Cuban Activist Tomas Nunez Magdariaga Rejects Serums That Keep Him Alive

Tomás Núñez Magdariaga remains in the hospital of Santiago de Cuba and is hardly allowed to receive visits from relatives.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 12 October 2018 — Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) activist Tomás Núñez Magdariaga, on a hunger strike to denounce his sentence of one year in prison, for several days has rejected the serums necessary to keep him alive, according to his brother Óscar Núñez, who visited him on Tuesday.

Núñez Magdariaga is in the prison ward of Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital (Santiago de Cuba), where he was able to see his brother for a few minutes. On the other hand, the authorities did not allow Unpacu activist Yenisey Jiménez to visit.

“I saw him in very bad shape, he said he would not eat if he was not freed and that he is unjustly imprisoned and they were humiliating him,” the brother told 14ymedio on Tuesday. Oscar Núñez is on his way to the capital of the island to take several efforts legal issues related to the case. continue reading

“I’m crazy to get to Havana to go to the prosecutor’s office because in Santiago they told me that Tomás’s file had been sent there and I’m going to look for an answer,” he said. Currently, as he was informed in the hospital, the case was in the hands of the Attorney General of the Republic, who was reviewing it and who could make a decision on the sentence at any time.

The activist was accused of “threatening” an agent of the political police, but the agent later retracted and claimed that he was blackmailed by State Security to accuse Núñez Magdariaga in exchange for a job and housing.

On Wednesday, Yenisei Jiménez, also an Unpacu activist, returned to the hospital with the intention of personally speaking with Núñez Magdariaga, but was not allowed to see him because, as they explained to him, they “could no longer give out any information about the activist.” The nurse in the prison ward informed him that he again refused to be treated by the doctor and put on serums. “He does not want anyone to touch him,” she told Jiménez.

The archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio García Ibáñez, visited the activist last weekend and, according to what Unpacu member Carlos Amel Oliva reported to this newspaper, the archbiship was told that Núñez Magdariaga “would be released in a couple of days because the case [against him] did not hold up.”

“It’s been four days or five days and nothing,” said Amel Oliva.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

UNPACU Activist Pressured by Police to Accuse Jose Daniel Ferrer

Ebert Hidalgo Cruz (right) says he was interrogated four times and threatened by the agents with keeping him in jail. (Video Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 August 2018 – Activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz has been released without any charges, according to a video released Sunday by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) shortly after the dissident was released from prison. Hidalgo was imprisoned on August 3 together with the leader of the organization, José Daniel Ferrer, who is still in prison accused of the attempted murder of a State Security agent.

“They were forcing me to say that José Daniel was guilty, that he had run over the officer with the car,” the activist explained before the camera. He says that he was interrogated four times and that he was threatened by the agents with keeping him prisoner.  “I told them not to pressure me anymore, that I was not going to say anything else,” he said about the agents’ insistence that he confirm that José Daniel’s aggression against the agent was deliberate. continue reading

Hidalgo and Ferrer were arrested after an incident involving the Interior Ministry official, Dainier Suárez Pagán, who was allegedly run over by Ferrer while driving without a driver’s license.

Agent Suárez Pagán is known by the dissidents of Palmarito de Cauto, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, for being violent and attacking the activists. According to the judicial version, Ferrer intended to run over the agent while he was crossing the street, a statement that was denied by the two dissidents shortly before they were arrested.

In the video, Hidalgo explained that he spent six days in the Penal Instruction and Criminal Operations Unit, in the Versalles district (Santiago de Cuba), unable to change clothes and in a cell in terrible conditions, which according to the activist, had hardly any light but had plenty of mosquitoes, rats and cockroaches. He received only a brief visit from his daughter during his prison stay.

Before Hidalgo was released from Micro 9, as the prison where he was held is also known, he was warned that he could not talk at all about the case with relatives.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

What Do Cuban Dissidents Think About Diaz-Canel? / Ivan Garcia

On Monday, 22 March 2016, during his visit to Cuba, President Barack Obama met in the United States Embassy in Havana with a group of Cuban dissidents, among them Manuel Cuesta Morua (to Obama’s left), and the independent journalists Miriam Leiva (to Morua’s left) and Miriam Celaya (to Obama’s right). Source: Cubanet.

Iván García, 30 April 2018 — Manuel Cuesta Morúa, a 55-year-old Afro-Cuban historian of average height and thin build, is probably one of Cuba’s most intellectually gifted dissidents.

Morúa’s political proposals are based on a social democratic model. He has tried different strategies, looking for a legal angle that would allow him to carry out his projects legitimately. The military dictatorship, however, has thwarted him. He considers himself to be a man of the left, a position from he articulates his ideas.

The arrival of Miguel Díaz-Canel — a 58-year-old engineer from the town of Falcón in Villa Clara province, about 300 kilometers east of Havana — marks the first time someone born after the triumph of the Cuban revolution has ascended to power. He is part of a generation that, for differing reasons, began to dissent from the Marxist, anti-democratic and totalitarian socialism established by Fidel Castro. continue reading

The hardline, diehard generation is passing away. In the current political climate, the most eloquent spokespersons, both official and dissident, were born during the height of the Cold War. They experienced the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the international communist bastion, the former Soviet Union.

The dialectical struggle will not be resolved at the point of a gun. The system will have to reinvent itself, unleash productive economic forces and rely on the private sector if it wants to bring an adequate level of prosperity to Cubans frustrated by the precarious conditions of their lives.

At one time Díaz-Canel, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Luis Cino, Angel Moya and the economist Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello were all in the same ideological trenches. For reasons of their own, they stopped applauding Fidel Castro and began a long, arduous journey aimed at establishing a democratic society in their homeland.

For Morúa, the transfer of power to Díaz-Canel, “can be read in several ways, all of them interesting. The generational change, no matter who is its public face, puts society on a more equal footing when it comes to dealing with those in power,” he says.

He adds, “The only thing left to do now is make demands. Díaz-Canel is an obstructionist president. He has very little legitimacy. He is not a historical figure and he has not won an election. Every person on the street says, ’I didn’t vote for him.’ The government is incorrect when it claims that Cuba holds indirect elections. Elections here are by acclamation. To date, this president has no agenda. He comes off as a clone.”

When I ask him if he thinks it is time for dissidents to change tactics and devise a strategy to reach out to ordinary citizens, Cuesta Morúa responds, “I think it’s time to think more about politics, to offer a clearer alternative. It’s time to step up to the plate, but in political terms.”

In Lawton, a neighborhood of low-slung houses and steep streets on the southern outskirts of Havana, is the headquarters of the human rights group The Ladies in White. Most of its members are mothers, wives or daughters who had never before been interested in politics.

Their dispute with the regime centers on their demands for release of their sons, husbands and fathers, who were unjustly imprisoned by Fidel Castro. Their protest marches, during which they walk carrying gladiolas, were brutally suppressed by agents of the regime’s special services. The Cuban government’s actions led to strong public condemnations from the international community.

After entering into negotiations brokered by the Catholic church and the Spanish government, Raúl Castro’s regime agreed, for the first time, to release some political prisoners and to grant The Ladies in White space along Havana’s Fifth Avenue to carry out peaceful protest marches.

After their release most of the seventy-five former political prisoners left Cuba. The Ladies in White are still subject to brutal repression by the Castro regime, which has denied them access to the space it once gave them permission to use.

The Ladies in White’s main strategy involves street protests. Angel Moya Acosta, the 53-year-old husband of Berta Soler, leader of The Ladies in White, believes “that the Cuban political opposition needs to confront the regime. If we want people to take to the streets, the dissident community has to take to the streets and to actively persuade the people. This is not a problem about unity. Changing the electoral system in Cuba is up to the opposition and — except for some exceptions such as UNPACU, the Pedro Luis Boitel Front and the Forum for Freedom — that is not happening. Anything else is an excuse for not doing anything.”

According to Moya, the selection of Díaz-Canel was expected. “Nothing in Cuba will change. Repression could even increase. Díaz-Canel indicated that major national decisions will still be made by Raúl Castro. And he ended in inaugural speech with the outdated slogans ’homeland or death’, ’socialism or death’ and ’we will win’.”  Everyone on the island knows that real power in Cuba still rests with Raúl Castro.”

Luis Cino Álvarez, 61, one of the strongest voices in independent journalism, says he “does not expect any political reforms from the Díaz-Canel government except, perhaps, some slight fixes to the economy. He has already stated what we can expect: more socialism and a continuation of the policies of Fidel and Raúl Castro. Stagnation in its purest form. I believe that now is the time for dissidents to come up with a better strategy for confronting the regime.”

Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, a 71-year-old economist, thinks that “Díaz-Canel is a person with many illusions. He held a meeting of the Council of Ministers that was illegal, saying that new appointments to the council had been postponed until July. Díaz-Canel feels very comfortable governing. And that is not a positive thing. When they govern, all the word’s presidents feel pressure due to multiple demands from different sectors of society.” She adds,”Cuban dissidents followed the wrong path. They should have taken the road of the people. But with each step they get further and further away from it.”

If there is anything upon which the fragmented local dissident community agrees, it is that the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel represents the beginning of a significant new era. They face two dilemmas: either find a way to motivate thousands of citizens to demand democracy or watch the military dictatorship celebrate the centenary of Fidel Castro’s revolution with a parade though the Plaza.

 

Mass Celebrated At Ladies In White Headquarters ‘For The Freedom Of The Cuban People’

The priests Castor Álvarez and José Conrado Rodríguez celebrate Mass at the Ladies in White headquarters in Havana. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 June 2017 — On Monday afternoon, in the presence of 27 people, priests Jose Conrado Rodríguez and Castor Álvarez celebrated a mass at the Ladies in White headquarters Havana’s Lawton neighborhood.

Berta Soler, leader of the women’s group, explained via telephone that they gathered at the building with “a lot of discretion” to avoid State Security preventing the Mass. “It was very important to hear from those two priests, as we are not able to get to the church, the church has to come to us.”

José Conrado Rodríguez told 14ymedio that the Mass was also a way to show that they both support “the right of the Ladies in White to attend Mass every Sunday” in the Church of Santa Rita, in the Cuban capital. continue reading

“That is also part of religious freedom and the right that people have to practice their faith,” added Castor Alvarez, who presided at the mass with Rodriguez.

“We feel as priests a concern to bring our faith to Cuban society,” added Alvarez, a native of Camagüey and for whom it was a joy to be able to share with the activists and “pray together for the freedom of the Cuban people.”

“We are part of the people and we want to enjoy freedoms, we want them to let us have peace and tranquility and share all the good that we Cubans have in order to progress,” added the pastor.

Along with the Ladies in White, attending the mass were the former prisoner of the Black Spring, Angel Moya, the activist Raul Borges, and the opponent Yosvany Martinez, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

For more than a year, the political police have prevented this civil society group from attending Santa Rita Church and carrying out its Sunday walk on Fifth Avenue.

Several Opposition Leaders Detained On Their Return To Cuba

Eliecer Avila detained at the airport on his return to Cuba (Somos+)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 April 2017 — Cuban opposition leaders were detained at Havana’s international airport on Thursday, when they arrived from Colombia, according to sources in the political movement Somos+ (We Are More) speaking with 14ymedio.

Eliécer Ávila, president of that movement remains “in open protest” at the capital’s airport after the authorities’ attempt to confiscate his electronic devices. continue reading

“Immigration has not allowed us to pass, it seems there are signs on the computers that say: interested in confrontation,” Avila explained in a message addressed to his movement. Later they were allowed to enter the national territory but in the face of the attempt to confiscate their belongings, the opponents rebelled.

Carlos Oliva, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), is being held at the police station in Santiago de las Vegas. Eliecer Avila has said that he refuses to leave the airport without his laptop. The opponent has been there for more than seven hours.

Customs Officer in the process of confiscating the belongings of Eliecer Avila. (Somos+)

The order to seize his computer was issued by Carlos Pons, Chief of Confrontation at the airport.

In the case of Marthadela Tamayo and Zuleidy Pérez, they were subjected to a “rigorous search” and their personal computers siezed.

José Daniel Ferrer: “This Type Of Assault Does Not Discourage Us” / 14ymedio

Police also raided six properties of UNPACU members on Wednesday. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2017 — The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, José Daniel Ferrer, was released Thursday after being detained for more than 24 hours. The opponent denounced an “increase in the repression” against the activists of his movement, in a phone call to 14ymedio a few minutes after his release.

“The search of the homes began at six in the morning,” explains Ferrer, who was taken out of his home at eight o’clock in the morning this Wednesday and taken to the First Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba, known as Micro 9.

The former prisoner of the Black Spring explains that the police raided six properties of UNPACU members. They seized “food, a hard disc, several USB memories, two laptops, five cellphones, seven wireless devices, a stereo, a large refrigerator, an electric typewriter and a camera.” continue reading

“I spent more than six hours in an office with a guard,” Ferrer recalls. “Then they put me in a cell where you could have filmed a horror movie for the amount of blood on the walls of someone who had been cut.”

On 18 December at least nine houses of members of the opposition movement were searched and numerous personal belongings seized by members of the Ministry of the Interior

The dissident was interrogated by an official who identified himself as Captain Quiñones, who threatened to send him to prison for “incitement to violence,” in a recent video posted on Twitter. Ferrer flatly denies the accusation.

During the operation they also confiscated medications such as aspirin, duralgine, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

“Most of our activists are in high spirits,” says Ferrer. “This type of assault does not discourage us,” he adds. He says that “from November 2015 to date, there have been more than 140” raids of houses of members of the organization.

On 18 December, at least nine houses of members of the opposition movement were searched and numerous personal belongings seized by members of the Ministry of Interior.

Among those who still have not been released are the activists Jorge Cervantes, coordinator of UNPACU in Las Tunas, and Juan Salgado, both of whom are being held in the third police unit in that eastern city. The whereabouts of opponent Esquizander Benítez remain unknown. In addition, about 50 of UNPACU’s militants are being held in several prisons in the country, which makes the it the opposition organization with the most political prisoners in the country.

Police Forces Assault UNPACU Headquarters, Activists Arrested / 14ymedio

The police clear a house of members of UNPACU (@patriotaliud)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 March 2017 — The headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) were assaulted by police forces in the early hours of Wednesday. The troops forcibly entered five homes located in the Altamira and José María Heredia areas in Santiago de Cuba, where they arrested a dozen opponents, according to opposition sources.

Two buildings that operate as UNPACU headquarters and three belonging to members of the movement were the object of a wave of searches carried out by agents of the political police and brigades of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR).

The homes were “looted” simultaneously according to activist Ernesto Oliva Torres, who reported that at the main headquarters the troops confiscated “a refrigerator, a television, two laptops, six cordless phones, among other items.” continue reading

Two buildings that operate as UNPACU headquarters and three belonging to members of the movement were the object of a wave of searches carried out by agents of the political police

The searches were accompanied by arbitrary arrests and the interruption of the telephone communications of most of the UNPACU activists.

Among those arrested on Wednesday morning were Liettys Rachel Reyes, Carlos Amel Oliva and his father Carlos Oliva, Alexei Martínez, Ernesto Morán, Juan Salgado, Roilán Zamora, Yriade Hernández, Jorge Cervantes and his wife Gretchen, David Fernández, Miraida Martín, and the national coordinator of the movement, José Daniel Ferrer.

14ymedio was able to confirm that Carlos Amel Oliva was released on Wednesday night, but several of the dissidents remain incommunicado. Oliva’s telephone line had serious problems that prevented the dissident from communicating with the press.

Liettys Rachel Reyes, 30 weeks pregnant, was under arrest for about three hours and then released. The whereabouts of the rest of the detainees remain unknown.

Cuban Human Rights Group Denounces The Death Of A Political Prisoner Pending Trial / 14ymedio

Hamel Santiago Maz Hernández had been in prison for eight months pending trial. (CCDHRN)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 March 2017 — The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) has denounced the death of political prisoner Hamel Santiago Maz Hernández, an activist from UNPACU, who died* on February 24 at Combinado del Este prison in Havana. The opponent had been imprisoned for eight months without trial for the alleged offense of contempt.

The CCDHRN has released its report for the month of February in which it says that “there have been thousands of cases of Cubans killed in government custody,” a situation for which the authorities bear all the “moral and legal responsibility.” continue reading

The report includes the 482 arbitrary arrests of dissidents last month, a “slightly higher figure than in January.”

The CCDHRN also documented 16 cases of physical aggression and 18 of harassment, “by the secret political police and para-police agents,” with the victims being peaceful opponents, adds the report.

The report includes the 482 arbitrary detentions of dissidents last month, a “slightly higher figure than in January”

The text clarifies that, given “the closed nature of the regime that has ruled Cuba for almost 60 years,” it is “impossible to record the thousands of violations of fundamental rights” that occur throughout the island each month.

Nevertheless, it reports that the Ladies in White and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) are once again the organizations most repressed. In the case of the women’s organization, they have been “subjected to humiliations and other abuses” over and over. For its part, 54 members of the UNPACU “are political prisoners, most of whom remain imprisoned without formal charges or pending trial.”

During 2016, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented 9,940 arbitrary detentions. This figure “places the Government of Cuba in the first place in all of Latin America,” according to the independent organization.

*Translator’s note: Cuban State Security informed his wife that he died of a heart attack.

Police Raid the House of Activist Belkis Cantillo in Palmarito Del Cauto / 14ymedio

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, reported the raid on the home of Belkis Cantillo, leader of the Citizens for Democracy movement. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 January 2017 — At six on Saturday morning the police raided the house of Belkis Cantillo, leader of the Citizens for Democracy movement in Palmarito del Cauto, Santiago de Cuba. The officers showed up a few hours after about a dozen women of the organization walked to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, as reported to 14ymedio by Jose Daniel Ferrer, coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

The opposition leader said that on Friday the activists arrived at the church consecrated to the Virgin of Charity, patroness of Cuba, “with the intention of reclaiming the space that the political police have taken away from us in the Sanctuary.” This morning the police entered Cantillo’s house in the municipality Mella “where elderly people and children live,” says Ferrer. continue reading

“Several witnesses report that the political police arrested a 19-year-old girl who is six months pregnant, Martha Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo,” said Ferrer, former prisoner of the Black Spring. He adds that “the telephones of family members have been siezed, so it has become impossible to communicate with them.”

Citizens for Democracy is a group formed by women and founded in September 2014. Its members are residents in the towns of Palma Soriano, Palmarito del Cauto and the city of Santiago de Cuba. The fundamental demands of the organization focus on respect for human rights and civic liberties.

Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary arrests in the country, a figure that “puts the Government of Cuba in first place in all of Latin America,” said the report of the independent organization.

Activist Abandons Hunger Strike After Promise Of Not Being Deported To His Home Province / 14ymedio

Vladimir Martín Castellanos, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 January 2017 — Vladimir Martín Castellanos, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), abandoned his hunger strike this Monday after the authorities promised that he would not be deported from Las Tunas to Santiago de Cuba, as confirmed by the Castellanos himself to 14ymedio. continue reading

The activist remained 32 days without food in his fight to register himself in the civil registry of Puerto Padre where his wife, Ileana Marrero, resides. Beforehand and on various occasions, the Security of State intercepted him when he attempted to register.

On Monday, an officer who identified himself as Captain Miguelito, visited Castellanos’ wife and promised her he would be allowed to reside in the municipality. Upon hearing the news, Castellanos decided to end his hunger strike.

“I feel very weak and began drinking soup” to regain strength, he commented to this newspaper. “I would like to continue my fight and stay with the Unpacu,” explained the activist.

Martín Castellanos, 53, believes that “the authorities will follow through” this time, but notes that they did not provide him an official document confirming the decision. A family member of the activist is arranging tickets to “travel early tomorrow toward Puerto Padre.”

Translated by Chavely Garcia

Washington Closes The Escape Valve / 14ymedio

Cuban rafters arrive in Florida / Archive. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 January 2017 — Matilde sold her home just two weeks ago to pay for the immigration route to the United States. Thursday, the hope of achieving her dreams burst when president Barack Obama put an end to the wet foot/dry foot policy that granted legal residency to Cubans who reached the United States.

The news dropped like a bombshell on the island. “My family is desperate, having put all their hopes in this journey,” the retired woman told 14ymedio. With a son living in New Jersey, the woman planned to travel at the end of this month to Mexico and cross the border “to the land of freedom.”

Since the death of former president Fidel Castro, no other event has so shaken the Cuban reality. The announcement this Thursday affected many who normally live their lives outside politics and official issues. “I feel as if someone had snatched away my lifejacket in the middle of the sea,” said Matilde. continue reading

Attorney Wilfredo Vallín, of the Cuban Legal Association, believes that the decision is “something that belongs to the sovereignty of a State.” In 1995, during the Bill Clinton administration, the policy was approved that today “is considered opportune to change,” but “the repercussions of that in other countries is a problem of other governments.”

“It has been said that these facilities provided by the US Government encouraged emigration and now a part of the argument is over”

The attorney maintains that what happened transcends the issue of migration and touches the pillars of the ideological propaganda of the Plaza of the Revolution. “It has been said that these facilities provided by the US government encouraged emigration and now that part of the argument is over.” For Vallín the decision could “increase discontent among citizens.”

The end of this immigration policy comes at a bad time for the government of Raúl Castro. Last year closed with a stagnant economy that experienced a fall of 0.9% in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For those most affected by hardship and the high cost of living, the possibility of emigration to the United States was a source of permanent illusion.

However, the ruling party has welcomed a new era. Josefina Vidal, the director general for the United States in Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the national media that with this suspension, “the migration crisis between Cuba and the United States is eliminated.” The end of the wet foot/dry foot policy has been a old demand of the government of the island, which has also pressed to end the Parole program for Cuban health professionals, a measure that was also suspended this Thursday.

“With these measures, Cubans who believed they could find prosperity and wellbeing in the United States will have to find another solution,” reflects opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Cuban Patriotic Union (Unpacu).

In a telephone conversation with this newspaper from eastern Cuba, Ferrer says now begins a stage of “thinking more about how to obtain freedom, prosperity, opportunities and rights here in our own land.” The scenario that opens “will make us much more responsible and aware that we must take the reins of our destiny as a people and as a nation here within.”

In front of the University of Havana, Ramon, 48, reflects on the possible repercussions of what happened. “Every time the popular disagreement reached a high point, the government managed to calm it by opening up emigration,” he says. “Now we are all unable to get out of this pressure cooker that is always getting hotter.”

“Political refugee status is too serious, too honorable for it to continue to function as it has until now”

Activist Eliécer Ávila, leader of the Somos+ (We Are More) movement, considers it an “excellent” decision. “The refugee status for political reasons is something too serious, too honorable for it to continue to function as it has so far,” he reflects. “Any measure that makes Cubans take more responsibility for their nation instead of fleeing it is something that should be supported.”

For opposition member Manuel Cuesta, a member of the Democratic Action Roundtable (MUAD), the elimination of this policy “should have been taken long ago to avoid the type of risky emigration that has resulted in the loss of the lives of young people, children and whole families.”

He acknowledges, however, that the decision is “controversial because those who were preparing their raft to leave early this morning have just been dissuaded in a way that cannot be appealed.” It is likely that “Trump is applauding the measure,” he said.

Cuba’s New Minister of the Interior Inaugurates His Tenure With a Repressive Wave Across the Country / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla, Cuba’s new Minister of the Interior, has unleashed a fierce crackdown across the country (ACN/ Marcelino Vázquez)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Havana/Miami, 11 January 2017 — While in the United States Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, made it clear that human rights will be an important part of Washington’s policy toward Cuba, the island’s police forces carried out repressive actions in different parts of the country.

“The increase in repression is due to several causes, among them a push that the government is making in the last days of Barack Obama’s administration to make it clear to Trump that they do not care about the policy change he has announced towards Cuba,” said José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) speaking from Santiago de Cuba. continue reading

Ferrer denounced the arrest of Jesús Romero and Alexis Rodríguez, activists of his organization who were accused of “posting an opposition sign in the center of the city.”

Among Unpacu members recently detained are also its coordinator, Ovidio Martín Castellanos, and the singer Yuniel Aguilera.

“After the death of his brother, Raul Castro needs to increase terror levels to maintain power,” says Ferrer, who says the government is willing to do anything to eliminate any hint of dissent.

“The increase in repression is due to the push the government is making in the last days of Barack Obama’s administration to make clear to Trump that they do not care about the policy change he has announced towards Cuba”

“They know people are tired of the same thing. When in April we mobilized more than 1,000 people the political police told us that we would never do something like that again,” he adds.

At the other end of the island, the editor of the magazine Convivencia (Coexistence), Karina Galvez, was the victim of search of her home, which ended up being sealed. Galvez herself, age 48 and an economist by profession, is under arrest for the alleged crime of tax evasion.

The director of the Center for Coexistence Studies, Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, called the escalation against the civic project he leads – including the suspension of a planned meeting and multiple arrests – acts of “harassment” by State Security.

Also arrested this day was regime opponent Óscar Elías Biscet, founder of the Emilia Project, which seeks the change of government in the island by means of a popular uprising. After a few hours, Dr. Biscet, who has spent long years in jail, was released.

Activists Eduardo Quintana Suarez, Jose Omar Lorenzo Pimienta and Yoan Alvares, who belong to the same organization, were also arrested, as reported by El Nuevo Herald.

Activist Martha Beatriz Roque was arrested when she attempted to attend the scattering of the ashes of the recently deceased opponent Felix Antonio Bonne Carcassés. She explained to 14ymedio that her detention lasted until two on Wednesday afternoon.

Opponent René Gómez Manzano told this newspaper that they “appealed” to his sanity so that he would not attend the ceremony where the ashes would be scattered, although he finally succeeded in doing so.

This repressive wave unfolds a few hours after the replacement of the recently deceased Interior Minister, Carlos Fernández Gondín, by Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla

According to a press release from Democratic Directorate in the city of Holguín, human rights activist Maydolis Leiva Portelles, together with her three children, under arrest since November 27, 2016, were brought to trial.

The entire family, according to the press release, including two minors, was the subject of an act of repudiation that included “violent raiding of the home, beatings, and robbery of personal property.”

This repressive wave has been unfolding within a few hours of the replacement of the recently deceased Interior Minister, Carlos Fernández Gondín, by Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla. Among other prerogatives, the person who controls the portfolio of the Interior Ministry also exercises command over State Security and the National Revolutionary Police.

“With the [previous minister] repression was quite extensive, although it must be said that in Cuba a minister cannot do anything without Raul Castro authorizing it. The policy carried out by Gondín continues with Gandarilla. We will have more repression as the discontent increases,” says José Daniel Ferrer.

Berta Soler Released, But UNPACU Activists Still Detained / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, during an exhibition of the work of Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami, 19 December 2016 — The leader of the Ladies in White movement was released on Monday after being detained for 24 hours. Berta Soler was arrested the previous day in one of the largest raids against the opposition in recent months. Meanwhile, approximately ten activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) remain imprisoned, according to a report by phone from Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of that organization.

“According to the count we have done, some 117 UNPACU activists were arrested on Sunday and nine houses were raided by the police, who seized five personal computers and dozens of phones, flash drives, printers and printed materials,” Ferrer told 14ymedio. continue reading

UNPACU had called for a march for freedom of all political prisoners and solidarity with Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, and Eduardo Cardet, who were both detained after the death of Fidel Castro.

Six of the houses raided were in Santiago de Cuba, two in Palma Soriano and one in Palmarito de Cauto.

According to Ferrer, the police also seized cash in the houses where they entered, including 370 CUC “intended for the feeding of a pregnant woman and the purchase of things for her unborn child.”

The opponent considers that the government is trying to behead the movement. “They want to capture as many coordinators of UNPACU as possible,” he explains. Almost all detained activists have this organizational role within UNPACU.

This Monday the trial of Lisandra Rivera Rodriguez, accused of the crime of attack, was expected to be held.

UNPACU leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer (EFE)

“They are afraid of the reaction of the organization, so they are developing a rather large operation in Santiago de Cuba. They have placed police barriers around my house,” says Ferrer. The police again threatened to return him to jail, when he and other left together to seek the mediation of the Catholic Church.

“I was told that I was inciting the members of the UNPACU to commit crimes of public disorder, attack, contempt and espionage,” he commented.

UNPACU is the largest opposition organization in the country, centered mainly in the eastern provinces and with a presence in Havana.

The Ladies in White also reported the arrest of 32 activists in Havana and an undetermined number in the provinces.

“We are now updating the report to have the total number of arrests because many Ladies are still being arrested,” said Eralidis Frómeta, who belongs to that movement, which was founded by Laura Pollán in 2003.

Harsh Police Operation Against the Patriotic Union of Cuba / 14ymedio

Note: The video was taken surreptitiously and thus is of poor quality.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 December 2016 – Beginning at 6:00 AM on Sunday morning, Cuban State Security forces attacked nine homes of members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU); six in Santiago de Cuba, two in Palma Soriano, and one in Palmarito de Cauto. More details are expected in the coming hours; currently most of the activists’ telephones have been cut off.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the organizations, explained to 14ymedio that the “justification” for the harsh repressive operation was a call made by UNPACU for people to come into the streets in protest, in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. The objective of the opposition organization was “to demand the release of the political prisoners and the end to increasingly severe repression against independent civil society groups,” Ferrer said. continue reading

The homes simultaneously attacked were those of Leonardo Pérez Franco, Ovidio Martín Castellanos and Damaris Rodríguez. At the home of Iriades Hernández, who is currently abroad, the police entered and took two laptops. The police also broke into UNPACU’s working headquarters and the home of Jose Daniel Ferrer.

In Palma Soriano the homes of Yenisei Jiménez, wife of political prisoner Geordanis Muñoz, and that of Yeroslandi Calderín, coordinator of the March 18 Cell and a replacement for Víctor Campa who is currently a political prisoner. In Palmarito de Cauto, so far it has only been possible to report an attack on the home of Yasmani Diaz, but it is presumed that there may be other cases.

Assaults, thefts, detentions against member of #UNPACU, Today families won’t eat because their sustenance was stolen.

Among the possessions seized were printed material, discs, audiovisual materials, hard drives, four laptops and several cellphones. In the home of Jose Daniel Ferrer they seized 370 dollars intended to feed a pregnant woman and to buy supplies for her unborn child. As a part of the operation, more than 50 activists in the province of Santiago de Cuba and 10 in Havana had been detained by 1:30 this afternoon.

Some ten of those arrested have been released, among them Jose Daniel Ferrer, who reported the following: “A lieutenant colonel who refused to give me his name showed me a warning notice where it said that our call gave rise to the crimes of public disorder, contempt, attack and espionage. They also warned me that they had been disturbed by my statements about the late Fidel Castro on our website and my modest interpretation or translation of his concept of Revolution.”