Cuban Activists Arrested to Prevent Attendance at Rights Performance #YoTambienExijo

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
From The Miami Herald:

Cuban activists arrested to prevent their attendance at a Havana gathering

Police mobilize to prevent activists from taking part in a gathering at the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana.

Cuban authorities arrested several dissidents and independent journalists Tuesday in an apparent attempt to prevent them from attending a rally in Havana’s revolutionary square organized by a new movement that calls itself #YoTambienExijo (IAlsoDemand).

Among those detained as of early afternoon were journalist Reinaldo Escobar, editor of the online 14ymedio publication and husband of prominent blogger Yoani Sánchez. Eliecer Ávila, an activist, and Antonio Rodiles, who directs a human rights group called Estado de Sats, also were taken into custody. The arrests were reported via Twitter by Sánchez, who founded 14ymedio.

Sánchez said she was placed under house arrest and also reported that several other 14ymedio contributors were visited by State Security officers, who warned them not cover the event, which was scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. at the Plaza de la Revolución. The demonstration called for participants to go before a microphone for one minute to share their thoughts, concerns or ideas about how Cuba’s future should unfold.

The rally was promoted via social media after the historic Dec. 17 announcement of renewed diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana. Hundreds of people said they planned to attend even though Cuban authorities denied permission to organizers, headed by prominent Cuban artist Tania Brugera.

Cuban government opposition leader, Angel Moya, also reported the arrest of Aliuska Gómez, a member of the Ladies in White group, and said several other human rights activists had gotten visits by State Security officers at their homes.

Several opponents and independent journalists said they were receiving fake text messages on their cell phones stating that the event had been cancelled.

Bruguera met with Cuba’s National Council of Fine Arts President Ruben del Valle for more than three hours on Saturday to try to obtain official permission for the event to no avail. A posting on the government-controlled website, The Jiribilla, lambasted the #YoTambienExijo rally as "a sham."

Bruguera, who refers to the event as “performance” art, said the idea came from a letter she wrote to President Barack Obama, Cuban leader Raúl Castro and Pope Francis following the Dec. 17 announcement in which she demanded that all Cubans have a right to stake their claim on the future of the island and also have a right to express their opinions through peaceful demonstrations in favor or against government action without “being punished.”

Meanwhile, a simultaneous rally is scheduled to take place in Miami at 3 p.m. in front of the Freedom Tower downtown.