By Vicente Morín Aguado
HAVANA TIMES – On July 11th, a dozen residents of Isla de la Juventud, Cuba were arrested when they began a demonstration in the main park of Nueva Gerona. The civic action was called by the Pinero Autonomous Party (PAP), to which most of the detainees belonged, half of them released in the following days.
However, five of these pro-democracy activists remain prisoners. Three are in the jail of the municipal unit of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) in Nueva Gerona, where all those arrested were initially taken. Those imprisoned there are Osvel Barsagas Claro (40), Luisel Castro Herrera (30) and Juan Luis Sanchez (38).
The other two were transferred to the territorial prison, known as El Guayabo. They are Ramon Salazar Infante, 64, founding president of the PAP since 2006, and his comrade in struggles Francisco Alfaro Dieguez (55).
Dayanis Salazar, daughter of Ramon, a young and brave activist, also on the initial list of detainees, offers her testimony after her release. She confirms the complaint by Juan Michel Lopez Mora, another youth committed to democracy and human rights in Cuba.
The crime alleged to keep the five protesters in jail for 24 days without the right to a lawyer, is “disturbing the peace,” according to the complainants.
The Pinero Autonomous Party, reached its 15 years of existence a month before the historic national protests, under police siege, when the private home of its president was raided, and a score of its members suffered provisional detention. They were present to share a conference celebrating the group’s founding date on June 13th.
This political organization is unique in Cuba, as it combines the struggles for democracy and human rights with a request for political-administrative autonomy for what is historically known as the Isle of Pines.
Despite their isolation from the rest of the country, which reinforces the effectiveness of the repressive apparatus of the dictatorship, they are also part of the national clamor for change, under the cry of Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life).