September 16, 2020 at 11:38 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Cuban authorities threaten to arrest LGBTQ activist, journalist
Jancel Moreno (Photo courtesy of Jancel Moreno)

An LGBTQ activist and journalist in Cuba says authorities on Wednesday threatened to arrest him.

Jancel Moreno, who contributes to ADN Cuba, an independent website, in a Facebook post said he arrived at a police station in Matanzas, a city on the island’s northern coast that is roughly 60 miles east of Havana, at around 2 p.m. after he received an order to do on Tuesday.

Moreno wrote a major with Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police showed him a file with “more than 40 publications from my profile, also telling me that I am a follower of” José Daniel Ferrer, head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), and other opposition figures.

“It was really impossible to enter into a debate, because neither he will change his position, nor will I,” wrote Moreno.

Moreno said the major told him he summoned him to the police station “to alert me that I can face four charges for his publications.” These include “enemy propaganda” and “disrespect (specifically because of my way of not showing respect for authorities, Mariela Castro’s name comes out …)”

Mariela Castro is the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBTQ-specific issues in Cuba as director of the National Center for Sexual Education. Mariela Castro is also a member of Cuba’s National Assembly.

Cubans on Sept. 8 honor the country’s patron saint, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre.

Moreno publicly criticized Mariela Castro after she evoked her to defend the 1959 Cuban revolution that brought her uncle, Fidel Castro, to power. Moreno in his Facebook post wrote the file he saw at the police station had copies of his public criticisms of Mariela Castro, including a hashtag that mocked her.

Moreno said the mayor also told him he could face charges of “incitement to commit a crime (because I supported women who entered military officers’ houses last Saturday)” and “spreading a pandemic” that he concedes “is not very clear to me.” Moreno wrote he could face between 3-4 years in prison “for simply publishing on social media networks.”  

Moreno on Wednesday night told the Washington Blade that he is at his home and safe.

Former partner asked for asylum in the Netherlands

Moreno, 21, is the latest in a series of independent LGBTQ activists and journalists who the Cuban government has targeted.

Leandro Rodríguez García and his mother, Tania García Hernández, say a state security official on Sept. 11 threatened them at their home in Villa Clara province in Central Cuba.

A judge last September granted asylum to Yariel Valdés González, a Blade contributor who faced persecution in Cuba because of his work as an independent journalist.

The Cuban government on May 8, 2019, detained this reporter for several hours at Havana’s José Martí International Airport after he tried to enter the country. Authorities three days later arrested several people during an unsanctioned LGBTQ rights march that took place near the Cuban Capitol in Havana.

Dayana Mena López, a transgender woman of African descent who is from Villa Clara province, fled Cuba in December 2018 because of persecution she said she suffered because of her gender identity and her opposition to the Cuban government. She won asylum in the U.S. in August 2019 and she now lives in Jacksonville, Fla.

Yanelkys Moreno Agramonte and her girlfriend, Dayana Rodríguez González, suffered harassment and discrimination in the small town in Central Cuba where they lived because they are lesbians. The two women asked for asylum in the U.S. last November, and an immigration judge on Monday ruled in Moreno’s favor.

Jancel Moreno’s former partner, Victor Manuel Dueñas, asked for asylum in the Netherlands in 2018. Dueñas said authorities threatened him when he publicly questioned police mistreatment of LGBTQ people in Cárdenas, a city adjacent to Matanzas.

Rodríguez and Maykel González Vivero, director of Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner in Cuba, are among those who the Cuban government has prevented from leaving the country.

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

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