Human rights monitors in Cuba and Miami report an upswing in detentions, home searches and threats against Cuban dissidents since a critical United Nations report on human rights in Cuba was issued three weeks ago.
Seven dissidents apparently still in detention Wednesday include Angela Herrera, 59, president of Cuba's largest and most vociferous dissident group, and her daughter, Guillermina de la Caridad Acuna.
Herrera and Acuna reportedly have begun a hunger strike at Villa Marista state security headquarters in Havana, said Ninoska Perez of the Voice of The Foundation, a Cuban exile shortwave radio station that broadcasts to the island.
Herrera heads the Cuban Democratic Coalition, a grouping of 34 organizations that opposes dialogue with President Fidel Castro and frequently contributes telephoned reports to the Voice of the Foundation that are critical of conditions on the island.
Some dissidents have been released after questioning by state security agents, while others have been detained overnight or for a few days and then released, said Ariel Hidalgo, of the Miami-based Information Bureau of the Cuban Human Rights Movement.
"In the past few weeks pressures against them have been increasing," said Hidalgo. Homes have been searched and typewriters, telephone and address directories and written denunciations of human rights violations seized.
"Beginning in 1988, whenever a U.N. document critical of the human rights situation has been issued, the response (by the Cuban government) has always been an increase in repression inside Cuba," said Ricardo Bofill, the Miami-based president of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights.
"In one way or another, there's always been a harsh response," he said.
Last year, a massive crackdown began in Cuba six days after the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution expressing profound concern over Cuba's human rights record. Pro-government mobs surrounded the homes of several well-known dissidents and there were reports of beatings, rock throwing and harassment.
The 1992 crackdown began Dec. 10 -- International Human Rights Day -- and some human rights monitors say the recent wave of detentions may be aimed at trying to head off any activities or statements that dissidents on the island had planned this week to mark the date.
Three weeks ago a special U.N. human rights investigator, Carl-Johan Groth, submitted his report on conditions in Cuba, and on Monday the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution lamenting "violations of basic human rights and fundamental liberties in Cuba."
The Cuban government has refused to allow Groth to visit Cuba, saying it doesn't recognize him and that the U.N. is unfairly singling out Cuba.
In his report, Groth criticized continuing human rights abuses and the institutional character of such violations, but also said that lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba would be one of the most constructive measures to improve the human rights situation on the island.
Havana has been critical of Groth's report, despite its support on the embargo issue.
"The Cuban government fears international condemnation and tries to stop it," said Hidalgo. And that includes trying to curtail the activities of dissidents, he said.
In addition to Herrera and Acuna, other dissidents reported to be in detention are:
* Four members of the Eastern Civic Front in Santiago de Cuba who were detained last Thursday and Friday, and charged with spreading enemy propaganda, according to Bofill. He identified them as Angel Luis Valiente, Marcelo Diosdado Amelo Rodriguez, Alexis Leiva Alvarez and Rafael Ugas Aguilera.
* Manuel Valdes, 24, of Regla, who was picked up Nov. 30 and charged with contempt and disturbing the public order. Bofill said Valdes was reported to have distributed written material criticizing the death of a would-be rafter from Regla at the hands of Cuban authorities in October. An anti- government demonstration broke out at the man's funeral and continued the next day at the cemetery where he was buried.
Three other dissidents were detained Saturday and released Monday, said Perez, who said they were Adolfo Miranda and Jose Clemente Garcia, both of the Civic Union, and Manuel Matos Ur, a member of the Society of Mothers for Dignity. Perez said Matos was beaten, within minutes after his release, by a rapid action brigade -- a group organized by the government to act against "counterrevolutionaries."
The status of two other dissidents arrested last week in Arroyo Naranjo was unclear.
Meanwhile, other dissidents have reported being hassled and threatened by authorities.
Tete Machado, of the Information Bureau of the Human Rights Movement, received a report from the Democratic Civic Party this week about the repeated harassment of the family of Eugenio Rodriguez Chaple, a member of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights. Machado said Rodriguez's wife -- Lazara Herrera Portel -- was detained Nov. 23 and taken to a police station known as the Capri Unit, where she was held for 72 hours.
© 1996 The Miami Herald.