Cubans deserve far better than this

The human rights situation in Cuba – something I examined in my book The Blogging Revolution – remains dire. Some prominent bloggers on the island were recently abused for simply speaking out.

Now, according to Human Rights Watch, the regime continues to oppress its people:

The Cuban president, Raúl Castro, has crushed dissent and continued repression in the country since taking over from his brother Fidel, according to a Human Rights Watch report published today.

The government has extended use of an “Orwellian” law that allows the state to punish people before they commit a crime on suspicion they may do so, a tactic designed to cow actual and potential opponents, it said.

The report, New Castro, Same Cuba, paints a near-dystopian image of an island where those who step out of line risk being beaten and jailed in horrific conditions which verge on torture.

Since taking over from Fidel in July 2006 Raúl has kept up repression and kept scores of political prisoners locked up, it said. “Raúl Castro’s government has used draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental freedoms,” said the report.

The New York-based group said its report was based on a clandestine fact-finding mission in June and July that conducted dozens of in-depth interviews in seven of Cuba’s 14 provinces. It spoke to human rights activists, journalists, clerics, trade unionists and former political prisoners and their relatives.

The report was scathing about the international community’s policies towards Cuba. The decades-old US economic embargo gave Havana a pretext to crack down on dissenters as US-backed saboteurs, it said, and should be abandoned.