Monday, May 9, 2011

A death in Santa Clara (Corrected)

A former political prisoner in Santa Clara died yesterday and dissidents are blaming the government for his death. According to their accounts Juan Wilfredo Soto, 46, was accosted by police in the provincial capital’s central park on Thursday, he resisted their demand that he leave the area, and was beaten. His death was attributed to pancreatitis, and he suffered from hypertension and diabetes. The accounts are being provided by Guillermo Farinas and his spokeswoman (as El Pais describes her) Lisette Zamora, both of Santa Clara. The government has not given its account.

Here are news reports from CNN, Reuters, and El Pais.

Mambi Watch in English and Penultimos Dias in Spanish have pulled together lots of articles, tweets, etc. on this case.

Updates: Still no official statement, but the Cuban website Cubadebate says that the local doctors attribute the death to Soto’s illnesses. AP story here.

May 10: A government statement was released.

Correction: In an earlier version of this post I referred to dissidents’ accounts of police “entreaties” to get Soto to leave the park. That’s an incorrect paraphrase of the dissidents’ accounts as related by El Pais that morning; the word in the story is “demanded.”


Javier said...

Why not show the photo of Juan Wilfredo Soto García--a political prisoner, not a common criminal, who also suffered from serious medical ailments, such as pancreatitis and hypertension--being beaten and handcuffed by State Security agents on the street as bystanders look on? Soto García was black, as are the three secuirty agents visible in the photo, one wielding a club and the other two subdueing and handcuffing the fomer political prisoner (a fourth agent is in the background and not visible). It is ironic--is it not?--that the rhetoric of the revolution is that "the revolution was made for the Cuban poor, for Cuban blacks..."
In a country that has during the course of the revolution become majority non-white, it is both to be expected and an indictment of failure that the majority of political prisoners are black or biracial. But it is only an indictment of hypocrisy and of a particularly noxious form of racism that the Cuban Communist Party, Cuban government nomenklatura and the Cuban communist political class are overwhelmingly white.

Javier said...

In an earlier comment, I alluded to Juan Wilfredo Soto García in a photo published on another blog. I erroneously attributed the photo to the incident of Mr. Soto García, and retract any presumed relation of the photo to his beating and subsequent death. Mr. Soto García is, in fact, white (according to a published photo identifying the image as that of Mr. Soto García). I do not know the race of the government agents who beat him.
The broader point about the irony of Cuban/Castro government state-sanctioned abuse by black agents against black political dissidents and political prisoners--of which the other blog photo was emblematic--is still valid.
State abuse against citizens in a police state, such as Cuba, is to be condemned independent of race. However, abuse against black opposition leaders by a government that cynically used racial animus as part of its official discourse of justification and social justice grievance is especially odious.

Cero Circunloquios blog de Ley y Niurki said...

With all due "respect", I think you are a hypocrite. If that scenario is here in America and those are american cops and the victim a black man, you would have a different opinion. BIG FAT HYPOCRITE!