14ymedio, Havana, September 8, 2019 — An attempt to participate in the protest organized for this Sunday ended with ten activists arrested in Santiago de Cuba, among them the opposition figure José Daniel Ferrer. The dissidents were violently arrested outside the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), as residents of the area reported to 14ymedio.
Ten people left the building around 10 in the morning, the hour scheduled to begin the protest organized by Unpacu and Cuba Decides in response “to the increase of repression against the peaceful opposition and the citizenry,” but outside the place a strong police operation prevented them from passing.
“There are black berets and a strong police operation in the entire neighborhood,” a neighbor who lives a few meters from the Unpacu headquarters, who preferred to remain anonymous, detailed to this newspaper. “They went down and they didn’t last even a minute on the street because they were on top of them,” he adds. Among the arrested was José Daniel Ferrer Cantillo, 16, son of the opposition leader.
José Daniel Ferrer, Carlos Amel Oliva Torres and dozens of #UNPACU activists and advocates of #CubaDecide in several provinces of the country arrested. Zaqueo Báez disappeared in Havana. The dictatorship attacks demonstrators.
A little earlier Ferrer, an ex-prisoner of the Black Spring had warned on social media of the possibility of being arrested. “If we don’t publish or respond to your messages, it’s because we are incommunicado. And at the latest at 10 AM, we will be arrested,” he wrote.
Ferrer also explained that the whereabouts since Saturday of at least 30 activists from the organization are unknown. “We don’t know where they have them. The families don’t know their whereabouts. There will be more arrests as 10 AM gets closer. At that time we will go out to the streets in many places,” he announced.
For her part, the activist Katerine Mojena reported via Twitter the siege around her house. “I’m surrounded by soldiers. Alone in a house with my two little ones. They’re threatening to assault my home. That’s what the dictatorship fears, a mother who confronts them peacefully,” she wrote.
Other members of Unpacu also reported operations around their homes, threats, and suspension of their cellphone service since long before the scheduled time to carry out the protest, on the day dedicated to the Patron of Cuba, the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre.
The organizers had called for going out to the streets with a sunflower or a yellow article of clothing, symbols of Chachita, as the Charity of El Cobre is popularly known. This Sunday also coincides with the eve of the holding in Havana of the Joint Council of the Cuban Government and the European Union, which the high representative of foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, will attend.
In Miami, Rosa María Payá, leader of the Cuba Decides project, participated in a meeting in the Shrine of the Charity of El Cobre and alluded to the future of the Island, which she defined as “beautiful [because] it’s a Cuba that we are creating among all of us, not just activists and opposition figures,” the dissident told a group of people gathered outside the church.
#Demonstration massive concentration of Cubans at the Shrine of Charity in support of #CubaDecide and #UNPACU pic.twitter.com/zb18D19D8K
— FNCA (@voiceofcanf) September 8, 2019
The two organizations who called for the protest also expressed their solidarity with the Ladies in White movement, independent journalists and artists, defenders of religious liberties, LGBTI activists, and all peaceful organizations.
Both Unpacu and Cuba Decides asked for an end to police abuses, prison sentences for political motives, violations of the right to enter or leave the country, bad treatment and torture in prisons, police raids on homes of dissidents, and violent arrests, in addition to the harassment of activists.
Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera
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