Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Barbara Bauza

Ladies in White denounce constant persecution in Holguin province

I want to let the world know about the situation we Ladies in White are going through in the province of Holguin, Sunday after Sunday“, said Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the women’s group in the mentioned province, highlighting that each weekend the women are arrested by the political police in order to impede them from assisting Sunday Mass to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners.

Guerrero explains that since 2012 the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church, located in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood in the city of Holguin, “has been surrounded and under the surveillance of police officials on all four corners“.  These same agents arrest the women whenever they get near the temple, that’s if they even manage to make it out of their homes as these are constantly surrounded as well.

The persecution has expanded to the point that the Second Chief of Confrontation in the area, Yordanis Martinez Leon, has told Berta Guerrero and the rest of the women that “if they want to go to church they will have to buy a helicopter to drop them off inside because he is not going to allow them“.

Due to the constant arrests, a number of Ladies in White from Holguin try to assist Mass in another local church- the Cathedral of San Isidoro.  The vigilance is just the same there lately.

For instance, this Sunday 5th of May, only 3 women made it inside the San Isidoro Church and only 2 at Jesus Christ the Redeemer.  In the municipality of Cacocum another 2 Ladies marched and participated in Mass.  A total of 8 women were arrested.

Yesterday, May 5th, a police agent went inside The Redeemer Church and told the religious authorities that the Ladies in White were provoking public disorder.  A number of other agents entered the church after that“, recounted Guerrero.  “The two women who made it inside were mistreated by a woman who calls herself Eva and says to work in the church“.

On past Sundays the police has invaded the church, even offending Father Aldama on a number of occasions.  We have presented our complaints to the archbishop and the church in general but up to now we have not received a single response“.

Guerrero adds that during the Mass there are State Security agents keeping tight vigilance over the women, photographing the few who manage to make it inside.

When the women are arrested they are abandoned in desolate areas, far from their homes, such as the dumpster or near a cemetery.  Many are threatened with death, as the recent cases of  Bárbara Bauza Drigg and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.

On May 5th, State Security agents not only arrested Barbara Bauza and Ana Maria Aguilera, but they also threatened them with death.  They told them that they would kill them and leave them, once and for all, inside the cemetery because they were giving them too much trouble“, denounced Berta Guerrero.  The women were not able to identify the aggressor because he did not provide a name or badge number.

In 2012 Lady in White and Holguin native Caridad Caballero Batista (now in exile) could only assist Mass a total of 2 times.  She was violently arrested on each attempt every Sunday.  The same repression has continued throughout the entire province against these women who, despite the threats, keep marching, refusing to accept their homes as prison cells.

I am denouncing this regime run by the Castro brothers, for what may happen to any of us“, said Berta Guerrero.

Despite State violence, a total of 143 Ladies in White made it to Mass throughout the country, according to a report by the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’.  The female activists dedicated the march to detained hunger striker Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza and in solidarity with the more than 60 activists on hunger strike to demand his freedom.

For more information from Cuba, contact:
Berta Guerrero Segura- Cell Phone: +53-632-110

Last Sunday of 2012: Ladies in White Keep Marching

Ladies in White throughout the country made it to Mass and carried out their weekly march this last Sunday of 2012, the 30th of December, after a year in which repression against them, and the opposition in general, has increased drastically.

32 of these women arrived at Mass in the Santa Rita Church of Havana, 7 in Pinar del Rio, 20 in Matanzas, 6 in Guantanamo, 2 in Ciego de Avila and 2 in Holguin, affirmed Berta Soler, representative of the female group.

Soler considered the situation to be “an achievement“, considering that in nearly all the cases, in the mentioned provinces the Ladies in White arrived at their respective churches, surpassing police cordons and evading arrests, except in Holguin where 9 of the women were detained.

The detainees in the mentioned Eastern province were Bertha Guerrero Segura, Ana María Aguilera Panque, Romelia Piña González, Marlene Abreu Almaguer, Rosa María Naranjo Nieve, Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, Viviana Campo, Eunices Céspedes Estrada y Bárbara Bauza Driggs.

Bertha Guerrero, representative of the group in Holguin, detailed that the arrests occurred during early morning hours, especially that of Eunices Cespedes, resident of the municipality of Velasco, who was abruptly arrested at 4 in the morning.

They kept us arrested up to around 12:30 in the afternoon, after Mass had ended in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church“, said Guerrero, “Afterward, they left us stranded in different parts on the outskirts of Holguin, forcing us to walk miles to get to our homes“.  State Security agents placed a video camera this year in front of the mentioned church to keep watch over the Ladies.  The same camera had previously been installed outside the home of recently exiled Lady in White and human rights activist Caridad Caballero Batista, who also suffered countless arrests this year for trying to make it to church.  The camera was relocated as soon as she left the country.

During her arrest, Bertha Guerrero denounced that the Second Chief of Confrontation, known as Yordanis Martinez Leon, told her that “if the Ladies in White want to make it to church, we’d have to buy ourselves a helicopter to drop us off at the church because they were never going to let us get there“.  It is not the first time this repressor tells her that.

Sunday after Sunday we have been detained and, in addition, also threatened with our children and families“, added Guerrero, citing the case which also occurred this Sunday, where one of the detainees- Barbabra Bauza- “had her son arrested because on Saturday, some citizen burned a Cuban flag in the Calixto Garcia park.  Her son was arriving home in the morning and since State Security had not been able to arrest or blame anybody, they did so with him, taking him to the instructional unit known as Pedernales.  Agent Rafael Chapman, of State Security, told Barbara that he does not care if her son is a minor (16 years of age), for he would invent a crime for him and take him to prison.  This happens simply because he is the son of a Lady in White“.  She added that the women are ready to take to the streets in protest to demand his freedom.

Guerrero said that despite the repression, the Ladies in White of Holguin will continue marching and that she has hope that 2013 will bring good things for Cuba.

In an emotional case, Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the Ladies in White in the province of Matanzas, explained that in addition to the fact that 20 women of the province made it to Mass, in the church known as “The Parish” in the city of Cardenas, a group of these acitvists were greeted with respect and admiration by churchgoers.

The people rose from their seats when it was time to share the greeting of peace, and they came up to us, hugged us, and gave us their blessings“, recounted Ramos, “When we left the church, we carried out our march and many people also came up to us, displaying their support, greeting us, saying that we are doing the right things and saying that they hope more people rise like us“.

Leticia said she felt lots of happiness, considering that “we have achieved to carve out a space not only in the church but also amongst the people“.

There have been far too many beatings, arrests, deportations, threats, and other forms of State persecution and violence against the Ladies in White this 2012.  In fact, one of the most repressive of cases occurred in February when two members of the group- one from Pinar del Rio and the other from Palma Soriano- suffered miscarriages after police arrested and harassed them.  Their names are Noralys Martin Hernandez and Taimi Vega Biscet. (Read more about these cases here).

Regardless, everything signals that the increase in repression is attributed to the fact that the group has significantly increased in size and that its members have not stopped defying the dictatorship for one moment.  They have been persistent in their marches, declarations and activities.

Despite the repression“, said Berta Soler, “the most important thing is that the Ladies in White will continue stronger and more prepared than ever.  We will continue our peaceful struggle for the freedom of all political prisoners as well as the respect of human rights in 2013.  We will continue to grow throughout the island.  The Cuban government’s repression has only made us more united“.

For more information from Cuba:

Berta Soler- Cell Phone: +5352-906-820

Bertha Guerrero Segura- Cell Phone: +5353-632-110

Leticia Ramos Herrería- Cell Phone: +5352-481-807

Ladies in White, Activists Seek Solidarity to Put an End to Repression Against Them

“The repression this past weekend increased”, denounced Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) from the town of Palma Soriano, “and this is due to the fact that the political police of the tyranny is very bothered that last weekend, on the day of the Virgin of Mercy, about 50 Ladies in White from the Eastern region of the country surpassed the police operations they had set up around the entire area and were able to arrive to the capital…even though the majority of the women were eventually detained in Havana”.

As part of this crackdown, numerous Ladies in White from Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, Banes, Guantanamo, Bayamo and Holguin were arrested or impeded from leaving their homes when they tried to assist Sunday Mass in their respective churches.

Ferrer García explained that 4 Ladies in White were reported detained in Guantanamo and 14 in Santiago de Cuba.  The former political prisoner of conscience added that in Santiago “Darmis Aguedo and Adriana Isaac were beaten by the political police and were thrown off a truck onto the asphalt”.

In Banes, Marta Diaz Rondon explained that a police cordon was set up around her home, which kept her from leaving, as was the case of Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez in that same Eastern municipality.

Meanwhile, in other areas of Holguin province, 8 detainees were documented, among them Berta Guerrero Segura, Zuleidis Lisbeth Pérez Velázquez, Adisnidia Cruz, Danay Mendiola, Barbará Bauza Driggs and Glisedis Piña González.  Some of these women were detained in the notorious Pedernales Unit (known for torture and threats) and others were kept in “El Anillo” until after 1 PM, when Catholic Mass in the local Jesus Christ the Redeemer had already come to an end.

My house was completely surrounded by political police and State Security agents from the very early morning hours of Sunday, the 30th”, said Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the female group in the province of Holguin.  “A group of female agents dressed in red shirt and blue pants, along with male State Security agents, carried out an act of repudiation against us and screamed insults at us with obscene words before arresting us.  The officials leading the operation were Yordanys Martinez Leon (chief of Confrontation in Holguin), and agents Rafael Chapman and Adonys Charles”.

During the arrest, the women were accused of ‘public disorder’.  “In fact”, added Guerrero, “as a form of blackmail and mockery, they told me that if we wanted to go to Church we would have to get ourselves an airplane or a helicopter to drop us off on top of the Church because we were not going to be allowed inside”.

Despite the regime’s aggressive operations, in the provinces of Matanzas, Havana and Pinar del Rio a number of women were able to surpass the vigilance cordons and assist Mass, where they prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners and of Cuba.

But throughout Monday, October 1st, the political police once again lashed out against the Ladies in White in Holguin.

State Security and political police agents surrounded my house all over again”, said Berta Guerrero during the afternoon.  This time, the agents detained various women who were trying to make it into the house, among them Barbara Bauza and Adisnidia Cruz.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez detailed that the Ladies in White were giving out some small bags with food to their members “which were sent as gifts from our brothers in exile” and the regime agents robbed the humble products as they detained the women that day.

This has been just another form of robbery against us… mind you, those products were brought in legally to this country and they are all paid for”, denounced Perez, “and they don’t even give us an explanation nor have they, or will they, return them to us”.

Rosaida Gonzalez Escalona, an elderly Lady in White, was also arrested with violence, but without even participating in dissident activities that afternoon.  Her arrest occurred as she “was on her way to the train station of Holguin to say goodbye to one of her daughters…some agents came out of nowhere and detained her”, explained Perez Velazquez.

Meanwhile, the threats against others activists of Holguin also continued, like those against members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID).  “Police officials continue to threaten the CID members, telling them that they cannot meet anymore in my house, and that they can no longer carry out activities.  There are two activists- Ramon Zamora Rodriguez and Carlos Enrique Nunez Cutino- that were told that their homes would be demolished.  In addition, a group of young activists from the New Juvenile Impact organization are also under violent threats”, added Perez.

In reference to her own case and that of the majority of the other Ladies in White and dissidents, Berta Guerrero Segura alerted “the international community” that the oppressive situation throughout the island has become “unbearable”.

We, the Ladies in White, can’t even go to a store or a market because they always arrest us”, she said.  “Whatever may happen to any of us, or our husbands or children is the direct responsibility of the Castro regime”.  In fact, her husband- dissident Franklin Peregrino del Toro- is also frequently arrested when he accompanies his wife out on the streets and many times when he is trying to buy food for his family.

I have lost count of all our arrests, but I know that there have been more than 40 in 2012 alone.  We ask international organisms like Amnesty International to join us in solidarity, to pay attention to our situation.  Our children are also suffering in school, where they receive threats that they will be expelled due to our activism.  I want the world to know what is happening in Cuba”, expressed Berta Guerrero.

State Police Raid Home of Lady in White, Fire Water, Beat, and Arrest All Those Inside

In the Eastern city of Holguin, a group of approximately 14 Ladies in White were participating in a monthly encounter in the home of Glisedis Piña Gonzalez (member of the women’s activist group) this Saturday, August 18th, when the house was raided by combined forces of the political police and State Security and all those inside- mostly women and children- were beaten and arrested.

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez, a Lady in White from that same city of Holguin, could not assist the meeting (due to a personal illness) but shared details of the brutality.

Very horrible violations have occurred”, said Velazquez, “at around 4:30 PM, paramilitary mobs carried out an act of repudiation against the women, shouting insults and throwing rocks at them”.

In addition to throwing rocks to the activists, the mobs fired water at them, according to reports by Berta Soler and Yuri Miguel Carralero  to the “Háblalo sin Miedo” voice recording service.

It was during this repudiation that the police forces raided the home. “They violently searched the entire house, and all those women inside were beat all the way out and then arrested, and taken to police units.  Along with the women, they also detained about 5 or 6 men (…) and also arrested 5 under age children who were also taken to police units”, detailed Perez Velazquez.

Among the male detainees was independent journalist Alexei Jimenez who also managed to phone  ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (which translated into English literally means ‘Speak Without Fear’) where he explained that the agents attacked him with sticks on the head and ribs.  “It is obvious that the people who were there doing that to us were police officers dressed in civilian clothing, not enraged everyday people.  They were mobs organized by State Security agents“, assured Jimenez, referring to a common tactic applied by Cuba’s communist police apparatus to make it seem that everyday citizens are the ones attacking dissidents.  Jimenez is frequently beaten and arrested each Sunday when he tries to accompany the Ladies in White to church in Holguin.

In the case of the women, among the detainees were Romelia Piña González, Glisedis Piña González, Berta Guerrero Segura, Eleini Villamonte Cardozo, Danay Mendiola, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Lisbeth Peña Hernández, Nelda Molina Leyva, Barbara Bouza and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.

The children who were detained were released during night hours, along with Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque (the only Lady in White released as of August 18th 2012).  The children were sons and daughters of Ladies in White and activists.

Zuleidis Perez managed to establish communication with the 14 year old daughter of Romelia Piña Gonzalez once she arrived home.  The minor was very nervous and, amid her fear, was only able to share some details with Zuleidis about what had happened in that house (her aunt’s home).

Other arrests of Ladies in White took place on that same morning in the same province of Holguin in the municipalities of Banes and Cacocum, when various women tried to travel to the city of Holguin to participate in the meeting.  These detainees were Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Piñales Rosa in Banes, and Marlenis Abreu Almaguer in Cacocum.  These three were released at around 6 PM.

A wave of escalating violence has been occurring throughout the island against human rights activists, among them many Ladies in White.  These actions are being accompanied, in most cases, by home raids and brutal beatings.  One other recent example is that of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez, from the municipality of Antilla, who had her home raided by police forces, was beat violently in front of her family, and arrested for more than 96 hours this past 13th of August.  State police said they were searching for “enemy propaganda” in her house- a common term for any written or audio-visual materials which deal with the defense of human rights.

Meanwhile, the “Hablemos Press” independent news agency, with its headquarters in Havana, recently released a report in which they detailed that in the first 14 days of August more than 200 arrests of peaceful dissidents have occurred, while between the 10th and 14th, more than 20 home raids took place.

As for the detained women, Zuleidis Perez expressed: “[As of August 18th] we do not know of their whereabouts, so we are declaring them disappeared and we fear for their lives.  If the police was capable of breaking into the home, beating them, and breaking furniture and other objects, then we should not doubt for a second that they are very capable of killing or disappearing them”.

(Listen to Zuleidis’ audio- In Spanish):

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358-244-778

Group of Ladies in White Defy their Oppressors in Holguin, Carry out Successful March

This past Sunday August 12th 2012, 9 Ladies in White in the city of Holguin did not let their violent arrests at the hands of political police and State Security agents keep them from carrying out their habitual Sunday march towards the local Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Catholic Church.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez, member of the women’s group and resident of Holguin, was one of the 14 detainees taken into custody in a “very violent” manner.  She adds that they were all “distributed throughout the province of Holguin, to different National Revolutionary Police Units, as if we were some sort of baggage.  It was not until 12 PM that we were taken out of the units in cop cars, State Security vehicles, and buses.  We were left in different points of Holguin, from 4 to 10 kilometers away from our homes“.

The rest of the detainees were Berta Guerrero Segura, Yoandra Garrido Silva, Mayra Silva, Mayra Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Romelia Pina González, Barbara Bauza, Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Nelda Molina Leyva, Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Danay Mendiola, Glisedis Pina González, Eleney Villamonte Cardozo and Noemi Hidalgo Gómez.

Their were reports of arrests of three other male dissidents, Alexei Jiménez, Rolando Sánchez Duran and Luis Miguel Carralero, who also try to assist Mass each Sunday “because they are Catholics and members of the Church, and also morally show their support for us, the Ladies in White.  Police agents have been arresting them each Sunday when they try to leave their homes, and they are usually taken to different and undisclosed locations“.

On the day before- Saturday August 11th- Perez Velazquez denounced that there were other arrests in Holguin:  Marcos Limas Dalmao (husband of Adisnidia Cruz Segreo), Luis Manuel Gonzalez and Antonio Pupo Caballero.

However, Zuleidis explained that two women-  Lisbeth Peña  Hernández and Liliana Campo- managed to make it inside the church in Holguin, where they participated in Mass and then marched with their white clothes and flowers.  As soon as the other 14 women were released, 9 of them were able to carry out their march successfully, defying the repressive forces.

Despite all these setbacks, 9 of us Ladies in White were able to meet up after they released us, at around 1 pm, and managed to carry out our peaceful march on the same street where the church is located“, said Perez Velazquez,  “this was something that our oppressors were not expecting, but we achieved it.  They must be infuriated, but so they and the rest of the world know: we are not going to stop.  Regardless of the detentions, the repression, and the beatings we are subjected to each and every Sunday, we are not going to stop.  We are not taking steps back in this peaceful struggle“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

In the City of Holguin, Ladies in White Surpass Police Cordon, Make it to Sunday Mass

This May 20th was the second consecutive Sunday in which the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista managed to surpass a strong police cordon and arrive to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin, this time accompanied by 5 other women of the group- Barbara Bauza, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González, Ana María Aguilera Paneque and Nelda Molina Leyva. The Sunday prior to this, only Caballero Batista was able to make it to church without being detained.  Before this, the activist had not been able to assist Sunday Mass during 2012 because of constant arrests.

Caballero recounts that a large number of political police officials were shocked after they surrounded her home for hours during that morning to later find that she had already left and made it to church.  Usually, the Lady in White cannot even walk two blocks from her home when she is violently taken into custody.  This time, she used a new method.

When she arrived to the church, Caridad explained that there was “an immense police operation” waiting for the Ladies in White.  “They had a number of buses, police cars, and motorcycles stationed just two blocks from the church.  In fact, they were even using firefighters who were waiting to oppress us as well as female prison guards“.

Despite all of this, through the “new tactics“, the 6 Ladies in White were able to assist Sunday mass in its entirety.  Upon arriving at the temple, Caballero Batista said that the churchgoers were overcome with emotion.  They welcomed the women and chatted with them for a while.

However, other Ladies in White in Holguin did suffer arrests, as were the cases of Berta Guerrero Segura, Adisnidia Cruz, and Zuleidys Perez Velazquez, according to Caballero, who speculated that the number of arrests was most likely greater but she “could not confirm about other women because our telephone service was blocked during the entire time of our trip to church as well as after the Mass“.

We were able to march.  We walked with the gladiolus in our hands while the everyday people were staring at us, nervous at what could happen with us.  The regime was not expecting this“, she said, clearly emotional, “Thanks to the grace of God, this Sunday- which is the second to last Sunday of Lent- we were able to assist Mass.  We thanked God for having let us arrive, at least some of us“.

Caridad  stood by her Christian faith, assuring that “through the help of his angels, Jesus Christ allowed us to arrive to church, proving that there is no authority which can hold us down“.

For more information Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone:  +5352-629749   // Twitter: @caricaballero

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