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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Belkis Cantillo
May 21, 2013Posted by on
This 20th of May 2013, Cuban Independence Day, Cuban exiles and other members of the community of Miami went to the historic Freedom Tower, where hundreds of Cubans passed through in the 1960′s when they arrived to the United States as refugees, to participate in a chat with 3 Ladies in White: Berta Soler (national representative of the group), Laura Labrada (daughter of Laura Pollan) and Belkis Cantillo (representative of the group in Santiago de Cuba). It was an event organized by Miami Dade College.
Before the chat, the 3 Ladies in White offered a press conference, in which dissident Guillermo Farinas also took part in. There, they responded various questions by the press and debated topics such as the constant repression they face in the island for trying to assist Sunday Mass, the fact that former political prisoners of conscience can’t travel outside of the country, the warm welcome on behalf of the Cuban exile community and the current situation of the youth on the island.
Soler called on young Cubans on the island to not leave the country and to stay and fight for it, while she also called on the children and grandchildren of the older exiles to keep supporting the struggle for freedom from wherever they are.
Once the last questions were asked by the press, the 3 activists went up on stage, where Miami Dade College’s president, Eduardo Padron, awaited them. The audience received them with a standing ovation.
Cuban-born international pop star Gloria Estefan shared some words about the symbolism of the Freedom Tower and about the importance of the Ladies in White and their peaceful activism in Cuba. She pointed that “we Cubans are just one people, and nothing will ever change that, ever“. The singer handed the women a plaque with photos of the march in which thousands of Miami residents took to the streets in support of the Ladies in White on March 25 of 2010. The march was convoked by the Estefans after the women were brutally beat by State Police in Havana on March 17th and was caught on film. Estefan explained that the police authorities of Miami had confirmed to her that more than 230,000 people took part in the historic march for solidarity down Miami’s emblematic Calle Ocho.
Soler, Labrada and Cantillo were interviewed by Miami-based journalist Maria Elvira Salazar. They discussed topics such as the acts of state repression against them and other dissidents for defending freedom, the current situation of the everyday Cuban citizen, the motives which led them to take up their struggle, their convictions, and the legacy of Laura Pollan, fallen leader of the group. Her daughter, Laura Labrada, or “Laurita” as she is known within the Ladies in White, affirmed that the regime had to do with Pollan’s death. In an emotional statement, she also expressed that her mother’s passing only gave her more strength to march not only for the freedom of all political prisoners, but also the freedom of an entire nation.
Before the event came to an end, Eduardo Padron handed the women the Miami Dade College’s Presidential Medal of Freedom with the words “Guardians of Freedom” engraved.
It was another one of those encounters which reminds Cubans that, despite the geographic distance and the difference of ideas, we are only one people, one nation, that fights for freedom and needs each and every one of its sons and daughters to achieve this goal.
All photos taken by Raul Garcia and Jennifer Hernandez from “Pedazos de la Isla”. Feel free to share.
April 29, 2013Posted by on
A number of Ladies in White were violently attacked and arrested by agents of the Cuban dictatorship this Sunday, April 28th, as they tried to assist Mass to pray for the freedom of Cuba.
One of the women who suffered the worst beatings was Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, representative of the group for the province of Santiago de Cuba who recently returned to Cuba after traveling to Brussels to receive the Sajarov Award alongside Laura Labrada Pollan and Berta Soler.
Cantillo’s arrest took place when a group of these women were on their way to the Rosario Church of Palma Soriano. The activist told ‘Diario de Cuba’ that various men, agents of the political police, were the ones who carried out the beating against her, even punching and attacking the women with umbrellas. “They punched me in one of my breasts, they kicked my ribs”, Belkis told the digital newspaper.
Other detainees were Taimi Vega Biscet, Yaima Naranjo, Mariela Rodríguez, Niurka Carmona, Denia Fernández, Madelaine Santos, Yasnay Ferrer and Yanela Ferrer, according to ex prisoner and dissident José Daniel Ferrer García who published the information on his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer).
Another 30 women managed to make it inside the church, but the political police organized an act of repudiation which consisted in shouts of death threats, racial slurs and other offensive phrases, according to Aime Garces, one of the Ladies inside. She explained to this blog that despite the repression “the Ladies in White will continue firm and without fear”.
Jose Daniel Ferrer recounted that Father Palma displayed solidarity with the persecuted women. On the YouTube channel of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) videos of what happened in Palma Soriano have been published:
In other parts of the island, Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass, as was the case in the province of Matanzas and in Havana. Dissident leader and former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta published various photos of these women marching in Havana on his Twitter account (@jangelmoya).
Moya recounts that 44 Ladies marched in the capital, demanding the release of Sonia Garro Alfonso (one of their members, jailed for more than a year) and her husband Ramon Alejandro Munoz. They were accompanied by more than 40 men, human rights activists.
Meanwhile in Miami, the representative of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, participated in an emotional and very symbolic Mass at the Ermita Shrine, along with exiled Ladies in White and former political prisoners, as well as many members of Miami’s exile community. The Mass, hosted by Father Rumin, was dedicated to the fallen Laura Pollan and all martyrs of the Cuban dictatorship. There was a moment of prayer for the Ladies who were violently arrested that morning in Cuba, simply for trying to do what so many people were doing on that afternoon in Miami.
Soler was handed a Cuban flag with the image of the Virgin of Chartiy, while she presented a Cuban flag at the altar.
A moving surprise came when Cuban musician Amaury Gutierrez showed up to sing “Laura“, a song written by Luis Piloto and dedicated to Laura Pollan. In Cuba, the Ladies in White sing this song each Sunday after carrying out their Sunday marches.
Soler has been received with much affection by the Cuban exile, while she has been seeking more international support for the internal opposition.
Through an excessive amount of violence, the dictatorship has sent a clear message to Berta Soler and other activists who have traveled outside the country to let the world know about the Cuban reality, as was the case of the repression against Belkis Cantillo, just days after having returned from her trip abroad. However, the Ladies in White are also sending out a clear message to that same dictatorship: they do not fear them, they will continue out on the streets and they will not rest until Cuba is free.
April 22, 2013Posted by on
Dozens of members of the Ladies in White assisted Mass this Sunday, April 21st, despite numerous cordons set up by the political police. The women prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners as they habitually do, and also in solidarity with victims of violence in Cuba, like the 40 hunger strikers of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), as well as the victims of a terrorist attack this past week in the US city of Boston.
Former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta offered more details on his Twitter account (@jangelmoya). ”50 Ladies in White marched down 5th Avenue and dedicated their march to the hunger strikers in Santiago de Cuba, as well as the victims of the terrorist attack in Boston”.
More than 170 people were injured while 3 died in the Boston bombings. Meanwhile, in Eastern Cuba, the repressive actions of the government have dramatically increased against the 40 hunger strikers, among them Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, as they demand the release of detained dissident Luis Enrique Lozada (also on hunger strike) and calling for an end to the brutality against human rights activists in the country.
The strikers, as well as numerous other dissidents who have joined them in demonstrations of solidarity, have been victims of acts of repudiation, death threats, house raids and arrests this week.
A total of 20 Ladies in White in the province of Matanzas managed to march with flowers in their hands, according to Sayli Navarro (@SayliNavarro), a young member of the group.
Navarro added that in Guantanamo 8 women marched and made it to Mass. When the religious service came to an end, the Ladies carried out their monthly meeting in the headquarters of the group in that area.
Anyer Antonio Blanco, an activist of UNPACU, reported that 34 Ladies in White participated in Mass at Palma Soriano, where Father Palma (the local priest) dedicated the sermon to the women and prayed for their protection, as well as for the hunger strikers.
Blanco said that 16 women carried out their civic march in Santiago de Cuba, and as far as he confirmed, only 1 woman was arbitrarily arrested.
During night hours of that same Sunday, the renown Ladies in White Laura Pabrada, daughter of the fallen leader of the group Laura Pollan, and Belkis Cantillo, representative of the group in Santiago de Cuba and wife of Jose Daniel Ferrer, traveled to Brussels to meet up with Berta Soler, representative of the movement, to finally receive the Sajarov Award, given to them in 2005. The Cuban dictatorship had denied Laura Pollan and other members of the group to travel outside of the country to pick up the award, but now the 3 mentioned women have been able to travel.
Soler has expressed that, in reality, these things don’t represent reforms, but instead attempts to distract international attention over the escalating level of repression against the internal opposition. However, she has been internationally denouncing the constant human rights violations in Cuba during her time outside the country, emphasizing cases such as that of Sonia Garro, Lady in White imprisoned in Havana for more than 1 year along with her husband Ramon Alejandro Munoz.
April 8, 2013Posted by on
Each Sunday various arrests of Ladies in White in different parts of Cuba are reported, but this 7th of April, the first Sunday of the month, a group of 60 women were detained by the political police in the province of Santiago de Cuba, simply for trying to make it to Mass. Regardless, members of the group managed to march in other provinces, defying police operations organized by the regime.
Under the direction of Laura Labrado Pollan (daughter of Laura Pollan) and Belkis Cantillo (visiting from Santiago), 54 Ladies in White marched down Havana’s 5th Avenue after participating in Mass at Santa Rita Church, where they prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners, emphasizing the case of Sonia Garro, who has just recently been transferred to a hospital due to a skin infection obtained in prison, according to her sister Yamilet Garro.
These activists from Havana were accompanied by more than 30 men, all of them public dissidents.
In Matanzas province a total of 17 women marched and participated in Mass. 3 made it in Ciego de Avila and 10 in Guantanamo.
Pro-freedom activists Iván Hernández Carrillo (@ivanlibre), Sayli Navarro (@SayliNavarro), Ángel Moya Acosta (@jangelmoya) and Anyer Antonio Blanco (@anyerantoniobla) reported and confirmed these numbers in their respective Twitter accounts.
Despite 60 arrests in Santiago de Cuba, 4 women surpassed police cordons and made it to El Cobre National Shrine. In Holguin province, various Ladies were reportedly arrested.
It is common for these women from Santiago (many who hail from other Eastern regions) to leave their homes since Friday or Saturday to surpass police operations and arrive to mass at El Cobre Shrine. Many times they have to sleep at bus stations, cross and hide in fields or walk miles under rain and intense heat to escape police persecution. Some times, once near the temple they are refused vacancy by priests at the service of State Security.
On his Twitter account, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia (@jdanielferrer) explained this Sunday that “the Ladies in White of Santiago de Cuba, cross fields, hills, rivers and creeks to try and stay a night in the small hotel of El Cobre”.
The Ladies in White continue marching because they have already conquered a public space, all due to their 10 years of relentless perseverance. They will not allow any government soldier and/or official to take this space from them. The arrests may increase, but so too will the public demonstrations by these brave women.
March 20, 2013Posted by on
On the night of March 18th, the Cuban political police organized a mob of more than 200 people to attack a group of 50 Ladies in White in Palma Soriano who were holding their monthly meeting, dedicating it to the 10th anniversary of the Black Spring crackdown when 75 dissidents were arrested and sentenced to prison. These actions resulted in the hospitalization of one of the Ladies in White and the violent arrests of various neighbors who came out in their defense.
Belkis Cantillo, the representative of the Ladies in White in the province of Santiago de Cuba, was present and explained to this blog that the meeting took place without any incidents, but “at around 4 PM, when we were going to leave the house, we noticed that there were mobs on each corner. It was then that act of repudiation began“.
Cantillo estimated that there were about 200 people in the acts of repudiation, many of them drunkards, and all of them responding to the orders of the political police. Some of the agents who were at the forefront of the mobs were Edgar, Norberto, Yunier, Ernesto, Rodolfo and Agustin (the latter a chief of the Confrontation Unit in Santiago de Cuba), although the activist points out that these are just code names, seeing as the agents never use their actual names.
In addition, there were underage students in the mob. They were taken there by their teachers.
“The teachers would tell the kids to scream insults at us like ‘worms‘”, said Cantillo, “but the majority of the parents showed up, angry, and punished their children and took them away from there. They also confronted and protested against the teachers for taking them there without their authorization“.
The mobs remained outside of the home of Denia Hernandez and started to throw rocks against the walls, windows and roof. There were also underage children inside- 3,8,12, and 15 years old. The eldest being Martha Beatriz Ferrer, daughter of Belkis and leading dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.
“These kids were terrorized. All they could hear were the rocks crashing against the walls. It felt like it was raining rocks, it wouldn’t come to an end“, recounts Belkis, “And the political police was just there, controlling those mobs, encouraging them“.
At one point, one of the rocks landed inside the house of a neighbor. Clearly bothered, he came out to defend the women. He wasn’t the only one.
“This man came out to defend us. He told the police officers to stop the violence“, said the Lady in White, “and many other people came out to defend us- both men and women. In fact, there were 6 women (neighbors) who stood up for us. They started to shout at the mobs, asking why they were throwing rocks at us because we were only defending our rights”.
The result of the displays of solidarity was the beating and arrest of the 6 women at the hands of the political police. Each of them were taken away to an undisclosed location. Two of them were identified on Jose Daniel Ferrer’s Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) as Jessica Hernández and Maricela Chea.
Meanwhile, the Lady in White Miraida Martin was physically assaulted by the mobs when she stepped out of the house. The aggression was so intense that she had to be urgently rushed to the clinic of Palma Soriano, where they had to give her oxygen, according to another tweet by Ferrer Garcia, which also detailed that she was in “a very delicate state of health“.
The home of Denia Hernandez remained under police vigilance long after the mobs began to disperse at around 9 PM. It remained that way all night long.
Belkis Cantillo said that despite the fact that they were very violent moments, the Ladies in White were not afraid, although they are “very worried about the women who defended us and were assaulted. They are still detained and were very beat, being held in an undisclosed location“.
Her husband and leader of UNPACU, Jose Daniel Ferrer, added on Twitter that the 6 women demonstrated a high level of bravery and expressed that “when everyone who desires a better future does the same as Jessica, Maricela, and the rest of the neighbors, the abuses, the hunger, and the misery will come to an end”.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Belkis Cantillo- Cell Phone: +58-323-612
December 13, 2012Posted by on
Just days from turning 15, Martha Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo- daughter of renown dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia and Lady in White Belkis Cantillo Ramirez- is being victim of a blackmail and harassment campaign at the hands of functionaries of the Communist Party and teachers from her school, the Pre-University of Palmarito de Cauto. The smear campaign culminated in an argument and a physical aggression against the young student when she expressed her opinion during a political act which she had been tricked into attending during class time.
Ferrer Cantillo says that harassment against her and the rest of her family is constant, but that in the last two weeks it has increased in school. “The professors and the members of the Communist Party are very bothered because the students in my class agree with me when I say my opinion“, said the youth, “it hurts them that I have friends and that they visit my house often“.
In addition, points out Ferrer, “a few days ago a professor started teaching a history class, in which he said that in Cuba human rights were not violated, to which I raised my hand and responded, saying that it wasn’t true. And my classmates agreed with me“.
This past Monday, December 10th, precisely when International Human Rights Day was being celebrated throughout the world, the professors of her school announced a mandatory activity. When Martha Beatriz asked if it was a political act- which she always refuses to attend- all her professors assured her that it was a “common” activity. She noticed that this allegation wasn’t true upon entering the place, seeing that in fact it was a political activity.
“The event started with a couple of kids from the primary school- who were being manipulated and pressured by the professors- who went up on stage and started saying that human rights are respected in Cuba, and that Fidel Castro is one of the leaders of the revolution who most respects these rights“, recounts Martha Beatriz, who did not wait to respond. “I quickly said that in Cuba human rights are not respected- nothing of the sort. Suddenly, a member of the Communist Party hit me on my arm and told me to shut up, saying that I did not have the right to say that“.
At that moment, the adolescent left the classroom, declaring that she would not return to school until her opinions are respected.
“I’m not going back to school until they apologize to me for doing this and until my rights are respected“, she said. However, Martha explains that her classmates were once again supporting her during the entire ordeal.
Jose Daniel Ferrer, father of Martha Beatriz, added that there are already a number of police operations which have already been set in motion to impede his daughter’s friends from coming to their home to celebrate her birthday this Thursday, December 13th.
In one of his tweets, Ferrer (@jdanielferrer) highlights that “members of the Communist Party and of the Education sector are already pressuring classmates of Martha Beatriz so that they won’t associate themselves with her” and also “pressuring their parents“.
On her part, Martha Beatriz, who is also one of the youngest Ladies in White in Cuba, affirms that her position in regards to the situation has not changed with the passing of the days. The youth has been beat and detained by the political police on a number of occasions for participating in activities of the Ladies in White and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and says that she will not allow manipulations from her teachers and members of the Communist Party to cause any fear in her, assuring that she will continue expressing her thoughts.
For more information from Cuba:
José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: +5353-146-740 // Twitter: @jdanielferrer
November 3, 2012Posted by on
At just 14 years old, Martha Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo is one of the youngest, and most active, Ladies in White in Cuba, and not only because her parents are renown human rights defenders on the island (former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia and Belkis Cantillo Ramirez), but because she believes that “it is a just cause” and that “all Cubans deserve a sovereign and free country“.
Her young age, however, does not exempt her from the same police repression which all these women face every Sunday and nearly every day, as was proven this past Sunday, October 21st, when Martha Beatriz and three other minors- her sister (7 year old Fatima Victoria), her brother (9 year old Daniel), and another young member of the Ladies in White (11 year old Daniela Garces)- were all taken down from a bus by force and then harassed and physically assaulted by police agents who impeded them from reaching their destination.
“We were on our way from Palma Soriano to the Shrine of El Cobre when we were intercepted on the street by political police agents“, said Ferrer, “they boarded the bus and told us 4 that we had to get off, but we refused to do so because us going to Mass does not constitute a crime, as it is not a crime for any other Cuban”.
The agents responded the same way they respond against any other dissident: with physical aggressions.
“They shouted obscene words at us and then took us down by force… then a police bus arrived and they told us we had to go inside. We refused. Various uniformed women shoved and dragged us to the bus. One of these women, whose name I could not confirm, grabbed me by the neck and choked me. Daniela was scratched. And my brother Daniel was pushed and hit a couple of times when they were putting him on the bus. We fell to the steps of the bus because they were pushing us so much“, recounted the youth.
The 4 minors were forcefully put inside the bus. In the case of Daniela Garces, she was left at the entrance of Palma Soriano, near her house, while Martha Beatriz and her siblings were “abandoned in the bus station“. They all directed themselves to the home of Lady in White Aime Garces.
But it is not the first time that these 4 have been subjected to detentions, physical aggressions or threats, affirmed Martha Beatriz without any hints of fear in her voice.
“My little sister and brother have been detained along with my mother when we have been traveling on buses to get to church, while Daniela and I have been removed from buses together before“, she explained.
Much has been said about the ‘apathy’ which ‘consumes’ young Cubans. However, the adolescent Martha Beatriz affirms that there are more like her, in the Eastern part of Cuba as well as the rest of the island. The young Lady in White sent a clear message to the youths of her country:
“To the Cuban youth I say, we must fight for our rights, so that they no longer violate them. Fight for a free Cuba where all rights are respected, as well as the rights of our parents. So that our parents can have decent salaries and access to jobs as well“.
Meanwhile, to the Cuban youth outside of the island she asks they “support us, because we are fighting for the freedom of all Cubans“.
August 27, 2012Posted by on
Former political prisoner and general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, was kept in a dungeon for more than 72 hours during his most recent detention and was threatened by State Security agents that he could be sent back to prison if he continues participating in and organizing dissident activities throughout the Eastern region of the country. This time, his jailers filmed him on numerous occasions, such as when they read him an official warning letter which informed him that he’d be sent back to prison for continuing to cause what they termed as “public disorders”.
“They had that camera during the entire time, but they only filmed the parts they found necessary”, explained Ferrer Garcia, “for example, when they put me in a cell with a terrible amount of heat, without food, without communication, and without my medicines for my health conditions- they didn’t film any of that”. The response of the dissident leader when they read him the warning was “that until in Cuba human rights are not respected, until there is no freedom, as long as Cubans can’t decide for themselves and be protagonists of their own destinies, I am going to continue doing the same thing we have been doing, and many other things- in a peaceful manner- in favor of freedom and democracy”.
This most recent arrest of Ferrer Garcia took place on Friday, August 24th, when UNPACU was celebrating its 1 year anniversary of having been created. For days prior to the date, combined forces of the political police, the Rapid Response Brigades, and State Security unleashed a wave of arrests and house raids against members of the mentioned organization throughout Eastern Cuba.
One of the first cases was that of Jorge Cervantes García on August 23rd, when a number of armed officials raided his home in Contramaestre, occupied many materials, threatened all those inside, and jailed Cervantes Garcia and his two underage children. He still remains detained.
In the case of Ferrer, his home had been surrounded by police agents for various days until they finally raided the house on the morning of the 24th. “They ransacked the house”, said the dissident, “they robbed everything they felt like, and what they did not steal they destroyed. I am talking about even toys and belongings of my children…they have robbed them or destroyed them”.
In addition, in the home of Ferrer Garcia, as well as those of other UNPACU activists, the police took printers, cameras, laptops, pamphlets and other materials, none of which have been returned, as tends to happen.
Marta Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo, 14 year old Lady in White and daughter of Jose Daniel, explained in an audio uploaded onto UNPACU’s YouTube account that police agents beat all those inside the house in the moment of the arrest, including herself, her cousin, her mother (Belkis Cantillo) and an aunt. Her elderly grandmother was also inside the house and suffered a sharp increase in her blood pressure.
Other detainees on that day were Anyer Antonio Blanco, Rafael Miguel Cabrera Montoya, Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Berta Guerrero Segura. The latter, who is the representative of the Ladies in White in Holguin, was arrested and mistreated along with her underage daughter, who she was carrying at the time of her arrest and forceful entry into a police vehicle.
Other reports denounced that another 6 homes were raided that day and more than 60 arrests occurred.
Meanwhile, activist Luis Miguel Gomez Hernandez reported that a group of UNPACU members were arrested in the municipality of Gibara on that same Friday, among them Ladies in White like Yoandra Garrido Silva and Maydaly Garrido Silva, as they too celebrated the anniversary. Gomez Hernandez was one of the detainees that afternoon and explained that they were all subjected to “interrogations and threats that we could not leave Gibara and that we would not be allowed to carry out any dissident activity, and that not even the Ladies in White could to Mass on Sundays“. This group was released but many other activists remain imprisoned, and some are on hunger strike (Ferrer Garcia put the number at more than 20).
“Despite all that they have done to us, our activists celebrated the anniversary of UNPACU with marches, signs, pamphlets, slogans and other diverse ways, not only in the East but also in the West”, said Ferrer Garcia, referencing the case of Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, in Havana, who was arrested after carrying out commemorative events.
Other activists of diverse pro-democracy groups also paid tribute to UNPACU and demanded freedom for their detained members, as was the case of Lady in White and member of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, who carried out a public protest in Havana to commemorate the Day of the Resistance and in solidarity with the mentioned dissidents. In Placetas, Villa Clara, dissident leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” also included messages of freedom for Jose Daniel Ferrer and congratulating UNPACU as he also carried out a public protest along with other activists.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was released during the morning hours of Sunday, August 26th and was quick to reiterate his compromise with the pro-freedom movement in Cuba.
“The tyranny is very afraid”, affirmed the dissident, “and like a wounded beast, it will retaliate and cause lots of damage to peaceful people who want freedom for all Cubans, but we are willing to give it all. As Jose Marti said: ‘Freedom has a high price, and it is necessary to either give up and live without her, or decide to obtain it at its price’“.
For more information from Cuba:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Phone: +5353-146-740 // Twitter: @jdanielferrer
July 22, 2012Posted by on
From the Eastern municipality of Palma Soriano, Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez, an activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba has alerted about the situation of his wife, Lady in White Taimi Vega Biscet, who was arrested on the morning of Wednesday, July 18th, along with another member of the feminine movement when they were both on their way to the home of Belkis Cantillo in Palmarito de Cauto for a reunion. As of July 20th, Vega Biscet had not returned to her home and Dominguez Gonzalez does not have any more information about her, and is therefore declaring her “disappeared”. The same goes for the other missing Lady in White, Arianna Isaac.
“I do not know if my wife has been beaten, nor where she is being held, or what State Security has done with her“, expressed the dissident, “I am very worried, she is also a mother of a 5 year old who is also very worried about his mother, he is crying and asking for her“.
Taimi Vega has been involved in Cuba’s Resistance movement for about 6 months, and although she has suffered other forms of repression at the hands of the regime, it is the first time she is detained in a cell and for such a long period of time, according to the human rights activist, assuming that she is in a police unit.
On February of 2012, Vega was one of the two Ladies in White who suffered a miscarriage because of a violent arrest and numerous aggressive threats at the hands of State Security after being pregnant for 6 weeks . The oppressive operation forced the Lady in White to enter a stage of hypertension to the point that she suffered a miscarriage. Since then, both Taimi and Yuniesky have been targets for vigilance and blackmail by political police forces.
“Now they have once again detained Taimi“, said Yuniesky, “I consider that it is because of the valor and honor which she has been demonstrating as a Lady in White“.
Meanwhile, the general coordinator for the UNPACU, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia sent out a series of Twitter messages this 19th of July denouncing the case of Vega Biscet and the other Lady in White which was detained alongside her, Arianna Isaac. Ferrer Garcia tweeted that Isaac’s family also does not know where she is being held, and are also declaring her missing.
Ferrer, as well as relatives of the missing women and other activists, are worried that they may have suffered beatings or other forms of repercussions.
Regardless of the repression, Yuniesky Dominguez assured that his wife, Taimi Vega Biscet, “will not cease her brave character as a Lady in White“
For more information from Cuba:
Yuniesky Domínguez González – Cell Phone: +5352-997-961
April 30, 2012Posted by on
“The repression against the Ladies in White has not ceased, nor have the operations to impede them from participating in Sunday Mass in Holguin”, said from that same city Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Barista, one of the detainees, as tends to occur, this past Sunday April 29th, 2012.
Caballero Batista and her husband, Esteban Sandez Suarez were detained during morning hours when they were on their way to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin. Some other activists/Ladies who suffered arrests at the hands of the political police were Isabel Pena Torres, Adisnida Cruz, and Marco Antonio Lima in Holguin and Berta Guerrero Segura in the municipality of Cacocun. The latter was arrested along with her 2 year old daughter. She was simply walking down a sidewalk, on her way to church, dressed in white and carrying her small child when police agents intercepted her.
In the case of Caballero and Sandez Suarez, both were physically assaulted by police officials who then shoved them into police vehicles and took them to the instructional unit known as Pedernales, where they are usually taken when detained. The activist explained that they were placed in “pestilent cells which are completely sealed off and where there is barely enough ventilation to breath…it is horrible“.
Due to these horrid conditions in which the Lady in White and her husband are regularly confined to, as well as all the physical blows they receive and all the hunger strikes they carry out as a form of protest, both have started to suffer from serious pains and complications in the kidneys.
Meanwhile, Caballero adds that “in other regions of the country there were police operations which impeded various women from other municipalities, such as Banes and Velasco, from traveling to the city of Holguin to march together“. In addition, during the morning of Saturday April 28th, the Lady in White Miladis Pena was intercepted, detained and deported by the police “despite the fact that she was not even traveling to Holguin“.
Other cases of violence against Ladies in White were reported throughout the island, as was the case in Santiago de Cuba where 7 women were violently arrested as they were on their way to the El Cobre Sanctuary. They were then abandoned in desolate and remote areas, far from their homes. Among these women was Belkis Cantillo Ramirez, wife of the recently released opposition leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia. Despite the repression and the aggressive measures, whether it be in Holguin or in Santiago de Cuba or other provinces, some women were able to surpass police cordons and assist Sunday Mass.
Strong censorship still remains, cellphones blocked
In her case, Caridad Caballero adds that “it has been more than 1 month since I do not have telephone service“. The dissident explains that this has been part of yet another method of censorship being practice by the Cuban regime so that she cannot communicate with fellow activists. Up to this moment, her phone “does not receive and cannot dial any national calls and cannot send or receive any text messages from within the country. Only a few international calls are allowed to be received“.
In fact, Caballero has had various family issues in Guantanamo (her native province) during the past few weeks- one uncle passed away, another uncle is in critical condition, and her elderly grandmother is sick- and yet, the activist has not been able to establish concrete communication with them. Her house phone is also blocked.
Because of this, Caballero and Sandez recently went to the central office of CUBACEL (State phone company) in Holguin and present their complaints and demands. However, they did not receive a response and their phones are still not working properly.
The Cuban regime has tried at all costs to impede Cuban dissidents from communicating with one another, from traveling freely within their own country, and from demanding their rights out on the streets. But despite all of this, according to Caballero Batista, “as long as we are alive, we will continue resisting“.
For mor informaiton form Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero