Cuba: Regime Thugs Gang Beat, Spit on Political Prisoner to 'Terrorize' Fellow Inmates
Guards at a women’s prison in central Santa Clara, Cuba, dragged political prisoner Arianna López Roque into the prison’s yard and gave her a brutal gang beating in response to a demonstration she staged within the prison calling for a national strike, sources confirmed to Radio Martí on Thursday.
López and husband Mitzael Díaz Paseiro were among the thousands arrested for participating nationwide in anti-communist protests on July 11. Prosecutors have demanded eight years in prison for both, though no evidence exists they engaged in any violent activity.
At least 500 people remained in Cuban police custody either for participating in the protests or being caught in the vicinity of them as of October, though new cases of imprisoned civilians have continued to surface regularly as police reveal the whereabouts of the victims to their families. Many of those detained were minors – often minors walking on the sidewalk near a protest or filming one, but not actively lobbying against the regime – and some have accused Cuban state security agents of extreme violence, including sexual assault.
López reportedly staged a one-woman protest in her prison Tuesday, resulting in a staged beating dissidents say was meant to discourage others in the facility from supporting her.
“They dragged her to the prison yard and there was an entire garrison waiting there armed with batons, hoses,” Jorge Luis García Pérez, an anti-communist Cuban dissident known popularly as Antúnez, confirmed to the U.S.-based Radio Martí, citing “reliable sources and eyewitnesses.” Antúnez himself served 17 years in prison in Cuba for openly advocating for the fall of the communist regime. His brother, Free Yoruba leader Loreto Hernández García, was arrested in the aftermath of July 11 and remains in prison at press time despite suffering from severe health complications.
Antúnez described what happened to López this week as “a brutal and uncommon beating in reprisal for the strong speech she gave in the Guamajal prison.”
She received, he continued, “kicks, punches, moral offenses. They dragged her, they spit on her, they kicked her in front of the entire prison population and they did it with the objective of trying to terrorize the prison population. From there they moved her into a penitentiary cell where she currently remains.”
Fellow inmates reported the beating to sources on the outside. According to Antúnez, Cuban prison guards dragged López to an isolation cell bloodied and delivered a second gang beating before tossing her in.
The Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio) confirmed using sources on the ground that López had staged a one-woman call to arms against the regime Tuesday, supporting international calls for Cuban civilians to begin a national strike on November 15. Cuban dissidents have organized nationwide assemblies for November 15 calling for an end to the 62-year-old communist regime; one group attempted to obtain a legal permit for the event, prompting outrage from the Castro regime. Cuban anti-communist leaders expect the assemblies to represent the largest organized protest since July 11, which in turn was one of the largest protests in the post-Castro history of the country, attracting an estimated 187,000 participants.
Directorio said in a statement Tuesday that López had received another beating before delivering a loud monologue within the prison calling for a national strike and chanting, “Down with the dictatorship!” Prison guards reportedly prompted the protest by refusing to grant her visits with her underaged children.
López’s experience has prompted a stern condemnation from Cuba’s Latin American neighbors.
The Union of Latin American Parties, which represents pro-human rights groups throughout the region, published a statement on Friday “energetically condemn[ing] the unjust and illegal detention of Arianna, who was arrested along with husband Mitzael Díaz Paseiro, for the sole reason of having participated in civilian peaceful protests in Cuba on July 11.”
“We even more strongly condemn the beating Arianna recently received within the ‘Guamajal’ women’s prison for having called for a national strike on November 15 within the same prison,” the statement read.
The national strike – meant to starve the communist regime of the economic resources it uses to oppress its citizens – and the November 15 planned protest has elicited calls to violence from the Castro regime. Miguel Díaz-Canel, the top figurehead of the Castro mafia, urged citizens in a speech Sunday to use “all means necessary” to silence dissent, noting accurately that the communist constitution does not dissuade violence against anyone who opposes communism.
The planned protests, Díaz-Canel said, were “an act of subordination to Yankee hegemony,” without offering any evidence that the U.S. government was involved in any way.
The Castro regime also organized a “Territorial Day of Defense” on Sunday in which trusted pro-communist citizens brandished what appeared to be machine guns for footage distributed through social media. Various cities held “acts of revolutionary affirmation” in which civilians threatened anti-communists with sticks and rocks or pretended to practice their shooting. Owning a private firearm is illegal in Cuba.