News and Facts about Cuba

Cuba must stop ‘cat-and-mouse game’ with political activists

2 August 2012

Cuba must stop 'cat-and-mouse game' with political activists

"The latest arrest and short-term detention of José Daniel Ferrer García

continues the Cuban authorities' cat-and-mouse game with political

dissidents and activists"

James Burke, Campaigner on the Caribbean at Amnesty International

Thu, 02/08/2012

The Cuban authorities must end their ongoing harassment of political and

human rights activists, Amnesty International said today after a former

was released following his latest arrest and

detention in a station for 36 hours.

José Daniel Ferrer García, coordinator of the organization Patriotic

Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU), was set free on

Wednesday, two days after police him in the eastern province of


He was not charged with any crime. His family had no idea of his

whereabouts until he was returned home by the authorities on Wednesday


Ferrer's latest arrest follows three days he spent in detention after

being arrested in Havana in February 2012 and a 27-day detention for

"public disorder" in Santiago de Cuba two months later. These repeated,

short detentions are in line with a pattern of harassment by the Cuban

authorities against UNPACU members and other political dissidents.

"The latest arrest and short-term detention of José Daniel Ferrer García

continues the Cuban authorities' cat-and-mouse game with political

dissidents and human rights activists," said James Burke, Campaigner on

the Caribbean at Amnesty International.

"This practice – used as a form of harassment and intimidation to

repress legitimate, peaceful activism and of – must

come to a halt."

UNPACU was formed in mid-2011 as an umbrella group of Cuban

organizations in and around the province of Santiago de Cuba who seek

democratic change by non-violent means.

Since its creation, the Cuban authorities have used arbitrary detention

and other measures to harass and intimidate its members. One member,

Wilman Villar Mendoza – whom Amnesty International named a of

conscience – died last January on a hunger strike to protest his

four-year sentence after a summary trial.

UNPACU coordinator Ferrer García served eight years of a 25-year jail

sentence for his political activism before being granted conditional

release in March 2011.

He was among 75 Cuban dissidents arrested during the so-called "Black

Spring" crackdown in March 2003. Amnesty International adopted all 75 as

prisoners of conscience after they were jailed for the peaceful

expression of critical opinions of the government.

Ferrer García was among those targeted in part for his participation in

the Project, which called for a national referendum on democratic

reforms in Cuba.

Following his conditional release last year, police in Santiago de Cuba

re-arrested Ferrer García on 2 April 2012 along with 42 other activists

– most of them UNPACU members.

All the rest were set free, but police held Ferrer García on a "public

disorder" charge for a further 27 days, before releasing him on the

condition that he renounce his political activism.

Following his release, José Daniel Ferrer García told Amnesty

International that the authorities had arrested him to prevent him from

travelling to the capital, Havana where he had planned to hold meetings

with other government critics who are peacefully seeking greater respect

for civil and political rights in Cuba.

He said the ongoing campaign of harassment would not deter him or his

colleagues from continuing with their activism: "Our goal in Cuba is to

establish true rule of law in Cuba where freedom of expression, freedom

of association – all fundamental freedoms – are respected, and until we

do so, we will continue our peaceful struggle."

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