Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

The story of a dissident family in Banes, Holguin

Gertrudis Ojeda with her three children outside her home in Banes, Holguin

Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez  and Yoandri Naoski Ricardo Mir are residents of Banes, Holguin, and parents of 3 underage children.  They live under constant surveillance, harassment and repression at the hands of Cuban political police agents, just because they have ideas different than those who are in power.

Gertrudis is a member of the Ladies in White and both are members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, a pro-freedom group based in the Eastern region of the island.  Recently, the violence against them has duplicated, mainly affecting their children.

This past Thursday, 25th of April, Gertrudis and Yoandri stepped out of their home in the Nuevo Banes neighborhood, accompanied by 7 other dissidents, and carried out a peaceful protest-march in solidarity with the more than 60 hunger strikers of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who are demanding the immediate release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, who was arbitrarily arrested last April 9th and who has also been on hunger strike since.  The protest was a success, considering that its spontaneous nature allowed them to surprise police officials who usually crack down on similar activities quickly.  The 9 activists returned to the house without any problems after having marched several blocks shouting messages in favor of the freedom of all political prisoners and in solidarity with the everyday people.

Only a few minutes passed when, suddenly, numerous agents of the State police showed up in front of the house.  Among them were agents Freddy Aguero and Lieutenant Colonel Roilan Cruz Oliva, notorious oppressors of the area.  In just a matter of minutes, the agents raided the house, savagely beating Gertrudis, Yoandri and all others present, even two brothers of the Lady in White- Yadian Vergara Suarez and Yunior Vergara Suarez.

In an audio published by ‘Radio Republica’, Ojeda Suarez recounts how she was beaten by various members of the Ministry of the Interior to the point that they even broke her mouth.  Her mother, Justina Suarez Rojas, was pushed and threatened, while Yoandri Naoki was beat and detained, taken in a cop car to the unit known as Pedernales, infamous for its inhumane conditions and horrid treatment against inmates (most of who are there unjustly).  The police broke various objects inside the house and took various belongings of the dissidents, among them their only cell phone.

Yoandri Naoki with his daughter, Bianca, 6 years old

Witnessing all these events were the youngest children of Ojeda and Ricardo:  Bianca Ricardo Ojeda (6) and Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Ojeda (5).  The minors started to desperately scream for their parents.

Gertrudis was released a few hours later but Yoandri Naoki remained arrested for a little over a day.  While she was still alone in her house, the political police organized a mob to carry out against an ‘act of repudiation’ against Gertrudis on the night of April 26th.  During the repudiation, Ojeda was completely in-communicated.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez Marrero, a human rights activist and neighbor of the dissident couple, confirmed to this blog that the act of repudiation ended at about 9 PM.

On Thursday, May 2nd, the police once against lashed out against the activists, organizing a second act of repudiation outside the home of Gertrudis and Yoandri, and later, another outside the home of Juan Miguel Gonzalez.  The reason this time around?  Earlier that day they had held a vigil in the home of Ojeda Suarez, praying for the freedom of all political prisoners on the island.

As soon as the vigil ended at Gertrudis’ home, I left towards my house and was brutally detained by State Security“, said Gonzalez, “I was threatened while in the police unit by Freddy Aguero, captain of State Security“.

The repudiation occurred that night, after his release.  The participants were mostly members of the Communist Party, while almost none were neighbors.  They shouted offensive words, slogans and threats against the dissidents.

Gonzalez points out that his 13-year-old daughter, Dayani Gonzalez Rodriguez, is also suffering psychological problems.

She has witnessed various detentions firsthand and she is very afraid…she doesn’t even want to go to school“, he said.

The children of Gertrudis and Yoandri are also on the same path.

“They have traumatized my children.  They don’t want to eat, they don’t go to school.  They are treated differently and looked badly upon just because of the way their parents think, just because we are against this regime”, expressed Ojeda Suarez in another audio published by ‘Radio Republica’.  “The State is torturing two children”.

On another note, Naoki denounces that the police agents robbed “67 signs, 28 books, a cell phone, the charger, and even a monument to Orlando Zapata Tamayo (assassinated political prisoner)” from his home.  “They even took books by Jose Marti.  In fact, an instructor known as Ezequiel from Banes told me: ‘this is not the Jose Marti I know’ and I responded, ‘as far as I know there is only one Jose Marti.  What happens is that many of his thoughts are censored in this country and not included in your books’“.

The mobs also woke my children up during the second act of repudiation on May 2nd…my kids are traumatized“.

Everything indicates that the acts of State-sponsored repression will continue against Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir and all other dissidents in Banes, Holguin, but they have taken on a posture of persistence and bravery.

“My defense is to say the truth…I am prepared for them [the regime] to come…and I do not care if they kill me…I do not mind dying for a just cause, to defend the human rights of all Cubans”, affirmed Gertrudis Ojeda.

For more information from Cuba, contact:
Juan Miguel González Marrero- Cell Phone: +24-803-580

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One response to “The story of a dissident family in Banes, Holguin

  1. Pingback: Cuba: The story of a dissident family in Banes, Holguin | Babalú Blog

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