Cuba: Video Shows Police Shoot Man at Home in Front of Toddlers

Riot police walk the streets after a demonstration against the government of President Mig
YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images

A video surfacing on social media Tuesday appears to show Cuban State Security special forces brutally beating and shooting a man in front of his wife and two toddlers.

Miami’s El Nuevo Herald identified the victim in the video as Daniel Cárdenas Díaz, a 24-year-old father of three who had participated in peaceful protests against communism this week. An eyewitness recorded the video at his family home in Cárdenas, Matanzas province, east of Havana. His wife, Marbely Vásquez, confirmed to the newspaper that Cárdenas had participated in protests, but that he was a peaceful marcher, had not committed any violent acts, and did not stand out in his behavior among the thousands of protesters that took the streets of Cuba this weekend. The family’s three children — a pair of two-year-old twins and a 12-year-old — were in the home when the attack occurred.

Protests erupted Sunday in over 20 municipalities nationwide demanding an end to the 62-year-old communist regime and freedom for the Cuban people. Protesters used their rudimentary mobile phones and internet access to film the large assemblies and distribute images that showed the scope of rejection of the regime to the rest of the world. That evening, Castro regime head Miguel Díaz-Canel issued an “order of combat” encouraging civilians to take the streets and attack the protesters. The Cuban regime then shut down access to the internet to prevent word of protests from getting out, though citizens used their family connections abroad to send the word that protests continued into Wednesday throughout the island.

The video of the home invasion in Cárdenas first surfaced on the Facebook profile of Eduardo Pérez. In addition to El Nuevo Herald and other Cuban interest publications confirming the authenticity and date of the video, the human rights group Cuban Prisoners Defenders identified the exact street the invasion occurred on and more specifically identified the victim as Joel Daniel Cárdenas Díaz. The video shows shaky images of Cuban special forces, or “black berets,” invading a residence. A woman off-camera, presumably Vásquez, can be heard shouting, “my children are here, I don’t want them to do anything to my children.” The camera then shows Vásquez holding a toddler; the other twin can be seen standing next to her.

The camera suddenly pivots in response to the arrival of a black beret and a police attack dog into the home. When the image returns, it shows a large pool of blood on the floor where the victim in question had been. Vásquez says that communist state security forces beat her husband viciously, then shot him and took him out of the home.

“Why did they do this, there’s nothing in my house,” the woman cries. “They broke everything. They took everything. They broke everything of mine.”

In addition to the uniformed regime agents, the video shows a mob of apparent civilians armed with blunt metal objects. According to Vásquez, the mob and the police officers beat Cárdenas severely, causing most of the pool of blood on the floor. He sustained at least one gunshot wound.
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El Nuevo Herald quoted Vásquez as saying that police told her they had taken her husband to a police station to receive medical care, but no confirmation exists as of Wednesday afternoon that Cárdenas is alive. The attack, she said, occurred around 11 a.m. on Tuesday. It also remains unclear what police meant by receiving medical care, as they apparently told Vásquez to try to independently obtain an analgesic for her husband.

The Miami newspaper also made contact with Cárdenas’ cousin in Tampa, Orlando León, who said the victim remained “incomunicado.”

“He was at the march, but if it were for that, they’d have to kill everyone; they’d have to kill the entire population of Cuba,” León said.

The independent Cuban online publication 14 y Medio, many reporters of which have been under effective house arrest since the protests erupted, reported Wednesday that it had evidence of at least 5,000 arrests nationwide. Authorities have not made clear if they have charged anyone with any crime. In Cuba, disagreement with the regime is officially criminal under the law banning “disrespect” (desacato), leading to many convictions of individuals for speaking freely about their government. To limit international condemnation of its human rights abuses, however, the regime often arrests prominent dissidents for short periods of time, beating them in police custody, and releases them without pressing charges. Some activists report being arrested on a weekly basis, essentially resulting in an extended restriction on their freedoms without due process.

Police, the newspaper added, appeared to be especially pursuing journalists, members of political dissident organizations, and civilians with a known social media footprint of criticism of the government. The Castro regime identified one person killed in the protests, 36-year-old Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, on Tuesday; dissident organizations fear the death toll is far higher given multiple instances documented of police opening fire on peaceful crowds in major cities. Hundreds of people also reportedly remain missing, raising concerns regarding their health.

The Cuban regime claims the protests are a fabrication by the U.S. government, an allegation for which it has produced no credible evidence.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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