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Life No Better for Dissidents in ‘Post-Castro’ Cuba

Friday, August 3 Cuban authorities arrested Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Unión Patriotica de Cuba (Patriotic Union of Cuba – UNPACU), near Santiago de Cuba. Normally, when the regime arrests a dissident it is not newsworthy as it occurs with depressing regularity. However, Ferrer’s arrest—and that of his chauffeur and fellow activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz—is abnormal.

In recent years, political detentions in Cuba have mostly been short-term, less than 72 hours. That he and Hidalgo Cruz are still in custody is alarming. Since their arrest, friends and family have not been able to see or communicate with them. Indeed, the pretense for Ferrer’s arrest gives reason for concern. He is accused (no formal charges have apparently been pressed) of a crime known as atentado against a state agent. Atentado is an “attempt” or an assault against a state agent. It is the same alleged crime for which the Christian Liberation Movement’s leader Eduardo Cardet, an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, has been held since November 30, 2016 after he “attacked” the character of the recently deceased Fidel Castro.

Jose Daniel Ferrer is a former political prisoner, part of the “Group of 75” opposition members condemned during a repressive wave in March of 2003. At a minimum, the regime should provide information on his and Mr. Hidalgo Cruz’s whereabouts and immediate access to legal counsel and due process of law.