Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Repressing at Home, Raul to Travel Abroad

According to Jesse Chacon, Venezuela's Minister of Information, Raul Castro will visit Venezuela on Dec 14th for a meeting of ALBA. This, before he is scheduled to visit Brazil, whose president said he wanted to be Cuba's largest trading partner, the 17th.

Raul will be leaving Cuba at a time where he will likely be getting some flack from the international community (of course not from the countries he will be visity) for the repression that occurred yesterday and is occuring today in Cuba.

There are various reports of police roundups throughout Cuba. Frances Robles has a nice overview in today's Herald, you can find it below.

Cuban police are detaining activists prior to Human Rights Day
Cuban activists are being stopped from attending Human Rights Day events in Havana, exile groups said.

Up to a dozen human rights activists have been detained in Cuba in police operations apparently intended to keep them from attending Human Rights Day events in Havana on Wednesday, according to exile groups in Miami.

Wednesday's events are being organized to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Protests are planned by various Cuban dissident groups, including the Ladies in White organization formed by wives and female relatives of 75 dissidents and independent journalists who were rounded up during a 2003 crackdown on political dissent.

The Federation of Latin American Women, a group that lobbies for an end to Cuba's dual currency, said Cuban State Security agents beat their members and broke one woman's hand.

''They did not even ask for identification,'' FLAMUR President Belinda Salas said in a statement. ``My husband Lazaro got such a beating that he was bleeding profusely through his mouth and head, plus he was struck hard on his testicles. . . . They ripped my blouse, leaving me naked, and the beating left me with a fractured hand.''

The incident occurred when several state patrol cars arrived in Havana's Vedado neighborhood, FLAMUR said.

The whereabouts of some who were picked up by police cruisers was unknown.

The Democratic Directorate, a Miami exile group that works with dissidents in Cuba, said they knew of about a dozen people in cities across Cuba that had been arrested since Monday.

Last year, the Cuban government launched a massive operation at bus stations, train stations and highways where dissidents were trying to catch rides to Havana Human Rights Day events. The operation illustrated how well Cuban State Security monitors opposition activities -- and how quickly they were able to snatch people up.

''Right now we have a list of people detained, and it's going to keep going up,'' said the Democratic Directorate's deputy national secretary, Janisset Rivero.

``We are not sure of all the details of what's going on, because every time we get someone on the line, we get cut off. They are cutting off communications.''

She said dissident doctor Darsi Ferrer had organized some kind of march in Havana. When Rivero talked to him, he said: ''I've got a big police operation in front of my house,'' and the call ended.

Arrests have taken place in Cienfuegos, Pinar del Río, Matanzas, Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara, Placetas and Havana, she said. Among the detained is former political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as ``Antúnez.''

Last week Cuban bloggers reported being taken to police headquarters, where they received warnings against attending a scheduled Internet bloggers conference.

''Amazing: They are violating human rights so people can't celebrate human rights,'' said U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez, who headed a Bush administration effort to prepare for Cuba's transition to democracy.

''I was reading about the crackdown on the bloggers, and I suppose that's all related. It reminded me of something like rounding people up because they are suspected of witchcraft,'' he said. ``It sounds so crazy and so out of touch with reality and so old-fashioned ---- old-fashioned like centuries ago.''

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