Seven activists from diverse opposition organizations were detained during the morning of Monday, November 28th, while protesting in front of the Melia Hotel of Santiago de Cuba. Those arrested were Aimé Garcés Leyva, Vivian Peña Hernández, Yelena Garcés Nápoles, Yurileysi Vázquez López, Mirelis Frías and Héctor Félix Labrada Muñoz and Miguel Rafael Cabrera Montoya. The last two are recently released political prisoners who spent weeks behind the bars for carrying out other non-violent dissident activities during the months of August and September. The seven activists represent three different organizations- FLAMUR, the Republican Party of Cuba, and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPAC) and all make up the “One Currency” Campaign, reason why they were arrested.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who has been reporting about the latest developments of this story through his Twitter account, explained to this blog that the activists who are carrying out this campaign have been demonstrating publicly in different locations during the past few weeks in order to effectuate peaceful actions “against the dual currency system and in favor of just one currency“. Ferrer is referencing the fact that the Cuban regime uses both a system of national currency and that of convertible currency (best known as “CUC”). The former prisoner of conscience narrates that withing the past months many of these activists have been going to local places “which sell products in the convertible currency, and so they purchase some things and when it comes time to pay they pay with national currency“.
This has been done in a wide range of public spaces from restaurants to markets, and on this 28th of November they tried doing the same in the Melia Hotel of Santiago de Cuba. Generally speaking, according to Ferrer, “local workers have received orders from their superiors that if they receive the equivalent needed in national currency, then there is no need to call the police. But today the police were called and the dissidents ended up getting arrested right in front of the hotel”.
The dissidents were taken to the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba and as of Monday afternoon they remain there.
“This is one more of the many actions which have been taking place throughout the Eastern region of the country“, affirms Ferrer, outlining that a few days ago in the town of Contramaestre a very large protest was carried out by members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba. “That protest has given people lots to talk about because hundreds of everyday people congregated around the scene in order to observe the activities and the majority demonstrated their solidarity with dissidents“. Though 9 of the 10 opposition members of this protest were arrested, they were released during the afternoon hours of the following day. They have witnessed gestures of solidarity and support on behalf of the everyday community.
Ferrer adds that “two Ladies in White who were present in that protest have told me that out on the street people have not grown tired in telling them that they are brave. The people approach them to hug them, kiss them, or simply just to demonstrate sympathy“.