Continued pattern of repression against activists and journalists

Peaceful Assembly

As part of the campaign - #TodosMarchamos (We All March) - members of Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) have attempted to demonstrate every Sunday. However, security forces continue to use the same pattern of short-term detentions to prevent the marches from happening. For example, on 4th June 2017, 52 women from the Damas de Blanco were arrested. The following Sunday, 60 were detained while attempting to join the protest. And on 25th June, 49 members were arrested, making it impossible to hold the marches. According to reports, many of the women had planned to attend local church services but were arrested soon after leaving their homes to prevent them from later participating in demonstrations. Fourteen women were arrested in Guantánamo, Bayamo, and eastern Santiago de Cuba for organising similar such marches. The group’s leader, Berta Soler, was taken into custody by five uniformed police officers while leaving the house with "a sign demanding freedom for political prisoners”.

Association

Activists in Cuba continue to be arbitrarily detained, as previously reported on the Monitor. During May and June 2017,Observatorio Cubano de Derechos Humanos documented more than 700 arbitrary detentions, a tactic that is used against women activists in particular. The organisation also reported that the government continues to use repressive tactics such as attacks against family members, confiscation of work material and the imposition of travel bans.

Expression

Journalist Manuel Alejandro León Velázquez was arrested at his home in Guantanamo on 22nd June 2017. According to a report, the journalist was released two days later. Velázquez works for the independent news website Diario de Cuba. His wife was quoted as saying that he was forced to “sign a statement” while in prison and if he did not cooperate with the authorities, his mother would be arrested for hiding his computer. His identification, money, computer, camera, and several documents were seized by law enforcement at the time of his detention.

As reported by the Monitor, a protester who waved a U.S. flag during May Day celebrations at Havana’s Revolution Plaza has since been in detention in a psychiatric hospital. The protester, Daniel Llorente, said in an interview:

“They cannot take me to prison because then the public opinion will say they have a political prisoner. Their strategy is to make me look like I'm crazy. But a doctor from this institution says that I am not a danger to society". (Translated from Spanish)