Posted on Thursday, 04.29.10
Arrested, tried, jailed — in less than 2 days
The jailing of a Cuban dissident arrested in an apparent family dispute was called `political repression’ by human rights activists. BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Dissident Cuban journalist Dania Virgen García apparently struck her 23-year old daughter during a fight. In less than 48 hours, she was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez said Wednesday he’ll need a week or two to thoroughly investigate the arrest of García, 41, who also marched often in support of the Ladies in White.
But Sánchez said he has a strong hunch: “It could well be a case of political repression, taking advantage of a family situation.”
That’s not uncommon, he added, in a country where the government can easily drum up an array of criminal charges against opponents of the communist system.
Sánchez said he obtained preliminary information on the case after his Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation sent an investigator to the Havana home García shared with her daughter, Suzy, and 2-year-old nephew.
“The daughter was reticent to speak, but the family seemed to be hostile to [García’s] dissident activities,” he said. “She said her mother was properly sent to jail because of abuses . . . She also said maybe there [in prison] she would change her dissident activities.”
The daughter also told the investigators that she “argued a lot” with her mother, and indicated that at some point the mother struck her, Sánchez told El Nuevo Herald via telephone from Havana.
García was arrested April 22, apparently on charges of “abuse of maternal authority” and the next day was tried, convicted and sentenced to 20 months in prison. Sánchez said. She was sent to the country’s largest prison for women, Manto Negro.
In Miami, Carmen Ferreiro, a member of a group that supports dissidents and has contracted a Havana lawyer to appeal García’s case, said she also had information the family was “very pro-government.”
Sánchez said he has been unable to locate the court documents in the case. El Nuevo Herald called García’s home several times, but no one answered.
García is not among Cuba’s better known dissidents, but she has been active as an independent journalist, blogger and member of the Ladies in Support — women who often march with the Ladies in White, female relatives of some of the 75 dissidents jailed in a 2003 clampdown.
Some of her dispatches have been published in Miscelaneas de Cuba, Primavera Digital and CubaNet, all exile-based groups that post the work of independent journalists in online pages.
García’s blog, daniavirgengarcía.blogspot.com, is supported by Ferreiro’s Center for Human Rights and Democracy, established by veterans of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.
“Things in Cuba are not well at all, but I am going to continue this struggle to the death or until whatever they want happens; I will continue to support the Ladies in White, even if they continue to beat us, because what they want is for us to be afraid and we are not going to allow that to happen,” García wrote in a recent post.
García’s incarceration was condemned in a Wall Street Journal editorial Tuesday that called it “the clearest sign to date of the regime’s desperation in the face of popular discontent.” The Inter American Press Association issued a statement condemning the arrest and noting that García appears to be the only woman among the 26 journalists currently jailed in Cuba.