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January 4, 2023
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An activist beaten in Santiago de Cuba for visiting the wife of José Daniel Ferrer

An activist beaten in Santiago de Cuba for visiting the wife of José Daniel Ferrer

Activist Rafael Puentes Cremé, 57, was beaten and detained this Monday morning after visiting the wife of the political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer at the Unpacu headquarters, in the city of Santiago de Cuba. During the arrest, an officer tried to photograph the dissident with a “Long live Fidel and Raúl” sign, he denounced.

Puentes Cremé, who resides in Guantanamo, told 14ymedio who traveled to the premises of the Patriotic Union of Cuba in the Altamira neighborhood of Santiago to convey condolences to Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, Ferrer’s wife, for the recent death of her mother. As he left the house, he was intercepted by a man in civilian clothes who demanded that he accompany him.

The activist refused to comply with the claims of the individual who said he belonged to State Security but never showed identification to prove it. Puentes, who is also a promoter of the Cuba Decide campaign, assures that upon hearing his refusal, the alleged political police officer began to beat him.

“They gave me a plate and other tests, but they did not give me any certificate of the injuries”

“I defended myself as best I could and I had time to shout to the neighbors who were nearby that I was a peaceful activist who was being attacked by the political police.” The dissident shows this newspaper the abrasions that the attack produced on his knees, the glasses that the man broke, and also other marks left by his blows on his chest and abdomen.

After the attack, a police patrol car appeared at the scene, which took Puentes to a hospital. “They gave me a plate and other tests, but they did not give me any certificate of injuries,” explains Puentes, who participated in the massive popular protests on July 11, 2021 that shook dozens of places throughout the island. Before he could join the demonstrations, the leader of Unpacu, José Daniel Ferrer, was arrested and has been held without trial ever since.

Once the medical examination was completed, the opponent was transferred to the police unit known as the mansion, where an officer, who identified himself only as “Mario”, pounced on him and with a belt loop placed a sign on his clothes that read the phrase “Long live Fidel and Raúl”. “As soon as I realized what the sign said and that they were trying to take pictures of me with that, I tore it off.”

After removing the paper from his clothes and tearing it up, Puentes assures that Mario hit him as punishment and threatened to prosecute him for the crime of assault. They finally released him at noon this Monday, but not before forcing him to sign a warning document in which he promised not to visit the city of Santiago de Cuba again.

The activist dedicated himself to teaching in the 1980s and, after the economic crisis of the 1990s, he started working as a shoemaker. At the beginning of this century, he became close to the opposition groups in Guantánamo and later joined Unpacu.

The headquarters of the opposition organization has been the center of numerous police operations, surveillance fences and raids for years. On several occasions the house has been assaulted by uniformed police officers who have taken the activists who were inside it into custody, in addition to confiscating computers, hard drives and mobile phones.

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