14ymedio, Havana, 28 March 2018 — The authorities arrested the main organizer, Rafael Alba, but failed to prevent the creation of two independent unions of the self-employed on Tuesday in Havana.
Idelia Salamé Ramírez, a seller in the market for self-employed at Monte and Ángeles streets in the capital, told 14ymedio that some 15 people managed to meet at Alba’s house to launch the Cuban Association of Autonomous Transporters and the Association of the Self-Employed of Market Products.
Salamé describes the meeting as “successful” because it succeeded in explaining the objective of that independent organization, which does not intend to “go against the Government” but to defend their “rights as workers.”
The journalist and activist Iliana Hernández was with Rafael Alba when they were intercepted by the police. Both were on their way to Alba’s house, where the press conference was to take place to announce the birth of both unions.
“We were going to announce the birth of the Cuban Association of Autonomous Transporters in my home through a press conference, but we weren’t able to get there, but in spite of that, the activity was carried out with other self-employed workers who were there,” explains Alba.
Iliana Hernández says that she “was invited” to the meeting. “When we were approaching the roundabout in the Bahia neighborhood, we were stopped by the Patrol Car numbered 007, and officers with badge numbers 00629 and 28361 took us out of our car,” she explains.
The uniformed officers tried to take the activist’s bag but she resisted and one of the soldiers violently pushed her, she denounced.
Hernandez, who is also the director of the Lente Cubano program, was in a cell in the police station of the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón, according to 14ymedio, while Alba spent the entire time of his detention in the Guanabo station.
During the 24 hours that Hernandez spent at the station, she was never interrogated and no officer explained to her what the crime was that she had been arrested for. “Agent Charles (from State Security), who was present at the time of the arrest, told me that they would not let me do anything but then he never appeared again.”
At the time of his detention, Alba did not receive an explanation of the reasons for the arrest and the officers limited themselves to telling him that his car was “on a list.” Before being taken to the cells, several members of State Security warned him that if he continued with those activities they would take away not only his license as a self-employed worker but also his drivers license.
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.