The Cuban Commission on Human Rights reported that 43 dissidents have been detained by the Communist government in a new wave of repression launched on April 2 in the city of Santiago.
Former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer and his wife, Belkis Cantillo, a member of the Women in White, were among those arrested.
“We have been able to confirm that 43 dissidents have been detained – 10 women and 33 men – during the wave of repression on Monday in Santiago de Cuba, and all remain under arrest,” Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission on Human Right said on April 4.
He said that most of them belong to the Patriotic Union of Cuba, a dissident movement that supports a peaceful transition to democracy.
In a statement sent to CNA on April 4, the Patriotic Union of Cuba said the repression began on Monday morning, when ten activists in the town of El Caney “gathered at the home of coordinator Guillermo Cobas to peacefully protest” the incarceration of Andres Carrion Alvares, Rogelio Tabio Lopez and Bismark Mustelier Galan.
Alvares shouted “down with Communism” before Pope Benedict XVI’s Mass in Santiago during the pontiff’s March 25-28 visit to the country, Lopez was detained last month in Guantanamo, and Galan was arrested in Palma Soriano.
The Union said similar protests held in other parts of the province of Santiago were also squashed by state police, who ransacked the home of Jose Daniel Ferrer and arrested him, his wife and five other dissidents.
Twenty-six other dissidents were arrested at the home of Raumel Vinajera, the coordinator for the Patriotic Union in Palma Soriano. Ten more were detained in the town of Vista Hermosa.
Jose Daniel Ferrer was one of the 75 dissidents arrested during what’s known as the Black Spring of 2003. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison but was released in 2011 thanks to the intervention of the Church in Cuba.