Opposition Leader José Daniel Ferrer Released / 14ymedio

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 December 2016 — José Daniel Ferrer, general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), was arrested on Thursday around one in the afternoon when he left the organization’s headquarters in the city of Santiago de Cuba, and released about 40 minutes later, as reported in a phone call to 14ymedio from Omar Fayut, a member of the opposition organization. Ferrer was taken in a bus, handcuffed, to the third police station in the city of Santiago de Cuba and then released, without further explanation.

The activist denounced that since the death of former President Fidel Castro “many members of the movement have been harassed” by the political police who maintain a cordon around Unpacu’s headquarters.

Last Sunday, some hundred members of the UNPACU were arrested when they tried to march to the shrine of El Cobre to demand the release of political prisoners. Most of the detainees were released after a few hours, but nine remain imprisoned.

Minutes before his arrest, Ferrer had denounced on Twitter that activists Ovidio Martín, Samuel Leblan, Juan Salgado, Yasmani Magaña, Belkis Cantillo and Moraima Díaz, among others, continued to be detained.

Carlos Amel Oliva, a member of Unpacu, maintains that “the threat is constant” and that since Monday the headquarters remains besieged with police officers “stationed on the corners.” The young man explains that the soldiers “put up fences to prohibit the access of any type of vehicles.”

The arrests and police cordons are in addition to the searches of at least 13 houses of Unpacu activists.

The last report of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) said that during last November there were at least 359 arbitrary arrests of peaceful dissidents on the island. That is roughly one hundred fewer than in October but the independent organization warns of possible repression after the death of former President Fidel Castro on November 25.