14ymedio, Havana, 15 August 2018 — On Wednesday morning the authorities freed José Daniel Ferrer, national coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), who had been detained for 12 days accused of “attempted murder.”
As confirmed by Ferrer himself to 14ymedio via telephone, the charges against him remain. “There was only a change of custody from pre-trial detention to immediate release,” explained the government opposition figure. During the press conference at the headquarters of the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami, in which he participated by telephone, the opponent reported that he had been psychologically tortured and that the conditions of his detention were “horrendous.”
“They held me in a completely dark place,” denounced Ferrer, who described the cell where he was held as “dirty and stinking.” The opponent denounced the “continuous interrogation” to which he was subjected and the threats of revoking the probationary license with which he was released from prison in 2011. Ferrer said he was not beaten.
Ferrer was released during a visit by his relatives, said Carlos Oliva, a member of UNPACU. “They brought him to the headquarters of UNPACU in a small bus,” he added.
“Castroism is in a big offensive against the democrats of the region and especially against the Cuban democrats,” said Rosa María Payá, who leads the Cuba Decides initiative to which UNPACU is linked. Payá sympathized with Ferrer and added that “all Cubans are hostages [of the Government] and especially members of the opposition.”
Payá denounced the arrest of Jorge Luis García Pérez who was in Placetas, in the municipality of Villa Clara where he resides. Antúnez, as the activist is known, was summoned together with his wife, Magalis Rivaflechas, to the Immigration offices in relation to the prohibition that weighs on both of them to not leave the country. Once there they told him that the ban would continue because when he was previously in Miami he met with “terrorists.”
Antúnez and his wife recently denounced the murder at the hands of the police of Alejandro Pupo Echemendía, 46, who was being held at a station while being investigated for a horse-racing offense.
Payá requested the support of the international community to pressure the Island’s Government and to demand respect for the integrity of the activists. Ferrer, for his part, denounced the current process of constitutional reform in the country and said that his organization will continue to campaign for a No vote.
Ferrer was arrested with activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz after an incident involving Interior Ministry official Dainier Suárez Pagán, who was allegedly hit by a car driven Ferrer while driving without license.
The agent Suárez Pagán is known by government opponents inthe city of Palmarito de Cauto for being violent and besieging activists. According to the judicial version, Ferrer tried to run over him while crossing the street, a statement that was denied by opponents shortly before Ferrer’s arrest.
Hidalgo Cruz was released without charges. “They forced me to say that José Daniel was guilty, that he had run into the officer with the car,” denounced the activist in a video released last Sunday by UNPACU.
The activist also said that he was questioned four times and threatened by the agents with keeping him prisoner. “I told them not to press me anymore, that I was not going to make any more statements,” he explained, regarding the agents’ insistence that he affirm that José Daniel’s aggression against the agent was deliberate.
José Daniel Ferrer García presides over UNPACU, an organization he founded in 2011 after his release on parole as part of the Group of 75 dissidents from the 2003 Black Spring that Cuban justice condemned to decades in prison. After negotiations between the Government of Raúl Castro and the Catholic Church in which Spain also participated, the dissidents who were imprisoned were freed and many of them went into exile.
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