Wave of Repression Against Cuba’s Biggest Opposition Organization Continues

Photograph of the moment of the arrest of José Daniel Ferrer published by State Security and circulated on social media.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 29, 2019 — In the middle of an escalation in repression against the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), this Wednesday the police raided the home of José Antonio López Piña, director of that opposition organization in El Cristo, a town in the province of Santiago de Cuba.

According to Carlos Amel Oliva, coordinator for Unpacu, the police action was carried out with “extreme violence” and López Piña was detained by the police force of the Songo la Maya municipality.

“Among other threats they told him that by continuing with his activism there only remain two paths for him: a long time in Kilo 7 prison in Camaguey, one of the harshest in the country, or he would have to leave Cuba,” said Oliva.

The raid happened a few hours after Amnesty International published a report recognizing five new prisoners of conscience on the Island and that the Police detained José Daniel Ferrer, national leader of Unpacu. Ferrer was freed that very Tuesday, August 27, along with another five activists.

According to Oliva, during the raid of August 27 repressive forces with assault weapons entered “three houses located in the Altamira area of Santiago de Cuba which function as headquarters of Unpacu.”

During the assault three laptops, two televisions, several mobile phones, and some tables that were used to provide a social cafeteria area were confiscated.

“José Daniel Ferrer was driven, handcuffed, to the third police station of Santiago de Cuba, known as the motorized one, and was released around noon. The rest of the activists were subsequently released,” he added.

Oliva explains that Ferrer was warned that the operation was carried out in response to commentaries that the Unpacu director had published and for what he has said on social media about “irregularities incurred by Lázaro Expósito, first secretary of the Party in the province, and for what he said related to the birthday of Fidel Castro and his tweets on the day of the anniversary.”

Oliva also suspects that “the Government is very annoyed” by the inclusion of five Cubans on the list of prisoners of conscience that Amnesty International published.

“In response to the occupation of our media we do not rule out making the proper complaint once again. We know that going through these channels has never had success, it’s a long and fruitless process because it has never returned anything,” he added.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, demanded on his Twitter account “the immediate release” of Ferrer and that “the regime’s repressive forces stop the intimidation and abuses against dissidents.”

In February of this year, in response to the campaign of the opposition organization against the referendum on the new Constitution, José Daniel Ferrer was arrested for more than five hours along with several members of Unpacu. The detentions occurred during the police raid of the organization’s headquarters and of homes of activists in Santiago de Cuba.

In the last five years the members of Unpacu have reported more than 40 assaults on their headquarters and other facilities of the activists of the organization, considered the largest opposition group on the Island and the one with the highest number of political prisoners.

In its latest reports the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) calculated that there were some 120 political prisoners in Cuba.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


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