Iris Pérez and Antúnez
See update below for the latest information.
Cuban human rights activist Jorge Luís García Pérez — best known as "Antúnez" — has been arrested too many times to count since April 2007, when he was released from jail after more than 17 years as a political prisoner.
On Tuesday, he, his wife and another activist were arrested in the town of Palma Soriano, in Santiago de Cuba province, while working to organize an independent library named after the late Gloria Amaya, the matriarch of one of Cuba's most prominent family of dissidents. According to the Cuban Democratic Directorate in Miami, police beat Antúnez as they took him and the others into custody.
The third dissident, Raudel Ávila Losada, at whose home the arrests took place, was still in custody on Wednesday, apparently facing a charge of "assault."
The whereabouts of Antúnez and his wife were not known. A group of activists standing in vigil outside secret police headquarters in Santiago, known as "Versailles," reported they saw the pair on Wednesday being taken to the local airport in a patrol car, according to the Directorate.
They urged the world take notice of what happened.
Antúnez's experiences in the gulag only emboldened him to carry on with the struggle for Cuban liberty, so the secret police have responded in kind. They take Antúnez into custody, hold him for a few hours or for a few days, and then they let him go — sometimes with an escort back to his home in the town of Placetas in Santa Clara where at times he has been under house arrest. Antúnez's wife, the activist Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera has received the same treatment.
That pattern of below-the-radar repression, which has become a hallmark of Raúl Castro dictatorship, makes it tempting to believe that Antúnez and Iris may be bruised and maybe even a bit frightened, but basically OK. We'll soon again hear from them, and how about their next arrest.
But remember in whose custody they are in, and how any authority acting in the name of the Castro dictatorship, cannot be trusted. That Antúnez has been detained numerous times only to be released a short time later, does not mean that is what will happen this time.
The only thing that is certain is that the dictatorship will never stop its repression of men like Antúnez with the courage to stand up to its cowardly ways, and that it reserves for itself the power to do whatever it takes to break them.
Which is why it is vital, like the activists outside of Versailles, that we stand with Antúnez and his wife and for them, so that they are safe.
They need us for their protection.
You can follow Antúnez on Twitter @antunezcuba
UPDATED, Jan. 21, 2010 — Antúnez tells Radio Martí that he and Iris were transferred to Placetas, and after three hours in the police station there, they were released.