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Regime forces ‘assault’ the headquarters of the UNPACU and the homesof several activists

Regime forces ‘assault’ the headquarters of the UNPACU and the homes of several activists DDC | Santiago de Cuba | 20 de Diciembre de 2016 – 10:08 CET. Early Sunday regime forces simultaneously “assaulted” the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Santiago of Cuba and another eight houses of activists in that […] Continue reading

Prison, death, exile – Outcomes of peaceful opposition to a communist Cuba

Prison, death, exile: Outcomes of peaceful opposition to a communist Cuba BY JUAN O. TAMAYO AND NORA GAMEZ TORRES ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com There are 44 years of dissidence between Cuban human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez and street protester Sara Martha Fonseca, four and a half decades of peaceful opposition to a communist system that jails people for […] Continue reading

Oscar Arias Asks Fariñas To Suspend His Hunger Strike

Oscar Arias Asks Fariñas To Suspend His Hunger Strike / 14ymedio 14ymedio, Havana, 23 July 2016 — In a letter published Saturday by the former president of Costa Rica and 1987 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Oscar Arias Sanchez asks his “friend” Guillermo Fariñas to “lift his hunger and thirst strike.” Arias Sanchez explains […] Continue reading

Cuba’s opposition movement has grown stronger since U.S.-Cuba deal, dissident says

Cuba’s opposition movement has grown stronger since U.S.-Cuba deal, dissident says By Elizabeth Llorente Published June 03, 2016 Fox News Latino The thawing of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States is having a little-spoken-about side effect – people on the island are feeling bolder about challenging the government, says one of Cuba’s leading […] Continue reading

Video: Cuba’s opposition movement has grown stronger since U.S.-Cuba deal, dissident says

Cuba’s opposition movement has grown stronger since U.S.-Cuba deal, dissident says

 

 

Source: Cuba’s opposition movement has grown stronger since U.S.-Cuba deal, dissident says | Fox News Latino – http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2016/06/03/cuba-opposition-movement-has-grown-stronger-since-us-cuba-deal-dissident-says/

José Daniel Ferrer, the man behind Cuba’s largest opposition group

José Daniel Ferrer, the man behind Cuba’s largest opposition group

Former political prisoner heads the Cuban Patriotic Union, an
organization in eastern Cuba that has launched a campaign urging the
island’s people to let go of their fear.
NORA GÁMEZ… Continue reading

Cuban Dissidents Face Uphill Fight

Cuban Dissidents Face Uphill Fight
Published October 31, 2015
TRACEY EATON

The graffiti artist jailed for 10 months after he painted the names
“Fidel” and “Raúl” on two pigs said today he isn’t backing down.
“Art is my life and… Continue reading

Cuban dissidents still show hunger for freedoms

Cuban dissidents still show hunger for freedoms
Guillermo Martinez, El Sentinel
Columnist
September 26, 2013

Cuba’s Black Spring began in March of 2003. For three days, government
security agents went around the country arresting peaceful dissidents,
who Fidel Castro believed… Continue reading

Ladies in White resign over alleged State Security infiltrator

Posted on Saturday, 07.06.13

Ladies in White resign over alleged State Security infiltrator
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

At least 18 members have quit Cuba’s dissident Ladies in White in the
eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Top opposition leader… Continue reading

Eight years late, Cuba’s Ladies in White pick up Sakharov prize in Brussels

Posted on Wednesday, 04.24.13

Eight years late, Cuba's Ladies in White pick up Sakharov prize in Brussels

By Juan O. Tamayo

jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

Cuba's Ladies in White finally received their Sakharov prize Tuesday, in

a ceremony delayed by Havana for eight… Continue reading

10 years after arrests, Cubans split on pace of change

Updated: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 05:52:11 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

10 years after arrests, Cubans split on pace of change

Ten years after the "Black Spring" arrest of 75 Cuban dissidents, some
in the opposition perceive signs of greater openness while others see a
regime that is merely changing tactics to improve its image.

Political opposition is still illegal, with regime opponents routinely
denounced as US "mercenaries," but the regime has backed away from mass
arrests in recent years, handing down reduced sentences and loosening a
travel ban.

The situation has improved since Fidel Castro's government arrested 75
members of the opposition in a three-day period in March 2003 known as
the "Black Spring," accusing them of "conspiratorial activities" and
handing down sentences of six to 28 years on charges of working for a
foreign power.

Several of the prominent dissidents were released on parole in
subsequent years for health reasons, and the remainder were freed in
2010 and 2011 after unprecedented talks between President Raul Castro
and the Catholic Church.

Meanwhile the Ladies in White, a group founded by wives and relatives of
the 75 prisoners, have faced less harassment during their weekly Sunday
marches.

"The human rights situation remains very unfavorable in Cuba, even
though the government has taken a series of steps and introduced changes
in order to improve its image," activist Elizardo Sanchez told AFP.

Others take a more positive view, pointing to the government's
increasing tolerance for some political activities.

"If we consider that there is no legal opposition, then the situation
has not changed at all, and yet many of these groups are still operating
more or less publicly without a repeat of the sanctions of 2003, and
that's positive," Orlando Marquez, spokesman for the Archdiocese of
Havana, told AFP.

Since taking over from his brother Fidel in 2006, Raul Castro has
introduced a raft of economic reforms aimed at shoring up the island's
state-run economy while maintaining his communist party's firm grip on
power.

In a landmark move, the government dropped the requirement for an exit
permit this year and has allowed prominent dissidents -- including
blogger Yoani Sanchez and Ladies in White leader Berta Soler -- to
travel abroad, where they have criticized the government on a world stage.

As recently as 2005, The Ladies in White won the Sakharov Prize, a
prestigious European award for political dissidents, but were not
allowed to leave Cuba to collect it.

But during a visit to Spain earlier this month Soler downplayed the
reforms, telling AFP in Madrid that "repression has worsened" since
2010, saying 1,280 members of her organization had been detained in 2012.

"The police drag us around, beat us, pull our hair, scratch us and
humiliate us," she said, referring to members of the Ladies in White.

"They simulate executions with a gun to the head and leave us dumped at
dawn on the road or the beach, tied up with belts," she said, adding
that men had been jailed for five or six months at a time without trial.

According to statistics compiled by dissidents, the number of political
prisoners currently being held in Cuba has dwindled in recent years from
more than 300 to around 50. The government does not release such figures.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, a member of the Group of 75 who was sentenced to 25
years but freed after the talks with the church, told AFP that although
prison terms have grown shorter the arrests and convictions continue.

But another prominent member of the group, Hector Palacios, is more
optimistic.

"I think a lot has been gained since (the Black Spring). It's
unthinkable that this kind of government could change overnight, but we
are now much stronger and and government is much weaker," he told AFP.

http://news.ph.msn.com/lifestyle/10-years-after-arrests-cubans-split-on-pace-of-change-3 Continue reading

Cuban activists talk about lack of basic freedoms, 10 years on from mass crackdown

18 March 2013

Cuban activists talk about lack of basic freedoms, 10 years on from mass
crackdown

"The catalogue of repression and harassment suffered by José Daniel
Ferrer García since his release illustrates the current strategy by the
Cuban authorities under which activists are arrested for short periods
of time to discourage them from speaking up about the state of human
rights in the country."
Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

Cuban activist José Daniel Ferrer García can hardly remember a time when
the authorities were not monitoring and blocking his movements and phone
calls.

Coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba,
UNPACU), an unrecognized organization that seeks democratic change by
non-violent means, José Daniel has been arrested on numerous occasions
as punishment for his activism.

From his early days as an activist in the 1990s he was used to being
arbitrarily detained on a regular basis for short periods and was
constantly threatened with prison.

So when he was told by two state security officials on 15 March 2003
that he only had a few days to stop his dissident activities or he would
face a long time in prison, his reaction was to laugh.

"They had threatened me so many times, with so many years of prison that
I no longer took them seriously," he said.

Three days later, however, on 18 March 2003, in what was later dubbed
the "black spring" by those affected, José Daniel was arrested as part
of a group of 75 political dissidents in an unprecedented crackdown on
the dissident movement on the island.

They were all detained on spurious charges related to state security and
following summary trials were sentenced to long prison terms of up to 28
years.

José Daniel was sentenced to 25 years under charges of "acts against the
territorial independence or integrity of the state". During his trial,
the prosecution pushed for the death penalty, the maximum sentence for
that "crime". All he had been doing was help to organize a campaign
calling for a referendum on legal reform to seek greater personal,
political and economic freedoms in his country.

Amnesty International declared them all "prisoners of conscience" as
they had been sentenced solely for the peaceful exercise of fundamental
freedoms.

During his time in prison, José Daniel was moved to several prisons
across the country – which made visits from his wife and three children,
difficult.

But in July 2010, following the intervention of the Cuban Catholic
Church, authorities in Cuba agreed to release all those of the 75 who
remained in prison, amongst them, José Daniel.

The political dissidents were set free under "licencia extrapenal" a
conditional release meaning that the charges against them were not being
dropped but that they were allowed to spend the remainder of their
sentences outside prison. Most activists, however, were forced into
exile in Spain.

José Daniel refused to leave Cuba and was finally released in March 2011.

Since his release, he has continued to suffer from harassment – mainly
in the form of short-term detentions aimed at preventing him from
carrying out his activism, including attending private meetings and
public events. His home has also been raided by state security forces
and his computer confiscated.

In August 2012, he was arrested for 36 hours in the province of Holguín,
before being released without charge. In April 2012, he was held for 27
days for "public disorder" in his home province of Santiago de Cuba and
only released on the condition that he renounce his political activism,
something he refused to do. Two months earlier, he had been arrested in
Havana and held incommunicado for three days.

"The catalogue of repression and harassment suffered by José Daniel
Ferrer García since his release illustrates the current strategy by the
Cuban authorities under which activists are arrested for short periods
of time to discourage them from speaking up about the state of human
rights in the country," said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty
International.

According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights – an organization
denied legal status in Cuba - there were at least 504 arbitrary
detentions this February, while the unofficial news agency Hablemos
Press has reported that 40 independent journalists and bloggers have
been arbitrarily detained this year so far.

Travel ban
A new law came into force in January which has removed the need for
Cubans to have a permit to travel abroad, making it easier for Cubans to
leave the island and for Cubans living overseas to return.

Blogger Yoani Sánchez and the spokesperson of the NGO Ladies in White,
Berta Soler have both recently been allowed to travel abroad, something
which seemed impossible only a few months ago.

When he learned about the lift of Cuba's travel ban, however, José
Daniel knew that the historical change would not make much difference to
him. The fact that he is still serving his sentence means he cannot
apply for a passport until it ends in 2028.

Amnesty International says José Daniel and his fellow activists were
imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their opinions and
their sentences should be voided immediately.

And for the activists imprisoned during the 2003 crackdown and forced
into exile, including journalist Pablo Pacheco, the ease in travel
restrictions will be unlikely to allow them and their families to return
to Cuba.

Pablo was originally sentenced to 20 years in prison under a law which
prohibits the passing of information to the United States that could be
used to bolster anti-Cuban measures, and was released in July 2010,
under the condition that he and his family would move to Spain.

"Prison conditions were terrible – solitary cells with no sunlight and a
toilet in the same cell. I lost 30 lbs and suffered long-term damage to
my knees. My family was only allowed to visit once every three months,"
he said to Amnesty International.

Pablo can still vividly remember the last day he spent in Cuba.

He was transferred directly from prison to the airport, where he met his
wife and son. He spent nearly two years in Spain and then moved to Miami
because the economic crisis in the European country left few job
opportunities for him and his wife.

Pablo told Amnesty International that he wants to return to Cuba as his
family and friends are there but that he will not be ready to return
until the country turns into a real democracy.

Trumped-up charges
Trumped-up charges on offences such as "disrespect", "public disorder",
"contempt" and "dangerousness" are still being used by the Cuban
authorities to prosecute government opponents.

Amnesty International has recently named two imprisoned activists as
"prisoners of conscience" – held solely because of the peaceful
expression of their opinions.

Journalist Calixto Martínez Arias, a founder member of Hablemos Press,
was arrested on 16 September 2012 near Havana airport by the Cuban
Revolutionary Police. He was investigating allegations that medicine
provided by the World Health Organization to fight a cholera outbreak
was being kept at the airport, as the Cuban government were allegedly
trying to down-play the seriousness of the outbreak.

When he complained at the police station about his detention, he was
beaten and pepper-sprayed, and then called out "down with Raúl", "down
with Fidel" and was subsequently charged by the police with showing
"disrespect" towards President Raúl Castro and Fidel Castro.

Calixto – who has yet to be formally charged by the public prosecutor –
began a hunger strike on 6 March 2013 in protest at his continued detention.

Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz is currently serving a three-year sentence
having been detained on 25 December 2010 at his home in Holguín for
playing songs by a Cuban hip-hop group, whose lyrics criticize the lack
of freedom of expression in Cuba and dancing in front of his house
whilst holding the Cuban flag. He was sentenced for "insulting symbols
of the homeland" and "public disorder".

For José Daniel, the 10 years following the crackdown has seen no
improvement in the human rights situation in Cuba. The ease in travel
restrictions is "just a smoke screen. It will still be the Cuban
government who decides who can and can't leave. All the while other
fundamental freedoms are still being repressed and that repression is
increasing."

"Civil society in Cuba has already lost its fear to speak out", said
Pablo Pacheco, "and the world needs to support their efforts".

http://amnesty.org/en/news/cuban-activists-talk-about-lack-basic-freedoms-10-years-mass-crackdown-2013-03-18 Continue reading

Cuban dissident says he was held in a swamp lockup as punishment

Posted on Thursday, 08.16.12 Cuban dissident says he was held in a swamp lockup as punishment Angel Moya and five other members of the Democratic Freedom for Cuba Movement were detained last weekend outside the home of a movement member. By Juan O. ... Continue reading

Payá’s death leaves leadership gap in Cuba dissident movement that’s hard to fill

Posted on Sunday, 07.29.12 OSWALDO PAYA | CUBAN DISSIDENT MOVEMENT Payá's death leaves leadership gap in Cuba dissident movement that's hard to fill Oswaldo Payá, unquestionably the most centrist of Cuba's opposition leaders, ... Continue reading

Cuba police detain 2nd dissident who talked to US Senate

Posted on Wednesday, 06.13.12 Cuba police detain 2nd dissident who talked to US Senate By Juan O. Tamayo jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com Cuban police have put under house detention a second dissident who testified before the U.S. Senate last week, and arr... Continue reading

Wife of top Cuban dissident says he launched hunger strike to protest his imprisonment

Posted on Tuesday, 04.24.12Wife of top Cuban dissident says he launched hunger strike to protest his imprisonmentThe wife of José Daniel Ferrer García said he began the hunger strike to protest his detention.By Juan O. Tamayojtamayo@ElNuevoHe... Continue reading

Dissidents who asked to meet with the Pope are now being arrested.

Cuba After BenedictApril 8, 2012, 6:50 p.m. ETDissidents who asked to meet with the Pope are now being arrested.Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to Cuba was described by the Vaticanas way to spread the gospel to a nation captured by an atheist state... Continue reading