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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Esteban Sande Suarez
August 16, 2012Posted by on
The story of Caridad Caballero Batista and her family is one of a renown activism in favor of Cuba’s freedom. Due to her tireless work as an independent journalist, activist of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and member of the Ladies in White in the city of Holguin, Caballero Batista, her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez and her son Erik Esteban Sandez Caballero were victims of constant repression at the hands of the political police, State Security, the Rapid Response Brigades and mobs paid and organized by the Cuban regime.
It’s no secret that Sunday after Sunday this family had their home in Holguin completely surrounded by repressive forces who would insult, mock, threaten, and in sum, arrest and beat them without pity, simply because Caridad would try to assist Sunday Mass at church. But the violence was not only on Sundays, but instead every day that this family would carry out a civic protest or meeting in their home, or whenever the dictatorship felt like it. In nearly all the cases of arrests, these 3 Cubans would be taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales, in Holguin, where they would be confined to pestilent, dark and humid cells, where they would face further tortures and beatings.
On June 2012, this family of freedom fighters went into exile in the United States, but they assured that they would continue fighting- in whatever way they could- for the freedom of Cuba. Now, they have shared a list (compiled by Erik Esteban Sandez Caballero) of some of the oppressors in the province of Holguin, in municipalities such as Banes, Cacocum, and Holguin. They are faces of the culprits of countless violence against this family and other dissidents like Marta Diaz Rondon, Franklin Peregrino del Toro, Berta Guerrero Segura, Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque, and many more. Faces of Cubans who were (and still are) in charge of oppressing other Cubans, simply because they are human rights defenders:
Yordanis Martínez León
This Chief of Confrontation of State Security in the city of Holguin is one of the main culprits of the fact that Caridad Caballero Batista could only assist Sunday Mass three times in 2012. During the papal visit to the island, he kept her from traveling to Santiago de Cuba to assist Mass. He is responsible for having surrounded the home of Caballero Batista each Sunday, and of arresting her on countless occasions. In fact, he would even snatch her purse and beat her.
Duglas Torres Pupo
He is also a Chief of Confrontations of State Security in the same city of Holguin. He has led violent operations to arrest Caridad Caballero and her family as they were on their way to church on numerous occasions (and for those dissidents in Cuba, still leads). Many times, he called a number of police vehicles, buses, Suzuki motorcycles and other vehicles to detain these peaceful activists.
This State Security agent from Holguin dedicates himself to threaten activists of that province, especially Ladies in White. In one specific case, he told Lady in White Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque on October 19th, 2011 that if she continued participating in dissident activities, her family would suffer the consequences. On October 25th 2011, he mocked and blackmailed the wife of dissident Denis Pino Basulto when the latter was arbitrarily jailed. As recent as July 2012, he has been in charge of setting up and carrying out operations to impede Zuleidis Perez Velazquez and other Ladies in White from marching to Sunday Mass in Holguin. Chacman would also threaten the family of Caballero Batista when they were still in Cuba.
TO SEE THE COMPLETE LIST OF OPPRESSORS FROM HOLGUIN COMPILED BY ERIK ESTEBAN SANDEZ CABALLERO, CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO OPEN IT ON PDF FORMAT:
With each passing day, the impunity of the aggressors who work for the Cuban dictatorship is fading.
June 29, 2012Posted by on
Caridad Caballero Batista and her family: A note from the author of this blog
Every Sunday the same news arrived from Cuba. Scratches, shoves, threats, beatings, insults and arrests against a woman dressed in white who simply was trying to assist Sunday Mass in the Eastern city of Holguin. Of course, it is also the story of countless other Ladies in White throughout Cuba, from East to West, but through this blog I always tried to highlight her personal story.
This 2012, Caridad Caballero Batista could only assist Sunday Mass two or three times in total. In the vast majority of cases, she was beaten and shoved into a police vehicle and later taken to the instructional unit of Pedernales. Her family- her husband Esteban and son Eric- also suffered the violence in a constant manner. But none of them ever stopped their civic activities in demand for freedom for all Cubans.
This Thursday, 28th of June of 2012, Caballero Batista and her family arrived to the United States as exiles. However, despite now residing outside of Cuba, they have affirmed that they will keep the struggle alive for the freedom of the island, just from another stage. While in Holguin, the most cruel of threats on behalf of the government henchmen was able to make these Cubans break, nor did the most brutal beatings or the longest arrests.
Every Wednesday- designated by the Cuban opposition as national vigil days- (and in all honesty, mostly every day) Caballero Batsita reported that her home was surrounded by police agents who would also arrest any other dissidents who would try to arrive to their home. The total number of hours that she has spent behind bars in pestilent, dark, humid, and damp cells are unmeasurable. And yet, she always kept her firm spirit. In one of the most violent cases, her son Eric Sandez Suarez, was beaten to the point of losing consciousnesses and kept for numerous days behind bars, separated from his mother. And just a few days before leaving for exile, the Cuban dictatorship organized mobs in Holguin to shout violent insults at the family.
But it was not the level of repression which most caught my attention about this story. Instead- it was what I said before and continue reiterating- the spirit of resistance and of true love for her country that Caridad Caballero and her family had, and continue having.
Although the news that a grand fighter and grand family has had to leave Cuba is sad and difficult- because people like them are essential on the path towards democracy- they also deserve freedom. And, in fact, all that they have done for Cuba is not in vain. And soon, when their is no longer a dictatorship on the island, Caridad Caballero Batista and her family will be able to go to church without being arrested, walk down the streets of Holguin without being persecuted, and live as they deserve to live in their own country.
But, for now, in this blog- as well as in other mediums- there are countless reports of the suffering this family endured. And, the names of those who ordered so much abuse will not be washed away and clouded out by impunity.
As Caballero Batista has said on countless occasions to this blog and other sources of media, “we will keep standing firm in the face of terror“.
June 21, 2012Posted by on
Lady in White and member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Caridad Caballero Batista was in her home on this past Tuesday June 19th, at around 8 PM, along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez and son Eric Sandez, in the city of Holguin, when communist functionaries carried out a demonstration of repudiation against the family, which consisted of screaming hateful and aggressive slogans at them.
According to how the dissident described the situation, the participants of the repudiation were “mostly head officials“, among them from the Communist Party, from the Popular Power, from the Municipal Vigilance, and also from the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, all of which screamed phrases such as “we must eliminate the enemies of the revolution”.
“They stood in front of my house“, explained Caballero, and remained there for a lengthy period of time from 8 PM on. The act of repudiaiton seemed to be “a festival” for the participants, said the activist, because there was even music for them.
On the following day, Wednesday June 20th, various dissidents from Velasco, Holguin had plans to travel to the city of Holguin to visit Caballero Batista at her home in order to participate in the weekly meeting held there, where activists carry out a vigil and share news about the latest acitivties being carried out by the Resistance on the island. All those who tried to travel were arrested.
The first activist to be detained on that morning was Manuel Martinez Leon during the early hours as he was arriving to the local terminal. In response to this, more than 5 dissidents showed up outside the Gibara police unit, where Leon was being held. These protestors also had plans to travel to the home of Caballero Batista.
In a report given to “Radio Republica”, the independent journalist Rafael Leyva Leyva, one of the protestors, explained that he, along with other dissidents, were going to remain protesting outside the police unit Manuel be freed. In addition, Leyva said that they were holding the police agent Juan Carlos Espinosa responsible for the arbitrary arrest of Leon.
A few minutes later, these same activists who were protesting were also arrested, according to declarations of Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina provided to the exiled Cuban activist Alfredo Viso. (Listen to the audio here). Among the detainees were Jesus Diaz Morales, Jose Pena Batista and Jorge Perez Zaldivar.
Meanwhile, Marta Diaz Rondon- member of the Ladies in White in Banes was also kept from traveling to the city of Holguin to visit her sister-in-struggle Caridad Caballero.
According to Caballero Batista, the vigilance and repression has only increased against the Cuban opposition in general. In fact, she points out that one camera which used to be installed down her block (to monitor who comes in and goes out) was taken down and re-installed right in front of the local Catholic Church, Jesus Christ the Redeemer of Men, surely to keep a tight watch over Ladies in White from Holguin who often are victims of beatings and arrests for trying to arrive to Sunday Mass in that temple.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero
June 17, 2012Posted by on
The Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista, her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez and son Eric Sandez were on their way back from the province of Guantanamo this past Saturday, June 16th after visiting some relatives when they were intercepted by the political police upon arriving to the province of Holguin. According to Caballero, the police agent who intercepted the vehicle her family was traveling on along with other passengers told the driver to hand him his documentation.
However, the activist explains that “more than for the purpose of asking to see the driver’s documents, this action was intentionally aimed at searching my husband Esteban and the bag he was carrying, which was full of clothes“. The agent ordered Esteban to get off the vehicle in order to search him, to which the dissident replied that he was not going to allow, considering that he “is not a delinquent“. Caballero says that “the agents were infuriated and told Esteban that he was committing a crime“.
The response of the agents was to shove Esteban Sandez into a vehicle of the Operational Guard to take him to the Police Unit, where he’d be searched and detained. Upon seeing this, Caridad Caballero and her son Eric Sandez got off the car and began to protest against the arbitrariness, assuring the agents that if they were going to take Esteban, then they’d have to them too.
In a matter of minutes, the three activists were taken to a police unit located on the outskirts of Holguin. “In the case of Esteban, he was kept in a room” where he was searched, explained the Lady in White. “Esteban told the agents that what they were doing was the real crime. We then began to protest in the police unit, we said that they had very little time left, that the Castro brothers have lost, and that they were asphyxiated, in addition to telling them that their is a wave of discontent among the population“.
After a number of hours, the family was released, but upon arriving to their home in the city of Holguin they noticed that the political police had already set up the accustomed weekend operation in order to impede them from arriving to Sunday Mass.
“The entire block was completely surrounded by National Police Guards and by female prison guards. There were also two police vehicles on the corner of 22nd Street, where their used to be a camera”, said Caballero, referring to a camera which was installed their nearly 2 years ago, which monitored who came and left her home. According to the dissident, the operation occurred under the direction of the State Security agent Yordanys Martinez Leon, as it usually occurs.
Due to the police operation, the Caballero-Sandez family was not able to make it to church this Sunday, June 17th, which was also Father’s Day.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero
May 29, 2012Posted by on
After having surpassed police operations for two consecutive Sundays, this past 27th of May Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista was once again arrested along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez as they were trying to assist Sunday Mass in the city of Holguin. According to the activist, the violence occurred under the orders of State Security official Yordanys Martinez Leon, a well known local oppressor.
“Just a few steps from my house, when we were trying to get to church at around 8:25 AM, agent Martinez Leon ran at me and quickly snatched my purse from my arm”, said the activist, explaining that “that is what this specific agent always does first”.
After the snatching of the purse, the official gave orders to a number of women dressed in green and who are members of the Ministry of the Interior to continue with the arrest. These agents twisted the arms of Caridad Caballero and shoved her into a police vehicle while other oppressors did the same with Esteban Sandez. Both were taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales where they were confined to small, sealed-off and inhumane cells until 12:15 PM.
Some other Ladies in White in the city of Holguin who suffered the same fate were Berta Guerrero Segura, Noemí Hidalgo Gómez and Adisnidia Cruz, among others.
According to Caballero Batista, there was a police operation consisting of constant vigilance and threats on behalf of countless political police officials throughout the entire week, until she finally was arrested on Sunday. “Wherever I would go during the week, I had State Security agents following me“, she said. “On Sunday, I awoke to find my house surrounded by a number of police vehicles State Security officials on motorcycles, National Police officers, and snitches from the Rapid Response Brigades“. The dissident said that the latter constantly keep a watch over her and other local activists 24 hours a day.
Despite the constant persecution, Caballero Batista points out that another 5 Ladies in White were able to surpass police cordons and assist Mass in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church this past Sunday.
“We are victims of all sorts of violations just for demanding our rights to religious freedom and the complete freedom of all Cubans, and for simply going to Church to pray to God for our loved ones and for the freedom of all political prisoners. But despite this repression, we are going to continue moving forward and nothing will hold us back. I am letting State Security know this, as well as Fidel Castro and Raul Castro…they will have to kill us, but as long as we have strength we are going to continue taking to the streets to demand our rights”, said Caridad Caballero Batista.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero
May 9, 2012Posted by on
This past May 6th was yet another Sunday in which the Lady in White and independent journalist, Caridad Caballero Batista, was arrested along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez, by Cuban State Security agents in order to impede the couple from assisting Catholic Mass. As occurs each Sunday, Batista and Sandez were confined in sealed-off cells in the Detention Center known as Pedernales and released just minutes after Mass had concluded. These kinds of arrests were repeated all throughout the country against various human rights activists- Ladies in White in their majority- who were simply trying to make it to church. In Cacocun, Holguin, for instance, Berta Guerrero Segura was violently arrested while she was trying to board a bus to the city of Holguin to attend Mass, while a group of women from Santa Clara were also detained, among them Belkis Toledo, Yurisdania Hurtado Perez, Lisandra Farra Rodriguez, and Jennifer Caridad Cairo. Other activists in other regions of the island such as El Cobre were also taken to dungeons.
According to Caballero Batista, the Cuban police, as well as State Security and other watchdog branches of the regime, prefer to unleash this kind of repression against peaceful activists who demand freedom and democratic changes in Cuba instead of pursuing and detaining those who rob, rape, and even kill other citizens.
“Here, in the province of Holguin, ever since the first of May there have been numerous violent cases. In fact, there have even been some deaths“, said the activist, “For example, in the municipality of Calixto Garcia, on May 1st they stabbed a man to death. On that same day during the March of May 1st in the Calixto Garcia plaza there was also a large confrontation between police officials and citizens… that day various people were injured“. Caballero referenced other similar cases, among them a wave of hooded bandits who have been robbing homes and stores, as well as an increase of jewelry theft. “This month they also killed a man just to take his ‘bicitaxi’ (three-wheeled bicycle used in Cuba) from him. Also recently, a group of thieves robbed 70,000 pesos from the Office of Aqueducts. In Holguin, people fear for their lives when they go out to the streets“.
However, Caballero Batista, her husband, and countless other dissidents throughout the island suffer constant persecution, threats, beatings, and arrests at the hands of police agents just for going out to the street with a white flower, for assisting vigils in which they pray for the freedom of political prisoners, for writing what their conscience dictates, or for carrying out non-violent civic activities. “The Cuban government does not protecting its citizens. Instead, it is repressing the peaceful human rights defenders, honest people, people of goodwill who try to achieve a better future for Cuba. They (the regime) are strongly repressing us. They are not acting against violence, and instead are using delinquents so that we, the human rights defenders, remain under constant vigilance“.
Whenever a dissident is arrested in Cuba, dozens of police vehicles belonging to State Security and/or the political police, as well as Suzuki motorcycles show up on the scene. That is what happened (and what frequently happens) with Caballero Batista this past Sunday, 6th of May when she and her husband managed to surpass a police operation, but only for a few blocks, until they were surrounded by a large number of vehicles. Agents of the Ministry of the Interior applied head locks on the activists and shoved them inside police vehicles. “In fact, they even ran up to me and tried to snatch my purse“, said Caballero, adding that the main culprit for such an aggressive operation was agent Yordanys Martinez Leon, a local henchman.
But the question that Cuban citizens are asking themselves is, who arrests the delinquents? Why do the crimes not stop?
On her part, Caridad Caballero took advantage of the repression against her this weekend to let passer-bys know why she lives under constant persecution. “This Sunday, I reacted to the violence by telling onlookers what was happening. I told them who we are and why we were being arrested just for trying to go to church. I told them, amid the violence, that we were human rights defenders“, she said. “We told them that there was no reason for us to be treated with such violence because we were not delinquents. We were simply on our way to Mass and for that reason they were arbitrarily arresting us. Despite the fact that the regime shook hands with Pope Benedict recently in an attempt to give off a benevolent image to the world, in this country Christians of good continue to be victims of violent arrests in order to keep us from assisting Sunday Mass, Sunday after Sunday“.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero
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
April 18, 2012Posted by on
Once again, the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista and her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez were impeded from assisting Catholic Mass this past Sunday, April 15th, in the city of Holguin. It was the 17th consecutive Sunday that these activists could not attend Mass to pray for Cuba.
Caballero explained that it was a “terrible” moment of “much violence“, when they were walking to church at around 8 AM and were intercepted by various police agents which began to arrest them immediately.
“They nearly broke our fingers this time“, said Caballero, “in Esteban’s case, one of the agents applied a headlock on him and strangled him. His neck is now swollen“. The activist says that the acts of aggression occurred before the eyes of everyday citizens. The repressive operation was carried out by State Security official Jordanys Martinez Leon. The dissident adds that Martinez Leon was accompanied by various women of the Ministry of the Interior and other functionaries from State Security and from the National Police.
The dissident couple was kept in a dark and foul-smelling dungeon in the Pedernales Unit, this time until 3 PM. They are usually kept until 11:30 AM or 12 PM, as soon as Sunday Mass ends, as a form of blackmail and as a taunt.
In addition, the cell phones of Caridad and Esteban were blocked by the regime before and during the arrest, impeding them from communicating with other human rights activists in the region.
Regardless, Caballero was able to confirm that Berta Guerrero Segura, a Lady in White from Cacocum, Holguin, was also arrested on her way to church. In addition to Segura, “three other Ladies- Vaniuska Suarez, Lisete Gonzalez, and Odenis Suarez- were also arrested. They were on their way to Holguin when police agents forcefully made them get off the bus they were on at around 5 AM“, said Caballero. These three women were detained in the police unit of Velazco for various hours that Sunday. The police agents confiscated the white clothes the women were carrying with them.
Meanwhile, in the municipality of Banes, Holguin, three Ladies in White were able to make it to the local Catholic Church. These were Marta Diaz Rondon, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, and Miladis Pinales. Rondon told this blog that, as tends to occur, they peacefully marched amid a strong vigilance on behalf of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police. Various weekends have passed where these women have been able to surpass police operations, yet they are persecuted until they arrive at church, where the agents wait outside until Mass has concluded. Afterward, the officers follow the women back home, insulting them and taunting them all along the way.
From Palma Soriano, Tania Montoya said that more than a dozen Ladies in white made it to El Cobre Sanctuary, while another group was arrested. Montoya highlighted that she and other Ladies in White have turned to methods of “crossing fields and rivers” in order to surpass police operations and arrive to the Sanctuary. ”There are usually very strong police operations in the exits of Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, and other towns“, explained the activist, “this is all done in order to impede us from moving freely“.
It is precisely because of these operations that an activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Omar Naranjo, decided to join the women in solidarity and help them cross grasslands in order to make it to the other side. However, upon arriving to the town of El Cobre, various police agents were already waiting. These same agents violently arrested Naranjo.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Still Jailed
Tania Montoya explained that along with her husband, Raumel Vinajera, they put together some signs with messages in favor of the release of former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who has been once again confined to a dungeon and has been there for two weeks. It was reported that on Monday, April 16th, various of these signs propped up throughout the town of Palma Soriano and they all had messages demanding freedom for Ferrer.
Caridad Caballero said to be “very worried” about the situation of Jose Daniel, considering that he has been victim of constant violence and that the authorities can easily revoke his Black Spring sentence if they so desire. When it comes to the treatment of human rights activists in Cuba, Caballero assures that the Cuban regime “has no mercy with anyone“.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero //Marta Díaz Rondón – Cell Phone: +5352-771-639 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon // Tania Montoya – Cell Phone: +5353- 146 – 329
Twitter of José Daniel Ferrer García, being administered by his wife Belkis and brother Luis Enrique: @jdanielferrer
April 9, 2012Posted by on
This 8th of April- Resurrection Sunday- in the Eastern Cuban city of Holguin, Ladies in White Caridad Caballero Batista and Isabel Pena Torres were arrested with violence. Political police agents applied headlocks on these women, then twisting their arms and taking them detained to the Pedernales Instructional Unit, where they were kept in completely dark cells until 11:30 AM, right when Sunday Mass at the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church came to an end.
However, Caridad Caballero says that on their way to church, right before being arrested, “Isabel and I were able to walk about 15 blocks with our flowers in hand, and the everyday people greeted us and wished us their blessings. Although we were just two women, they knew who we were and they said hello to us…it was a very beautiful moment“. Nevertheless, a number of State Security agents aboard a police vehicle followed the women throughout town until they were finally arrested out on the street. Caballero denounces that “the official who was in charge of this operation was agent Jordany Martinez Leon“.
In the case of Caridad Caballero, her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez, and their son Eric Sandez, they all had plans this Saturday and Sunday to arrive at church to receive their first communion and confirmation. On Saturday morning, Caridad and Esteban were able to surpass the cordons composed of the political police, the national police, and the Rapid Response Brigades, but Eric did not have the same luck, considering that he was trying to leave his house later but was impeded from doing so by numerous agents. In addition, all the telephone lines of the family were intercepted and blocked by the censoring apparatus of the Cuban regime. That night, Caridad and Esteban were able to make it to the Jesus Christ the Redeemer Church and received their first communion.
In reference to this experience, Caridad recounts that it was a very “emotional” moment for her, considering that it was the first time in 2012 that both were able to make it to Mass. ”The churchgoers would greet us, they told us that they had not seen us for far too long, they asked how we were…they were very worried about us“, says the Lady in White. ”It was an incredible moment,” said the activist in reference to so much solidarity, “It was a very emotional rencounter with people with who we have shared so much time with. I will never forget it“.
On Sunday, it was scheduled that the dissident couple would receive their confirmation, but due to Caridad’s arrest, it was not possible, though this time Eric was able to make it to church. He received his first communion. His house, however, was surrounded by Cuban soldiers but his father, Esteban, managed to clandestinely take his son out on that morning. According to Caballero Batista, “during Eric’s communion, many churchgoers asked him about me and he explained to them that I was detained for trying to arrive“. Another 5 Ladies in White were able to make it to church.
Meanwhile, in the same province of Holguin, in the municipality of Cacocum, the dissident couple made up of Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura and Franklin Peregrino del Toro spent the entire weekend with their home surrounded by political police agents. On Sunday the 8th, Guerrero Segura was violently arrested as she tried to leave her house for church. In that same region, Adis Nidia Cruz (also a Lady in White) was detained for trying to arrive to church to pray for the liberation of her two jailed sons (Marcos Maikel Cruz and Antonio Lima Cruz) who were sent to the Castro dungeons for publicly listening to anti-government music.
In Banes, Holguin Lady in White Marta Diaz Rondon and her husband Juan Oriol Verdecia managed to make it to Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Charity, though under “constant vigilance of State Security“. According to Rondon, these agents “persecuted us until we arrived at the actual church” and they waited for the activist and her husband outside the church until Mass was over in order to keep surveillance over them again all the way until they reach their homes. Other Ladies in White in Banes- Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Pinales Rosa- were not able to make it to Mass considering that uniformed police officials kept them from leaving their own homes. Diaz Rondon denounced the constant threats against her and assured that in Cuba, religious freedom is not respected.
Other arrests of Ladies in White were reported in Santiago de Cuba and in Havana, while in the town of Pedro Betancourt, Matanzas the regime unleashed a wave of 28 arrests of human rights activists. This occurred on Saturday April 7th after the former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta was violently arrested the previous day in the same town. Moya had plans to visit the cemetery where his mother is buried, but was intercepted by the Cuban police. The other 28 detainees had the sam plans- to travel to the cemetery. Moya Acosta was released on the night of Sunday.
The Lady in White from Havana, Sara Marta Fonseca, reported on her Twitter account (@SaraMartaCuba) that former political prisoner from Pinar del Rio, Raul Risco Perez, suffered an arrest at around 10:30 AM on Sunday. He was behind the bars of a police unit until 7 PM and the police agents confiscated various of his belongings, among them a laptop and voice recorder.
During this time, the former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia remains detained in a police unit of Palmarito de Cauto. Garcia was violently arrested this past Sunday 2nd, after his house was broken into by Cuban police. His wife, the Lady in White Belkis Cantillo Ramirez was detained alongside Jose Daniel but was released on Saturday night. Both Belkis and her 14 year old daughter Martha Beatriz Ferrer have suffered detentions and threats on behalf of the Cuban authorities during this weekend.
In Cuba, Holy Week goes by like any other week on the calendar- full of state sponsored persecution, aggression, and violence against dissidents and human rights activists who simply demand freedom for Cuba in a completely peaceful fashion.
Para mas información desde Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell: +5352-629-749 / Twitter: @Caricaballero //Marta Díaz Rondón – Cell: +5352-771-639/ Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon //Franklin Peregrino del Toro – Cell: +5353-139-855 // Ángel Moya Acosta – Cell: +5353-820-595 / Twitter: @jangelmoya
April 7, 2012Posted by on
For a very long time now and since she began to be active in the public Cuban opposition years ago, the Lady in White from the city of Holguin, Caridad Caballero Batista, has been victim of blackmail, arrests, and other violent actions along with her family- her husband Esteban Sandez and their son Eric. In the four months so far of 2012, Batista has not been able to assist Mass in her local Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church, located in the neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo. When she tries to leave her home each Sunday, she is intercepted by Cuban political police agents and members of the Rapid Response Brigades who unleash all sorts of violence against the dissident, including sexual harassment, dragging her on the floor, and death threats. Caballero and her family are usually kept in dark and pestilent cells which are sealed-off and smell of urine and feces and are full of all sorts of insects. This is the cross which not only Caridad must carry, but also other Ladies in White who profess their faith in God publicly and who also demand freedom for all Cubans out on the streets of their own country, despite the consequences. However, this Saturday April 7th and Sunday the 8th, Caballero Batista, her husband, and son will receive their communion and confirmations as devout Catholics. The question is: will they be able to make it to church without getting arrested?
Caballero said that she hopes that the forces of the Cuban dictatorship do not “interfere” with her Holy Week plans, but it has been proven that, despite the fact that the regime has decided to ‘observe’ Holy Friday as a ‘national holiday’, this means very little, or nothing. “As we all saw during the papal visit to Cuba, the regime’s functionaries said that in Cuba there is complete religious freedom, and that is not true. This was confirmed furthermore in the mass arrests which occurred, all with the intentions of keeping countless dissidents from assisting the Pope’s Masses in Santiago and Havana. Many people are still behind bars“, said the Lady in White. Caridad herself was one of these detainees during the Pope’s visit to Cuba. Meanwhile, on April 6th- Holy Friday- more arrests of Ladies in White who were simply trying to assist Mass were confirmed, among them Ivonne Malleza and Lazara Mitjans in Havana.
“We ask public opinion to be aware of what is happening in Cuba and what will happen this weekend”, expressed Caballero, “and we pray to God that on Saturday and Sunday we are able to make it to Church to receive these holy sacraments”.
Caridad, Esteban and Eric have spent the past two years taking all the necessary religious preparations to be able to receive their confirmations. They have been receiving catechism classes, although amid much difficulty. In the case of 19 year old Eric, he considers himself to be a dissident like his parents, and for this reason he receives the same amount of repression. Eric suffers from various health complications, among them a cerebral condition which randomly causes him to drop in blood and sugar levels, nearly always ending in loss of conscience. These attacks have occurred to him many times during his time in dungeons for simply trying to go to church. He has received all sorts of threats and taunts from communist functionaries just for being a public dissident and for being a devout Catholic.
Although the oppressors have told this family that they will be kept from moving freely throughout their own country, the three have assured that they will continue clinging tightly to their faith, and they will leave their homes as they wish.
It is important to note that, in cases such as these, international solidarity is crucial.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352- 629 – 749 // Twitter: @caricaballero