Posted on Thursday, 12.03.09
Cuban dissident groups unite, decry repression
The Associated Press
HAVANA — Activists from 32 little-known organizations opposed to Cuba's
communist government issued a call for an end to social repression on
the island at a Thursday gathering in the home of a prominent human
The event took place in the western Havana home of internationally known
activist Francisco Chaviano, a veteran Cuban dissident who was released
in 2007 after 13 years in prison.
Participants crowded into a small room where Chaviano read a statement
on behalf of the grass-roots political groups from 10 Cuban provinces.
They demanded free elections, the release of all prisoners held for
political motives and full state respect for human rights. The statement
also said the only way for Cuba to survive the global economic crisis
was for the government to ease bans on private business ownership and
Cuba's communist government controls nearly every aspect of the economy
and allows only extremely limited free enterprise. It tolerates no
organized political opposition, dismissing those who oppose it publicly
as paid mercenaries of Washington.
Chaviano, a mathematics professor, was arrested in 1994 and sentenced by
military tribunal to 15 years in prison on charges of disclosing secrets
concerning state security and falsifying documents. He had been head of
the Cuban Civil Rights Council, an organization that denounced the
infiltration of dissident movements by undercover state security agents.
The independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National
Reconciliation says there currently are more than 200 political
prisoners, a number that has dropped since Fidel Castro ceded power to
his brother Raul in 2006.
Those attending Thursday also expressed support for dissident Cuban
blogger Yoani Sanchez, whose site receives more than a million hits per
month, mostly from readers outside Cuba. Sanchez's blog is blocked on
the island, and Cubans have restricted access to the Internet.
Chaviano said older activists could learn from Sanchez, saying "it will
be of great help even for the oldest of the dissidents to incorporate
ourselves into the new technology."
"We support her and believe in her braveness and in many of the youths
who are joining the work for change in Cuba," he said.
Last month, Sanchez was roughed up by two men in plainclothes and an
unmarked sedan who she said were state security agents.
Cuban dissident groups unite, decry repression – World AP –
MiamiHerald.com (3 December 2009)