Quarterly report January – march 2016
- In January, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) recorded 1414 detentions for political reasons. This is one of the highest figures in recent years.
- Given the number of detentions, the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH) based in Madrid reported that physical violence and intimidation against Cuban dissidents has alarmingly increased.
- According to the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the Cuban regime continues to repress openly and unprecedentedly the Churches and violates religious freedom.
- The Guardian posted that until January 2016, at least 35 of the 53 political prisoners released in January 2015 applied for refugee status that would allow them to move permanently to the USA. Five of them were imprisoned again.
- The first 180 Cubans flew from Costa Rica and successfully arrived to the United States. Approximately 8.000 Cuban migrants spent several months in Costa Rica after neighboring Nicaragua, a Cuban ally, denied them passage.
- Communists set a fire and burned copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in front of the Ladies in White Headquarters.
- In February, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation recorded 1141 politically motivated detentions.
- More than 200 activists and Ladies in White were detained in Havana and in the Eastern part of the country. The detainees participated in #Todos Marchamos campaign which was conducted to demand the release of political prisoners.
- The Secretary of State John Kerry and the Cuba‘s trade minister Rodrigo Malmierca met in Washington to discuss trade relations between the two countries and the human rights situation.
- Raul Castro met President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace. France is at the forefront of the negotiations initiated in April 2014 between Cuba and the EU, which could soon lead to an agreement on political dialogue and cooperation.
- According to the Chairman of U.S. Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Corker, Congress will not remove the embargo against Cuba this year due to human rights violations taking place in Cuba.
- The Cuban government eased travel restrictions for seven of the former political prisoners from Group of 75, granting them one-time permission to travel abroad ahead of President Barack Obama’s trip to the island.
- In March, the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH) recorded 526 arbitrary detentions.
- The founder of UNPACU José Daniel Ferrer García and the leader of the Ladies in White Berta Soler were detained in Havana along with other activists. Ferrer was in Havana to participate in Otro 18 campaign. Their detention was interpreted as part of a maneuver by the regime. Since the announcement of President Obama’s trip to Cuba, political repression against opponents has increased. Other detentions took place right before the arrival of Obama. Among detainees were Ladies in White and other opponents such as Antonio González Rodiles or “El Sexto”.
- Between March 21 and 22, President Obama visited Cuba. He was the first U.S. President to visit Cuba in 88 years. Obama also met civil society representatives and opposition. Fidel Castro commented critically on Obama’s trip and said that despite the restoration of relations between the two countries which have been enemies since the Cold War, „we do not need the Empire to give us anything.“
- For the first time, the Rolling Stones gave a concert in Havana. Despite Mick Jagger’s statement, that times are definitely changing, some Cuban activists such as Rosa María Payá think that the Cuban regime uses their visit as a symbol of political opening which in reality does not exist.
- Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, visited Cuba to sign a new agreement on political dialogue and cooperation. She met only with Raul Castro and senior government officials.
- Members of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) and Cuba Decide Project presented the National Assembly of the People’s Power with over 10.000 signatures of citizens endorsing a plebiscite so that Cuban could decide on the system they want to live. The signatures, 10.009 in total, comes in addition to the 25.404 already collected and delivered to the National Assembly by the Varela Project, an initiative of the late leader of MCL, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.