Monday, January 23, 2017

El Sexto freed but there are still many political prisoners in Cuba

"El Sexto free. Others yet to be freed. Let us not forget them." - Jorge Olivera, former Cuban prisoner of conscience, January 21, 2017 over twitter.
One freed but two highlighted before remain jailed and there are others
Danilo Maldonado, also known as El Sexto was held in a Cuban prison without charges from November 26, 2016 until January 21, 2017 when he was suddenly freed. What happened on November 26th? The Cuban totalitarian dictatorship announced that Fidel Castro had died and El Sexto broadcast himself writing "Se fue" [He's gone] over social media. A short time later state security rounded him up and imprisoned him.  The good news is that he is free now, although not allowed to travel outside of Cuba.

However others were badly beaten and/or are still imprisoned for refusing to mourn the death of Fidel Castro or criticizing the legacy of the dead dictator.

Not as lucky as El Sexto was Carlos Alberto González Rodríguez, age 48, who painted "Down with Castro" graffiti in Las Tunas and was sentenced to two years in prison under the charge of "Peligrosidad Social Pre-Delictiva” (Pre-Crime Social Dangerousness).

Eduardo Cardet, national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement imprisoned since returning to Cuba on November 30, 2016 after criticizing the legacy of Fidel Castro and his regime over mass media. Cardet was initially threatened with a 15 year prison sentence but is now being threatened with three years in prison and has been badly beaten on more than one occasion.

One need not be a political dissident to get into trouble. Darío Pérez Rodríguez, age 49, resident in the Eastern city of Holguín on January 4, 2017 was sentenced by the municipal tribunal to a year in prison for "defaming the martyrs of the Homeland", a crime found in Article 204 of the Penal Code. What did he do? He refused the order issued at his workplace to watch Fidel Castro's funeral on television.

There are many others who like Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo were arrested before the death of Fidel Castro who remain jailed for their dissent.  Julio Alfredo is a human rights activist, attorney and he has been arbitrarily detained since September 23, 2016 for demanding that authorities respect national legislation and the right to associate of nongovernmental organizations of independent Cuban civil society.

This is but a small piece of the overall human rights situation in Cuba where dissidents have also been the targets of brutal physical attacks and extrajudicial killings. Unfortunately the international community has given the Castro regime a pass.

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