December 7, 2011
Juan Tamayo, El Nuevo Herald
Cuban dissidents vowed to protest at a State Security office Tuesday unless police free 10 government critics detained in a crackdown where several suffered head wounds, a broken rib and other injuries.
Police also severely beat Angel Moya, a well known former political prisoner, in a lockup because he would not stop shouting anti-government slogans, according to the dissidents. There was no word on his condition.
Dissident Danis Lopez de Moya said that as of Monday police had freed 38 of the 48 government critics arrested Friday in an unusually harsh crackdown as they tried to start a protest march from his house in the eastern town of Palma Soriano.
Police likely were holding the rest until the physical signs of the beatings they received has lessened or disappeared, Wildo Izaguirre, one of the 38 freed, told El Nuevo Herald by phone from Palma Soriano.
Lopez de Moya, who was himself arrested and released, said many of 38 already had gathered in his house and agreed to march to a State Security office Tuesday morning unless the other 10 are released.
Izaguirre, Lopez de Moya and Prudencio Villalón, another of the 38 dissidents freed, said the police crackdown Friday was one of the most violent they had experienced.
“As we left the house in groups of five, police jumped us, beat us and dragged us to the parked buses,” said Izaguirre, who added that police lined up in a gauntlet pushed him to the ground and kicked him in the face.
Police continued beating the dissidents once inside the government-owned buses, Izaguirre added, and the driver of one bus also hit several of the government opponents with a mechanic’s wrench.
Eurbis Perales needed nine stitches to close his wounds and Abraham Cabrera needed five, according to Villalón, who said he spoke with the pair in a police lockup after they were brought in from the hospital.
Cabrera was bleeding so much on the bus that he smeared some of his blood on a window, drawing anti-government slogans from some of the neighbors who were watching the crackdown, Villalón added.
Misael Valdes Diaz was treated for a broken rib and another dissident suffered a swollen eye, but virtually all were punched or kicked, said Villalón. He and several of the 20 other dissidents in one of the buses also vomited when police sprayed them with some type of crowd-control gas.
Police put the 38 detainees into buses that began dropping them off Saturday and Sunday one-by-one, every half-mile or so, on the road to Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second-largest city.
Still detained were Moya and José Daniel Ferrer García, both former political prisoners freed this spring as part of a decision by Cuban Ruler Raúl Castro to release 52 political prisoners.
“I was told they [police] especially vented their anger on Angel and José Daniel,” said Berta Soler, Moya’s wife and the leader of the Ladies in White.
The 52 were the last dissidents still in jail from a harsh crackdown in 2003 that sentenced 75 of them to prison terms of up to 28 years after one and two-day trials. Most of them — plus another 60 prisoners freed — agreed to go directly from prisons to the Havana airport and exile in Spain.
Moya, Ferrer and 10 others insisted on remaining in Cuba and continuing their dissident activities.
As it freed the political prisoners, the Castro government also stepped up its harassment of dissidents, usually detaining them for brief periods to avert planned protests such as the Palma Soriano march.
Cuban authorities have carried out 3,327 such “temporal detentions” so far this year, compared to 2,074 in all of 2010, according to a report from Havana on Monday by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
The march Friday in Palma was to have been part of a rotating series of street protests starting Thursday in Cuba’s easternmost province of Guantánamo and following later from towns and cities to the west.
The “National March Boitel-Zapata Live!” named after two dissidents who died during prison hunger strikes, was designed to demand the release of all political prisoners and an end to human rights abuses.