How much does Cuba’s socialist dictatorship fear prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer? They fear him enough to launch a desperate public campaign to smear the Cuban opposition leader.
The Cuban government attacks its most notable political prisoner in unusual editorial
Amid an international campaign for the release of a dissident, Granma, Cuba´s Communist Party newspaper, dedicated an unusual editorial on Wednesday to attacking the country’s best-known political prisoner, José Daniel Ferrer, and the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
Under the governments of Fidel and Raúl Castro and their current successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel, the names of very few dissidents and members of the opposition have ever appeared on state media, an attempt to deprive them of public visibility. But the intense international campaign, with calls from Amnesty International, regional organizations and politicians from several countries to release Ferrer, seems to have forced the government to respond with accusations of its own directed against a frequent target: the United States.
Granma accused the U.S. of leading “a new slander and discredit campaign against Cuba,” using “the arrest of the counterrevolutionary José Daniel Ferrer” as a pretext. The unsigned editorial said Ferrer was “a salaried agent serving the United States, with a long history of provocative actions against public order and legality.”
The party newspaper also accused the U.S. Embassy in Havana of providing guidance and financing to Ferrer, and its charge d’affaires, Mara Tekach, of trying to “recruit mercenaries” and “discredit the leadership of the Cuban government and the Revolution.”
Granma, however, did not include the name of the American diplomat in the editorial.
Ferrer, the leader of the largest opposition organization on the island, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was arrested along with seven other activists on Oct. 1 at the headquarters in Santiago de Cuba.
The government held him 39 days before filing charges, in violation of the country’s laws. Cuban authorities also denied an appeal of habeas corpus for his release.
The Cuban prosecutor’s office charged Ferrer and three activists with causing “serious injuries” to a person identified as Sergio García González at the UNPACU headquarters on Sept. 20. According to Granma, González accused them of “having kidnapped him for a whole night and beat him up, so he had to be admitted to a hospital.”
But in a recording of a conversation between a member of UNPACU and Maribel Cabreja, the wife of García González, she says that her husband told her the injuries were due to an accident on a motorcycle.
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