Wire Service
2 minute read
14 Jul 2021
4:02 am

Dozens of Cubans arrested after unprecedented protests


Droves of demonstrators chanted 'Down with the dictatorship' in protests dispersed by police. About 100 protesters again gathered in Havana Monday evening, shouting 'Down with communism.'

Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality, Havana on July 12, 2021. - Cuba on Monday blamed a "policy of economic suffocation" of United States for unprecedented anti-government protests, as President Joe Biden backed calls to end "decades of repression" on the communist island. Thousands of Cubans participated in Sunday's demonstrations, chanting "Down with the dictatorship," as President Miguel Díaz-Canel urged supporters to confront the protesters. (Photo by YAMIL LAGE / AFP)

More than 100 people, including independent journalists and opposition activists, were arrested in Cuba after unprecedented anti-government protests, with some remaining in detention Tuesday, various sources said.

Cuba’s San Isidro free speech protest movement late Monday published a list on Twitter of 144 people held or reported as disappeared after Sunday’s uprising, which saw thousands of Cubans take to the streets in dozens of cities and towns.

Droves of demonstrators chanted “Down with the dictatorship” in protests dispersed by police. About 100 protesters again gathered in Havana Monday evening, shouting “Down with communism.”

The rallies erupted spontaneously, as the country endures its worst economic crisis in 30 years, with chronic shortages of electricity, food and medicine and a recent worsening of the coronavirus epidemic.

Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary in the US State Department’s Bureau for Western Hemisphere affairs, tweeted: “violence and detentions of Cuban protesters & disappearances of independent activists… remind us that Cubans pay dearly for freedom and dignity.

“We call for their immediate release.”

Those held included dissidents Guillermo Farinas, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer and artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara.

Alcantara had been held for more than 32 hours, according to the San Isidro movement.

He had been freed in May after spending almost a month in hospital, where he said he was taken forcibly and held incommunicado following a hunger strike to protest authorities seizing several of his works when he was arrested during a demonstration.

Also arrested was theater director Yunior Garcia, a leader of the 27N movement, born after a much smaller protest by members of the art community on November 27 last year to demand free speech.

He was released on Monday afternoon.

Garcia said on Facebook he was arrested when he went with a group of friends Sunday to the offices of the ICRT government broadcast agency to demand 15 minutes on air.

They were arrested and beaten, he said, “and forcefully dragged and thrown into a truck.”

“We were treated like rubbish,” he said, adding they were taken to a detention center in Havana where they saw “dozens of young people” arrive.

Also arrested on Monday was Camila Acosta, a Cuban correspondent for Spanish newspaper ABC, its foreign editor said.

Spain’s foreign ministry on Tuesday urged the Cuban authorities to respect the right to protest and demanded Cuba “immediately” releases Acosta.