Democracy Activists in Cuba Report Ongoing Repression

Cardet, arrested in 2016 on charges of attacking law enforcement, scandal, and disorderly conduct, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2017.

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HAVANA, Cuba — A pro-democracy group in Cuba says its members are continuing to experience repression and harassment from police and government officials under the presidency of Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Eduardo Cardet, the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (CLM), says he was blocked Jan. 25 from traveling to the United States from Cuba, despite having his recently renewed passport and the appropriate visa.

According to the CLM, an immigration official at the Havana airport told Cardet he was prohibited from traveling. Asked why, the official reportedly told Cardet that “he ought to know the reason” and gave no further details.

Cardet was arrested Nov. 30, 2016, outside his home on charges of attacking law enforcement, scandal, and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2017. The CLM contends, however, that the real reason for Cardet's arrest was his criticism of the legacy of Fidel Castro and for his pro-democracy activism.

Cardet was released from prison under certain conditions in May 2019 and completed his sentence in September that year.

He was consequently “totally free and had no restrictions imposed on him,” Carlos Payá, CLM's representative in Spain, told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language new partner. Payá called the government's refusal to let Cardet travel Jan. 25 “an arbitrary decision by the regime.”

Regis Iglesia, the CLM's spokesman, says he was similarly blocked Jan. 1 from boarding an American Airlines plane departing from Miami International Airport for Havana because the Cuban government had notified the airlines that Iglesias was prohibited from entering the country. The Cuban dissident leader was exiled to Spain in 2010 by the Fidel Castro regime.

The CLM blasted the travel ban as a discriminatory violation of international law and a total disregard for the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Cuba has signed.

The organization has reported that other members had been given citations by State Security agents and threatened with prison if they continued their activism, been called terrorists by police officials, and been accused of vandalism.

The group said on its website last December that Cuban State Security issued a citation to Eduardo Cardet on Christmas Day, warning him that “the expansion of this organization will not be permitted” and that it would have “zero tolerance for the opposition.”

The Christian Liberation Movement was founded in 1988 by Oswaldo Payá and four other founders to achieve “peaceful and democratic change and respect for human dignity.” It advocates for free, fair, multiparty elections and other democratic reforms.