The "Man With the Flag" Hunger Strikes for the Release of His Son

The brutal arrest of Daniel Llorente was captured on camera by dozens of foreign correspondents. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 April 2018 — On the eve of the first anniversary of his arrest during last year’s May Day parade in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, Daniel Llorente is refusing to eat until his son, Eliezer Llorente, who was arrested on Sunday in San Antonio de los Baños, in the province of Artemis, is released.

“He was arrested when he was with independent journalist Vladimir Turro,” his mother Judiza Pérez told 14ymedio. “They went together, but at twelve he returned to pick up his father’s lunch to go for Sunday’s visit,” at the Mazorra Psychiatric Hospital where the elder Llorente remains interned* as a result of his activism.

After several unsuccessful attempts to communicate with her son, Perez received a missed call from the police station in San Antonio de los Baños. At first the officers of the station denied that Eliezer Llorente was detained there, but at her insistence one of them confirmed the detention of her son.

“It was six o’clock in the evening and I immediately headed there [San Antonio de los Baños is 40 kilometers from Havana], and I had to take four transports and a pedicab because it is very far away,” said Perez.

After a sleepless night in that town, the deputy head of the Police Station told her Monday that her son was arrested because he was in possession of “meat” brought by the journalist who was with him.

In Cuba the private sale and distribution of meat is prohibited.

“All that is a lie,” says Pérez, who says that the real cause of the arrest of her son is because the authorities fear that he will engage in some protest action like his father’s, during tomorrow’s May Day parade.

“My son is not an opponent or a criminal,” she said sorrowfully.

According to Pérez, the officer with whom she spoke told her that her son is refusing to eat and that he has declared himself “on strike” until they release him. They also told her that the young man is “under investigation” and that they plan to release him after the parade on May 1.

“I’m going to go there to be with my son and I will not move from the Police Station and if they put me out I will sit in the park until they release him because I’m not leaving this town without my son,” she added.

This morning Perez took her son a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap but he was not allowed to bring him food.

From the Comandante Doctor Eduardo Bernabé Ordaz Ducungede Psychiatric Hospital in Havana, popularly known as Mazorra, Daniel Llorente told this newspaper that he was fasting “until the situation [with his son] is resolved.”

“The doctor told me to be calm but I’m very calm, this is just another adversity, a total arbitrariness,” he added by phone. He also joined his son in fasting until they release him.

“If they think their doing this will soften me, on the contrary, my position remains the same as always,” said the activist.

Eliezer Llorente has faithfully visited his father in the hospital twice a week all year long and is informing the independent media and the international press about his father’s situation. This would explain, according to his mother, why her son is targeted by State Security.

Daniel Llorente Miranda has stood out for the activism he displayed on his own after the diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States. His image traveled through social networks and the covers of many international newspapers when he hoisted the US flag during the 2017 May Day parade in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

Seven security agents pounced on him and took him down him by force. Since then he has been detained. Although during the first month the authorities kept him in the Operations Directorate of the State Security (Villa Marista), he was later transferred* to Mazorra.

*Translator’s note: Holding political protestors in mental hospitals is intended to keep international organizations from classifying them as political prisoners.


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