News and Facts about Cuba

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

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 on March 27 this year when he tried to

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"

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 , who is reported to be

seriously ill.

"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 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

worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates

and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,

, truth and dignity are denied.

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