Normalization circus update: German journalist arrested by Castro regime

Normalisierung, jawohl !

As expected, the repressive machinery of the Castro regime is growing ever bolder as a result of the normalization circus.

With full U.S. backing for their dictatorship, the Castro dynasty knows it can do whatever it wants to stifle dissent.

Arresting a foreign journalist is an escalation in their boldness, but good luck finding much in the news media about this story.

The journalist arrested and harassed this past Sunday, Benedict Vallendar, has co-authored a book on labor camps in the former communist utopia of East Germany (Leben Hinter Mauern / Life Behind Walls).

Martin Lessenthin, a spokesman for a German human rights organization reports the following:

Internationale Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte Deutsche Sektion e.V. (International Society for Human Rights, German Section)

150 Cuban democracy activists and a German journalist arrested

Protests for the freedom of political prisoners violently dispersed

National security and police have arrested more than 150 activists from various Cuban pro-democracy opposition groups on Sunday, the International Society for Human Rights reports (ISHR).  Among those arrested was a German journalist who observed the violent crackdown against peaceful protesters, the ‘Ladies in White’, in Havana.

The dissident groups, including the “Ladies in White” and the movement UNPACU, participated in the 38th protest as a part of the “Todos marchamos” (“We all march”) campaign for the freedom of political prisoners in Cuba on Sunday.

The German journalist and Latin America expert Dr. Benedict Vallendar was arrested yesterday (Sunday) on the sidewalk in front of the Church of Santa Rita in Havana Miramar and was interrogated for several hours. Vallendar had previously attended a service in the church of Santa Rita, and then observed the violent dispersal of a demonstration of the “Ladies in White”. Vallendar writes for several Catholic media outlets, including appearing in the ‘Tagespost’ (Daily Mail) in Würzburg, and the Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur (Catholic News Agency).

After his release, Vallendar first reported the incidents to a Protestant pastor.  Then he returned to his hotel, which according to the ISHR, had been broken into and ransacked; however, nothing was missing.  The journalist is expected to arrive back in Germany on Wednesday.

The parish of Santa Rita in the Miramar district of Havana is the meeting place of the “Ladies in White”.  They are an association of women whose husbands and sons were arrested for commitment to freedom of expression and the press. The movement was founded in response to the Cuban “Black Spring” in 2003, in which numerous dissidents were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms.

The ISHR, which also has a section representing Cuba, reported on Sunday of last week on the temporary arrest of 250 democracy activists who had taken part in protests.

Martin Lessenthin, the ISHR Spokesman of the Board, sees the recent attacks as evidence of “the regime’s fear of the protests by democracy activists. Rather than tolerating peaceful protests, and demonstrating the willingness of the Cuban government to reform to the world, any protest is suppressed. That is a poor basis for dialogue with Europe on European investments in Cuba! “