Tag Archives: Vladimir Moreira Bacallao

Political Prisoner ‘Freed’ by Cuba Deal on Day 81 of Prison Hunger Strike

BreitbartNews

Vladimir Morera Bacallao, a Cuban dissident allegedly freed as part of President Obama’s deal with Cuba but sentenced to four years in prison shortly after being released, is currently on his 81st day of a hunger strike that has left him in critical condition.

“He does not recognize us,” his wife told the U.S.-based Martí noticias, and is in extremely grave condition in a hospital in Villa Clara. He reportedly weighs 93 pounds, and relatives expressed little hope for his survival. “He is very grave… [but] they say he is a prisoner so we are not allowed to see him,” Morera’s sister told AFP.

Morera was arrested in April for hanging a sign on his window condemning the communist Castro dictatorship. The sign read “I vote for my freedom, and not in one of those elections where I can’t even choose a president.” The sign was mocking Cuba’s legislative elections, in which only Communist Party officials are allowed to compete. After his second arrest, family members described the incident, noting that his children and wife were also beaten by state police.

Morera had been freed in January from prison, where he was serving an eight-year sentence for defending a fellow dissident from a violent communist mob, as part of President Obama’s “normalization” deal with Cuba. International supporters of the Cuban government and human rights groups that oppose isolating the Castro regime celebrated the liberation of 53 political prisoners that months as a sign that President Obama’s attempt to make concessions to the regime would help dissidents. Most of those dissidents, however, have been rearrested for crimes similar to Morera’s act of disobedience.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement saying the United States is “profoundly concerned” for Morera’s health.

In the year since President Obama announced that the United States would make a series of concessions to dictator Raúl Castro, including removing Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, in exchange for, in the words of Castro, “nothing at all,” the situation for political dissidents has deteriorated significantly. In addition to the re-arrests of dozens of prisoners of conscience, leaders of dissident groups such as the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) are arrested on an almost weekly basis, most for attending Sunday Catholic Mass. Political arrests increased by 70 percent between January and March 2015 in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. The announcement also triggered a flood of Cuban refugees attempting to flee to Central America, fearing that the Obama administration would repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows the federal government to treat all Cubans as political refugees. About 8,000 Cuban nationals are currently stranded in Costa Rica after relying on a human trafficking ring shut down by the Costa Rican government.

Morera previously survived a 68-day hunger strike in April 2014, which he was forced to end after doctors found a tumor in his stomach.

Dissidents using Twitter have reported that a congregation of anti-communist activists that had gathered in front of the hospital currently treating Morera have been violently arrested.

Cuban Activist Freed in Obama Deal, Then Arrested Again, Now in Grave Condition

savebacallao

PJ Media

The Obama administration is calling on the Cuban government to free a political prisoner — one of the dozens released from prison a year ago as a rapprochement gesture, only to be re-arrested a few months later.

Vladimir Morera Bacallao, 53, is reportedly near death due to the hunger strike he started behind bars in October.

Morera Bacallao, a labor activist, was arrested in April in the run-up to the regime’s sham municipal elections for posting a sign outside his home stating: “I vote for my freedom and not in an election where I cannot choose my president.”

A month ago, he was sentenced to four and a half years behind bars.

Around the same time, another one of the political prisoners whose release was hailed by the Obama administration as a grand gesture of the Castro regime toward human rights was sentenced to another prison term. Jorge Ramirez Calderon received two and a half years behind bars for “joining a peaceful protest asking for improved sanitary conditions and water in his community,” the State Department acknowledged at the time.

“Respect for human rights is a cornerstone of our foreign policy, and we call on the Cuban government to respect its citizens’ rights to free expression and peaceful protest,” the State Department said Nov. 24.

Morera Bacallao was transferred from his prison cell to an intensive care unit last week. At today’s State Department briefing, spokesman Mark Toner told reporters the activist is in “very serious condition.”

“The United States is deeply concerned about the deteriorating physical condition of Vladimir Morera Bacallao, who has been on a hunger strike since October to protest his imprisonment for peacefully expressing political dissent,” Toner said. “Mr. Morera Bacallao was one of 53 prisoners of concern released shortly after the December 2014 announcement of the president’s new policy direction on Cuba, but detained again in April of 2015 for hanging a sign outside his home in protest of municipal elections.”

“…The United States urgently calls on the Cuban government to release Mr. Morera Bacallao.”

Amnesty International noted on Dec. 10 that 1,477 arbitrary politically motivated arrests by Cuban officials in November — “the highest monthly total in many years.”

“For weeks on end, the Cuban authorities have used a spike in arrests and harassment to prevent human rights activists and dissidents from protesting peacefully,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) noted that during President Obama’s time in office “activists Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Wilman Villar Mendoza died under uncannily similar circumstances” as hunger-striking Morera Bacallao. “Activists Laura Pollan and Oswaldo Paya also perished at the hands of Castros’ thugs during this administration.”

“Morera Bacallao has risked everything for the basic right to have a voice in his government. His unjustifiable imprisonment and mistreatment are further indictments of the brutal malevolence of the Castro regime, and the utter failure of Obama’s appeasement of Cuba’s dictators,” Diaz-Balart wrote on his Facebook page. “I urge human rights organizations and the Obama administration to bring attention to the urgent case of Vladimir Morera Bacallao, and to demand that he receive immediate medical attention. We must not remain silent while another courageous activist hovers on the brink of death.”