-- Catholic News Agency
Cuban Officials Slammed For Jailing Dissident's Disabled Son
HAVANA, CUBA, November 2 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Cuban dissident Rosa Maria Rodriguez has denounced the local government for imprisoning her mentally impaired son as retaliation for her refusal to leave the opposition.
Rodriguez's son, Yosvany Melchor, is a 29-year-old man with psychiatric problems and no criminal background.
However, since 2010 he has been serving a twelve-year prison sentence after being convicted of human trafficking in trial his mother characterized as "a stage show."
Rodriguez, a member of the Christian Liberation Movement, told CNA on Oct. 30 that two years ago she had been ordered by Cuban state police to quit her association with the movement.
"I refused, and they tried to blackmail me," she said, adding that days later her son was detained.
The indictment against her son listed his mother as a member of the opposition and a signer of the Varela Project - a document that calls for peaceful democratic change in Cuba.
"Who is on trial?" Rodriguez asked. "Me or my son?"
She said her youngest daughter, who just finished high school, has also been the target of government reprisals and is being forced to choose a major in college that she does not want.
Rodriguez said her son Yosvany is "not well" emotionally, "because his situation is not easy. He is kid who has never been in trouble with the law."
"He's not having any issues with the prisoners because they see that he is not a criminal and everyone loves him. He has no conduct issues either, but his health is suffering, with arthritis and swelling in his lungs because of the humidity in his cell."
However, she noted, prison officials cannot transfer him "if the State Security does not authorize it."
Rodriguez said that because of the media coverage her son has received internationally, her sister has also begun receiving threats from the Communist government.
Despite the difficulty, Rodriguez said she remains a member of the Christian Liberation Movement. She recalled her friendship with dissident leader Oswaldo Paya, adding that "more and more people are unhappy and are signing petitions for peaceful change."
"Now there are more people who are no longer afraid," she said.
Paya's death in an alleged car accident this year has been the subject of intense scrutiny by local dissidents as well international human rights leaders.
Some claim that Cuban officials are responsible for the wreck that killed Paya, and fellow dissident Harold Cepera, on July 22 in the southeastern province of Granma.
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