The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported June 23 that by its count, there are currently at least 114 political prisoners in Cuban jails, up from 102 at the end of 2013. (Read the list of prisoners here.)
Today and on each of the next 100 days or so I'm going to try to honor these brave Cubans by sharing their names and little about their respective stories. Ever since I started this blog, I have felt it vital to remember their names, names the regime would rather have the world never know. That is the only way to fully grasp the injustices they are suffering.
Today's prisoner is David Bustamante Rodriguez.
Bustamante, a gay rights activist and a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, was arrested May 26, after he took to the roof of his home to launch a peaceful protest against the Castro dictatorship.
A Cuban LGBT rights advocate with HIV remains in jail more than two weeks after authorities reportedly arrested him because he criticized the country’s government.
Ignacio Estrada Cepero of the Cuban League Against AIDS told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview from Miami on June 6 that David Bustamante Rodríguez, 21, was “savagely beaten” and “arrested in a violent way” on May 26 after he staged what he described as a “peaceful protest” on the roof of his home near the city of Santa Clara.
Estrada said that Bustamante, who is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba and the United Anti-Totalitarian Forum that operate independently from the Cuban government, has been accused of “criticizing a figure who led Fidel Castro’s revolution” in 1959 and “criticizing the authorities.”
Estrada told the Blade that Bustamante suffered a broken rib and a fractured hand during his arrest.
He said the activist has also not been able to speak with his mother, Sandra Rodríguez de Bustamante. Estrada further noted Rodríguez, with whom he said he speaks regularly, said her son has not received anti-retroviral drugs since his arrest.
“We are concerned that David is not receiving specialized medical attention,” said Estrada.
Rodríguez, who is a member of Damas de Blanco, or Ladies in White who have staged weekly protests against the Cuban government since a 2003 crackdown on dissidents, claims her son has been targeted because he is gay.
Estrada told the Blade that authorities earlier this year forced Bustamante to cut his hair.
He said police have also arrested and beat Rodríguez on several occasions. Estrada told the Blade that Bustamante’s mother has been on a hunger strike for two weeks to protest her son’s detention.