What Happened on June 14th in Cuba?   

another day of repression

From left to right: Diazniuska Salcedo, Fernando Vazquez, Alina Barbara, Nubia Gavilan and Ana Maria Garcia.

It was the birthday of Donald Trump and Che Guevara, however in Cuba it was just another day of stepped-up repression against critical voices.

By El Toque

HAVANA TIMES – Human rights activists and intellectuals who oppose the Cuban Government were arbitrarily arrested, and some were taken and held in an unknown location, on the morning of June 14th 2023. 

Weeks before, Dr. Fernando Vazquez had announced he’d peacefully walk alone on this day, calling for the release of Cuba’s political prisoners. State Security repressed anyone who decided to mobilize and support the doctor’s initiative.

Vazquez posted on his social media profiles that he would begin the walk in Havana’s John Lennon Park and head towards the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Prisons, to hand in a “complaint,” according to his post. Vazquez insisted that this action wouldn’t violate or infringe upon any other person’s rights, nor would he act against the Revolution or Government. 

After he left his house, Fernando Vazquez’s whereabouts were unknown all day. Activists informed us that evening that the doctor was back home. The night before (June 13th), the doctor received threats from Cuban security forces. Government officials warned him that if he decided to take to the street, the entire weight of the Law would come crashing down on him.

Activists and family members of political prisoners who decided to join the Cuban doctor’s initiative and were arrested include Diasniurka Salcedo Verdecia (who was released at approximately 6:00 PM and showed signs of violence on one of her hands), Nubia Gavilan Ramos and Ana Maria Garcia (mother of 11J prisoner of conscience Brenda Diaz; who was released in the evening).

This wave of repression spread to other places across the country. State Security arrested professor Alina Barbara Lopez Hernandez in Matanzas, when she was on her way to work. According to witness accounts, she was arrested at approximately 9:30 AM, near the Victoria de Giron stadium, and she spent over three hours in an unknown location. 

The day before (June 13th), Alina had posted on Facebook that she’d decided to protest in Parque de la Libertad on July 14th, to demand the end to her travel restriction. Alina was released at approximately 10 PM. She was charged with two crimes: disobedience and contempt; she was even given house arrest as a preventive measure.

Lopez gave details about her arrest on the show Derecho a Replica  (The right to reply) by director Ian Padron. Authorities allowed her to represent herself at first, and they took a statement from her after reading her the charges. When she protested that her case file was full of lies, she was told she wouldn’t be able to represent herself and she refused to sign the statement she’d previously given.

Cuban writer Jorge Fernandez Era (who is awaiting trial under house arrest as a preventive measure) was summoned to appear in a Havana police station in the afternoon, which seemed to be a way to contain the solidarity and support renowned figures, such as Era, could give to the movement. This was also the case of Rene Fidel Gonzalez Garcia, in Santiago de Cuba. 

Gonzalez posted on social media that a police officer showed up at his home at about 2 PM, and informed him that he was being charged with “threatening behavior” and that he had been summoned to a police station. Hours later, he said that the charges were filed away “as there wasn’t any substantial evidence of a crime.”  

Organizations such as INSTAR, CUBALEX and the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights complained about repression of activists and intellectuals on their platforms.

According to lawyer Eloy Viera, official authorities’ actions could be interpreted as intolerance, but could also be a display of the regime’s fear. Their fear of the capacity of action a person like Dr. Fernando in this case, could spur in others.

After the July 11, 2021 protests, repression in Cuba has been on the rise. Threats of criminal prosecution, imprisonment, interrogations, travel restrictions, exile and bans on entry into Cuba, are some of the tools the Cuban Government uses to hold onto power and to silence dissident voices.

Despite, this, many Cubans continue to display – albeit timidly, cautiously or what might seem ineffective from a first glance, and at the risk of punishment -, their disagreement in the public, virtual and physical spaces.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

One thought on “What Happened on June 14th in Cuba?   

  • José Marti would have been deeply disappointed in the repression of the people of Cuba whose life he gave on their behalf.

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