HAVANA – Cuba’s communist government last year consolidated a practice of pervasive and constant “low-intensity” repression, the opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said Tuesday.
The commission said it had documented during 2010 more than 2,000 short-term arrests for political reasons on the communist island.
Last month alone at least 300 people were arbitrarily arrested for several hours or days and 37 dissidents were subjected to house arrest without a court order, the commission said.
The government “has galvanized a metamorphosis of the repression” and in place of long sentences for political reasons, now it practices a low-intensity – but constant and much-varied – form of repression, commission spokesman Elizardo Sanchez told Efe.
With regard to 2011, he said he believed that the situation of civil rights and freedoms on the island “is going to worsen” or at least it will not improve.
Regarding the situation of the 11 prisoners from the so-called “Group of 75” dissidents sentenced in the repressive wave of March 2003 who remain behind bars because they refuse to go into exile in Spain, Sanchez said that they have all become a certain type of “hostage of the regime.”
According to Sanchez, the government is keeping those men in prison because it wants Spain to continue with its “open door” policy for other types of self-proclaimed political prisoners who have convictions for violent offenses and would not be likely to receive asylum in other countries.
In 2010, the Cuban government began a process of releasing political prisoners as a result of talks with the Catholic Church, with the support of Spain, which has taken in 40 members of the Group of 75, as well as other prisoners who were never part of that group.
The Cuban government denies that there are any political prisoners on the island, considering them rather to be common criminals and accusing the majority of the dissidents of being “mercenaries” in the service of the United States. EFE