Friday, September 28, 2007

More on the detentions

Here’s more reporting on the detention of about 20 dissidents in Cuba yesterday: from the Herald, AP, AFP, Reuters. Different reports still carry different numbers, but the accounts are the same: Martha Beatriz Roque and others detained in front of the justice ministry as they awaited a response to a letter demanding better conditions for prisoners, and others detained en route or at home to prevent them from reaching the ministry. Some reports say they were driven home and dropped off; not all who were reported detained have been accounted for; and there is no indication whether any will face charges, as happened in a similar incident a few years ago when a group planned a protest in front of the French ambassador’s house. The Miami-based, U.S.-funded Directorio has a list and quotes dissident Rene Montes de Oca saying that actions such as these were expected as the date of local elections approaches, because the government wants “to show domestic and international public opinion that no opposition exists and there is no consolidated civil society ready to confront all the risks to demonstrate that in Cuba there is indeed a people that wants to be free.”

17 comments:

leftside said...

Look, none of us know what really went down, but from my reading, it appears the main part of the story was left out here. The reports say about 100 counter-protesters were on hand and the scene was quickly getting heated. The police told Roque and the others they was being taken home for their own safety. To me, this may not be 100% true but is not at all implausible, given some recent confrontations. The last thing the government wants are street fights or hurt dissidents, which would make even bigger headlines. They knew this would make some noise around the world, but it is better than possible violence.

To take the (US funded) Directorio position - that this is pure repression intended to show the world that "no opposition exists" just doesn't hold water. I mean, wouldn't the authorities just ignore the Damas like they usually do if this was their #1 concern?

I am in no way justifying the apparent "scratching and pushing" that Roque claims occured. But again, we do not know what really happened in front of the Ministry because the media does not care to try to get the story from 2 sides.

Fantomas said...

get your numbers straigh Peter

son como 200

Phil Peters said...

Fantomas, I think you're referring to a story by a guy in Spain who phoned Roque and quoted her saying that nearly 200 intended to show up for the demonstration at the justice ministry and she doesn't know what happened to them.

“No sabemos nada de casi dos centenares de disidentes que pretendían llegar desde diversas partes de la Isla a La Habana ayer,” she said in the article.

She said she was going to try to find out today how many of these 200 were detained.

Anonymous said...

don't you know that fantamos has "secret sources" on the island.

HA, his only secret source in cuba is his only ghost.

I bet he has never even been to Cuba over the past 20 years.

leftside said...

I thought one of Mrs. Roque's quote was interesting. She said she is waiting "for Cubans to wake up." This speaks volumes about the sentiments she encounters every day in Cuba. She, like the rest of the media and US-hyped opposition, has no base or support whatsoever. She must have been feeling especially demoralized to let that slip...

Also buried in one of the report is the fact that a Justice Ministry official actually came out and read a statement that said the government would respond to the concerns about prison conditions of her comrades.

Phil Peters said...

Can you tell us where you saw that a ministry official came out and read a statement?

leftside said...

That was from the AP piece in the IHT.

"Roque said that after the group waited more than an hour on a curb, a ministry official came out and read a statement promising that concerns raised in the letter would be addressed.

When the protesters stayed put, government supporters began shouting insults at them. Police loaded the demonstrators on a bus and drove them home..."

leftside said...

Since they all hung around after they delivered their letter AND received a response, this gathering was obviously meant to be something else. Perhaps this was meant to be Roque's opening salvo - teaming up with the damas de blanco on a point the US has made clear it sees as a benchmark.

Omar said...

The lady is tough and beautiful. A senior mulatta with guts and a sense of political opportunity. She knows what is going on in Burma and considered that any kind of public protest right now will be amplified by that circumstance together with the ever present intention of the big media in creating a sense of confrontation inside Cuba. What Leftside cites is certainly there, in the AP report, but it is also something plausible. There is nothing strange in an official giving a reply like that and a counterprotest by supporters of the government. There could also happen no counterprotest and no official reply of the kind above. What seems to be a pattern is some police pushing with calibrated force protesters into a bus or some other transportation mean and moving them to theirs homes or to a police station where they will stay from few hours in the majority of the cases to month or years in selected instances. What you can be sure about is that any protest no matter how small, will be amplified by the media until it turns into a no-news or break into a massive rally.

Anonymous said...

So what I get from this is that the gov. was able to avoid a confrontation?
I still have seen nothing that would indicate large-scale instability.

leftside said...

Yeah the timing with Burma and Roque at the UN made a lot of sense to try something.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments of leftside. Thank you.

He/she provides much insight into the situation.

Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Counter demonstrators? If those government rewarded thugs, who are brought to the scene of any pro-democracy gathering by the Cuban government in government trucks and buses to beat up people and destroy their property,are counter demonstrators then wouldn't we also call Hitler's brown shirts "counter demonstrators?" Then the infamous Crystal Night should also be considered a counter demonstration as well. Remember something ladies and gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen like Ms. Roque and Mr. Antunez have beaten no one. The government supplied citizens for the defense of the revolution have done this repeatedly. What the hell kind of revolution has to be defended by roughing up old ladies? A pretty lame one...

Omar said...

Well, if you are going to judge the legitimacy of protesters conditioned on being free from encouragement or material support of some kind by a given government, then Roque and company are not "valid" protesters neither. They are encouraged and supported by a hostile foreign goverment. And that is probably worse. Not probably, simply worse. Far worse. Almost the worst. This is one of the practical reasons for which the embargo should be ended just now. End the embargo!

freedom for Cuba said...

only a complete demented mind would establish any kind of equivalency between government thugs and Cuban dissidents.

Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Omar's being completely silly.

leftside said...

If it is so "silly" and "demented" it should be easy to come up with a reasoned response, not name calling.