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Politics

Havana's envoys to the Summit of the Americas, poised to whitewash the regime's image

Havana's delegation to the Summit of the Americas. (ACN)

Those that the Government in Havana is sending as "representatives of Cuban civil society" to the parallel forums at the VIII Summit of the Americasflew to Lima this Sunday - something activists and representatives of independent organizations invited to these events were not able to do.

According to the state-run Cuban News Agency (ACN), among those who will attend are "social actors, young people, intellectuals, deputies, farmers, self-employed workers, entrepreneurs and academics", all belonging to the Union of Young Communists and "mass organizations" controlled by the regime.

The Government's envoys will attend the discussion forums that will take place under the auspices of the meeting of the Heads of State and Government, scheduled in Lima on 13 and 14 April.

The president of Cuba's Christian Student Movement, Dianet Martínez, told the ACN that she is attending the Civil Society Forum in order to "share the realities of the country and its achievements".

"Given the current scenario in Latin America, where the forces of the Right are on the rise, more than ever we have a duty to carry the light of Cuba to the continent," said Martinez.

According to the source, the young woman stated that "they will also have the obligation to serve as a voice for Venezuela, excluded from the Summit of the Americas."

Peru, on 13 February, announced that Nicolás Maduro would not be invited to the Latin American event. The decision was a response to the "sudden" call for early presidential elections in Venezuela on April 22, condemned by the Venezuelan opposition and several countries in the region, including those that make up the Lima Group.

State-backed historian Elier Ramírez agreed that "one of the priorities will be solidarity with the Venezuelan cause, just as the island received support in past Summits, when it was marginalized."

He also said that it will convey to the courts of international opinion the regime's fundamental demand for a lifting of the US embargo.

He spoke of a "willingness to engage, from a position of civilized respect, in all kinds of dialogue." However, this dialogue does not include independent civil society groups that oppose the regime, which he called "mercenary elements and organizations financed from abroad."

The strategy to silence dissent

Havana has called upon figures such as the athlete Yarisley Silva, the musicians Elito Revé and Eduardo Sosa, the president of the Hermanos Saíz Association in Sancti Spíritus, Alexander Hernández; Orlando Gutiérrez, president of the Supreme Council of the Abakuá Association and a member of the Yoruba Society of Cuba, among other figures.

This week, the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy (JuventudLac) warned,  in a letteraddressed to Foreign Minister Néstor Francisco Popolizio and other high-ranking Peruvian officials, of the "serious danger" posed by "the meddling of agents of the Cuban dictatorship" at the VIII Summit of the Americas.

The president of the Network, Rosa María Payá, and its coordinator, Jatzel Roman González, urged the Peruvian authorities not to "tolerate" – as happened at the previous Summit in Panama, in 2015 – the "neighborhood bully attitude of the Castro delegation."

To stymy anti-Castro dissent at the Lima event, and explicitly revealing the reach of State Security, the regime is maneuvering to keep anti-regime journalists, activists and opponentsin Cuba.

Last February authorities prevented DIARIO DE CUBA journalist Jorge Enrique Rodríguezfrom boarding a flight to Spain. State Security agents who interrogated him later admitted that their concern was that he would fly from Europe to Lima.

Carlos Amel Oliva Torres, coordinator of the Youth Front of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was also prevented from traveling. He tried to renew his passport to visit Lima with an official invitation to the Civil Society and Social Actors Forum, and also invited by the Political Institute for Freedom (IPL).

On Wednesday of last week the playwright Adonis Milán and the musician Gorki Águila, leader of the punk rock band Porno para Ricardo, were also blocked from leaving the Island.

Several activists have been unable to travel to Lima from Miami, such as Danilo Maldonado, "El Sexto", and Felix Yuniel Llerena.

The most recent casesto come to light have been those of four activists of the Committee for Racial Integration (CIR), as well as journalists Ileana Álvarez, with the magazine AlasTensas, and Pedro Manuel González Reinoso, with CubaNet.