
But before, we want to make a note that Ñaño was already sent to prison
unjustly many years ago. A search was performed in his house and no
proof was found. They found, behind a trash can, a small piece of paper,
smaller than a tear, and said it was marihuana. He was then accused of
drug trafficking and was incarcerated. Back then Ñaño's wife was
intimidated by State Security so that she would remain silent.
To those friends who are unconditionally in support of everything being
fine with Cuba's system, we say that we speak with the Truth.
Today, the answer has remained the same. Those officials who met with
Ñaño's wife and with his mother, supposedly representing the president,
offended them with rude words, and referred to Ñaño in the worst of manners.
We want to say, given so much insistence into turning Cuban artists who
courageously express their realities into politicians or members of the
opposition, in order to keep us tied to the Machiavellian repressive
machinery in Cuba (to those within and outside of Cuba who don't believe
this because of their unconditional love to the Revolution, and to the
impeccable and glorious record of Cuban State Security: we assure them
that it does exist), and with the aim of exiling us or locking us up in
prisons as in the case of Hector Riscart, that we think the Cuban
government ignores this situation, and that this is part of a strategy
of independent State Security agents to hide away political corruption.
We do not think it is possible for a ruler to be behind a situation of
this sort, and it is evident that the letter never reached him.
We hope Hector Riscart is placed in entire liberty this Friday the 13th,
after five months without any legal guarantees, and of being treated as
a common criminal…
In the case of Hector Riscart, they are applying all the weight of a law
lacking any mercy and are failing to take into account the light this
person contributes…but we know very well what happens with drugs at many
levels in Cuba. Since always, since the times of our grandparents'
stories, or the guerrilla, up to this very day, marihuana has been a
natural plant used in all of Cuba every day, and in every city we have
crossed. We have proved it, its prohibition is nothing but a big
business. Its legality would dismantle a great business, like the
medicine with which so many humans drug themselves daily, like the
alcohol and the tobacco that are main, legal causes of the death of
We already know that they pretend that our Art be constantly reacting to
the repression of the government or of the institutions…..and that
today's youth live behind and wait in silence for the ideas of those who
behind their desks don't walk the streets or suffer what the common man
But our art is way beyond that, our Art is action, and original action
contains the forces of the Universe. We hope the tragedy that surrounds
Hector Riscart and his family comes to an end, for the sake of love, FOR
This Friday the 13th we will walk together to the tribunal of Carmen and
Juan Delgado (in the city of Santo Suarez), family, friends, artists,
and activists committed to the truth. Those of us who are outside of
Cuba will walk there with our minds, our hearts, and our spirits…
2 – Letter sent to the President of the Republic of Cuba, Raul Castro
Ruz, with copies sent to Ricardo Alarcón and to the Cardinal Jaime Ortega:
INJUSTICE AND VIOLENCE AGAINST RASTAFARIAN ARTIST IN TODAY'S CUBA. A
PLEAD TO THE POWER OF LIGHT AND TRUTH.
By family members, artists, and friends of Hector Riscart Mustelier (El
THE TRUTH ALWAYS FIRST, THE TRUTH BEFORE, THE TRUTH AFTER, THE TRUTH
President of the Republic of Cuba and First Secretary of the Communist
Party of Cuba, Raul Castro Ruz:
We hope love and the highest intelligence guide you in your reading of
this letter, so that we can receive from you courteous attention.
In the midst of so many changes surrounding Cuba (whether some believe
it or not, whether many think they are slow, or whether many others
think it's a lie), changes that are being called for by you, from the
presidency of the republic, and from everyone at every social level,
within and outside the island…and despite the fact that every day the
official press publishes news of new economic and civil apertures, and
articles that denounce discrimination, we do not yet see mechanisms that
function efficiently and urgently before the power abuses and the
injustices of citizens with police and state authority against
civilians, although we are all Cubans, with the very same rights.
Last November 15th, something deplorable occurred, and we believe we are
before an act of discrimination that extends into an act of injustice
with grave consequences.
The artist Hector Riscart (El Ñaño): one of the first Rastafarians in
Cuba, a scholar of the religious spirituality BoboShanti, director of
the Reggae Band, Herencia (Heritage) – a very respected musical group
that is committed to the spiritual growth of the youth – was searched by
the Police while exiting his concert in the National Cabaret among other
members of his group, in the corner of the Capitol, in front of the
Ñaño found this humiliating and asked to be led to a police unite, so
that he could be searched there, and so that he wouldn't have to face
humiliation in the middle of the street.
The police officers did not comply, and when Ñaño tried to defend his
rights, he was attacked with much violence from the part of the police,
and was treated as the most despicable criminal.
Already in the Police Station, he had to suffer further offenses and
insults, and before the amazement of the officer on duty who witnessed
such brutality, listen, along with another detained brother, to the
plans of fabricating a false accusation of drug trafficking: "you, who
belong to the party, accuse him, because no one will doubt your word".
The law will doubt this official much less, since he took so much care
in boasting, during the violent detention, of having found an important
artist of this country with hard drugs. Some days later, without any
official records or accusations, Ñaño was sent to a provisional prison
(where he currently is), where they cut his dreadlocks (long pieces of
hair tangled or weaved), the most sacred thing for a Rastafarian.
Every established legal procedure was violated: declaration of false
investigations, denial of a comparison between the accounts of
witnesses, and failure to allow a lawyer to assist him. Furthermore,
they shamelessly manipulated his wife so that she wouldn't defend Ñaño
publicly, and multiple visits were paid to the Cabaret's manger to ask
with exaggerated lies the expulsion of the musical group from their job,
this is the situation as of today.
It is only after almost two months of this sad event, that Ñaño was able
to see a lawyer, who is very scared and does not know how to defend this
case, saying it is impossible to go against the word of the police. At
this moment Hector Riscart is without a lawyer, because we can not find
one that is willing to defend the case honestly. All of this occurred
within our dear Cuba, under the surveillance cameras of the Payret
Cinema. The images taken by the camera were first said to have
disappeared, and then said to be pointing elsewhere. That is what we
were told when we asked to show them as proof. Why did these images
disappear, or why were they looking elsewhere when an act of violence
was happening under them? The police instructors sent to the prosecutor
a file fabricated with lies and incoherence, where it says that Ñaño has
no witnesses. The situation has been denounced in two occasions before
the Central Committee of the State Council (Attention the citizenry),
but no progress has been shown in two months.
(The situation of his wife and his children isn't the best; we won't
describe here his mother's suffering).
Hector Riscart, connected to his Biblical belief in God, does not eat
any type of artificial or animal products, whether they fly, crawl, run,
or live under the sea. His situation, besides being completely unjust,
is grave, because he has been eating only rice for two months, and they
do not allow for any other animal product to reach him. He has lost
weight in a manner similar to someone who is fasting or doing a hunger
The situation is even more grave, given that he suffers from four
gastrointestinal chronic diseases. We are very afraid that his health
worsens to the point of a tragedy in our lives. I say "our" lives
because we are talking about a spiritual brother, a natural leader, and
a very inspirational artist. His death or a sudden aggravation of his
health would be a great tragedy for us.
Many brothers feel greatly moved by this situation, and are waiting in
profound silence for a solution. But their silence hasn't been respected
either and it is no longer a solution.
Why the determination to keep such a dear and noble artist imprisoned,
one who contributes messages of spiritual liberation and whose endeavors
are known by everyone? Why is his status being ignored, treating him
like a criminal?
According to declarations from our brother Zenén (the other detainee
from that day, sound technician for the band), who saw him for the last
time in the unit, Hector Riscart was already convinced that they would
condemn him with all negative premeditation. "Look after my children, I
can only think about them", was the only thing he said.
Zenén shed many tears in the unit before the harsh officer who tortured
him psychologically so that he would give a false declaration; in that
moment a very young woman entered, who had been with them all the time
in the National Cabaret, during their concert, pretending to be a
prostitute. It is evident that the accusation against this leader of
alternative Cuban art was already being schemed.
Why was this trap laid out to accuse him of a crime he did not commit?
Was it because he is black, because he is a conscious Rastafarian,
because he is a committed artist, or is it simply police brutality
protected by officers and detectives whose job is to protect the truth,
a common situation to any citizen?
Why are they choosing to ignore that we can work for the social and
spiritual well-being of Cubans in today's Cuba, from the point of view
of philosophies, beliefs, and life paths that are very positive, and
that have become a salvation for many, but that aren't precisely within
the communist discourse?
(On that subject and as a parenthesis we want to tell you that we know
many Cubans of great dignity and integrity, that contribute and can
contribute even more to this nation because of their intelligence and
ethics, that are treated with disdain every day. Some have died, others
have been thrown out of their work centers or repressed in many ways,
disrespected by the police, or auto-exiled because of frustration since
they do not fit into our Homeland for not preaching the Government
discourse or for believing in the autonomy and individual independence
of thought and action).
There are many grave precedents, that aren't told in the book
Rastafarians in Cuba, whose presentation was advertised in only one
occasion last year on the TV news, and was presented in only one
library. This book should be re-edited and distributed among the police
units and study centers of the country. Artists of the New Protest Hip
Hop Song have denounced in several occasions the deliberate abuse
against them and others, in their songs. The internet is full with
fabrications, but also with audio-visual documents that shine light on
the abuse of power at a police and state level.
Fear is also natural, one that is founded in repeated and current
precedent, where police witnesses have withdrawn their accusations and
admitted to being pressured and intimidated to declare falsely against
the accused, and despite this, the accused is condemned. We can deduce
conditioning and a previously elaborated scheme. This scares us
terribly, and suggests judicial corruption. The Government, in its
presidency, should tend to all of these facts, and feel strongly worried
for the sake of justice.
We have plenty of testimonies of cases that could prove what we here state.
Hector Riscart himself was a victim of this in a court in the year 2003,
where he was condemned to a long prison term without any proof, and his
wife (signatory to this letter), was intimidated by agents of State
Security so that she would remain silent. At that moment the conscience
and innocence of both of them was different with respect to justice.
Hector, who was put in liberty two years later, was harassed by an
anti-narcotics agent so that he would work for him, and this agent
promised him vengeance.
This agent reappeared at this time and described el Ñaño described it
well in a fragment of his last statement:
"I made it clear to this officer that I would never work for him. He
said in 2005, that one day I would regret it and he would retaliate. I
didn't make a case of his threats and I never heard from him. Now he got
angry, saying by way of derision (I quote) "So you took to drugs! You
can make a fuckin' lot of money with drugs… " What a phrase worthy of a
chief national anti-drug department.
"Sure you have every luxury at home," he said. Everyone knows how we
live humbly at home with my mom and my wife. This officer wanted to
provoke me. I just opened my mouth to say: "LIAR, you say that because I
never worked with you."
"Then they took me to the station where I was assigned an
"instructor"(investigator/interrogator) named Yordanis, who insisted for
days that I make my statement, fooling me saying he would investigate
the matter well. I told him I had evidence to disprove all the police
farce and that was when I stated this in my own hand.
"We now know, all that is on file 826/11, they have set a trap, using my
declaration, adapting it to the police, with all their lies so
well-organized. The cost of my statement has been the loss of the only
visual evidence in my favor, disappeared.
"Now the file is back to the station with the sole intention of "fixing"
pretty much everything, or leaving out details that were inconsistent,
so that they are perfect."
Now several different artists have dedicated works, especially music, to
Maybe his arrest can open a debate about the use of drugs in Cuba. The
most consumed are 1) alcohol, 2) tobacco, 3) marijuana (unlike many
other countries here even its consumption is condemned), 4) crack
cocaine, 5) meth, 6) paco (cocaine residue, industrial solvents and rat
poison) and 7) ketamine.
These last three are medical industrial products. Those that generate
the greatest death and violence are the first two, both legal in Cuba,
There is a very great negative prejudice associated with marijuana and
Rastafarians. But we must listen to the Rasta fundamentals and attend to
the truth of the behavior in reality at all levels.
(We take advantage of this opportunity to say that in the streets of
Cuban the reality is very different from that expressed in the national
media. There is a growing dissatisfaction these days because ordinary
people are not represented, and because the freedoms which should be
ours from birth are not in our own hands, and continue being in the
hands of a vertical power, although they present it as a horizontal
We imagine that you know of a singer named Bob Marley, his songs of
redemption and freedom that are a global inspiration. This is the same
artistic and spiritual energy proposed by el Ñaño and the Real
Rastafarians in Cuba. (Real Rastafari is conscience, heart and life,
unlike many who just are Rastafarians in appearance).
There are many members of this movement who are being accosted,
imprisoned, and the injustice is in the whole country, especially when
it comes to making use of the new economic civil rights and rights of
association. Some have also criticized the Central Committee of the
Council of State without solutions.
Before the impossibility of receiving prompt justice, and because the
seriousness of it (which grows, we know that they will continue to
fabricate changes and that el Ñaño faces trial without any solid
defense, and without the right to bail which would cost him his life
because of the food in prison), almost two months later we have to make
the public understand his situation.
What do we hope for?
For Hector Riscart to be released immediately and restored to its home
with his children, his wife, his family and friends.
To let him return to incorporating his spiritual quest and his work as
director of his musical group.
That his group can work in peace.
That he be freed from all the charges he is accused of: a man devoted to
art and spirituality, who lives with humility, and preaches the social
good that can not engage in a business as dark as drug trafficking.
We hope not to be harassed or punished in any way, so say we here. And
we hope this happens because we are often subtle and silent.
We expect to receive Light. LIGHT. LIGHT …
April 14 2012