Posted on Monday, 05.10.10
Cuba frees backer of dissident group amid appeal
By WILL WEISSERT
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA — An independent Cuban journalist with ties to the Ladies in
White dissident group has been freed as she appeals a 20-month sentence
for allegedly mistreating her adult daughter.
Dania Garcia, who uses U.S. websites to report on everyday Cuban life in
defiance of government controls on all media, was released Friday,
according to her blog and the Paris-based media rights group Reporters
Elizardo Sanchez, head of the independent, Havana-based Cuban Commission
on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, had reported Garcia was
arrested April 20 and sentenced three days later after her daughter
filed a complaint – apparently angry at her mother's criticism of the
Sanchez was away from the office he runs from his home and could not be
reached for comment Monday. He said previously that he suspected, but
could not prove, Garcia was targeted for being a supporter of the "Damas
de Blanco," or Ladies in White.
Reporters Without Borders said the official charge against Garcia was
"abuse of authority" for throwing her 23-year-old daughter out of her home.
The group also called for the release of 25 other independent
journalists that it said are imprisoned in Cuba. Cuban authorities
dismiss Reporters Without Borders as a front for Washington and its
antagonistic policies toward the island.
Garcia writes for dissident and opposition websites including Primavera
Digital and CubaNet. She also runs a blog,
daniavirgengarcia.blogspot.com, which Reporters Without Borders said is
"linked to a radical anti-Castro group based in Miami." The site is
blocked in Cuba.
She is not a formal member but supports the Ladies in White, comprising
wives and mothers of 75 community organizers, independent journalists
and political opposition activists who were arrested and sentenced to
lengthy prison terms in 2003. Fifty-three remain behind bars.
Cuba's government claims those imprisoned conspired with the U.S.
government to topple the island's communist system, charges that both
they and American officials deny.
Nearly every Sunday for seven years, the Ladies in White have marched
down a sidewalk along Fifth Avenue in Havana's well-to-do Miramar
district, usually without incident. But in March, the group held a week
of demonstrations in other parts of the city, which provoked protests by
Then, last month, carefully organized pro-government demonstrators
working shifts shouted down the women and blocked their weekly march
three Sundays in a row. The Cuban Roman Catholic Church negotiated a
settlement with the government that allowed the demonstration to go
forward each of the last two weeks, but only if the women did not
deviate from their traditional route.
About 60 women marched peacefully down Fifth Avenue on Sunday, the
largest such demonstration in years.
Sanchez's commission says Cuba holds about 200 political prisoners. The
government claims it holds none and protects human rights better than
most countries by providing citizens with free health care and education
as well as subsidized housing, utilities, transportation and basic food
on monthly ration books.