Cuban dissident says he was held in a swamp lockup as punishment
By Juan O. Tamayo
August 16, 2012
Angel Moya and five other members of the Democratic Freedom for Cuba Movement were detained last weekend outside the home of a movement member.
Cuban dissident Angel Moya said Wednesday that State Security agents held him in a lockup in a mosquito-riddled swamp, 29 miles from the town where was arrested, as part of a campaign to “subdue” him and other anti-government activists.
Moya and five other members of his Democratic Freedom for Cuba Movement were detained Sunday outside the home of movement member Felix Sierra, in the town of Pedro Betancourt, after police and State Security agents searched the Sierra home.
The six dissidents were meeting nearby in Pedro Betancourt when they learned of the search and walked to the home to “show our moral and political support,” Moya said.
Five dissidents were freed Sunday night, but Moya said he was held until Tuesday in a notoriously harsh State Security lockup 29 miles away in Playa Larga, in the Cienaga de Zapata, the mosquito-infested swamp that was the site of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
“Of course this was done on purpose,” the 47-year-old dissident told El Nuevo Herald, as part of the efforts by State Security agents to intimidate and “subdue” anti-government activists.
The cells in the lockup have solid steel doors and no running water, and the temperatures inside are “infernal,” Moya said. State security agents took him out of the lockup early Tuesday, drove him to Pedro Betancourt and freed him on a town street.
Moya was one the 75 dissidents sentenced to up to 28 years in prison during a 2003 crackdown. The last 52 still in prison were freed in 2010 and 2011 as part of talks between the Cuban government and Catholic Church. All but a dozen, including Moya, went directly from prison to the Havana airport for flights to exile Spain.
Two dissidents have reported that some of the Sierra neighbors who gathered to watch the police search threw rocks at the security officials as they carted away the dissidents. Moya said he was told on Tuesday about the rock-throwing but did not witness it.
Other activists meanwhile reported that a dissident who threw anti-government leaflets on a busy Havana street on Monday — former ruler Fidel Castro’s 86th birthday — was moved from a police lockup to the Valle Grande prison and may face formal charges.
Marcelino Abreu Bonora, 48, shouted “down with the Castros’ tyranny” and “Freedom for the Cuban people” as he threw the pamphlets into the air on Obispo Street in Old Havana, according to two video recordings of the protest.
The videos show many passersby walking quietly past the protest until two uniformed members of the National Revolutionary Police haul Abreu away.
Abreu has been briefly detained several times, and declared several hunger strikes, in recent years. But his transfer from a Havana police lockup to the Valle Grande prison indicated that authorities this time may put him on trial, other activists said.
Cuban security officials regularly detain dissidents for short periods to intimidate them or avert opposition activities. More than 200 such “express detentions” were reported in the first 14 days of August alone by the independent news agency Hablemos Press on Tuesday.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, another of the “Group of 75” political prisoners who were freed last year and refused to leave the island, told El Nuevo Herald that police had detained six members of his Cuban Patriotic Union to avert a group meeting Wednesday.
Ferrer said that gathering, organized as a lecture on “the art of negotiation,” was held Wednesday in his hometown of Palmarito de Cauto in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.