Posted on Friday, 05.14.10
Cuban appeals court voids jail time for dissident
By PAUL HAVEN
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA — A Cuban appeals court wiped out a 20-month jail sentence
against a blogger with ties to the Ladies in White dissident group who
had been convicted of mistreating her grown daughter, ordering the woman
Friday to pay a fine of about $14 instead.
Dania Garcia had already been released last week from the high-security
Manto Negro jail, on the southwestern outskirts of Havana, where she had
been ordered to serve her sentence. A judge ruled at the time that she
could await the verdict from home, a strong sign the sentence would be
On Friday, the appeals court voided the prison sentence altogether but
ordered Garcia to pay the 300 peso ($14) fine – about 70 percent of the
average monthly wage in Cuba – according to Elizardo Sanchez, a human
rights activist who was monitoring the trial.
Garcia, 41, was convicted April 23 of "abuse of authority" for throwing
her 23-year-old daughter out of the house. She had been arrested two
days earlier. Human rights groups charged that the case was politically
Garcia is a vocal supporter of the Ladies in White, made up of the wives
and mothers of 75 dissidents who were arrested and sentenced to lengthy
prison terms in 2003. Fifty-three remain behind bars.
Cuba considers the dissidents to be mercenaries paid by Washington to
destabilize the island's communist system.
Garcia also writes for dissident and opposition websites including
Primavera Digital and CubaNet, and 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.
Sanchez, who is head of the independent, Havana-based Cuban Commission
on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, called the case against
Garcia the result of "political manipulation of her relatives by the
At the time of Garcia's arrest, Cuba was in the midst of a crackdown on
the Ladies in White. After seven years of relative tolerance, officials
suddenly banned the women from holding a small weekly march. The
government has since reversed course, following intervention by the
nation's top Roman Catholic official.
Sanchez said both the decision to void the prison sentence and the
about-face on the marches are a "sign of the times" that show Cuba's
leaders are trying to avoid bad press.