By BosNewsLife Special Reporting Unit
Thursday 30 August
HAVANA, CUBA (BosNewsLife) — A blind Christian lawyer and one of Cuba’s leading pro-democracy activists was recovering from his injuries after he was arrested and beaten by Cuban security forces for trying to conduct an interview with the son of a prisoner of conscience, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, August 29.
On Sunday, August 27, at 5:30 PM [local time] I was arrested and beaten by several military personnel of the Penal Ward of Amalia Simoni Provincial Hospital of Camaguey [province] and by policemen and State Security officials, said Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva in a statement to BosNewsLife.
Independent journalist, Luis Esteban Espinosa Echemendía, and Eisy Marrero Marrero, a member of the anti-Communist Cuban Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs (CCHRR), were also arrested and physically attacked, he said.
Gonzales Leiva, who is CCHRR Executive Secretary and President of the Cuban Foundation of Human Rights, said the incident happened as they attempted to interview Michael, a handicapped individual in a wheel chair who is the son of prisoner of conscience José Antonio Mola Porro.
He said his team was locked up in the prisoners’ and tuberculosis ward, and they tried to search me. The lawyer said he refused, saying he would only allow a search at the nearby police headquarters. A short time later, he said, police arrived, demanding that he hand over his Canon digital video recorder, which he feverishly protected.
I had it tied through one of the loops on my belt. I told them I would turn over the cassette but never the camera. Then five or six of the prison guards… as well as some plain clothed [police] jumped on top of me. They threw me to the floor, and while beating me, they tried to snatch the two small bags tied to my body, he added.
Gonzales Leiva said police dragged him towards their car and he eventually received three hard blows to the head and one to the left shoulder that caused huge bruises all over because he resisted. “Finally, they threw me first onto the car’s seats, bending my legs, and they locked me in the asphyxiating patrol car along with Marrero and Luis Esteban. When he arrived at the local police station where with a policeman on each side of me, they dragged me by the hands and took me across the filthy floor of the police station to an enclosed cell that was extremely hot and reeked of urine and feces. He said he was there for three hours along with his fellow activists Marrero and Echemendia. Surprisingly they let him leave, saying everything had just been a mistake. They returned my camera with four cassettes, the tape recorder, and everything else they had taken.”
That was crucial he said as he had been interviewing six political prisoners arrested this August and other dissidents as well. He said he expected to recover. Presently, my entire body and head hurts a bit, but it’s going away. Yesterday, the pain was horrible.
Gonzales Leiva said he holds the Cuban government responsible for his health and my life. I ask for solidarity from the international public opinion and world governments, he said. Cuban authorities have denied human rights abuses and frail President Cuban has denied the existence of dissidents calling them in stead mercenaries hired by the United States.