Cuba cracks down on dissidents after Fidel Castro’s death
A roundup in the country’s east snared dozens and derailed street
protests planned to demand that political prisoners be freed.
By: AFP | Havana | Published:December 19, 2016 7:06 am
Authorities across Cuba have cracked down on dissidents, arresting
dozens, keeping others from marching in Havana, and detaining an
American human rights lawyer, activists have said. In the first such
anti-dissident operation since Fidel Castro’s death last month,
President Raul Castro seemed to indicate the Americas’ only one-party
communist state was in no mood for dissent. A roundup in the country’s
east snared dozens and derailed street protests planned to demand that
political prisoners be freed.
“There was a joint operation at 6:00 am in Santiago and Palma Soriano.
They searched four homes, and so far we have 42 reported arrests — 20 in
Santiago, 12 in Palma and 10 in Havana,” Jose Daniel Ferrer yesterday
told AFP by phone.
The 46-year-old, who heads the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), had
called the demonstrations to demand that political prisoners be set
free. Castro insists there are no political prisoners, just lawbreakers.
Ferrer said he was detained in Santiago, Cuba’s second biggest city, at
a police unit known as Micro 9. “They threatened me, and said by calling
the demonstration I was facilitating public disorder…. disobedience and
espionage,” Ferrer said.
Most arrests of dissidents in roundups are brief. Sometimes, the
authorities prevent them from leaving their homes to attend a protest or
march. In Havana, the award-winning Ladies in White group, which presses
for the release of jailed dissidents who are their relatives, said that
at least 20 of its activists were “under siege,” kept from attending
their weekly march.
“At least 20 homes were blocking the residents to keep us from marching
today,” said group leader Berta Soler. It was a step backward for the
Ladies in White. They long have been considered the only dissidents the
Cuban government allowed to march regularly; they hold one weekly
protest outside a church in Havana.
But not yesterday, Soler said.
Kimberley Motley, an American human rights lawyer, was briefly detained
on Friday along with Cuban activists Gorki Avila and Luis Alberto Marino
when they planned to visit graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as
“El Sexto,” in jail.
Maldonado was also arrested on November 26, a day after the death of
Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, after painting on a wall in
Havana the phrase “He’s gone,” her relatives say. According to online
newspaper 14 y medio, Motley left Cuba at the request of the government.
Source: Cuba cracks down on dissidents after Fidel Castro’s death | The
Indian Express –