Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Prisoners of conscience in Cuba: Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, José Daniel Ferrer, and Ebert Hidalgo Cruz

A tropical gulag archipelago

An update Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción is a prisoner of conscience who has been unjustly imprisoned since being beaten up and taking into custody by the political police on November 30, 2016 for speaking critically of Fidel Castro. He was also stabbed in prison in late December 2017 in an attack engineered by regime agents.  Dr. Cardet is a medical doctor and also the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, a Cuban dissident movement that seeks a nonviolent transition to democracy in Cuba. 

Rosa Rodríguez explained that on April 5, 2018 she and her husband Alejandro Febles were detained for 24 hours and regime officials seized 10,000 signatures by Cuban citizens petitioning for the freedom of Eduardo Cardet that the Christian Liberation Movement had collected and planned to publicly deliver to the government.

On May 26, 2018 Dr. Cardet's family was told that they would not be able to visit him for six months in reprisal for their campaign to free him.

Wife and husband: Yaimaris Vecino and Eduardo Cardet
In the midst of the bad news there has been something positive to report. In a phone call from prison on July 28th, Dr. Cardet told his family that the Bishop of Holguín had visited him, and had helped him a lot. Eduardo said he was fine, and that the biopsy of the skin lesion was negative. After months of uncertainty, he was finally given the results of the exam. Meanwhile on the international front the Spanish NGO Paz y Cooperación called on the government of Spain to intercede in Eduardo Cardet's case to obtain his freedom. The Christian Liberation Movement garnered press attention calling on the French Foreign Minister, who was visiting Cuba to lobby for the freedom of Dr. Cardet.

Human rights situation worsening in Cuba
The human rights situation in Cuba is worsening. The plight of high profile opposition activist José Daniel Ferrer, who was taken by the political police on the evening of Friday, August 3, 2018 and has still not been seen by his loved ones five days later is cause for great concern. As is the campaign of slander against the two men carried out over social media by regime agents. The U.S. State Department on the morning of August 8, 2018 called on the Cuban government to account for their whereabouts:

Opposition activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz, who was detained together with José Daniel on Friday, was seen today for ten minutes by his family. They were threatened and told not to speak of what they saw. They saw their father with a blood stain on his shirt, injuries to his head, his hands and feet trembled, and he teared up. He told them to remain united and said: "Children, I will endure everything they are doing to me"

Ebert Hidalgo Cruz wearing a hat with his wife and kids
There are at least 120 identified political prisoners in Cuba. The Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported in June 2018 that there were 120 political prisoners in Cuba with some the longest serving in the Western Hemisphere. Twenty one of them have served between 15 and 27 years in prison.This does not take into account the far larger number of Cubans arrested for social dangerousness.

Eduardo Cardet Concepción, José Daniel Ferrer, and Ebert Hidalgo Cruz are but the tip of the iceberg. In 2018, Cuba remains a tropical gulag archipelago

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