Cuba is Criticized for Home Detentions, Dollarization and Persecution of ‘Coleros’

Cuban State Security operatives are becoming more common at the homes of activists. (Archivo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 3, 2020 — The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), headquartered in Madrid, in its July report, denounced the consolidation of a new pattern of repression on the Island, keeping activists in their homes. According to the NGO, although the practice isn’t new, it has increased this year. Already in February, before the pandemic, there were 44 actions of this type. In June there were 55, and in July the number increased to 72.

The network of the organization’s observers on the island calculates 314 repressive acts in July, of which 97 were arbitrary detentions, 68 were against men and 29 against women. In addition, at least 19 detentions were violent.

The OCDH records that these detentions take place de facto, without any type of judicial order or written documentation. “Although sometimes you don’t even know why they’re doing it, as happened on July 30”.

That day, several activists and journalists, among them a good part of the editorial staff of 14ymediowere obliged to remain in their homes by State Security agents. The journalists, Mónica Baró, Luz Escobar, Iliana Hernández, Hector Luis Valdés, Yoani Sánchez and Reinaldo Escobar were affected, along with others, without having had any news about a trigger that would cause the authorities to protect themselves by taking such a decision.

On previous occasions, this type of action coincided with demonstrations against the Government or relevant political and social acts, something that wasn’t happening on July 30.

“While this mechanism is nothing new, we are seeing a growing trend in its application, in the measure in which they are lifting the restrictions for Covid-19. That’s why we’re identifying it as a pattern. Probably they’re looking to camouflage what in another moment will be an arbitrary detention,” says the OCDH.

“This type of mechanism is a clear violation of free movement and a way to prevent the exercise of other rights,” says the communication.

The NGO also reviewed the economic and social situation and believes that the elimination of the 10% tax on the dollar isn’t enough when prices are going up for basic necessities, which now are being sold in the hard currency shops. This situation is rejected by the Observatory, as three-quarters of Cubans don’t receive dollars, and salaries and pensions paid in Cuban pesos are very low.

“The dollarization of basic products in Cuba constitutes a violation of the right to food,” adds the report.

The report calls attention to a phenomenon that has been on the rise recently, first in the official media and now through direct physical confrontation: putting the coleros (people who stand in line for others) under the spotlight. Since last week, the official press has published columns of opinions that accuse resellers and coleros of hoarding and having no scruples about profiting by selling their turns in line to enter stores to purchase scarce items. On Friday, Miguel Díaz-Canel himself presided over a constitution ceremony of the new “groups to confront resellers, hoarders and coleros“, celebrated in the Plaza de la Patria in Bayamo.

“These groups will be formed by workers in the shops of Cimex, TRD and Caracol, by political cadres, mass organizations and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, and will have the mission of combating the indiscipline generated outside these establishments and the acts of reselling and hoarding, among other criminal conduct,” said the provincial newspaper of Granma, La Demajagua.

“Social pressure has increased against people who are trying to get a certain quantity of food in the shops, which worsens the already serious economic situation,” denounced the OCDH, something confirmed in last week’s movements.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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