May 16, 2019 at 8:25 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Cuban police arrest independent LGBTI activist
Roberto Ramos Mori, gay news, Washington Blade
Cuban police on May 16, 2019, arrested Roberto Ramos Mori, an independent LGBTI activist and tattoo artist, at his studio in Havana. Reports indicate Cuban security officials earlier in the day questioned him about the organizers of an independent LGBTI march that took place in the Cuban capital last weekend. (Photo courtesy of Tremenda Nota)

Cuban police on Thursday arrested an independent LGBTI activist at his Havana tattoo parlor.

Maykel González Vivero of Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba, on Facebook wrote Roberto Ramos Mori was taken into custody near Plaza de Armas in Old Havana. González wrote Ramos was placed into a private car “as though he were kidnapped.”

González told the Blade state security officials earlier on Thursday asked Ramos who organized an unsanctioned LGBTI march that took place in Havana on May 11. González said Ramos “did not want to talk with them.”

Independent activists have criticized Ramos’ arrest on Facebook and Twitter. Sources in Havana said he was released a few hours after he was taken into custody.

Cuban police arrested several people who participated in the unsanctioned LGBTI march.

The National Center for Sexual Education, a group directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former President Raúl Castro, last week announced the cancellation of its annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia march in Havana that was to have taken place on May 11. A second IDAHOBiT march was scheduled for Friday in the city of Camagüey.

State security officials in the days leading up to the unsanctioned march told independent activists not to attend it. They also prevented some of them from leaving their homes in order to attend the Havana march and other unsanctioned IDAHOBiT marches that were scheduled to take place elsewhere in the country.

Juana Mora Cedeño and Isbel Díaz Torres were among the independent activists who were detained before the Havana march. Cleve Jones, a San Francisco-based activist who was to have been the grand marshal of the CENESEX-organized march, attended a party with Mariela Castro that began at the same time as the unsanctioned march.

Jones and Rainbow World Fund Executive Director Jeff Cotter on Wednesday in a statement said they met with CENESEX leadership to express their concerns over the cancelled IDAHOBiT marches and the arrests at the unsanctioned march in Havana. The statement did not say whether Jones and Cotter met with Mariela Castro or CENESEX Deputy Director Manuel Vázquez Seijido, but it added “we have been assured that the detained LGBTQ activists have been released and will not receive severe punishment.”

Jones and Cotter in their statement also said they raised the Cuban government’s decision to prevent this reporter from entering the country on May 8 after his American Airlines flight landed at Havana’s José Martí International Airport.

The Cuban government has not provided a reason for its decision. Mariela Castro, meanwhile, continues to insist opponents of the Cuban government in Miami and elsewhere organized the unsanctioned march.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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