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Cuba: Police Detain Blogger, Disrupt Independent Scholarly Forum

On Saturday, September 1, the well-known Cuban author and blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was detained by state police for several hours. Pardo Lazo had been slated to moderate a session of Estado de SATS, an independent, informal scholarly forum in Havana later that day. Estado de SATS has endured increasing criticism from government officials who claim the program to be “counterrevolutionary.”

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo. From Boring Home Utopics. http://vocescubanas.com/boringhomeutopics/

Police allegedly arrived at Pardo Lazo’s home early Saturday morning and took the blogger, along with his girlfriend, to a nearby station where they were held and questioned for most of the day, leading Estado de SATS organizers to cancel the day's event.

In the blogosphere and on Twitter, the majority of voices agreed that Pardo Lazo’s detention was directly linked to Estado de SATS.

Alberto Muller [es] wrote:

Todo parece indicar que la detencion conllevaba el objetivo de que Pardo no pudiese moderar la mesa de discusion sobre el Nuevo Pensamiento Cubano.

All signs seem to indicate that [Pardo Lazo’s] detention came with the objective of leaving Pardo unable to moderate the discussion panel about New Cuban Thought.

A well-known blogger whose fiction and poetry writings were published in Cuba until 2008, when editors abruptly ceased publication of his work, Pardo Lazo has been detained by police in the past, likely due to his involvement with anti-government groups and online dissent on the island. On Pardo Lazo’s blog, commenter Miguel Grillo Morales [es] wrote:

Secuestrar, detener a un escritor a un bloguero por expresar sus ideas en un papel o en un blog no solo es un crimen, es una bejesa politica. OLP tu detras de las rejas eres el mas libre de todos los cubanos.

To seize [and] detain a writer or blogger for expressing his ideas on a piece of paper or on a blog is not only a crime, it is politically humilitating. OLP behind bars you are the freest of all Cubans.

After his release, Pardo Lazo [es] wrote:

Respirando otra vez fuera de los barrotes y la luz mortecina de una estación de provincia de una capital de provincia de un país de provincia de una historia provinciana con el título grandilocuente de Revolución…

Breathing once again outside of the bars and the faint light of a provincial station in a provincial capital of a provincial country with a provincial history with the grandiose title of Revolution…

The Estado de SATS meeting was rescheduled for the following Monday. Netizens who attended the meeting reported that police kept several attendees from traveling to Rodiles’ house, where the forum is held. Nevertheless, over twenty individuals were able to attend and Pardo Lazo moderated the panel as originally planned.

Responding to the incident, Estado de SATS organizer Antonio Rodiles [es] wrote:

Seguiremos haciendo Estado de SATS, ni amenazas, ni detenciones, ni mitines de repudio, ni operativos policiales nos detendrán. Somos ciudadanos libres y queremos otra Cuba, no hay fuerza bruta que pueda contra eso!!

We will continue to do Estado de SATS–neither threats, nor detention, nor repudiation, nor police operations will stop us. We are free citizens and we want another Cuba, there is no brute force that can compete against this!!

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