Cuban dissident’s wife says police may file charges against him
Posted on Monday, 04.16.12
The wife of a dissident who was freed last year fears police will try to
force him to serve the rest of his 25-year sentence.
In this March 26, 2012 file photo, a man is taken away by security as he
shouts "Down with the Revolution! Down with the dictatorship!" shortly
after Pope Benedict XVI arrived to Revolution Square for a Mass in
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.
By Juan O. Tamayo
Cuban police want to file fresh charges against leading dissident José
Daniel Ferrer García, freed last year after eight years in prison, which
could return him to prison to serve the rest of his 25-year sentence,
his wife said Monday.
Meanwhile, the Cuban man who shouted "Down with Communism" before a Mass
by Pope Benedict XVI has said he planned his outburst "because someone
had to tell the world what [Cubans] feel in a loud voice," Radio Martí
reported. There were unconfirmed reports late Monday that police
arrested Andres Carrión, 38, again because of his comments to the Miami
Ferrer's wife, Belkis Cantillo, said police told her when she visited
him in jail Monday that they wanted to charge him with public disorder
for organizing street marches, and receiving outlawed financial aid from
the United States.
Ferrer has been one of the most aggressive dissidents in eastern Cuban
since his release from prison in March last year, organizing a long
string of public protests that drew some of the harshest police
crackdowns over the past year.
Founder of the dissident Patriotic Union of Cuba, he was arrested April
2 along with 42 others dissidents during protest marches in his hometown
of Palmarito del Cauto and neighboring Palma Soriano. He has not been
charged, and has no lawyer. The 42 were freed later.
The human rights group Amnesty International issued a weekend statement
saying it considered Ferrer a "prisoner of conscience, detained solely
for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression."
Ferrer was sentenced to 25 years in prison during a 2003 sweep of 75
dissidents known as Cuba's Black Spring. He was freed, under an
unspecified "extrapenal license," as part of the government's 2010
agreement with the Catholic Church to free political prisoners.
Cantillo and Amnesty said they feared that under the terms of his
release, Ferrer could be returned to prison to serve the remainder of
his sentence if police file fresh charges against him.
Police detained him several times over the past year but freed him after
hours or a few days and never filed charges.
Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz said Ferrer's
current 14-day arrest may well be the authorities' way of punishing him
for his activism, and warning him of worse to come if he keeps it up.
Ferrer appeared to be in good health and spirits during his wife's visit
Monday to his jail in the city of Santiago de Cuba, Cantillo told El
Nuevo Herald by phone.
Carrión, who was arrested March 26 after his protests just minutes
before the pope started a Mass in Santiago de Cuba on the first day of
his visit to the island, was freed Friday and spoke by phone with Radio
"I took advantage that the Holy Father was here and I saw that it was
the best opportunity for me to express what I felt, which is what all
Cubans feel," Carrión told Radio Martí, the Miami-based U.S. government
station that broadcasts to Cuba.
Carrión had not participated in dissident activities before but said he
"planned the action, as far as it was possible to plan," to "express my
constitutional right to free speech."
Radio Martí said it interviewed Carrión on a public telephone because
the government had blocked all the cellphones that dissidents had
delivered to his home on the outskirts of Santiago.
He said he was not mistreated while detained, but that before he was
released he had to sign a document confirming that he was forbidden from
leaving the city, meeting with dissidents or giving interviews.
"I am still in prison. The only change is that they put me home. I am
persecuted, monitored," he told Radio Martí.