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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Gertrudis Ojeda
August 22, 2013Posted by on
Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and her husband Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir are no strangers to what it means to be a dissident in Cuba. She is a member of the Ladies in White and both are members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, two groups which oppose the communist dictatorship. Because of this, they have been arbitrarily arrested by the political police, beat, deported, kept under vigilance and threatened with death. These are consequences which they have accepted in their struggle for freedom. But now, their three children are directly suffering from this State repression, especially their 6 year old daughter, Bianca Ricardo Ojeda.
The three children of the couple have first-handedly witnessed how police agents have raided their home in Banes, Holguin, physically assaulting their parents. They have also seen how mobs organized by State Security have surrounded their home and shouted obscene words and severe threats. They have all suffered the fear, but the young Bianca seems to be the most seriously psychologically affected.
On Saturday, August 17th 2013, Gerturids, Naoki, their children and other relatives were in the town of Guardalavaca when – during afternoon hours – they tried to board a bus back home to Banes. Upon seeing the extremely long lines at the terminal and after waiting several hours without transportation, the dissidents decided to carry out a public protest, demanding transportation for everyone who was waiting.
“Suddenly, agents of the National Revolutionary Police arrived and they brutally attacked me along with my brother Luis Manuel Garcia Mir“, recounts Yoandri, “they attacked us with sticks, shoving us, kicking us, and even launched pepper spray against us. They then detained my brother and I in a police vehicle and took us to the police unit of Banes, where they threw us into dark dungeons. We remained there until 10 AM of the next day“.
Also present was Janet Vergara, Gertrudis’ sister who is 6 months pregnant. “We were also mistreated…Janet was pushed and beat. Right now she has pains in her stomach“.
The 3 minors of Suarez and Ricardo witnessed all the violence.
“My little girl, Bianca, is sick in the nerves…she is very afraid. This has happened on various occasions but now she seems to be worse. We are considering taking her to receive psychiatric help, because she has too much trauma after seeing all these violent actions“, expressed Yoandri Naoki, notably worried.
“She saw everything…how they punched us, handcuffed us, kicked us, and how they sprayed us…everything“.
One of the agents who was most violent to the Holguin natives could not be identified by name but his badge number was 21771, according to Gertrudis and Yoandri.
After the arrests, Gertrudis traveled with her 3 children to the police unit, where she remained outside until very late at night as a form of protest, demanding the liberation of her relatives. She did not receive a single response from any official and had to eventually leave because of her children.
“These are the typical problems faced by dissidents in Cuba“, says Gertrudis, explaining that entire families are subjected to repressive measures, from the elders to the youngsters. ”My daughter is traumatized and I hold State Security accountable for what may happen to her“.
Ojeda Suarez managed to dodge police cordons on Sunday, August 18th, and arrived at Mass as part of her habitual march as a member of the Ladies in White, but she denounced that her home remained under very tight police vigilance. Agents – such as Freddy Aguero, among others – frequently knock on their door and let them know that they will be jailed if they step outside.
Despite the risks, Gertrudis and Yoandri continue to carry out vigils, debates and other encounters with members of the opposition in the Eastern city of Banes, as well as spontaneous protest marches which usually end in detentions.
Ojeda also said to feel extremely concerned for the fate of her pregnant sister.
“My sister Janet still has pains after the physical mistreatment at the hands of the police in Guardalavaca. These agents did not care that she was pregnant. We really do not know how this will end, if she will have to go to the hospital for some time or – hopefully not – she may even lose the child“.
To contact Gertrudis and Yoandri in Cuba:
Cell Phone – +58-025-501
July 4, 2013Posted by on
Jorge Cardona, son of a Major (with the same name) of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and of the Military Counter-Intelligence, stoned the home of the dissident family of Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir and physically attacked one of their underage children in Banes, Holguin, in Eastern Cuba.
The events took place at around 7 PM on July 3rd when two of Ojeda and Mir’s children were playing outside their house.
“Jorge Cardona showed up and started to throw rocks towards my children and my house“, recounts Gertrudis Ojeda, notably agitated by the actions which put the lives of her children in danger, “Cardona rushed up to my oldest son, Ernesto, who is 14 years old, and kicked him twice on his left leg, causing him some injuries“.
When they noticed what was happening, Gertrudis and Yoandri rushed out of the house in defense of their children, just to find Jorge Cardona shouting pro-government slogans at them, as well as offensive phrases, such as “worms“.
Ojeda Suarez says that Cardona, who is 18 years old, began to throw more rocks which nearly hit Yoandri in the head, as well as their 5 year old son.
“We know that this was all set up by State Security against us because, earlier that day, we had gone to the police unit to show solidarity with one of our brothers in struggle from the opposition“, explained Ojeda, who could confirm her declaration even more when “suddenly a Suzuki motorcycle (used by State Security) arrived on the scene and rapidly took the 18 year old away“.
On the afternoon of that same day, Gertrudis, her husband and other activists protested in front of the police unit of Banes, as a display of solidarity with Antonio Gonzalez Costa, a member of Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID), who had been summoned to the police unit and threatened by State Security because of his activism. Just 2 days before, Gertrudis and Yoandri also protested in the same unit, demanding the release of dissident Rafael Meneses Pupo and 2 other activists who had been arrested upon leaving their home. The pressure they carried out led to the liberation of the 3.
It’s common practice for State Security to retaliate against citizens who publicly oppose the totalitarian system through actions like these, using members of the military forces to carry out acts of violence.
The Cardona family frequently participates in these acts of repression, whether it be Jorge (father) or his wife, affirm the Holguin activists.
“The wife of Jorge Cardona (father) has participated in acts of repudiation against us“, recounts Gertrudis, “State Security uses these people since they are military officials to try and provoke us and then jail us“.
However, it’s not necessary for a dissident to respond to a provocation to be taken to a prison in Cuba. Gertrudis, a member of the Ladies in White, and Yoandri Naoki, both member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO), are continously detained for various hours and, many times, days, just for carrying out marches, organizing debates, workshop and vigils, as well as carrying out other acts of civil disobedience in public. When they are not detained, they are victims of beatings and house raids at the hands of the political police.
In their monthly report of human right’s violations in Cuba, the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press‘ documented less arbitrary arrests of pro-freedom activists in the month of June, but noted the sharp increase in excessively violent actions carried out by the political police, paramilitary forces and highly dangerous citizens used by Cuban Intelligence. Among them: machete attacks, house raids, beatings during dawn hours, and deportations.
“I want to call on Amnesty International and public opinion in general, so that they please intercede for us…because this dictatorship is putting the lives of my children in danger“, declares Gertrudis Ojeda, “They could have hit my kids with a rock and could have killed them, as well as my husband. I am very fearful of what may happen to my family, and it’s likely that this cruel dictatorship will attempt against our lives again, considering that this is a dictatorship with absolutely no feelings and very violent“.
“The violence against us is constant. It doesn’t consist just of shouting slogans against us, but also carrying out violent actions with rocks, beatings, and more“, she adds.
Audio: Declarations by Gertrudis Ojeda (in Spanish):
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez – Cell Phone: +58-025-501
July 2, 2013Posted by on
When dissident Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo, organizer of the “Zapata Lives” cell of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Santiago de Cuba, heard abrupt knocks on his door on the morning of June 28th and noticed that they were coming from agents of the Cuban political police, he knew there were going to be problems, all because of his pro-democracy activism. The agents ordered him to open the door, but since they did not present a search warrant, Barriel refused. Police officials kicked down the door, breaking parts of it and raiding the house.
“Upon entering my home, the 6 agents rushed towards me“, recounted the young dissident, “they started to beat me in front of my wife and my 5 year old son“.
Barriel was aggressively handcuffed (he still has the marks) and he was forcefully taken out of his home while still wearing underwear and shoved into a police vehicle. He was taken to the Operations Unit of Versalles.
The police agents were accusing the activist of having painted messages against the Cuban regime on top of a mural with images of dictators Fidel and Raul Castro. Daniel denies this, not because he is against the gesture, but because he explains that his activism is “public” and he does not have to hide his actions.
“Upon arriving to the unit, they put me into an inhumane cell with only enough room for 2 prisoners which were already there. One of these prisoners was an assassin and the other was a marijuana dealer“, said Barriel, who assures that he was victim of “psychological tortures” at the hands of State Security agents who continuously warned him that they would “disappear” him and that he “would not see the light of day again“.
The Santiago native adds that he was interrogated 2 more times and was then moved to another cell at around 4 in the afternoon, where the threats that he would go to prison continued.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UNPACU, explains that the Versalles Unit is known for the psychological tortures against detainees, as agents “try to break the will-power of the dissident and try to convince them to drop out of the opposition movement“.
In this torture process the detainees are usually kept for various days, weeks or months, but in the case of Daniel Barriel he was released the same day. ”All of this is due to the brave response of more than 40 of our activists“, explains Ferrer.
Numerous activists “met at the home of Barriel in the Sueno Neighborhood and publicly declared that they were going to take to the streets to protest“, recounts the former political prisoner.
“Upon seeing the intelligent ad rapid response of the dissidents, the police decided to surround them in the house and brought members of the Rapid Response Brigades (paramilitary group) who tend to attack human rights defenders with weapons such as sticks, rocks, metal objects, etc”. Despite this, the demonstrators remained firm and ready to go out to the street.
The persistence of the activists led the police to release Barriel Sanjurjo.
“Suddenly, a couple of agents visited me and told me that there was a process open against me for the crime of writing over the murals and that they would summon me again to the unit, but that I would be released for the time being“, recounts the activist. At the same time, Barriel’s mother received a phone call from a police agent asking her to please keep the more than 40 activists “calm” because they were going to release her son.
Daniel details that he was taken to his home in a police vehicle. Upon arriving, he noticed the presence of mobs who were carrying out an act of repudiation. He pointed out that the aggressors were all officials or members of paramilitary groups but “none of them were neighbors or everyday people“.
Barriel pointed out that he was still in danger of going to prison, considering that the police told him accusations against him were still open. Regardless, he thanked all dissidents who showed solidarity with him during his arrest and affirmed that he will continue carrying out his work as director of the “Zapata Lives” Cell of UNPACU, which is made up mostly of young activists who define their activism with public activities on the streets, such as marches or the handing out of pro-freedom pamphlets.
This effort of working together and using pressure to achieve the liberation of a detained activist is not an isolated case. This Monday, July 1st, for example, 3 activists were detained in the municipality of Banes, Holguin, among them Rafael Meneses Pupo.
The 3 were released from the National Revolutionary Police Unit when Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, member of the Ladies in White and of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, and her husband Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir carried out a protest inside the unit.
Cases such as these “prove that the political police doesn’t feel sure of itself, not even with their own officials“, while everyday citizens and the organized opposition continue gaining space, expresses Jose Daniel Ferrer.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo – Cell Phone: +53-388-130
July 1, 2013Posted by on
Despite a propaganda-based campaign by the Cuban dictatorship against the Ladies in White in recent days, this 30th of June – the last day of the month – these women managed to march and assist Mass in different areas of the country, demanding freedom for all those Cubans who reside behind bars for thinking differently.
A total of 70 Ladies in White marched in Havana and participated in Mass at Santa Rita Catholic Church, according to a message published by former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta on his Twitter account (@jangelmoya). The women were accompanied by 43 male dissidents.
In Matanzas province, 25 Ladies in White carried out their activities on the streets of different cities, reported Sayli Navarro (@SayliNavarro), a young member of the group.
Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, an independent unionist and former political prisoner, confirmed via Twitter (@ivanlibre) that in the central province of Villa Clara 6 Ladies in White marched to and from church without any problems.
Amid police vigilance, 1 Lady in White marched in the province of Ciego de Avila.
Hernandez Carrillo added in the Eastern province of Holguin, despite some arrests, 5 women were able to march. Among these was Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, from the municipality of Banes, who managed to march for the first time in 2013.
“I’ve been arrested as soon as I step out of my house each Sunday of 2013“, explained Ojeda Suarez to this blog, “and this Sunday I was finally able to march to the Catholic Church of Banes…with strong police vigilance, but I was able to go inside and there were 2 other Ladies in White from the municipality waiting for me“.
As soon as Mass concluded, the 3 women marched, dressed in white and carrying flowers.
“This has been a huge blow for State Security and we are very happy with this in Banes“, expressed Gertrudis, “despite the constant harassment, we carried out our march…and we will continue going out, even if they arrest us“.
In Guantanamo another 11 members of the female group marched and in Granma 5 managed to do so.
Ivan Hernandez added that 44 Ladies in White participated in Mass in El Cobre National Shrine in Santiago de Cuba and later carried out their symbolic march in solidarity with the political prisoners on the island. State Security had blocked service on Belkis Cantillo’s cell phone for the entire day. Cantillo is the representative of the group in that province.
The Ladies in White have made it more than clear that they will continue firm, marching out on the streets of Cuba, despite police persecution, while their membership increases.
June 19, 2013Posted by on
Members of different opposition groups were targets of acts of repudiation this past June 18th in the municipality of Gibara, in the province of Holguin.
Gabriel Arcángel Martínez Leyva, director of the Republican Party of Cuba in the mentioned municipality, said that the actions – organized by functionaries of the regime – began at 7:30 AM and ended near 12 in the afternoon.
“An act of repudiation was carried out around the home of Trinidad Rodriguez. Agents of the Rapid Response Brigade, the political police and of the National Revolutionary Police surrounded the house“, explained the activist, “it was a total of about 30 or 40 people who were shouting at us and threatening to beat us if we stepped out of the house. This happened because we had plans to go to the Gibara Terminal to travel to the town of Velasco“.
‘Acts of repudiation’ is the name given to the situation where the Cuban government organizes groups of people who shout offenses and threats at dissidents outside their homes. Many times, the actions end in house raids and the vast majority of its participants are members of the regime. Very few times do activists confirm the participants as neighbors, and when they do, they are usually drunkards or criminals.
Martinez Leyva considers that the persecution and harassment are due to various social projects that are being carried out in the area.
“This happens because of some projects carried out by the Republican Party of Cuba and by FLAMUR for the benefit of all Cubans“, said Martinez, “among these projects is ‘One Currency’ and ‘Increase and Lower’“.
The latter of the initiatives demands the totalitarian system to increase salaries of Cuban workers and lower prices of products and services of basic needs, like food, clothing and transportation.
Acts of repudiation also took place at the same time against other activists, among them Ylienly Aguilera Santos and Arselio Osvaldo Cruz Velazquez, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Gibara.
Repression against other members of the opposition in the province of Holguin have increased within the last months. The Ladies in White in the area have also been denouncing these situations.
For example, Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the Ladies in White in that province, has said that State Security agents arrest a number of women each Sunday so that they do not make it to Mass, while other members like Gertrudis Ojeda Suárez (in the municipality of Banes) and Mildred Noemí Sánchez Infante (in the municipality of Antilla) have backed up these claims, seeing as they are some of the women who are quickly arrested by the political police when they step outside of their homes each Sunday.
June 17, 2013Posted by on
A total of 177 Ladies in White marched in different provinces of Cuba this past Sunday, June 16th, dedicating the walk to Father’s Day, according to a tweet publish by former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo (@ivanlibre).
In Havana, 58 women made it to Mass in the Santa Rita Church and afterward marched down 5th Avenue, demanding freedom for all political prisoners. The Ladies celebrated Father’s Day together with various male dissidents which accompanied them.
Leticia Ramos, representative of the female group in the province of Matanzas, told Sayli Navarro that a total of 22 women marched there. Navarro published the information on her Twitter account (@SayliNavarro).
2 women were able to march and participate in Mass in Ciego de Avila.
Ivan Hernandez also tweeted that a total of 62 Ladies in White marched in Santiago de Cuba and made it to Mass in the National Cobre Shrine.
In other Eastern provinces various women marched and made it to Mass. In Guantanamo 12 managed to do so and in Holguin another 15 did. However, in Holguin, specifically in the municipality of Banes, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez was arrested when she tried to leave her house to march to church. Ojeda denounced that the same thing happens to her every Sunday and that they are “completely arbitrary detentions“. Other arrests were reported in Eastern Cuba, while other women marched in that same area.
This Father’s Day, the situation of the numerous political prisoners who are unjustly behind bars in Cuba was highlighted. The majority of these prisoners happen to be fathers. Among the cases are that of Ramon Munoz Gonzalez, husband of Sonia Garro (also a political prisoner) and president of the Independent Afro-Cuban Foundation, dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico” who is the father of a little girl who is just months old and Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo who is in prison for creating a new dissident group and for protecting his son from participating in military service (his son Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo is also in prison). These are just three cases. There are many more like them. And it’s for these Cubans that the Ladies in White march.
June 10, 2013Posted by on
As occurs each Sunday, dozens of Ladies in White took to the streets of their respective cities this June 9th to participate in Mass and pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and later carry out civic marches carrying flowers and photos of some prisoners.
In the Cuban capital- Havana- 76 Ladies in White participated in Mass in the Santa Rita Church, according to a message published by dissident and former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre). Moments later, Angel Moya Acosta, also a former political prisoner of conscience, tweeted (@jangelmoya) that 62 women carried out the habitual march down 5th Avenue accompanied by another 40 male activists.
In the central province of Villa Clara, 6 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass, while in Sancti Spiritus 2 women managed to do the same.
Ivan Hernandez added that a total of 21 women marched and made it to Mass in the province of Matanzas. 7 of them made it to the city of Colon, 12 in Cardenas and another 2 in Perico.
In the Eastern province of Santiago de Cuba 40 women marched to El Cobre National Shrine. At least 3 arrests were confirmed, however, according to Hernandez Carrillo. The detainees were Moraima Díaz Pérez, Edelmis León and Graciela Domínguez.
Sayli Navarro, a young member of the Ladies in White, informed on her Twitter account (@SayliNavarro) that a total of 12 women marched and made it to Santa Catalina de Ricci Parish in the province of Guantanamo, despite the strong vigilance on behalf of State Security agents.
In Holguin province, various arrests occurred, among them of Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez in the municipality of Banes. She told this blog that “just like every other Sunday, I was detained by State Security and forcefully taken to the local police unit, amid verbal threats“. Last weekend, the same agents threatened to handcuff and beat Ojeda.
The dissident has been victim of constant vigilance and police persecution. In fact, the government agents have raided her home and carried out numerous acts of repudiation on various occasions. These actions have mainly affected her underage children.
“All of this is proof that repression against Ladies in White and the opposition continues in Cuba. That is why I am denouncing, for all the world to hear, all these arrests I am being victim of, as well as my other sisters in struggle, all of them carried out by the dictatorship of the Castro brothers“, declared Gertrudis.
A number of other women were able to march in the municipality of Holguin. Meanwhile, in the municipality of San German activist Eliecer Palma used his Twitter account (@eliecerpalma1) to confirm that 6 Ladies in White “managed to march and participated in the Church of San German, along with other dissidents”.
It’s important to point out that each one of these cases where Ladies in White march there has also been a strong presence by the political police which sets up cordons days before to arrest the women or to keep watch over them. Many times, the Ladies in White have to leave their homes on Friday or during dawn hours of Saturday and passing through fields or desolate places to arrive to their respective churches and surpass these cordons.
Regardless, these women continue out on the streets so that the everyday people can listen to their demands and to show them that it is possible to obtain a public space on the island, despite the dictatorship’s repression.
June 5, 2013Posted by on
Wearing flags with the image of the Virgin of Charity which were donated during her visit to the Ermita de la Caridad in Miami, Berta Soler led the march of the Ladies in White in Cuba’s capital, Havana, this past Sunday June 2nd. The women marched throughout the country, despite the presence of the political police.
A total of 68 women participated in Mass at the Santa Rita Church of Havana and marched down 5th Avenue afterward, according to a report by dissident leader Angel Moya Acosta. It was the first march in which Soler participated after returning to the island last week after an international trip denouncing the reality of Cuba.
More than 10 women participated in Mass and carried out marches in the province of Matanzas.
In the Eastern province of Guantanamo, 12 Ladies in White marched and made it to Mass, according to a message published by Sayli Navarro on her Twitter account (@SayliNavarro).
67 Ladies in White marched through the streets of Santiago de Cuba province and made it to Mass in the National Cobre Shrine, an emblematic temple within Cuban culture.
The website “Ya Cuba Twittea” reported that at least 3 Ladies in White from Santiago were taken down from a bus by force by the political police. The agents impeded them from arriving to Mass.
In the province of Holguin, various women were arrested.
Among the detainees were Rosa Maria Naranjo (Holguin), Danay Mendiola (Holguin), Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante (Antilla) and Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez (Banes). The latter- Ojeda Suarez- explained to this blog that the repression against her is constant. In fact, she recounts that when she was detained, a political police agent tried to handcuff her and physically harassed her.
Eleiny Villamonte, a young member of the female group in Holguin, confirmed that despite repression 5 women “were able to march and make it to Mass in the municipality of Cacocum and in the municipality of Holguin“.
Berta Soler also told “Marti Noticias” that she has plans of expanding the Ladies in White movement, creating delegations in all the provinces of the country.
May 5, 2013Posted by on
Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Yoandri Naoski Ricardo Mir are residents of Banes, Holguin, and parents of 3 underage children. They live under constant surveillance, harassment and repression at the hands of Cuban political police agents, just because they have ideas different than those who are in power.
Gertrudis is a member of the Ladies in White and both are members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, a pro-freedom group based in the Eastern region of the island. Recently, the violence against them has duplicated, mainly affecting their children.
This past Thursday, 25th of April, Gertrudis and Yoandri stepped out of their home in the Nuevo Banes neighborhood, accompanied by 7 other dissidents, and carried out a peaceful protest-march in solidarity with the more than 60 hunger strikers of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who are demanding the immediate release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, who was arbitrarily arrested last April 9th and who has also been on hunger strike since. The protest was a success, considering that its spontaneous nature allowed them to surprise police officials who usually crack down on similar activities quickly. The 9 activists returned to the house without any problems after having marched several blocks shouting messages in favor of the freedom of all political prisoners and in solidarity with the everyday people.
Only a few minutes passed when, suddenly, numerous agents of the State police showed up in front of the house. Among them were agents Freddy Aguero and Lieutenant Colonel Roilan Cruz Oliva, notorious oppressors of the area. In just a matter of minutes, the agents raided the house, savagely beating Gertrudis, Yoandri and all others present, even two brothers of the Lady in White- Yadian Vergara Suarez and Yunior Vergara Suarez.
In an audio published by ‘Radio Republica’, Ojeda Suarez recounts how she was beaten by various members of the Ministry of the Interior to the point that they even broke her mouth. Her mother, Justina Suarez Rojas, was pushed and threatened, while Yoandri Naoki was beat and detained, taken in a cop car to the unit known as Pedernales, infamous for its inhumane conditions and horrid treatment against inmates (most of who are there unjustly). The police broke various objects inside the house and took various belongings of the dissidents, among them their only cell phone.
Witnessing all these events were the youngest children of Ojeda and Ricardo: Bianca Ricardo Ojeda (6) and Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Ojeda (5). The minors started to desperately scream for their parents.
Gertrudis was released a few hours later but Yoandri Naoki remained arrested for a little over a day. While she was still alone in her house, the political police organized a mob to carry out against an ‘act of repudiation’ against Gertrudis on the night of April 26th. During the repudiation, Ojeda was completely in-communicated.
Juan Miguel Gonzalez Marrero, a human rights activist and neighbor of the dissident couple, confirmed to this blog that the act of repudiation ended at about 9 PM.
On Thursday, May 2nd, the police once against lashed out against the activists, organizing a second act of repudiation outside the home of Gertrudis and Yoandri, and later, another outside the home of Juan Miguel Gonzalez. The reason this time around? Earlier that day they had held a vigil in the home of Ojeda Suarez, praying for the freedom of all political prisoners on the island.
“As soon as the vigil ended at Gertrudis’ home, I left towards my house and was brutally detained by State Security“, said Gonzalez, “I was threatened while in the police unit by Freddy Aguero, captain of State Security“.
The repudiation occurred that night, after his release. The participants were mostly members of the Communist Party, while almost none were neighbors. They shouted offensive words, slogans and threats against the dissidents.
Gonzalez points out that his 13-year-old daughter, Dayani Gonzalez Rodriguez, is also suffering psychological problems.
“She has witnessed various detentions firsthand and she is very afraid…she doesn’t even want to go to school“, he said.
The children of Gertrudis and Yoandri are also on the same path.
“They have traumatized my children. They don’t want to eat, they don’t go to school. They are treated differently and looked badly upon just because of the way their parents think, just because we are against this regime”, expressed Ojeda Suarez in another audio published by ‘Radio Republica’. “The State is torturing two children”.
On another note, Naoki denounces that the police agents robbed “67 signs, 28 books, a cell phone, the charger, and even a monument to Orlando Zapata Tamayo (assassinated political prisoner)” from his home. “They even took books by Jose Marti. In fact, an instructor known as Ezequiel from Banes told me: ‘this is not the Jose Marti I know’ and I responded, ‘as far as I know there is only one Jose Marti. What happens is that many of his thoughts are censored in this country and not included in your books’“.
“The mobs also woke my children up during the second act of repudiation on May 2nd…my kids are traumatized“.
Everything indicates that the acts of State-sponsored repression will continue against Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir and all other dissidents in Banes, Holguin, but they have taken on a posture of persistence and bravery.
“My defense is to say the truth…I am prepared for them [the regime] to come…and I do not care if they kill me…I do not mind dying for a just cause, to defend the human rights of all Cubans”, affirmed Gertrudis Ojeda.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Juan Miguel González Marrero- Cell Phone: +24-803-580
November 29, 2012Posted by on
More than a month after hurricane Sandy swept through Cuba, leaving countless material and human losses in its trail, the Cuban government continues to deny assistance to citizens to repair their homes, whether they be dissidents or everyday people. In one specific case, the Lady in White from Banes, Holguin, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and her husband, human rights activist Naoki Ricardo Mir, continue living practically out in the open air, considering that parts of their roof and some walls were completely destroyed, and all this with their 3 underage children, 2 of which suffer from asthma.
Recently, it was brought to light that the donations which have arrived from abroad to the island are being sold- at elevated prices- by Housing Department functionaries to those citizens in need who are already impoverished to begin with. Ojeda Suarez points out that some functionaries have visited the homes of her neighbors to assess the damages, but at no point have they asked her if she needs any assistance, despite the fact that what’s left of her home is “practically pieces“.
This led the dissident and her husband to hang various signs on the front porch which denounced that her children suffer from asthma and are suffering an increase in attacks due to the humidity and the coldness they are being exposed to after pieces of the roof were torn off by the massive storm.
“The signs said ‘Discrimination of asthmatic children on behalf of the government’, and ‘They are refusing our right to reconstruct our roof because we are dissidents‘”, recounts Ojeda, “this was after my husband had asked one of the functionaries when they would sell us the materials and he simply responded that we would not be helped“.
The eldest son of the couple is 14 years old, while the daughter is 6 years old and the youngest boy is 5. The two latter are the ones who suffer from “chronic asthma“.
“The regime knows very well that my children suffer from this condition. I have showed them the medical certificates on other occasions, but they (the regime) do not care about any of that. They are endangering the lives of 2 children because of the way we, their parents, think“, affirmed the Lady in White.
This past 19th of November, when Gertrudis and Naoki were out of the neighborhood, they returned to find that the signs and the front wall had been covered with paint, an action they attribute to State Security.
“Some neighbors who sympathize with us told us all the details of what had happened”, explained Gertrudis, “a number of State Security agents, among them Lieutenant Colonel Roilan, showed up to my house and threw buckets of paint at the walls and signs. They also photographed the entire house“.
Gertrudis and Naoki, both active members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) express that they are tired of demanding the necessary materials from the regime and assure that they will find a way to rebuild their home through their own means, something very difficult considering Cuba’s economic situation.
“One day, with the help of God, and through my very own means, I will fix all of this. They are selling the materials at extremely elevated prices that no Cuban can afford. The amount Cubans make in one month is less than the price that they are selling one roof-tile for. And because we are dissidents, they refuse to sell it to us. But we will fix this house, for my children“, said Ojeda Suarez.
“My smallest child suffers from frequent air loss due to all the recent cold nights“, she adds, highlighting the urgency of her situation.
Meanwhile, activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) have published various videos which demonstrate the reality of other citizens who lost nearly everything during hurricane Sandy and who also have not received help from the regime, as is the case of this mother and her infant son. On the same note, these photos depict some destroyed homes throughout the Eastern region of the country, while the following video sheds light on the testimonies of various affected citizens. See for yourselves:
For more information on the situation of Gertrudis Ojeda and her family, she can be reached at: +5358-025-501