Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Cuba: 500 Detentions in February

    Cuba: 500 Detentions in February

    Rights group also says political prisoner died after hunger strike.

    By Camilo Ganga – Latin America

    26 Mar 13

    Two Cuban human rights groups that report on arbitrary arrests recorded

    an increase in politically-motivated detentions in February compared

    with the previous month.

    The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation,

    CCDHRN, said there were 504 arrests of this kind, 140 more than last

    month, while noting that the true figure could be higher given that

    comprehensive information is hard to come by.

    The Hablemos Press Information Centre, CIHPress, whose data do not cover

    all of Cuba's provinces, reported 471 arrests and detentions, 169 more

    than its January figure.

    The high number recorded each month stems from the repeated use of

    short-term detention as a form of intimidation, as well as arrests that

    lead to prosecution and trial. (See Political Detentions Treble in Last

    Three Years on annual trends.)

    CCDHRN recorded the death of political prisoner Antonio Ribalta Junco,

    44, on February 16. He had spent 38 days on hunger strike protesting his


    More broadly, the group said 20 inmates of Cuban prisons had died in the

    last five months. Such deaths could, it said, "on occasion constitute

    homicide through negligence".

    Journalists, bloggers and photojournalists are at particular risk of

    being detained.

    Independent journalist Héctor Julio Cedeño Negrín was held for 13 days

    and has not yet recovered from the effects of the hunger strike he

    undertook. (House Arrest for Cuban Journalist.)

    Another journalist, Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, has spent the last six

    months in jail, and the authorities have yet to give his lawyer access

    to his case files. (See Cuban Journalist on Second Hunger Strike.)

    On February 28, writer Angel Santiesteban Prat was sentenced to five

    years in prison for assault. CIHPress believes the real reason he was

    imprisoned was his criticism of the government.

    CIHPress reports that a number of foreign nationals were detained on

    February 14 for taking photos of a political protest in a central Havana

    park. On February 24, a Brazilian journalist was detained in the Miramar

    neighbourhood for photographing members of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies

    in White) movement.

    The authorities also harasses activists and dissidents by keeping them

    and their families under surveillance, and orchestrating "acts of

    repudiation" in which crowds surround and attack their homes.

    Hugo Damian Prieto, a member of the Hard Line and Boycott Movement,

    suffered nine such attacks on his home in Havana in under 72 hours. This

    came soon after he and other dissidents put up a poster bearing the name

    of Orlando Zapata, a political activist who died in prison after an

    80-day hunger strike in 2010.

    Camilo Ganga is the pseudonym of a journalist living in Havana, Cuba.

    This article first appeared on IWPR's website.

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