HAVANA, Nov. 17th (AFP) Cuban actor, playwright and dissident Yunior Garcia, one of the organisers of a failed protest on the island nation earlier this week, is currently in Spain, Spanish government sources said Wednesday.
“We confirm that he has arrived with his wife, on a tourist visa,” a government source told AFP.
Garcia is the founder of Cuban opposition group Archipelago which has called for protesters to take to the streets dressed in white.
A planned demonstration in the capital Havana on Monday was thwarted as opposition leaders were detained and security forces flooded the streets to prevent people from gathering.
Garcia also saw his plans to protest solo in Havana on Sunday blocked by the authorities, and on Monday he was prevented from leaving his house by state security agents.
“I know that they are going to do everything possible to prevent me from being there. Of course, they are going to try to arrest me. They will maybe set up surveillance outside my home to keep me from leaving,” he said during an interview with AFP in Cuba last month.
As of Wednesday, reporters have been unable to contact him and he has not posted on social media.
Archipelago planned Monday’s protest after being galvanised by unprecedented country-wide spontaneous demonstrations that broke out in July.
The rallies were fuelled by growing anger at economic hardship and demands for “freedom,” but a crackdown by security forces left one person dead, dozens injured and 1,270 arrested in a country where displays of public discontent are rare and risky.
Born in the eastern city of Holguin, Garcia was long known only in the art world — for his plays, as well as his television and movie scripts.
But since November 27, 2020, when hundreds of artists demanded more freedom of expression at a protest in Havana, he has taken on another role — one of the faces of a new generation critical of the government.
Archipelago, which claims to have 30,000 members inside and outside Cuba, on Tuesday called on protesters to continue their struggle by wearing white, carrying white roses, creating personal videos and banging pots and pans at night, until November 27.
It blasted “the extreme militarization of the streets, more than 100 activists besieged, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, repudiation, violence, threats, coercion and hate speech” in a statement sent to AFP.
Among those arrested was an Archipelago coordinator, Daniela Rojo, whom the group had reported had been missing for days, the organisation said.
Her social media accounts have vanished and it is not known where she is being held.
Cuban officials, who deny holding political prisoners, consider the opposition to be illegitimate and allege it is financed by Washington.