Yunior Garcia: Cuban activist who fled promises to return home

Garcia helped organise planned protests in Cuba that did not materialise amid pressure from authorities.

Cuban playwright and activist Yunior Garcia Aguilera gives a press conference in Madrid. [File: Bernat Armangue/The Associated Press]

A leading Cuban pro-democracy activist has pledged to return to his home country after arriving in Spain with his wife.

Yunior Garcia, a 39-year-old playwright, told reporters in Spain on Thursday he and his wife, Dayana Prieto, had fled his homeland a day earlier following pressure from authorities and government supporters.

Garcia is a founder of Archipelago Cuba, an online discussion forum with more than 25,000 followers on Facebook that has become a centre of the anti-government protest movement in the Caribbean nation.

The group was a driving force behind planned protests in Cuba, meant to replicate extremely rare spontaneous demonstrations that broke out in July against the government, earlier this week.

The protests planned for Monday, meant to highlight the hundreds of people still in jail from the July protests, never materialised amid threats from the government and the confinement of prominent activists by government supporters.

“I beg your pardon for being a human, for thinking of my wife and of my life, for considering escaping what would have become death in life. Because that’s what was awaiting me in Cuba: death in life,” García told reporters in Madrid.

“I will try to pardon myself for not being courageous enough to become a bronze statue.”

Garcia planned to make a solo protest march on Sunday to downtown Havana, but government supporters gathered at his home, making it impossible for him to leave.

They also hung Cuban flags from the roof of his building to block his windows.

During an online interview hours after his arrival in Spain, Garcia said that internet and phone service to his home had also been cut off.

“They were going to leave me locked up in my house, they were going to cut me off, as all communications were already there, who knows for how long”, he told reporters. “The only way I had to avoid being silenced was to escape from there.”

He added his exodus was only temporary.

“I have not asked for asylum because my idea is to return to Cuba,” he said.

‘Abusive husband that beats his wife’

Garcia said that remaining in Cuba would have eroded his yearning for dialogue and pluralism, filling his character “with rage”.

“Under no circumstances am I going to give up on building a better country,” he said, calling on the international community to “stop looking in another direction”.

“We have to take on what that revolution has become,” García said, referring to the 1953 overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista that led to the current Communist government.

“It has become an abusive husband that beats his wife. It has become the Saturn that has already devoured his children and, right now, is swallowing his grandchild.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who has repeatedly accused the United States of instigating pro-democracy activists, said Garcia and Prieto’s departure was a personal decision and not the result of a deal between the Cuban and Spanish governments.

“I suppose that (Garcia) is exercising the right that any Cuban has to travel and move freely,” Rodriguez told The Associated Press during an interview on Wednesday.

Source: News Agencies