Friday, May 8, 2015

Remembering murdered human rights defenders on fourth anniversary of rights activist's death

Juan Wilfredo Soto García died on May 8, 2011 from a beating he received 3 days earlier by agents of the Castro regime.  Today begins the first of three dates to be observed over the next seven days of great importance to Cuba.

Juan Wilfredo Soto García: Died from beating on May 8, 2011
 Four years ago on May 5, 2011 at approximately 9am, two national police officers reportedly approached Juan Wilfredo Soto García in Leoncio Vidal Park, asked him for his ID and then asked him to leave the park. After refusing to comply and protesting verbally against the expulsion, he was allegedly cuffed with his hands behind his back then beaten with batons.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo: Hunger strike on February 23, 2010
Juan Wilfredo Soto García was arrested and detained at a police station, then hospitalized later that day. He was released from the hospital the same afternoon only to return the following day, complaining of severe back pain. Juan Wilfredo was then admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and died four years ago today in the early hours of May 8, 2011. Juan Wilfredo died on Mother's Day.

Laura Inés Pollán Toledo, mysterious illness on October 14, 2011
A local source told Amnesty International that, by chance, he met Soto García as he was going to the hospital on May 5th. According to the source, Soto García said "I just got a beating in the park with batons and I’ve got a very sore back. These people killed me." Hospital sources have reportedly stated he died from acute pancreatitis, a condition which can be triggered by abdominal trauma and commonly causes severe back pain. Juan Wilfredo Soto García, 46, belonged to the Central Opposition Coalition (Coalición Central Opositora) and according to Amnesty International Juan Wilfredo "had previously been imprisoned for 12 years for his political activities."

Wilmar Villar Mendoza: Hunger strike on January 19, 2012
Parallel to the Cuban dissident's death, an effort to deny both his past human rights activism; the circumstances surrounding Juan Wilfredo's extrajudicial killing and the dictatorship's complicity by an extensive propaganda campaign combined with  the blunt intimidation of the family of the victimAmnesty International called for an investigation into his death which over a year later has not been conducted.  The Cuban dictatorship has sought to deny Juan Wilfredo Soto García's status as a former political prisoner and human rights defender in order to portray him as a common criminal.

They've done both before with numerous victims of the regime and after Juan Wilfredo's death with four later regime victims: Ladies in White founder, Laura Pollán who died under mysterious circumstances on October 14, 2011Cuban dissident Wilmar Villar Mendoza who died on hunger strike on January 19, 2012 and Christian Liberation Movement founder Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and its youth leader Harold Cepero Escalante killed in what appears to be an extrajudicial execution carried out by state security on July 22, 2012. It is a standard operating procedure of totalitarian regime's like the one operating in Cuba. Not only do they physically kill an activist but also slander and attempt to marginalize their importance and if possible make them a nonperson.

This is the price paid when engaging with tyrants and not the people being oppressed and its called appeasement.

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