Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia knew the risk he was taking last year when he decided to remain in Cuba instead of taking exile overseas after he was released after eight years as a "Group of 75" political prisoner. He knew that the Castro regime was reserving the right to return him to jail at less than a moment's notice, especially if he resumed the type of activities that had landed him in prison in 2003.
Since his release, Ferrer has become one of the more active and vocal leaders in the Cuban opposition, leading the Patriotic Union of Cuba and reporting on events in Cuba as an independent journalist. He has been arrested and detained numerous times, most recently on April 2.
As of this morning, he remains in jail, and Amnesty International is again listing him as a prisoner of conscience.
The repression suffered by Ferrer and some others of the Group of 75 who remained in Cuba belies the notion that their release signified a major shift in how the Castro dictatorship treats its opposition. It was only a tactical maneuver designed to move continued repression out of the glare of international attention, which had made the Group of 75 powerful symbols and into the shadows.
Ferrer had a chance to escape what was coming, and it would have been understandable if he had joined others in the Group of 75, including his brother Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, in exile. He and his family had suffered enough.
But Ferrer, who had already witnessed the worst the Castro regime could throw at him, chose to stay in his home, in his Cuba.
“Jose Daniel has not committed any crime, he has no reason to be detained," said his wife, Lady in White Belkis Cantillo this Thursday, April 12th, from Palmarito de Cauto. The former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia has been jailed in the Versalles Police Unit since last April 2nd after a number of armed Cuban agents raided his home, confiscating various recording devices, a laptop, CDs, USB drives, and other materials.
“They [the regime] have exceeded the limit, 10 days have already passed since Jose Daniel’s arrest. If he is not released or if they do not give me a clear explanation, I will publicly protest outside the police unit tomorrow, April 13th,"said Cantillo.
The Lady in White was able to visit her husband this past 10th of April, but just for a few minutes. “He is very skinny and is full of mosquito bites all over. In the unit where he is being held the conditions are not suitable for anyone. The Versalles Unit is used to imprison murderers. There is no hygiene, and very little food," explained the activist, “The ones who violate the rights of the Cuban people are the Castro brothers, not Jose Daniel."
In regards to her three children, Belkis explains that “they are still nervous since they witnessed the assault on our home." She said that her eldest daughter, 14 year old Martha Beatriz Ferrer, is a “very brave girl” but she has also been beat and has been affected by the raiding of the house. “All of this is the fault of Fidel and Raul Castro, the real assassins. The only thing we are doing is defending the rights of the Cuban people." Her other two children- Daniel (7) and Fatima (9) have also suffered the consequences.
Belkis Cantillo added that despite the threats of police agents which have told the Ladies in White that only a very small group would be allowed to assist Sunday mass, all the women will continue marching to the Cobre Sanctuary in Santiago de Cuba each and every Sunday. “If they arrest us, then so be it, but we will continue in this civic struggle," declared Cantillo.
The human rights activist also sent out another message to the world: "I am calling on public international opinion to intercede on behalf of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia so he is immediately released."
For information on what you can do to help Ferrer, read this.