Prominent Cuban dissidents face charges

(Caribbean 360º)

HAVANA,Cuba, Sunday November 11, 2012

Two prominent Cuban dissidents who were arrested in Havana, along with more than 20 opposition figures, might be charged with “contempt and dispersion of false news,” opposition sources say.

Of the 27 dissidents arrested between Wednesday and Thursday, two remain in custody: Antonio González Rodiles, director of the project “State of SATS,” and the independent lawyer Yaremis Flores, who advises human rights groups and peaceful oppositionists.

Rodiles and Flores face prison and the possibility of being tried without judicial guarantees, said former political prisoner Angel Moya, who was detained on Thursday and released hours later, after being threatened.

“These repressive acts are one more example of the moral decay of the Cuban government,” Moya told reporters here.

He said the mass arrests began on Wednesday afternoon, when a group of activists gathered outside the State Security offices known as Section 21, in the Havana municipality of Marianao.

Moya said the group was there to inquire about Flores’ condition and to demand his immediate release.

Flores had been intercepted by surprise by agents of the political police, Moya said. She was taken to the police center known as “100 and Aldabó,” because it is at the intersection of those two streets.

Moya said on Wednesday, at least 11 activists were detained; and on the following day, 16 other activists and bloggers, among them Yoani Sánchez, were arrested when they gathered outside a police precinct house in Havana to inquire about their colleagues’ status.

The wave of detentions has provoked criticism inside and outside the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island.

In Havana, Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, spokesman for the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), called on the Raul Castro administration to abandon the policy of zero tolerance and harassment allegedly used to silence the voices of opposition.

“The Cuban government must put an end to these actions and revert the negative tendency to increase the political repression that has been manifested in recent years through short-term detention and jail sentences,” Sánchez said.

In Miami, Florida, Cuban exile groups, such as the Cuban Democratic Directorate, strongly condemned what they described as the abuse.

Guillermo Fariñas, winner of the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament in 2010, described the arrests as political vengeance.

He said that Rodiles and Flores face the possibility of a summary trial because of their role in the issuance of a letter on individual freedoms. The letter asks the government of Raúl Castro to ratify the United Nations accords of 2008 on political and civil rights.

“We must continue to fight this battle,” Fariñas said. “That is why I call on all the international organizations to understand that Rodiles and Flores are prisoners of conscience. As such, we have to denounce this situation.”

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