Maria Juana Cazabon, who said her family was trapped for days inside
their Havana home while pro-Castro mobs threw stones and chanted death
threats, pleaded for U.S. help Tuesday.
Cazabon's son, brother-in-law and ex-husband -- all members of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights -- have been besieged intermittently by government-directed crowds since March 5, the day before the United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a resolution critical of Cuba, Cazabon said.
Within the past few days the mobs have dispersed, but "the stage is now set for what could easily become an escalation of violence with God knows what hideous results," Cazabon told reporters gathered in the office of Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla.
Graham said the United Nations, having asked human rights workers in Cuba to supply information on the Castro regime, is now duty-bound to protect those activists. "The primary moral responsibility rests with the United Nations," he said.
He promised to use the newly formed congressional Cuban Freedom Caucus to pressure U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to condemn the Castro government for the crackdown.
Human rights abuses in Cuba have picked up as East Bloc countries have cast off Communist economics, held free elections and abandoned the Castro government, said Cazabon, who now lives in Miami. Within the past two weeks, at least eight activists in Cuba have been arrested, according to the official Cuban press.
The most recent attacks, which focused on her son, Sebastian Arcos Cazabon, 28; his father, Sebastian Arcos Bergnes, 58; her brother-in-law, Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, 63; and Gustavo's wife Teresa, were a direct reaction to the U.N. resolution, which was supported by several former Castro allies, Cazabon said.
"As Castro becomes more isolated today, he will only become more desperate," said Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., who met with Cazabon earlier in the day. "His abuses will become more rampant."
Ariel Ricardo, spokesman for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, said he had no specific details on the Arcos case, but that in general those activists who have been tried have violated Cuban laws. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who warmly embraced Cazabon at the news conference, joined in condemning the treatment of Cuban human rights activists. "Castro doesn't permit one word against him or for human rights," said Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.
Cazabon also met with Rep. Bill Lehman, D-Miami, during her visit to Washington.
© 1996 The Miami Herald.