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Cuba: Bloggers Rally Around Beaten Dissident

Bloggers from the Cuban diaspora are concerned about the reported beating and detainment of dissident Jorge Luis García Pérez, more popularly known as Antunez, after he testified via teleconference at a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about the human rights situation on the island.

Capitol Hill Cubans took notice of the story very early and demanded Antunez's safe release:

According to Antunez's wife (in testimony [Monday] morning to Radio Republica), Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, he was arrested on Saturday afternoon, brutally beaten, doused with pepper spray until unconscious and violently removed from his cell by the authorities that evening.

Antunez has not been heard from since.

His wife believes this is in reprisal for Antunez's testimony in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

This serves as a stark reminder of what happens to Cuban activists who dare speak the truth.

Maybe it'll give some pause to those who applaud the Castro regime's apparatchiks when they travel to the U.S. on propaganda tours (thanks to the State Department's generous new visa policy).

Uncommon Sense added his voice to the call for Antunez's freedom:

Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’ long has proven himself one of the bravest and most valiant members of the Cuban opposition, unhesitating at any moment to denounce the Castro dictatorship and to demand that his rights, and the rights of all Cubans, be respected.

Which is what he did last Thursday, when during a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on Cuba, Antunez testified via telephone about repression on the island and his opposition to relaxation of the American sanctions on Cuba.

On Thursday, the Castros got their revenge, ordering their secret police to brutally arrest and detained (sic) Antunez. As of Monday, his whereabout (sic) were unknown.

He also noted that “the two senators who heard Antunez's testimony, Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., demanded the United States and the United Nations act to force the Castro regime to release Antunez”. Marc Masferrer, who blogs at Uncommon Sense, republished the senators’ statements on his blog, as did Babalu Blog, here. Babalu also saw it fit to republish several statements about the incident from members of the U.S. Congress, here, here, and here. Capitol Hill Cubans did the same here and in this post, uploaded video of the testimony that reportedly led to Antunez’ beating.

In the context of the assault on Antunez, Babalu couldn't resist taking a jab at both Mariela Castro's recent visit to the United States and the mainstream media's poor coverage of the dissident's testimony prior to his arrest:

Antunez (sic) testimony last week, broadcast from a totalitarian country and at great risk to his liberty, might have been considered newsworthy. Instead he met with a total media blackout.

Capitol Hill Cubans, on the other hand, uploaded a CNN video report on Antunez's arrest, calling it a “must watch”. Babalu ended by underscoring the point that the dissident's whereabouts are still unknown, although there have apparently been unconfirmed reports that he is being held in Santa Clara; his wife, as of this posting, still has not been granted access to see him.

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