Agencies, via 14ymedio, Havana, November 7, 2019 — Martha Beatríz Ferrer Cantillo and Ana Belkis Ferrer García, the sister and daughter of the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), José Daniel Ferrer, have sent a letter in which they demand from Miguel Díaz-Canel, and his predecessor in the position, Raúl Castro, the “immediate release” of the activist and the rest of the members of the Cuban opposition organization detained by the regime.
“We demand the immediate release of our father and brother and Unpacu activists. We demand that, faced with the shame of the world, you dare to reveal what has become of them. Where do you have them? In what conditions? Under what false and ridiculous accusations?” reads the letter from the two relatives of José Daniel Ferrer, who has been detained since October 1.
The daughter and the sister of the Unpacu leader have emphasized that the opposition figure is “detained, incommunicado, and disappeared for more than a month” for his political ideas, “for devoting himself to making the world see” the reality that Cuba lives under the current regime.
“Our father and brother has been detained for 37 days. His system is so weak that he has to betray himself to be able to survive. And whoever betrays himself is nothing,” they have denounced.
The two family members have said that they received a “manuscript” from Ferrer in which he reports that he has suffered torture and that his life is in danger and that they are convinced that the document is in his handwriting because a graphologic expert has confirmed it and because they know that the regime is capable of acting that way.
After pointing out that Ferrer has been arrested “more than 100 times without charge in the eight years that he has been out of prison [see Cuba: Black Spring],” the two family members have affirmed that the case for which he has been arrested is “theater” invented by the regime, which they have accused of forcing a man who suffered a motorcycle accident to declare that “the person responsible for the injuries must be José Daniel Ferrer.”
“Their theater is over since it began, and you know it, the diplomats of every nation in Havana know it, and the entire serious international press knows it,” they wrote.
The daughter and sister of the activist have reported that, since his arrest, “nobody” has provided the family with the prosecutor’s accusation nor permitted family members to visit the detainee, in addition to rejecting a writ of habeas corpus presented to the provincial court of Santiago de Cuba.
“The United Nations have urged [sic] that you are failing to fulfill all the protocols that you have signed and ratified regarding forced disappearances. You have also betrayed this agreement, this word that was committed to by Cuba before the world,” they explained.
After defending the work that Ferrer has done as an activist defending human rights during recent years, the daughter and sister of the opposition figure demanded from the regime his release and that of the rest of the detainees from Unpacu and they have called to start a dialogue “with the true independent civil society.”
“Walk the path toward a transition, which is the only thing that can save Cuba and Cubans from more years of dishonor, shame, pain, misery, detentions, prison of conscience, labor slavery, family separation, and an endless number of calamities,” they concluded.
The same day, Amnesty International sent a letter to King Felipe VI of Spain asking that, when he travels to Cuba next week, in his bilateral meetings with authorities he take an interest in Ferrer and ask for the immediate release of the six prisoners of conscience that the organization has confirmed.
According to AI, they are José Guía Piloto, president of the Republican Party of Cuba, who is serving a sentence of five years for “public disorder” and “contempt;” Silverio Portal Contreras, ex-activist of the Women in White who is serving four years for “contempt” and “public disorder,” and Mitzael Díaz Paseiro, member of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front of Civic Resistence (FNRC-OZT), who, since 2017, is serving a sentence of four years for “dangerousness*.”
The other three are Eliecer Bandera Barrera, activist of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) and sentenced for “dangerousness” since 2015 until 2021; Edilberto Ronal Azuaga, Unpacu activist, imprisoned, according to reports, for not paying a fine; and Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, lawyer and journalist for Cubanet, arrested on September 11 after being declared guilty, a month earlier, of resistence and disobedience by the Municipal Court of the city of Guantanamo.
AI, which stresses that Cuba is the only country in the Americas to which it does not have access, demands that they be released immediately and that their sentences be revoked because, according to the organization, they are “imprisoned exclusively for peacefully excercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.”
Secondly, Amnesty International wants the King to ask Cuban authorities to immediately inform José Daniel Ferrer of the charges against him or, otherwise, release him.
On the other hand, the organization asks the King to intercede to put a stop to “the harassment” of the critical artists Luis Manuel Otero and Amaury Pacheco, ’The OmniPoet,’ and that Decree 349, which prohibits all artistic activity in public or private spaces without prior approval of the Ministry of Culture, be repealed.
It also asks for the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes because, according to AI, Cuban authorities are “playing cat and mouse,” affirming that “Cuba, by philosophy, is against the application of the death penalty” but that it will eliminate it “when suitable conditions exist.”
Thus, it is maintained for crimes of murder, death threats, aggravated rape, terrorism, kidnapping, piracy, drug trafficking, espionage, and treason. The last executions — by firing squad — were in 2003 and, as far as it is known, there are not currently any prisoners condemned to death.
For Amnesty International, although “there is no longer a Castro in the presidency of the country, there are no great changes when it comes to human rights,” as was demonstrated by the universal periodic review of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.
The King and Queen of Spain, according to what has emerged today, will travel to Santiago de Cuba on the last day of their visit to “avoid all risk” of running into Nicolás Maduro or Daniel Ortega.
*Translator’s note: The Cuban penal code includes the crime of “pre-criminal dangerousness” — i.e. you have not committed a crime but are in “danger” of doing so — punishable by a sentence of one to four years.
Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera
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