14ymedio, Havana, 23 October 2017 — The authorities prevented Yoandy Izquierdo Toledo, a member of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC), from boarding a plane to Spain on Saturday to attend a conference at the European University of Valencia, as confirmed by the activist himself to 14ymedio.
Izquierdo, who was also going to participate in a youth workshop, traveled from Pinar del Rio José Martí International Airport Terminal Three in Havana where he checked into his flight to Madrid with Air Europa.
“After I checked the suitcase and at the moment of immigration, the official asked me to step back,” says Izquierdo. Immediately an officer appeared and asked him to accompany her to a nearby office.
The official assured him that he was prohibited from leaving the country but could not give him any reason why. The officer cancelled Izquierdo’s boarding pass and urged him to pick up his suitcase.
Two hours after the incident, about nine o’clock in the evening, the Customs employees handed over his luggage. This Monday, Izquierdo plans to visit the offices of the Directorate of Immigration and Immigration (DIE) in the city of Pinar del Río.
“I am surprised by this violation of my right to travel because I have never had nor do I have a pending legal case,” he explains, referring to one reason Cubans are forbidden to travel.
A note published on the CEC’s Facebook page ensures that the denial of travel against Izquierdo adds to “systematic and arbitrary harassment against the magazine and Center for Coexistence Studies, a laboratory of thought and proposals for Cuba.”
The practice of preventing activists and opponents from traveling outside the country has become more frequent in the last year despite the flexibility to leave and enter the island that came into force in January of 2013 with the Migration Reform.
Dissidents, journalists and independent lawyers have reported in recent months that they appear as “regulated” in the DIE database to prevent them from participating in events abroad.
Last Tuesday, reporter and independent writer Víctor Manuel Domínguez was prohibited from boarding a flight from Havana to Brussels where he was to participate in an event on foreign investment in Cuba.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) denounced last September that at least half a dozen activists “were prevented from traveling abroad to participate in conferences or training activities.”