UNPACU Activists Denounce Raid On Their Homes / 14ymedio

UNPACU Activists marching in protest. “We all march, for the release of political prisoners, for fair wages, for freedom for the Cuban people, for democracy, for decent housing, for respect for human rights. (UNPACU Archive)
UNPACU Activists marching in protest. “We all march, for the release of political prisoners, for fair wages, for freedom for the Cuban people, for democracy, for decent housing, for respect for human rights. (UNPACU Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 May 2016 – This week has been one of surprises for several activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who denounce that they have been victims of a raid on their homes and the confiscation of their belongings. The dissidents detailed that the political police raided three houses in the city of Santiago de Cuba on Saturday morning and a fourth in Havana on Wednesday.

Ermito Morán Sánchez, an UNPACU activist, confirmed to14ymedio that they “raided the homes of Carlos Oliva Torres, Yusmila Reyna and Karel Reyes where they seized printed materials, a camera, and other items in response to our activities to disseminate the reality of this country among the people.” Continue reading “UNPACU Activists Denounce Raid On Their Homes / 14ymedio”

Jose Daniel Ferrer Gets a Passport / 14ymedio

José Daniel Ferrer with his passport with a visa for the US. (14ymedio)
José Daniel Ferrer with his passport with a visa for the US. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 18 May 2016 – Government opponent José Daniel Ferrer received his new passport on Tuesday, and will be able to travel outside the country for the first time. The former prisoner of the Black Spring has permission to leave the country only once, according to information from Cuban authorities. During his trip he plans to visit the United States and several European countries, according to what he told this newspaper.

The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) will fly to Florida on Wednesday, where his plans to visit his mother and brother, Luis Enrique Ferrer, also a former political prisoner. “I want to see many good Cubans, especially those who in one way or another support the cause of the democratization of Cuba. I want to hug them,” he said.

Ferrer also plans to go to the Swiss city of Geneva, to appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council, and then he will visit Spain. “If I have the time I want to go to Poland, to the Gdansk shipyards, where the great demonstrations of the Solidarity Union took place,” he told 14ymedio.

Earlier this year, Ferrer received, along with other former political prisoners, the Homo Homini Prize awarded each year by the Czech NGO People in Need, for his contribution “in an outstanding way to the promotion of human rights, democracy and the non-violent resolution of political conflicts.” None of the award recipients were able to attend to the award ceremony because of travel restrictions imposed on them by the Cuban government.

Patriotic Union Of Cuba Launches A Political Program / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

UNPACU leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer, believes that a new document integrates the entire opposition. (EFE)
UNPACU leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer, believes that a new document integrates the entire opposition. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 5 May 2016 — Since early this month, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) have begun to disseminate the document Minimum Program and Projections, which outlines guidelines for the actions of the opposition organization, forms of struggle, and a proposal for the country ‘s future.

With the publication of this text, which summarizes the experience of the nation’s largest group of activists, UNPACU is demonstrates maturity and responds to criticisms about the Cuban opposition’s lack of a platform or agenda.

In nine pages, the program underlines the commitment of the opposition to use peaceful means to reach its goals. It also clarifies that the proposals contained are addressed to those living in the country and in the diaspora and proclaims the need for “a free, democratic, just, fraternal and prosperous Cuba.” Continue reading “Patriotic Union Of Cuba Launches A Political Program / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Obama Praises The Courage Of Dissidents In An Unprecedented Meeting / EFE, 14ymedio

US President Barack Obama meets with representatives of Cuban independent civil society in Havana (14ymedio)
US President Barack Obama meets with representatives of Cuban independent civil society in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE (14ymedio), Havana, 22 March 2016 — The president of the United States, Barack Obama, praised the “courage” of the dissidents and representatives of independent civil society Cuba at the beginning of the meeting held with them at the headquarters of the United States Embassy in Havana this Tuesday.

In brief remarks, Obama stressed that one of the objectives of normalization with Cuba is to be able to “hear directly” from the Cuban people and to ensure that they also “have a voice” in the new stage initiated between the two countries.

The meeting with president of the United States was attended by Berta Soler (Ladies in White), Miriam Celaya (activist and freelance journalist), Manuel Cuesta Morua (Progressive Arc), Miriam Leiva (freelance journalist), Guillermo Fariñas (former political prisoner and 2010 Sakharov Human Rights Prize recipient), Antonio G. Rodiles (State of SATS), Elizardo Sánchez (Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation), Nelson Matute (Afro-ACLU president, defense organization for black people discriminated against because of their sexual orientation), Laritza Diversent (Cubalex), Dagoberto Valdes (Coexistence ), Jose Daniel Ferrer (UNPACU), Yunier Angel Remon (rapper The Critic ) and Juana Mora Cedeño (Rainbow Project).

“It often requires great courage to be active in civil life here in Cuba,” Obama said, adding he said.

“There are people here who have been arrested. Some in the past and others very recently,” stressed the president.

On Monday, at least a dozen dissidents were arrested in Cuba, according to the dissident Cuban National Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), which also counts nearly 90 political prisoners on the island.

Participating in the meeting with Obama were government opponents who support the new US policy toward the island, as is the case of Cuesta Morua, and others who criticize it, as is the case with Berta Soler of the Ladies in White.

More than 200 Activists Arrested Throughout the Island / 14ymedio

Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). (14ymedio)
Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 March 2016 — The arrests of 209 activists is the final result this Saturday, a day on which several opposition groups demanded the release of political prisoners. The majority of those arrested are members of Unión Patriótica de Cuba (Cuban Patriotic Union, UNPACU), according to a statement to 14yMedio by its general coordinator, José Daniel Ferrer.

The bulk of the arrests took place in the eastern provinces and in the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud (the Island of Youth, formerly the Island of Pines) when the activists demanded publicly “the release of political prisoners, respect for human rights and the end of repression against the Ladies in White,” stated the activist formerly imprisoned following Cuba’s Black Spring. Continue reading “More than 200 Activists Arrested Throughout the Island / 14ymedio”

Four Cuban Political Prisoners Will Be Released To The United States / 14ymedio

The trade unionist Vladimir Morera Bacallao. (Source: Twitter)
The trade unionist Vladimir Morera Bacallao. (Source: Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 15 March 2016 – Four Cuban political prisoners will leave this week for the United States, a decision that the Cuban government has taken a few days before President Barack Obama’s arrival on the island. The departure of the opponents is the result of efforts undertaken by the Catholic Church, as reported to 14ymedio by relatives of the inmates.

Opponents Vladimir Morera Bacallao, Jorge Ramírez Calderón, Niorvis Rivera Guerra and Aracelio Riveaux Noa were transferred last week to the hospital of the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, from where they will depart on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Continue reading “Four Cuban Political Prisoners Will Be Released To The United States / 14ymedio”

Obama Advisor Ben Rhodes Meets With Cuban Activists In Miami, During A “Historic” Meeting / 14ymedio, Marion Penton

 President Barack Obama’s key advisor on Cuba policy, Ben Rhodes, during his meeting with representatives of civil society on the island. (14ymedio)
President Barack Obama’s key advisor on Cuba policy, Ben Rhodes, during his meeting with representatives of civil society on the island. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 11 March 2016 – President Obama’s top advisor on US policy toward Cuba, Ben Rhodes, met this Friday with representatives from the island’s Civil Society and exile organizations. The meeting took place in Miami, concluding with a chat with Cuban-Americans that the official held at Miami Dade College.

The purpose of the meeting, which lasted several hours behind closed doors, was for Rhodes to listen to the aspirations and opinions of those groups in advance of President Obama’s visit to the island. Several of those attending agreed that the meeting was an “historic moment.” Continue reading “Obama Advisor Ben Rhodes Meets With Cuban Activists In Miami, During A “Historic” Meeting / 14ymedio, Marion Penton”

Campaign #Otro18 Holds First Forum in Cuba / 14ymedio

The lawyers Amado Calixto, Wilfredo Vallin and Rolando Ferrer during the press conference for the #Otro18 campaign. (14ymedio)
The lawyers Amado Calixto, Wilfredo Vallin and Rolando Ferrer during the press conference for the #Otro18 campaign. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2016 – On Wednesday, the Civic Platform #Otro18 (Another 2018) held a press conference and its first forum in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana under the theme “For Freedom of Choice” with twenty people in attendance. The initiative promotes several proposals to influence the elections in 2018 for a democratic opening in the country.

Several independent media and foreign correspondents based on the island attended the forum from 9:35 in the morning, to the press conference organized at the home of activist Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna, coordinator of the Citizens Committee for Racial Integration. The activist Boris González Arena presented the initiative and gave the floor to lawyers Amado Calixto, Wilfredo Vallin and Rolando Ferrer, who explained the legal details on which the project is based. Continue reading “Campaign #Otro18 Holds First Forum in Cuba / 14ymedio”

Activist Sirley Avila Arrives In Miami For Medical Treatment / 14ymedio

Activist Sirley Avila. (Ernesto Garcia Diaz)
Activist Sirley Avila. (Ernesto Garcia Diaz)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2016 — Sirley Avila Leon arrived in Miami on Tuesday for medical treatment and to try to regain her mobility. The activist, 56, was the victim of a brutal assault last May, which has left serious wounds and forced her to use a wheelchair.

The trip has been organized by the Cuban Democratic Directorate in coordination with the Commission of Municipal Women of Miami. The patient will be treated at the Miami Medical Team Foundation, as reported to14ymedio by activist Agustín López Canino.

Sirley Avila became known when, as a delegate to the People’s Power from the village of Limones in the municipality of Colombia, Las Tunas, she staged a protest in 2013 to demand the reopening of a small school in her district that the local authorities had closed because of the small number of students.

Disagreements with the local authorities grew louder and the delegate was sanctioned. From that moment, she strongly denounced the harassment by State Security and collaborated with several opposition groups, including the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

On 24 May 2015, after a discussion with Osmany Carrion, a worker on her farm, Avila was attacked with a machete, which caused her the loss of a hand, a broken collarbone and problems in both legs, among other injuries. After several weeks in the hospital, Avila was discharged in a delicate state.

José Daniel Ferrer Arrested To Prevent His Participation In Forum #Otro18 / 14ymedio

Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba. (14ymedio)
Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 8 March 2016 — According to various opposition sources, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, was arrested Tuesday in Havana with two other activists. The former prisoner of the Black Spring was going to to participate on Wednesday in a forum convened for the Otro 18 (Another 2018) campaign, that seeks an electoral solution of the current system.

Ferrer had been in the capital since last Sunday and at the time of his arrest was with the dissident Rafael Alba Macias, and Iliana Hernandez, a member of the group Somos+ (We Are More), who were also arrested. The latter, who resides abroad, was was released five hours later, as confirmed by this newspaper. Continue reading “José Daniel Ferrer Arrested To Prevent His Participation In Forum #Otro18 / 14ymedio”

Tribute To Orlando Zapata Leads To Dozens Of Arrests / 14ymedio

Activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba marched this Sunday despite the arrests. (UNPACU)
Activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba marched this Sunday despite the arrests. (UNPACU)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 February 2016 — The events organized on Sunday to remember the late activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo resulted in dozens of opposition members arrested throughout the country. Several civil society organizations had also called for a tribute to honor the four Brothers to the Rescue pilots on the twentieth anniversary of their death at the hands of the Cuban Air Force.

Zapata Tamayo died on 23 February 2010 after a prolonged hunger strike to protest his prison conditions. The death of the dissident led to a wave of indignation in Cuban civil society and strong pronouncements from international bodies devoted to respect for human rights. Continue reading “Tribute To Orlando Zapata Leads To Dozens Of Arrests / 14ymedio”

Ladies In White Pay Tribute To Laura Pollan / 14ymedio

Ladies in White paid tribute to the 68th anniversary of the birth of Laura Pollan. (14ymedio)
Ladies in White paid tribute to the 68th anniversary of the birth of Laura Pollan. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 February 2016 — Several groups of Cuban activists paid tribute on Sunday to Laura Pollan, the late leader of the Ladies in White. The weekly pilgrimage of the human rights movement along 5th Avenue in Havana honored the 68th anniversary of the birth of the late founder and leading figure in the women’s group.

At least 37 women made it to the parish of Santa Rita, in the neighborhood of Miramar and joined in the march. Another 15 activists from various organizations were also represented at the site to support the opposition, as confirmed by this newspaper. Continue reading “Ladies In White Pay Tribute To Laura Pollan / 14ymedio”

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

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