Activist Carolina Barrero Left Cuba, Forced into Exile by Threats of the Regime

Barrero is a graduate in Art History of the University of Havana and worked at the Wifredo Lam Center for Contemporary Art. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 4 February 2022 — On Thursday, Carolina Barrero became the latest case, to date, of an activist forced into exile. The art historian traveled on Thursday to Madrid after being informed by State Security that she had 48 hours to abandon the Island, according to her own account on Facebook.

The activist was arrested on the 31st, when she protested in front of the Municipal Tribunal of Diez de Octubre in Havana where the trial against 33 July 11th protesters accused of sedition was being held. “They let me know that, if I did not comply, the mothers who were arrested and the activists that accompanied them would be charged with public disorder,” she explained in reference to the hours during which she was detained.

“For some, it would be the beginning of the process of investigation (instrucción), a warning to try and bend their will. For others, it would be the end. Facing a five-year sentence and awaiting trial for her participation in the July 11th protests, Daniela Rojo, would go to Guatao prison, from where it would be difficult for her to leave before completing her sentence. This time, I knew they’d do it,” she said.

Furthermore, the historian who was involved in arranging for the release of Maykel Castillo Osorbo, who is suffering health problems in the Kilo 5 y Medio prison in Pinar del Río, confirmed that the viability of his release was conditioned on Barrero’s forced exile.

“I left with the certainty that I will return. The impossibility of returning to Cuba must not ever be an option, not in reality nor in thought,” she states.

Barrero is a resident of Spain, but in the last two years has remained in Cuba, actively participating in the San Isidro Movement led by Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, which has resulted in her being arrested on numerous occasions and summoned by State Security.

At the beginning of 2021, the political police warned her that she could be committing the crime of “clandestine printing,” for which they urged her to return to Spain.

“State Security accuses me for this printed image. It is a Martí made of stars, with traces of tenderness and of dreaminess. That drawing is not in the least bit offensive, it is full of respect and hope,” she said with regard to the events for which she almost had to abandon Cuba.

The case was filed a month later, but Barrero has not abandoned her activism which finally led her to opt for forced exile, adding to a list that does not stop growing.

Among the most recent cases are artist Hamlet Lavastida and poet Katherine Bisquet, in Poland since September, Youtuber Ruhama Fernández, in Miami since October, playwright Yunior García Aguilera in Madrid, rapper Denís Solis in Serbia since November and journalists Esteban Rodríguez and Héctor Luis Valdés, in El Salvador since January, where they traveled as the first leg of an intended trip to the U.S. via Mexico.

“For the Cuba that suffers, for mothers who suffer, the first word, all my actions, the profound conviction that justice and truth will prevail,” Barrero ended her last message, published while she flew into exile in Spain.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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