"Nobody is in agreement…It’s that, no one says it and no one takes the risk to say it, to speak the truth. That’s what is happening. In other words, one of the foundations, of what are the regimes in the entire world, in all of history, has been fear and lies. In other words, once you are in fear that's when you don’t take a risk, where you collect yourself and don’t unite…understood? To be in fear is not to offer help to anyone because that signifies risk." -Gorki Águila Carrasco, lead singer, guitarist of the music group Porno Para Ricardo and political prisoner
"Socialist ideology, like so many others, has two main dangers. One stems from confused and incomplete readings of foreign texts, and the other from the arrogance and hidden rage of those who, in order to climb up in the world, pretend to be frantic defenders of the helpless so as to have shoulders on which to stand." --Jose Marti

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Iskander Maleras and Luis Valverde By Cuba Archive Staff | Published 04/9/2006 | Case Profiles | Rating:
Maleras and Valverde: 1994 exit attempt

Iskander Maleras Pedraza


Assassinated January 19, 1994 while trying to gain asylum by entering the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo, Cuba.

Maleras was a resident of Guantánamo, Cuba. He had been repeatedly harassed and threatened by police, State Security, and neighborhood Communist Party watchdogs, for openly declaring his opposition to the Castro regime. Detained on numerous occasions, in one instance he had endured three months of prison on a fabricated charge of stealing horses. The case had been thrown out on trial only when another plaintiff testified the parties did not know Maleras and had been instructed to lie about his involvement.

On January 19, 1994, Maleras and Valverde with two other young men, Luis Gustavo Matos, and Eduardo Serante Gonzalez, attempted to flee Cuba trying to reach the Guantanamo Naval Base by raft. Maleras, not knowing how to swim, was on top of the very small raft, while the others pulled it as they swam towards the base.

When they were about 50 meters from the shore of the U.S. Naval Base, two Cuba border guards (José Barceló Escalona and Iván Fuentes Ramírez), opened fire with AKMs, killing Maleras and Valverde. The other two pled for clemency and took cover under water. Matos was injured on one foot and left to bleed to death, but was able to swim away at nightfall, making it to the U.S. base. Serante was captured, tried, and sentenced to house arrest instead of prison due to the public commotion the assassinations had caused. He later went into exile and lives in Florida.

The government refused to return the bodies of Maleras and Valverde to their families for a funeral and burial. Instead, they were buried naked in unmarked graves at the St. Raphael Cemetary of Guantanamo, designated by the government for victims of border guards or mine fields by the U.S. Naval Base.

The crime caused great commotion in the city of Guantamano, as the parents were very well known and respected professionals. Government authorities did not allow visits to the family home or the cemetery and posted patrols on the streets. The border guards were given awards for their deed, while prominent government figures went on local radio and TV to denounce the young men as "traitors, counter-revolutionaries and anti-social elements.”

Soon after the killings, the family was told by neighbors that a local school had on display the photos of the bodies ravaged by bullets, to impress upon the children the high cost of attempting to escape the country.

Iskander's sister was fired from her job as a music teacher at the university and was unable to find employment due to the stigma that befell the family. They endured so much harassment from the government that they had to go into exile after obtaining political asylum in the United States.

Iskander's mother writes that Iskander was born on September 15, 1967 and was the youngest of three siblings. He was very generous, had many friends, and was an avid cyclist. Her loss is incalculable and she will not rest until justice for her son is done.

Sources: Written and telephone testimony of Eulalia Nilda Pedraza, Iskander’s mother, Resident of Florida, February and April of 2006; Personal testimony by mother of August 2006; Testimony to La Nueva Cuba of Eulalia Pedraza of January 12, 2006, http://www.lanuevacuba.com/nuevacuba/notic-06-01-1370.htm.

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