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    Cuban dissident says he was beaten and choked

    Posted on Friday, 06.13.14

    Cuban dissident says he was beaten and choked
    BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
    JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

    Cuban dissident Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as Antúnez, said Friday
    he was beaten, choked into unconsciousness and injected with an unknown
    substance by security agents who warned him to stop working against
    warmer U.S.-Cuba relations.

    The U.S. State Department meanwhile condemned Cuba’s “systematic” use of
    violence and detentions against dissidents following a crackdown
    Wednesday that saw about 45 opposition activists briefly arrested and an
    independent journalist beaten up.

    “We strongly condemn the Cuban government’s systematic use of physical
    violence and arbitrary detention to silence its critics (and) disrupt
    peaceful assembly,” said deputy department spokesperson Marie Harf.

    “We urge the Government of Cuba to end these practices and respect the
    universal human rights of Cuban citizens,” Harf added in a statement
    late Thursday in which she recounted parts of the crackdown the previous
    day.

    García, arrested Wednesday with his wife, Yris Pérez Aguilera and freed
    Friday, said he had never been so badly abused during his many previous
    detentions. “I never thought that in this day and age they could do
    things like this,” he said.

    Four muscular men punched him and threw him around an office in a police
    station in Santa Clara, the provincial capital near his home in the town
    of Placetas 180 miles east of Havana, he told the Nuevo Herald by phone.

    One security official in a white lab coat put him in a strangle hold and
    knocked him out twice, he said. When he recovered consciousness, the man
    had just injected something into his arm. There was no independent way
    to confirm his allegations.

    State Security officials told him they had detained him to warn him to
    stop collecting signatures for a document opposing improved U.S.-Cuba
    relations, the dissident said. More than 830 Cubans have signed the
    document.

    García said the authorities also told him they knew that he was behind a
    string of anti-Castro graffiti that has appeared around Placetas, and
    that he had been in contact with Miami exiles such as Dr. Manuel Alzugaray.

    Cuba’s Interior Ministry has linked Alzugaray, director of the Miami
    Medical Team, and others to four Miami Cubans arrested on the island for
    allegedly plotting to attack military targets. Alzugaray has denied any
    involvement in the alleged plot.

    García said his wife also was slapped and pushed around during her
    detention and was given the same message that he received from his
    captors: “Shut up or get out of the country.” His long-time slogan has
    been, “I will neither shut up nor leave.”

    García, 49, who was jailed from 1990 to 2007, and his wife are among the
    most outspoken dissidents in communist-ruled Cuba. They head the
    National Civic Resistance Front Orlando Zapata Tamayo, named for a
    dissident who died in 2010 after a hunger strike. They have been
    detained dozens of times, although usually for only a few hours.

    Havana dissident Martha Beatriz Roque, 69, meanwhile alleged that she
    was punched by a female State Security agent in civilian clothes who
    blocked her from leaving her home Wednesday. She fell with the punch and
    injured her back, she added.

    Security agents have blocked everyone from entering or leaving Roque’s
    home on Wednesdays since November, to block the weekly meetings of a
    small group of independent journalists she leads, the Cuban Network of
    Community Communicators.

    The female State Security agent refused to identify herself and told a
    male supervisor after the incident that Roque had slipped on her own,
    she said. Cuban security agents seldom identify themselves, and then
    mostly with nicknames.

    The crackdown Wednesday also saw independent journalist Roberto de Jesus
    Guerra allege that a State Security agent in plainclothes attacked him
    without provocation as he walked down a Havana street. Guerra suffered a
    broken nose in the incident.

    Police and State Security agents also detained more than 30 members of
    the dissident Ladies in White and up to 20 male supporters during the
    day, but had freed all of them by the end of Wednesday.

    Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez has been reporting a
    steady increase in “short-term, arbitrary detentions for political
    motives” under Cuban ruler Raúl Castro. Such detentions are usually
    designed to intimidate dissidents and keep them away from opposition
    gatherings.

    His Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation tallied
    a record 3,821 such arrests in the first four months of this year,
    compared to the previous high of 2,795 during the first four months of 2012.

    Source: Cuban dissident says he was beaten and choked – Cuba –
    MiamiHerald.com –
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/13/4176710/cuban-dissident-says-he-was-beaten.html

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