CFC Condemns Regime’s Denial of Right to Travel and Disappearance for Five Days of Cuban Dissident Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina

Washington, DC. February 4, 2020. Center for a Free Cuba (CFC) Executive Director John Suarez condemns the denial of the right to travel on January 29th and disappearance over five days of Cuban independent journalist and human rights defender Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, who was released last night, according to a press release by the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO).

“I want to denounce the arbitrary arrest that I was subjected to last January 29th when I was preparing to travel from the José Martí International Airport to the United States to participate in an event on human rights [..] I was arrested and authorities violated my right to enter and exit from the country. I was taken to the Boyeros Municipality police unit, the next day I was transferred to VIVAC in Havana and two days later I was transferred to eastern Cuba, specifically to Bayamo, where I remained until today when I was released”, stated Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina in a statement released by the Eastern Democratic Alliance.

Mr. Rodriguez Lobaina is the director of Palenque Vision, an audio-visual project, and coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in the island (ADO).  ADO was formed fifteen years ago with the objective of defending human rights in eastern Cuba.

“We welcome the news that Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina was released, but condemn that his right to travel in and out of his own country was denied, worse yet that he was missing for five days. Mr. Rodriguez Lobaina’s family was told that he was not in government custody causing them great anguish. If not for the rapid mobilization of local activists, international media and organizations he would still be missing. This is why it is important for the international community and human rights organizations to denounce these violations and listen to those Cubans whose rights have been denied by the Castro regime,” said CFC’s Executive Director John Suarez.

ADO requested the help of the international community after Mr. Rodriguez Lobaina was denied his right to travel and arrested on January 29, 2020. Officials told his sister two days later on Friday, January 31, 2020 that he had been released on the 29th, and that they did not have information on his current whereabouts.  In reality, Mr. Rodriguez Lobaina had not been released, but was still being detained.

ADO defended Mr. Rodriguez Lobaina’s right to travel citing Article 13 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and expressed fear for his safety.

Over two hundred Cuban human rights defenders have been denied their right to enter and exit their own country in recent months. Havana claimed in early 2013 that Cubans would no longer need the infamous “white card”, an exit permit to leave the country. This was a document needed to travel into or out of Cuba. However, the reality is that Havana continues controlling who exits and who enters the country with restrictions that violate international norms.