#Otro18 Civic Platform Will Hold Forum On Citizenship And Multi-Party Voting / 14ymedio

The logo of the Civic Platform #Otro18 (Another 2018)

The logo of the Civic Platform #Otro18 (Another 2018)

14ymedio, Havana, 10 February 2016 – The group that manages the #Otro18 (Another 2018) Civic Platform has convened its first forum in early March in Cuba, under the slogan Citizenship Revisited, Multi-party Voting. Proposals ranging from reforms to the electoral law to a new law on associations will be presented at the meeting. Participants will include representatives from some 45 independent groups involved in the campaign, according to a statement from its organizers.

Participation in the Forum will be free and international experts on electoral and freedom of association issues have been invited as observers, along with representatives of the diplomatic corps. In the next few days a press conference will be held to define the agenda, date and place of the meeting. Since the Cuban government announced its intention to draft a new electoral law, different political and civil society actors have been encouraging the idea of gathering proposals from the public, with all the diversity and plurality of Cuban society.

Cubalex, an organization of independent lawyers, led the initial technical phase of this campaign in collaboration with lawyers from the Cuban Law Association and other institutions.

Political activists of various organizations such as the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), the United Anti-totalitarian Forum, Somos+ (We Are More), Independent and Democratic Cuba, Cuban Solidarity Liberal Party, Liberal Party of Cuba (Azules), and the Center for Support of the Transition and Progressive Arc, as well as independent journalists, and community, civic and human rights activists, along with independent actors, participated in intense days both within and outside of Cuba.

With this event, #Otro18 completes the initial technical part in the first stage of its project, and initiates the policy and strong social and civic advocacy phase, ahead of the proposed reforms to the electoral law and the law of associations.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Arrested And Beaten In Santiago De Cuba / 14ymedio

Ladies in White outside of the parish of Santa Rita in Havana. (Angel Moya)

Ladies in White outside of the parish of Santa Rita in Havana. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 January 2016 — Cuban activists have again experienced a repressive Sunday with the arrest of more than a hundred opponents throughout the island. The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, was violently arrested in Santiago Cuba, according to sources in his organization.

About 130 members of the UNPACU and the Ladies in White movement were arrested in the eastern province while trying to reach the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre. Police and special forces intercepted them at various points along the busy road to the church, said the national coordinator of the organization, Yriade Hernández Aguilera. Continue reading

Three Members of Cuban Opposition Released After Three Months’ Detention / 14ymedio

Hugo Damian Prieto and his wife, a few hours after being released. (Angel Moya)

Hugo Damian Prieto and his wife, a few hours after being released. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 January 2016 – Released on Wednesday, after three months detention, were two members of the Cuban opposition: Hugo Damián Prieto Blanco, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Front for Civic Action, and Wilberto Parada Milan, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), according to reports to this newspaper from opposition sources. Also released on Thursday morning was the opponent Carlos Manuel Figueroa, who was arrested after jumping the fence of the US embassy in Havana last October. According to dissident sources, the activist shouted slogans at the time: “Down with Raul” and “Down with the dictatorship.”

Figueroa was a part of the group of 53 political prisoners released in January 2015 after negotiations between Washington and Havana, according to a report at the time from Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN). Continue reading

Police Warn Eliecer Avila That Somos+ Convention Will Not be Allowed / 14ymedio

The police enter the home of Eliecer Avila to arrest him.

The police enter the home of Eliecer Avila to arrest him.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 January 2016 – The repressive actions against the Cuban opposition were repeated this Sunday across the country. It is estimated that more than 200 activists were arrested, according to independent reports. The police also arrested Eliecer Avila, the leader of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement, and warned him that they would not allow the annual convention of his organization, planned for 14 January, to be held.

In Havana, the Ladies in White marched as they do every Sunday on Fifth Avenue, in the west of the capital city, accompanied on this occasion by two dozen activists. At the end of the pilgrimage they were violently arrested, according to testimony from witnesses at the scene. Continue reading

Number Of Political Arrests In Cuba Doubles From Dec. 2014 / 14ymedio

A member of the Ladies in White is arrested by police on Thursday, 10 December 10, in Havana. (Photo EFE)

A member of the Ladies in White is arrested by police on Thursday, 10 December 10, in Havana. (Photo EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 January 2015 — The number of political arrests in the month of December in Cuba was almost twice that of December 2014, from 489 increasing to 930, according to the monthly report issued by the Cuban the National Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN).

The number represents a significant decrease from November, when there were at least 1,447 arrests. However, that figure was the highest in years, according to information from the CCDHRN, which reported December was the third worst month of the year, after the two months preceding it (there were 1,093 political arrests in October).

The CCDHRN is particularly concerned because five former political prisoners – released as a part of the negotiations between the Cuban and United States governments that led to the reestablishment of relations – were newly arrested and being held in high security prisons. These prisoners are

Wilfredo Parada Milian, Jorge Ramirez Calderon, Carlos Manuel Figueroa, Aracelio Ribeaux Noa and Vladimir Morera Bacallao, who was on a hunger strike between 9 October and the end of the year. The five have been imprisoned in “rigged processes without due process,” according to the organization led by Elizardo Sanchez.

Once again, the groups most affected by repression, the report denounced, are the Ladies in White and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), who “apart from physical violence and all kinds of humiliations” suffered “acts of vandalism and the extrajudicial confiscation of toys intended to be distributed to poor children, computers, cellphones and other work tools acquired legally, as well as cash taken from many of the opponents who were arrested.”

The CCDHRN expressed despair because despite the expectations created by the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US, “political repression increased steadily throughout 2015.” In addition, the report denounced that poverty has continued to grow, which has motivated, in the opinion of the organization, the migratory crisis of those “trying to escape Cuba by any means, including illegal emigration at the price of human suffering.”

Jose Daniel Ferrer Barred from Havana and Warned He Could Return to Prison / 14ymedio

Jose Daniel Ferrer, executive secretary of UNPACU.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, executive secretary of UNPACU.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 December 2015 — The leader of the National Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, was deported to Santiago de Cuba by order of a Havana judge who warned him that he could return to prison to serve his sentence (25 years) if tried to leave his province again. The opponent has been on parole since 2011, the year he was released, after being convicted during the Black Spring of 2003.

Ferrer was arrested Thursday morning, the 17th, at the headquarters of the organization in the capital and taken to the police station on Acosta street.  Continue reading

State Security is Outside 14ymedio’s Newsroom / 14ymedio

A member of the Ladies in White is arrested in 10 December 2015 by the Political Police in Havana (EFE)

A member of the Ladies in White is arrested in 10 December 2015 by the Political Police in Havana (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 December 2015 – State Security agents who introduced themselves as members of counterintelligence are outside 14ymedio’s newsroom right now to keep our reporters from covering the events of Human Rights Day, celebrated this Thursday.

Several neighbors sounded the alert when, from the early hours of the morning, they saw two men sitting on the stairs that lead to the 14th floor, where the newsroom is located. The subjects, dressed in civilian clothes with earpieces in their right ears, have stayed there since dawn, controlling everyone who ascends or descends the last floor of the building. Continue reading

Searches And Arrests On The Eve Of Human Rights Day / 14ymedio

Ladies in White arrested in Havana on Human Rights Day 2014.

Ladies in White arrested in Havana on Human Rights Day 2014.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 December 2015 – In the morning hours on Wednesday, the political police undertook a thorough search of the Patriot Union of Cuba (UNPACU) headquarters in the Playa district of Havana. A portable computer and other belongings were seized, a few hours before the start of activities for Human Rights Day.

The owner of the home and activist of the organization, Arcelio Rafael Molina, told 14ymedio that “at approximately 7 in the morning the police started knocking” on his door and showed him a search warrant. After taking the laptop, “a piece of equipment to improve the wifi signal, that we use to send email,” and printed documents, “they did not leave a list of the seized items,” the homeowner said.

Molina is sure they took the signed copies of “the complaints that had been filed with the national leadership of the Police and other authorities, regarding a similar search,” last October. Continue reading

Police Raid UNPACU’s Children’s Party / 14ymedio

The house in Palma Soriano where police raided UNPACU’s children’s party on Sunday. (Twitter)

The house in Palma Soriano where police raided UNPACU’s children’s party on Sunday. (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 December 2015 – Police officers raided a house in Palma Soriano in the city of Santiago this Sunday, where the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) was holding a children’s party. At the time of the assault there were “nearly 40 children” in the house, according to José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the dissident organization.

However, the activist Yusmila Reyna confirmed that the children’s party continues, “despite the assault by specially armed troops.” According to the independent journalist, the residents of Palma Soriano “are losing their fear” and several neighbors approached the house to show their solidarity.

Like every Sunday, dozens of dissidents were arrested in different parts of the country. UNPACU said that at least 140 of is members were detained in the East.

In Havana, the Ladies in White walked down Fifth Avenue in Miramar, and met at Gandhi Park with other activists. They were under a strict police cordon before being arrested and taken to detention centers, according to regime opponent Angel Moya.

In its latest report, the dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) reported 1,447 political arrests during the month of November, the highest in years, according to the organization.

Cuban Human Rights Group Denounces Record Number Of Political Arrests In November / EFE (Via 14ymedio)

Ladies in White and activists gathered at Gandhi Park. (Angel Moya)

Ladies in White and activists gathered at Gandhi Park. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 3 December 2015 — The dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) reported Thursday that there were at least 1,447 political arrests in Cuba in November, the highest figure this year says opposition group says.

The monthly report issued by this organization, led by activist Elizardo Sanchez said that the repressive activity has been “remarkable,” especially against the women’s opposition group The Ladies in White, and those who “dare to accompany them” every Sunday on their usual walk. Continue reading

More Than 250 Activists Arrested Sunday / 14ymedio

Ladies in White during their traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue in Havana. The banner shows Laura Pollán, a co-founder of the organization whose death has never been adequately explained (Angel Moya)

Ladies in White during their traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue in Havana. The banner shows Laura Pollán, a co-founder of the organization whose death has never been adequately explained (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 29 November 2015 — The number of activists arrested this Sunday exceeded 250 people across the island, as several sources from the Cuban opposition confirmed to this newspaper. The largest number of arrests occurred in the east of the country, where dozens of members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) tried to reach the Sanctuary of Cobre and were intercepted on the way.

In Havana, before the traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue, 38 Ladies in White and 45 activists from various movements gathered at Gandhi Park, along with at least a score of foreign visitors, according to several witnesses at the scene and as later confirmed to this newspaper by the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque.

At the conclusion of the walk, the activists were surrounded by police and shock troops in civilian dress who forced them onto several buses. UNPACU member Zaqueo Baez also denounced an arrest with violence by the police. As usual every Sunday, opponents were taken to detention centers. In the afternoon they began to be released.

In the town of Colón, Matanzas, freelance reporter Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported a strong police operation around the parish where eight Ladies in White attended the Mass, but said no arrests were made.

Three Activists Arrested During Visit of Pope Francis Are Released / 14ymedio

Activists arrested during Pope Francis’s Mass in the Plaza of the Revolution (frame of a video)

Activists arrested during Pope Francis’s Mass in the Plaza of the Revolution (frame of a video)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 November 2015 – This Monday afternoon the three activists arrested during Pope Francis’s visit were released. Zaqueo Baez Guerrero and Ismael Bonet, members of the Patriot Union of Cuba (UNPACU), and the Lady in White Maria Josefa Acon Sardina, were released pending trial as corroborated by 14ymedio in a telephone call from one of those released.

For nearly 50 days, the three dissidents had been held at the police station known as 100 y Aldabó in Havana, for approaching the bBishop of Rome on his arrival at the Plaza of the Revolution in the capital, on 20 September.

Within hours of the arrest, Baez managed to communicate with the leader of his organization, Jose Daniel Ferrer, who told the press: “Zaqueo told me that he managed to make it to where the Pope was and to tell him the truth and to shout ‘Freedom!’.”

During the first days of imprisonment, two of the regime opponents went on a hunger strike, but later they ceased to fast. UNPACU maintained a strong campaign for their release under the slogan “The three who reached the Pope,” which included marches in the east and other cities in the country.

The activists were charged with the offenses of assault, disrespect, public disorder and resisting arrest, according to what was detailed by family members who were able to visit them during their confinement.

More Than 100 arrested in Havana and Oriente / 14ymedio

The Ladies in White marching down 5th Avenue. (Angel Juan Moya)

The Ladies in White marching down 5th Avenue. (Angel Juan Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 1 November 2015 – This Sunday was marked throughout the country by dozens of arrests, particularly against members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and the Ladies in White. The arrests began in the early hours in the Oriente (in eastern Cuba), where 91 activists were intercepted trying to reach the sanctuary of El Cobre.

The leader of the UNPACU, Jose Daniel Ferrer, was arrested along with 36 other dissidents of his organization at the checkpoint known as the Pajuin, on the outskirts of the Santiago capital to prevent them from reaching the church dedicated to the patron saint of Cuba. Hours later this newspaper was able to confirm that all those arrested had been released.

We have gone “without hiding ourselves,” said Ferrar to 14ymedio. The former prisoner of the 2003 Black Spring said that “in the five eastern provinces a total of 91 people were detained, all members UNPACU.”

In Havana, about 51 Ladies in White and 29 other activists managed to gather outside Santa Rita parish, before undertaking their traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue. Then, opponents gathered at Gandhi park to take stock of the week.

After the meeting and as they headed toward Third Street, a police operation was waiting for the activists who were arrested and taken to detention centers outside the capital. They were then being released.

‘El Sexto’ Marches with the Ladies in White This Sunday / 14ymedio

The artist Danilo Maldonado, ‘El Sexto,’ marched with the Ladies in White this Sunday (Photo Angel Moya)

The artist Danilo Maldonado, ‘El Sexto,’ (the tallest person in the photo) marched with the Ladies in White this Sunday (Photo Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 October 2016 — The artist Danilo Maldonado, ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), joined 48 Ladies in White during their traditional walk down Fifth Avenue in Havana this Sunday. Released last week after ten months in prison, the graffiti artist accompanied the women and about twenty activists who gathered outside after mass at Santa Rita Church.

Also participating in the march were Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), along with the families of the three activists arrested while trying to approach Pope Francis during his visit to Cuba. The regime opponents Zaqueo Baez, Ismael Boris Reñi and the Lady in White Maria Josefa Acon are still being detained, after having been arrested on 20 September at the Mass in the Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

In the east of the country, UNPACU reported more than 80 arrests today to prevent individuals from reaching the Sanctuary del Cobre. In Havana, after the march, more than 50 Ladies in White and activists were arrested.

Another Sunday of Repression of Activists Throughout the Country / 14ymedio

The Ladies in White on their walk this Sunday in Havana (photo Juan Angel Moya)

The Ladies in White on their walk this Sunday in Havana (photo Juan Angel Moya)

14ymedio, Havana, 12 October 2015 – A new round of repression against activists was experienced in Cuba this Sunday. The arrests began in the early morning hours in order to prevent dissidents from participating in the march on Fifth Avenue in Havana, which on this occasion included a tribute to the late leader of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan.

The march through this downtown street was joined by 57 Ladies in White and 21 human rights activists, in addition to the mother and grandmother of artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto. The walk began in Gandhi Park, next to the Santa Rita Parish in the Miramar neighborhood. Later several dissidents were arrested, among them the blogger Lia Villares and dissident Antonio G. Rodiles.

Activist Arcelio Molina Leyva reported to 14ymedio that “the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) was raided, and they stole everything they could,” besides detaining “those who were there.” The dissident detailed that among those arrested were Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Ovidio Martin Castellanos and Yriade Hernandez Aguilera. Continue reading