Correspondent in Havana
Guillermo ‘Coco’ Fariñas Hernández, one of the most recognized leaders of the opposition in Cuba, was arrested this September 8 in Villa Clara, the province where he resides. The NGO Prisoners Defender was alerted to the arrest through a call, as explained through his Twitter account: “Forces of the regime went” to the house of the General Coordinator of the United Antitotalitarian Forum (FANTU), “And they took him away.” So far, the place and reason for Fariñas’s arrest is unknown.
This is the second arrest suffered by the opponent in less than a week. On September 2, the activist was arrested by the Cuban repressive organs. On this occasion, he was going to the ‘Arnaldo Milián Castro’ Provincial Hospital, in the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara province, to worry about a FANTU member who was going to be operated on.
Attention! We know from a call received in @CubanDefenders that they just arrested the Sakharov Prize Guillermo (Coco) Fariñas 15 minutes ago
We only know that regime forces went to his house and took him away.@me_you#SOSCuba#PatriaYVida#Cuba@cocofarins
— Prisoners Defenders (@CubanDefenders) September 8, 2021
“The reason that Fariñas Hernández was detained was due to the fact that the (military) high command is not going to allow this non-violent opponent to approach the hospitals, because the situations of shortages of medical supplies in the midst of the pandemic due to the Covid-19 virus, could be lent to create supposed ‘provocations’ against the Revolution. Coco Fariñas’s response to his repressors was that he did not accept his house as a prison. He was kept in the back seat of a Lada car with a private plate in the vicinity of the Mercedes-Benz Plant on the outskirts of the provincial capital, where he was guarded on a rotating basis by several officers of the Political Police. (…) Coco Fariñas was released after 8:40 pm, ”declared the FANTU National Council in a statement hours later.
Coco Fariñas has suffered political imprisonment in Cuba on three occasions, serving a total of 11 years and 7 months incarcerated. He has starred in some twenty three hunger strikes against repression on the island. In October 2010 he received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience, awarded by the European Parliament to those people or organizations that have dedicated their lives or actions to the defense of human rights and freedoms.
More arrests on a designated date
This September 8, the former prisoner of conscience was also arrested. Angel Moya, “By repressive forces of the DSE (Department of State Security) and PNR (National Revolutionary Police), upon leaving the national headquarters of the Ladies in White,” his wife denounced Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White.
– Berta Soler (@bertasolerf) September 8, 2021
The organization’s headquarters, in Havana, and some of its members’ homes in the same province and in Matanzas, have been besieged by State Security officials since the 7th.
Several independent journalists and human rights activists also report house arrests. Reporter Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho was arrested when he left his home.
On September 8, the day of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Patroness of Cuba, is commemorated. Two years ago, when the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) called a peaceful protest classified as ‘March of the sunflowers’, the date has become a matter of concern for the Cuban authorities.
In addition, being the virgin venerated by the Catholic Church, the Ladies in White, in their Catholic vocation and peaceful marches for the freedom of political prisoners, also pay tribute to her.
The police siege around the activists’ homes on commemorative dates like this one, and their arrests in case of going out onto the public highway, has become a recurring practice of the Cuban political police to prevent demonstrations or other peaceful actions by society. independent civilian. This also allows them to show the world a climate of apparent calm or favorable to the regime.
Siege of opposition leaders
Almost two months after his arrest, on July 11 (11-J), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the UNPACU, remains incommunicado and in a state of forced disappearance.
Ferrer was arrested on 11-J when he was on his way to participate in the massive protests against the Cuban regime in Santiago de Cuba. In mid-August it was learned that he had been sentenced to prison again; the authorities justified his imprisonment with a previous process followed against him, since he was serving house arrest at the time of arrest; now he must complete the 4 years and 14 days, which remain from the prison sentence.
In similar conditions is the president of the opposition Party for Democracy ‘Pedro Luis Boitel’, Félix Navarro, from Matanzas, who has also been held incommunicado since 11-J. His family learned that Navarro, 66, has been on a hunger strike since August 23, but has not heard from him since. Currently, they demand proof of life and their immediate freedom
The repressive wave against the Cuban opposition since 11-J also counts among the victims the artist and leader of the San Isidro Movement, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who is in the maximum security prison of Guanajay, in the west of the country. On September 6, they denied him the change of precautionary measure.
«His procedural situation remains in the same circumstances. There is no trial date and file 24 (Attack, Resistance and Contempt) continues to be the cause for which he is in provisional prison (…). You are only allowed to call twice a week for just three minutes. The last call he made was on Thursday, September 2, “denounced the San Isidro Movement it’s a statement.