Rodriguez, a 43-year-old unemployed economist, said she was detained and later freed in remote places four times in recent months to keep her from attending opposition gatherings, most of them in the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint, in the village of El Cobre.
Last month she was held in police buses and patrol cars, given no water and no food despite the stifling heat and was released in a remote cattle ranch’s road, she said. In June she was freed on a beach road 21 miles from her home, she said.
Each detention was accompanied by punches and rough physical treatment, she told El Nuevo Herald by phone during a break in an UNPACU meeting in Ferrer’s home in Palmarito de Cauto. When Ferrer asked his group how many of them had been detained and dropped off in remote spots, six raised their hands, he said.
Yasnay Ferrer, no relation to the UNPACU leader, said she was shoved around, thrown to the ground or punched almost all of the five times that she was detained in the recent months.
“What we’re seeing is a true metamorphosis in the tactics for political repression,” said Sanchez by phone from Havana. “Because of all the criticism, the number of (short-term) detentions has fallen visibly while these other intimidation procedures are used more.”
Sanchez also noted that Amnesty International this month added five names to its list of Cuban “prisoners of conscience,” which had been empty since Castro released 116 political prisoners in 2010-2011 following talks with the Catholic Church hierarchy.
Rafael Matos and Emilio Planas were arrested in the eastern city of Guantánamo in September after anti-government signs appeared around the city. They were convicted of “pre criminal dangerousness,” the London-based human rights group said.
Alexeis Vargas Martín and his 17-year-old twin brothers, Diango and Vianco — all members of UNPACU — were accused of “using violence or intimidation against a state official,” according to Amnesty