14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2016 – The reason put forth by the Cuban authorities to block travel to Colombia by opposition members called to be observers in the plebiscite on the that country’s agreement with the FARC, is “national security,” because “the president is already there on a visit.”
This is what a security agent, who identified himself as Ronald, told the activist Agustin Lopez, brother of Ada Lopez. The opponent described his arrest to 14ymedio, after he was detained at three in the afternoon on Monday when asking the police surrounding his house why they were there. He was released at 6:40 PM on Tuesday.
His sister, the activist Ada Lopez, had denounced a police operation around her house in Havana from the early hours of Tuesday, to keep her from going to the airport. She was due to travel to Colombia that afternoon to also participate as an observer in the plebiscite for peace that is to be held on Sunday, 2 October, but she was arrested when she left for the airport.
Ada Lopez, who is also a member of the independent library movement, received an invitation to visit Colombia as a part of the Otro18 project (Another 2018) an initiative focused on promoting new laws regarding elections, free association and political parties in Cuba.
“I was leaving my house with a suitcase to try to get to the airport,” explained Lopez, adding that the independent journalist Arturo Rojas Rodriguez, who was scheduled to travel with her, “was arrested yesterday, taken to a police station in the Capri neighborhood and subsequently transferred to a station in Cotorro, to prevent him from traveling.”
Hours later, Ada Lopez’s husband, Osmany Díaz Cristo, reported that she had been arrested the moment she left her house headed to the José Martí Airport’s Terminal Three in Havana. “The suitcase she was traveling with was thrown to the ground and she was dragged to the police car. Right now she is at the police station in Regla,” across the bay from Old Havana, he added.
Both activists were invited to participate in the plebiscite by the Election Observation Mission of Colombia (MOE), as confirmed by 14ymedio through the opponent Manuel Cuesta Morua, one of the main promoters of Otro18.
Last Sunday, Cuban President Raul Castro traveled to the city of Cartagena de Indias for the signing ceremony of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP.