14ymedio, Havana, 27 August 2016 – Regime opponent Julio Aleago reported to this newspaper that the police detained several activists on Saturday morning to keep them from attending a meeting of volunteer observers associated with the Candidates for Change platform. The meeting was to be held at the home of Juan Moreno in Havana’s Vedado district, but the host was taken to the Aguilera police station in the 10 de Octubre municipality.
The activist Ricardo Marlene was prevented from leaving his home in San Miguel del Padron, where he now remains under house arrest. The whereabouts of the other participants are unknown.
Julio Aleaga, executive secretary of the electoral platform Candidates for Change, told this newspaper that the arrest of Moreno was made by a State Security officer identified by the alias Diego. “We will not allow” the meeting to take place, “Diego” had warned last Tuesday.
Among the tasks of the volunteer observers are to gather the concerns of the population and present them in the district accountability assemblies – meetings where elected officials report back to citizens on the achievements of government programs and promises – and to make these concerns available to the elected delegates through the offices instituted for that purpose.
The initiative is an effort by Candidates for Change with the aim of overseeing the government on behalf of the citizens and questioning public policy at the district, people’s council and municipality levels.
At present Candidates for Change is discussing the appointment of Party Central Committee member and National Assembly Deputy Reinaldo Garcia Zapata to the position of governor of Havana. He has been brought in from the province of Santiago de Cuba to replace the recently removed Marta Romero.
The appointment was a proposal presented last Saturday by Agustin de la Pena, from the Candidacy Commission, with the concurrence of the Vice President of the National Assembly, Ana Maria Mari Machado, and of General Ulises Rosales del Toro.
Aleaga notes that there is no protocol in the law for citizens to reject these appointments, which are not the result of an electoral process. The objection lodged by Candidates for Change has received no institutional response.
The volunteer observers have representatives in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Sancti Spiritus, Granma, Cienfuegos and Havana. Its members plan to work intensively on the electoral process that will begin in late 2017. They will focus on the electoral registers, the area assemblies where direct proposals from the population are put forward, and on verifying election results at polling stations.
Aleaga believes that the intent to repress this meeting is “an attempt to prevent the strengthening of the internal structures of this movement whose objective is to use the government’s electoral system to promote the transition to democracy.”