14ymedio, Havana, 12 July 2021 — The wave of arrests in Cuba for the protests that began this Sunday continues to come to light. Several complaints from civil society collected by 14ymedio and others, which are trickling in from social networks and instant messaging applications, confirm that there are more than 5,000 people imprisoned or being investigated, among them more than 120 activists and independent journalists.
Olga Xiomara García Rivas, a resident of the municipality of Alquízar, in the province of Artemisa, reported to this newspaper that her husband, the activist Nomar Castellanos Romero, was arrested this Monday at their home. “At seven in the morning they took him away. Two patrols came with about ten policemen and they took him away handcuffed. They have him at the station here in Alquízar.”
García Rivas stated that they want to blame her husband for being the leader of the demonstrations that occurred in the municipality. “As he has many posts on Facebook against the Government denouncing all the things and barbarities that happen here and for his participation in the Emilia Project and in the Union for Free Cuba Party, they want to prosecute him as if he were the leader of the protest.”
Castellanos Romero belongs to these opposition projects, says his wife, but “he was not the one who launched the people into the streets, everyone went because they wanted to. He launched himself into the streets like a great part of the people did.”
Amanda Hernández Celaya is only 18 years old. She is a professional dancer. On July 11 she was heading to rehearsals for a video clip. The car she was riding in along with other co-workers stopped on the esplanade of La Punta, in Havana, because the traffic was interrupted by the crowd protesting against the dictatorship.
“When she got out of the vehicle, she began to film what was happening with her cell phone and almost immediately she was detained by the forces of order,” the young woman’s aunt, the independent journalist Miriam Celaya, told this newspaper.
After hours without knowing Amanda’s whereabouts, her family learned that they first took her to the Fourth Station and from there they transferred her to the station at 100th and Aldabó. “The mother asked and the officers told her that the young woman is under investigation,” added Celaya.
The regime’s cutting off of internet services has prevented reports of the arrests from coming to light promptly. This was the case of the playwright Yunior García Aguilera, one of the protagonists in the November 27 meeting with the Vice Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas. The artist spread through messaging and on his Facebook profile hours, after being released, what the detainees experienced in front of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), in Havana.
There he says, upon seeing the images of the protest in San Antonio de los Baños, a group of artists to requested “15 minutes in front of the Cuban television cameras to exercise the right to reply, to make a call to resolve our conflicts by democratic means, condemn the repression and find a solution without blood to the total crisis we Cubans are experiencing.”
“We didn’t mind being called naive, again, from any extreme,” he explains. “For us, staying at home with our arms crossed, watching the fratricide from a sofa, was not an option. We know, like few others (because we have lived it before), that rage is deaf, but we had to try.”
After the attempt at dialogue, García says, “a horde of radical conservatives and several Rapid Response groups denied us the minimum space of 15 minutes.” The group was beaten, forcibly dragged and thrown “on a cargo truck, like a sack of rubble.” They were taken to the Vivac Detention Center where they remained under arrest until Monday afternoon. “We saw dozens of young people arrive and we gradually learned about the protests in various areas of the country.”
In the multiple interrogations that the detainees went through, he says, “it was clear that no one from outside directed us to go out into the street, that absolutely no one paid us a penny for doing what we did. But we also made our position and our ideas of CHANGE very clear, in a country that is not stopping its own fall into the abyss.”
The group of artists was released under a precautionary measure and an investigation process is being carried out against them. “Those from Vivac who were at the ICRT, we all left, but there are still brothers imprisoned or disappeared, among them, Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez Yong. No one can silence our right to be honest, to demand that they release all of them and to express what we feel” demanded the playwright.
“Cuba is crying, Martí is crying right now from his grave. Let’s save our land from hatred and barbarism. Let all those guilty of this nightmare resign! Let all worthy Cubans who do not share the fascist discourse rise from their silence!” Garcia concluded.
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