Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mixed signals

One of Cuba’s most prominent dissidents, Hector Palacios, has been released from prison on medical grounds, according to this report in The International Herald Tribune.

The release is supposed to be significant because Palacios is the first high-profile opponent of the Communist regime to be freed on parole since Fidel Castro handed over power “temporarily” to his younger brother, Raul, due to illness.

Palacios, a 65-year-old sociologist, was one of 75 dissidents arrested in March 2003 as part of a much-criticised crackdown by Castro on anyone that posed even a remote threat to his rule.

Like most of the others arrested, Palacios was sentenced to 25 years on trumped up charges of “assisting the enemy”.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) confirms that independent journalist Raymundo Perdigon Brito has been sentenced to four years' jail for being what the regime describes as a "pre-criminal danger to society."

As RSF reports, the Cuban criminal code allows the authorities to arrest anyone as a "pre-criminal danger to society" - even if they have committed no offence, simply on the grounds that they pose a potential threat to the Communist regime.

Putrid? You bet. Sadly, most civil libertarians outside Cuba seem to be far too busy on other, supposedly more important crusades to lodge a protest with Havana. Big surprise.

For more information on Cuba’s constantly harassed and intimidated independent journalists, I urge you to visit Marc Masferrer’s blog at Uncommon Sense. Worth the trip.


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