and José Daniel
Luis Enrique and José Daniel Ferrer García
News archive search on the Ferrer Garcia brothers
"Proyecto Varela" and "Varela Project"
Luis Enrique Ferrer García, local coordinator of the Varela Project, 28 year sentence
José Daniel Ferrer García, local coordinator of the Varela Project, independent journalist, 25 year sentence
As Coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimento Cristiano Liberación-MCL) in the province of Las Tunas, Luis Enrique Ferrer organized groups of people who were able to collect hundreds of signatures for the Varela Project. As a result of the work that put organizers like Luis Enrique Ferrer and his older brother, independent journalist José Daniel Ferrer at great personal risk, over 11,020 signatures were collected and presented to the National Assembly in May 2002. Luis Enrique Ferrer personally presented copies of the signatures to visiting foreign legislators.
Luis Enrique Ferrer received the longest sentence of all of those arrested in the recent crackdown. He was sentenced to 28 years' imprisonment and is currently being held at the prison Combinado del Este in Havana. It is unclear why Mr. Ferrer received such a particularly long sentence. His prison conditions are harsh. In a dark cell, no larger than 8 by 4 feet, with nowhere to sleep but a concrete platform, Luis Enrique Ferrer is reported to be suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhea. Mr. Ferrer is being held in solitary confinement and is being subjected to additional punishment as a result of his refusal to wear prison uniform.
José Daniel Ferrer, sentenced to 25 years, is reported to be in similar conditions in a prison in Pinar del Rio. He is being held in solitary confinement in a cell reported to be approximately nine by three feet and completely dark. The cell has no water supply, José Daniel only has access to water when it is brought to him by the guards.
Luis Enrique Ferrer, born August 27, 1976, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, is a man of humble origins. As a fisherman, he had his first confrontation with the regime when officials confiscated the fish that he had caught to feed his family. He and his brother, José Daniel Ferrer, age 32, have played an active role in the young, but growing, human rights and democracy movement within the island.
The current crackdown is not the first time that the brothers have come into conflict with the Cuban government. In 1999, Luis Enrique Ferrer was brought to court for refusing to pay a thirty peso fine that had been imposed on him for charges of "disrespect" to government officials. When Luis Enrique told the court that he refused to pay the fine because he believed that the charges were unfair and that he, in fact, had suffered the damages, he was given a six month jail sentence, which was later reduced to six months house arrest.
When Luis Enrique Ferrer left the court room with his family and other supporters, they were attacked by an awaiting mob. Many dissidents in Cuba claim that these mobs are orchestrated through the Office of State Security (OSS) and its Rapid Response Brigades. They claim that such methods are used to intimidate and harm dissidents, and, at the same time, dissuade them from speaking out.
Upon leaving the courtroom, Luis Enrique Ferrer was struck heavily in the abdomen with a hammer by a member of the mob. His mother, aged 56 at the time of the incident, and his sister, aged 26 at the time, were both violently thrown to the ground. Luis Enrique Ferrer and his supporters remained non-violent and did not fight back as they were subjected to the brutal physical attacks. OSS agents stood by in plainclothes, watching the assault, only intervening after the Ferrer brothers and their supporters had suffered injuries.
According to other activists who have worked with Luis Enrique in Cuba, before being imprisoned, he was a pioneer in organizing seminars and workshops on human rights and civic education for Santiago de Cuba. José Daniel Ferrer, apart from collecting signatures for the Varela Project, is an independent journalist whose work often deals with human rights issues.