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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Gertrudis Ojeda
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
October 31, 2012Posted by on
Category 2 Hurricane Sandy left behind a scene of destruction throughout all of Eastern Cuba, tearing down countless homes and costing the lives of at least 11 people during the morning hours of October 26th.
A few days later, the Cuban regime has responded with inefficiency in regards to the situation, as well as with the accustomed repression against human rights defenders. However, these same activists and the everyday people have been helping neighbors who have suffered hard hits, considering that the regime’s personnel have paid no attention to the suffering.
In Santiago de Cuba, one of the most affected provinces has “grave damages“, according to former political prisoner and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.
“Sandy has passed through a region that was already very poor, which was already damaged by so many years of the regime’s inefficiency, and it has left even more destruction of homes, farms, stores, churches and other establishments”, explained Ferrer, “it has left more hunger, there is no electricity and there are lots of necessities which Cubans already have to begin with. The entire region has nearly been left without any services. There is no drinkable water and there is destruction everywhere and people are trying to resolve with what they have”.
The dissident leader points out that during the storm, one activist on UNPACU in Palma Soriano sheltered about 30 people in his home. Meanwhile, the website of the pro-democracy Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) reported that various activists from this group have been assisting affected families, helping them rebuild what they can.
“Civil Defense has done nothing to help the affected”, affirmed Ferrer García. This declaration is one seconded as well by Lady in White and member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Marta Diaz Rondon, from Banes, Holguin.
“Here, the people are criticizing the government because they have neither protected or helped them”, said Diaz, “the people have told us- dissidents- to please take pictures and make their situations public. The entire town was misinformed before the hurricane passed. The state media said that there were only going to be some rains and winds, but at no moment did they mention a hurricane passing through Banes, while no one was evacuated”.
Many citizens witnessed before their eyes as their homes crashed down while they rushed to take shelter wherever they could.
The home of Diaz Rondon was penetrated by water brought my intense rains, while parts of her roof (made of zinc) fell. Meanwhile, in the same municipality of Banes but in another neighborhood, Lady in White Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez suffered the total destruction of her home.
Ojeda Suarez recounts that “the storm ripped off my roof, it tore down my back wall and all of my children’s furniture were soaked. The little bit of things I had have been destroyed, but I was not the only one. Two houses next to mine also fell to the ground. My brother-in-law also lost his roof and a wall. The situation in Banes is disastrous”.
The activist explained that the majority of the food she had was destroyed and that the people “are hungry” and “desperate“. She adds that before and after the storm, functionaries of the Communist Party have walked by her neighborhood but at no point in time did they stop by her house to ask if she needed any sort of help.
“The situation in Banes, when it comes to food, is critical. People cannot find food. We are cooking with rocks, and with pieces of debris from our homes”, added Marta Diaz Rondon.
In his part, activist Walter Cañete Cruz said that in the Los Pinos neighborhood of Banes, his home and that of many other citizens were also reduced to rubble, and that “the authorities have not appeared to try and fix the problems“.
The effects of the hurricane were not only felt in the Eastern region of the country, but also in some central areas, especially in the Northern coastal town of Playa Larga, in Cardenas, Matanzas, where Lady in White Leticia Ramos Herreria recounted that “the sea level rose and lots of water penetrated countless homes, and no officials from Civil Defense showed up to help us“.
In the absence of functionaries, many citizens turned to Ramos Herreria and other activists so that they would help them.
“A number of us activists went to the local Communist Party headquarters…after hours that we had presented our complaints there, some firefighters showed up in Playa Larga to save some lives”, declared Ramos, “in fact, the fire truck could not even enter the area because there was so much water. You couldn’t tell the street apart from the ocean. Many people told those firefighters that they had left them there abandoned”.
The accustomed repression against other human rights activists during the weekend was not withheld. On the same day of the hurricane, three activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance were arrested by the political police in Guantanamo when they were helping various people who evacuated themselves in a community known as El Caribe, according to Yanniel Cisneros. The detainees were Jesus Manuel Pena (father and son) and Isael Poveda Silva. In addition, a number of detentions of UNPACU members were also reported, while in Antilla, Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante said a group of dissidents had been persecuted and arrested, among them Amada Pileta, Miguel Santana and Ángel Batista Vega.
From Havana, Berta Soler said that the Ladies in White dedicated their Sunday march this 28th of October not only to all political prisoners of conscience but also to the victims of the hurricane. “Despite the weather conditions which ravaged the Eastern region, and despite the repression of the government, 51 of us Ladies in White were able to march down Havana’s 5th Avenue, demanding the Cuban government to release all political prisoners and to respect the human rights of all citizens, but also in solidarity with all our Eastern brothers and sisters who have suffered, and continue suffering, lack of water, food, and attention from the government“.
Soler highlighted that although the political police detained a number of women throughout the East on that same day, 8 of them were able to march to church in Guantanamo and 2 in Holguin. Meanwhile, in Matanzas 16 women were able to carry out their emblematic and peaceful march.
“The Cuban regime truly did not prepare the people for these conditions in the East, but the Ladies in White are keeping our minds positive and we are offering all our solidarity to the Eastern people. In any way we can help, we will do so”, assured Soler, who added that more than 15 Ladies in White suffered partial or total losses of their homes.
The promoters of the Citizen Demand for Another Cuba initiative have published various addresses on their blog where aid can be sent to directly assist the people affected by the hurricane.
For more information from Cuba:
Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352-771-639 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia- Cell Phone: +5353-146-740// Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Berta Soler- Cell Phone: +5352-906-820
October 3, 2012Posted by on
“The repression this past weekend increased”, denounced Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) from the town of Palma Soriano, “and this is due to the fact that the political police of the tyranny is very bothered that last weekend, on the day of the Virgin of Mercy, about 50 Ladies in White from the Eastern region of the country surpassed the police operations they had set up around the entire area and were able to arrive to the capital…even though the majority of the women were eventually detained in Havana”.
As part of this crackdown, numerous Ladies in White from Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, Banes, Guantanamo, Bayamo and Holguin were arrested or impeded from leaving their homes when they tried to assist Sunday Mass in their respective churches.
Ferrer García explained that 4 Ladies in White were reported detained in Guantanamo and 14 in Santiago de Cuba. The former political prisoner of conscience added that in Santiago “Darmis Aguedo and Adriana Isaac were beaten by the political police and were thrown off a truck onto the asphalt”.
In Banes, Marta Diaz Rondon explained that a police cordon was set up around her home, which kept her from leaving, as was the case of Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez in that same Eastern municipality.
Meanwhile, in other areas of Holguin province, 8 detainees were documented, among them Berta Guerrero Segura, Zuleidis Lisbeth Pérez Velázquez, Adisnidia Cruz, Danay Mendiola, Barbará Bauza Driggs and Glisedis Piña González. Some of these women were detained in the notorious Pedernales Unit (known for torture and threats) and others were kept in “El Anillo” until after 1 PM, when Catholic Mass in the local Jesus Christ the Redeemer had already come to an end.
“My house was completely surrounded by political police and State Security agents from the very early morning hours of Sunday, the 30th”, said Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the female group in the province of Holguin. “A group of female agents dressed in red shirt and blue pants, along with male State Security agents, carried out an act of repudiation against us and screamed insults at us with obscene words before arresting us. The officials leading the operation were Yordanys Martinez Leon (chief of Confrontation in Holguin), and agents Rafael Chapman and Adonys Charles”.
During the arrest, the women were accused of ‘public disorder’. “In fact”, added Guerrero, “as a form of blackmail and mockery, they told me that if we wanted to go to Church we would have to get ourselves an airplane or a helicopter to drop us off on top of the Church because we were not going to be allowed inside”.
Despite the regime’s aggressive operations, in the provinces of Matanzas, Havana and Pinar del Rio a number of women were able to surpass the vigilance cordons and assist Mass, where they prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners and of Cuba.
But throughout Monday, October 1st, the political police once again lashed out against the Ladies in White in Holguin.
“State Security and political police agents surrounded my house all over again”, said Berta Guerrero during the afternoon. This time, the agents detained various women who were trying to make it into the house, among them Barbara Bauza and Adisnidia Cruz.
Zuleidis Perez Velazquez detailed that the Ladies in White were giving out some small bags with food to their members “which were sent as gifts from our brothers in exile” and the regime agents robbed the humble products as they detained the women that day.
“This has been just another form of robbery against us… mind you, those products were brought in legally to this country and they are all paid for”, denounced Perez, “and they don’t even give us an explanation nor have they, or will they, return them to us”.
Rosaida Gonzalez Escalona, an elderly Lady in White, was also arrested with violence, but without even participating in dissident activities that afternoon. Her arrest occurred as she “was on her way to the train station of Holguin to say goodbye to one of her daughters…some agents came out of nowhere and detained her”, explained Perez Velazquez.
Meanwhile, the threats against others activists of Holguin also continued, like those against members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID). “Police officials continue to threaten the CID members, telling them that they cannot meet anymore in my house, and that they can no longer carry out activities. There are two activists- Ramon Zamora Rodriguez and Carlos Enrique Nunez Cutino- that were told that their homes would be demolished. In addition, a group of young activists from the New Juvenile Impact organization are also under violent threats”, added Perez.
In reference to her own case and that of the majority of the other Ladies in White and dissidents, Berta Guerrero Segura alerted “the international community” that the oppressive situation throughout the island has become “unbearable”.
“We, the Ladies in White, can’t even go to a store or a market because they always arrest us”, she said. “Whatever may happen to any of us, or our husbands or children is the direct responsibility of the Castro regime”. In fact, her husband- dissident Franklin Peregrino del Toro- is also frequently arrested when he accompanies his wife out on the streets and many times when he is trying to buy food for his family.
“I have lost count of all our arrests, but I know that there have been more than 40 in 2012 alone. We ask international organisms like Amnesty International to join us in solidarity, to pay attention to our situation. Our children are also suffering in school, where they receive threats that they will be expelled due to our activism. I want the world to know what is happening in Cuba”, expressed Berta Guerrero.
September 8, 2012Posted by on
“We trust in the Virgin of Charity, and it is thanks to Her, and to all the prayers we sent her way that a number of us Ladies in White are here right now“, said Lady in White Marta Diaz Rondon from the Sanctuary of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba on the afternoon of Friday, September 7th.
Rondon explained that since Thursday, during morning hours, she was receiving threats in her home in Banes, Holguin, by State Security official ‘Roylan’. “When I arrived to my house in Banes after Mass, at around 9 AM, Roylan showed up at my door and threatened me. He told me that if I tried to go to the Cobre Sanctuary in Santiago he was going to arrest me, and that he already had planned out how many hours I was going to be behind bars. The same official later threatened Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez (also a Lady in White) in her house”.
Regardless, Diaz Rondon and Ojeda Suarez both managed to surpass police cordons which had been installed throughout the municipality of Banes and successfully arrived to the National Sanctuary of El Cobre during the morning hours of Friday, where they confirmed that there were also other Ladies in White from diverse Eastern regions such as Santiago de Cuba, Palma Soriano, Mella and Moa.
Diaz Rondon expressed that she is a devotee of the Virgin of Charity, like so many other Cubans, and said she felt very proud that the image of Cuba’s Patron Saint would be carried throughout a wide range of towns all around Cuba.
The Lady in White also sent out a message to her compatriots in and out of the island. “I pray to the Virgin that she brings us Cubans many good things, and especially that she brings us freedom“.
The women, who are spending the night in the Sanctuary, will participate in the Mass to be offered there on Saturday, September 8th, and they will carry out their peaceful march after the service. Various members of this group have already been arrested by the State police as they have attempted to arrive to the temple.
“We are going to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners, the freedom of all Cubans, and so that repression comes to an end. I pray that the Virgin shelter us under her cloak, just as she protected our Lord Jesus Christ“, said Marta Diaz Rondon.
For more information from Cuba:
Marta Díaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352-771-639 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon
August 19, 2012Posted by on
In the Eastern city of Holguin, a group of approximately 14 Ladies in White were participating in a monthly encounter in the home of Glisedis Piña Gonzalez (member of the women’s activist group) this Saturday, August 18th, when the house was raided by combined forces of the political police and State Security and all those inside- mostly women and children- were beaten and arrested.
Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez, a Lady in White from that same city of Holguin, could not assist the meeting (due to a personal illness) but shared details of the brutality.
“Very horrible violations have occurred”, said Velazquez, “at around 4:30 PM, paramilitary mobs carried out an act of repudiation against the women, shouting insults and throwing rocks at them”.
It was during this repudiation that the police forces raided the home. “They violently searched the entire house, and all those women inside were beat all the way out and then arrested, and taken to police units. Along with the women, they also detained about 5 or 6 men (…) and also arrested 5 under age children who were also taken to police units”, detailed Perez Velazquez.
Among the male detainees was independent journalist Alexei Jimenez who also managed to phone ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (which translated into English literally means ‘Speak Without Fear’) where he explained that the agents attacked him with sticks on the head and ribs. “It is obvious that the people who were there doing that to us were police officers dressed in civilian clothing, not enraged everyday people. They were mobs organized by State Security agents“, assured Jimenez, referring to a common tactic applied by Cuba’s communist police apparatus to make it seem that everyday citizens are the ones attacking dissidents. Jimenez is frequently beaten and arrested each Sunday when he tries to accompany the Ladies in White to church in Holguin.
In the case of the women, among the detainees were Romelia Piña González, Glisedis Piña González, Berta Guerrero Segura, Eleini Villamonte Cardozo, Danay Mendiola, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Lisbeth Peña Hernández, Nelda Molina Leyva, Barbara Bouza and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.
The children who were detained were released during night hours, along with Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque (the only Lady in White released as of August 18th 2012). The children were sons and daughters of Ladies in White and activists.
Zuleidis Perez managed to establish communication with the 14 year old daughter of Romelia Piña Gonzalez once she arrived home. The minor was very nervous and, amid her fear, was only able to share some details with Zuleidis about what had happened in that house (her aunt’s home).
Other arrests of Ladies in White took place on that same morning in the same province of Holguin in the municipalities of Banes and Cacocum, when various women tried to travel to the city of Holguin to participate in the meeting. These detainees were Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Piñales Rosa in Banes, and Marlenis Abreu Almaguer in Cacocum. These three were released at around 6 PM.
A wave of escalating violence has been occurring throughout the island against human rights activists, among them many Ladies in White. These actions are being accompanied, in most cases, by home raids and brutal beatings. One other recent example is that of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez, from the municipality of Antilla, who had her home raided by police forces, was beat violently in front of her family, and arrested for more than 96 hours this past 13th of August. State police said they were searching for “enemy propaganda” in her house- a common term for any written or audio-visual materials which deal with the defense of human rights.
Meanwhile, the “Hablemos Press” independent news agency, with its headquarters in Havana, recently released a report in which they detailed that in the first 14 days of August more than 200 arrests of peaceful dissidents have occurred, while between the 10th and 14th, more than 20 home raids took place.
As for the detained women, Zuleidis Perez expressed: “[As of August 18th] we do not know of their whereabouts, so we are declaring them disappeared and we fear for their lives. If the police was capable of breaking into the home, beating them, and breaking furniture and other objects, then we should not doubt for a second that they are very capable of killing or disappearing them”.
(Listen to Zuleidis’ audio- In Spanish):
For more information from Cuba:
Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358-244-778
August 17, 2012Posted by on
Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez- Lady in White, activist of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and of the Eastern Democratic Alliance- made an urgent call on July of 2012 when she was informed by State Security that she would be taken to trial and possibly sentenced to 2 years in prison along with her husband, activist Yoandry Naosky Ricardo Mir and his two brothers- Orlando Baez Mir and Luis Manuel Garcia Mir- under false accusations of having committed crimes of “slander and libel”.
The dissident, who is mother of three underage children and resident of Banes municipality, in the province of Holguin, denounced that the accuser is Orestes Hernandez, an individual who collaborates with State Security. Hernandez accused the 4 of having “defecated on Fidel Castro’s mother” and of having offended and harassed him in the month of June of 2011. Ojeda Suarez explains that Orestes works as security guard in the Pantheon of Martyrs Fallen in Defense of the Country and the Northern Nuevo Banes Cemetery where he alleges that the supposed crimes took place. The Lady in White assures that the accusations are completely false and are only methods to take her husband, her relatives, and herself to prison due to their constant and growing activism in favor of human rights.
In addition, explains Gertrudis, “Orestes Hernandez and his mother Lorenza Hernandez lend their home to hide State Security agents and political police officers when they carry out acts of repression against us dissidents here in Banes“. She also said that she was able to confirm that both collaborators of the regime are trying to leave the country and are making the accusations for this reason, so that the authorities give them exit Visas. In Cuba, many participants of acts of repudiation and other violent actions are ‘rewarded’ with such permits to leave the country permanently or on vacation.
The trial took place this Thursday, August 16th 2012 in Banes, “behind closed doors“, explained Suarez. “The trial was completely taken by State Security, among them agents like Lieutenant Colonel Roylan and Freddy Aguero Diaz“, well known local oppressors.
Because of the trial, other activists from Banes received violent threats that they could not direct themselves to the tribunal to show solidarity with the accused dissidents.
Marta Diaz Rondon, a well known Lady in White and independent journalist, was one of those threatened. “During the morning of Wednesday, August 15th, when we were carrying out the weekly vigil for Cuba’s freedom in my home, State Security agent ‘Roylan’ showed up. He threatened me, saying that he was not going to let me, or any other dissident, go to the trial“, explained Rondon. “He also told me that he knew that I was recently operated but that he did not care…he told me he would arrest me and lock me up in the worst cell. I told him that I did not care, that I was going to go to the trial, because my house is not a dungeon“.
The activist added that the agent, who goes by the name of Roylan, is a well known aggressor in that area and that he “brutally beat Gertrudis Ojeda, Miladis Rosa and myself this past January 2012 when we were trying to travel to Holguin city. In fact, he dragged Gertrudis by the hair up to the third floor of a State Security office. He is an aggressor against women…but we are not afraid of him“.
Diaz Rondon and 5 other dissidents were able to make it to the building where the trial would take place, but they were not allowed to enter, so they stayed outside, although under the vigilance of State Security. Those who accompanied her were Delvis Martínez, Rafael Meneses Pupo, Alexander Rodríguez Santiesteban, Genaro González Acosta, and Miladis Piñales Rosa.
When the farce judicial process came to an end, Gertrudis was informed that her sentence would be announce on August 31st.
However, the Lady in White explained that “the witnesses who were present, who were supposedly going to testify against us, did not agree with the accusations. They said that they had no knowledge of what had supposedly occurred in the Pantheon of the Martyrs and said that they knew us and had never had problems with us“. It was a display of solidarity on their part.
Despite the solidarity, Getrudis Ojeda Suarez, Yoandry Naosky Ricardo Mir, Orlando Baez Mir and Luis Manuel Garcia Mir still run the danger of being sent to prison for 2 years.
Meanwhile, Marta Diaz Rondon assured that not only she, but all dissidents from Banes, will not allow “that threats from State Security intimidate us. We are going to keep fighting“.
“We know very well what we are going up against, we know that this is a dictatorship, but we are going to keep on in the struggle. Wherever there is a dissident in trouble, we are going to be there supporting them, that’s why we are brothers and sisters in struggle, and we are all fighting for the same cause”, said Diaz Rondon.
July 22, 2012Posted by on
As occurs every Wednesday, this 18th of July 2012, the “Vigils for the Freedom of All Cuban Political Prisoners” were celebrated across the island, while many Ladies in White also celebrated their monthly literary meetings.
From the province of Holguin, Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez informed that the literary meeting in that zone was carried out in the home of Berta Guerrero Segura, in the municipality of Cacocum. However, Perez Velaquez says that “from the very early morning hours- starting at around 3 or 4 AM- there was a large police operation set in motion in nearly all the surroundings of Holguin, as well as many other municipalities like Velasco, Cacocum, Banes, Gibara, Antilla, and right here in the city of Holguin” in order to try and impede the female activists from arriving to their destination.
Among the Ladies who were surrounded and were not able to make it to the meeting were Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Marta Díaz Rondón, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Daylin Guerrero, Lissette González Rodríguez and Odalmys Suarez (all from different municipalities). Meanwhile, 7 other women suffered arrests at the hands of the political police, among them Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosaida González Escalona, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves and Lisbeth Pena Hernández.
4 women were able to make it to the home of Berta Guerrero- Nelda Molina Leyva, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz where they were able to carry out their literary meeting.
Zuleidis Perez explained that the weekly vigil was carried out in her home in the city of Holguin. Previously, this vigil would be celebrated in the home of the now exiled Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista. “Upon Caridad Caballero going into exile, here in the province of Holguin we decided to continue her hard work, through which she was able to achieve that many members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance w0uld meet. Now, we will continue these meetings, and we will be doing it from my house every Wednesday“.
Just as Caballero Batista would do it (who suffered a constant repression due to her tireless activism for freedom), Perez Velazquez also “let the activists present know about the arbitrary situations occurring in all of Cuba, all the arrests and more“, as well as the increasing level of activism.
Four men (human rights activists) were also arrested upon trying to arrive to the house, among them José Mir Cruz and Heladio Pupo Nieves. Regardless, the vigil was carried out with members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Ladies in White.
“These arbitrary actions and all these violations which are being committed in these provinces have been occurring every single Wednesday as well as every Sunday, where they prohibit us from making it to Mass at church“, affirmed Perez Velazquez, “they arrest us, beat us, threaten us, and mistreat us“.
Despite these crackdowns by the regime, the Lady in White assured that the Resistance in the province of Holguin will continue standing firm against the dictatorship.
For more information from Cuba:
Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778 // Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352- 771- 630 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon
June 25, 2012Posted by on
As has occurred during the majority of Sundays of the present year, the Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista was impeded from arriving to Sunday Mass at the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in her city of residence- Holguin- due to an extensive police operation headed by the repressive agent Yordanys Maritnez Leon this past 24th of June.
The mentioned agent- Martinez Leon- has been responsible for the majority of violent acts against Caridad Caballero, her family, and other Ladies in White from Holguin, ordering acts of repudiation, beatings and arrests of those mentioned activists in order to keep them from arriving to Church every Sunday to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and for a democratic future on the island.
Caballero Batista explains that this Sunday, she awoke to find her home “completely surrounded by a police operation, which consisted of female police agents, numerous motorcycles, and other officers“. Because of this, the activist was not able to leave her home.
In Cacocum, Holguin, the Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura was violently arrested by the political police at around 7:30 AM as she was trying to assist the same church in Holguin. Meanwhile, two Ladies in White in Banes- Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Rosa- were trying to travel to Caballero Batista’s home to later march to church but they were intercepted and impeded by State Security agents from leaving their town.
Caballero Batista added that in the same province of Holguin, on Saturday June 23rd, the Lady in White Adisnidia Cruz Segreo, who was visiting her children in prison, was arrested. Both of her sons are political prisoners- Marcos Maikel Cruz and Antonio Michel Lima Cruz. They were jailed for publicly listening to the rebellious and independent music of the rap-duo Los Aldeanos, and they have been considered prisoners of conscience. Adisnidia was detained upon leaving the prison and held behind bars until afternoon hours on Sunday, after Mass had concluded.
Despite this crackdown, Caballero highlights that “4 women were able to make it to mass in the city of Holguin“.
The former political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer García informed through ‘Háblalo sin Miedo’ that 4 Ladies in White managed to surpass police cordons and arrive to church in Bayamo. Ferrer Garcia added that 35 Ladies in White assisted mass in the Sanctuary of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba, while another 7 women made it to Catholic Mass in Guantanamo.
From the province of Matanzas, Caridad Burunate informed through her Twitter account (@CaridadBurunate) that 6 Ladies in White (among them, her) made it to mass in the city of Colon, despite a strong vigilance on behalf of Cuba’s political police.
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