On October 18, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) imposed new sanctions against Cuba while the State Department denounced Cuba’s detention of dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer.
The BIS revoked “existing licenses for aircraft leases to Cuban state-owned airlines, and will deny future applications for aircraft leases.” This was based upon the Department’s assertion that “the Cuban regime is resorting to transporting tourists on leased aircraft subject to BIS jurisdiction.”
Additionally, “BIS is expanding Cuba sanctions to include more foreign goods containing U.S. content, and is imposing additional restrictions on exports to the Cuban regime.” According to a regulation set for October 21 publication, the Export Administration Regulations will be amended so that goods with as little as 10% U.S. content will be subject to U.S. jurisdiction and, thus, require a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce for export or reexport to Cuba. Previously, the policy only applied to goods with 25% or greater U.S. content. In addition, the amendment will, prohibit certain donations to the Cuban government and communist party and clarify the scope of telecommunications items that the Cuban government may receive without a license.
This action, says the Department, “supports the Administration’s earlier decision to hold the Cuban regime accountable for repressing its own people as well as continuing to provide support to the illegitimate Maduro regime which has terrorized the Venezuelan population and wantonly destroyed the once-prosperous economy relied on by millions.”
The Department’s Secretary, Wilbur Ross, said, “This action . . . sends another clear message to the Cuban regime – that they must immediately cease their destructive behavior at home and abroad. The Trump Administration will continue to act against the Cuban regime for its misdeeds, while continuing to support the Cuban people and their aspirations for freedom and prosperity.”
Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel in a tweet said these new sanctions were “an expression of impotence, moral degradation and imperial contempt. It is an inhuman, cruel, unjust and genocidal act that we strongly reject. We will not give up. and we will give sovereign answer.”
A similar tweet came from Cuba Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez: these are “additional acts of economic blockade, representative of a moral bankruptcy policy, internationally isolated and promoted by a corrupt government. The Cuban people will continue to give due and sovereign response.”
Denouncing Cuban Detention of Dissident
The Cuban dissident who has been detained is Jose Daniel Ferrer, the founder of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).
According to the State Department, “On October 1, “Castro regime officials detained Mr. Ferrer and several other human rights defenders in Santiago de Cuba. Mr. Ferrer reportedly has still not been informed of any charges against him, and has been denied access to a lawyer and to medical care. Mr. Ferrer’s family has not been permitted contact with him since October 4.” In addition, other “UNPACU activists Roilan Zarraga Ferrer, José Pupo Chaveco, and Fernando González Vailant also remain in custody.”
“Ferrer’s case is one more example of the Castro regime’s continuous and flagrant violation of human rights, which has recently escalated into a wave of repression against freedoms of speech, expression, and religion. The United States will not allow these abuses against the Cuban people to go unnoticed or unanswered. We will continue to increase sanctions and trade restrictions to diminish the resources available to the Cuban regime, which uses its income to suppress its own citizens and to prop up other regimes with shameful human rights records, including the former Maduro regime in Venezuela.”
Therefore, the U.S. “strongly condemns the Cuban regime’s unconscionable detainment of . . . [Senor] Ferrer, founder of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). We call on the Castro regime to immediately disclose Mr. Ferrer’s location and condition, to treat him humanely, and to release him from detention without condition.”
Similar protests of this detention have been registered by UNPACU, Cuba’s Legal Information Center (CUBALEX), Cuban Prisoners Defenders, Freedom House and Amnesty International.
 Commerce Dep’t, U.S. Department of Commerce Further Tightens Cuba Sanctions (Oct. 18, 2019); Reuters, U.S. Hits Cuba With New Sanctions Over Human Rights, Venezuela, N.Y. Times (Oct. 18, 2019); Assoc. Press, U.S. slaps new sanctions on Cuba over human rights, Venezuela, Wash. Post (Oct. 18, 2019);Center for Democracy in Americas, U.S. restricts additional exports and re-exports to Cuba, U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 10/18/2019.
 State Dep’t, Detention of Cuban Human Rights Defender José Daniel Ferrer (Oct. 18, 2019); The arrest of José Daniel Ferrer is ‘a mechanism of repression against all civil society,’ Diario de Cuba (Oct. 17, 2019); Cuban Prisoners Defenders denounces the Cuban regime in Geneva for the case of José Ferrer, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 17, 2019).
10 thoughts on “U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Cuba and Denounces Cuba’s Detention of Dissident ”
Cuban Court Denies Habeas Corpus for Ferrer
On October 17, the Provincial Court of Santiago de Cuba rejected an appeal by habeas corpus for José Daniel Ferrer. According to a leader of UNPACU, the judges said Ferrer is subject to a precautionary measure of provisional imprisonment, dated October 7. However, they did not clarify the crime charged or the place where he is being held.
UNPACU also reported, “”Since the arrest of José Daniel, on October 1, about 20 activists have been detained for peacefully demanding their freedom, some of them still are. The only reason for the arrest of José Daniel is his opposition activism, the Cuban dictatorship try to punish him for a common crime made to mask political repression, which is becoming stronger and more systematic in the country.”
Separately a Washington Post editorial said, “Mr. Ferrer’s voice has not been heard since Oct. 1, when he and others in his group were arrested without charge. Two were released, but Mr. Ferrer and several others have all but disappeared. Although in recent years the Cuban political police have periodically detained Mr. Ferrer for a few days at a time, this stretch is longer and Mr. Ferrer has been held incommunicado. His family is demanding that the authorities provide proof that he is alive, explain the grounds for his arrest and permit visits. Some activists in his group have told independent Cuban journalists at the news site 14ymedio.com that he is being framed on a criminal charge of carrying out an assault that didn’t happen.”
The editorial continued. “It should be no mystery why he was arrested: to silence him. UNPACU has proved to be resilient and Mr. Ferrer quite steadfast in speaking out against the Cuban police state. Now he must be freed. Cuba’s communists ought to realize by now that they cannot jail free speech, no matter how hard and often they try.”
The regime rejects a Habeas Corpus in favor of Cuban opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 19, 2019), https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1571500874_1702.html
Without surprises, the regime denies another Habeas Corpus in favor of three UNPACU activists, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 21, 2019), https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1571672248_2065.html
Editorial, Cuba’s communists should realize by now they can’t jail free speech, Wash. Post (Oct. 20, 2019), https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/cubas-communists-should-realize-by-now-they-cant-jail-free-speech/2019/10/20/b3306078-f053-11e9-89eb-ec56cd414732_story.html
See also the following posts to dwkcommentaries.com: Cuban Independent Media Reject Government’s Attacks on Press Freedom (Oct. 7, 2019), https://dwkcommentaries.com/2019/10/07/cuban-independent-media-reject-governments-attacks-on-press-freedom/
Additional Cuban Political Prisoners Named by Amnesty International (Oct. 7, 2019), https://dwkcommentaries.com/2019/08/30/additional-cuban-political-prisoners-named-by-amnesty-international/
Washington Post Criticizes New Cuban Constitution (March 2, 2019), https://dwkcommentaries.com/2019/03/02/washington-post-criticizes-new-cuban-constitution/
Cuba Arrests Opponents of Proposed New Constitution (Feb. 14, 2019), https://dwkcommentaries.com/2019/02/14/cuba-arrests-opponents-of-proposed-new-constitution/
More Cuban Arrests of Dissidents (Dec. 21, 2018), https://dwkcommentaries.com/2016/12/21/more-cuban-arrests-of-dissidents/
Ferrer’s Family Released from Detention
On October 25, the wife of José Daniel Ferrer Garcia and their two minor children were arrested and detained in Santiago de Cuba for publicly protesting his detention for the last 25 days. After several hours and without providing any information about his whereabouts or what charges have been made against him, the police released his wife and children.
José Daniel Ferrer’s family released, but the regime does give them news about the detainee, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 25, 2019), https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1572087073_2947.html
More Pressure for Cuba’s Release of Jośe Daniel Ferrer
Cuban Prisoners Defenders (CPD) pressed the European Union (EU) to support the release of José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). CPD pointed out that the United Nations, the OAS, Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Freedom House, the United States of America and numerous other organizations and states already have done so.
Swden’s Foreign Minister on October 30 said Sweden has raised issues of freedom of expression, assembly and association with Cuba and that the EU “carefully monitors the humcan rights situation in Cuba” and has raised Ferrer’s case with the Cuban government.
Cuban Prisoners Defenders demand a ruling from the European Union on Ferrer, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 31, 2019) https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1572534181_3827.html
Sweden asserts that it has ‘raised’ issues about Cuban political prisoners to Havana, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 31, 2019), https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1572514355_3722.html
Cuban Attorneys Say Cuban Regime Frequently Forcibly Disappear Its Citizens
According to Diario de Cuba, several Cuban attorneys say that the recent forced disappearance of José Daniel Ferrer is not unprecedented.
Attorney Julio Ferrer Tamayo said, “The situation of Ferrer, being better known, has greater visibility, but it is almost common practice within the Cuban legal system what they are doing with him.” Indeed, “The courts in Cuba are an extension of the regime’s repressive organs. Its certain function, although it does not appear in any provision, is to justify any arbitrariness and illegality of the repressive organs. Here they take any ordinary citizen, they put him in a center and he is there as long as the authorities want, and after months they release him without the right to a remedy, explanation or apology. The prison of Valle Grande, for example, is a warehouse of people who sometimes do not know why they are there, or do not if they have filed charges against them, and after a while they release them, without charges or going to trial.”
Attorney Laritza Diversent, the director of the Cubalex Legal Information Center, endorses that opinion. For her, Ferrer’s case has connotations of greater gravity, however. “We have to fear for his physical integrity, because we could be talking about being subjected to some form of torture or ill-treatment,” while stressing the seriousness of the silence of the Cuban regime even after the U.N. Working Group on the Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances recent demand that the Cuban regime “immediately clarify the fate and whereabouts” of Ferrer.”
She added, the Cuban Government “is part of the relevant convention or treaty and is obliged to comply with everything the committee indicates in its communication. However, the State has not yet given any news or allowed Ferrer to communicate with his relatives. We have to fear for his personal safety.”
Diversent also said, “Enforced disappearances have been going on for a long time because Habeas Corpus is not an effective remedy against forced disappearance because the law itself says that there is a provision from the Prosecutor’s Office decreeing provisional imprisonment, Habeas Corpus does not operate, leaving those who suffer forced disappearance unprotected.”
Another attorney, Julio Ferrer Tamayo, says the rejection of Habeas Copus in favor of the UNPACU leader “demonstrates its ineffectiveness as a legal instrument for the protection of the individual freedom of Cubans. In the case of Ferrer, the Habeas Corpus appeal must go to the Supreme Court in Havana, but as there is no transparency, it cannot be said that this mechanism will be fulfilled nor that the Provincial Court of Santiago de Cuba will then execute the proceedings.”
“It is common for them to detain people and not register them in prisons, which is an obligation that the State has under the minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners. In the case of Ferrer they are violating International Law. According to the Cuban Criminal Procedure Law, the Police have discretionary power to detain any person without requiring an order from a court, which favors arbitrariness.”
Wilfredo Valin, lawyer and president of the independent Legal Association of Cuba, said that “the essence of the problem is that when the recent constitutional reform was made, the people requested the creation of a Constitutional Guarantees Court, but that request was rejected so that the authroities can do what they want, always taking into account that in Cuba there is no division of the powers of the State, which allows a liberality in the application of the law without the ability of the person or relatives to go to an agency that is competent to question that or request that the person be released or presented by a Habeas Corpus before the courts. ”
For Vallín, Ferrer has been prohibited from leaving the country by the regime, which euphemistically has designated him as “regulated.”
The world can see that the Cuban regime ‘submits its citizens to forced disappearance,’ Diario de Cuba (Nov. 1, 2019,) https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1572636085_3993.html.
No Cuban Government Report on Status of Ferrer
After arrests on October 1, the whereabouts of José Daniel Ferrer, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba and three other activists are unknown. They are not allowed to have any visits, phone calls, lawyers or formal accusations.
On October 31, the Charge’ d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Mara Tekach, said in a video on Twitter, “I am here to tell you about something that is happening and is becoming more worrying every day.”
The diplomat denounced the situation of Ferrer, his detained activist partners, as well as their families who “do not know what happened to them, if they are in good health or what crimes they are accused of.The US Government strongly condemns this unacceptable detention. We ask that they be treated with humanity, that their location be known immediately and that they be released without conditions.”
She also said,”In the same way we condemn the injustice against Roberto Quiñones, who will soon be serving two months in prison.”
“I assure the Cuban people that the US will continue to denounce these unfair detentions,” she concluded.
One month in prison of José Daniel Ferrrer without formal accusation, without news of his condition, Diario de Cuba (Nov. 1, 2019) https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1572606237_3954.html
Washington Post Editorial Calls for Cuba To Release Ferrer
A November 8 editorial in the Washington Post calls for the immediate release of José Daniel Ferrer, “a robust and determined activist for Democracy In Cuba” and the head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), from Cuban detention.
This editorial is prompted by a recent statement from his family after finally being able to visit him in jail and discovering he was “a broken man, hunched over, having lost half of his weight, covered in bruises. He was barely able to speak but told them hastily he has been threatened that he will never leave prison alive.”
After his arrest in early October, he and several others with UNPACU were held incommunicado, with no word about his situation.” In a handwritten letter he managed to smuggle out, he said he had been beaten and tortured ant his life was in grave danger.
The editorial concluded: “He must be released and given medical treatment immediately — and his ideals must not be allowed to flicker out in a dank prison cell.”
Editorial, A jailed Cuban activist is in grave danger. He must be released, Wash. Post (Nov. 8, 2019), https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/a-jailed-cuban-activist-is-in-grave-danger-he-must-be-released/2019/11/08/55c3f136-00be-11ea-9518-1e76abc088b6_story.html
Cuba Allegedly Using Venezuelan Torture Technique on Ferrer
The Maduro regime in Venezuela has been using a torture technique called “accustoming.” It involves detaining someone for a long time without an arrest or access to a lawyer, not providing any information about the individual to members of his or her family, often telling the individual that the regime will kill a family member. Often the individual is pressured to confess to a crime he or she did not commit. Eventually many individuals in this situation are severely affected psychologically, unbalanced and unable to fend for themselves.
The ‘accustoming’: the Venezuelan torture technique that the Cuban regime applies to José Daniel Ferrer, Diario de Cuba (Nov. 9, 2019), https://diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1573268986_4937.html