14ymedio, Havana, September 11, 2019 — Dozens of activists arrested this weekend during the framework of Federica Mogerini’s visit to Cuba continue to be detained in bad conditions, their families report. This Monday night, Katerine Mojena, wife of the Carlos Amel Oliva, the youth director of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) , reported that he as well as the leader of the opposition organization, José Daniel Ferrer, were in the cells of the first police unit of Santiago de Cuba.
“No washing and in the same clothes from two days ago. With very little and disgusting water and food. They’ll be there for 5 days until it’s decided if they’ll go to prison or not,” reported Mojena on social media. Mojena, also an activist, who has seen the authorities arrest her husband twice in four days, has rejected the position of the European Union in its relations with Cuba, even more so as the arrests made coincided with the visit of its chief of diplomacy. Several of the detainees have already been released with fines from 500 to 1,500 CUP.
“Outrageous that the EU negotiates with a dictatorship that mobilizes its soldiers to stop its citizens from marching with a sunflower in hand,” lamented the opposition figure on Twitter.
In a video filmed by the Unpacu leader, José Daniel Ferrer, Oliva is seen walking on a street with a sunflower in his hand and a military vehicle abruptly arrives with several people in uniform. The live social media transmission was cut off after that.
According to what Mojena told this newspaper, Ferrer, Amel, Jorge Cervantes, and Carlos Oliva Rivery have all been in detention for 48 hours by now. In the case of Ovidio Martín it’s 72 hours, because he was arrested in a raid carried out on his home on the 7th. There are currently 23 activists who have not been released and it is unknown in which unit the majority is being kept. Additionally, the operation continues, more reinforced in the three homes that make up the headquarters of Unpacu in Altamira.
Ernesto Oliva explained to 14ymedio the circumstances of his arrest and that of his colleagues. “On the 8th, when we were leaving the José María Heredia cell of Unpacu to demonstrate, around six activists. About 10 officials from State Security were near the door and, when we went out, they made a circle to prevent us from reaching the street. There we started to demonstrate and they called for reinforcements.”
According to the activist, who was released within a few hours, some thirty minutes later about twenty more officials arrived, all in plain clothes, in a State truck. “There wasn’t a single one in uniform, neither police nor military, the method was out of the ordinary. The agents in civilian clothes put us in the truck. Some residents said that among them there were even police from the PNR (National Revolutionary Police) in plain clothes. They took us to the old school, Frank País teacher training, which is now a school for cadets, and there they split us up, sat us down at desks, and denied us food and water,” he reviews.
The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), headquartered in Spain, which in recent days has reiterated its petition to the EU to put an end to the Agreement of Political Dialogue and Cooperation with Havana, has called on Mogherini to condemn the arrests.
“You cannot remain silent. While a discussion on human rights is being staged, José Daniel Ferrer, Jorge Cervantes, Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ovidio Martín, Carlos Amel Oliva, and Carlos Oliva Rivery remain detained, all coordinators of the Patriotic Union of Cuba,” it expressed in a statement.
Also against the Agreement is the leftwing activist and ex-diplomat Pedro Campos, who believes that Mogherini “seeks the opening of Castroism to foreign capital and eliminating the internal blockade, to hide the true depths of the EU-Castro agreement,” which, he believes, is “to help the dictatorship economically and to burnish its international image of violators of the human rights of the Cuban people.”
Since the arrival last weekend of the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the threats, arrests, and suspension of cellphone service have multiplied against activists to prevent a peaceful protest planned for Sunday.
Mogherini has made an official visit with an agenda filled with meetings and in which the absence of meetings with the opposition has bothered that sector. If someone was waiting for a shift in the European policy, nothing is further from reality, given that the community block has reiterated its support at the Plaza of the Revolution.
“We are available to the authorities and to the Cuban people to share our experiences and offer financial support,” declared Mogherini this Monday in Havana.
Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera
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