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Cuban State Security threatens and hides opposition

Workers put finishing touches on a sign of the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
Workers put finishing touches on a sign of the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Dissidents were warned that they should not leave their homes during the CELAC summit.

Just days before it the opening of Havana’s Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the government of Cuba is trying to torpedo parallel activities organized by the opposition, replete with a campaign which includes arrests and threats.

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), and Reyna Yusmila freelance journalist, were arrested in Havana after meeting with the ambassadors of Spain and the Netherlands.

Ferrer traveled to the capital to attend an event organized by opponents in collaboration with the Center for Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL), an event that would run parallel to the CELAC summit.

The former political prisoner and human rights activist, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, was also detained briefly as he walked to the Hungarian Embassy, after refusing to obey an order of the political police to stay at home.

In Matanzas, Félix Navarro Rodríguez, general coordinator of the UNPACU was also arrested, say family members.

Other prominent opponents such as Guillermo Fariñas, Yoani Sánchez, Berta Soler, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Reinaldo Escobar and Felix Navarro have been warned by security officials of the repressive state that they should not leave their homes during the meeting of the Heads of State and Government.

Elizardo Sanchez, observer of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, told martinoticias that, “A wave of arrests prior to the CELAC has been unleashed.”

Blogger Yoani Sánchez described in her blog, Generation Y, a political and social pre-summit "cleansing" campaign deployed by the Department of the State Security:

The clandestine and officially “unpresentable” Havana has been warned that it must be quiet, very quiet. The beggars are being held until the Summit is over, the pimps warned to maintain control over their girls and boys, while members of the political police visit the homes of the opposition. The illegal market is also being held in check. “Calm down, let’s have a little calm,” the police repeat in a threatening tone, without ever leaving written notification.

From Manzanillo, in the province of Granma, Tania de la Torre Montesinos, denounced acts of repudiation opponents in different places in the city.

In Pinar del Rio, opponents and Ladies in White were summoned and threatened by agents of the state security not to undertake activities on January 28th through January 30th.

Activist Raúl Luis Risco Perez told Radio Martí of temporary detentions of the former political prisoner, Eduardo Diaz Fleitas, Lady in White Mareisy Díaz León Torres and Bernardo Martinez of the Democratic Alliance in Pinar del Rio.

The Second Democratic Forum in International Relations and Human Rights, which opponents want to run at the same time as the CELAC Summit, is co-sponsored by the CADAL Democratic Bridge Program.

The dissident caucus, scheduled for the first day of the session of the CELAC, will focus on the special statement of the defense of democracy within the agency and its incompatibility with the political system of one-party Cuba.

Without direct reference to the event prepared by the opposition, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Friday at a press conference that there will not be "a summit of governments and an alternative people's summit. Havana is where governments and people can come together and converge naturally, in one room, in one place, in one event."