14ymedio, Havana, January 4, 2022 — On Monday morning, 57-year-old activist Rafael Puentes Cremé was beaten and arrested after visiting the wife of José Daniel Ferrer at Unpacu’s headquarters in the city of Santiago de Cuba. During the arrest, an officer attempted to photograph the opponent with a sign that read “Long live Fidel and Raúl,” he denounced.
Puentes Cremé, who lives in Guantánamo, told 14ymedio that he traveled to the Unión Patriótica de Cuba (Unpacu) in the Altamira area of Santiago to offer his condolences to Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, Ferrer’s wife, following her mother’s recent death. As he was leaving the home he was intercepted by a man dressed in civilian clothing who demanded that he accompany him.
The activist refused to comply with the individual’s request; he said he belonged to State Security but never showed identification to prove it. Puentes, who is also a promoter of the Cuba Decide campaign, said that upon hearing his refusal, the presumed political police officer began beating him.
“I defended myself as best I could and I had some time to yell at the neighbors who were nearby that I was a peaceful activist who was being attacked by the political police.” The dissident showed us the abrasions on his knees as a result of the attack, his glasses, which the man broke, and also marks left by the beatings on his chest and abdomen.
Following the assault a patrol car arrived and took him to a hospital. “They took x-rays and other tests but they did not give me a report of the injuries,” explained Puentes who participated in the mass popular protests of July 11, 2021 [commonly referred to as ’11J’] which shook dozens of places throughout the Island. On that very day, before he was able to join the protests, Unpacu’s leader, José Daniel Ferrer, was arrested; he has been held since then without trial.
Once the medical exam was completed, the opponent was transferred to a police station known as El Palacete, where an officer who identified himself only as “Mario” lunged toward him with a stapler and placed a sign on his clothing that read, “Long live Fidel and Raúl.”
“As soon as I realized what the sign said and that they were trying to take pictures of me with that, I ripped it off.”
After he removed the paper and ripped it, Puentes says Mario beat him as punishment and threatened to charge him with assault. They finally released him at noon on Monday, but not before forcing him to sign a warning where he had to agree not to visit Santiago de Cuba again.
In the 1980s the activist was dedicated himself to teaching and after the economic crisis of the 90s he began working as a cobbler. At the beginning of this century he approached opposition groups in Guantánamo and later joined Unpacu.
The opposition organization’s headquarters for years has been the center of many police operations, perimeters with surveillance, and raids. Repeatedly the home has been raided by uniformed police officers who have arrested the activists inside and also confiscated computers, hard drives, and mobile phones.
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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