Miami-Dade County

Two more Cuban dissidents allege abuse by former prison official now living in Miami


Crescencio Marino Rivero, a former Cuban Interior Ministry colonel, is now living in Miami.

Two more Cuban dissidents have alleged that they were abused personally or on the orders of a former Villa Clara provincial prison chief Crescencio Marino Rivero, who now lives in Miami.

Rivero, 71, and his wife Juana Ferrer, both former officers in Cuba’s Interior Ministry and members of the ruling Communist Party, appear to have obtained their U.S. visas and residency without revealing their activities on behalf of the Cuban government.

Wilfredo Allen, one of the two Miami lawyers who referred the allegations against Rivero to U.S. prosecutors two weeks ago, has asked for the start of deportation procedures against the couple. Rivero has denied committing any abuses.

Arturo Conde Zamora said he was 12 or 13 years old and was being held in a reformatory when Rivero hit him with a stick two or three times on his back and legs. Rivero was in charge of the lockup in the Villa Clara village of Maleza.

“He beat me with a stick and then threw me into a cell,” Conde, now 47, told El Nuevo Herald by telephone from his home in the Villa Clara town of Placetas. “He tied me up with a rope and left me in a tapiada” – a cell with a solid steel door instead of bars.

Rivero has been identified as provincial head of youth reformatories and reeducation programs in the 1980s before he was promoted to head Villa Clara’s overall prison system.

Conde said he was sent to a reformatory for chronic school skipping, and was beaten by Rivero and two or three reformatory “re-educators” in 1981 or 1982 because he had fought with one of the other 100 or so youths in the Maleza lockup.

A decade later, Conde added, he was serving a new prison term in the maximum security Alambrada de Manacas prison in Villa Clara when Rivero turned up there following a clash between prisoners and guards.

“Not even 30 minutes later, they brought in dogs to attack the prisoners.” Conde was bitten on the thigh, he said.

Another Placetas dissident, Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as Antunez, said he never saw Rivero personally abuse prisoners. “Officers of that rank don’t have to,” he said, because they can order guards to abuse the inmates.

Antunez alleged that on Feb. 19, 1991, while serving a 5 ½-year sentence for “enemy propaganda” at the La Pendiente prison in Villa Clara, he was taken to see Rivero for his refusal to wear prison uniforms — a type of protest used by many political prisoners.

“Look, you black counterrevolutionary, we’re not going to allow that here,” Antunez, who is black, quoted Rivero as telling him.

Rivero told the guards “take him to the cell and if he takes off his clothes, bust his head,” the dissident added in a phone interview with El Nuevo Herald. Antunez said he did try to take off his clothes and got such a beating that he remembers the exact date.

Antunez and Conde’s allegations, and similar previous accusations against Rivero by three other dissidents, could not be independently confirmed. Rivero did not return an El Nuevo Herald call to his phone last week, and his daughter said he would not speak to the newspaper because his previous comments to other journalists were “distorted.”

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