by The Miami Herald – Juan O. Tamayo
Cuban dissidents have sent out photos and videos of a large police crackdown in the eastern town of Palma Soriano that left at least five government opponents with head wounds, black eyes and other injuries.
One photo of the Dec. 2 roundup of 46 dissidents shows Henry Perales with two wounds on his shaved head that required nine stitches to close. Another shows AbrahanCQ Cabrera with one stitch on his forehead.
“That wound bled a lot because it was on a blood vessel, but it was a kick to the ribs on the right side that made me fall to the ground … It still hurts,” Cabrera told El Nuevo Herald Friday by phone from Palma Soriano.
The images were sent to the newspaper by Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, U.S. representative of the dissident Cuban Patriotic Union. His brother, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, heads the Union and was one of the men arrested in the Palma Soriano crackdown.
Union members and supporters took two weeks to smuggle out the photos and videos, via emails, because they had to work slowly and carefully to avoid police agents who were trying to find and seize the images, Luis Enrique said.
The Palma Soriano roundup was one of the largest and harshest police crackdowns on dissident in recent years. All were freed hours or days later – one of them 12 days later – without charges.
Forty-six men had gathered in a Palma Soriano house starting on Nov. 30 with plans to stage a street protest two days later to demand the release of all political prisoners and respect for human rights.
Cell phone videos shot inside the house showed many of the dissidents saying they wanted to show they were not U.S. paid “mercenaries,” as the government brands them, but rather “defenders of human rights.”
The unidentified narrator of some of the videos referred to the police already deployed outside “and the repression that awaits us.”
Police indeed arrested the dissidents as they left the house in groups of four and five, and a video taken from a second-story balcony showed them punching some of the protesters and forcing them onto a U.S.-styled yellow school bus parked at the end of the block.
Cabrera said the bus driver, dressed in civilian clothes, hit him as well as Perales and several other dissidents with a wrench once inside the bus. A police officer in uniform later ordered the driver to stop hitting the detainees.
Other photos show dissidents Misael Valdes Diaz and Alexis Yanch OiCQ with black eyes and Emilio Dinza with a large bump on his forehead. Other dissidents reported black and blues from police strikes.
Angel Moya, a former political prisoner who was reported beaten in a police station after his arrest in Palma Soriano Dec. 2, said police punched him on the way from the house to the school bus but not afterwards.
Moya said Friday that he spent 12 days in a police lockup, in a cell that was smelly and had no water or lights and that he shared with common criminals.