CUBA BRIEF: Young religious freedom activist detained and threatened. Castro’s daughter doesn’t like presumptive successor. Why Americans don’t want to go to Cuba.

“Fếlix Yuniel Llerena, a 20 year-old religious freedom activist and university student, was detained [last Friday] and threatened on his return to Cuba following a visit to the US, which included meetings to raise concerns about continued violations of religious freedoms on the island,” reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

The Miami Herald reports that the daughter of Raul Castro, Mariela, believes that “There are several people with qualities” to replace the 85 years-old Cuban dictator who is to retire as president of Cuba in 2018. What Ms. Castro really means is that she does not like the presumptive successor 57 years-old Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba’s first vice president.  The real problem with Díaz-Canel’s candidacy is that his last name is not Castro.  

Finally in this CubaBrief: “A flash of excitement about travel to Cuba after the country opened its borders may have lost some of its shine.” 


Christian Solidarity Worldwide (United Kingdom), May 2, 2017


By Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Fếlix Yuniel Llerena López, A 20 year-old religious freedom activist and university student, was detained and threatened on his return to Cuba following a visit to the US, which included advocacy meetings arranged by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in Washington, DC to raise concerns about continued violations of religious freedom in Cuba.

Llerena López was interrogated by state security agents upon arrival at the Abel Santamaria International Airport in Santa Clara on 27 April. On 28 April, he was detained by state security, interrogated, threatened and forced to sign an ‘Acta de Advertencia’ or pre-arrest warrant for public disorder. Llerana López reported that he was questioned aggressively by two high ranking state security officers, who appeared to have detailed information about his activities while in the United States. 

They told him: “This is a country town; the people here don’t know anything about human rights and if one of these country peasants is made to believe that you are going to commit a terrorist act, he is going to cut you open with a machete, and later you won’t be able to say that we sent him.”  

Llerena López’s mother, Mileidis López Sosa, who did not travel with her son, was also temporarily detained and interrogated in what appears to be another attempt to intimidate the young activist. [More]


The Miami Herald, May 1, 2017

‘There are several people with qualities’ to replace Raúl Castro, says the Cuban leader’s daughter


The succession of Cuban ruler Raúl Castro may be less clear than previously thought.

Recent remarks by Mariela Castro Espín suggest that there is more than one candidate to replace her father, who has publicly stated that his tenure as president of the State and Ministers’ councils would end in 2018.

“Who do I want for the future of the country? I have no idea. In all [the candidates] I look at, I see virtues and defects, including in my father,” Mariela Castro told students at the University of Havana’s School of Communication on Friday afternoon.

“The people have to decide. I do not have a preferred candidate but there are several people with qualities. I’m not going to say anything yet, I’m observing,” she said, according to a story published in Cubanet. [More]  


MarketWatch, May 3, 2017

This is why American tourists don’t want to travel to Cuba

By Kari Paul

A flash of excitement about travel to Cuba after the country opened its borders to the U.S. in 2016 for the first time in decades may have lost some of its shine.

Americans are less interested in travel to Cuba this year than they were in 2016, a survey from insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance found. Some 76% of the 1,514 respondents said they were not likely to plan a trip to Cuba in 2017 compared to 70% in 2016. Only 2% of those surveyed planned to visit Cuba in the next six months or by the end of 2017, the same as 2016 despite a projected increase in travelers from the country’s ministry of tourism. It also found that 60% of Americans said “would not like to travel to Cuba” compared to just 58% in 2016.

Although some of these shifts may be expected after the initial flurry of interest, flight trends also suggest demand is lower than initially expected, said Brian Sumers, an airline analyst at travel site Skift. “When the country opened up, just about every U.S. airline was obsessed with getting as many routes into Havana as it possibly could — they thought it was going to be a gravy train,” he said. “Now, as I understand it, a lot of the flights are empty.” [More]