14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2022 — Cuban activist Fernando Almeyda joined this weekend the list of dissidents who are leaving the island. After requesting a humanitarian visa from Spain, which was not granted, the former Archipiélago coordinator decided to go to Serbia, a country that currently does not require a visa for Cubans, although his intention does not seem to be to remain in the Balkan country, according to an interview published by Cubanet on Monday.
Almeyda, who participated in the July 11 protests and later joined the Archipiélago collective — which he left after Yunior García Aguilera’s abrupt departure from Cuba — argues that he never had any real intention of developing his professional career on the island and that since he graduated as a lawyer he wanted to go into exile so as not to be part of the system. The activist emphasizes that his job position led him to a lack of money, which at the same time delayed his departure.
His final departure comes now, because, he states, he has been suffering repression, harassment, persecution and threats from the State Security for months. “I was very afraid, an atrocious fear, and I even tried to find a way to flee and seek asylum, but always after 15N [November 15], never before,” he explains. What happened with the Marcha Cívica por el Cambio (Civic March for Change) and the arrests that took place led him to speed up his procedures and initiate the application for a humanitarian visa to Spain in December, a document that is granted only in cases of emergency and which was denied.
Almeyda decided to travel to Europe, with a flight to Belgrade, where he does not plan to apply for asylum, but rather for temporary residence, which indicates that his intention is to travel to another destination, probably Spain.
The opposition leader also explains in the interview how he came to activism through the San Isidro Movement, to which he attributes the ability to break with the classic forms of opposition in Cuba, which until 2018, he says, were things of political parties “sometimes tending to extremism and opposed to each other. The exile was divorced from the Cuban reality and Cubans did not even know what was being said or did not even care.”
The lawyer then gives an account of the events that followed the police raid on the MSI headquarters, the protest of 27 November and the spontaneous demonstrations in July, in which he participated, even receiving a stoning. At that time, he says, he was already in the crosshairs of State Security.
Almeyda maintains that since he took the initiative to leave Cuba, he has been in “semi-clandestine status,” although he did not hide completely and he attended some public activities.
To Almeyda’s departure should be added that of another jurist, Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada, whose destination is unknown so far. Professor at the University of Havana in 2016, the lawyer was expelled for his texts critical of power, and was currently collaborating with several independent press media.
“Today he left Cuba, where he was not allowed to work for years, a great friend, one of the best people I know and an intellectual who sacrificed his career for his civism. Good luck wherever you go dear Julio Antonio Fernandez Estrada. Cuba does not lose you because it will always be in your thoughts and in your heart”, commented historian Alina Bárbara López Hernández.
Translated by: Hombre de Paz
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