November 10, 1999
HAVANA, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Cuban security services have detained a local opposition activist trying to organise a protest march against President Fidel Castro's government, relatives and dissident sources said on Tuesday.
Oscar Elias Biscet, a medical doctor turned anti-Castro activist, was taken in six days ago and appeared set to remain at a Havana detention centre until after Wednesday's intended public demonstration, the sources said.
``I'm scheduled to visit him tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) in Cien y Altabo (detention center),'' said his wife, Elsa Morejon Herandez. ``I don't know why they detained him this time. I'll find out tomorrow.''
Biscet was one of various dissidents Castro named on television last week as ``counter-revolutionary'' agitators allegedly stirring up trouble ahead of next week's Ibero-American Summit at the behest of the United States.
``There is a rather provocative gentleman and, in my opinion, a bit disturbed, frankly, for the things he does, for the problems he causes, for the disputes he has with his own people,'' Castro said at the time, adding that Biscet worked closely with Washington's unofficial diplomatic mission, or Interests' Section, in Havana.
Biscet, in and out of detention all year, had said he represents peaceful opposition to Castro's one-party socialist system, and speaks for human rights and political prisoners. He leads a local rights' group called the Lawton Foundation.
While some fellow dissidents described him as brave, others questioned his links to U.S. anti-Castro groups. Most agreed his activities -- including open-air meetings to promote civil disobedience -- were unusually provocative in Cuba's tightly controlled society.
Wednesday's march, which had been planned to start at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) in a Havana park, is one of various activities, principally meetings and statements, dissidents are planning around next week's gathering in Cuba of heads of state from Latin America, Spain and Portugal.
Havana does not accept the word ``dissident,'' saying all opponents are ``mercenaries'' and ``traitors'' who will be punished if they infringe Cuba's penal code.
Cuba's small and illegal opposition groups have no access to state media and are generally better-known by foreign correspondents and diplomats than the island's people at large.
In last week's speech Castro ridiculed a protest fast earlier this year organised by various opposition figures, including Biscet. The Cuban leader produced reports showing exactly what each faster had eaten, detailing their average daily calorie, protein, fat and carbohydrate intakes during the 40-day protest.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
[ BACK TO THE NEWS ]