September 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Cuban police detain LGBTI activist in Havana
Leandro Rodríguez García (Photo courtesy of Leandro Rodríguez García)

Cuban police on Monday detained an independent LGBTI activist in Havana.

Leandro Rodríguez García, director of the Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights, an independent advocacy group, told the Washington Blade in a series of voice messages that authorities detained him at around 11 a.m. after he and Ileana Hernández, a human rights activist and journalist, left the European Union’s offices in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood.

Rodríguez and Hernández had gone to the EU offices to speak with an official about Yunia Figueredo, another human rights activist who had been detained in Miramar earlier in the day.

“We were detained leaving that place,” Rodríguez told the Blade.

Rodríguez told Diario Las Américas, a Miami-based newspaper, he and Hernández were brought to a local police station.

Rodríguez told the Blade that officers used “offensive and inappropriate words against him” while he was in custody. Rodríguez said he was fined $50 and forced to return to his home in Villa Clara province after authorities released him and Hernández.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, was in Cuba when police detained Rodríguez. His arrest comes less than a month after the Cuban government prevented him from traveling to the U.S. in order to participate in a months-long program at the Washington Center.

The Cuban government in recent months has detained numerous independent LGBTI activists, human rights advocates and journalists.

Police on May 11 arrested several people who participated in an unsanctioned LGBTI march in Havana. A number of independent LGBTI activists were detained on the same day in order to prevent them from attending the event.

Cuban police on Sept. 7 arrested dozens of people after they raided the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, a political party that opposes the ruling Cuban Communist Party, in the city of Santiago in eastern Cuba. Roberto Quiñones, a reporter for CubaNet, a Miami-based website that covers Cuba, this week began to serve a year-long jail sentence after authorities in April arrested him while covering a trial in the city of Guantánamo.

Yariel Valdés González, a Blade contributor, on March 27 asked for asylum in the U.S. based on the persecution he suffered in Cuba as a journalist. The Cuban government less than two months later prevented this reporter from entering the country.  

Cuban authorities on Sept. 9, 2019, fined Leandro Rodríguez García, an independent LGBTI rights advocate, the equivalent of $50 after they detained him in Havana. (Photo courtesy of Leandro Rodríguez García)

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

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