Cuba: Remembering the Dissidents

This week, members of the Cuban diaspora have been blogging about two main things: the one-year anniversary of the death of dissident Juan Wilfredo Soto, and the re-arrest of human rights activist Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.

Of the former, babalu places blame for Soto's death squarely on the shoulders of the Cuban government:

Mercilessly beaten in a park by agents of Cuba's political police, Soto died three days later from the injuries he received. His murder at the hands of the Castro dictatorship, like that of Cuban prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo, caused an uproar in the international community and forced the regime and its defenders here in the U.S. to mount a campaign seeking to blame his death on natural causes and diminish the role Castro police had in his murder.

One year after the murder of Juan Wilfredo Soto, things have have changed Cuba, but for the worse. The rate of arrests of human rights activists on the island has skyrocketed…One year later, the Castro regime is as repressive and violent as ever, if not more so…

Pedazos de la Isla corroborates his account of increased numbers of arrests in this post, quoting a “Lady in White and independent journalist” who claims that:

The Cuban police, as well as State Security and other watchdog branches of the regime, prefer to unleash this kind of repression against peaceful activists who demand freedom and democratic changes in Cuba instead of pursuing and detaining those who rob, rape, and even kill other citizens.

The recent re-arrest of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, as Uncommon Sense reports, also appears to support this claim:

Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was arrested in Havana on Wednesday.

Ferrer, who had been released April 29 after almost a month in jail, was on his way to the Czech embassy to access the Internet, when the Castro police swept in and arrested him.

Details of his whereabouts were not known, but human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez, with whom Ferrer was staying while visiting the capital said he thought Ferrer would be returned to his hometown of Santiago de Cuba.

Finally, Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter, which gives a detailed history of the case, says that Soto Garcia, who died on Mother's Day last year, should never be forgotten:

Juan Wilfredo Soto García, 46, belonged to the Central Opposition Coalition (Coalición Central Opositora) and the previously unrecognized opposition organization Foro Antitotalitario Unido, (United Anti-totalitarian Forum) and according to Amnesty International Juan Wilfredo ‘had previously been imprisoned for 12 years for his political activities.’

Amnesty International called for an investigation into his death which over a year later has not been conducted. The Cuban dictatorship has sought to deny Juan Wilfredo Soto García's status as a former political prisoner and human rights defender in order to portray him as a common criminal.

In addition to Amnesty International, 12 former Cuban prisoners of conscience from the 2003 Black Cuban Spring met on Saturday, June 4, 2011 and petitioned the Cuban regime for an independent investigation into the May 8, 2011 death of Juan Wilfredo Soto García in a document called The Declaration of El Roque. Others continue to [be] badly beaten and denied adequate medical care in Cuba and their lives remain at risk. It is for that reason and the continuing demand of justice for Juan Wilfredo Soto García that we must never forget.

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