27 Jan 2010 15:54:00 GMT
Source: Human Rights Watch
(Washington, DC) - The Cuban government should immediately cease its
harassment of the blind human rights defender Juan Carlos GonzÃ¡lez
Leiva, a leader of the Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs, and his
family, Human Rights Watch said today.
In recent weeks, Cuban authorities have repeatedly threatened to force
GonzÃ¡lez Leiva and his wife and fellow rights defender Tania Maceda
Guerra to leave Havana and move elsewhere on the island. The authorities
have pressed for the move under a draconian law that restricts freedom
"The harassment of GonzÃ¡lez Leiva offers further proof that the Raul
Castro government is willing to do everything within its power to
prevent human rights monitoring, including forcibly displacing the
monitors themselves," said JosÃ© Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at
Human Rights Watch.
GonzÃ¡lez Leiva and Maceda Guerra have lived in Havana since May 2007,
when they were granted permission to live with and care for a blind
friend. Under a law known as Decree 217, all Cuban citizens from outside
of Havana must obtain government permission before moving to the capital.
In November 2009, the government denied the couple's application to
renew their temporary residence status in Havana, where they are still
living with their blind friend. GonzÃ¡lez Leiva said housing authorities
told him the refusal came at the orders of state security officers.
Since that time, security officers have repeatedly visited their home,
calling them "counterrevolutionaries" and "traitors," and warning that
they will be forcibly sent back to their native province, Ciego de
Avila, if they do not leave Havana voluntarily. As a result, they have
not left their apartment in a week.
GonzÃ¡lez Leiva and Maceda Guerra have also been the victims of death
threats and public acts of repudiation. Over the past several months,
the email account of their organization has been hacked into and
terminated, their movements monitored, and their family members
threatened, GonzÃ¡lez Leiva told Human Rights Watch.
"The international community needs to send a clear message to the Cuban
government that such attacks on human rights defenders are completely
unacceptable," Vivanco said.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch - "New Castro, Same Cuba:
Political Prisoners in the Post-Fidel Era" - found that Raul Castro has
kept Cuba's repressive machinery fully active, quashing virtually all
forms of political dissent. The report documents the government's
continued use of Decree 217 to restrict the freedom of movement of
journalists, human rights defenders, and other members of civil society
who criticize the government.
Reuters AlertNet - Cuba: Stop Harassing Human Rights Defender and Family
(27 January 2010)