Wednesday, July 18, 2012

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AI: Ladies in White Imprisoned Since March

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
From Amnesty International:


Cuba: Protesters detained without charge

Ladies in White Niurka Luque Álvarez and Sonia Garro Alfonso, and Sonia’s husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González, are believed to have been detained without charge since March.

On 17 March in the Cuban capital, Havana, the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) were demonstrating peacefully to commemorate the anniversary of the 2003 crackdown on dissidents, when 18 of them were arrested and taken to police stations across the city. All but Niurka Luque Álvarez, were released a few hours later.

The following day, Lady in White Sonia Garro Alfonso, and her husband, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González, were arrested at their home in Havana: around 50 police forced their way into the house and fired rubber bullets at them. According to her sister, Sonia Garro Alfonso was wounded in the foot by one of these bullets.

Since then the two women have been sent to various detention centres, and are now held in Guatao women's prison in the outskirts of Havana. Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González is being held in Havana's Combinado del Este prison. Both women are reported to be in poor health. Sonia Garro Alfonso was suffering a kidney problem before her arrest that may require surgery. According to her daughter, Niurka Luque Álvarez regularly suffers epileptic fits. The women are allowed visits every week, and Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González every two weeks.

Although all three have access to a lawyer, it is not clear what they have been charged with. Relatives told Amnesty International that the authorities have accused Sonia Garro Alfonso of attempted murder and public disorder, but none of them has been formally charged. They have yet to be told if or when they will be put on trial. They think they were arrested because of the visit of the Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba in March 2012 and their activism with the Ladies in White, and that it is intended to intimidate other government critics.

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba's Health Ministry on Saturday reported 158 cases of cholera, nearly three times as many as previously disclosed, but said there were no new deaths and the outbreak appears to have been contained and on the wane.
The ministry said Intensive efforts to quarantine those infected, hand out chlorine tablets and educate the population has meant a drop in cases transmitted by water, and there is no evidence of the disease spreading through the food supply.
Virtually all of the cases have come from the city of Manzanillo, in eastern Granma province some 430 miles (700 kilometers) east of the capital, or from people who recently traveled from the area.
"We have diagnosed isolated cases in other regions of people that were infected in Manzanillo, all of whom were treated and studied quickly," the ministry said. "There has been no spread of the outbreak."
Cuba announced July 3 that three elderly people had died from the tropical disease and 53 people sickened in the first incidence of cholera on the island in decades. Until Saturday's report, authorities had said little more, prompting rumors of more deaths and a wider problem. Still, even in the infected area, hotel workers and residents said there was no panic.
Cuba has a well-organized civil defense system capable of rapidly mobilizing government agencies and citizens groups, as it does for tropical storms and hurricanes. Brigades of workers go door to door, eliminating standing water where mosquitos bearing another tropical disease, dengue, could breed.
The country also has thousands of well-trained doctors and nurses, many of whom played a key role in fighting a much deadlier cholera outbreak in nearby Haiti after that country's devastating earthquake.
A rise in cases of diarrhea and tropical diseases are normal in Cuba in the summer, due to the intense heat and heavy rains. In its communique on Saturday, the Health Ministry urged people to wash their hands, boil water and pay better attention to their personal hygiene.
Sat, Jul 14, 2012
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Romney to Ohio voter: Obama isn’t a ‘monster’

(Evan Vucci/AP)AKRON, Ohio--For the second day in a row, Mitt Romney offered a more aggressive posture toward President Barack Obama, accusing his Democratic opponent of starting a class war that threatens to "tear America apart."
Speaking to a rally in Bowling Green, Romney accused Obama of putting his re-election ahead of efforts to improve the economy and create jobs.
"His priority is not creating jobs for you," Romney declared. "His priority is keeping his own job. That's why he's going to lose it."
Echoing a speech he delivered outside Pittsburgh Tuesday, Romney took aim at comments Obama made last week in which he emphasized the role government plays in helping create business. He accused Obama of "demonizing" individuals who have been successful, suggesting when the president "denigrates and diminishes the achievement of the individual, he diminishes us all."
But Romney stopped short of a full attack. When an audience member referred to Obama as a "monster," Romney quickly interrupted and said, "That's not a term I would use."
Asked about his vice presidential search by an audience member who insisted he had to pick a "conservative" for the ticket, Romney said he had not yet settled on a running mate.
"Even thought I have not chosen the person who will be my vice president, they will be a conservative," Romney said.
Romney largely kept his focus on what he described as Obama's "failed" policies, insisting the president's request for "more time won't make things better."  And he repeatedly kept returning to Obama's "You didn't build that" comment, accusing the president of being hostile to business and "success."
"It shows how out of touch he is with the character of America," Romney said, adding that his "demonizing" of success is "something so foreign to us we simply can't understand it."
Romney's Bowling Green rally was the GOP candidate's only public stop in the state Wednesday. He heads to Canton for a fundraiser Wednesday night.