Ladies in White

Posted on Tuesday, 08.20.13

Latest Cuban police tactic: Freeing detained dissidents in remote areas
far from their homes
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

Cuban dissident Ana Celia Rodríguez Torres says police arrested her,
punched her and kept her all day in a scorching hot bus, then freed her
the next morning in a remote farming area 20 miles from her home.

Another dissident in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba reports
similar treatment. Yasnay Ferrer Santos says she was yanked violently
out of a car, held in a patrol car all day and all night and then freed
on a rural road 10 miles from her home.

Dissidents and human rights leaders say those incidents are part of a
recent shift in tactics that Cuban security forces are using against
domestic opponents. Increasingly, they are resorting to physical force
and dumping dissidents in isolated areas to harass and intimidate them,
say human rights leaders.

“It’s been happening dozens of time, too many times to count, hundreds
just with UNPACU” members, said José Daniel Ferrer, head of the
opposition Patriotic Union of Cuba. Its Spanish-language acronym is UNPACU.

Ferrer and Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, head of the Cuban Commission for
Human Rights and National Reconciliation in Havana, say the shift began
in May.

On May 1, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Switzerland issued
a report criticizing the Cuban government’s record — specifically
expressing concern over a spike in the number of short-term detentions
of dissidents.

Such detentions, usually in police stations, soared from 2,074 in 2010
to 6,602 last year. The rise was perceived as the result of an effort by
Cuba’s leader, Raúl Castro, to move away from the notoriously long
prison sentences common under his brother Fidel Castro while keeping up
the pressure on dissidents.

The short-term detentions have now slowed significantly, with 2,376
reported in the first seven months of this year, compared to 4,051 in
the same period last year, according to the latest report by Sánchez’s
group.

But now the state security apparatus in the Western Hemisphere’s only
communist-ruled nation is increasingly resorting to other tactics,
Ferrer and Sánchez agreed. In addition to physical violence and the
drop-offs in remote areas, they reported vandalism of dissidents’ homes
and “acts of repudiation” by government-organized mobs.

Three UNPACU members have been mugged at night by young men in civilian
clothes, Ferrer said. In one case the attackers were known employees of
government sports centers apparently acting on orders of state security
agents, he added.

State Security officers watching some of the arrests have been heard
ordering their men to punch dissidents who lead the protests or shout
the loudest, Ferrer added, and dissidents are reporting more injuries
during their arrests.

Sanchez concurred and said his commission also has been receiving
reports of attacks on the homes of dissidents with rocks, paint and
feces and pro-government demonstrations in front of the homes.

But the most significant change reported has been the drop in the
temporary detentions in police stations and an increase in detentions in
police cars and buses, followed by releases in remote areas with no
public transportation and few passing vehicles, Ferrer and Sanchez said.

“We’re seeing it too. Apparently, taking them to police lockups has not
been effective for them,” said Berta Soler, leader of the dissident
Ladies in White.

Rodriguez, a 43-year-old unemployed economist, said she was detained and
later freed in remote places four times in recent months to keep her
from attending opposition gatherings, most of them in the Basilica of
Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint, in the village of El Cobre.

Last month she was held in police buses and patrol cars, given no water
and no food despite the stifling heat and was released in a remote
cattle ranch’s road, she said. In June she was freed on a beach road 21
miles from her home, she said.

Each detention was accompanied by punches and rough physical treatment,
she told El Nuevo Herald by phone during a break in an UNPACU meeting in
Ferrer’s home in Palmarito de Cauto. When Ferrer asked his group how
many of them had been detained and dropped off in remote spots, six
raised their hands, he said.

Yasnay Ferrer, no relation to the UNPACU leader, said she was shoved
around, thrown to the ground or punched almost all of the five times
that she was detained in the recent months.

“What we’re seeing is a true metamorphosis in the tactics for political
repression,” said Sanchez by phone from Havana. “Because of all the
criticism, the number of (short-term) detentions has fallen visibly
while these other intimidation procedures are used more.”

Sanchez also noted that Amnesty International this month added five
names to its list of Cuban “prisoners of conscience,” which had been
empty since Castro released 116 political prisoners in 2010-2011
following talks with the Catholic Church hierarchy.

Rafael Matos and Emilio Planas were arrested in the eastern city of
Guantánamo in September after anti-government signs appeared around the
city. They were convicted of “pre criminal dangerousness,” the
London-based human rights group said.

Alexeis Vargas Martín and his 17-year-old twin brothers, Diango and
Vianco — all members of UNPACU — were accused of “using violence or
intimidation against a state official,” according to Amnesty

Source: “Latest Cuban police tactic: Freeing detained dissidents in
remote areas far from their homes – Cuba – MiamiHerald.com” –
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/20/v-fullstory/3575221/latest-cuban-police-tactic-freeing.html

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