14ymedio, Havana, 30 July 2020 — From the early morning hours on Thursday, several activists and independent journalists began to denounce police operations around their homes. More than a dozen people have reported that members of the State Security are preventing them from going out, although the reason for this prohibition is, so far, unknown.
Journalists Monica Baró, Luz Escobar, Iliana Hernández, Hector Luis Valdés, Yoani Sánchez, and Reinaldo Escobar, among others, are under house arrest without a warrant and with police, some in civilian clothes and others in uniform, stationed around their homes.
“I tried to leave my house just now and two women officials from the Ministry of the Interior and a man in civilian clothes approached me when I had not advanced even twenty meters from the entrance of my building to inform me that I could not leave due to ’isolation’,” denounced Monica Baró on her Facebook account. The journalist asked the officials why the measure was only applied to her and “the street was full of people.”
On the ground floor of the building housing the editorial office of the newspaper 14ymedio, a man in civilian clothing also questioned Reinaldo Escobar. Next to the young man, who after much insistence from Escobar identified himself with a State Security ID, were two policemen dressed in uniforms. “Today you cannot leave,” the political police officer reiterated on several occasions.
When Escobar insisted on knowing the reason for the prohibition, the man threatened to take him to a police station and charge him with the crime of “contempt” against the authority. Ultimately, the journalist was never informed of the reasons to prevent him and his wife, Yoani Sánchez, from leaving the house.
In a similar situation are also the activist Omara Ruíz Urquiola, the independent reporter Camila Acosta and the artist Tania Bruguera, who was detained on the way to her home: “They put me in a police car while I asked what the reason was.” A few minutes later she was returned to her home and warned that she could not go outside.
Bruguera joked that someone had put on a performance by spreading a false call for a demonstration that has mobilized the police. Which is one way to explain the surprising unfolding, the causes of which are still unknown.
In June, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) denounced in a report that the Island Government has taken advantage of the pandemic “to intensify de facto the already existing limitations on the rights and freedoms of citizens.” The Madrid-based organization compiled in its document “at least 67 arbitrary arrests”, especially in the provinces of Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Villa Clara, as well as 74 “other types” of repressive actions, especially harassment of through police subpoenas.
At the end of that same month, a large police deployment prevented a demonstration organized in protest at the murder of Hansel Ernesto Hernández at the hands of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR).
Similarly, on July 20, the police thwarted an LGTBI protest in front of the Radio and Television Institute in response to the homophobic words of the director of Communication of that state institution, Yusimi González Herrera.
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