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Cablegate: Police Organize Mob to Threaten Human Rights March

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SIPDIS

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DEPT PASS AFSPC COMMAND CENTER;
DEPT FOR WHA/CCA;

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CU PGOV PHUM PINR PREL
SUBJECT: POLICE ORGANIZE MOB TO THREATEN HUMAN RIGHTS MARCH

1. (SBU) Summary: Leading human rights activist Marta
Beatriz Roque Cabello told Poloff that on Wednesday a group
of ten dissidents participated in a march in the town of
Santa Clara. The police organized a group of civilians who
threatened the marchers with sticks. However; no one was
actually struck. The next day one of the civilians recruited
by the police confronted one of the marchers, Jorge Luiz
Artiles Montiel, and beat him causing serious injuries to the
face and head. Police dismissed Aritles' complaint as
resulting from a personal quarrel. Marta Roque also states
that police are investigating another participant in the
march, Noelia Pedraza, for distributing literature. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) Long standing human rights activist Marta Beatriz
Roque Cabello stated that she heard directly from
participants of a protest held on 5 September in the town of
Santa Clara, located in the center of the island. MBR
reports that for many months dissidents have held a meeting
every Wednesday in remembrance of political prisoners. They
light a candle for those in Cuban jails. The group is
affiliated with Plantados, an organization of ex-Cuban
prisoners in Florida, who hold similar ceremonies. Prior to
this week all these meetings were held indoors. The police
and government officials had never before attempted to
disrupt these activities.

3. (SBU) The dissidents on 5 September held for the first
time an outdoor march. They walked 1 kilometer to a cemetery
where they lit a candle and unfurled a Cuban flag. MBR
believes that the march attracted police attention because
youths questioned the protesters what they were doing. When
the marchers replied that they were working for human rights,
some of the youths started shouting "Long live human rights"
and "Down with Fidel". The protesters did not join in these
chants. On the way back a rapid response brigade confronted
them. (Rapid response brigades are groups of civilians that
the police mobilize supposedly to handle emergencies.
Reliable dissidents have reported in the past cases where the
police could not find a local person willing to serve on such
a brigade and so the police went to a neighboring town where
they enlisted factory workers with the threat of losing their
jobs). The rapid response brigade threatened the marchers
with sticks but did not actually strike anyone. The
protesters returned to their homes peacefully.

4. (C) On Thursday 6 September, a member of the previous
evening's rapid response brigade confronted a participant of
the march, Jorge Luiz Artiles, outside Artiles' home.
MBR only knew that this person is called "Pepe" and that he
is allegedly married to an American citizen. (POL officer is
seeking more identifying information). Artiles stated that
after Pepe started insulting him with well known terms the
government uses against members of the opposition such as
"traitor" and "worm", Pepe began beating him. Artiles went to
a clinic where he was treated for what was reported as
serious injuries to the face and back of the head. He brought
a medical certificate to the police to file a complaint but
the police dismissed this as a personal quarrel between the
two individuals. Marta Roque believes firmly that state
security agents provoked the attack. Artiles is an
ex-political prisoner out on a conditional release.

5. (SBU) Also on Thursday the police searched Noelia
Pedraza. She had been distributing literature on the streets
of Santa Clara but by the time the police stopped her she'd
given away all of the books in her possession. MBR stated
that the police sought out people who had received books from
Pedraza and asked them to identify her. Apparently everyone
asked replied that they could not identify Pedraza.

6. (C) Comment. The regime may have felt that a crackdown
in Santa Clara- a town four hours east of the capital- would
go unnoticed.

PARMLY

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