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White House: Cuba's Villar a "young and courageous defender of human rights"

The White House released a statement on the death of 31-year-old Cuban dissident Wilman Villar, who died Thursday after a 50-day hunger strike.

President Barack Obama's "thoughts and prayers are with the wife, family, and friends of Wilmar Villar, a young and courageous defender of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba who launched a hunger strike to protest his incarceration and succumbed to pneumonia," the White House said. 

"Villar’s senseless death highlights the ongoing repression of the Cuban people and the plight faced by brave individuals standing up for the universal rights of all Cubans. The United States will not waiver in our support for the liberty of the Cuban people. We will remain steadfast in our outreach to the Cuban people through unlimited Cuban American family visits and remittances, purposeful travel, and humanitarian assistance to dissidents and their families in support of their legitimate desire to freely determine Cuba’s future."

Villar was arrested Nov. 14 during a violent police crackdown on a group of dissidents in his hometown of Contramaestre in Santiago province. In a closed-door, one-day trial Nov. 24, he was sentenced to four years in prison for disobedience, resisting arrest and contempt and was sent to Aguadores prison near the city of Santiago, his wife said.

The State Department said Friday that Villar’s death "underscores the urgent need for greater international scrutiny of Cuba’s human rights record and international monitoring of Cuba’s prisons and prisoner population." Cuba does not allow the International Red Cross to inspect its prisons.

"We will continue to support, in the words of the president, ‘pockets of freedom’ in Cuba through Cuban American family visits and remittances, purposeful travel, and humanitarian assistance to dissidents and their families," State Department spokeswoman Neda Brown said.

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Prensa SICUW

Statement by Josefina Vidal, Head of the North American Division of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs

An unfortunate yet unusual event in Cuba has again been distorted and manipulated by narrow self-serving political interests to justify the policy of blockade against our country. The statements of the State Department and the White House are yet another evidence of the permanent policy of aggression and interference in the internal affairs of Cuba and stand out for their hypocrisy and double standards. Indeed, they are more becoming of the record of human rights violations of the United States in its own territory and in the world than they are of the performance of Cuba, where the human person is valued the most.

There was no statement by the President or the State Department when on January 3, in Chicago, prisoner Lyvita Gomes died behind bars as a result of a hunger strike.

It is not in Cuba where 90 prisoners have been executed since January 2010, while another 3,222 inmates remain on death row, awaiting execution. It must be remembered that the United States has already held its first execution of 2012 and its government ruthlessly represses those who dare to denounce the system’s injustice.

It is the Government of the United States which engages in torture and extrajudicial executions in the countries it attacks, and which uses police brutality against its own people.

In a colossal act of cynicism, the U.S. government dares now to accuse Cuba, while it turns a blind eye on and remains silent about the flagrant violations of human rights generated by the injustice, onslaught and destitution that its policy brings for millions of people around the world, including in the United States.

Cuba will continue to be the country where, in spite the U.S.’s economic war against it, fewer children die at birth, where every day efforts are made to raise the already outstanding levels of social justice, levels that remain beyond reach for most people in the world, including in the United States, where there is a growing inequality.

January 20, 2012

Humberto Capiro

Human Rights Watch published an extensive report (LINK PROVIDED) on prison conditions in Cuba in 1999. In it it widely criticized most aspect of the Cuban judicial and prison system.

In it criticized the lack of openness of the Cuban regime: "Cuba's refusal to allow domestic or international human rights monitors to conduct regular visits to its prisons casts a veil of secrecy over its extensive prison system, reportedly one of the largest per capita in Latin America and the Caribbean. Cuba refuses to disseminate even the most basic prison statistics, such as prison population figures. Cuba's Penitentiary Establishment Directorate, however, reportedly maintains a centralized, computerized system that would readily make available detailed information about all detainees in Cuba's prisons."

According to an article in the Miami Herald (LINK PROVIDED) in September 2003 Cuba's jails may hold over 100,000 inmates. The same article puts the last visit of any international organization to Cuba's prisons in 1989 (International Red Cross). The UN estimated the number of prisoners in Cuba between 100,000 and 200,000 in its 1995 UNHCR Special Rapporteur's (LINK PROVIDED) report. A figure of 100,000 or more makes Cuba the country with the most prisoners per capita in the world.
International organizations have reported that inadequate food and medical assistance, sexual abuse, limits and restrictions on visits, beatings,... in Cuba's prisons. Amnesty International (LINK PROVIDED) has often started letter letter writing operations to support suffering prisoners of conscience.


http://www.cubaverdad.net/cuba_prison_system.htm

mohamed

While I can't say I am familiar with the book I can say there are those who hold some sick ideal view of Castro and his rveressipe regime. So this doesn't surprise me. If the book does paint a rose colored picture of Cuba then by default it is factually wrong. If this is true I would not mind it being banned from the classroom but it should be available in the library. In the FICTION section.

Awhan

I am a Cuban American although I aegernlly just refer to myself as an American.It is time to have Cubans go through the same refugee process as every other person coming from countries ruled by repressive regimes. The world is full of bad governments. There is no reason to give Cubans special preferences.

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