European Union "very concerned" with the detention in Cuba of blind dissident
Spokesmen for the Cuban government deny the existence of Human Rights violations in the island, but a Catholic agency denounces an increase in religious persecution
BRUSSELS, Jul. 16, 2002 (DI) - The European Union Commission is "very concerned" with the detention in Cuba of the blind attorney and militant Christian, Dr. Juan Carlos González Leiva, affirmed the Humanitarian Aid European Commissioner, Poul Nielsen. "The European Commission is following the case very closely", added the high ranking official, explaining that Dr. González' situation has progressed to being "supervised" directly by the Work Group for Human Rights of the European Union in Cuba, an organism made up of diplomats from embassies of the Fifteen members of the European Union in Havana.
Dr. González Leiva, President of the "Fundación de Derechos Humanos de Cuba" (Human Rights Foundation of Cuba), has been in prison since March 4th of this year in the State Security Prison of Pedernales, Province of Holguín. On that day, Gonzalez Leiva together with seven Human Rights activists and an independent journalist, went to visit another journalist, Jesús Alvarez Castillo, injured hours before by members of the State Security and was hospitalized as consequence of the injuries he received. Together with the injured journalist, they held a peaceful protest and loudly proclaimed "Long live Christ the King!" "Long live a Free Cuba!" "Long live Human Rights!". Shortly thereafter, they were savagely beaten by State Security agents and paramilitary groups. As a result of the beating González Leiva received 4 stitches on his head. All of them remain in prison without any formal charges.
The religious persecution which Dr. González is being subjected to, the psychological and physical torture, which has placed his life is at risk, was recently denounced by the Coalition of Cuban-American Women and retransmitted worldwide through the Catholic Information Agency.
In Havana, the Cuban chancery alleges that it has no knowledge of Dr. González Leiva and the prison where he is incarcerated. Jorge Bousoño González firstname.lastname@example.org, an official in the Armed Forces, emphatically denied that religious persecution exists in Cuba or that there are any political prisoners: "Nobody is harassed for being a "Christian"; and none of the few opportunists that have decided to act as "human rights activists", are followed or are arrested".
However, the Roman agency Zenit, in a message from Havana, has just transmitted a report from the association Aid to the Needy Church which affirms "new waves of repression are taking place against religious freedom and the presence of the Catholic church in Cuba"; and four and one-half years after the Pope's visit, "the situation has noticeably worsened on the island."
DI020716 Destaque Internacional (DI)
We request and appreciate your anticipated immediate action of reclamation before Cuban authorities of the immediate release of González Leiva and saving his life. We suggest that you contact pertinent religious and political authorities, and also leaders of attorneys' associations, associations of journalists, associations for the blind and for human rights, in order to firmly manifest your protest before diplomatic representatives and Cuban counselors in your country.
If you can, and if convenient, we would appreciate a short message with what actions your are taking and any suggestions you may have. Please click on:
For more information in Spanish and English by e-mail of news pertaining to the case of González Leiva, please click on:
* Free González Leiva Committee
Tel.: (1-305) 2256840
* State Security Prison in Pedernales, Holguin
Tel.: (532) 4422369
Carretera Central, vía a Bayamo
Provincia de Holguín, Cuba
* Foreign Relations Minister of Cuba
Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister
Tels.: (537) 553537, 553260
Fax: (537) 333460
Calzada #360, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba.
* Cuban Interests Section in Washington
Fax: (1-202) 986-7283
2630 16 Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
* Embaixada de Cuba em Brasilia
Jorge Lezcano Pérez, Embaixador
Tels.: (61) 2484710, 2484130, 2484517 y 2484215
Faxes: (61) 248 6778 y 248 7559