Hillary Clinton Should Demand Obama Fully Enforce Cuba Sanctions Law

Friday, September 30, 2016
The entire thrust of yesterday's Newsweek story on Trump-Cuba boils down to one legal question:

Whether the New York-based consulting firm, Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corporation ("Seven Arrows"), lied about the purpose of its travel to Cuba in 1998?

As we posted yesterday, if Seven Arrows didn't obtain the appropriate OFAC license for its travel-related transactions, or lied about the purpose of the trip, there should be legal consequences against Seven Arrows and any Trump executives that knowingly colluded with it.

Hillary Clinton strongly agrees.

A statement from her campaign blasted Trump:

"Trump’s business with Cuba appears to have broken the law, flouted U.S. foreign policy, and is in complete contradiction to Trump’s own repeated, public statements that he had been offered opportunities to invest in Cuba but passed them up. This latest report shows once again that Trump will always put his own business interest ahead of the national interest - and has no trouble lying about it."

Then, talking to reporters from her plane last night , Hillary added:

"Trump put his personal and business interests ahead of the laws and values of the United States."

First of all, it's great to see Hillary finally recognize that business with Cuba's regime contradicts U.S. law and values. Moreover, that it flouts and contradicts the national interests of the United States.

She should immediately send a memo to The White House.

More importantly and consistently, Hillary should immediately demand that President Obama fully enforce Cuba sanctions and not allow American business and travelers to flout U.S. law.

Specifically:

Akin to the accusation against Seven Arrows, Hillary should immediately seek OFAC enforcement against all American travelers lying on their affidavits on regularly scheduled flights to Varadero, Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo, and staying at the Cuban military's all-inclusive beach resorts. These trips violate U.S. law.

Hillary should seek OFAC enforcement against Starwood Hotels management deal with the Cuban military's, Gaviota, S.A., which is contrary and inconsistent with U.S. law, traffics in stolen American property and violates international labor law.

Hillary should seek OFAC enforcement against Stonegate Bank and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico for issuing credit cards that provide financing of transactions through stolen properties, which is in direct violation of U.S. law.

Again, as we posted yesterday -- there's an opportunity here.

We can now all agree that doing business with the Castro dictatorship is bad; that U.S. law must be respected; and OFAC should take enforcement action against those who violate it.

Newsweek's Trump Cuba Story Needs Perspective

Thursday, September 29, 2016
This morning, Newsweek published a rather sensationalist (and hypocritical) story on Trump's involvement with a consulting firm that took a scouting trip to Cuba in 1998.

Here's the gist --

Trump's company apparently hired a consulting firm, Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corporation ("Seven Arrows"), to do a scouting trip to Cuba in 1998. Months after, Seven Arrows billed Trump's company over $68,000 for the trip.

In the late 1990's -- like today -- the Bill Clinton Administration was licensing and encouraging U.S. companies to take scouting trips to Cuba, with the hope they would return and lobby Congress to ease the sanctions that he codified into law in 1996. Sound familiar? At the time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was forming coalitions to do business in Cuba with the same zeal as today. (Click here to learn more.)

Also -- like today -- these scouting trips could be legally licensed. What was illegal -- and remains illegal (with the statutory exceptions of telecom connections, and cash sales for agriculture, medicine and medical equipment) -- is actually transacting business with the Castro regime

Hence, if Seven Arrows didn't obtain an OFAC license for the trip and (after-the-fact) sought to cover-up the motive, then there should be legal consequences against Seven Arrows and any Trump executives that knowingly colluded with it.

However, Trump never transacted business with the Castro regime, as the Newsweek article claims. To the contrary, Trump concluded that those who seek to do business with the Castro regime were mistaken.

Trump even penned an op-ed in The Miami Herald in 1999, in which he admits:

"Several large European investment groups have asked me to take the 'Trump Magic' to Cuba. They have 'begged' me to form partnerships to build casino-hotels in Havana. With the influx of foreign tourists, we would make a fortune, they promise, and they are no doubt right. They are also right to say that this type of arrangement would allow me to skirt the U. S.-imposed embargo.

But rushing to join those who would do business in Cuba would do more than that. It would place me directly at odds with the longstanding U. S. policy of isolating Fidel Castro. I had a choice to make: huge profits or human rights. For me, it was a no-brainer."

Perhaps he deserves some kudos for this.

However, it's fascinating to watch those who are currently working to hand the Castro regime billions of dollars -- beginning with the Obama Administration, Clinton campaign and its talking heads -- now attacking Trump for this $68,000 consulting expenditure.

Moreover, how those actively advocating for U.S. business, banks and travelers to skirt current sanctions law -- which remains the same as in 1998 -- are now wagging their finger.

So perhaps there's an opportunity here.

Maybe we can all agree now that doing business with the Castro dictatorship is bad; that U.S. law must be respected; and OFAC should take enforcement action against those who violate it.

Senate Foreign Relations Chair: 'Highly Unlikely' Cuba Ambassador Will Be Approved

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
From Reuters:

U.S. senator: 'Unlikely' Cuba ambassador will be approved this year

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which oversees the confirmation of foreign service nominees, said on Wednesday it was "highly unlikely" that an ambassador to Cuba would be approved this year.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated career diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis to be the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than five decades.

"The committee was notified of the nomination yesterday but has not yet received the appropriate paperwork to begin its work," Republican Senator Bob Corker said in a statement emailed to Reuters. "However, it is highly unlikely that an ambassador to Cuba would be approved in the lame-duck."

The appointment of DeLaurentis, the top American official at the U.S. embassy in Havana, marked Obama’s latest move to go as far as he can in normalizing ties between the former Cold War foes before he leaves office in January.

But the nomination must be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, which is seen as a long shot.

Corker's committee would have to hold a confirmation hearing for DeLaurentis and vote to approve his nomination before it would go to the full Senate, where it could be blocked by any senator.

Rubio: Obama's Cuba Ambassador Nomination Should Go Nowhere

Rubio: President Obama's Nomination of Ambassador to Castro Regime Should Go Nowhere

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today regarding President Obama’s nomination of Jeffrey DeLaurentis to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Castro regime:

President Obama capitulated to the Castros in December 2014, and his Cuba policy has allowed the regime to further cozy up with other terrorist regimes like Iran, help North Korea evade international sanctions, carry out more repression and human rights abuses, and do nothing to improve the lives of the Cuban people. It’s been 21 months and by any objective measure, President Obama’s appeasement of the region’s only totalitarian regime has been a complete disaster.

From the Obama Administration’s failure to invite dissidents to the opening of the embassy in Havana, to its muted response to the ongoing repression in Cuba – including an embassy Twitter handle under Mr. DeLaurentis’ leadership that seems more like a travel agency than an advocate for American values and interests – President Obama has failed the Cuban people. 

Just like releasing all terrorists from Guantanamo and sending U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Iranian regime, rewarding the Castro government with a U.S. ambassador is another last-ditch legacy project for the President that needs to be stopped. A U.S. ambassador is not going to influence the Cuban government, which is a dictatorial and closed regime. This nomination should go nowhere until the Castro regime makes significant and irreversible progress in the areas of human rights and political freedom for the Cuban people, and until longstanding concerns about the Cuban regime’s theft of property and crimes against American citizens are addressed.

Obama's Cuba Policy Has Brought No Leverage With Venezuela

In July 2015, Bloomberg's Editorial Board applauded Obama's new Cuba policy, arguing that it would give the U.S. "more leverage with Venezuela."

This was also a favorite talking point of some Washington "think-tanks" and "Latin Americanists."

It turns out -- as we had correctly predicted -- that the exact opposite happened.

Thus now, Bloomberg is seeking pressure on Venezuela's Cuban-puppet regime.

Imagine that.

From Bloomberg's Editorial Board:

Obama Needs to Step Up the Pressure on Venezuela

In yet another stunning anti-democratic maneuver, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has managed to have any recall referendum effectively delayed until next year. In response, President Barack Obama needs to revisit U.S. policy toward the Western Hemisphere’s most dysfunctional nation.

Until even a few years ago, some U.S. “strategic patience” toward Venezuela made sense. High oil prices cushioned the country with the world’s largest reserves from its increasingly harebrained economic policies, and from outside pressure over its political repression, high-level collusion with narco-trafficking, and other bad behavior. And the reflexive anti-Americanism of Chavismo -- the idiosyncratic ideology championed by the late Hugo Chavez -- had sympathizers in influential neighbors such as Argentina and Brazil.

Things have changed. Oil prices have collapsed, and Venezuela faces triple-digit inflation and a third year of recession. Shortages of food, medicine and basic goods have immiserated its citizens and created a potential humanitarian crisis.

Maduro has responded to public discontent and a landslide opposition victory in last year’s legislative elections by intensifying his subversion of democratic institutions. Last month, for instance, his well-packed Supreme Court annulled much of the new legislature’s work. And now the country’s Electoral Authority has set unprecedented hurdles for any recall vote; by delaying the process, it has also all but ensured that even if a recall succeeds, Maduro’s ruling party will control the presidency until new elections in late 2018.

Venezuela's Revolution

Without meaningful outside pressure, that could mean two more years of deepening misery, corruption and repression, with ugly consequences beyond Venezuela’s borders.

Thankfully, Chavismo’s allure has ebbed regionally and globally. New governments in Argentina, Brazil and Peru are more willing to criticize Venezuela. If Venezuela fails to comply with the human rights and immigration standards set by the Mercosur trade bloc, for instance, it should be suspended. Likewise, the obstruction of the recall should spur the Organization of American States to begin the process that could lead to Venezuela’s suspension.

The U.S. should take up the recent call by Peru’s president to offer Venezuelans humanitarian aid. But it should also step up sanctions on Venezuelan officials. Even as arbitrary detentions and abuses have increased, the U.S. has not widened its net beyond the seven officials whose assets were frozen in a March 2015 executive order; the State Department still says “more than 60” Venezuelans are subject to visa bans, similar to what it was saying a year and a half ago. For starters, it should target more officials for rampant public corruption, which Obama’s executive order also covers. Among other things, that would further chill the willingness of financial institutions to do business with an increasingly unsavory government -- one that already teeters on default.

Of course, Venezuela’s future should ultimately be decided at the ballot box. By holding the country’s leaders to account, Venezuela’s neighbors can help ensure that the outcome of any election is not a foregone conclusion.

Obama's Cuban Migration Crisis (Tragedy) Exacerbates

The Obama Administration -- pursuant to its new policy -- is facing the largest migration of Cuban nationals since the rafters of 1994.

The number of Cubans fleeing to the United States in 2015 was nearly twice that of 2014. Some 51,000 Cubans last year entered the United States and this year’s figures will easily surpass that.

The numbers of Cuban nationals fleeing the island have now quintupled since President Obama took office, when it was less than 7,000 annually.

As the tragedy exacerbates, the silence of the Obama Administration regarding this very tangible and measurable consequence of its new policy is deafening.

From The Miami Herald:

Five bodies found along Keys; Coast Guard searches for missing Cuban migrants

Five bodies have been recovered from Florida Keys waters or shorelines since Saturday, possibly victims of a capsized migrant vessel that left Cuba.

None of the five - three men and two women - has been publicly identified.

Three men found alive near Big Pine Key told authorities that about two dozen people were aboard a makeshift boat that departed from Cuba on Sept. 20. The aging boat capsized and sank a day later.

Three bodies were found Saturday in international waters off the Upper Keys, about 23 miles east of Islamorada. A fourth body was found on a Lower Keys beach Saturday.

The fifth victim, a woman, was discovered Monday near Little Palm Island in the Lower Keys by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission patrol boat, part of an extensive search by state and federal agencies for survivors or more fatalities.

The woman’s body was not far from Ramrod Key, where a man’s body was found Saturday on a remote beach off mile marker 27.

“The deceased people have not been identified,” said Deputy Becky Herrin, information officer for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. “Their bodies have been turned over to the [county] Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy to determine the cause of their deaths, and to attempt to determine their identities.”

A fisherman found the first body, a man, offshore of the Upper Keys around 10:45 a.m. Saturday. An FWC aircraft responding to the area spotted the bodies of a man and a woman near an overturned raft around 2:30 p.m.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, Ramrod Key property owners found a man’s body at the isolated beach. "Detectives say there were no obvious signs of trauma on the man’s body, which was found lying on the remote strip of beach," the Monroe County Sheriff's Office reported. "The dead man had two bottles of water and a small amount of food near him when he was found."

Amid U.S. and E.U. Silence, Cuba Unleashes Wave of Repression

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
An excellent roundup of the recent wave of repression throughout Cuba.

From Diario de Cuba's Editorial Board:

Cuban regime unleashes repression all over the island

The Cuban regime launched a massive crackdown on the offices of the Legal Information Center (Cubalex), headed up by attorney Laritza Diversent, according to information received by DIARIO DE CUBA, just hours after the European Commission formally proposed that the EU countries support the political cooperation and dialogue agreement with Havana, which would supersede the Common Position, in force since 1996.

Sources close to Diversent said that police forces raided the headquarters and accused the entire Cubalex team of "economic crimes".

At 10 am in the morning two police cars arrived, along with 20 agents in plain clothes, and a lady in a white coat who claimed to be a doctor. They waited for the entire CUBALEX team to be inside the building before commencing the operation.

They broke in through the garage door with a crowbar, and used a jimmy to access the kitchen, confiscating all their technological resources, computers, memories and hard drives – even those for personal use.

A week of intense repression

The week saw a wave of repression unleashed across the Island against many opposition and civil society organizations.

On Thursday the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) reported the arrest of 23 activists and the imprisonment of one of its members, who would mark "political prisoner number 43" from the organization.

On Tuesday, 20 September, police officers and State Security agents prevented a dozen young dissidents from completing visa processes at the Spanish consulate in Havana to travel to Madrid to take a training course at the Instituto Atlántico.

That same day, the spokesman for Cuba’s Independent Trade Union Coalition, Iván Hernández Carrillo, reported that the political police had deployed a large force to break up a meeting of several trade unionists seeking to fuse the Island's three main labor organizations.

On Sunday, 18 September, repression was also perpetrated against The Ladies in White: 27 women were arrested in Havana, along with several activists with the #TodosMarchamos (We All March) campaign on the 71st Sunday of the constant persecution of the organization's marches.

Another group of women was also harassed on Tuesday, when State Security deployed forces near a house in which they were to hold a meeting, while keeping the participants trapped in their own homes.

The women, coordinators of a numbers of projects, had planned to present their work and draft a single document for submission to an upcoming international forum.

Last Friday, meanwhile, the activist Marthadela Tamayo, a member of the Committee for Racial Integration (CIR), was seized by political agents, held and interrogated for eight hours. Her family and friends, unaware of her whereabouts, reported her missing. Following her release Tamayo spoke to DIARIO DE CUBA.

Another victim of the current clampdown was Lady in White Leticia Ramos. On Saturday police searched her house for two hours.

At about 8:30 am 26 agents from the Interior Ministry showed up at her home in Cárdenas, Matanzas, proceeding to seize magazines, a publication of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and to arrest Ramos's husband.

Leticia Ramos is now under investigation, accused of "public disorder." The authorities will not allow her to leave her home.

Last week the authorities also arrested, beat and stripped three women activists from the Partido Arco Progresista (PARP) who were on their way to the Santuario de El Cobre. The activists wore T-shirts endorsing the #Otro18 campaign, which seeks to promote candidates not backed by the regime to run in the 2018 "elections."

Far from easing up on repression in order to secure international approval, Raúl Castro seems bent on ratcheting it up.

Cuba, Russia Sign Nuclear Energy Cooperation Deal

Take note: This will become a shiny new tool for the Castro regime to further blackmail Obama and the next U.S. Administration.

(Also, see yesterday's post regarding the Cuba-ties of Putin's new foreign intelligence chief.)

From EFE:

Cuba, Russia sign nuclear energy cooperation deal

Cuba and Russia relaunched their relations on Tuesday with a pacific nuclear energy deal signed in Vienna alongside the International Atomic Energy Agency's General Conference.

Cuban vice Minister of Science, Environment and Technology José Fidel Santana signed the deal with Sergey Kirienjo, director of the Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom.

Santana said that, after two years of negotiations, the deal would give both countries a framework to immediately begin developing bilateral projects, especially related to the medical and agricultural uses of nuclear energy.

He insisted that the projects were still in their initial phases, so the economic and material volume of the deal could not yet be evaluated.

The deal also includes the creation of Cuban nuclear specialists, applied and fundamental investigations and the management of radioactive waste.

Bilateral relations between Russia and Cuba have intensified in the last few months and they have signed several deals, including one on the sale and repair of train engines for merchandise transport on the island between 2017 and 2021.

Quote of the Week: Do Business in Liberty City, Not Castro's Cuba

Wait until this year's presidential election is over. Wait until Fidel Castro dies. Wait to see who dares to do anything of significance; entrepreneurially-speaking. And, at the end of this waiting period, if you really want to start up a business, come to Liberty City.
-- T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami, in response to The Miami Herald's CEO Forum on when to do business in Cuba, 9/25/16

Another Bogus Cuban Oil Story

For decades, hyped reports of Cuban oil discoveries have made their way to the media, which goes on a frenzy.

Then, they always turn out to be untrue. (Click here to learn more about Castro's oil charade.)

And yet again this month.

From The Havana Times:

Cuba Denies Reported Oil Discovery

The state company CubaPetróleo (Cupet) reduced the level of expectations created by the alleged discovery of a major oil field in the center of the island and said the news was a “misinterpretation”, reported dpa news.

The deputy director of CubaPetróleo (Cupet), Roberto Suarez, said some media “distorted” the press release issued by the MEO Australia that “at no time used the word discovery or finding,” but referred to” identification of potential.”

In July news reports spread that the Australian based company MEO had confirmed the discovery of a deposit of 8.2 billion of high quality oil, in a zone located between the central provinces of Matanzas and Ciego de Avila.

MEO has a production contract with Cupet, under which it conducts exploration studies, seismic work and reprocessing data from block number #9, according to Suarez quoted by the official newspaper “Granma”.

Cupet said the alleged discovery still requires an “evaluation, exploration and analysis” because the prospecting “implies risks”.

Currently, Cuba’s oil production covers 60 percent of the energy needed by the island, said the head of exploration Cupet, Oswaldo Lopez, told state television.

Putin Names Cuba Adviser as Russia's New Intel Chief

Monday, September 26, 2016
Earlier this year, General James R. Clapper, the U.S Director of National Intelligence, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that:

"The threat from foreign intelligence entities, both state and nonstate, is persistent, complex, and evolving. Targeting and collection of US political, military, economic, and technical information by foreign intelligence services continues unabated. Russia and China pose the greatest threat, followed by Iran and Cuba on a lesser scale."

Only one of these nations is in the Western Hemisphere -- just 90 miles from the United States. 

In the last week alone, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Havana to discuss (further) strengthening ties with Castro's regime.

In other words, contrary to the argument of President Obama and his supporters, The White House's new Cuba policy has only emboldened and coalesced these anti-American regimes.

Also this week, Russia's Vladimir Putin named Sergei Naryshkin as head of its notorious foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR.

Naryshkin is a long-time Putin confidant. They first met as pupils at the KGB's "training school" in the late 1970s.

He is also a long-time Cuba hand.  

Naryshkin travels to Havana frequently and has very close relationships with senior Castro regime officials, whom he recently referred to as "Russia's most trustworthy partners in Latin America."

He led the effort to forgive 90% of Castro's debt to Russia and has been a proponent of Cuba forming part of Russia's political-military alliance, Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

(Learn more here.)

In The Washington Post last week, U.S. officials estimated that Russia's SVR, now led by Naryshkin, is believed to have 150 or more operatives in the United States.

Add to that Cuba's vast network of intelligence operatives in the United States, which has been exacerbated by Obama's new policy -- along with the Castro regime's unprecedented access to U.S. officials, Members of Congress, celebrities and business leaders -- and it's a bonanza for intelligence collection, influence and blackmail.

Picture below: Naryshkin (with a red cap) recently taking a tour of Old Havana, the Cuban military's newest tourism holding.

ALERT: Number of Female Cuban Political Prisoners Grows, Violence Intensifies

Sunday, September 25, 2016
The Castro regime is taking full advantage of the Obama Administration's policy distractions -- and the media's willful blindness -- to intensify repression against female democracy activists and add new political prisoners to its roster.

Please take note of the following cases of grave concern:

-- Yaquelin Heredia Morales (pictured below), of The Ladies in White and Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), remains held at a prison for patients with HIV/AIDS (Yaquelin does not have AIDS) since April 15th, 2016, for staging a peaceful pro-democracy protest in Havana's Fraternidad Park. On September 12th, Yaquelin was brutally beaten by the military head of the prison, Jorge Luis Castillo.

-- Marietta Martinez Aguilera, of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), was transferred from the Prisión de Mujeres de Occidente (Guatao) to the Women’s Prison in Holguin province. Meanwhile, Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz Miranda, of The Ladies in White, who was also confined at the Guatao Prison, was transferred to Bellote Prison in the city of Matanzas. Marietta and Mercedes were both participants alongside Yaquelin in the April 15th protest. They remain arbitrarily imprisoned without trial.

-- Aimara Nieto Muñoz, of The Ladies in White, was arrested on April 11th, 2016, and accused of "disorderly conduct" for publicly distributing pro-democracy leaflets. She remains imprisoned without trial at at the Prisión de Mujeres de Occidente (Guatao).

Cuban Regime Harasses, Arrests and Dissappears Independent Labor Leaders

From Diario de Cuba:

Cuban regime blocked a meeting of trade unionists who sought to create a broad and independent coalition

The spokesman for the Independent Trade Union Coalition, Iván Hernández Carrillo (pictured below), reported that State Security deployed forces on Tuesday to thwart a meeting of several trade unionists seeking to unify the Island's three historic trade unions.

"We had a meeting organized to finalize the details," Hernández Carrillo told DIARIO DE CUBA.

The meeting, however, could not be held because several activists were arrested, others besieged in their homes and threatened, and one, at least, has apparently disappeared, said the union activist

Among those detained was Ariadna Mena Rubio, while another activist, Aimé Cabrera, "was threatened with arrest if she left her house."

The whereabouts of three activists summoned to the meeting are still unknown. "Their phones are switched off or without coverage, suggesting that they may have been arrested, but this has not been confirmed," explained Hernández Carrillo.

In the case of Ariadna Mena, said the activist, "her relatives do not know where they have taken her. She was intercepted after dropping her daughters off at school." Also detained for four hours was the unionist Alejandro Sánchez.

The venue where the meeting was to be held was surrounded by plainclothes police officers.

Hernández Carrillo, meanwhile, explained that he managed to elude the siege he faced in Matanzas.

The unionist regretted that State Security was able to foil a meeting whose purpose was to "unite the three organizations and make union work in Cuba stronger, more solid, and more united."

This unit, he added, "intends to join forces to achieve what we are looking for: real changes within the Cuban nation, which lead to the rule of law, and where all workers enjoy rights, including that to organize freely."

“The political police,” said Hernández, “insists that it will not allow this to happen. We are going to work to achieve our goal.”

Video: Interview With Leader of Cuba's Ladies in White

The World Movement for Democracy recently interviewed, Berta Soler, leader of The Ladies in White, about the struggles and triumphs of being an activist in Cuba.

The Ladies in White -- mothers, wives and relatives protesting on behalf of political prisoners -- are frequently targets of state-sponsored violence in Cuba. Cuban authorities often arrest, and physically assault the peaceful activists during their weekly Sunday marches.

Despite the government’s brutality, The Ladies in White have continued to march on, garnering support from the international community, and inspiring Cuba activists to fight for democracy.

Click below (or here) to watch the interview:

Cuban Regime Raids Independent Legal Center (Cubalex)

From 14ymedio (via Translating Cuba):

Cuban Police Seize Legal Center’s Work Equipment 

Friday’s police assault against the headquarters of Cubalex, Center of Legal Information, located in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, resulted in the seizure of six computers, several hard drives, USB drives and cell phones. The officers informed the lawyer Laritza Diversent (pictured below, center)  that she could be accused of the crime of “illicit economic activity,” according to a report from the activist Kirenia Yalit to this newspaper.

The headquarters of the independent group was searched on Friday, by members of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and members of State Security, who stormed the place breaking down the doors.

The thorough search of the building lasted until after eleven p.m. and “when it seemed that everything was going to end and they had concluded their interrogations” of the activists, they forced them to strip naked “and squat to verify that there was nothing hidden in their bodies,” said Yalit.

The independent lawyers denounce the fact that they never showed a warrant that met the requirements for a search.

“They took everything, they just left some chairs and tables,” says Yalit, which 14ymedio was able to confirm through sources near the site. The prosecutor who led the operation informed the attorneys that the case “is of interest to the Attorney General of the Republic” and that they would undertake all relevant investigations to determine whether to proceed with an indictment against them.

Dayan Pérez Noriega, who was taken to a police station when he tried to send Twitter messages about what was happening, was released at around ten at night. The attorney Julio Ferrer, a member of Cubalex, remains missing after having been intercepted by the police on Friday.

After the operation at the property was completed, the lawyers received no  immediate injunction, fines or written summons.

Attorney Laritza Diversent intends to denounce “the outrage committed,” as she has done on previous occasions when she demanded the return of her belongings seized by Cuban Customs at the airport.

The Legal Information Center, Cubalex, is an independent agency that has provided free legal advice since 2010. The lawyers’ group also focuses on human rights issues. In July of this year Cuba’s Ministry of Justice rejected the application filed by the group’s members for legal status for the organization.