Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

November 27, 1998, Cuba Free Press.


HAVANA - Paramilitary troops of the "Rapid Response" brigade wielded clubs against many of more than 100 peaceful demonstrators who showed up at the Provincial Tribunal building here to show support for independent journalist Mario Viera González, 56. The journalist will be tried on charges that he expects will result in 18 months or more in prison.

At least seven of the demonstrators were arrested and taken away after being beaten savagely.

The area where the court is located, near the ancient National Capital in central Havana, was converted into a "Hungarian council" shortly after 8:30 on the morning of November 27. The melee lasted for some time.

The dissidents, as is their custom whenever a political prisoner is brought to trial, began to converge on the area early and at 8:45 a.m. a black woman identified later as Marta Ofelia Cuéllar approached them leading an advance team of brigadiers that are stationed near the site.

Shouted Ms. Cuéllar, "I am a Cuban woman; I'm a revolutionary! We can't allow ourselves to be surrounded by a batch of counterrevolutionaries without a country!"

Some of the representatives of the opposition shouted back at her, one woman saying, "We too are Cubans but we're not communists!"

The brigadiers' numbers rapidly increased and they began their attacks at once, while pushing and insulting the people. The disturbance lasted a couple hours until the seven were arrested; they remained behind bars as this notice was written shortly afterwards. The seven were Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, Milagros Cruz, Miriam García, Marisela Pompa, Rolando M. Yyobre and two other individuals not immediately identified.

After the correspondents of the foreign press left the area, a uniformed policeman brutally beat Milagros Cruz and shoved her into an automobile to haul her off to the police station.

Independent journalist Odalys Curbelo of Cuba Free Press personally saw the beating of Ms. Cruz and said, "It was something terrible. The policeman hit her without mercy." Ms. Curbelo also saw dissident Yyobre, of the Lawton Commission for Human Rights, being beaten severely until he was bleeding from the mouth. Troops also beat another woman whose identity Ms. Curbelo could not determine.

At the height of the disturbance, four patrolmen of the National Police surrounded a cattle truck that had been converted into a vehicle for carrying people and made all the passengers descend because someone unknown inside the truck had shouted slogans against the regime. Several of the passengers were briefly detained.

The paramilitary brigadiers stayed in the vicinity of the court along with a number of the political police who, on a regular basis, harass people from the independent press and leaders of opposition groups. Several members of independent media groups were present during the melee.

The trial of Mario Viera González, accused of insulting the legal director of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, was postponed. Viera spoke to media people shortly before the demonstration, saying, "I'm happy because my fellow journalists are with me. I'm worried about the provocation of the communists, not only for myself but for my brothers and sisters. I have the expectation that I will be sentenced.

Raúl Rivero, Cuba Free Press.

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