Student inquisitor is arrested (Updated)

Eliécer Ávila Cicilia

A university student who was captured on video quizzing Cuban official Ricardo Alarcon about shortcomings in the communist system, has been arrested, according to a report posted at Payo Libre.
Eliécer Ávila Cicilia, 21, was picked up Saturday morning at his home in Puerto Padre, in Las Tunas province, by police and other officials — one of whom she identified as the son of Cuban vice president Carlos Lage. A day earlier, officials had warned Ávila to stay at home and to prepare for a trip to Havana, according to the report, written by human rights activist Juan Carlos González Leiva.
Elsa Cicilia said she worried that her son would be forced to retract questions and comments he made during the videotaped session with Alarcon, which became public last week. Cicilia said Lage’s son mentioned that she should watch the “Mesa Redondo” program on Cuban television for more information, according to González’s report.
Ávila, whom AFP identified as a “self-avowed government supporter,” questioned Alarcon about restrictions on travel, Internet usage and other parts of Cuban life, during a session held during the nation’s recent “election campaign.”
AFP described the exchange between Ávila and Alarcon:

“Why don’t the Cuban people have the real possibility to stay at hotels or travel to different places around the world?” Eliecer Avila, a self-avowed government supporter at the University of Computer Science, demanded of Cuba’s top lawmaker.
Alarcon tried to justify Cuba’s policies controlling its nationals’ travel, saying: “if everybody in the world, all six billion inhabitants, were able to travel wherever they pleased, there would be a tremendous traffic jam in our planet’s airspace.
“People who travel are really a minority,” he said.
And in implied criticism of Cuba’s economic policy, Avila asked why staples such as food, cleaning products and clothing must be purchased with convertible pesos, when workers everywhere are paid in normal currency, which is worth 1/25th.
Alarcon, who reminded his audience of what the government maintains are the gains made in 50 years of Cuban Revolution, did not address the earning power/currency question, and sidestepped another question about the limits the government has on Internet access.
(CNN and Reuters also described the exchange.)

Ávila apparently got his answers, with a knock on his door.
Watch BBC’s report on the video, which includes Ávila asking his questions, here.
(Cross-posted at Babalú.)
Update: Add your signature to a blog set up specifically for Eliecer by Penultimos Dias and spread the word.

15 thoughts on “Student inquisitor is arrested (Updated)”

  1. Marc –
    And don’t you just LOVE the BBC presenter at the end talking about Cuba as if it were “just another country at the end. Reminds me of old CNN coverage of Iraq. -S-

  2. Marc:
    I realize it’s early and I haven’t been caffenated yet but my first quick look at the title and the picture made me think some dirt on Obama’s college escapades had been uncovered.

  3. Really Now, Who didn’t see that coming?
    -Sorry to seperate myself from the topic, but I heard the Socialist movement that are against Cuban Exiles group of punks showed up to Versailles, and Alpha 66 were waiting for them with Vigilia Mambisa. I’d like to know if anyone was there or saw it? I wanted to be there so bad.

  4. I’m wondering if it’s true they’re going to show him on Mesa Retonta, and if so, how will they spin the story?
    Will they try to use him as an example or will they try to convince the Cuban people that they can now complain and ask questions publicly without fear, all the while having untold numbers of political prisoners for doing just what that student did?

  5. I guess this should answer the question regarding the legitimacy of the videos.
    He is paying dearly for his comments.

  6. bbut they have free healthcare! The are happy people!!!! Everyone is free!!!!
    Yeah right. He probably wasn’t arrested then b/c the government had not figured out someone was taping and would post it somewhere.
    Pretty soon he’ll be tagged as another mercenario del imperio yanqui.

  7. Elian Gonzalez might have been this young man, if he hadn’t been systematically robotized to become a government mouthpiece. You’d better believe they’re going to do a number on this poor kid. God help him.

  8. Do not worry this man asked Alarcon he wanted to go to Bolivia to visit El Ches’s Grave. Well he will get his wish. they will make an example of him. He will be presented with an all expense trip to bolivia to see El Che. They will talk about how good they have free medicine, schools, sports, the bla, bla , bla we are accostumed to
    Esa es la mesa Redonda

  9. Does anyone has the link to the video where tourism workers protested against the increase in tax? I heard that video was out there as well.
    Also, why are the comments on this video disabled on youtube?

  10. Air space traffic??? Is everyone traveling at once?? What a damn clown! These meetings even if they are fixed by the goverment have already backfired….or atleast they’ve made Alarcon look like a real fool…the look on his face was priceless.

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