Repression Does Not Rest in Summer

Alejandro Pupo Echemendía, who died in police custody. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 3 September 2018 — The two main human rights organizations in Cuba published Monday their reports about repression during August.

The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), with headquarters in Cuba, puts the number of arbitrary political arrests at 219 in August.  For the CCDHRN the most serious event last month was the death of Alejandro Pupo Echemendia, arrested on the 9th and declared dead hours later while in police custody.  The activist was taken to the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) station in the city of Placetas in Villa Clara, and relatives and witnesses assert that the body showed signs having been brutally mistreated before his death.

“Official responsibility must be revealed in this flagrant case of another citizen who dies in police custody,” demands CCDHRN.

On the other hand the organization applauds the announcement of the opening of a trial against some twenty officials and other citizens who are accused of bribery, document fraud and other crimes aimed at facilitating the “illegal” relocation to the capital of people who live in other provinces, building a criminal network.

CCDHRN thinks that the government intends to keep the detention figures low, but in the face of this, it increases control over people and has carried out at least 21 acts of harassment and four physical assaults against opponents.

Moreover, the Cuban Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), with headquarters in Madrid, has accounted for at least 208 arbitrary detentions in Cuba during August, a figure somewhat higher than that set out in July.

The organization highlights the harassment and arrests suffered by several independent artists on the 25th when they held a concert against the approval of Decree 349 which increases censorship of the sector.  The non-governmental organization Amnesty International has pronounced itself against that day’s arrests.

The activist network of OCDH accounted for 133 repressive actions against women and 75 against men on the Island, at the same time that more acts of harassment and intimidation were brought against members of civil society and activists throughout the Island.

Another of the punished sectors last month has been the milieu of the political movement Somos+ whose activists were victims of arbitrary arrests when they tried to meet to debate the draft version of constitutional reform.

Add to these two groups those who habitually suffer the harassment methods of State Security and the Police, among them the Ladies in White who continue to be most affected by the brief detentions, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), Somos+, the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Front, the National Resistence Front and the Party for Democracy.

For its part, the Center for Cuba Coexistence, directed by Dagoberto Valdes, continues suffering its particular repression of police citations and interrogations.

The personalized repression and the measures controlling departures abroad have become the tools most used in recent times, which, according to the Observatory, “leaves exposed the absence of the government’s political will to change.”

This fact also is denounced by CCDHRN which maintains that while it was “permitted” that nine dissidents travel to Peru in order to participate in two academic events, another nine were impeded from doing the same on the basis of various pretexts or simply the use of force.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel


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