MCT March 14, 2012
At least 604 Cubans were subjected to "arbitrary arrests for political
motives" in February, the third month in a row that short-term
detentions hit nearly twice the average for all of last year, according
to a report this week.
The report also noted an increase in the detentions of members of Ladies
in White, a group of female relatives of political prisoners, and the
arrests of six Protestant pastors accused of trying to preach in public
The increase in detentions is the result of the growing criticism of the
Raul Castro government's policies, said Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz,
head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
Such arrests, usually for a few hours or days and intended to harass
activists or keep them from taking part in dissident activities, have
been climbing steadily since Castro succeeded his ailing brother, Fidel,
They averaged 147 a month in 2010 and more than doubled in 2011, to an
average of 343 a month, according to the commission's report.
The report noted, but did not quantify, an increase in the repression
against the Ladies in White, "who were the target of numerous acts of
violence and scurrilous attacks, including some cases in which they were
forced to take off their clothes or were groped by police agents."
Sanchez Santa Cruz said there have been fewer detentions this month,
apparently because of Pope Benedict's planned visit to Cuba from March
26 to 28.