Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Cuba in November 2017: Activists missing, artists arrested by Castro's secret police

Communist Cuba remains a tropical gulag

Imprisoned in Cuba for their ideas: Luis Manuel Otero and Yanelis Nuñez Leyva
A year and two months ago The New York Times featured sculptor Luis Manuel Otero and art historian Yanelis Nuñez Leyva, a staff writer for the Ministry of Culture, pushed the boundaries of the status quo.  They were behind an effort that attempted to redefine the term "dissident," removing its stigma. Today they were arbitrarily detained at the police station Chacón in old Havana and Luis Manuel's studio searched by state security.

Arbitrarily detained yesterday in Cuba.
Meanwhile Leonardo Rodríguez, a religious freedom activist and member of the Patmos Institute yesterday left in the morning to visit his elderly mother on his birthday and was detained before arriving. He is being held in the 3rd Unit of State Security in Santa Clara.

More worrisome are the disappearance of two human rights defenders in Cuba. Robert Jiménez Gutiérrez and Cesar Ivan Mendoza were traveling out of Havana to attend an event in Santiago Alvarez On October 23, 2017 and no one has heard from them since then. They are members of the Latin American Youth Network which is led by Rosa María Payá Aceved. Danilo Malddonado posted the above pictures on Instagram. Freedom House issued the following statement, describing them as disappeared on November 2, 2017.
“Cuban authorities should either confirm Robert Jiménez Gutiérrez and Cesar Ivan Mendoza Regal’s are in custody or investigate their otherwise unexplained disappearance, as family members have repeatedly asked,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin American programs at Freedom House. “Authorities should explain or investigate the fate of the men since the last known sighting of them, when they left their homes on October 23 for Havana’s airport for a flight to Miami but without ever boarding the aircraft. It would be a grave mistake for the Cuban government to return to era of ‘disappearing’ its critics.”
 This is communist Cuba on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first communist regime. A police state where Cubans are arbitrarily detained, artists arrested, and human rights activists disappeared. It is also important to recall that later this month on November 30, 2017 the current leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Eduardo Cardet Concepción, will mark one year in prison as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. His predecessor Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was killed under suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012.

Eduardo Cardet Concepción arbitrarily detained since November 30, 2016

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