Dignity Movement Activists Denounce “Repression And Arbitrary Arrests”

Activist Belkis Cantillo, leader of the Dignity Movement, reported about the detention of some members of the organization via telephone to ’14ymedio’. (UFL)

14ymedio, Havana, 23 October 2017 — A brief communiqué issued Sunday by the Dignity Movement demands for its activists “the citizen’s right to exercise freedom of movement and communication,” following several arrests during this weekend in Palmarito del Cauto, in the province of Santiago de Cuba.

The activist Belkis Cantillo, leader of the Dignity Movement, detailed to 14ymedio by phone that several members of the independent organization, along with some activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), were arrested at a control point at Palmarito de Cauto while heading to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre.

“On Friday I left the house with Maydolis Oribe and Fatima Victoria but when we arrived at the checkpoint they stopped us, threatened us and returned us to the house in a police car,” Cantillo reported. The checkpoint is “near the bridge” that separates the municipality of Palmarito de Cauto from Palma Soriano.

According to Cantillo’s testimony this Saturday, a day after the incident, she decided to “stand” with Maydolis Oribe and call the women of Palma and Palmarito “to leave for the checkpoint.”

When they arrived there “were agents of State Security” and they were threatened with a 1,500 peso fine. Later Cantillo was arrested again next to Oribe and led to the unit of the National Revolutionary Police of the municipality Mella.

Yulaisy Carracero, another member of the Movement, was also among the detainees on Saturday and “was taken to the San Luis police station with Graciela Giron.”

The concern of the Dignity Movement is focused on Carracero who has not yet been released. “Despite everything, next Sunday we are going to leave to go to Mass,” concludes Cantillo.

One of the demands of the Dignity Movement is the elimination of the crime of “pre-criminal dangerousness,” which it considers “an aberration” According to the Cuban Penal Code, individuals considered dangerous may be subject to measures considered therapeutic, re-educational or surveillance by the National Revolutionary Police (including up to four years imprisonment) despite not having committed any crime.

In recent months its activists have been tightly controlled by State Security to prevent them from leaving the municipality.

The organization was founded last January and also works with common prisoners “to help them and their families with the social and legal care they need and don’t have,” Cantillo said in an interview with the newspaper.

In mid-2016, the United Nations Development Program estimated that Cuba had 510 people in prison for every 100,000 people, a figure that puts the country at the head of the region. In 1959 the island had 14 prisons, but today the figure exceeds 200, according to estimates of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN).