Cuba: Arrests Target Human Rights Defenders
In response to a new wave of arrests of opposition leaders by Cuban security authorities, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Cuban authorities used the national holiday marking the birth of Jose Marti to intimidate and arrest activists attempting to bring change to Cuba through peacefully, legal and democratic channels, accusing the activists of inciting disorder,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin America programs. “The arrests and acts of intimidation, including orders confining activists to their homes, show the government’s determination to stifle all dissent.”
On January 28, security official entered the homes of opposition leaders including Wilfredo Vallín, Eliécer Ávila, Aida Valdés Santana, María Elena Mir, Roberto Díaz Vázquez, Oscar Casanella, Luis Manuel Otero and Luis Alberto Mariño, among others. The activists were placed under surveillance and prohibited from leaving their homes. State security formally arrested Ileana Hernández and Manuel Cuesta Morúa, leader of the Mesa de Unidad de Acción Democrática (MUAD) and principle promoter of the #Otro 18 project.
Some of the activists had called for a day of “global action” and planned to simultaneously visit WiFi spots to launch a social media blitz demanding the release of political prisoners Eduardo Cardet and Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo. Others planned to attend a meeting of the #Otro 18 project.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.