Thais Mailén Franco, one of the Bishop detainees, arrives in the US for the "volcano route"

Thais Mailén Franco, one of the Bishop detainees, arrives in the US for the "volcano route"

Thais Mailén Franco, one of those detained by the Demonstration on Obispo Street from Havana in April 2021, has been in US territory since early Wednesday morning. “Crossing the California border, crossing the entire desert,” says the activist herself in a video broadcast on their social networks in which he shows that he is, at night, next to the fence built on the border with Mexico.

“We’ve been through a lot on the journey,” he confesses, “and we’re going to turn ourselves in to the United States Army right now,” he says before bursting into tears. Franco is currently being held by the immigration authorities, according to the usual procedure in these cases.

The opponent had left Cuba on August 12 with his eldest son, leaving the other two he has, 9 and 10 years old, in Havana. In a post published on her Facebook page, along with a photo where they were both seen on a plane, it was reported that the young man had “called for Compulsory Military Service” and she, “the threat of returning to prison.”

“Painfully, the resources that with much sacrifice on the part of those who donated, shared, helped, were not enough so that their two youngest children could also leave,” the same text indicated.

A few weeks ago, on September 21, Franco herself, who had kept her whereabouts secret until now, denounced that State Security had summoned his minor children for a “special services program”. “Special services for what?”, the activist cried indignantly in a broadcast, where she asserted that this “only happens in a dictatorship.”

On September 21, Franco herself, who had kept her whereabouts secret until now, denounced that State Security had summoned her minor children for a “special services program.”

That same day, precisely, it was a year since the opposition was released without trial from El Guatao prison after five months imprisoned for the Bishop Street protest. Later, she was sentenced to eleven months of house arrest, until July 12, 2022.

On April 30, 2021, several activists tried to approach Old Havana, the house of the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who was then on a hunger strike, when the Police tried to block their way. At that time, they sat down to protest against what they considered a limitation of their right to free movement.

The video, broadcast live from the scene, provoked widespread solidarity with the detainees of that day. Amnesty International was one of the first international organizations to call for the immediate release of these protesters.

Together with Franco, Inti Soto, Ángel Cuza, Yuisan Cancio, Mary Karla Ares and Esteban Rodríguez were detained for months. Of them, all except two – Cuza and Cancio – are today outside of Cuba.

Regarding the political prisoners on the island, on the other hand, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, addressed harsh words to the Organization of American States (OAS). “The Cuban regime continues to imprison hundreds of people unjustly detained in the protests of July 11, 2021, for the alleged crime of taking to the streets to peacefully ask their government to satisfy their basic needs and for asking for human rights. Some of those incarcerated are minors, others were sentenced to decades in prison just for speaking their minds,” Blinken recalled.

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