Cuba: “Police Brutality” or “Natural Causes” in Dissident’s Death?
Cuba: "Police Brutality" or "Natural Causes" in Dissident's Death?
Posted 10 May 2011 18:35 GMT
Written byJanine Mendes-Franco
Cuban bloggers continue their outcry over the death of dissident Juan
Wilfredo Soto, especially in light of an official statement which
suggests that Soto, popularly known by his nickname "The Student", died
"of natural causes".
On hearing the position of the Cuban government, Uncommon Sense quips:
That could be true, of course, because in Cuba under Castro, the
police beating a dissident is as natural as it comes.
Then his tone becomes serious, saying:
But the party line has been undermined by witnesses who have
stepped forward to tell what they know about Soto's death. The party
line is being undermined by the truth.
For instance, there is Mario Lleonart Barroso who says he spoke to
Soto after he was beaten and before he was readmitted to a hospital in
The blogger also speaks of "other witnesses ready to testify not to what
they saw but ready to risk their own lives to ensure that justice
prevails in Soto's death" as well as "numerous dissidents ready to go on
hunger strike if by July 26 the dictatorship does not properly
investigate what happened to Soto." One dissident has reportedly already
begun [ES] his hunger strike.
The two accounts of Soto's death could not be more contradictory, with
local dissidents insisting that he had been beaten by police and
officials maintaining that his "acute pancreatitis…led to multiple organ
failure" and calling the allegations of police brutality a "'smear
campaign' aimed at weakening the Cuban revolution."
Babalu does not accept the official line, saying:
Apparently, a vicious and brutal beating by State Security is
considered a natural cause of death in Cuba.
The blog also takes issue with this post, saying:
Once again we have a 'Cuba Expert' blaming the victim instead of
the assailant. Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia is dead not because Cuban
security agents beat him to death, but because Soto Garcia 'resisted
their entreaties to leave the area.'
Meanwhile, Pedazos de la Isla spares a thought for Soto's mother, who
"must accept the harsh reality of no longer being able to see her son
just because chose to defend human rights in a country where all that is
just is considered illegal." The blogger goes on to question the
position of the Cuban government:
The only thing that is clear is that they have responded with fear,
quickly asserting that it was all a lie. Now we must wait and see if the
international media will repeat the absurd fallacies created by the
Castro government, as many did with Orlando Zapata.
Octavo Cerco offers a more personal perspective on the situation:
The last image I have of Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia is at my side
running around under the Santa Clara's relentless sun. We tried to get
permission from the Bishop so that Padre Dominico–who had come halfway
around the world to get to Cuba–could go see Guillermo Fariñas in
Intensive Care at the scheduled visiting hours.
Now I look at the photo in Penultimos Dias of the Student and I
don't recognize him. It must be that I refuse to accept that they beat
him to death. It must be that I can't admit that this time of horror has
come to this Island. And I ask myself–is it the obvious uncertainty of
rationalism–how many Wilfredos have there already been and how many are
still to come? While sitting in a park, an incomprehensible crime, the
massive weight of half a century of police impunity falling on his body.
Finally, the blogger goes on to say of the Cuban police, whom she calls
"anonymous faces in blue":
For a long time people have feared them more than the thieves,
scammers and criminals. "Call the police" has become the last card in
the deck. Because justice does not come with them. Because they are not
here to protect us, but to control us at any price.