HAVANA — Political arrests in Cuba jumped to more than 6,600 in 2012, the highest in decades as authorities shifted their strategy for dealing with growing civic resistance, say dissident groups.
Cuba’s communist government is using more short-term arbitrary arrests to disrupt and intimidate critics rather than slap them with long prison sentences like those used against dozens of Cubans in a 2003 crackdown on dissent.
“The government has changed its tactics,” said Elizardo SÃ¡nchez, director of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a Havana group that tracks political arrests. Repression is “low-profile, low-intensity” but “reaches more people.”
Political arrests in 2012 climbed to 6,602, from 4,123 in 2011 and 2,074 in 2010, SÃ¡nchez said. Most people are freed within a few hours or days.
Former math professor Antonio Rodiles is among those subjected to the latest repressive tactics. Rodiles, founder of Estado de SATS, a group that encourages civic participation and debate, said he was beaten and punched in the eye Nov. 7 when he and others went to Cuban State Security headquarters in Havana to ask about a lawyer friend who had been arrested. Rodiles, 40, was then jailed for 19 days.