Human Rights Watch: Cuba ‘Represses and Punishes Practically All Kinds of Dissidence’

One of the surveillance operations organized by the Cuban authorities at the homes of activists, artists and independent journalists. (Facebook/Hector Luis Valdes)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 13 January 2022 — The Cuban government continues “repressing and punishing practically all kinds of dissidence and public criticism” on the island, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced this Thursday in its 2022 world report.

The section on Cuba in the annual study on the global state of human rights highlights the “brutal repression” carried out in the country after the massive and spontaneous anti-government protests of July 11, the largest in decades.

The NGO documents more than 1,000 arrests of protesters, most of whom were peaceful: “systematic” and “arbitrary” arrests of activists, artists and journalists motivated by intimidation, as well as of dissidents in their homes.

It mentions at this point the arrests of members of dissident artist groups, including the San Isidro Movement, 27N and Archipiélago, as well as people related to the protest song Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life], which became the anthem of the July demonstrations because it paraphrased the motto of the revolution “Fatherland or death” and criticized the repression in the country.

In this last group of imprisoned activists are Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo Osorbo, who appeared in the Patria y Vida video.

The report also highlights the detention of “political prisoners,” their processing “without judicial guarantees,” the “disproportionate” sentences and the use of “summary trials” after the July 11 protests, in which a justice system is “subordinated in practice” to the Executive.

HRW especially denounces the case of the opposition José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, an organization considered illegal in Cuba. He was arrested on July 11 while on his way to the demonstration.

Ferrer was sentenced in August to more than four years in prison, the court saying that he did not “strictly respect the laws” or have an “honest attitude towards work,” sufficient reasons for imprisonment in his situation, because he was already serving a prior sentence – “arbitrary,” according to HRW – of “restrictions of freedom” for assault.

Likewise, the report criticizes the restrictions on the right to information and freedom of the press and expression, tightened in the middle of last year with a new cybersecurity law. The NGO notes that independent journalism continues to be prohibited on the Island.

It also points out that “journalists, bloggers, social media influencers, artists and academics who publish information considered critical” of the government are routinely subjected to “threats, violence, smear campaigns, movement restrictions, internet cuts, cyberbullying , searches of homes and offices, confiscation of work material and arbitrary arrests.”

It also accounts for the limitations on freedom of movement to enter or leave the country for activists, journalists and dissidents.


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