Advertisement

Cuba detention of activists ahead of free speech event draws U.S. criticism

"We strongly condemn the Cuban government’s continued harassment and repeated use of arbitrary detention, at times with violence, to silence critics, disrupt peaceful assembly and freedom expression, and intimidate citizens," the U.S. Department of State said in response to the reported detentions.

By
JC Finley
Margarita Sabadago has her flags ready to sell during the Anti-Castro gathering in Jose Marti park in Little Havana, Miami, Florida, Dec. 20, 2014. UPI/Gary I Rothstein
Margarita Sabadago has her flags ready to sell during the Anti-Castro gathering in Jose Marti park in Little Havana, Miami, Florida, Dec. 20, 2014. UPI/Gary I Rothstein | License Photo

HAVANA, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Cuban officials detained at least three activists ahead of a planned freedom of speech performance at Havana's Revolution Square Tuesday afternoon.

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, among those detained, spoke Monday about the planned event with NPR. "It's just to tell people in the street come and share with us your doubts, your happiness -- whatever you think right now about what is happening in Cuba, and what is the idea of Cuba that you want?"

Advertisement

Cuba's arts council withdrew its initial support for the event, deeming it "unacceptable" due to the "vast media coverage and the manipulation which the performance has received by counterrevolutionary media." The event was ultimately cancelled.

The U.S. Department of State expressed its concern "about the latest reports of detentions and arrests by Cuban authorities of peaceful civil society members and activists, including Luis Quintana Rodriguez, Antonio Rodiles, Danilo Maldonado, Reinaldo Escobar, Marcelino Abreu Bonora and Eliecer Avila."

RELATED Freed from Cuban prison, Alan Gross to get $3.2 million settlement

"We strongly condemn the Cuban government's continued harassment and repeated use of arbitrary detention, at times with violence, to silence critics, disrupt peaceful assembly and freedom expression, and intimidate citizens."

Advertisement

Such condemnation comes two weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama announced a normalization of relations with Cuba.

Yoani Sanchez, a prominent dissident blogger, announced via Twitter that her husband, Escobar, and Avila had been detained. "They are taking away my husband @rescobarcasas and @eliecer_cuba in a police patrol car, handcuffed."

RELATED U.S. lawmakers, Cubans react strongly to revised U.S.-Cuba policy

Escobar was reportedly released Tuesday. It is unclear how many activists remain in detention.

RELATED Obama announces sweeping changes to U.S.-Cuba relations

RELATED Castro: Cuba will remain communist, despite new deal with United States

Latest Headlines