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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Ana Celia Rodríguez Torres
May 13, 2013Posted by on
The Ladies in White marched through the streets of Cuba this Sunday, May 12th, in honor of Mother’s Day, sending out greetings to Cuban women around the world, as well as a special tribute to Laura Pollan Toledo, deceased founder of the group. It was confirmed that some women suffered reprisals at the hands of the political police, although the majority were able to carry out their weekly march, flowers at hand, to assist Mass and pray for the freedom of all political prisoners.
In Havana, 48 Ladies in White marched down 5th Avenue accompanied by 29 male human rights activists. They dedicated their walk to all the mothers of the world, according to a tweet published by former political prisoner and dissident leader Angel Moya Acosta (@jangelmoya).
Leticia Ramos Herrería, representative of the group in Matanzas, said that a total of 17 women marched and assisted Mass in the entire province. She added that in Cardenas, city where she resides, “11 Ladies in White were able to march for 11 blocks after Mass all the way to the Monument of the Mothers, where we deposited 2 bouquets of flowers“.
After that tribute, Herreria explained that the activists began to shout “Long Live Laura Pollan” for various minutes. In this occasion there were no arrests but there was a constant vigilance by the police.
“Meanwhile“, recounted Leticia, “Citizens were congratulating us and wishing us a Happy Mother’s Day when we marched by them. There was a display of solidarity“.
In the province of Holguin things looked a bit different. Although 10 Ladies in White managed to arrive at their respective temples, some were arbitrarily arrested by the political police.
Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the women’s group for the mentioned province, said that all the Ladies in White from Holguin “awoke that morning with their homes surrounded by State Security, under strict vigilance. The operation had started at dawn“.
Two of the detainees were Eimirce Cespedes Estrada (from Velasco, Holguin) and Yarelys Castaneda Almarales (Holguin). The latter “was detained together with her 1 year old son who she was carrying in her arms. Just like that, the political police took them to a dungeon for a number of hours“.
Her husband was also physically assaulted by various agents who applied a headlock on him when he came in defense of his wife.
Guerrero adds that Yolanda Perez Diaz, who is not a Lady in White but a member of the dissident Claridad Movement of Holguin, “was intercepted by agent Adony Charles, of State Security, who told her that she was on his bad side that morning and that he wouldn’t let her come out of her house“.
“I am denouncing the constant abuse, the harassment, and the psychological war carried out by State Security against us, the Ladies in White of Holguin. These violations are constant. In fact, they have told us that we will never be able to go to church“, said Guerrero Segura.
In Palma Soriano 33 Ladies in White marched and successfully made it to church while in the municipality of Santiago de Cuba another 21 Ladies made it, according to declarations made by Ana Celia Rodriguez to this blog. Rodriguez was one of the Cubans recently on hunger strike demanding the release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza. Her health, like that of the majority of all other former strikers, is still delicate.
The majority of the members of the Ladies in White are mothers and chose to dedicate the symbolic date in honor of so many women who have risked their lives fighting for the freedom of not only their families but also of the entire nation, as is the case of Sonia Garro Alfonso, a Lady in White and Cuban mother who is currently in prison and has been for 1 year and 2 months.
Not even on Mother’s Day does the regime respect these women, carrying out arrests and keeping them under strict vigilance, but they keep praying, they keep speaking out, they keep marching.
In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s a video made by the authors of this blog in 2012, in honor of the Cuban woman:
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Leticia Ramos Herrería- Cell Phone: +52-481-807
Berta Guerrero Segura- Cell Phone: +53-632-110
Ana Celia Rodríguez- Cell Phone: +52-996-531
May 8, 2013Posted by on
A young Cuban can finally hug his father- unjustly imprisoned for nearly one month- and a massive hunger strike by more than 60 citizens has come to an end, yielding positive results.
The protest was initiated by members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in demand for the release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza. He was arrested by the political police on April 9th after they raided his home in Maffo, Contramaestre. His crime? Offering his house each Tuesday to impart courses on peaceful resistance and civil disobedience. At the moment of his arrest, Lozada started a hunger strike. Members of his family followed his protest, starting their own strikes. Among them his 17-year old son Enrique Lozada, his wife Darmis Aguedo, his brother Arnoldo Lozada, and others. In just a few days about a dozen other activists, under the lead of former political prisoner and leader of UNPACU Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, also started strikes. Eventually, more than 60 dissidents in different regions such as Palma Soriano, Holguin, San Luis and Gibara were on hunger strike.
After what seemed like countless acts of repudiation, arrests, and threats by the political police, as well as serious health complications product of more than 4 weeks on strike, the activists achieved their objective on the night of May 7th: The authorities handed a document to Enrique Lozada, explaining that his father would be released, promising that he would be back home in Contramaestre on the following morning.
Upon confirming the news, the young activist finally stopped his strike, drinking juice. Enrique moved the world after he published a video assuring that he was willing to die for his father. His health was seriously affected.
“I am giving thanks in the name of the family and in the name of the hunger strikers, thanks to the hundreds of UNPACU activists that were carrying out different actions throughout the country, thanks to activists of other organizations who joined us in solidarity, thanks to our brothers in exile who have always backed us with solidarity”, expressed Jose Daniel Ferrer in one of the first audios published on the YouTube account of UNPACU.
The release of Lozada Igarza did not come easy. The same day in which the news was made public- May 7th- the regime unleashed a brutal wave of repression against various strikers and other activists showing solidarity. On that same afternoon, the political police assauled the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital of Santiago de Cuba, where some of the strikers had been taken, forcefully removing them. Some were beat and abandoned in different parts of the province. In the case of Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez, police agents ripped off her IV, which caused her much bleeding, according to a report by her son, the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez. The same occurred with Ernique Lozada, who even passed out after strong aggressions.
Another activist who was forcefully removed from the hospital was 60-year old Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez, while activists displaying solidarity in front of the hospital were also beat and detained, as was the case of Ovidio Martin Castellanos, among others.
In Holguin, the hunger strikers Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora were denied medical assistance on various occasions, but the protests by a number of dissidents forced the local hospital to assist him. The State-sponsored violence could not impede activists from joining the strikers in support. In Pinar del Rio, more than 50 dissidents held fasts, backing the call for Lozada Igarza’s freedom. Members of other pro-freedom movements like the Ladies in White, the Republican Party of Cuba and the OZT National Resistance Front carried out marches, protests, encounters and other activities in solidarity.
A campaign started by everyday citizens was created outside of Cuba, where activists used social networks to denounce the situation plaguing the strikers and in search of support. Various petitions were created with the purpose of taking the details to international human rights organizations, while in Twitter the hashtag #HuelgadeHambreUNPACU (“HungerStrikeCuba”) was created. This pressure led various politicians and other public figures to make public statements in favor of Luis Enrique Lozada’s release.
Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, representative of UNPACU in exile, started a fast alongside other activists in a display of support for those risking their lives on the island. They maintained the fast until the very moment in which Lozada’s liberation was announced.
This has been another series of actions that prove that Cubans can achieve positive things in their country and it is more proof that citizens do have power. The internal opposition, through the civic protests of UNPACU and others, left the dictatorship with no other option but to release human rights activist Luis Enrique Lozada.
It is clear that the regime has sent a message of violence to the opposition with their wave of aggressions during the strike, specially on the last day, just minutes before releasing the activist. But dissidents have also responded, sending their own message to the dictatorship:
“We will keep up the struggle…we have been able to get one man out of the dungeons of the tyranny, but other political prisoners are still behind bars in inhumane conditions”, said Jose Daniel Ferrer, mentioning more than 40 UNPACU activists who are imprisoned for having different ideas, “but we will continue fighting for their freedom, and for the freedom of Cuba, with much more strength, with much more dedication, and much more desire than ever”.
*Congratulations to all those who risked their lives for the release of an innocent man. – (Pedazos de la Isla)
May 6, 2013Posted by on
More activists keep joining the massive hunger strike encompassing more than 60 people throughout Eastern Cuba, demanding the release of detained dissident Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, while the other strikers who have already been refusing to eat for more than 3 weeks maintain their protest, which has led to the deterioration of their health. The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) has been publishing a series of videos and audios in their YouTube channel with updates on the situation.In this video (above), the youngest of the strikers, 17-year old Enrique Lozada, who is the son of Luis Enrique Lozada, defends his protest before various doctors sent by the government to try and make him give up on his demands in the Juan Bruno Zayas hospital of Santiago de Cuba.
“With the level of stress I have right now, knowing that my mother is also on hunger strike, as well as my uncle, seeing as how my family is being torn apart, do you really think I feel like living?”, the young Cuban tells the team of doctors, “Why am I going to live knowing that my father is dying in a prison cell because of a crime he never committed? Knowing that my family is falling to pieces”.
The video concludes with the protest of various hunger strikers that are present in that room. They point out that the regime has ignored their demands and has not even acknowledged the situation of Luis Enrique Lozada and the other strikers.
In this audio (above), Darmis Aguedo, wife of Luis Enrique Lozada, mother of Enrique, and also on hunger strike, explains that she was able to see her husband recently in the Provincial Hospital of Santiago. She said he was being held in an “isolated” room and under the “permanent” custody of two armed police guards. They were able to speak for a few minutes. She said he was still strong in spirit but his health proved otherwise, as he has lots of weight due to the hunger strike.
Meanwhile, independent journalist Alexei Jimenez informed on his Twitter account (@jugandomelavida) that the hunger strikers in Holguin- Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora- were taken to a hospital for a few hours on the night of May 5th. Berta Guerrero, a member of the Ladies in White and wife of Franklin Peregrino, offered more details. She said both strikers had been denied medical assistance various times.
On the afternoon of Sunday May 5th, various activists directed themselves to the nearest medical center, asking for an ambulance for Pergrino and Leiva but the medical employees ignored them. A few hours later, a doctor finally showed up at the house, taking both dissidents to the Lenin Hospital to be hydrated. Guerrero explains that the health of the Holguin hunger strikers- whom have already been in their protest for 15 days- has drastically weakened but that they will maintain their protest “until Lozada Igarza is freed”. In Gibara (Holguin), another 4 activists have joined the strike. The response of the political police has been to organize acts of repudiation against them.
Solidarity with the hunger strikers on behalf of the internal opposition has been national, however. In Palma Soriano, various UNPACU members recently carried out a public march, demanding Luis Enrique’s liberation, as can be observed in the following video:
Former political prisoners of conscience Ángel Moya Acosta and Félix Navarro Rodríguez were able to travel to Santiago de Cuba to show solidarity with Enrique Lozada, Ana Celia Rodriguez, Jose Daniel Ferrer and other strikers this Sunday, May 5th, while the Ladies in White dedicated their Sunday march to Luis Enrique Lozada.
On the morning of May 6th, former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, published a declaration in the name of the mentioned pro-freedom coalition in solidarity with the hunger striking activists.
As for the international scene, several activists have created a petition directed to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations so that there be an increase in solidarity with the case of Luis Enrique Lozada, his family, and all the strikers who have put their lives at risk for freedom. The petition can be signed by clicking here.
The cell phones of more than 40 dissidents in Cuba, the majority members of UNPACU, have been blocked in the past couple of days in order to prevent them from publishing information about the strike. Regardless, activists have been reporting the details any possible way they can. The lives of all those who are taking part in this strike are in danger, but they have all said they will continue onward, pressuring the dictatorship to free a Cuban who has not committed a crime and is being held behind bars.
May 2, 2013Posted by on
Young dissident rapper and human rights activist Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, member of the hip-hop duo ‘Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso’ (‘The Unwanted Children’), is still being held in the Provincial Prison of Granma, also known as “Las Mangas”, without any formal accusations or without having passed through trial, according to his aunt Jaqueline Garcia Jaenz, member of Cuba’s Ladies in White.
Garcia also highlights that in addition to being an arbitrary action, considering that the musician did not commit a crime and is being falsely accused of ‘attempt and resistance’ after police agents raided his home on the 26th of March, the fact that he is jailed in a provincial prison is another violation of the law.
Angel Yunier’s detention in Las Mangas violates a new law which was passed on March 18th which dictates that citizens who have pending trials cannot be kept in provincial prisons, but instead must be held in municipal penitentiaries”, said Garcia, “but Angel is being held in the Provincial prison and is there for a reason. They want to invent a crime for him; he has a pending trial but is innocent and has been in that center for nearly a month”.
Remon Arzuaga was arrested on March 26th, just days after having been beat and detained for various days after handing out pro-freedom documents. He was on hunger strike for various weeks and stopped the protest after the authorities told him they would revise his case, but to date, they have not kept their word. Activists who know him say that the repression against him is because he attracts many everyday people and chats with them, taking the pro-freedom message of the internal opposition to them. Also because of the lyrics of his rap songs.
“Welcome to Bayamo…criticizing has become suicide, I get burned and I don’t ask for help, I will criticize without mercy, I fight and I know the consequences”, go the lyrics from the single titled ‘Bayamo’ by the rap duo, “Bayamo this is my trench, I don’t look outside, my family is here inside, a seed which continues active and keeps producing, I will keep writing for you, a real Bayamo native, lyrics without salary is how I live, this is protest and let it be known”.
Meanwhile, Jaqueline Garcia also denounces the situation of her husband Ariel Arzuaga Pena, also a political prisoner, who is not receiving adequate medical attention in his penitentiary.
“On the 18th of April, Ariel awoke with his two legs swollen below the knees. There were no doctors present at that moment and a nurse told him to not worry about it”, explained the Lady in White, “a few days later a doctor finally visited him and prescribed an increase in the dose of medication for hypertension, but the swelling continued. A few days later they checked him again, this time with another doctor, and he said to lower the dosage. In other words, it’s a contradiction on behalf of the doctors and I really don’t know what they want to do to him”.
They have still not diagnosed the cause of the swelling since the 18th of April”, she said.
Garcia highlights that the hunger strike by more than 60 human rights activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) taking place right now throughout the island, especially in the Eastern region, in addition to demanding the freedom of dissident Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, are also protesting against the increased level of repression against UNPACU activists, like Angel Yunier, and other members of the internal opposition.
The strikers are already suffering serious health problems, and recently, the youngest of them- Enrique Lozada (17)- was urgently rushed to the hospital, alongside Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez and the elderly activist Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez.
For more information from Cuba , please contact:
Jaqueline García Jaénz- Cell Phone: +58-401-025
April 30, 2013Posted by on
After more than 2 weeks on hunger strike, three activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) have been urgently rushed to the JuanBrunoZayasHospital in Santiago de Cuba due to serious health complications.
The strikers are Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez (suffering from diabetes), the elderly activist Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez, and 17-year-old Enrique Lozada. The latter is the son of Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza who was arbitrarily arrested on April 9th. His arrest was what led to the massive strike by UNPACU activists. Now, the health of all the strikers is getting worse.
Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez, a youth activist from UNPACU, published various messages on Twitter (@anyerantoniobla) detailing the situation.
“The general health of the hunger strikers is critical”, read one message written by Blanco Rodriguez.
In an audio published by “Radio Republica” Anyer points out that the three hunger strikers have been taken to the same hospital where Wilman Villar Mendoza was, while Luis Enrique Lozada has been confined to the same exact cell in the Aguadores Prison of Santiago where Villar was tortured and taken to his death. Wilman Villar was a political prisoner who died after a lengthy hunger strike in early 2012.
Recently, other strikers have also been taken to hospitals, as was the case of Lady in White Adriana Nunez Pascual and the activists from Holguin, Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora.
There is much worry about the health of the strikers, especially the young Enrique Lozada. In a recent video published by UNPACU he said that he is willing to take his protest, for the liberation of his father, “to the final consequences”.
“We need the solidarity of all Cuban, inside and outside of the island”, expressed Blanco Rodriguez.
April 24, 2013Posted by on
Pictured in this photo is Luis Enrique Lozada (right), an activist of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), along with his family, in Maffo, Contramaestre. Lozada has been imprisoned for more than 2 weeks, after he was arbitrarily arrested by the political police. He offers his home each Tuesday to impart courses on civil disobedience and non-violent struggles for local activists as well as everyday citizens- neighbors, friends, etc. These encounters usually end in acts of repudiations and house raids at the hands of State Security, and it is also the reason for his detention last April 9th.
Luis Enrique was kept in the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba for various days before being transferred over to the Boniato Prison. In response, approximately 14 relatives and friends stood outside the unit demanding his release, carrying out hunger strikes and protests. On his part, Lozada also declared himself on hunger strike.
The protest expanded when a total of 20 activists from UNPACU joined in. But now, there are more than 50 Cubans on hunger strike for the same cause. Here are the faces and stories of some of them:
Pictured above is Enrique Lozada Aguedo. He’s the 17-year old son of Luis Enrique Lozada. For a while, he was the youngest member of UNPACU, and in 2012 called on the Cuban youth to join the dissident movement to demand their rights. Now, he has put his life on the line to demand his father’s release.
Darmis Aguedo Zaldivar, wife of Luis Enrique Lozada, mother of Enrique; she is a Lady in White and member of UNPACU. She demands an end to the violence against her husband, her children, and the rest of her family and members of the peaceful opposition movement in the Eastern region of the country.
Arnoldo Lozada Igarza is Luis Enrique’s brother. He is frequently subjected to police violence along with his brother while they participate in the courses on non-violent civic struggles.
This is Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez, from Santiago de Cuba. She is frequently persecuted and arrested by the political police when she tries to make it to Sunday Mass at the National Cobre Shrine. She is the mother of the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez.
José Daniel Ferrer García, executive secretary of UNPACU, he is a former political prisoner of conscience and one of the leaders of the internal opposition on the island. He started his hunger strike alongside dozens of other activists in the Cespedes Park of Santiago de Cuba, right in front of the Cathedral of Santiago. Afterward, he took his protest back to his home in Palmarito de Cauto, which serves as one of the main meeting points of UNPACU. He said his protest was for the release of Luis Enrique Lozada as well as for the release of all detained UNPACU activists. In addition, he is calling for an end to violence against all peaceful dissidents in Cuba and is shedding light on the situation of more than 40 members of UNPACU who have been sentenced to prison terms for several years. Ferrer Garcia suffers from various health issues, all of them acquired in dungeons during his 7 year prison sentence, and his hunger strike may intensify these complications.
Sirley Avila, an ex delegate of the Popular Power Department in Limones, Las Tunas. She was fired for speaking without censorship and for trying to truthfully represent the people. Recently, she has joined the opposition. She’s been blacklisted by the government since.
More photos of some other hunger strikers:
Anyer Antonio Blanco, who provided the photos shown in this post, said on his Twitter account (@anyerantoniobla) on April 23rd that there are now a total of 54 hunger strikers. They hail from Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, San Luis, Holguin, Banes, Las Tunas, Pinar del Rio and many other places. The strikers are from UNPACU, but many other activists from diverse pro-freedom organizations have joined in fasts or with public protests, like the case of Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, where members of the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and of the Rosa Parks Movement have been carrying out several demonstrations, and the members of the Democratic Alliance of Pinar del Rio, who have more than 60 members fasting in the province of Pinar del Rio. The Ladies in White and national coalitions such as the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front have also joined in solidarity.
The political police has increased the level of violence against all those who lend their homes to show solidarity with the strikers, as well as against those who carry out marches or other civic protests. Many have been arrested and beaten, as was the case of Rubislandi Avila, rushed to a hospital after a brutal beat-down at the hands of the police in the town of Mella (Santiago de Cuba).
Meanwhile, in exile, Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia and Ana Belkis Ferrer Garcia (siblings of Jose Daniel Ferrer) have started a fast in solidarity with the strikers. Various Cubans living in different cities have joined the call. They are convoking others to participate in this display of support. Visit their webpage here.
For more videos of the hunger strikers, visit the YouTube channel of UNPACU.
April 17, 2013Posted by on
A group of 14 activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) spent all day on April 15th and the 16th protesting outside the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba, demanding the release of dissident Luis Enrique Losada, member of UNPACU, who has been detained and on hunger strike since this past April 9th. Losada’s son (Enrique Losada, 17 years old) and his brother (Arnoldo Losada) also declared themselves on hunger strike.
(Audio of Enrique Losada about his father’s situation, in Spanish):
Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez was also in the demonstration, and she explained that they were under the strict vigilance of numerous State Security, National Revolutionary Police agents, as well as other members of the regime’s security apparatus.
Rodriguez added that “we are here and will continue here, and we will remain peaceful, with the disciplines which characterizes us. We do not want confrontations; we just want freedom for our brother, Luis Enrique Losada“. She pointed out that the demonstration was also in protest of many other UNPACU members that had been arrested by the political police recently.
During afternoon hours of Tuesday, April 16th, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, executive secretary of UNPACU, publicly declared himself on hunger strike to demand the liberation of all the recent detainees, moving the protest over to Cespedes Park of Santiago de Cuba, in front of the Cathedral of Santiago. Another 24 activists joined this strike, while another 10 accompanied them to protest (but not on strike), making it a total of 34 people. Ferrer sat in front of the Cathedral, carrying a sign demanding the end of political violence, persecution and incarceration.
(Audio of José Daniel Ferrer, update about the strike, April 16th, 5:00 PM):
“Our demand is that they release all the recent activists of our group that have been detained in the past days“, said Ferrer. Among other detainees are Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez, in Havana, as well as another 8 activists arrested along Luis Enrique Losada in Santiago de Cuba. Numerous Ladies in White from Santiago have also suffered violent arrests in Sundays past to impede them from arriving at El Cobre National Shrine.
Ferrer Garcia explained that he demands that “all the recent detainees, arrested violently, be released immediately, and at the same time we want to shed light on all the activists of UNPACU we have in prison, in other words political prisoners, which already are more than 40… we also call attention on the excessive violence against other UNPACU activists and other peaceful dissidents throughout the country, but especially in the Eastern region, where attacks are carried out at night, attacking people with sticks and stones. The police has been raiding homes, robbing and intimidating people, hurting them, threatening them and even attempting against their lives- the lives of innocent people, like the elderly, children, women and even pregnant women“.
The dissident leader blamed the Ministry of the Interior, State Security and all police organisms of the Cuban regime of carrying out these acts of terror against peaceful activists.
Numerous UNPACU activists and other pro-freedom groups have denounced the continuous death threats by State Security in places like Velasco, Holguin, during this month of April, while new dissidents have been taken to dungeons and will probably be sentenced to years behind bars, such as rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, along with relatives and neighbors, in the city of Bayamo.
“The rise of incarcerations because of political motives is alarming“, expressed Ferrer.
The 34 demonstrators in Santiago de Cuba are under harassment by the political police. Agents have been throwing rocks at them and shouting insults at the dissidents, and at least 6 have been violently arrested as they have tried to join the protest.
“We spoke with the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba“, said Ferrer, “and we gave him our word that we would not respond to the insults and rocks they are throwing our way. We are sitting in front of the Cathedral, waiting to see what the response of this tyrannical regime will be. We want our activists to be freed, immediately. Our activists have been beaten, detained and confined in inhumane conditions in filthy dungeons of police units“.
Mobs have been organized by the State Police to provoke the strikers, even playing loud pro-government music, while the majority of the telephone lines of the dissidents have been blocked during night hours. Activists fear that the demonstrators will be arrested and beaten, but they have said that they will maintain their protest, while UNPACU, as an organization, said that all its members will take to the streets if these activists are victims of further violence.
Ladies in White celebrate release of Calixto Martinez, demand the same for all other political prisoners
April 15, 2013Posted by on
In what was an emotional encounter, 43 Ladies in White managed to carry out their habitual march in Havana this Sunday, 14th of April, not only with the presence of various human rights activists, but also with the participation of recently released independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias. The Ladies, in addition to celebrating the victory of Calixto’s liberation, also demanded the release of the many other political prisoners still behind bars in the island.
“When liberated, it is the duty of all political prisoners to come with the Ladies in White and stand with them in their bastion of freedom”, said Martinez Arias in declarations made to former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, published on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre).
Calixto Ramon Martinez was released from prison after more than 7 months behind bars, thanks to the solidarity of people in and out of Cuba who carried out campaigns and public activities to pressure the regime.
The Ladies in White also dedicated their march to Enrique Ros, famous Cuban exiled historian who passed away this week.
Ivan Hernandez tweeted that 16 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass in the province of Matanzas, while 2 surpassed police cordons in Ciego de Avila and made it to church.
In Guantanamo, 10 Ladies in White marched and participated in Mass.
Meanwhile, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, 32 Ladies in White made it past operations set up by State Security and made it to El Cobre National Shrine. A number of women were reportedly detained between Saturday and Sunday.
Anyer Antonio Blanco, member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), published an audio on his Twitter account (@anyerantoniobla) where his mother, Lady in White, Ana Celia Rodríguez, was being arrested alongside another activist in Santiago. Rodriguez was forcefully taken out of a vehicle and sent to a police unit for various hours.
The Ladies in White have made it very clear that despite that they are being subjected to different forms of repression, they will continue risking it all on the streets to demand freedom for each and every Cuban who resides behind bars for thinking differently.
José Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU, later expressed in his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) that “with all the brutal repression, and the advantage of media and resources, once again, the Ladies in White surpass the methods of the political police”.
April 3, 2013Posted by on
The young Lady in White Yusnaira Gonzalez Perez, from Santiago de Cuba, recounted during the morning hours of this Wednesday, April 3rd, that she and her relatives lived through some disturbing moments when two officials of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) interrupted the funerary services of her grandmother at The Caney Funeral Home (Santiago de Cuba) to summon and assault two of her cousins.
“We were all here in the wake when the PNR officials came in to arrest my cousin Marcos“, explained Yusnaira, “they summoned him to a police unit and they tried to take him…they assaulted him, they pushed him…and they did the same to his brother“.
Ana Celia Rodriguez, another Lady in White present in solidarity with the family, says that despite the painful moment for the deceased relatives, they responded with “bravery“.
“The relatives…started shouting ‘Down with Fidel’ and ‘Down with Raul’ to the point that the police agents had to stop harassing the brothers. I was very impressed with the bravery displayed by this family, despite all the pain they were going through at that moment“.
On her part, Yusnaira Gonzalez was not able to identify the PNR officials by name but did write down their license plate numbers. They are #24651 and #23519.
“I want to point out that this was very disrespectful, to come to a wake to do this to us. My cousin was out on the street earlier and they chose to do this now“, said the Lady in White.
Although the agents left the scene, the fate of this family is still in danger, considering that they may be assaulted upon leaving the funeral or upon returning to their homes.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Ana Celia Rodríguez- Cell Phone: +52-996-531
February 16, 2013Posted by on
Closed streets, diverted traffic, countless police vehicles, agents dressed in civilian clothing, and a wave of arrests. That was how the operation of the Cuban regime against the Ladies in White looked like this Wednesday, February 13th, when women from throughout all the provinces of the country set out towards their national headquarters in Havana to pay tribute to Laura Pollan- deceased leader of the group-who would have turned 65.
Despite the repressive measures, the Ladies continued onward with their plans to celebrate the date.
Since the morning hours, former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta published a series of Twitter messages detailing what was happening with these women.
“Repressive forces are stationed on the streets leading to the headquarters of the Ladies in White on Neptune Street”, read Moya’s first tweet. The activist continued to describe the presence of numerous “police and private vehicles” ready to arrest any of the women who would try to arrive to the encounter.
At around 9 AM, there had already been 5 confirmed arrests of Ladies in White. Just minutes later, the number rose to 27. Throughout the day, many more arrests were confirmed.
Two of the detained women were Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and Yanelys Cabrera who set out from Boyeros (Havana) towards Neptune Street. The arrests were violent.
“I received physical blows on my head, back and arms. I am dizzy”, tweeted Fonseca Quevedo upon being released minutes later. “Police vehicle # 570 left me in a desolate area in the municipality of Lisa”, added another message, but Sara Marta assured that she would head out again towards the meeting to “carry out her her right to freedom of peaceful association and assembly”.
In that second attempt, Sara Marta and Yanelys were once again detained.
Despite all the police cordons which kept dozens of other women from arriving to the event, more than 50 Ladies in White were able to participate in the encounter in honor of Laura Pollan in their headquarters.
Once the event came to an end, the repressive measures only increased.
When a group of 29 women from the Eastern provinces set out to the bus terminal known as “La Coubre” that night to board a bus to head back home, the transportation never showed up. Hours passed and the situation remained the same, until Berta Soler and Angel Moya head out from their homes and showed up at the terminal in solidarity with the women. Also present was Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) activist Osmany Cespedes Napoles.
The total of 30 women- 13 from Santiago de Cuba, 11 from Holguin, 3 from Guantanamo and 2 from Villa Clara (as well as Berta Soler from Havana)- decided to carry out a peaceful protest at around 2 AM in front of the terminal, shouting slogans such as “We want transportation”.
(Ángel Moya published this video of the protest):
The result of the protest was the brutal arrest of the 30 women, as well as of the other activists present, Angel Moya and Osmany Cespedes. Radio/TV Marti published a detailed video-report of what happened with the activists.(In this video published by ‘Hablemos Press’, Ladies in White express their discontent regarding the lack of transportation).
The young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco, from UNPACU, informed that his mother, Lady in White Ana Celia Rodríguez, managed to establish communication with him during the moment of the arrests. Ana denounced that all the women, including herself, were being violently beat and Anyer heard screams of “Long Live Laura Pollan”.
At around 2 AM, the Ladies in White and other activists were detained and transferred to undisclosed locations and it was during night hours on Thursday and morning hours of Friday that they started to be released and/or deported. All these arbitrary actions against the Ladies in White between the 13th and 14th of February occurred because these women were paying tribute to Laura Pollan when she would have turned 65. The same regime which lead Pollan to her death can’t tolerate that her legacy be celebrated. Regardless, as Angel Moya tweeted:”Do not doubt it, the repressive operations set out through Neptune St in Havana prove the moral strength of the Ladies in White in Cuba”.
Laura Pollan Lives!