Amnesty International Calls on Cuba to Say Why They are Holding Jorge Vázquez Chaviano or Release Him
September 14, 2012
Amnesty International Calls on Cuba to Say Why They are Holding Jorge
Vázquez Chaviano or Release Him
Dissident Held Without Explanation Provokes Hunger Strike
Contact: Sharon Singh, , 202-675-8579, @spksingh
(Washington, D.C.)– The Cuban authorities must either explain why they
failed to release detainee Jorge Vázquez Chaviano as scheduled on
September 9 or let him go immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty
International said amid an ongoing hunger strike by 26 dissidents in
solidarity with their colleague.
Vázquez Chaviano, who is a member of the organization "Central
Opposition Coalition" (Coalición Central Opositora), was charged with
"unlawful economic activities" and sentenced to 18 months "correctional
work without internment" in March 2011.
He believed the sentence to be politically motivated and a means of
punishing his dissident activities.
"The justice system in Cuba is highly arbitrary and unfair for those
deemed to be dissidents, but the failure to release prisoners on
completion of their sentence is unusual and this is a worrying
development," said Gerardo Ducos, Cuba researcher for Amnesty International.
"Unless the authorities are able to immediately explain on what grounds
they have refused to release Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Amnesty
International calls on them to immediately and unconditionally release
him, and to cease the harassment of his family," Ducos said.
Vázquez Chaviano was arrested on March 27 this year when he tried to
travel from his home in the province of Villa Clara to attend an open
air mass said by Pope Benedict XVI in Havana, and was forced to serve
the remaining six months of his sentence behind bars.
Since September 9 came and went, he is not believed to have been charged
with a new offense or have been re-sentenced, nor has any reason been
given by the authorities as to why he has not been released after
completing his sentence. He is imprisoned at "Alambradas de Manacas"
prison in Villa Clara Province.
Jorge's wife and mother were detained along with several supporters on
September 10 in their hometown of Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara Province,
when they demonstrated for his release. His wife was held for 24 hours
before being released and warned not to speak out publicly again.
Vázquez Chaviano began a hunger strike after hearing he would remain
incarcerated and 26 other people across the island have since joined
him, calling for his release and for greater civil and political
freedoms in Cuba.
The group includes 67 year-old Martha Beatriz Pérez Roque, head of the
Cuban Network of Community Communicators (Red Cubana de Comunicadores
Comunitarios) and a former prisoner of conscience, who is reported to be
"Given the government's control of the justice system and media, and the
repression of public protest, the only recourse dissidents feel they
have to make their voice heard is to go on hunger strike," said Gerardo
Since 2010, two prisoners of conscience, Wilman Villar Mendoza and
Orlando Zapata Tamayo have died in custody while on hunger strike,
protesting their unfair incarceration.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist
organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and
volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights
worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.