Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blind Lawyer Badly Beaten by Castro's State Security Agents

  "I'm not afraid at all. These people threaten that they are going to enter my home, but they will have to take me by force. If I withstood 26 months in prison under daily torture by Cuban military officials, harassed, beaten up, and poisoned by chemical substances from which I still suffer, then I will withstand inside my house for 26 months more."  - Juan Carlos González Leiva,, blind human rights defender, from Cuba, January 2006
Blind Attorney and Rights Defender Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva
Imagine for a moment that you are a blind attorney and a human rights defender. Over the years you have been subjected to harassment, beatings, arbitrary detentions, death threatsattacks with substances, torture and one colleague died under circumstances that lead you to believe he was murdered by the government. After delivering a report to the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner in 2009 for Cuba's universal periodic review the repression worsened. Together with your wife, Tania Maceda Guerra, and six other activists in Ciego de Avila, your home town, you are distributing "Voz Avileña", a bulletin that you publish on January 9, 2014 at 10:35am.

Juan Carlos González Leiva and Tania Maceda Guerra

Juan Carlos González Leiva narrates what happened next
" I carried in my hand a copy of the newsletter "The Avileña Voice" there was a very large state security operative and they demanded that we will give them the newsletter. When I refused and we eight activists sat on the ground, and began to shout, " Freedom", "Long live human rights" and "Down with Fidel ". Military troops reinforcements arrived and they beat us up. We were taken by car to the First police headquarters. During the trip a police officer pulled my wife's hair and bit her hands. I responded to the police officer with another bite and then the official gave me a savage beating to the point that it made ​​me lose consciousness. They hit me so many times that I have both the right foot and index finger of the left hand broken. I have aches and bruises throughout my entire body . To all the activists who were with me Junior Ortega Rivero, Daniel Camacho Marchena, Daniel Martínez, Alberto Pla Risco, Quintana Sarría and others that were with me, all were violently beaten and dragged away were also detained. Without any explanation all were released around 3:00pm in the afternoon."
Below is the original audio statement:

Juan Carlos has been described as the "blind lawyer who can see" and is a long time human rights defender who has suffered imprisonment, torture and the denial of medical care he has been a victim of both psychological and physical torture for more than a decade. Amnesty International back on July 30, 2002 described what Cuban state security had subjected this human rights defender to:
Amnesty International is concerned for the health of Juan Carlos González Leiva, a 37-year- old blind lawyer, held in Holguín prison in Holguín Province, Cuba. He reportedly suffers from chest pain, high blood pressure and a ‘nervous condition’ (of which Amnesty International has no further details). The prison doctor reportedly told him that there is nothing wrong with him. In addition, he claims to have received threats from his cell mate, who has said that he will beat him.   Juan Carlos González Leiva reportedly had to have four stitches in his head as a result of the police aggression on his arrest on 4 March 2002. Amnesty International received reports that initially medical attention was denied to him although he was in severe pain. 
 He spent 20 months in prison and managed to get letters out to denounce prison conditions. Released from prison, following an international campaign for his release, he would continue his human rights work. Despite the constant war waged against him by the state security apparatus to break him, Juan Carlos González Leiva has remained in Cuba and continues to work to make the ongoing human rights violations known to the world.

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