Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Exilda Arjona

Faces Which the Pope did Not See: Luis Felipe Rojas

Cuban blogger accused of public disorder for leaving his house, arrested, threatened, and kept from going to papal mass

Luis Felipe Rojas, his wife Exilda Arjona, and their two children, Malcom and Brenda

Independent Cuban blogger and journalist Luis Felipe Rojas was on his way to buy bread and yogurt for his family when he was arrested by the political police on Saturday, March 24th, in his town of San German, Holguin.

At the moment in which Rojas stepped out through his front door, a member of the Rapid Response Brigades intercepted him, telling him that he could not be out on the street.  Rojas did not accept this, highlighting the slogan of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front- “my house is not a dungeon“.  However, just a few minutes later when the blogger was on his way back, a jeep of the Operational Guards was stationed outside his house.  It was then that various agents from the political police arrested Luis Felipe, taking him to the local police unit of San German.

[At the Unit] they put me in a room which is used for conferences, where I slept on the floor”, explained the blogger.  When he noticed that his arrest was going to last various days, Rojas declared himself on hunger and thirst strike on the afternoon of Sunday, in protest for the suspension of his pilgrimage to Santiago de Cuba on Monday to assist the papal mass.  Due to his hunger strike, he began to bleed from his throat.  He maintained this protest until Tuesday night when he decided to drink water because of his intense throat pains, yet he maintained himself without eating anything.  He was released during the afternoon hours of Wednesday, March 28th, hours after Pope Benedict XVI had left the island.

While Rojas was in the police unit, he was threatened various times by communist functionaries, especially the delegate from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) of San German known as Ronnier Gallardo.  Rojas explains that during the process of release, “he, and others, threatened me.  They told me that everytime a functionary tells me I cannot leave my house and I disobey, I would be arrested“.  Also during his detention, officials ripped of a small white bracelet which the blogger carried.  It had the word “change” on it.

During Rojas’ arrest, a cordon consisting of police officers and members of the Rapid Response Brigades was set up around his home, impeding his wife, Exilda Arjona, and their two small children (8 year old Malcom and 3 year old Brenda) from leaving the house.  In addition, Arjona’s cell phone was blocked by ETECSA, the state-run phone company (under orders of the regime).

My family and I must remain very alert.  I ask all those who care to listen to have it clear that, in any case of accusations against us, I did not commit a single crime, much less one of ‘public disorder’”, affirmed Rojas, referring to the charges of ‘public disorder’ which the regime officials had accused him of.  “I maintain my firm position that here in Cuba, neither my neighborhood nor my house will be a dungeon.  The streets belong to the people, and I am a free man“, he assured.

In regards to the crackdown which preceded and accompanied the Pope’s visit to Cuba, Rojas expressed that the Cuban regime is planning a violent operation and this process was only “a test on how to massively surround neighborhoods, how to arrest people, and how to keep them all in a certain place.  We must remain very attentive about this“.

Regardless, the activist assured that “sooner or later we will achieve the freedom of Cuba.  The fear which the authorities are feeling is not because of any other reason“.

 For more information from Cuba:

Luis Felipe Rojas – Cell Phone: +5352-771-487 / Twitter: @alambradas (Espanol); @alambradas_en (English)

Cuban Blogger Luis Felipe Rojas Still Detained and on Hunger Strike, His Family Surrounded in San German, Holguin

The author of the blog “Crossing the Barbed Wires“, Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal, is still detained since last Saturday, March 24th.  Just days before his arrest, he had confirmed that his name was finally included on the list of those who would be allowed to travel to the Mass of Pope Benedict XVI on March 26th.  This occurred after communist functionaries had told him that either his wife or him could go, but not both.  After demanding his rights, they added both their names, as well as the names of their young children.  It seems that this, however, was just a taunt because the blogger was rapidly detained on the afternoon of the 24th.

Considering that the majority of telephone lines of dissidents on the island remain blocked, the information that has come out of Cuba has been scarce.  Together with Luis Felipe Rojas, there are countless other activists detained but very little information is known about their situations.  In the case of Rojas, the Baptist Cuban Pastor, Mario Barroso, managed to send out some Twitter messages (@maritovoz) detailing that the blogger remains detained “without having ingested any food or liquid”.  Barroso added that Rojas’ brother was “desperate” as he was very worried about his brother’s health.  In addition, the Pastor denounced the situation, explaining that Luis is a “devout Catholic” and was arrested “in order to keep him from attending the Pope’s Mass”.  Meanwhile, Rojas’ wife, Exilda Arjona, and their two small children, Malcom (8) and Brenda (3) are surrounded in their own home in the town of San German by political police guards, under the threat that if they step out, they will be arrested.

This is just one of the many cases of in-communications, detentions, threats, and harassment against Cubans who demand freedom during these days in which Pope Benedict XVI travels throughout the island.

We demand the immediate liberation of Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal , as well as that of all other arrested Cuban dissidents. 

Luis Felipe Rojas: “We Will Continue to Go Out to the Streets”

Under daily harassment, the Cuban Resistance continues active

Luis Felipe Rojas, infront of his home after it was attacked by "paint bombs" launched by regime functionaries

This past weekend, from Friday February 3rd to Sunday February 5th, was the fifth consecutive weekend of police harassment and total vigilance around the home of dissident blogger Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal in San German, in the province of Holguin.  Rojas explained that the repression is not only against him, but also against all of the dissidents who live in that town.

On the morning of Friday, February 3rd, the dissident Jose Antonio Triguero Mullet- who is a member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Liberal Party of Cuba- was arrested in the bus terminal of San German“, explained the blogger.  The authorities wanted to impede Mullet from traveling to the city of Holguin, something which “is happening with all activists of San German“, added Rojas.  “There is a permanent check point in the terminal and the three points of exit of this town- towards Granma, Santiago de Cuba, and the city of Holguin“.

On Saturday, February 4th, the presence around the home of Rojas increased, with the participation of numerous National Revolutionary Police officials, State Security agents, and members of the Rapid Response Brigade.  The harassment led the dissident to a verbal confrontation with one of the vigilantes, a retired official from the Ministry of the Interior by the name of Luis Perez.  “He tried to subjugate me in the middle of the street, telling me to go back home“, denounced Rojas, “but the main slogan which all of us members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Naitonal Resistance Front and the Eastern Democratic Alliance abide by is that the streets belong to the people and that none of our homes will be dungeons.  With that said, we will continue to go out to the streets“.

On the following day- Sunday the 5th- Rojas and his wife Exilda Arjona, along with a group of human rights activists, were able to surpass the vigilance and leave their home and walk to the local church, under constant watch.  They assisted mass and, upon exiting the church, noticed a “strong police presence which consisted of uniformed officials and officials dressed in civilian clothing“.

It is precisely this vigilance and this constant harassment with which Cuban dissidents must live, for the simple fact of wanting freedom for themselves, their families, and all of the people in general.  In the case of Luis Felipe Rojas- author of “Crossing the Barbed Wire“- he lives surrounded.  It seems as if an independent writer, his wife, and their two small children present a serious threat to the military dictatorship of Cuba.


Armed Agents Surround Home of Independent Blogger Luis Felipe Rojas

The home of dissident blogger Luis Felipe Rojas in San German, Holguin, remained surrounded by uniformed political police agents throughout the entire day of Saturday, January 28th, which was also the anniversary of Jose Marti’s birth, the poet and leading Cuban freedom fighter, known best as “the apostle of Cuba”.  Just two days prior to the aggressive surveillance, Rojas’ home was the target of vandalism at the hands of mobs directed by the Cuban regime who threw paint at the front part of the house.

My house is always under vigilance“, denounces Rojas, “but now it’s completely surrounded by political police agents dressed in uniformed and carrying arms.  There are police vehicles, an olive green Jeep belonging to the Operational Guard, and various motorcycles belonging to the political police“.  In addition, the dissident and friend of Rojas- Elieser Palma Pupo- was arrested as he tried to make it to the surrounded home.  “The arrest occurred at around 5 pm and was carried out by Captain Abel Ramirez and Lieutenant Saul Vega“, whom are both State Security functionaries, informed the independent blogger.

As soon as the arrest took place, Luis Felipe stepped out of his home and began to question the functionaries of the regime.  During the exchange- which in reality was more like an argument- agent Abel Ramirez accused Rojas and his family of having staged the whole ordeal and thrown paint on his own house in order “to provoke something“, according to the dissident, who also added that numerous neighbors showed solidarity with him, denouncing the tactics of the Castro regime.

Though we know it is pointless, we have denounced the case  of the vandalism in my house in a police unit of San German“, explained Rojas “and they told me they would come to my house in a few hours, but 48 hours have passed and they have not come, since they cannot accuse themselves“.

As a product of the manipulation and repression of the Cuban dictatorship, Luis Felipe Rojas expresses that he profoundly worries about his wife and two children- a daughter of 4 and a son of 8.  “My son Malcom has been suffering nervous issues for quite some time” , assured Rojas, outlining that it is product of all the repression the young one must see, including when his father gets arrested just for opposing the regime and freely writing his ideas.

I am sending out an alert in regards to what can happen to me and my family“, said Rojas, “and I accuse the Cuban government and- specifically- three political police officials who are Yordanis Martínez León, chief of the so called ‘Enemy Confrontation’ brigades, Captain Abel Ramirez, and Lieutenant Saul Vega for the most recent arbitrary arrests, arbitrary vigilance around my house and now for vandalizing my house through an act of terrorism“. The dissident added that he would try to contact pro-human rights international organizations to present a formal denouncement.

In addition to the constant vigilance, Rojas’ cell phone has been blocked by the regime on a nearly constant basis, impeding the journalist from sending out Twitter or text messages, considering that the blogger interviews dissidents throughout the country, captures images of the Cuban reality, and never keeps his denouncements quiet”.

——–

For more info: 011-5352-771-487 (Luis Felipe Rojas)/ 011-5353-684-380 (Exilda Arjona, wife of Rojas). 

Two posts written by Luis Felipe in regards to the recent repressive actions against him, other dissidents: “Anonymous did It” and “Galeano, the Sightless“.

Government ‘Supporter’ Tries to Instigate Luis Felipe Rojas and his Family

Luis Felipe Rojas, independent blogger and activist from San German, Holguin, denounced on the morning of Tuesday, October 18th that a neighbor, last name Gragna, carried out various provocations against him and his family.  According to Rojas, Gragna’s attitude is nothing new, for he has been carrying out this instigation for various days, trying to provoke the independent writer.  “In this specific case, Gragna crossed the line because he was directing himself towards my 70 year old mother-in-law with very obscene words.  And he did the same thing to my wife and my son who was home at the time,” explains Rojas, adding that when these insults are being shouted only at him, it is something he can handle easily, but when the aggressions and threats are directed towards his family, then the situation starts to change.

This person continued to shout obscene words, and supposed offenses the opposition and directly against me, calling me a ‘counter-revolutionary‘”.  But for the author of ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire’ such a term is not offensive at all.  “I’ve always said, if being a revolutionary means being like Fidel Castro, then yes I am definitely a counter-revolutionary, because I am completely opposed to his ideas and his actions towards this country, for he has enslaved us all“, declares Rojas.

As far as Gragna, what is known is that he is retired and “a supporter of the government and also serves as an auxiliary to the political police“.  He also spent time in prison as a common criminal and now employs his time in heading repudiaiton operations, such as those frequently carried out against the home of Luis Felipe.

I know they will continue their provocation attempts“, warns Rojas, “on Monday, October 17th, a young man on the street began shouting ‘offenses’ against me, as well, because of my opposition to the government“.

Anything that may happen to me or my family, I am holding State Security and the political police accountable, as well as lieutenant Saul Vega, political police official from San German, who on various occasions has affirmed that he will take me to prison, as have other officers in Holguin“, the activist denounces.

Luis Felipe Rojas carries out excellent independent journalism reports throughout the island, although he faces large obstacles such as the high costs of publishing Twitter messages, the restrictions which keep him from moving freely throughout his own country, and the strict internet controls for people like him.  Despite a massive censorship operation, Rojas has been able to cross those barbed wires set up throughout the island by those in power, giving a voice to those who are repressed through photos, publications, and other reports.  And, perhaps it is because of these very signs of freedom that the uniformed agents feel so threatened, having to resort to intimidation and oppression to achieve their cynical objectives, although as time passes, their operations to silence the voices of those who have chosen to be free and who refuse to bend, have failed more and more each time.

Threatened with Torture, Luis Felipe Rojas Affirms that He is Not Afraid

This Friday August 5th is the Day of Resistance in Cuba, and as is expected the regime has started a crackdown on dissidents who have participated in events commemorating this day or who are planning to take part within the next couple of days.  The day before the resistance celebration, on August 4th, the activist/blogger/independent journalist Luis Felipe Rojas informed through his Twitter account that he had been cited by the political police for that same night in the police unit of his town, San German, in Holguin.  “I’m expecting an arrest“, ended his Tweet.   Hours after, Rojas was released but not before being threatened.

They told me that they would apply all measures within their reach to impede any sort of actions which to us are peaceful activities but which they classify as ‘provocations’“, explains the dissident from Holguin.  The detainment, according to Rojas, was “arbitrary” and its purpose was to prevent any intentions by the dissident to report and/or participate in events taking place on the 5th.

Among Cuban opposition members, the Day of Resistance was designated for the fifth of August in commemoration of ‘El Maleconazo’ which occurred on this day in 1994.  On that day hundreds of everyday Cubans spontaneously took to the streets in Havana to demand their rights.  Many believe that the dictatorship was shaking during that moment, in ways that perhaps they had not before.

17 years later the Cuban people continue demanding their inalienable rights.  “(All throughout the island) there will be protest activities“, declares Luis Felipe, “What I mainly do is independent journalism, my work mainly consists of informing and denouncing what happens to dissidents and the Cuban people in general“.  Rojas, author of the blog ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire‘, has suffered firsthand under the strict censorship of a regime which does not tolerate any form of dissent.  In one of his most recent posts he details the long, difficult, and costly process which he, and most Cubans, must undergo to access the internet for just a few minutes.  Regardless, he assures that he will be Tweeting and reporting during the Day of Resistance, also affirming that, “I will be in the streets as well, where I belong and and where my brothers in struggle have called me to be“.

In the detainment center, where Rojas spent around 2 hours, the threats continued.  Luis recounts that “they showed me instruments of torture as a threat“.  But this did not cause even the faintest sensation of fear for him.  “I let them know that I absolutely do not fear them“, he declares , adding that “the detainment was arbitrary, at no point did they register me in their files, which also constitutes a violation of penal law…and I let them know that as well“.

This past Sunday July 31st the wife of Luis Felipe Rojas, Exilda Arjona, was victim of another form of violence- verbal abuse.  “While I was at the burial service of Father Pedro Meurice“, tells Rojas, “a supporter of the regime who lives near my house, last name Leyva, who claims to be a support official of the political police, shouted insults against my wife“.  Among the offenses were the common screams of “worm”, “counter-revolutionary”, and the claim that “the streets belong to the revolutionaries”.  At that moment, Arjona was trying to get mass with her 7 year old son, Malcom.  “My son is currently receiving psychiatric help since last November when they detained me in Guantanamo in front of him and my daughter“, explains Rojas.  During the verbal aggression by Leyva, the couple’s young son “ran from the hands of my wife and returned to the house with a nervous breakdown“.

Understandably angered, Exilda, her mother, and the mother of Luis Felipe walked to the house of Leyva and publicly denounced his actions.  “At no moment did locals come out to attack these women“.

That peaceful protest carried out by the women is more proof that a grand sector of the Cuban people do not fear any form of repression that could possibly be exercised against them“, points out Luis Felipe.  The author of ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire’ reinstates that despite any measures that have already been taken, or will be taken within the next couple of days, he and the rest of the Cuban dissidents will continue with the plans to peacefully commemorate the Day of Resistance.  Among the plans are to hand out pamphlets with images of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and to march peacefully.

We will always be paying tribute to Zapata, Boitel, and all those who have died for the freedom of Cuba“, assures Rojas, pointing out that this includes, “the brothers who have had to leave the country because they have been oppressed and have feared for the safety of their loved ones.  August 5th is the day to remember all these- the deceased, those who have had to leave and now reside just 90 miles from us in exile, who have always supported us.  My slogan is the same one as always: ZAPATA LIVES“.

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