Freedom for Cuban rock dissident

Miami Herald:

Cuban punk rocker Gorki Aguila is irreverent, vulgar -- and bolder than any other performance artist in modern Cuban history.

His lyrics blasting the Cuban dictatorship are so strong, this newspaper can't print many of them. The founder and lead singer of the 10-year-old group ''Porn for Ricardo'' walks around his western Havana neighborhood with T-shirts that say things like, ``59: Year of the Mistake.''

In a case that has drawn attention around the world, the 39-year-old rocker went on trial Friday on charges of ''pre-crime social dangerousness.'' He faced a sentence of up to four years in prison, but in the end the court fined him the equivalent of $28 and promised to free him.

Wire-service reports from Havana said the singer yelled ''freedom!'' as he was led into a courthouse. Diplomats, human rights activists, artists and journalists swarmed the municipal courthouse Friday morning awaiting the trial, which began some eight hours late. Some family, friends and political activists chanted Aguila's name as he arrived in a police car and was escorted inside the building, the Associated Press reported.

The two-hour trial was closed to the media and was ignored by the Cuban news media.

Elizardo Sánchez, head of the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation attended the trial and talked to reporters later. ''The prosecution asked for a fine,'' he said. ``Fortunately, there will be no more time in prison.''

The trial came a day after his bandmates were briely detained during a concert in Havana Thursday night featuring singer Pablo Milanés, who had been urged by hundreds of artists including Miguel Bosé and Alejandro Sanz to publicly call for Aguila's freedom.


It is interesting that one of the few people courageous enough to stand up the the despots in Cuba is a punk rocker. When did speech become ''pre-crime social dangerousness"? I have seen no word of support from the Hollywood left which has said much worse about President Bush without being charged yet they claim the US is a place that has lost rights.


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