14ymedio, 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.
Other activists were prevented from leaving their homes during police operations, including Zaqueo Báez, who was arrested on two occasions this past week. A similar situation was denounced by Arcelio Rafael Molina, a member of UNPACU, who has been forbidden to leave his home in the municipality of Playa, in Havana, which is also the headquarters for the western branch of the organization.
The group denounced as well that, this morning, a group of 15 of its members in Havana’s Parque Central (Central Park) was “surrounded by political police agents who threatened them with arrest if they created any demonstration.”
In the eastern part of the country, the bulk of arrests are concentrated in Santiago de Cuba with 147 detained activists, plus 28 in Guantanamo, 16 in Las Tunas and 6 in Holguín.
UNPACU is the largest opposition organization in the country, and it has shown public support for the visit of Barack Obama who will arrive on the island this Sunday. In its communiqués UNPACU has also warned about a possible increase in repression during the president’s stay in Cuba.
Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez