Wednesday, January 11, 2012
HAVANA, Cuba (AP) — A leading Cuban human rights campaigner said
yesterday that brief detentions of dissidents nearly doubled in 2011
compared to the year before.
The report released by Elizardo Sanchez, who monitors arrests as head of
the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Reconciliation, said there
were 4,123 arrests of dissidents, nearly all of them lasting "for
several hours or days", up from 2,074 in 2010.
Cuba's government, which calls dissidents "mercenaries" in the service
of Washington, disputes Sanchez's statistics. A state-run website
reported last year that several names on his list were Bolivian and
Peruvian athletes and an 18th-century painter. He acknowledged the mistakes
but said his people had been tricked by security agents pretending to be
Sanchez also reported that arrests spiked to 796 in December, more than
any other month, even as President Raul Castro's government announced it
was releasing more than 2,900 prisoners, mostly common criminals serving
Cuba no longer has any inmates considered "prisoners of conscience" by
Amnesty International after freeing the last of dozens of intellectuals
and social activists in 2011. Many of those left the country for exile.