Cuban Government Turns To New Forms Of Repression

Activist Jorge Cervantes Garcia was on a hunger strike for 39 days. (

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 3 July 2014 — Last June, there were 198 fewer arbitrary arrests of Cuban activists and opponents compared to the same month last year, according to a report by the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which recorded a total of 380 arrests in June 2017.

The number, however, is slightly higher than that recorded in May of this year, according to the report. “We documented four cases of physical aggression and 28 acts of harassment, attributable, without any doubt, to the secret political police and parapolice elements,” the report added.

The independent entity says that “in recent months there have been very visible efforts by the Castro regime to avoid the arrests of opponents.” The government has also avoided, in the Commission’s opinion, “the imposition of prison sentences to avoid criticism by international public opinion.”

“There are increasingly frequent cases of citations or threatening police visits, pressures on innocent relatives and other intimidating acts,” the report said.

The Commission notes that “at least four peaceful opponents have been on hunger strike during the past month” and mentions, in particular, the case of Jorge Cervantes Garcia, an activist with the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who did not eat for 39 days to protest his imprisonment, finally abandoning this form of protest last Saturday.

During June, “the highest number of violations of freedom of movement in many years” was recorded when authorities prevented at least 29 dissidents from traveling abroad. “Some were detained for hours and others were physically assaulted,” the statement said.

The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), based in Madrid, cited 410 arbitrary detentions in Cuba last month, of which 237 were against women and 173 against men, while “the number of blacks arrested was 138.”

The organization warns that although the arrest figures “are significantly lower than those for the same period in 2016, they are still scandalous, and the levels of repressive are the same or greater.”

For the Observatory, the decrease in the number of detentions “is not due to the existence of any positive change in the political will of the Cuban Government, but to the already denounced changes in its methods of repression.”

The new strategy against opponents is based on “short-term arrests” reinforced by “direct pressure and attacks on the children and relatives of activists, the confiscation or theft of personal property or the tools of work.” The report states that “the fabrication of criminal offenses is common” as is “impeding [activists] from leaving the country,” along with other methods.

The OCDH also warned about the fabrication of “false profiles on social networks,” allegedly set up by dissidents, and the “publishing of indecent content” on these profiles. These are “campaigns conceived by intelligence officers and launched in the environment of the University of Computer Sciences UCI and its subsidiaries,” the report said.

“The Government maintains intact and reinforces its ability to systematically and selectively violate its citizens’ exercise of universal rights and especially so in the case of activists and members of independent civil society,” it concludes.