Cuba Increases Repression Against Dissidence
By Julieta Pelcastre / Diálogo January 08, 2020
The Castro regime spreads terror and combines repression and torture to weaken its opponents.
The nongovernmental organization (NGO) the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, reported more than 3,000 arbitrary arrests in Cuba in 2019, in the midst of a defamation campaign led by the government to persecute human rights defenders, social and political leaders, and independent journalists.
Detainees promoted rejecting the new constitution, which the National Assembly of People’s Power passed in a referendum on February 24; or intended to participate in political activities at the headquarters of their organizations, attend religious ceremonies, or travel within the country, said the Observatory. As of December 2019, there were 122 political prisoners.
“The Cuban regime charges activists with common crimes, which are proven false, such as in the case of José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Cuban Patriotic Union [UNPACU, in Spanish], the country’s biggest opposition group, who was arrested by the political police October 1, 2019,” said Prisoners Defenders, a Spanish NGO for legal action and defense.
Ferrer was jailed for the first time after a summary judgment during the Black Spring of 2003, and freed in 2011. Authorities kept him cut off from family and lawyers, and prevented him from receiving medical attention while he was physically tortured the entire time, said the NGO.
Repressive actions against citizens include threats, fines, communications, artistic, and religious restrictions, in addition to surrounding their homes and forbidding them from leaving the country, says the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a member of the international group, Human Rights Watch. The government opts for repression with short-term detentions, added the commission.
“The same person can be arbitrarily detained more than 15 consecutive times within a couple of months. Before we would get repressed for a few days and there would be a break, now there are no breaks,” said to Diálogo Laritza Diversent, executive director of the legal information center Cubalex, who is in exile in the United States..
Punishment and exhaustion are common for those who don’t agree with the regime. “The Castro-Miguel Díaz-Canel government combines physical and psychological torture for those who demand basic civil and political rights,” said to Diálogo Cuban activist Luis Enrique Ferrer (brother of Jose Daniel Ferrer), who is in exile in the United States and a foreign representative for UNPACU. “The abuse won’t stop until key opposition figures and human rights defenders are removed, such as my brother, so that they’re no longer in the streets when the people’s spontaneous demonstrations occur.”
On November 22, Amnesty International asked the Cuban government for access, as an observer, of the still unscheduled judicial process of José Daniel Ferrer. Authorities accuse him of kidnapping and participating in a violent incident against another person, according to Cuban state television. “In these cases, international aid is necessary. The human rights outlook on the island is very difficult; we’ve spent decades enduring systematic repression,” Diversent concluded.