14ymedio, Havana, 14 May 2017 – This Sunday Cuban State Security prevented Yoandy Izquierdo, a member of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC), from boarding a flight to Sweden to participate in the Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF). The car in which the activist was traveling to José Martí International Airport was intercepted by the police, according to Dagoberto Valdés, director of the CEC, speaking with 14ymedio.
The police released him after the plane began its take-off procedures. Izquierdo told this newspaper that State Security justified his brief detention on the grounds that they suspected that “the driver [taking him to the airport] was operating the trip without having the license to do so.”
Izquierdo was detained in the police unit in Los Palacios, a municipality of Pinar del Rio. The vehicle was stopped while driving from the city of Pinar del Rio to the Cuban capital. The driver who drove the car in which Izquierdo traveled was forced to follow a police patrol car until arriving at the station.
Minutes after the detention, Izquierdo was able to make some phone calls to alert others about what was happening and to let them know that his phone might be taken from him at any moment. After talking with several colleagues, they found they could not call his cellphone because it was “off or outside the coverage area.”
Arrests to prevent dissidents from leaving the country are a common practice on the part of State Security. Recently the car carrying the activist Lia Villares was intercepted when she was going to the José Martí International Airport to travel to the United States. An officer forced her to get into a National Revolutionary Police (PNR) patrol and drove her away from the air terminal until her plane took off.
Villares described the “kidnapping” and “forced disappearance” but managed to travel to the United States a day later.
Arrests to prevent dissidents from leaving the country are a common practice on the part of State Security
Previously, other government opponents such as Claudio Fuentes and Ada López have also suffered similar repressive procedures.
The most recent report of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) has denounced this situation. The independent entity reports that Raúl Castro’s government is using “preventive repression in the form of police threats and other systematic intimidating actions” more and more frequently.
“The prohibitions on travel within Cuba or abroad, home searches, arbitrary confiscations of possessions, means of work and money” are among the most frequent practices in the work of State Security against the opposition.
The arrest of Izquierdo is added to the escalating repression against members of the CEC that has intensified in recent months. Several of its promoters have been subject to pressures, warnings and interrogations.
Last January the house of the economist Karina Gálvez was raided by numerous police officers and their personal belongings were retained for weeks. The publisher is being accused of an alleged crime of tax evasion and the police are keeping her house sealed, leaving the family unable to access it.
The Coexistence Studies Center organizes training courses for citizenship and civil society in Cuba. The entity functions independently from the State, the Church and any political group. The magazine of the same name emerged in 2008 and is published bimonthly.