Cuba arrests more than 20 ‘traitors’ as street protest entered its third day

Plants and household goods were dumped in front of their Havana home in apparent attempt to oust them

Cuba has arrested more than 20 activists who have been blocking roads around the capital, Havana, in an attempt to disrupt the regime and overthrow its government.

The arrests followed three days of protests in the city, where activists climbed on top of a busy road with dozens of supporters to declare their determination to help Cuba’s enemies, overthrow the government, and jump to their deaths from a balcony if need be.

The arrests continued on Wednesday when food and household items were dumped in front of the home of dozens of activists in the neighbourhoods of Los Llanos and Bávaro.

A group of activists on the run asked to be temporarily provided shelter after protesters on Tuesday chained themselves to electrical transformers in an effort to gain access to the interior of the city.

Miguel Miguez, a Cuban blogger and activist, said on Wednesday that police arrested about 20 protesters who tried to take over his house after the protests.

Miguez and his wife, Sandra Vargas, condemned the action as an attempt to “completely change” the atmosphere in the country, on a scale “never seen since the ‘La Florida’ assassination attempt” of the anti-communist hero Che Guevara in 1962.

Authorities confiscated the couple’s computers after the arrests.

Supporters of the law banning homosexuality walk past the Government Palace in Havana on Tuesday night. Photograph: Alex Garcia/AP

The last-ditch effort to give Cuban dissidents freedom was similarly delayed on Tuesday when the mayor of Havana, Manuel Campos, denied them the use of a public plaza.

The plaza was closed due to “extraordinary social emergencies”, a local source told the Guardian, but the people behind the blockage said they needed the space to demonstrate and opposed the reason given.

“In these revolutionary times, each citizen has the right to convey his political program to the government,” said Patricia Velásquez, a leader of a group called Lucha Cuba. “For the people of the colonias [the barrios], that right is diminished to stay with us from the kitchen to the bedroom.”

The latest round of street action began on Monday, coinciding with the anniversary of the collapse of Soviet bloc, and the island’s October 1 celebration of the anniversary of the introduction of self-government to the western hemisphere in 1902.

Thirty years ago, an attempt by dissidents to block the route of a national march in the capital was quashed by Cuban security agents, with at least four activist “martyrs” killed in the resulting clashes.

Cuba is accused of employing Soviet-style methods of regime change and torture in an effort to stifle dissent.

Earlier this year, Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, denounced fresh reports about “the worst repression Cuba has ever suffered since its revolution”.

The United Nations said in May that over the past year “raids, expulsions, detentions and detention of independent journalists and human rights defenders rose by 42%”.

A report published earlier this month by Cuban human rights group Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCCR) indicated that Havana had asked the European Union to send three “traitors” back to Cuba, a statement it said was “a clear attempt to castigate the opinions of those critical of the Cuban government”.

One political prisoner was allowed to go on a pre-dawn visit to his family on Sunday, when he told a local newspaper: “My fears that I would be disappeared are greater than ever.”

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