Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Fruits of CELAC: Cuba's Comfortable Dictatorship and Suffering Dissidents

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez” and Yris Perez Aguilera
 Both opposition activists Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez” and Yris Perez Aguilera were detained today and badly beaten up. The odyssey began at 9:00am with their home invaded and ransacked by State Security Agents and members of the political police. 

Yris had already left home at 6:00am to take part in a vigil elsewhere and was not present for the raid. She learned about it through a phone call with her sister-in-law in Miami. At the time she made the following statement:
"I'm denouncing that today, February 5, 2014, I went out in the early morning hours from my home on Calle Séptima del Sur #5, between Paseo Martí and Primera del Este, and at the outskirts of Placetas I saw patrol cars , command cars , special brigades , patrol cars, police motor cycles , and I told Xiomara Martín Jiménez who was with me , I have a feeling they are going towards my house . I directed myself to the house of Juan Francisco Sigler Amaya to participate today in the vigil and at this very moment I learn from my sister in law, Bertha Antunez Pernet, that my husband was arrested, my home had been robbed by State Security. I am at this moment in Aguada de Pasajeros. I 'm heading to State Security to find out the status of my husband. I'm holding responsible the Castro regime for whatever may happen to my husband, or to any of the activists and even the activist Xiomara Martín Jiménez and to me as of this moment."  
Antúnez, his brother (Loreto Hernández García), and Donaida Pérez Paseiro were arrested. His brother was released soon after and Loreto said that a high ranking state security official told him that it was possible that Antúnez would not be returning

Antúnez over twitter: "Traces of mistreatment against my wife"
 Yris was arrested in the early afternoon while on her way to State Security headquarters to find out the status of her husband. She was beaten up and arrested by government agents. Both Antúnez and Yris have been badly beaten up, and in Yris's case she was not only beaten up but also subjected to sexual threats and harassment by regime officials. When she got home in the evening Yris made the following statement:
"I was arrested with violence. I was beaten, I have my mouth busted. They put a rag bathed in gasoline, with grease in my mouth. They squeezed it into my face. The officer wearing the badge 115025 touched my face, breasts, would get on top of me. They had me handcuffed with my arms behind my back. [...] They were beating on me from near the badly named Ernesto Che Guevara Square all the way to Police Instruction. There I continued demanding my rights. I have cramped hands, I have a lot of pain in the lower abdomen, swollen hands and face because they hit me a lot."
Jorge Luis explained what took place on Tuesday morning when he got back home later that same evening:
"I have just been released after being arrested when my home was vandalized, robbed and plundered by the high command of the political police who presented himself in the morning hours with a search warrant. And they told me 'Antúnez we have come to erase all the posters you have on the front of your house and to take everything you have that is of a counter-revolutionary character.' [...] when I open the gate they enter violently and they handcuff me with my hands behind my back and introduced me violently in a patrol car [.. .] they took me quickly to the headquarters of Santa Clara Police Instruction of State Security."
This is Cuba under the Castro brothers in 2014. 

One can't help but think that the silence of José Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, who said that he did not want to "create problems or inconveniences"for the Cuban government, and of Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, who praised the regime's treatment of women while ignoring how they beat them down regularly, while attending the CELAC Summit contributed to this. Additionally, the fact that both remained silent regarding the nation wide crackdown on dissidents during the Summit they were attending is also contributing to this repression today in Cuba. 

When you worry about making dictators uncomfortable the ones who suffer are the innocent.

Thankfully, victims of repression do not have to only rely on these organizations, but also a vibrant civil society that is able to "create problems and inconveniences" for dictators thus contributing to save lives and may well have done so with these activists.

Thanks to friends at UN Watch getting the news out quickly to the media about one of their speakers being arrested today probably contributed to both human rights defenders being released later that same night. 

Another opportunity for the power of international solidarity to demonstrate itself arrives on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 when the dictatorship plans to hold a summary trial and send Gorki Luis Águila Carrasco to prison for ten years on trumped up charges. There is a petition circulating demanding his release. Please let others know about it.

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