Cuban blogger says won't be deterred by beating

Mon Nov 9, 2009 6:46pm EST

Related Topics

* Dissident blogger says she'll carry on writing

* Says detention, beating were government warning

* Cuban government has said nothing about incident

By Jeff Franks

HAVANA, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez vowed on Monday to keep on writing her Generation Y Web log, which is critical of the government, despite being beaten last week by men she thinks were state security agents.

Sanchez, 34, said she experienced "25 minutes of terror" during the incident on Friday. She said she and another opposition blogger, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, were held down, and struck repeatedly after being bundled into an unmarked car by three men she believed to be government security officials.

Cuba's communist government has so far not commented on the incident, which was condemned by the U.S. administration and by U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

Sanchez's Generation Y blog, which is often critical of Cuba's one-party communist system, has won international awards, but is little known in her Caribbean island homeland because of limited Internet access.

Recounting details of her brief detention to Reuters, she moved stiffly around her Havana apartment, using a crutch because of sore muscles and a sore back.

Sanchez said she and fellow bloggers Pardo and Claudia Cadelo were walking to an anti-violence demonstration when the men she believed to be security agents forced her and Pardo into an unmarked, China-built car.

She said they were struck several times before being thrown from the vehicle near her home in what she viewed as a warning from the government to cease her dissident blogging.

"Tell Yoani to shut up," one of the men said repeatedly to Pardo as he held him down.

When she shouted for bystanders to help, the men warned them away, saying the two were "counter-revolutionaries." Sanchez said they hit her on the head, legs and buttocks as they pinned her against a car seat.

Cadelo was taken away in a separate police car and quickly released unharmed.

Sitting beside a table with vials of liquid vitamins and medicine for her ailments, Sanchez said the incident had left her badly shaken, but if the intent was to stop her blogging, it had failed.

She had already written two blogs since then. "I'm going to keep writing. The blogger spirit is intact," Sanchez said.

EXPRESSIONS OF SUPPORT

Cuba's government sees Sanchez and other dissidents as traitors who work for foreign enemies to discredit the island's leaders and the socialist system put in place following a 1959 revolution.

The Cuban dissident blogger has received expressions of support from both home and abroad after her brief detention.

She said she had received sympathetic phone calls from foreign diplomats based in Havana and from parliament officials in Germany and Spain who said they would propose resolutions denouncing the detention.

On Monday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Sara Mangiaracina told reporters in Washington the United States "strongly deplores the assault" and had expressed its "deep concern" to the Cuban government.

"We call on the government of Cuba to ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens," she said, pointing out that President Barack Obama had proclaimed Monday "World Freedom Day."

Human Rights Watch on the weekend called for the global community to "condemn attacks on those who peacefully exercise their basic rights to freedom of expression."

The independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights estimates that Cuba has 200 political prisoners, but says the government now favors brief detentions over long sentences because they intimidate without damaging Cuba's image abroad.

Obama this year took steps to slightly ease the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, but has called on its government to reciprocate by freeing detained dissidents and improving human rights.

Cuban President Raul Castro has ruled out any unilateral political concessions or any shift towards capitalism. (The website is desdecuba.com/generationy/ ) (Additional reporting by Andy Quinn in Washington; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Eric Walsh)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Track China's Leaders