Roberto de Jesus Quinones Haces, kubanski pesnik, pravnik in novinar v ječi

Roberto de Jesus Quinones Haces je bil že večkrat v ječi, trenutno prestaja enoletno kazen, ker je pisal o nekem sodnem procesu na spletu. Uspelo mu je spročiti, v kakšnih pogojih živijo zaporniki v času virusa. Za svoje delo je prejel številne ugledne nagrade, od leta 1999 do 2001 pa je bil zaprt kot pravnik zaradi pritzadevanja za upoštevanje človekovih pravic. Prepovedano mu je bilo opravljanje pravniškega poklica.

Pesem zaprtega kubanskega pesnika, pravnika in novinarja Roberta de Jesusa Quinonesa Hacesa je v angleščino prevedla predsednica Mednarodnega PEN Jennifer Clement, v slovenščino pa Ifigenija Simonović.

The Prison

The prison is old Enrique

wasting time

as he smokes away

it is Pompi the Haitian

calling to his ancestors

while his vision, broken by prison bars,

stretches up toward the sky.

Prison is the hate in eyes

rotten food that is served

longing for ones children

a nocturnal cabal severed by blows

against the fence

and light beams that slice the night

and everyones’ despair.

No one cares about the lost eyes

of the imprisoned

hands orphaned of touch

dreams or tears

while a sliver of salt

comes to pierce the dawn.

Here, they only have a gray life

like the humanity of their judges.

If they awake dead

they’ll have an unknown vigil

like our suffering.





Zapor je stari Eurique,

ki kadi in zapravlja čas,

je Pompi, Haitijec,

ki kliče prednike,

ko mu mreža na oknu celice

reže pogled,

ki ga usmerja proti nebu.

Zapor je sovraštvo v očeh,

gnila hrana, ki jo dajejo jetnikom,

ko hrepenijo po svojih otrocih,

nočna zaslišanja, prekinjena z udarci

ob ograjo,

s premeni svetlobe , ki režejo temo,

in popoln obup.

Nikomur niso mar izgubljene oči


roke, ki so brez dotika,

brez sanj ali solz,

katerih drobec soli predre jutro.

Tu je življenje lahko samo sivo,

tako, kakršna je človečnost sodnikov.

Če se zbudijo mrtvi,

bojo molili neznane molitve,

neznane kot je naše trpljenje.



Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces is a 63-year-old Cuban poet, lawyer, and independent journalist. He was detained and beaten by state agents on 22 April 2019 while covering a trial for the news website CubaNet. Quiñones Haces was reportedly released five days later and fined for conduct during his detention, which they alleged, constituted ‘disobedience’ and ‘resistance.’ He was sentenced to one year in prisonon 7 August 2019 after refusing to pay the fine. Although Quiñones Haces has presented evidence in favour of his case and requested a new trial, on 19 August the Court rejected both the evidence and the request for a new trial and on 11 September 2019, Quiñones was detained.

Roberto Quiñones has also written about his imprisonment conditions, which include constant humiliation, overcrowding, contaminated water and food, and a lack of proper medical attention. He has also reported being threatened because of his articles and letters.

On 12 November 2019, the writer managed to secretly send out a letter from prison in which he denounces the harassment of which he is being victim in there. On 22 November 2019, Roberto Quiñones requested revision of the sentence. He, as a lawyer, also pointed to articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that had been violated including being reportedly subjected to a beating and denial of access to his family. In the letter, he states that he is being discriminated against owing to him being a “counter-revolutionary”.

On 31 March, he published in Cubanet that, although authorities in the prison had implemented some measures to deal with COVID-19, “the quality of the food is still deplorable. Despite reports of the vulnerability of older adults (prisoners over 60) to COVID-19, many of them are kept in cubicles where they live in overcrowded conditions with almost two dozen people.”  According to his family, Roberto is allegedly locked up in a small cell with at least 17 other people, sharing beds and toilet facilities.

Roberto is a writer and the author of poetry books La fuga del ciervo, Escritos desde la cárcel and El agua de la vida, among others. His work has been awarded with the Internacional de Poesía Vitral award (2001), the International Poetry Award Nósside (2006) and the Sixth Patmos Award on Religious Freedom (2019). As a lawyer, Roberto was imprisoned from 1999 to 2001 for his work on Human Rights; as a consequence, he was banned from practicing law.

On April 2020, CPJ included Roberto’s case as “one of the 10 most urgent cases of journalists under attack” around the world. Roberto is part of PEN International’s 2019 Case List.

Freedom of expression in Cuba

Cuba still holds the record for having the most restricted climate for the press in the Americas, according to a CPJ report, which rated it as the 10th most censored country globally in 2019. Miguel Díaz-Canel’s government continues to repress and punish dissent and criticism and control a large part of media. From January to August 2019, there were reportedly 1,818 arbitrary detentions of independent journalists and human rights defenders and other government critics. Writers, artists and cultural activists has suffered arrests and judicial and police harassments –that illustrate the repression. In April 2019, Decree 349 entered into force, establishing restrictions on artistic expression, and requiring the prior approval of the Ministry of Culture for the provision of artistic services in public or private spaces. Although repression of freedom of expression and freedom of press has been long-standing and systematic, the current wave of repression has been intensified by the application of Legal Decree 370 “On the computerization of Cuban society,” in force since July 4, 2019. At least 30 people have been subjected to interrogation, threats, and seizure of work equipment (especially that of journalists) for broadcasting their opinions on social media.


For more information, please contact Alicia Quiñones, Americas Programme Coordinator, at PEN International, email: