Cuban Authorities Block Seven Activists From Traveling to Mexico for Democracy Action Meeting

Regina Coyula was not able to board her flight this Monday, like six other activists, to go to Cancun to a Forum on Democracy in Cuba. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 June 2017 – Cuban authorities blocked at least seven activists from traveling to Cancun, Mexico this Monday, to participate in the 4th Forum on Roads to a Democratic Cuba, a meeting of the United Democratic Action Roundtable (MUAD) organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), according to blogger Regina Coyula speaking to 14ymedio.

“When I arrived at the immigration window in Terminal 3 of Jose Marti International Airport, they told me to step back and wait a minute” said the activist. Then she was approached by an immigration official who, after asking for her documents, informed her that there was “a ban on travel abroad” in effect against her.

Coyula demanded explanations for the reasons she was prevented from leaving, but the agent would only say that she “had nothing to do with this” and told her if she wanted more information to visit the Office of Attention to the Population near the Plaza of the Revolution. continue reading

The other activists who were not allowed to board the plane are Rafael León Rodríguez, general coordinator of the Cuban Democratic Project; Hildebrando Chaviano, director of the Center for Analysis of Public Policies of Freedom and Development; Wilfredo Vallín and Amado Calixto Gammalame, members of the Legal Association of Cuba; Erick Álvarez, promoter of the CubaDecide initiative; and Alexei Gámez, activist of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement.

The practice of preventing dissidents from leaving the country has become a repressive method of State Security in increasing use in recent months.

The practice of preventing dissidents from leaving the country has become a repressive method of State Security in increasing use in recent months.

In early 2013 a Migration Reform measure came into effect which eliminated the “exit permit” required for travel abroad. In the first ten months after the approval of the new measures, Cubans made more than 250,000 trips abroad. The opposition also benefited from this relaxation of controls.

However, any time it likes the Government may invoke certain subsections of article 25 of the new immigration regulations that prohibit departure “for reasons of public interest or national security.”

Travel bans are put into practice in a number of ways, including preventing opponents from leaving their home, intercepting the vehicles taking them to the airport, or notifying them at the immigration window at the airport that they are forbidden to leave, as happened on Monday.

Regime opponent Chaviano receives an additional 51 votes / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez

Hildebrando Chaviano and his wife Susana Mas (14ymedio)
Hildebrando Chaviano and his wife Susana Mas (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, 21 April 2015 – Hildebrando Chaviano ultimately received 189* votes in the local elections held last Sunday, according to the final counts published on Monday. The opposition candidate was unaware of a third polling place, where he received 51 votes, adding to the 138 he received at the other two polling places.

The president of Chaviano’s polling station had not mentioned the third polling place. However, the information published on the ground floor of the FOCSA building, where he lives, showed that the candidate officially classified as “counterrevolutionary” received more support than initially thought. continue reading

Despite the mergence of this new group of voters, Chaviano still lost at the polls and accepts his defeat. The lawyer said that he has not lacked for expressions of support and respect from his neighbors and FOCSA employees. Pucho, as the neighbors call him, said he had heard “many positive things” and believes that people “are happy with the result” because it is something out of the ordinary.

The regime opponent commented that his preparation for these elections started at the end of last year. He confided that the Candidates for Change initiative, to which he belongs, could put together a more solid plan for the upcoming opportunities, because this time they only had a few months. Although not elected, Chaviano considers that what happened last Sunday has been a complete success and the noisy act of “Revolutionary Reaffirmation” staged by pro-government groups will not intimidate him.

Translator’s note: In the first two polling places the total votes cast (not counting annulled and blank ballots), was 741, of which Chaviano received 19% and the winner received 28%. We do not have these figures for the third polling place.

The “Opening” by “Granma” / Diario de Cuba, Hildebrando Chaviano Montes

In a passage about today’s elections, the Communist Party newspaper “Granma” says that “every citizen has the right to a single vote […] regardless of [his] political position.”

DiariodeCuba, Hildebrando Chaviano Montes*, Havana, 19 April 2015 — The daily Granma, in its Wednesday, April 15 edition, brings a timid message of opening hidden in an article about the Cuban electoral system.  The mention that “in the process of electing delegates to the Municipal Assemblies the vote is characterized as being:  free, equal, secret, direct, nominal and preferential (Prieto Valdes and Perez Hernandez)” may not call the attention of many readers.

However, the mentioned authors make a contribution to the Constitution of the Republic itself when they explain that “every citizen has the right to a single vote and of equal value, without regard to race, religious belief, skin color, political position.”

The passage, although incomplete in my opinion, obviously is supported and inspired by Article 42 of the Cuban Constitution which says:  “Discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, sex, national origin, religious belief, and any other offense against human dignity is proscribed and prohibited by law.” continue reading

The substitution, however, of the phrase “any other offense against human dignity” by the more specific “political position” is noteworthy for being the first time that there appears in the official organ of the Communist Party an admission that different political positions exist in Cuba and above all, that they have equal value.

The express recognition by the mentioned jurists that Cuban political thought is not a single one but is rich in its diversity, as in any other country on the globe, is the first public gesture that could lead to a lifting of the strict blockade on ideas imposed since 1959.  Some may think that the Government is manipulating a sensitive topic in order to ingratiate itself with old and new friends, but at this point speculating with pretty words does not seem smart.

Moreover, and at the risk of being accused of being a dreamer, naïve and even a collaborationist, this could well be the antecedent of future changes announced in an obsolete Constitution whose roots date to 1917 and which stopped being justifiable many years ago, above all in Latin America, a natural environment in which Cuba seeks to insert itself but where the left is not entirely red but more pink, generally respecting the market economy and democratic institutions.

“Chavista” Venezuela constitutes the exception to the political pragmatism of the Latin American left; taken by the hand of Castro I, it jumped into the abyss into which apparently Castro II does not wish to accompany it; he increasingly distances himself from his predecessor, undoing as he can the inherited absolutist framework.

Triana Cordovi in Economics and Prieto Valdes and Perez Hernandez in Law, are for the moment isolated authorized voices whose academic discourse has nothing to do with the Real Socialism defended with shouts and blows in Panama a few days ago.

All of Cuban society is obligated to force the necessary changes.  In the same way that according to those illustrious professors the votes of those who have a different political position are equally valid, so is the candidacy of anyone who does not profess the Communist faith.

Discrimination on the basis of political ideas is as offensive to human dignity as racial discrimination; a change with respect to the official discourse tempered with the current times would go a long the way to replace the absurd ideological hatreds with tolerance and civilized dialog among all Cubans, for the good of all Cuba.

*Translator’s note: Hildebrando Chaviano Montes is an opposition candidate for the local People’s Power; the regime allowed his candidacy but his “biography” (the only campaigning allowed) identifies him as a “counterrevolutionary… funded by foreign groups.”

Translated by MLK