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
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
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
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
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
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 –