14ymedio, Havana, 17 August 2017 — Three activists from the citizen platform #Otro18 (Another 2018*) were arrested Wednesday when they were on their way to deliver “some suggestions” to the National Electoral Commission in Havana, according the opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa speaking to 14ymedio.
Those detained are Lisbetty Darias González, Marthadela Tamayo and Juan Antonio Madrazo. “I have been trying to locate them since yesterday but I have not been able to find them, I have gone to all the police stations in the city, there are only four places left to visit,” Cuesta Morúa said.
The three detainees are involved in the Citizens Observer of Electoral Processes initiative, which works together with #Otro18 to promote new laws governing elections, the freedom of association, and political parties.
Gonzalez was cited Wednesday to appear at the Zapata and C police station, in Vedado, where according to Cuesta Morúa, he is detained. In the case of Tamayo and Madrazo, they went to the National Electoral Commission, located at 82nd Street between 9th and 11th, to deliver “a text with some suggestions from #Otro18.”
The recommendations were intended to “better regulate the voting process and have more citizen control, more transparency from the study of the law,” but so far it has not been possible to confirm “if they delivered the document,” Cuesta Morúa said.
The arrests have prompted a postponement of a press conference scheduled for Thursday, moving it to next week “depending on how things play out.”
For Cuesta Morúa, this week’s arrests are part of an offensive against independent initiatives that promote changes in the laws through the electoral system.
“#Otro18 candidates are the voice of citizens, not the voice of the state, they are fighting for transparency and propose electoral reforms that are supported by citizens,” the opponent clarifies.
Born in August 2015 from a project of the Progressive Arch and the Democratic Action and Unity Roundtable, the #Otro18 initiative has in recent weeks been the target of a repressive escalation aimed at activists seeking to run for positions as delegates in Popular Power districts, this coming October.
*Translator’s note: Raul Castro has said he will step down as president in February 2018. The election process in Cuba has a local component, but it is tightly controlled by the Communist Party. It is illegal to campaign and there is no popular vote of any kind for the position of president.