Monday, September 26, 2016

Cuban State Security Prevents a Meeting of Pinar del Rio’s Coexistence Studies Center

Cuban State Security Prevents a Meeting of Pinar del Rio's Coexistence
Studies Center / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 23 September 2016 — Tania de la Caridad
Reyes and her husbandYosvany Alfonso were intercepted by police in Pinar
del Río when they tried to reach the Coexistence Studies Center (CEC) to
attend the course "My Neighborhood a Community." Two police patrols
forced them to return to Cienfuegos, where they reside. On Friday the
organizers denounced the intervention by State Security, which prevented
the realization of the planned activity with various groups of civil
society to share ideas on "civic learning."

"This last month we have had nine interrogations of team
members. Finally we had to suspend the 'My Neighborhood a Community'
program, which is part of the ethical and civic project for the safety
of the participants," Dagoerto Valdes, director of the CEC, explains to

"Where in the world are people prevented from attending a course that
the only thing it does is make them better and more responsible citizens
in their community?" asks Valdes.

Reyes and Alfonso are the ones responsible for "Project New Hope," which
operates in the South Caunao neighborhood, a recently completed
residential area on the outskirts of the city of Cienfuegos. According
to the couple, under the auspices of the Czech NGO People in Need they
do training work with children and youth in the area, organize walks and
create networks to promote work in the neighborhood.

"We chose this course because ours is community work and this meeting
would allow us to obtain tools to improve our work in the neighborhood,"
Reyes told 14ymedio.

According to the activist, when they arrived at the bus station in Pinar
del Río Thursday night, three police officers in plainclothes stopped
them and made them turn off their cellphones. After allowing them to
make a call from a landline provided by the officers themselves, they
were driven to the outskirts of the city to send them to Havana.

"They stopped two tractors that make the trip to Havana and sent us
separately. They took down the license plates of the vehicles and told
the drivers they were responsible for what happened to us," says Reyes.

When they got to the capital they were left at a gas station from where
they had to get to the bus station and get "overpriced" tickets to
return to Cienfuegos. (The regular tickets are subsidized and cost about
two CUC (about $2 US), but the huge waiting list forced them to buy the
tickets under the table).

"When we learned what had happened with the group from Cienfuegos, we
decided to suspend the meeting. We advised the ecological group
Eco-Social Movement for the Protection of Nation and the Environment
(PRONATON), which sent several delegates from Sancti Spiritus, and the
Pinar del Rio group Independent and Democratic Cuba, which would also
participate in the event," explained Yoandy Izquierdo, member of the
editorial board of the magazine Convivencia (Coexistence).

Izquierdo also denounced the presence of several people who were
monitoring the place where the course would be held from early in the
morning, and making it difficult for the organizers to communicate by
phone and text message.

The Coexistence Studies Center organizes training courses for
citizenship and civil society in Cuba. It has four main lines of action,
ranging from the publication of the magazine Convivencia to the debate
of ideas through reflection and study groups. It also has a
comprehensive training program and so-called micro-projects. It is a
project of the nascent Cuban civil society and its members are totally
independent of the State, the Church and any political group.

Source: Cuban State Security Prevents a Meeting of Pinar del Rio's
Coexistence Studies Center / 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -

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