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    Cuba cracks down on activists, journalists

    Cuba cracks down on activists, journalists

    After a year away, Cuba returns to the list of countries imprisoning


    Alex Pearlman

    December 11, 2012 13:56

    Human rights defenders, political dissidents and journalists have been

    threatened, beaten and arbitrarily imprisoned in Cuba recently, and the

    widespread government crackdown continued on International Human Rights

    Day yesterday.

    On the 64th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

    over 100 activists were detained and up to 150 others were put under

    house arrest, including members of the Ladies in White, women who

    campaign for the release of relatives imprisoned by the government,

    reports the Miami Herald.

    Protesters were harassed by police in Havana and detained for hours

    after staging rallies and marching outside two churches, one in Havana,

    and one in the eastern town of El Cobre.

    The State Department issued a statement Monday saying the US was “deeply

    concerned” about the Cuban government’s actions.

    “We call on the Cuban government to end the increasingly common practice

    of arbitrary and extra-judicial detentions, and we look forward to the

    day when all Cubans can freely express their ideas, assemble freely and

    express their opinions peacefully,” said State Dept. spokesperson

    Victoria Nuland, according to AFP.

    More from GlobalPost: Cuba: When bureaucrats attack

    Cuba has been increasingly harsh on activists and journalists. This year

    alone has seen over 5,600 cases of detention or imprisonment, according

    to rights advocacy group the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and

    National Reconciliation.

    Most notably, Cuban journalist Calixto Martinez Arias, who reported on a

    2009 cholera outbreak and in September wrote about shipments of medicine

    expiring, was imprisoned in September and has been on a hunger strike

    since November.

    Martinez Arias is being held in solitary confinement and spoke with his

    news agency, the independent Centro de Información Hablemos Press about

    the inhumane conditions in Cuban prisons, which the Committee to Protect

    Journalists recorded and posted on their blog [in Spanish].

    According to, another political prisoner, Alexander Roberto

    Fernández Rico, informed Martínez Arias’ news agency in November that he

    “was being held naked in a ‘punishment cell’ and being given only a

    liter of water per day.”

    Cuba reappeared on the CPJ’s list of countries that imprison journalists

    this year after a year off it, one of the only countries in the Americas

    to still regularly appear.

    However, political dissidents see significant, on-going brutality by

    secret police and plain clothes officers, according to the Cuban

    Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation

    More from GlobalPost: With new travel rules, most Cubans are free to go.

    Will they return?

    “Recent years have seen a growing trend toward police violence during

    detentions, despite the dissidents’ entirely peaceful behavior,” the

    commission said in its monthly report in November.

    The commissions’s leader, Elizardo Sanchez, a leading opposition figure,

    reported similar treatment to Time magazine and said he was personally

    attacked in Havana, and another activist, Guillermo Farinas, was

    allegedly set up on by police weilding wooden sticks.

    In a letter to Cuban Interior Minister Abeladro Colome and the

    international press, Sanchez complained about the situation, saying

    “Arbitrary arrests, physical aggression, threats and humiliations

    against peaceful citizens are counterproductive to the necessary

    alternative that is a national dialogue.”

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