Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Day of Virgin of Mercedes: A Weekend of Repression in Cuba

Ladies in White beaten and harassed, a group of dissidents congregated at the home of Sara Marta Fonseca were arrested, and dissidents throughout the island had their homes surrounded. 

On the day of the Virgin of Mercedes, the patron saint of all prisoners, the unmeasured and usual violence against the peaceful Cuban dissidence was not absent.  Since days before, the Ladies in White had assured that they would march through the streets of Havana to the Church of Mercedes on Saturday, September 24th.  As a response to this persistent attitude, the state-run blog “Cambios en Cuba” published an entry where the author called on a full-scale violent operation against the Ladies, declaring that “simply, they will not be allowed” to carry out their non-violent actions.  This call made by the official blog was just a theatrical performance aimed to make it seem like (once again) the mobs around the home of Laura Pollan, which is also the headquarter of the Ladies in White, were everyday “infuriated revolutionary citizens” harassing the dissident women.  The group of more than 200 “furious citizens” circled the front door of Pollan, hurling insults and threats at the women, but the Ladies reassured that they would take to the street, despite the consequences.

The independent blogger, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, was able to make it to Neptune Street, where the mob repudiation act was taking place.  There, he was able to photograph the faces of those participating in the violence, which according to him were people who had been pre-selected by the government, seeing as the political police did not let any by-standers stand remotely close to the mob.  In his Twitter account, Pardo Lazo detailed that the screams against the Ladies in White were “Long live the Revolution” and “Down with Imperialism” in addition to other slogans “from the XX century“, such as “Witches in White” and “We have the best commander“.    When the Ladies tried to step out, the slogans changed into chants of “You will not pass“.  A short while after, the blogger also reported that the ‘protesters’ had set up loudspeakers on the street which were blasting Silvio Rodriguez music and a speech by Fidel Castro.  It was then that a bus arrived with uniformed officials from the Ministry of the Interior.  These agents continued the repudiation act with more force, and not to mention, brought food and juice for the mobs- their awards for being obedient to the dictatorship.

Photo taken by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, shows the “awards” which the government gave to the citizens it chose to carry out the mob repudiation attack.

When Laura Pollan and the rest of the Ladies in White once again, and finally, tried to step out of the house, the mobs- who although were ‘spontaneous’ yet who perfectly knew martial arts (as do all agents of the political police and State Security)- applied head and arm locks on the women, in addition to pulling their hair, pushing them, and beating them.  Meanwhile, Berta Soler and a group of 13 other Ladies in White marched out from an undisclosed house and were able to surpass the police operation and made it to the Church of Mercedes.  However, Soler declared to Radio Marti that her husband, former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya, who had accompanied the women, was not permitted entrance into the temple.

Harassment and Arrests in Rio Verde, in the home of Sara Marta Fonseca

While the government organized mobs attacked various Ladies in White on Neptune Street, in the Havana neighborhood of Rio Verde a number of dissidents were meeting at the home of Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo.  Among those present were Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez”, Yris Tamara Aguilera, and Eriberto Liranza Romero.

Liranza Romero narrates that the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front had met in the home of Sara Marta to declare that day a National Resistance Day, in protest against the “abuses committed by the political police against dissidents, specifically against the Ladies in White“.  Quickly, explains Romero, the home of Fonseca Quevedo was surrounded by political police agents who started shouting insults to the nearly 20 dissidents inside.  “Some of us stepped out of the house to show them that when their is dignity, principles, and faith in the struggle, despite anything that can happen to us, we will not fear“.  The political police responded with physical blows and by dragging various dissidents on the floor and into police vehicles, including Antunez, Yris Tamara, Sara Marta and her husband Julio Leon, and Eriberto himself.

I was taken to a police unit located in Santiago de Las Vegas where I was severely threatened, and where, in fact, one official even tried to instigate me to physically fight him“, denounced Eriberto.  “I was released in the afternoon of Sunday, September 25th“.

Romero denounces and warns that Sara Mata Fonseca and Julio Leon still remain detained in the 6th unit of el Cerro.  Sara Marta’s son- also named Julio- echoes this concern, as heard via an audio published by Berta Antunez, sister of Jorge Luis ‘Antunez’.  Jorge Luis had already been released at the time of this report, also having suffered beatings and threats.  It has been commented, and not yet confirmed, that penal authorities have made statements about wanting to process Sara and Julio for “acts of provocation”.  (We must remain fully attentive to this situation)

Surrounded Homes in Eastern Cuba

In similar news, human rights activists throughout the island have been victim of political police vigilance operations set up around their homes, in addition to receiving threats on behalf of government agents.

In the province of Holguin, well-known dissident Caridad Caballero Batista spent the entire weekend with soldiers surrounding her house.  In addition, her ID Card had been confiscated by state agents, impeding her from traveling to Havana in order to march alongside the Ladies in White.  The same story was repeated and applied to Marta Diaz Rondon, in Banes, who also had her house surrounded and who was threatened with “72 more hours of arrest” if she tried to leave her house.  Rondon and Caballero had both just been victims of beatings and arrests when they tried to take part in the National Boitel and Zapata Live March for Freedom this past Monday, along with 13 other dissidents, all of who were beaten and threatened as well.  The arrested dissidents also participated in a hunger strike until their release.

In the town of San German, the independent journalist and blogger Luis Felipe Rojas also denounced that his house had also been surrounded for 3 whole days in order to keep him from moving freely, seeing as he is constantly reporting (through his limited and censured means) acts of repression occurring against the Cuban resistance in whichever province of the country.  Rojas made it clear and denounced that the surveillance was not only occurring in Holguin and San German, but also in the towns of Moa and Cacocum, where many other dissident homes were surrounded.  “Turns out, now in order to travel from municipality to another, to meet up with friends, or go for a public walk we are supposed to wait for G2 (political police) approval“, read one of his more recent Tweets.

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2 responses to “Day of Virgin of Mercedes: A Weekend of Repression in Cuba

  1. Pingback: The (Castro) Empire Strikes Back, and few take notice | Babalú Blog

  2. Pingback: Cuba: “Damas” Targeted Again · Global Voices

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