Major Deployment of Cuban Police to Prevent a ‘Secret’ Demonstration

Surveillance on the street where María Matienzo resides, who was detained for a few hours by State Security. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 12 March 2021 — A dozen activists and journalists woke up to find their homes under surveillance and themselves prevented from going out. The reason: an alleged protest action while, they say, they have not called. In Old Havana, around the Capitol, there is a large presence of police and patrol cars, as there is in the vicinity of the Plaza of the Revolution.

The Government thus intends to repress an alleged demonstration denounced on Cuban television news this Thursday by the newscaster Humberto López. The alleged demonstration was reported to have the objective of demanding the release of Luis Robles, a young man who was arrested for holding a sign with the messages “freedom”, “no more repression” and “free Denis,” alluding to rapper Denis Solís.

The activity, according to López, was organized “secretly” from the United States to be carried out by “counterrevolutionaries” in what he described as a “provocation” scheduled for this Friday in the Plaza of the Revolution.

The presenter recalled, in his usual threatening tone, that resistance, the established crimes of disobedience to authority and contempt, as well as public disorder and enemy propaganda can be charged against citizens who come out to demonstrate. The penalties associated with each of these crimes in the Penal Code — ranging from three months to eight years in prison, in addition to fines — were also shown on screen.

López noted that these crimes are “dormant”, although, as several international NGOs have pointed out, the Cuban authorities resort to them to convict opponents or activists, as happened recently with Luis Robles.

The presenter called out those responsible for this “secret action,” naming pointed to Omara Ruiz Urquiola, Yasser Castellanos, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Abu Duyanah Tamayo, Esteban Rodríguez, Héctor Luis Valdés and Maykel Osorbo. Among this group are those who staged a hunger strike at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement and are the constant target of defamations in the official media.

Ruiz Urquiola, who is currently in the United States, wrote on his Facebook profile: “I am not planning anything that I cannot take part in. I would have liked to have thought about taking the street for Luis Robles.” In the same vein, Otero Alcántara expressed himself, insisting to 14ymedio that none of the members of the San Isidro Movement or those who had been at the headquarters had plans to go to the Plaza of the Revolution today.

The artist also took the opportunity to denounce that both he and his companions have been under surveillance by the political police from the early hours of the morning.

In addition, Carolina Barrero, Luz Escobar and Yamilka Lafita woke up besieged in their homes. When trying to go out into the street, Héctor Luis Valdés, Maykel Osorbo and María Matienzo, whose homes were also under surveillance, were arrested.

“María Matienzo, a journalist from CubaNet, has just been arrested as she left her home. She does not answer the phone. I consider her missing,” denounced the activist Kirenia Yalit, who also published a photograph in which a patrol care is seen standing guard in the block where the reporter lives.

Upon being released, Matienzo declared: “I am an independent journalist and I will cover the news as I understand it. My house is not a prison. Every time they put surveillance on me, I will go to jail.”

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