Repression against Cuban civil society – The San Isidro Movement

Repression against Cuban civil society – The San Isidro Movement

On 1 December 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): Leopoldo López Gil, Gabriel Mato, Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez, Isabel Benjumea Benjumea, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Pilar del Castillo Vera, Pablo Arias Echeverría and Esteban González Pons of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell:

“Following the violent eviction of members of the San Isidro Movement by the Cuban police, more than 200 people demonstrated peacefully on 27 November outside the Ministry of Culture in Havana. Cuban artists and activists were among the demonstrators who had come together to demand the release of rapper Denis Solís and an end to censorship and political repression in the country.

Solís, who was arrested and charged with ‘contempt’ for broadcasting live a confrontation with a police officer who had entered his property, is part of the San Isidro Movement, a group of artists and academics pushing for freedom of expression on the island. Fourteen collaborators and supporters of the movement congregated at its headquarters following the artist’s imprisonment, where they held a peaceful protest until they were evicted during the night of 26 November 2020. A number of them were on hunger strike.

1. In the light of the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, which places so much emphasis on promoting dialogue with civil society, what action does the Vice President / High Representative intend to take if such dialogue does not materialise and repression continues?

2. What is the EU delegation in Havana doing to defend dissidents and civil society?”

On 25 January 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “the EU and Member States have raised the case of Mr Solís and the San Isidro Movement in a number of démarches, including at the highest political level, at different stages of the development of the protest and the events that ensued.

Fortunately, the San Isidro activists have terminated their hunger strike, and their lives are no longer at risk. However, Mr Solís remains in jail, and the EU has since reiterated its call for the review of his case.

The EU is also urging the Cuban authorities to resume an inclusive dialogue with the artistic community on their grievances, calling for the respect for freedom of expression and demonstration.

This matter will also be taken up again at the next session of the EU-Cuba human rights dialogue. In the meantime, both European External Action Service headquarters services and

the Delegation in Havana are in close contact with independent Cuban civil society organisations and human rights defenders, including the San Isidro Movement.”


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