14ymedio, Miami, 19 December 2016 — The leader of the Ladies in White movement was released on Monday after being detained for 24 hours. Berta Soler was arrested the previous day in one of the largest raids against the opposition in recent months. Meanwhile, approximately ten activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) remain imprisoned, according to a report by phone from Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of that organization.
“According to the count we have done, some 117 UNPACU activists were arrested on Sunday and nine houses were raided by the police, who seized five personal computers and dozens of phones, flash drives, printers and printed materials,” Ferrer told 14ymedio.
UNPACU had called for a march for freedom of all political prisoners and solidarity with Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, and Eduardo Cardet, who were both detained after the death of Fidel Castro.
Six of the houses raided were in Santiago de Cuba, two in Palma Soriano and one in Palmarito de Cauto.
According to Ferrer, the police also seized cash in the houses where they entered, including 370 CUC “intended for the feeding of a pregnant woman and the purchase of things for her unborn child.”
The opponent considers that the government is trying to behead the movement. “They want to capture as many coordinators of UNPACU as possible,” he explains. Almost all detained activists have this organizational role within UNPACU.
This Monday the trial of Lisandra Rivera Rodriguez, accused of the crime of attack, was expected to be held.
“They are afraid of the reaction of the organization, so they are developing a rather large operation in Santiago de Cuba. They have placed police barriers around my house,” says Ferrer. The police again threatened to return him to jail, when he and other left together to seek the mediation of the Catholic Church.
“I was told that I was inciting the members of the UNPACU to commit crimes of public disorder, attack, contempt and espionage,” he commented.
UNPACU is the largest opposition organization in the country, centered mainly in the eastern provinces and with a presence in Havana.
The Ladies in White also reported the arrest of 32 activists in Havana and an undetermined number in the provinces.
“We are now updating the report to have the total number of arrests because many Ladies are still being arrested,” said Eralidis Frómeta, who belongs to that movement, which was founded by Laura Pollán in 2003.