Washington, D.C.; November 13, 2020.- The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) condemns the arbitrary detention carried about against Afro-Cuban activist Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna, the national coordinator of the Citizens’ Committee for Racial Integration (CIR). Juan Antonio was deprived of his liberty for over twelve hours, during which time his family and colleagues had no information about his whereabouts. Race and Equality demands that the Cuban government immediately end its persecution of citizens who take part in independent civil society activities.
According to information from fellow CIR activist Marthadela Tamayo, security agents violently detained Juan Antonio around 4:00pm on Thursday, November 12 at his home in Havana. Security personnel also confiscated property from Juan Antonio and his sister Jacqueline Madrazo, including two computers, a camara, a projector and screen, an audio recorder, books, and documents.
Although Juan Antonio was released on Friday morning, his family and colleagues were given no information about his whereabouts for over twelve hours, despite visiting at least six police stations to ask where he was being held. Race and Equality, along with other organizations on and off the island, considers Juan Antonio’s treatment to be a case of forced disappearance.
Juan Antonio’s arrest comes on the heels of CIR’s efforts to publicize their report Denial, Exclusion, and Discrimination, which documents the human rights situation for Afro-Cubans and Cubans of mixed race, and the results of the organization’s investigation into racial discrimination in the Cuban labor market. Both documents have been disseminated at the national and international levels, including bring presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
A wave of arrests
CIR also informed Race and Equality that CIR members Esber Rafael and Braulio Hastié were detained in Antilla (Holguin province) on Thursday. The arresting officer, a State Security agent identified as Henry Borrero Peña, confiscated another camera from the two activists. Also on Thursday, the artist and activist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and the independent journalist Iliana Hernandez were both arrested and released hours later.
The government constantly wields such tactics of police harassment and short-term detention against Cuba’s independent civil society. Race and Equality demands that Cuban authorities respect the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of movement. The Cuban State is obligated to protect and promote these rights under the treaties and international commitments to which it is party.