Cuban dissident highlights repressive tactics

A Cuban dissident, Villar Mendoza, died January 19 after a 50-day hunger strike, according to Human Rights Watch. Mendoza was detained in November for participating in a peaceful protest that called for greater political freedom and human rights.  He was sentenced to four years in prison after a speedy trial that lasted less than an hour.  He went on a hunger strike to protest the unjust trial and imprisonment.

When he went on his hunger strike, he was placed in solitary confinement and stripped naked, according to his wife, Maritza Pelegrino Cabrales, who is associated with the Damas de Blanco, “a human rights group consisting of wives, mothers, and daughters of political prisoners,” according to HRW.

Cabrales, who has been threatened, has not been able to see his body.

The Cuban government needs to be held accountable for its actions.  Unjustly imprisoning a citizen who speaks out against its government is not right.  Neither is threatening his wife and children. These people are trying to create a better Cuban society- one that enjoys more political freedoms and human rights. Falsely imprisoning dissidents will not further the current regimes agenda; it will only hinder its objectives in the long run.

The people will rise up. It does not end with Mendoza.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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