Dissidents in Cuba
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Rights Situation Remains Poor in Cuba, Dissidents Say

Rights Situation Remains Poor in Cuba, Dissidents Say

HAVANA – The state of human rights in Cuba did not improve last year and
is unlikely to get better in 2010, a dissident organization said
Tuesday, though noting that the number of political prisoners declined
from 205 to 201.

"Unless a miracle happens, the situation of civil, political and
economic rights in Cuba will remain the same or worse in the course of
2010," the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation
said in a statement distributed to the press by its chairman, Elizardo
Sanchez.

"Nothing indicates that the current governors are ready to initiate the
judicial, economic and political reforms the country needs," the
document said.

Some in Cuba and abroad had hoped that the transfer of power from the
ailing Fidel Castro to his younger brother would bring an easing of the
Communist Party's grip. But while Raul Castro has encouraged more open
debate within official forums, he has shown no inclination to relinquish
the government's media monopoly.

In its report on 2009, the human rights commission attributes continuing
repression to fear on the part of a "minority within the top
nomenclatura (leadership) that continues exercising totalitarian power."

That minority, according to the commission, is afraid that loosening the
reins would be tantamount to opening a "Pandora's box" of the communist
regime's past crimes.

The report cited an increase in authorities' tendency to "replace
political repression based on prolonged incarceration with other
procedures, equally illegal but less costly from the political
viewpoint, such as brief arbitrary detentions, threats and other forms
of intimidation."

One of those tactics involves the deployment of government supporters to
verbally harass and – sometimes – physically accost dissidents as they
try to mount peaceful protests.

A total of 869 government opponents were detained in 2009, some of them
more than once, the commission said, frequently on the charge of
"pre-criminal social dangerous," an offense unique to the Cuban penal code.

Last year's reduction in the total number of political prisoners was due
largely to detainees' completing their sentences, the commission said.

"Particularly disturbing" are the cases of Santiago Padron, Ihosvani
Suris and Maximo Pradera, "radical anti-Castro opponents" who have been
held without trial since 2001, the report said.

The commission also noted that while it is almost two years since the
Cuban government signed two major U.N. human rights conventions, Havana
has taken no steps to ratify or implement the accords.
EFE

Latin American Herald Tribune – Rights Situation Remains Poor in Cuba,
Dissidents Say (20 January 2010)
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=350720&CategoryId=14510

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