Cuba’s Ex-Prisons Chief — Accused of Human-Rights Abuses — is Back in the U.S. 14

By David Noriega and Juan O. Tamayo, JTamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

A former Cuban prisons chief who was living in Miami and returned hastily to the island after he was accused of human-rights abuses is now back again in the United States, according to a knowledgeable source.

Interior Ministry Col. Crescencio Marino Rivero, 71, returned to Cuba in November after a half-dozen dissidents identified him as a former director of prisons in the central province of Villa Clara and accused him of abuses. But a person with direct knowledge of the case Wednesday confirmed reports last week that Rivero had returned to somewhere in the United States. The person declined comment on Rivero’s location and all other issues, and asked for anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Rivero’s wife, Juana Ferrer, who stayed in Miami when he returned to Cuba, insisted to an El Nuevo Herald reporter Wednesday that he remains in the island and accused the media of harassing her and her family. The report of Rivero’s return drew grumbles from Miami immigration lawyers William Allen and Santiago Alpizar, whose complaints about his presence in South Florida last year eventually prompted an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“I am disappointed that it’s been months since this information has been made public, and in those months this guy returns to Cuba, returns to this country and nothing has happened,” Allen said. He added that he was especially frustrated because the U.S. government at the same time has sought to deport other Cubans who, like Rivero and Ferrer, allegedly lied about their Communist Party membership and other issues when they applied for U.S. visas and residence.

The normal procedure for cases like Rivero and Ferro would be for ICE to submit the results of its investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami for a decision on whether to press criminal charges — most likely fraudulently obtaining visas and residence. If the federal prosecutors decline, ICE can then start removal procedures — in essence, deportation cases in which an immigration judge rules on whether the defendants committed fraud. Deportations to Cuba are rare, so the defendants face detention in immigration lockups like the one on Krome Avenue or can voluntarily return to the island. ICE and the U.S. Attorneys Office in Miami declined comment on the Rivero and Ferrer case.

Rivero retired in 1996 from the Interior Ministry, in charge of all prisons, and moved to Miami in 2010 with his wife, a former Interior Ministry passport officer who held at least the rank of captain. They moved in with a daughter, who has a young child. A half-dozen former Cuban political prisoners have accused him of abusing them or ordering prison guards to abuse them when he was in charge of juvenile detention centers and later adult prisons in Villa Clara in the 1980s and 1990s.

Dissident Guillermo Fariñas, like Rivero a resident of the city of Santa Clara, alleged that an angry Rivero ripped out two intravenous feeding tubes from his arms when he was in a hospital in 1998 carrying out one of his many hunger strikes. Farinas, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize for freedom of conscience, said Rivero also shouted that “dissidents don’t need intravenous liquids. They need to be killed.”

Federal investigators obtained copies of Rivero and Ferrer’s applications for visas and residence, under the Cuban Adjustment Act, in November, around the same time that Rivero went back to their home in Santa Clara. Prosecuting Rivero for human rights abuses would be difficult, according to experts, but he and Ferrer could be put in removal procedures if they are found to have lied in their U.S. applications.

The forms ask if the applicants have ever worked in prisons, belonged to a Communist Party, received weapons training or served in a “paramilitary unit.” Interior Ministry officers hold military ranks and can carry weapons. Rivero has denied the allegations of human rights abuses and branded his accusers as “liars.” But he appeared to acknowledge possible problems with his visa application when he spoke with a handful of Miami reporters in November. When he applied for a U.S. visa, he said, “at that time I had been out of the Interior Ministry for 14 years. I didn’t give it any importance.”

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14 comments

  1. This case does not surprise me. He is one of a large number who are in this country and, at the same time, are working for Cuba. As the article states these Cuban Intelligence, Ministry of Interior etc. have hidden their previous affiliations with these services to obtain residences and US citizenship. It makes us wonder how far they and their children have gone within American society and the US government. How well are they serving Cuba’s interests an not our own.

  2. The MININT should be leveled a criminal organization compared to the Nazi Gestapo.Why? Because My father served time in Boniato prison in Santiago de Cuba as a political prisoner in 1960,he was tortured his friends got executed by firing squad,My father was incarcerated without communication with the rest of the prisoners for months,he was beaten by the communists guards,he was shot in the firing squads with blanks as a torture to mess with his minds.He told me that in his food he found tiny pieces of broken glass inside the white rice,he found rats inside the soup.My mother and my grandmother every time they went to see my mother in prison they were strip naked and search by the Militia women who made them squad on repetitions.The MININT used to search our home without warrants and their agents were thrown everything on the grown looking for weapons and Capitalist propaganda.In Boniato Prison my father mentioned to me that the blood of the prisoners was drawn by the medical personnel of the Prison before they were taken to the Firing Pit to be murdered by firing squad and that blood Castro sold it to Viet Nam and he pocket their profit.When my father was arrested in 1960,the communists,a group of 100 surrounded his home and one of them pulled my mother by the arm trying to get her inside the car saying “This blond and me are going to have a good time”My mother slapped him and my grand mother scratched the agent’s arm until he let go ,not before he slapped her to the ground.This Rivero Character among others like him that are here in the US should be brought to Justice,no one in the MININT is exempt from guilt.Some of the MININT personnel are coming to the US because they don’t want to be in the Island when that Regime collapse,they rather be here and be imprisoned that facing the people there.The least our authorities should do is to deport them from the US back to Cuba.Our authorities should check this people that are arriving from the island and be paying a lot of attention to their political affiliation before they come to the US because most of them have lied in their resident application and Perjury in the US is punishable by Law.Romania is going to prosecute 35 communist former guards for crimes committed against the Romanian people during the Cold war. Are we at fault for hating communism?I think we are having plenty reasons.

    • I agree with you. Everyone in the MININT is guilty. There’s a Spanish saying that I like when thinking of Cuba” tanta culpa tiene el que mata la vaca como el que le aguanta la pata”. In the beginning of the “Revolution” (1959-1965-) many of our compatriots rebelled. Thousands died by firing squads, thousands were sent to jail where hundreds died and the rest left for the United States. However, the failed CIA operation of the Bay of Pigs sealed Cuba’s future. After the Bay of Pigs, what was left in Cuba were Castro supporters and what was left of the opposition, the silent opposition. Castro established his system. As established it is a system that cannot survive without the support of the population. As a result, those that work for the system should be allowed to enter the US

  3. Colonel Crescencio Marino Rivero should be brought to justice or deported.The MININT is a criminal organization.The only problems is that the crimes committed by the Right are always brought to Justice,however the crimes that have being committed by the Communists which are worst,no one care to bring them to justice or simply are shove under the rug.

    • The fact that Col. Rivero was allowed to enter the US demonstrates the dangerous state of our intelligence network. We should bar all present and past members of the Cuban military and the Cuban Ministry of Interior.

      • The fact that Col. Rivero is known to be in Pennsylvania with the family of his son-in-law demonstrates the dangerous state of the Miami press. We should bar Tamayo and Company for dealing with Cuban affairs.

      • Why do you want to bar him for reporting the truth about Col. Rivero? Do you think he was wrong in talking about this? I don’t think so. As I said before, the Cuban military and the members of the Ministry of Interior should not be allowed into the US and if found should be sent back.

  4. No,I do not think so,the one that sealed Cuba to the world was a Dictator named Fidel Castro.Dangerous press?So if the news Channels do their job in reporting whatever is wrong with an individual that a known criminal in Cuba then the media is dangerous?How about the Cuban media?When have we seeing any event being reported in the Cuban media that has not being manipulated by the Communist dictatorship?When has the Communist Cuban media ever report the corruption within the Cuban communists and the Castro elite??? When has the Cuban media ever report any abuse of human rights on the island or abuses against the Political prisoners?NEVER! YOU KNOW WHY?BECAUSE CUBA HAS BEING RUN BY A DICTATORSHIP! THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE AND IN US THE MEDIA IS FREE AND REPORTS WHATEVER THEY FEEL LIKE.

  5. The communists brought 100 agents and soldiers to deal with my father and two more unarmed men and they surrounded or close down the entire neighborhood with checkpoints to make sure no help was brought to my father or his friends and on top of that they were beating his home until he was taking to EL CASTILLITO in Santiago de Cuba where he was tortured and interrogated before we was even taken to be arraigned on the fake charges the communists accused him of.My father went to prison and the communist never found a weapon on him or in his home.

  6. Colonel Rivero entered the US simply because he lied on the INS application. The MININT are not EJT draftees,they are season military members indoctrinated under the tenets of Marxism-Leninism and those troops will never blink to commit any atrocity against anyone,not only Cubans.The Minint is in charge of the Cuban prisons,the DI,DSE,etc.They are the ones that torture dissidents and political prisoners and Colonel Rivero was part of this entity and is very shameful that scum like that are enjoying the same benefits and freedoms we,Americans have fought so hard for.

  7. People keep harping on the CIA of being responsible for the bay of Pigs fiasco,I will say that John F Kennedy was the only responsible for the fiasco of Bay of Pigs.The only one responsible for Cuba’s situation is Fidel Castro and the Cuban people who put him in Power for their lack of vision when there were people in Cuba and in Batista Intelligence services that knew that Castro was a communist.There were Cubans that compared Castro with Christ,some even called him the savior but of course it is easy to blame someone else for the Castro dilemma than to accept full responsibility for putting that monster there.Secondly the Cuban communist propaganda which influenced Africa and South America due to the lack of education on those people’s Continents and the European left that have always supported Castro and third,the Cuban exiles which with their income are supporting Castro directly and indirectly,directly when they travel to Cuba and indirectly when they send “Mulas” or mules with dollars to their families in the Island.I keep saying than Colonel Rivero is here,most likely because he lied on his INS application and probably many of those criminals are here that have also lied on their INS application.NOT EVERYONE THAT COMES TO THE US FROM CUBA IS A FRIEND OF THE US MUCH LESS A REAL “DISSIDENT”

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