Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Antunez released in Cuba

Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" released

Thanks to internal and external acts of solidarity, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" was released this morning after being held incomunicado since June 9, 2012.  At the same time the Castro regime's response during this episode illustrates a number of important points. First, it sought to provoke a violent response from "Antunez" by beating both him and his wife down. Secondly, when it failed to accomplish that it manufactured the claim of bombs and devices in an effort to link nonviolent activists. Third, it sought to shut down all cell phone communications in order to isolate opposition activists.

Senator Bob Menendez reacts to arrest of Antunez.

Thanks to international attention placed on this particular case by US Senators protesting the imprisonment of a witness who testified before their committee and international press attention. Bloggers spread the word through the internet. The regime was pressured into releasing the activist.

CNN report on Antunez case

On Thursday June 7, 2012 at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on The Path to Freedom: Countering Repression and Strengthening Civil Society in Cuba. During this hearing three Cuban dissidents on the island spoke: Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia of the Cuba Patriotic Union, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo of the National Civic Resistance Front, Cuban Pro-Democracy Leader, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Civica y Desobediencia Civil Orlando Zapata. 

Two days following the hearing, on Saturday, June  9, 2012 Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" was beaten to unconsciousness, arrested and disappeared.  The Cuban Democratic Directorate reported his wife's observations on her husband's detention:
The Cuban Resistance leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez”, who was violently arrested on June 9th along with two other members of the Resistance, has been declared missing. Antunez was transferred out of the Police Unit and headquarter of State Security to an unknown location at around 7 pm of the same day, according to his wife Yris Perez Aguilera. “My name is Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, wife of former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez. This Saturday, June 9th, my husband, Loreto Hernandez Garcia and Jonniel Rodriguez Riverol were taken to the police unit of Placetas after a brutal beating at the hands of the political police. All of this occurred at around 3:30 pm. After this, at around 4 pm, Yaite Cruz Sosa, Dora Perez Correa, Arturo Conde Zamora and I decided to head out to said police unit. After walking just one block from my home, the police intercepted and arrested us. I was once again beaten by agent Isachi under the orders of State Security agent and Chief of Confrontation in Placetas, better known as ‘Cabo Pantera’. They handcuffed me and took me to the police unit”, explained Perez Aguilera, who was released during the afternoon of Sunday, June 10th 2012. The wife of Antunez narrated how she was aggressively beaten in the head once in the police unit. Upon hearing this, her husband and the other detainees- among them common prisoners- began to shout in protest. It was at this moment in which a group of prison guards presented themselves in the cell where Antunez was being held and began to attack him with pepper spray, leaving him unconscious on the floor.
"Antunez" had previously served 17 years and 38 days for calling for democratic reforms in a public space in Cuba in 1990. He was released in 2007 and since then has continued his dissident activities in Cuba.

Detentions and harassment of activists continue as does the need for international solidarity.

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