Repression of dissidents, activists and independent journalists continued to grow in Cuba is spite of last year’s visit to Cuba by President Obama and the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the two countries. OCB reporting included Félix Llerena, a young Cuban university student who was expelled from the university after visiting the U.S., Movimiento Cristiano Liberación opposition leader Dr. Eduardo Cardet, and independent journalist and hunger striker Guillermo del Sol.
OCB covered the case of Daniel Llorente, a Cuban national who was arrested after protesting with an American flag during Cuba’s official International Workers Day or May Day celebrations. The incident garnered much international attention, as it was broadcast live to the entire island. Daniel disappeared after being arrested and after much investigation and a call to action, we were able to obtain where he was being held and provided the information to our audience. His son, Eliécer Llorente, was instrumental in discovering where his father was being held.
Other cases of repression included Alexander R. Santiesteban who was beaten by police at the police station in Holguín, Cuba. Pastor Mario Jorge Travieso, an evangelical pastor, and human rights activists, Segundo R. Cabrera and Loreto Hernández, were also subjects of police brutality. We also spoke with Gladys Capote, wife of political prisoner Yosvany Martínez Lemus, who explained how he was beaten in prison for protesting against the Cuban government, and with Damaris Rodríguez, mother of political prisoner Lizandra Rivera, who had her home in Santiago de Cuba searched and ransacked that morning by police.
Working with independent journalist Serafín Morán, OCB was able to obtain an interview with political prisoner Alberto Valle, who was jailed at the notorious Combinado del Este prison. We also received reports from Carlos Amel Oliva, UNPACU activist, on the increased number of police detentions during the month of April. We also updated our audience of other beatings of political prisoners such as Alberto Valle Pérez, Francisco L. Manzanet, Jany Corrales del Río, and Mario Hechevarría among others.
We provided wide coverage on the measures announced by the Cuban government to control and restrict entrepreneurship (cuentapropismo). The new measures freeze private activity indefinitely in 27 categories and permanently suspend five private activities in the country. Our coverage included multiple reactions from those affected within Cuba, as well as opinions from experts and opposition activists.
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the U.S. State Department published the International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, which included Cuba. We dedicated several programs informing our listeners of the details and getting reactions from religious leaders on the island who shared their experience with us. Félix Llerena, and Pastors Manuel Morejón, Alain Toledano, Tomasa Victoria and Félix Lleonart were among the leaders who discussed the level of religious repression and human rights violations with us.