Human Rights Watch is demanding the Castro regime abandon efforts to silence the political opposition during the visit to Cuba next week of Pope Benedict XVI.
- Caridad Caballero Batista, 39, a dama de blanco from Holguín, told Human Rights Watch she had been detained on March 16 with her son, Erik Esteban Sández Caballero, 19, and her husband, Esteban Sández Suarez, when they attempted to travel to Havana to participate in marches commemorating the Black Spring. She said she was held in solitary confinement in a small, unsanitary cell without windows for three days. Her husband was imprisoned in a cell with common criminals, she said. He refused to stand up and salute guards as they walked by, as a result of which he was thrown to the ground and beaten.
- Leticia Ramos, 42, a dama de blanco from Matanzas, told Human Rights Watch she had been arbitrarily detained three times in the last two weeks and warned that if she attempted to travel to Havana for the pope’s visit, she would be arrested. After a severe beating at the hands of police on March 18, she was taken to a hospital, where a doctor told her that she had a broken rib, which is causing her a great deal of pain, she told Human Rights Watch.
- Rogelio Tavío Ramírez, 22, from Guantanamo, told Human Rights Watch that his father, Rogelio Tavío López, 48, had been detained since March 2. Both are members of the dissident group the Movement of Resistance and Democracy (Movimiento de Resistencia y Democracia). Tavío Ramirez said his father was charged with public disorder and “actions against the norm in the development of a minor” (acciones contra el normal desarrollo del menor) – a crime in Cuba’s Criminal Code that punishes parents and guardians for failing in “their responsibilities related to the respect and love of the homeland” – charges his son said were motivated by his political activities. Rogelio Tavío López has been on hunger strike since he was detained, his son said, to protest what he views as his unjust prosecution and the fabricated charges against him.
- Obel Luís Ramos Acosta, 28, who founded a dissident group in Santiago, Cuba, told Human Rights Watch he was recently detained for handing out copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and an independent – and therefore illegal – publication called the “Voice of the East” (La Voz de Oriente). He said he was held incommunicado and without charge for three days at a police station, where he was beaten and ordered amid threats to abandon his activities.
Read the rest of the report here.