HAVANA – The opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said Tuesday that in December there were a record 796 temporary arrests for political reasons on the Communist-ruled island.
The government “continues to criminalize, with an anachronistic Penal Code, the free exercise of all civil, political, economic and cultural rights,” the commission said in a report.
Commission spokesman Elizardo Sanchez blamed the “repressive tendency” of the Cuban regime for the high number of arrests in a month when World Human Rights Day was celebrated and when a flotilla of exiles from Miami in international waters off the Cuban coast shot off fireworks in support of dissidents on the island.
Most of the arrests in December were brief and some lasted several days, according to the commission, which denounced in its report the “countless cases of police violence.”
With the cases in December, the number of temporary detentions for political reasons recorded by the commission throughout 2011 totaled 4,123 compared with the 2,074 in 2010.
Sanchez said that there have been between 20 and 30 political arrests so far this month.
Among them was the detention of Guillermo Fariñas, recipient of the European Parliament’s 2010 Sakharov Prize for the defense of human rights, who has been behind bars since Monday in the central city of Santa Clara, Sanchez and the dissident’s mother, Alicia Hernandez, told Efe.
In its report, the commission also mentions that the pardons the Raul Castro government granted to almost 2,991 convicts, including seven political prisoners, “represents a scant 4 percent of the estimated total prison population” on the island.
It also says that on the same day the pardons were granted, “the regime confined three peaceful dissidents to high-security prisons without formal charges and in subhuman conditions.”
The government dismisses most dissidents as “counterrevolutionaries” and “mercenaries” at the service of the United States. EFE