Yamile Bargés Hurtado is a 48-year-old woman who was put through a legal process which leaves us feeling defrauded. In 2003, she traded an apartment in the Bahía neighborhood for a similar one in El Vedado with Mrs. Teresa Luisa Rivero Domínguez, co-owner of the building located at 355 3rd Street at the corner of Paseo and 2nd. Both were one-bedroom, small square footage residences; but Yamile’s was in perfect condition (new) and that of Teresa Luisa in ruins.
In 1998, Mrs. Rivero became widowed and was awarded the residence her husband, Baltazar Toledo Rodríguez, willed to her and whose title she shared. Later, the grandson of the deceased Toledo, Eliazar Yosvany Rivero Toledo, argued that the (grandparents’) marriage had broken down, and sued his grandmother that he should be registered as a co-occupant, although he had never slept in the apartment; and so it was done. The grandson never spent a night in the house, according to testimony Yamile Bargés obtained from her neighbors in the building.
Since moving to the apartment, Bargés Hurtado made huge sacrifices to improve its condition. She arranged and expanded it to be more comfortable — now it has another bedroom and more than double its original square footage — she obtained the legal licenses and subsequently, legally added the modifications to the property. In doing so, she converted a little one-room apartment — originally valued at 806 pesos by the community technical architect — into a property priced at $5,408.24.
In 2008, five years having passed of living there, after having done all remodeling and following the death of Mrs. Teresa Rivero, Bargés discovered that a dispute existed over the property. If the trade had been a legitimate fact and both women were owners of their dwellings, Yamile (her name is written without an accent) didn’t understand how someone could question her rights.
In the year 2006, the Provincial Court passed final judgment on the complaints against Mrs. Rivero Domínguez who, at the time, was in serious (medical) condition. The Court mentioned that she had lost her rights because neither she nor her notary appeared on either occasion it had summoned her.
Teresa Luisa’s son, after having been cited himself, said that he had submitted a certificate that would testify to Rivero Domínguez’s inability to appear. Without review and in absentia, the legitimate award of her house — which came to her on her husband’s death, and of which she was co-owner — was cancelled.
In the heir’s declaration — apparently altered, with blanked-out lines and in a different font — the name of the litigant grandson does not appear. The children of Mrs. Rivero swear that he was taken into account and was part of the same. Why did he not appear in any written documentation? Where does one go to look for the original file if there is inadequate manipulation of the documents?
One supposes that Burgés would have been named as one of the affected parties, but this wasn’t so. In 2006, the cancellation of the deed to her house had been finalized, and she didn’t find out about it until 2008, when she was notified of the lawsuit. A record dated 2002 alleged that the grandson had been asserting his right as “former heir” for years, violations of which do not expire. It is worth adding that in all the ordinary proceedings 114/08, they never mentioned the co-owner character of Mrs. Teresa Luisa Rivero, who’d always been referred to as “the widow”. To top it all off, she had an attorney who didn’t adequately defend her rights; to the contrary, she seemed to be allied with her opponents.
After 4 years of judicial dispute, the People’s Supreme Court confirmed the Provincial Court’s findings in favor of the plaintiff Eliazar Yosvany, to whom was awarded the residence. Next November 15th the principal victim and her daughter must abandon the building in which they have resided for almost ten years.
This is a proceeding in which there are many victims, but one of Teresa’s children, age 70, lives in the apartment passed down by his mother, and now must abandon it so that Yamile Bargés can return to her original place. Or maybe, pretending to defend the supposed rights of a grandson, they violated the rights of a dead owner and her children. What is the value attributed to a will in Cuba?
The character of a widow of Teresa Luisa wasn’t worth anything — the award of her residence was cancelled — neither was her condition of co-ownership, nor the will she left to her descendents (all this is said to be in favor of Eliazar Yosvany, but there is nothing in writing), nor the privileges of her inheritors or those of Bargés Hurtado. How many rights have been trampled upon? Beyond current law, a new legal ethic which restores citizens’ faith in the upholding of law and procedure is both necessary and possible.
In this case there is no doubt that, to honor the old refrain “the laws and its traps were made together,” the number of arbitrary acts seen seem to go beyond legal norms and have left Yamile Burgés a serial admission in the psych wards of Calixto García and Manuel Fajardo Hospitals. Fortunately, Yamile keeps photocopies of each one of the papers or documents issued and required for the lawsuit.
I have no legal aptitude nor knowledge of the legal resources that should compensate all parties, but I feel obligated to give my opinion of a process I won’t say is corrupt, but that stinks badly enough.
Translated by: JT
November 6 2012