Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Donaida Perez Paceiro

Antunez With Details of Most Recent Arrest in Placetas

The dissident leader suffered strong chest and head pains during his arrest but was denied medical assistance in police unit and local Placetas Hospital.  Meanwhile, activist Atruro Conde Zamora was threatened by police agents that they would fabricate him a crime in order to disappear him.

At around 9 AM on the morning of Friday, August 17th, the renown dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” was arrested by the political police along with Arturo Conde Zamora, also an activist, when they were both on their way to carry out a civic demonstration in front of a Jose Marti monument in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara.  According to Antunez, the activity was going to be in condemnation of the deaths of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas and Harold Cepero Escalante, as well as other dissidents like Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Wilman Villar Mendoza, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, and Laura Pollan.

He also explained that other members of the Resistance had plans to join the protest.  “Blas Fortun Martinez, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Xiomara Martinez Jimenez, Donaida Perez Paceiros and Yaite Cruz Sosa all had plans to meet up with us to join the activity“, said Antunez, but it was not possible at that moment.

Antunez explained that the arrest was violent and both men were taken to the Placetas Police Unit where they were confined to pestilent cells for 24 hours.  During the detention, Antunez started to suffer “strong pains in the chest, head, and on the right eye“.  The activist acquired many health issues during the 17 year prison term he was sentenced to in the 90′s for carrying out a peaceful demonstration against the Cuban regime.  When his brother- Loreto Hernandez Garcia- went to the police unit at around 11 PM and tried to give him medicines for the pains he was suffering, the authorities flat out told him that this was not allowed.  The activist did not receive medical attention during his time in the cell.

Numerous plain clothed agents arrest Arturo Conde Zamora in Placetas earlier in 2012.

While the activists- both who are members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front- remained detained, the group of dissidents which was going to initially join the protest that morning decided to carry out their own demonstration outside the home of Antunez.  His wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, also a leading dissident and president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, explained to various news sources like “Radio Republica” and “Radio Marti” that the group took to the streets and started to shout slogans like “Water, food, the people are dying”, “Freedom for Antunez and Conde Zamora”, and “Towards the National Strike”.  These activities were  closely watched by State Security agents but no arrests were reported.

 Antunez also denounced that Arturo Conde Zamora received threats and insults during his time detained.  “One of the officials told him: ‘Nigger, if you do not get out of the opposition we are going to fabricate a common crime for you and take you out of circulation’“.  These tactics are common in Cuba, where countless dissidents have been taken to prison or have been fined for heavy sums for crimes they have never committed.

At around 9 AM of Saturday, Agusut 18th, Arturo Conde and Antunez were released.  In the case of the latter, he was still suffering strong chest pains, so he tried to get checked at the Placetas Hospital, but once he arrived there he was told that they could not tend to him under the excuse that there were not enough doctors present.

Once Antunez returned to his home in Placetas he noticed that the cordons of police agents were still there, watching over all of his actions.  Although he still feels some chest pains, Antunez- the secretary general of the Orlando Zapata National Resistance Front- affirmed that he feels “more firm and decided than ever” of his position: that he will “not shut up, and not leave Cuba“.

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For more information from Cuba:

Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’- Cell Phone: +5352-731-656 // Twitter: @antunezcuba

Women Carry Out Peaceful Sit-In Against Impunity and Repression (IMAGES)

Photo taken by: @antunezcuba. Peaceful sit-in interrupted by aggressive arrest

As part of the “March Against Impunity”, the female activists from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights carry out civic activities in Cuba during the first day of each month.  This June 1st, 2012 was marked by a nonviolent sit-in by three activists from the mentioned group- Donaida Perez Paceiro, Yaite Cruz Sosa, and Dora Correa- in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara.

The woman carried out the protest on 7th Street South, in front of a number of public institutions, during the morning hours.  They began to shout various slogans, not only against the Cuban regime but also demanding the freedom of all political prisoners, as well as other messages such as “down with the forced evictions”, “down with the high price of electricity”, and “down with hunger”.  In declarations made on the Rosa Parks Movement’s blog, Donaida Perez explained that the women were also showing solidarity woth Damaris Moya Portieles, another activist from the group who is currently facing a difficult situation as a police official threatened to rape her 5 year old daughter.

In a matter of minutes, agents at the service of the dictatorship arrived on the scene and began to aggressively arrest the demonstrators.  The former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez managed to capture these images on his cell phone and was able to publish them on his Twitter account.  (These photos were also published on the Rosa Park Movement’s blog).

The police agents dragged the women, shoved them in police vehicles, and drove them off to unknown locations.

Peaceful sit-ins are one of the most popular methods among international civic movements.  They have been successfully applied around the world against dictatorships or corrupt systems.  In the United States, during the 1950′s and 60′s, these methods were frequently used by black Americans who suffered under a system of discrimination and racism.  Under the direction of activists such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, these demonstrators achieved their objectives despite constant violence.  Currently in Cuba, human rights activists not only carry out sit-ins, but also hunger strikes, pots and pans protests, vigils, public marches, as well as the distribution of pamphlets with pro-freedom messages and the hanging of anti-government signs in public places.  Though in the majority of cases the activists are arrested, the demonstrations achieve the objective of showing the local population how they are being mistreated just for demanding rights for an entire nation.

The women of the Rosa Parks Movement are an example of this civic struggle which is being carried out throughout the entire island by diverse groups who fight for a free future.

Photo by: @antunezcuba. Female activists dragged, shoved in police vehicles

For more information from Cuba:

Yris Tamara Aguilera (president of the Rosa Parks Mov.)-             +5352-417-749       // Twitter: @yrisCuba

Visit the blog of the Rosa Parks Movement

VIDEO: Once Again, the Women of the Rosa Parks Movement

March was yet another month which began with the accustomed peaceful protest carried out by the women of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.  This time, the activity took place in front of the Communist Party headquarters in the town of Santa Clara.  The video of the protest was published recently and you can see how Yris Tamara Aguilera, Yaite Cruz Sosa, Donaida Pérez Paseiros and Yaimara Reyes Mesa are rapidly harassed, dragged, and beaten by functionaries of the communist headquarters.  In the case of Yris Tamara Aguilera, it can be seen how she sits down on the floor as a sign of non-cooperation.  A functionary starts to yell at Yris, demanding that she get up from the street.  The women were simply demanding freedom and an end to the impunity excercised by the regime, as occurs every first day of each month.  The demonstration culminated in a violent arrest.  See the video:

On Sunday, March 11th, dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Antunez was arbitrarily arrested as he was leaving his home in Placetas.  He was kept in a dungeon until Wednesday the 14th despite the fact that he was suffering from serious chest pains.  His wife, Yris Tamara Aguilera, and the same activists which participated in the march on video, were also arrested during afternoon hours of Wednesday the 14th.  In the case of Yris Tamara, she was once again arrested on the morning of Thursday, March 15th, when she was on her way to a medical center to tend to the wounds she had received during her previous time in jail.  After a public call from various activists who declared that they would “take to the streets if Yris was not liberated”, the regime decided to release the activist.  The repression against these men and women is constant, but so too is their perseverance.

 

Placetas: 5 Activists are Still Detained, Among them prominent dissident Antunez, with Health Complications

Antunez and Yris Tamara Aguilera

Jorge Luis Garcia Antunez,  opposition activist and national secretary of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, is still arrested in a police unit of Placetas (a town of central Cuba) since the night of Sunday, March 11th, when he was walking out of his house and towards the corner of his block.  The arrest was reported, almost instantly, by his wife Yris Tamara Aguilera who was not at the house at that moment.  Aguilera published a Twitter message where she explained that a witness of the arrest had informed her that when they were detaining Antunez they told him it was “under orders from the high command from Havana”.  Also arrested were dissidents Eriberto Liranza Romero and Rene Rouco Machin in Havana.

On the following day, Romero and Machin were released but Antunez remained arrested.  A detainee which was released hours after Antunez was taken to his cell told Yris that her husband was experiencing “many chest pains and was vomiting”, considering that he suffers from various health complications which he acquired from his 17 years in prison for his political activism.  A few minutes after receiving this news, Yris decided to head out towards the police unit along with activists Donaida Perez Paseiros, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and Yaite Sosa, all members of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.  There, the 4 women started to demand the liberation of Antunez.  The protest continued until an official stepped out of the unit and told the women that Antunez would be released on the following day, which did not happen.  For this reason, the women once again marched to the police unit at 9 AM on Tuesday.  In this occassion, Yaimara Reyes could not go, but instead, Xiomara Martin Jimenez was present.

When the 4 women arrived at the unit, they once again started their civic protest.  In just minutes, a number of officials started to harass them, and eventually started to beat them, drag them, and in the end, detain them.  According to Dora Lara, an elderly activists from the Rosa Parks Movement who lives across the street from the police unit, she heard shouts of “Down with Fidel” from her home.  In addition, Lara affirms that she was able to witness the violent beating carried out against the activists.

On the night of that same Tuesday, various activists from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front declared that if the dissidents were not released by Wednesday at 12 pm, they would take to the streets in protest against their arbitrary arrest.

Activists in diverse parts of the island have expressed concern for the fate of the detainees, especially Antunez who, according to various sources, continues to suffer from strong chest pains.  For this reason, we demand the immediate liberation of the 5 human rights activists.

For more information, follow the Twitter account of Yris Tamara Aguilera (@YrisCuba), which is currently being administered by the exiled sister of Antunez, Bertha Antunez.  There is also information available in the Twitter account of the Cuban Democratic Directorate (@DirectorioCuba).

In Cuba, a New Religious Group is Born Outside the Grasp of State Control

Jonniel Riverol on the right with the orange shirt, with other members of the Free Yoruba Association of Cuba

A number of practitioners of the afro-Cuban Yoruba religion in Placetas, Cuba have decided to create their own religious group, independent from the control of the Cuban totalitarian system which presides over all sectors of day-to-day society.  Jonniel Rodriguez Riverol, a Yoruba priest, announced this past Wednesday 29th of February that “a group of Cuban santeros, practitioners of the Yoruba religion, have created the Free Yoruba Association of Cuba with the purpose of practicing our religious beliefs outside the state control which all believers of this African faith are subjected to in this country“.  Rodriguez Riverol is the president of the newly founded organization.

The official launch of the group took place in the home of Donaida Perez Paseiros (dissident and human rights activist) and Loreto Hernandez Garcia (Yoruba priest and vice-president of the Association).  According to declarations made by Riverol, a number of neighbors were invited to take part in the event, where they prayed “for the life of the political prisoner currently on hunger strike, Andy Frometa Cuenca, and for the end of violence and repression in Cuba“.

Jonniel Rodriguez Riverol has been a Yoruba priest since 1992 and decided, along with other Cuban santeros, to create the Free Yoruba Association of Cuba with the intent of “breaking away from the control which the government exerts over all religions in Cuba”.  As a goal, the members of this group wish to practice their religion “completely independent from the control and supervision of the state organisms which has traditionally occurred on the island for the past century and a half“.

In Cuba, the Castro dictatorship does not only oppress dissident groups made up of human rights activist who demand freedom out in public, but they also maintain a strong vigilance over all religious groups, which is evident by the existence of the Office for Religious Affairs, a department of the Communist Party put in place to preside over religious events throughout the island.  In fact, it has even been reported in the past that the regime has infiltrated religious groups as much as they have infiltrated public opposition groups.

Jonniel Riverol established that the Association is “not a political organization, nor is it identified by political or philosophical ideas.  With that said, the character of the group and the activities we carry out will have a completely religious focus, which will be in total correspondence with the pretexts and postulates of our ancestral religion“.  He added that the Association will not hesitate to democratically debate with Yorubas who are associated with the state “to share with them our points of view on the subject of religion, or any other topic“.

The Free Yoruba Association of Cuba will be affiliated with the Central Opposition Coalition and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, according to Riverol.  “These non-violent organizations will respect the beliefs and strategies of our organization.  In other words, the relationship between our organization and the groups which make up the internal resistance will be based on mutual respect: comprehension and no meddling or impositions“.  He also pointed out that the executive structure of the Association will be made up of a president, a vice-president, and an executive secretary and a spokesperson.  “As the membership of the group grows and as it spreads throughout the country, we will then open different headquarters in different regions and provinces which will be headed by specific representatives previously designated by the national executives“.

The dissident and national coordinator of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, Jorge Luis Garcia Antunez, published a welcome message for this religious group on his blog “I Won’t Shut Up, I’m Not Leaving“.  Antunez expressed that “in light of the foundation of this association, the political police has been deeply alarmed.  Firstly, because independent civil society is growing and, most of all, because the majority of the members of this group are political dissidents and many of them have participated or will participate in protests and other acts of  civil disobedience”.  Donaida Perez Paseiros is one of these activists which frequently participates in public demonstrations against the communist tyranny through her activism with the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.

The Free Yoruba Association of Cuba has also opened its own Twitter account under the name @YorubaLibre, where it has already sent out numerous Tweets.

Each passing day, more and more Cubans who wish to live in a plural country raise their voices in favor of freedom.  The establishment of this new Afro-Cuban Yoruba association is yet another achievement of Cuba’s independent society which has been losing fear and demanding their political, social, economic, and religious rights.

Considering the absence of a state of rights in our country, our association has the sufficient moral strength to carry out each one of our activities without having to rely on the most minimal authorization of those who we consider to be atheists and ignorant on this subject and, most of all, non-representative of the freedoms and rights of the people”, affirmed Jonniel Riverol.

Despite the Sexual Harassment and the Physical Aggressions, the Women of the Rosa Parks Movement Will Continue Marching

Women of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights protest in Santa Clara on February 1st, 2012

Every first day of the month has already started to become synonymous with acts of Resistance by the activists from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.  This past March 1st, these Cubans once again took to the streets, but this time in different areas of the island.

In Banes, the Lady in White and Vice-President of the Rosa Parks Movement, Marta Diaz Rondon, led a group of other women to the Northern Cemetery in that same town where the remains of activist Marta Cecilia Perez Duconger lay.  The dissidents decided to pay tribute to this Cuban on this specific date because she was one of the founders of the Rosa Parks Movement.  Although they were able to carry out their tribute, a constant surveillance by the political police surrounded the women.  In Matanzas, dissident Leticia Ramos, along with other activists, also took to the street and carried out a protest march.

However, without a doubt the worst violence occurred in Placetas, where a group of women from the Rosa Parks Movement, among them their president Yris Tamara Aguilera, surprised the regime functionaries in that area and stood outside the headquarters of the Municipal Headquarters of the Communist Party demanding freedom for the political prisoners Yazmin Conyedo and Yusmany Alvarez, an end to forced evictions, and, in sum, freedom for Cuba.  Other women who participated were Donaida Pérez PaseiroYaite Cruz Sosa and Dora Pérez Correa. According to testimonies of these same women, many everyday Cubans displayed support and solidarity with them.

In just instants, a mob made up of State Security agents surrounded the women and quickly and violently arrested Blas Fortun Martinez, a dissident from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front who was reporting from the scene of the protest.  This arrest was carried out by agent Idel Gonzalez Morfi, best known as ‘Railroad Nail’.  Meanwhile, and despite the aggressions, the women kept firm and shouted “freedom” and “the streets belong to the people“.

The communist mobs did not take long to physically assault the demonstrators.  In this case, the activists denounce that the women from State Security who work in the Communist Headquarters began to scratch them and even bite them. In addition, the functionaries began to take off their shoes and use them to beat the female dissidents.  According to Donaida Perez, numerous passer-bys defended the dissidents, standing in between them and their aggressors.

After this display of violence, the women from the Rosa Parks Movement decided to head back to one of their homes- that of Dora Perez, which is located literally across the street from the Communist Headquarters.  But State Security was not satisfied with beating them and harassing them for just a short while.  Considering that the march was completely spontaneous, the agents could only manage to gather a small group of women from State Security during the initial violence.  When some time had passed, the functionaries organized a larger repressive operation against the women.  A number of agents surrounded the home of Dora Perez and started to hurl rocks and shout offensive slogans.  Various soldiers broke into the home and beat all those inside, taking them detained, even those who did not participate in the protest, like Yaimara Reyes Mesa and Xiomara Martin Jiménez.  Also, the daughter of Dora Perez, who is not even a public dissident, was beaten and arrested.

In the following audio, recorded and provided by the Cuban Democratic Directorate (in Spanish), one can hear the moment when the arrests occurred, as the dissidents are bravely confronting their oppressors and shouting “No more Castros“, “Long live Democracy“, and “freedom for the Cuban people“, among other slogans:

All the women inside the house were arrested and the soldiers even left the door of the house wide open.  Yris Aguilera, Dora Perez, and Yaimara Reyes were taken to the Instructional Police Headquarters (UPOC) in Santa Clara.  When news of this spread, on the next day members of the Central Opposition Coalition  directed themselves to that unit, demanding the immediate liberation of the activists.

The women of the Rosa Parks Movement were released during the afternoon hours of March 3rd.  But the violence did not stop there.  In the case of Yris Tamara Aguilera, she was beat inside the police vehicle which was headed to leave her back at her house in Placetas.  The official known as Yuniel Monteagudo Reina was the aggressor, and he is also forcefully lowered Yris’s pants, sexually harassing her.  Yris protested and did not let him get any closer to her, despite his physical strength.  In declarations made just minutes after this abuse, Yris denounced that agent Yuniel told her “I’m gonna tear off the pants of this nigger and I am going to get on top of her”.  This was also strongly denounced by her husband, the well-known activist for human rights and opposition leader, Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’.

These women have affirmed that despite the increased violence against them every first day of the month (and any other day they voice their opinions), they will continue demonstrating in defense of human rights, against government impunity, state violence, and, in sum, the Castro dictatorship.

–—

This information was based on Twitter messages published by the Cuban Democratic Directorate.  For more information follow @DirectorioCuba.

And from Cuba: Yris Tamara Aguilera – Cell: 011-5352- 417-749, Twitter: @YrisCuba / Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez – Cell: 011-5352- 731-656, Twitter: @AntunezCuba

Antunez and 12 other Dissidents “Under Investigation” for Peaceul Sit-In

The following audio was recorded by Bertha Antunez, in conversation with Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, wife of Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’.  Aguilera reports that a government official from the Placetas Police Unit told her that her husband, along with the 12 other detained activists, will continue under custody for an “indefinite period of time because they are under a process of investigation”.

The audio is in Spanish but is followed by an English transcription:

” I have just been told by a guard from the Police Unit of Placetas that my husband Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez” and the other activists arrested alongside him will remain detained for an indefinite period of time because they are under a process of investigation.  This was communicated to the guard by a State Security official who did not want to come out and speak to me”.

Antunez and the 12 other peaceful anti-government activists (Pastor Alexei Gómez, Rene Quiroga, José Ángel Abreu, Oscar Veranes Martínez, María del Carmen Martínez, Donaida Pérez Paseiro, Xiomara Martin Jiménez, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Orlando Alfonso Martínez, Enrique Martínez Marín, Mayra Conlledo García and Víctor Castillo Ortega) were arrested violently yesterday (November 8th) during a public sit-in.  With the protest, they demanded freedom for all Cuban political prisoners and the immediate and unconditional end to government sponsored violence against opposition members and the country as a whole.

We must remember that in the 1960′s in the United States, this civic resistance method of protesting- specifically the sit ins- was a very popular tactic among the African-Americans who peacefully fought for their rights.  Just as the Cuban Resistance has, the African-Americans suffered countless violations for their demands.  But we must also point out and remember that, in the end, they did achieve their goals.  The Cuban Resistance will also be victorious.

Santa Clara Dissidents End Hunger Strike, but “the Struggle Continues”

A special thanks to Bertha Antunez who recorded and shared these declarations made by Damaris Moya Portieles on Tuesday, November 8th.

(Left to Right) Rolando Ferrer & Alcides Rodriguez

On Tuesday morning the dissidents from Santa Clara- Alcides Rivera Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer Espinosa- decided to end their hunger strike which lasted exactly 41 days and left them with serious health ailments.

Damaris Moya Portieles, provincial delegate of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement and Co-President of the Central Opposition Coalition, expressed her relief and satisfaction that both dissidents- which carried out the protest from her home- had ceased their hunger strikes after “Dissidents Marta Beatriz Roque and Arnaldo Ramos Lazarique visited them at home just a few days ago and asked them to please stop, considering that Raul Castro’s dictatorship already gave them an answer, which is that they will not stop the violent beatings” against dissidents.  Many other members of the Cuban resistance asked them to do the same, declaring that these brave men are needed alive.

Rodriguez and Espinosa decided that, just as Moya Portieles expressed, the dissident’s struggle belongs “out on the streets, our stage“.


And it is in that same stage, or sector, where members of the Central Opposition Coalition and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front have planned to “work more directly and together with the everyday people, so that they step out of the lies hurled upon them by the dictatorship, and see just how they are being oppressed“, affirms Damaris.

Nevertheless, the human rights activist warns that Rodriguez and Espinosa still run serious health risks, considering that their lengthy hunger strike left them in a “very poor state of physical health“.  Alcides is suffering from broncho-pneumonia, pain in his kindeys, and other complications, while Rolando is reeling from pains on his arm, “the tightening of his chest“, and has a “green-ish” color to him on his hands and feet.  “A doctor which visited him told us that it is very probable that he may be suffering from a heart or blood circulation condition“, adds Portieles.

Strikers Alcides Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer have seen, through this protest, how the Castro dictatorship pays no attention to their demands.  They’ve comprehended, according to declarations made by themselves and fellow dissidents, that before losing their lives while demanding their rights before a nomenclature which simply ignores such demands, it is better to confront the oppressors directly, face to face, despite repercussions this could have.  “They may kill us on the way but we must put an end to this dictatorship“, affirms a confident Moya Portieles, “We are letting the dictator- and the world- know: this has not been a defeat.  We are going to continue out on the streets, our scene, our stage.  The dictator will know very well know who we- the Central Opposition Coalition and the National Resistance Front- are“.

Shortly after putting and end to the hunger strike, a group of 13 dissidents were violently arrested and beaten in Placetas during a peaceful sit-in protest in which they demanded the unconditional release of all political prisoners and an immediate end to government-sponsored violence against the resistance and the people of Cuba as a whole.  Those detained were Jorge Luis García “Antúnez”, Pastor Alexei Gómez, Rene Quiroga, José Ángel Abreu, Oscar Veranes Martínez, María del Carmen Martínez, Donaida Pérez Paseiro, Xiomara Martin Jiménez, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Orlando Alfonso Martínez, Enrique Martínez Marín, Mayra Conlledo García y Víctor Castillo Ortega. (As of Wednesday afternoon, the activists remain imprisoned)

The struggle continues“, assures Damaris Moya Portieles.

Members of the Central Opposition Coalition

10/05/11- Vigil for Sara Marta Fonseca, all Cuban Political Prisoners (Photos + Video)

(Wednesday, October 5th 2011)- Amid candles, signs, and prayers, a vigil was held in Miami’s famous Versailles Restaurant for the immediate and unconditional release of Sara Marta Fonseca, her husband Julio Leon Perez, and all Cuban political prisoners.  Every Wednesday, a vigil is held in Versailles by the group of former prisoners who help Cuba’s internal resistance directly, known as “Plantados” in demand for the freedom of Cuba’s constant victims of repression and imprisonment.  This time, the event also counted on the participation of other groups, as well as former prisoner from the group of the 75 and recently exiled Ladies in White.

The event officially began with a prayer as all the candles began to light up.  Then some of those who were present shared a few words- among them former political prisoners Angel de Fana, Huber Matos, and Fidel Suarez Cruz.  Many participants carried signs with photos not only of Sara Marta but also of other women who have suffered countless acts of repression and violence in recent days, women like Yris Tamara Aguilera, Marta Diaz Rondon, Caridad Caballero Batista, Laura Pollan, Belkis Cantillo, Aimee Garces and many others.

More than anything, the vigil proved (as it has been proven on many occasions) that Cubans can come together, despite various groups and ideologies, to demand freedom for all their sisters and brothers on the island.

The following is a video of the Vigil.  One can clearly see the solidarity displayed that night:

Yris Aguilera: A Testimony About Her Disappearance and Her Resistance

The three female dissidents from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights who had been disappeared by forces of the dictatorship this past 26th of September while they demanded freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon Perez have been released with clear marks of repression of which they were victim.  The three women were Donaida Perez Paceiro, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and Yris Tamara Aguilera.

Aguilera recounted that the violence began while the three women were on their way from the home of Fonseca to the G2 Unit of Havana along with ‘Julito’, the eldest son of Sara Marta and Julio Leon.  At that moment, “various agents intercepted us, among them agent Camilo and agent Veloria.  The latter is a very corpulent man“, according to the dissident.  Right away, Veloria told Yris that she was not allowed to take to the street, to which she replied that she does not follow orders from military officers.  “I added that at the entrance of Havana, there’s a huge billboard which reads ‘Welcome to the capital of Cubans‘ and that I am also one of those Cubans, so it was my right and I would continue despite the consequences”.

When the group of dissidents continued to walk, Veloria did not waste a second.  He went straight towards Yris and it was then that the physical aggression began.  “He grabbed me by my hair and dragged me for more than 50 meters.  I was able to see ‘Julito’, too, and he had about 7 State Security agents on top of him because they did not have enough time to prepare people to carry out repudiation attacks“, narrates Perez Aguilera.  They were all detained and taken to police units.  In the case of Yris, she was taken to the Aguilera Unit in Havana where she remained for two hours.  “After those two hours, they took me to a Criminal Investigation Center.  Once there, I began to protest and to ask why I was being held in a place like that, being punished, if I had not killed or attacked anyone at all.  I spent 72 hours there“.

Aguilera explains that on that Thursday, September 29th, “we were supposedly released, and I say ‘supposedly’ because I knew that it was just a form of manipulation set in motion to detain us once again, since they had warned us again that we were not allowed to go to the home of Sara Marta“.  Upon stepping out of their detention centers, the three women were able to meet up and start walking together.  However, they were lost in Havana, considering that they are not too familiar with the streets of the capital, coming from Placetas.  “Thanks to a man we bumped into along the way we were able to make it to Rio Verde, where Sara Marta lives, under his direction“.  But a few blocks right before getting to the house they were once again quickly intercepted by various State Security officials, among them agent Camilo again.  “They told me, ‘We already told you- you are not allowed near the house of Sara Marta’ and I responded that time and time again I would not follow orders and I would continue fighting for her“, declared Aguilera.  Upon seeing the determination of the dissidents, the officials called for police vehicles and arrested the three of them again.  “They took me to the Committee of the Defense of the Revolution Unit of La Lisa where I was kept in a cell.  I was very worried about my sisters considering that they had not eaten or drank anything for 72 hours, and I hadn’t either“, expressed Yris.

The three activists- Paceiro, Reyes, and Aguilera- remained in protest the entire time, refusing to accept water, food, or even to bathe.  “I was locked away in a cell with a huge fence and a lock.  I slept on a concrete slab”, remembers Yris, adding that “my worst day was on October 1st.  My kidneys were failing me, I had a lot of pain, and I had not been able to urinate for two entire days, something that was really worrying me“.

It was strictly prohibited for any of the activists to call relatives- access to phones was completely restricted.  This lack of information and lengthy detention led Antunez, husband of Yris, to declare that the women were all officially missing.  “I demanded to the chief of La Lisa Police Unit that I be allowed to make phone calls, for that was my right.  He simply replied by telling me that he had nothing to discuss with me“, explains Yris Tamara.  “Hours later, at around 6 pm, I was taken into a police vehicle to a ‘medical encampment’.  I once again refused medical attention because I knew it was yet another method of manipulation.  I told them that I preferred to die with dignity instead of living humiliated“.

I was kept there until 6 in the morning when a few officials came to tell me to go with them“, narrates the president of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement, who thought that at that moment she was going to be sentenced to actual prison terms but, as it turns out, she was going to be released.  “The officials called a Special Brigade bus to come pick me up.  It was rather ridiculous- there were 4 men and 3 women from the Special Brigades and one State Security Official.  In other words, 8 people for one woman.  At no point in time did they tell me where I was being taken but I figured I was going to be released once I saw that they also picked up Donaida and Yaimara.  They left me in Placetas, a few blocks before my house“.  Along the entire way Yris was vomiting after having spent such a long time in deplorable prison cells, suffering beatings, and carrying out a hunger strike- a combination of elements which led her to a deplorable state of health.

National and International Solidarity

When I got home, I was very happy to see so many brothers and sisters who had joined me in solidarity, letting me know that neither of us women were alone at any time“, Aguilera expresses.  The distinguished dissident also wished to thank the numerous organizations and individuals who demanded her unconditional freedom during her arrest which, in total, lasted 112 hours.

To my brothers and sisters from Santa Clara who declared themselves on hunger strike, I am forever grateful“, referring to the activists from the Central Opposition Coalition who had taken on this protest in demand for the release of the three female dissidents.  “To all those people in and out of the island who were concerned for us and our situation, thank you very much“.

Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ also added his gratitude for all the acts of international and national solidarity with his wife.   “Thanks to such important demands made by organizations such as the Assembly of the Resistance and various other news sources which covered the situation of the women, thanks to all of this my wife and the other two women were released“, declared Garcia, adding that he also felt a profound and sincere appreciation for the Ladies in White and their gesture to dedicate their Sunday march “not only to the political prisoners but also to Yris, Sara Marta, Donaida, Yaimara, along with Yelena Napoles“.

The struggle for Sara Marta’s freedom continues

The dissident couple made it clear that the struggle for freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Ignacio Leon is nowhere near over, “because it is possible that they may be sentenced under false charges, simply for excercising their free movement .  We are going to continue in the struggle, we will do everything possible to free our jailed brothers and sisters“.

Fonseca and Leon have been jailed since September 24th and have been on hunger strike since then.

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