Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Cuban activists not seen since August 3rd in custody of State Security, families fear for their lives

Castro regime tried giving Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia the death penalty in 2003 for his role in a petition drive.
They have not been seen since August 3, 2018
Activists not seen since Friday, August 3rd
On the night of August 3, 2018 Castro agents detained Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the leader of the Eastern based Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), at the organization's principle headquarters in Altamira, Santiago de Cuba, reported his sister Ana Belkis Ferrer Garcia over twitter.

Liettys Rachel Reyes, Ferrer Garcia's wife, reported over Facebook that Dainier Suárez Pagá, a Cuban state security agent with a violent history was involved in an incident involving a car. Later it was learned that Jose Daniel was detained along with fellow UNPACU activist Ebert Hidalgo.

State Security agent and repressor Dainier Suárez Pagan
Ana Belkis identified a second regime agent named Dairon who lead a dozen Castro sicarios, in their two patrol cars in an operative against Jose Daniel on Friday night during the detention. 

Three days have passed and neither Jose Daniel or Ebert has been seen by friends or relatives. They are concerned that they have been beaten up or worse.  Liettys Reyes over twitter has demanded her husband, the father of her daughter, be immediately released.

An opposition family
One must review the historical record to understand the special animosity that the Castro regime has for the Ferrer Garcia family.  José Daniel Ferrer García, his brother Luis Enrique Ferrer García and sister Ana Belkis Ferrer García have a long history of opposition activism.

The Ferrer Garcia Family: Luis Enrique, Ana Belkis, and Jose Daniel
They were born into a working class family in the neighborhood of Manganeso in Santiago de Cuba. Both brothers began their activism in the opposition in the Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia (Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement), and by the mid nineties had become members of Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (Christian Liberation Movement).José Daniel emerged as a leader in Santiago de Cuba and Luis Enrique in Las Tunas.

Both Jose Daniel and Luis Enrique were regional leaders who also became regional organizers of the Varela Project. They both persuaded and organized other Cubans to knock on doors and get their fellow citizens to sign their names and giver their identity numbers in a petition demanding democratic and human rights reforms to the Cuban Constitution. On May 10, 2002 the first batch of 11,020 signatures were turned into the National Assembly. Less than a year later the majority of the organizers of this initiative were rounded up beginning on March 18, 2003. Seven months later more than another 14,000 signatures were turned in.

Both Ferrer Garcia brothers would face summary trials and a hostile courtroom. Both men demonstrated their courage during their respective political show trials.

During Luis Enrique’s show trial on April 3, 2003 in Las Tunas, the tribunal asked him if he had anything to say in his defense. He stood up and explained to the regime’s representatives what the Varela Project consisted of: an independent citizen initiative that sought a referendum to reestablish basic rights. At the end of his explanation he invited them to sign the petition stating, “Because this is a project open to all Cubans.” Luis Enrique Ferrer received the longest prison sentence of all of those arrested in the March 2003 crackdown. He was sentenced to 28 years’ imprisonment. He was transferred from "El Típico" provincial prison in Las Tunas to the Combinado del Este prison after being involved in a protest with other activists caught up in the March 2003 crackdown.

In the case of José Daniel Ferrer García, Cuban officials had announced that they would seek the death penalty against him because of his leadership position in the Project Varela initiative and its national impact. At his show trial José Daniel explained that he was willing to die for his convictions but that he did not think that they had the guts to do it. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Despite the harsh conditions and constant harassment by prison officials he continued his nonviolent resistance activism.

With both brothers in prison their sister Ana Belkis Ferrer García became active in the Ladies in White, a group of women that came into existence during the 2003 Black Spring and sought the freedom of their imprisoned loved ones. Confronting violent mobs with nonviolent resistance and persistence in regular protests and actions to demand their freedom. She would engage in solidarity hunger strikes when her brothers had gone on hunger strike due to some mistreatment they were suffering in order to highlight their plight.

José Daniel refused to be forced to choose between prison and exile. Luis Enrique suffering from ten chronic pathologies held out as long as he could but left with his wife and some of his family for exile while José Daniel remained in prison. They paid a price for wanting to stay. According to the agreement announced by the Catholic Church the last of the prisoners were supposed to have been freed on November 7, 2010 and Luis Enrique was only released into exile on November 19, 2010 and Jose Daniel was one of the last two of the group of the 75 to be released on March 24, 2011. Unlike many others who were taken from their prison cells to the airport, José Daniel was one of 12 who left his prison cell and returned home eight years after being unjustly imprisoned in The Black Spring.

 His brother, Luis Enrique Ferrer García, campaigned for his release from exile and spoke at an international human rights conference in Geneva calling for his brother’s freedom. This also led to Jose Daniel's wife frustrated and outraged undergoing a hunger strike to demand her husband’s freedom. More than four months after the deadline he was finally released after more than eight years. Since the latest detention of José Daniel Ferrer García on April 2, 2012, his brother Luis Enrique has organized a campaign for his release and is tweeting both from his own account and his brother’s twitter account to raise awareness and solidarity.

UNPACU founded in August of 2011

Birth of UNPACU
 On August 24, 2011 Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia founded together with other opposition activists who desire to finalize the democratic process in Cuba, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) that has as its principal objective the massive growth of the nonviolent struggle for democracy. It is an organization that describes itself as nonviolent but not passive.

In the midst of the descriptions of violence and repression visited on Cuban pro-democracy activists by agents of the regime in Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia made the following call to action for a free Cuba over twitter in 2011:
To democratize Cuba we should obtain the massive growth of the resistance. For the resistance to become massive we need rapid and effective communication with the populace.

To achieve change in Cuba, we have to reach the people. For rapid communication with the populace, we need the technical means.

We cannot advance more in the democratization of our homeland for lack of technical means and the resources for them.

There is no struggle for the good without loses and without risks. Who fears the risks never will achieve any advance in the struggle. Being careful is one thing, not risking is something very different. Great achievements are not obtained without great sacrifice.
Jose Daniel and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) are right solidarity with those risking everything inside of Cuba is needed along with the willingness of people of good will to take risks for freedom on the island.

Twitter Campaign
Today there will be a twitter campaign for the release of Jose Daniel and Ebert using the hashtags #FreeFerrer #FreeEbert #FreePoliticalPrisoners. I would also add #FreeEduardoCardet.

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