Thursday, August 27, 2009

EU embassies visit wife of jailed Cuban dissident

Posted on Thursday, 08.27.09
EU embassies visit wife of jailed Cuban dissident
Associated Press Writer

HAVANA -- Representatives from five European Union embassies in Cuba
visited the wife of jailed political opposition activist Darsi Ferrer on
Thursday, but insisted their visit was not political.

Diplomats from Sweden, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland and Germany saw
Ferrer's wife, Yusnaimy Jorge Soca, at her Havana home and brought
donated items including food and clothing.

The group said it organized the visit on its own and had not been
invited by the couple.

"This is a gesture of solidarity; it's not a political act," said
Ingemar Cederberg, deputy chief of the Swedish Embassy. He said keeping
an eye on the country's human rights situation is "part of our job here."

Cuban officials had no immediate comment, but in the past they have
often complained about foreign diplomatic contacts with dissidents,
accusing the countries of meddling in Cuban affairs and of helping
"mercenaries" who are trying to undermine the communist system.

Ferrer, a physician, is among Cuba's top dissidents. Like most
opposition activists, however, he is better known in South Florida and
Europe than on the island.

In years past, he has organized tiny Havana street demonstrations to
mark International Human Rights Day in December.

He was arrested July 21 for allegedly purchasing bags of cement on the
black market. The state controls nearly all construction under Cuba's
communist system and cement available from private sources is often
pilfered from state stocks. Ferrer's supporters say that his political
views led authorities to jail him for a crime usually only punishable by
a fine.

Thursday's was the first such European Union visit with an opposition
figure since the EU last summer lifted sanctions on Cuba that were
imposed in 2003 in response to the Cuban government's arrest of 75
leading dissidents, 54 of whom remain behind bars.

Cuba's government does not comment on dissidents, most of whom it
dismisses as agents of the United States working to undermine the
communist system. But Cederberg said, "We want to get to the bottom of
the matter a little better."

Jorge did not deny that her husband obtained the cement, and even showed
reporters a wall of her home that needed repairs. But she added that his
arrest was motivated by politics, saying her husband "is not in prison
for these supposed bags of cement."

EU embassies visit wife of jailed Cuban dissident - World AP - (27 August 2009)

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