SANTIAGO – A right-wing Chilean congressman just back from a private visit to Cuba complained on Monday that he was beaten, handcuffed and held for nearly three hours by Cuban authorities for participating in a peaceful demonstration by the Ladies in White dissident organization in Havana.
“Without any dialogue, a shock group of the Castro regime arrived; they proceeded to beat those of us who were marching, without asking us for any identification and they arrested us,” Felipe Kast told reporters at Santiago’s international airport.
He added that he remained under detention for more than 2½ hours until he was permitted to make a telephone call.
“There was no dialogue, the shock group of approximately 100 people simply arrived in vehicles, in buses, and I was knocked to the ground, handcuffed and taken to another place without being able to explain or learning any reason for it,” he said.
Kast thanked Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz and the country’s ambassador in Cuba, Gonzalo Mendoza, for their efforts to obtain his release and added that he had traveled to Havana to spend time with relatives who live on the island.
He said that the people who arrested him probably did not know that he was a Chilean lawmaker.
“I imagine that they didn’t know I was a legislator, which makes it just as serious as if they would have known,” said Kast, who added that each week the members of the Ladies in White suffer the same treatment to which he was subjected.
Pro-government lawmaker Jorge Tarud, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in Chile’s lower house, expressed his outrage at Kast’s arrest, but he added that the lawmaker had not informed the Chilean Embassy in Cuba of his intention to participate in a demonstration.
Meanwhile, Communist congressman Daniel Nuñez said that Kast had tried to obstruct the strengthening of relations between Santiago and Havana after Muñoz’s official visit to Cuba last week.