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Hotels in Cuba Are Not Exempt from Harassment or Stalking Tactics

MIAMI, United States. – Cuban activist Claudio Gaitán Garmendia revealed on Facebook the harassment episodes he experienced at the Meliá Internacional Varadero Hotel early this year, when he stayed there with his family.

“It all happened between January 3 and 5. Naïve me, I thought that hotels in Cuba were exempt from harassment and stalking tactics,” he wrote on that social network. In a long post, the activist told of several incidents of harassment and stalking on the part of two alleged agents of State Security, whom he suspects were staying in the hotel so they could spy on him.

“I ask myself: where do they get the money, who finances them, and why finance an apparatus that misspends it resources on innocent and free citizens instead of fixing balconies or improve industries,” he questioned.

After these incidents, Gaitán Garmendia contacted the manager who headed operations at the tourist facility. “I left my mother resting and asked to speak to the manager. They sent me to customer service. A young woman seemed ready to solve my problem (…). After I explained about the few days I had been in Cuba and the unpleasant incidents in their hotel, all of them videotaped because they had cameras for that, she only answered: “Wait here, let me get the manager.”

“Juan –the manager- shows up, a thin man with a Spanish accent. I proceed to tell him the same story (about the two alleged hotel guests stalking me). At first, he was skeptical and said no such thing had never happened in the 10 years he had been there. (…) I indicated that all I wanted to do was to let him know about my experiences in his hotel, that I was well informed and I would make the pertinent complaints through the corresponding channels, and stressed the lack of privacy that one felt in his hotel.”

On the Tripadvisor web page, one can corroborate that the young activist rated Meliá Internacional Varadero as only a one-star facility. “That agents from Counterintelligence welcome you –you, who are a hotel guest- and take photographs of you; that you are assigned to a room for three that has been made ready for only two people, after waiting for hours hours to check-in, are all harassment techniques that Meliá allows in Cuba,” he added.

Claudio Gaitán Garmendia resides in Barcelona, Spain, where he has participated in several demonstrations in from of the Cuban Consulate in that city. In February 2021, the young activist demanded the resignation of Cuba’s Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso, for his role in the repression against a group of artists and journalists on January 27, 2021.

This Friday, when Gaitán Garmendia was about to leave the island and return to Barcelona, State Security agents subjected him to an interrogatory at the “José Martí” International Airport in Havana, according to another post on Facebook.

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