Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

29 de Febrero del 2000


Santiago.- The nonviolent dissident Reimundo Pelegrino Ramirez - who recently openly applied for a visa to migrate to the United States - began a hunger strike in prison on Feb. 25. He proclaimed his intention by means of a note smuggled out of his cell. He said he will fast until he is free, whether dead or alive, because he is innocent of all charges against him.

Information reaching Cuba Free Press was that the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and the Office of State Security (OSS) had him arrested on Feb. 20. They have been detaining him at the station cells of PNR Unit No. 3 at Reparto de Artes y Oficio here in Santiago. He is in a cell with 16 other men who have been arrested for common crimes. He has been cut off from contact with his family since his arrest.

His home is in Camino del Polvoris, No. 5B Reparto Chicharrones, a neighborhood with dilapidated houses at the city's limits. The residents there are people of limited means.

Reimundo Pelegrino Ramirez, 31, is of mixed races and belongs to an organization of nonviolent dissidents called "Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy."

Pelegrino Ramirez once served time for cutting up the seat covers of passenger trains. He has now been charged with "threatening and disrespecting the authorities."

The alleged crimes seems to relate to "threats" he supposedly made to some men who were telling him last Nov. 4 that they would beat him up. But information reaching Cuba Free Press indicates Pelegrino had not even really spoken. All he had done was to raise his hand to suggest that he wanted to say something. He was then attacked and beaten.

All family members and many neighbors of Pelegrino Ramirez said they have never known him to make threats to anyone. On the contrary, they said, he has remained silent after many threats and much harassment.

But the so-called crime of "disrespect toward the authorities" relates to an incident when Pelegrino allegedly was heard by someone who said he "spoke ill of the revolution and of the leaders of the state."

According to family members and neighbors, two to three hours before his arrest, Pelegrino had stood outside the door of his home and joined neighbors who were complaining about the current lack of water in Camino del Polvoris. Their residential area lacks aqueducts and therefore residents must get the precious liquid from reservoir trucks. So it might be said that Pelegrino joined protests of a social nature about the lack of water and nothing else.

Pelegrino said in his smuggled note that on the night of his arrest, he was pushed out of his house and into the PNR's patrol car. There, the police who had arrested him punched him hard on the back.

Once he arrived at the police station, attending officer Maceo, Badge No. 9-5, who had been on duty Feb. 20 and 21, as well as the officer who made the allegation of threats by Mr. Pelegrino, savagely beat the defendant. The second officer's name was "Geovanni Fabre."

Before his arrest, Pelegrino had applied to leave the country and to that end had been interviewed Feb. 14 at the Department of Refugees at the U.S. Interests' Office in the city of Havana. On Feb. 14 he also was granted a second and final appointment for an interview on March 6. He was to learn at that second interview whether he would get a visa or not.

Adalberto Yero, Cuba Free Press.

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