14ymedio, Havana, 19 June 2022 — Due to the “episode of repression” that activist Saily González Velázquez suffered last Thursday, she decided to leave Cuba and this Sunday she arrived in Miami in the United States. According to what she made known through her social networks, her decision was made “very hastily and I have told very few people.”
Before leaving the island, González told people close to her about the harassment she suffered from State Security, which threatened to imprison her for “instigation to commit a crime.” The new Penal Code, which will go into force in a few months, will further toughen the penalties for any type of demonstration against the “irrevocability of the socialist system.”
The new Code will punish with sentences of up to ten years the citizen “who arbitrarily exercises any right or freedom recognized in the Constitution of the Republic” if that exercise has as its purpose “to change, totally or partially, the Constitution of the Republic or the form of Government established by it.”
On her Facebook wall, Gonzalez explained that she understands it “as just one more trip” and will continue “fighting to achieve a country where we can all participate, a country without repression or political prisoners.”
She made it known in that same post that her “heart goes out to every political prisoner whose rights are violated and to their families, to every activist who, like me, puts their body, their peace and that of their family at risk, because we all have rights in this Cuba that belongs to everyone.”
She advanced that her “speech and activism will also continue to go in that direction” that in a few days she will give more details. “For now I need to rest.”
There were immediate reactions. From Madrid, the Hispano-Cuban art curator and activist Carolina Barrero expressed her “respect and solidarity.” In the same comment she expressed: “Exile has a determining role to play in the end of the dictatorship and in the democratic transition that we all have the responsibility to precipitate.” Leaving open the possibility of an upcoming meeting.
“It squeezed my soul but it made my heart happy, one of my friends has just left the country,” wrote Orlando Ramírez Cutiño, stepfather of Jonathan Torres Farrat, imprisoned for protesting 11J (July 11th). “Saily Gonzalez Velazquez, the one in yellow as she is affectionately known, left for lands of freedom, I know that from there she will continue fighting for a free Cuba.”
Blogger Boris Sancho posted: “With a mixture of joy and sadness I say welcome to the land of freedom.”
On May 31, Saily Gonzalez was released after spending several hours detained by State Security, who violently intercepted her when she was marching on a street in Santa Clara for the freedom of artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo ‘Osorbo’.
To release her, the political police demanded that she be given another T-shirt, since the one she was wearing had the slogans “free Maykel” and “free Luisma” written by hand. Several activists confirmed that the activist’s mother had also been questioned. This harassment has been denounced by the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights before the UN.
González, a businesswoman from Villa Clara, was prevented from attending the Ninth Summit of the Americas to which she was invited as a representative of Cuban civil society. State Security summoned her to remind her, moreover, that they had an open criminal investigation against her. González explained that “they arbitrarily opened a case for calling the Civic March for Change on November 15, and insisted they could use it against me at their convenience.”
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.