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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Hablemos Press
August 4, 2013Posted by on
José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), informed this blog about various cases of police repression against dissidents on the island but also highlighted that “not all news is negative“. He affirms that his organization, as well as the opposition in general, continue gaining space amongst the population and keep putting the dictatorship in very difficult positions.
“Among the positive news, we see that there are more places where new chapters of UNPACU are opening up, such as in Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and other areas in Eastern Cuba“, affirms Ferrer, “and each time there are more people who join or collaborate with our struggle. We are also imparting workshops where we train citizens to be more effective when it comes to communication with population, as well as in confronting the repression of the tyranny“.
Due to the growing level of activism, Ferrer Garcia says that the number of political prisoners has increased. These prisoners are mainly young activists who decide to go out to the street and it is these same citizens, according to the former political prisoner, that worry the regime the most, considering that they attract more people and speak in terms understood by everyday people. One of these dissidents is independent rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, ‘El Critico’, who also serves as secretary for UNPACU in the province of Granma.
“We are still very worried with the situation of Angel Yunier, who has been imprisoned since March 26th [after he gave a public discourse in favor of freedom]. In addition to the constant tortures and harassment he is subjected to, Yunier contracted cholera in Las Mangas Prison…it’s very worrying. He is a young man who is arbitrarily imprisoned“, denounced Jose Daniel. He also pointed out the situation of Alexander Otero Rodriguez, another young dissident, arrested alongside Angel Yunier in march. His discourses in favor of freedom and his constant public activism has been another thorn on the side of the system.
Recently, independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’ reported that Alexander suffered a paralysis in the prison he is being held in while the authorities refused to transfer him to a hospital.
“I also want to shed light on the case of Francisco Diaz Echemendia, from Santiago de Cuba. He was one of the ones who went to Bayamo to the place where Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero died. He went there to deposit flowers on the first anniversary of their deaths, and for this reason he was detained. The police searched his house and kept him in a dungeon for 10 days, in inhumane conditions and under constant threats, etc“.
In a similar fashion, activist Denis Pino Basulto was detained in Holguin province for defending various independent street sellers who were being harassed by the political police. The agents were taking their products and threatening them. ”Denis was beat and detained for various hours, but despite the excessive repression he maintains himself firm and committed with the cause“, said Ferrer.
Returning to the subject of positive news and growing public opposition, Ferrer Garcia assures that “on a daily basis, more people committed with the cause are taking to the streets, and they are taking audio-visual materials on CDs and USBs so that the population can become informed“.
These discs and flash drives usually contain images of pro-freedom demonstrations on the island, debates, protest music, and interviews with Cubans in and out of the country, among other things.
In response to the question of the role of these informational materials in the struggle for freedom, the activist expressed that “we always say that our grand problem is information. If we could maintain a constant flow of uncensored and serious information, through the use of audio-visual works handed to the everyday Cuban population, if we can do this a lot more, then the mentality of citizens would evolve quicker in the process of assuming consciousness in this struggle“.
“That way“, affirms Ferrer Garcia, “more people would join the struggle for freedom. And the dictatorship would last much less time“.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
July 26, 2013Posted by on
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, former political prisoner and general secretary of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, has published a video on his YouTube account of a march carried out by members of the mentioned pro-freedom on Monday, July 22nd, in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara, on the first anniversary of the mysterious and unclear deaths of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero.
In the video, Antunez publicly demands the dictatorship to say the truth about the deaths, supporting the call of Paya’s family who have not given up on their objective to carry out an independent investigation of the events which occurred that day in the city of Bayamo.
The dissidents also denounce “fraudulent-change”, a term coined by Paya in reference to the cosmetic measures carried out by the regime to make it seem as if their were real changes on the island in the eyes of the international media.
Meanwhile, ‘Hablemos Press’ published a video of the tribute which took place the same day in the Colon Cemetery of Havana, where the remains of Oswaldo lay. Various people took part in the heartfelt event, and a note penned by the Christian Liberation Movement was read aloud.
A number of activities in honor of the fallen activists were reported in diverse regions of the island, from East to West. They included but were not limited to marches, vigils, debates, fasts and Masses, and although many of them were violently repressed by the State, it was once again confirmed that the legacy of Paya and Cepero lives on.
Severe beating leaves dissident rapper “El Primario” with memory loss and serious scars (Images included)
July 23, 2013Posted by on
The young Rodolfo Ramirez, best known as rapper El Primario, member of the dissident hip-hop duo El Primario y Julito, has been victim of a brutal beating which has left him with memory loss and serious scars on his face and head. The attack occurred on Sunday, July 21st, at the Malecon of Havana.
Julio Leon Fonseca “Julito”, offered declarations to the station ‘Radio Republica’ in regards to the situation, explaining that the repression was part of a series of hostile actions against both rappers that week. Fonseca had been verbally threatened in his neighborhood of Boyeros, in Havana, by a person at the service of State Security on July 16th. But the presence of various friends that came out in his defense forced the repressor to flee.
The ruthless violence, however, was reserved for El Primario while he was sitting along the Malecon of Havana alongside his girlfriend on Sunday morning.
“His girlfriend says that when they were sitting there he told her that there were two men following them and they looked like members of State Security. He told her they should leave that place“, explains Julito in the audio, “but in a little while, when Rodolfo and his girlfriend were already leaving, they see the two men again. One of them starts being rude to his girlfriend and El Primario responds, saying that it is a lack of respect. Quickly, one of the men throws Rodolfo to the floor and they both begin to kick his head“.
The musician has been left in a state where he forgets certain things and with worrying injuries.
“It’s a very difficult case”, expresses Julito, “Because El Primario is suffering from memory loss, he is repeating things and his face is completely disfigured“.
Fonseca says that it’s highly probable that the aggressors were sent by State Security, or that they are officials of some other vigilante organism of the regime. His reasoning is because both attacks – verbal and physical – occurred the same week, and mainly, because when the police arrived on the scene, they did not handcuff the attackers.
On her part, renown opposition leader and mother of Julito, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, seconded this opinion in some declarations she made to this blog.
“I have more details about this case. I was able to sneak in through the backdoor of the police unit because they left it open. I could perfectly see Rodolfo. He was in a jail cell with both aggressors. He couldn’t even remember that they were the ones who attacked him. His girlfriend was the one who identified them“, recounts the activist, “both men were very confident and trusting with the political police agents. And it’s obvious that both of them had been trained with the way they beat Rodolfo. In addition, the family of one of them was there in the unit, chatting with the police with much confidence“.
“We do not think this is something casual, that in the same week both members of El Primario y Julito were assaulted. We hold the regime responsible for what has happened“.
El Primario is currently with his family, trying to receive medical attention for the damages on his head. This Monday, July 22nd, the young rapper was still suffering from memory loss. The duo is popular amongst everyday Cubans, mainly the young ones, for their hip-hop music with dissident lyrics. Both have described their sound as protest music and have been arrested and beat in the past by political police agents. Their music is completely censured on all mediums on the island.
–UPDATE– July 23rd, 2013: Independent news agency “Hablemos Press” has published a video-report showing the aftermath of the beating against El Primario. Check it out:
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
June 27, 2013Posted by on
New music straight from Cuba. A collaboration between Primario y Julito and Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso (The Unwanted Children), two dissident hip-hop groups in the island. This new video is for the single “Mi Delito” (‘My Crime’), from the new CD by Primario y Julito which has the same name.
The video was filmed a few months ago and was just recently published thanks to independent journalist Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of ‘Hablemos Press’, who posted it on his YouTube channel.
Primario y Julito (Havana) and The Unwanted Children (Bayamo) join forces in this song to rap against government corruption and persecution of freedom defenders in the country.
“Tell me Fidel, tell me Raul, until when are we gonna have to put up with State Security knocking on our doors, to harass and arrest“, raps Primario in the beginning of the song, while the chorus says, “I didn’t assassinate Boitel, I’m not the culprit of Mariel boat-lift, I don’t repress those who think differently, I didn’t lock up 75 innocent people…this is my crime, speaking about what you have never spoken of“.
In a recent interview with this blog, Julito explains that this song is one of his favorites from the new album and is a protest anthem against the abuses committed by the Cuban dictatorship.
Ángel Yunier Remón Arzuaga “El Critico”, member of The Unwanted Children who participates in “My Crime” is a living example of some of these government abuses on the island. He’s been behind bars for three months for his protest lyrics and because he is a pro-freedom activist. (#PassItOn: Ángel Yunier Remón Arzuaga #FreeElCritico).
The Unwanted Children and Primario y Julito collaborate on a number of tracks in the new album. Here’s the video:
June 13, 2013Posted by on
Primario y Julito, dissident rap duo based in Havana, have joined forces with Raper Issac, from Santiago de Cuba, in a new song and video: “Lambon“.
“My thing is not a whim, my thing is not a vice, my thing is desire for freedom”, says the opening of the new single published on the YouTube channel of Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press‘. Guerra helps the young rappers record and promote their work.
Both Primario y Julito and Raper Issac, like all other independent musicians on the island, are prohibited and censored from any air time in the country, yet they are still popular amongst the everyday population, especially the youth. Musicians such as these hand out CDs with their music on the streets.
Other rappers- such as Angel Yunier Remon “El Critico”, based in the Eastern town of Bayamo, are subjected to constant government persecution. In Remon’s case, he has been in prison for nearly 3 months and may soon face charges for making music, carrying out peaceful demonstrations, and hanging up anti-government signs on his home.
Check out the new single by Primario y Julito and Raper Issac, “Lambon”:
April 10, 2013Posted by on
After his release from prison on the night of Tuesday, April 9th 2013, independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias has returned to the headquarters of Hablemos Press, the news agency of which he is a correspondent.
The news agency has published photos of this emotional return and encounter on their Facebook page. Here they are:
Meanwhile, in this audio published by “Radio Republica”, Calixto Ramon recounted his time in prison and sent out a message of appreciation to all those, in and out of Cuba, who joined in solidarity to demand his release. 8 dissidents went on hunger strike to demand his freedom, while many others took to the streets to carry out public protests.
In another audio, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, director of Hablemos Press, sent out his own message of appreciation and gratitude.
Martínez Arias has assured that he will continue reporting and working towards a Cuba where there is a free press and respect for Human Rights.
March 27, 2013Posted by on
Agents of the Cuban political police arrested a group of 9 dissidents, members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara this Tuesday 26th of March when they were carrying out a public demonstration as part of the “Yris Tamara Perez and Calixto Martinez Cannot Die” campaign. The officials used violence against the demonstrators and, upon seeing that they did not have sufficient police vehicles to take the detainees, decided to tie some of the dissidents to a nearby porch until reinforcements arrived.
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, secretary general of the OZT Front, witnessed the events and confirmed that they occurred during afternoon hours. “These activists were carrying out a peaceful protest under the campaign to save Yris Tamara Perez and Calixto Ramon Martinez“, he recounted, explaining that the dissidents “took to the streets carrying signs with messages like ‘Justice for Yris and Calixto’ and ‘Don’t let them die’ when they abruptly assaulted and arrested by the police. The agents violently threw them against the pavement“.
The former political prisoner identified some of the detainees as Julio Columbie Batista, Maikel Almenteros, José Lino Ascencio López, Yunier Santana Hernández, Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, Yanisbel Valido Pérez and Orlando Almaguer.
The solidarity campaign was launched this March by the OZT Front after Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, wife of Antunez and president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, was beat unconscious by police agents, causing serious health complications. Her problems intensified when doctors in different hospitals of Placetas and Santa Clara refused her admission or treatment under strict orders of State Security. Yris remains with ailing health, without medical assistance and in danger of being beat again at any time, just for stepping out of her house.
Meanwhile, ‘Hablemos Press’ reporter Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias has been imprisoned for 6 months now because of his work as an independent journalist. He declared himself on hunger strike this month and this Tuesday marked the 20th day of his protest.
The campaign demands medical attention for Yris Perez and the immediate liberation of Calixto Ramon, through demonstrations like vigils, protests, marches, etc.
“The police responded in a brutal and cynical manner“, added Antunez, as he explained that the usual methods applied such as beatings and arrests did not shock him, but he could not believe what he was seeing when “two of the activists- Yanisbel Valido Perez and Maikel Almentero Orama- were tied to a porch of a house located on Marti street when the police realized they did not have enough cars to take them all away at once“.
“This tells us that the regime is even losing the capacity to repress“, said Antunez.
Another protest with similar outcomes took place on Monday in the same city of Placetas when a group of dissidents from Camaguey, among them Daniel Millet Jimenez, arrived. A number of other activities have been reported throughout the island as part of this new campaign in solidarity with Yris Perez and Calixto Martinez.
“There are more of those who protest than those who repress“, assured Antunez, who added that the campaign will continue with more strength, energy and activism until the objectives are achieved.
For more information form Cuba, contact:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’- Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba
March 20, 2013Posted by on
In this video published by the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’, 53 Ladies in White march down Havana’s popular 5th Avenue carrying small posters with the face of Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, imprisoned independent journalist who is currently on hunger strike. The women also dedicated the march to the 10th anniversary of the Black Spring, when 75 dissidents (the majority journalist) were jailed and sentenced to years in prison after false, corrupt and very quick trials. The events in this video took place on Sunday, March 18th.
March 11, 2013Posted by on
Berta Soler, the national representative of the Ladies in White, boarded a plane to travel outside her country for the first time ever, with destination to Spain, this Sunday March 10th, to participate in a conference organized by the exiled representatives of the mentioned female dissident group.
Her husband, renowned activist and former political prisoner of conscience, Angel Moya Acosta, along with the also former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, used their Twitter accounts to narrate the moment in which Soler arrived to the airport.
“A car with a private license plate is following us”, tweeted Moya in his account (@jangelmoya) while on his way with his wife to the JoseMartiAirport in Havana. However, the activists managed to make it without any complications, accompanied by “35 Ladies in White and 19 male human rights activists”, explained another tweet.
On his part, Ivan Hernandez informed in his account (@ivanlibre) that in the airport there were also “regime agents dressed as immigration workers” as well as “special troops” keeping watch over the group of dissidents. Hernandez added that Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’ had his phone “blocked” in order to keep him from sending out Twitter messages to his many followers.
It was confirmed that Berta Soler boarded the plane and set out to Spain at around 12:45 AM.
Just hours before, Soler participated in the habitual Sunday march of the Ladies in White in Havana, where 65 women walked down 5th Avenue and assisted Mass at the Santa Rita Church.
Hernandez Carrillo added on Twitter that in the province of Santiago de Cuba, 60 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass, 18 did so in the province of Matanzas, and 10 in Guantanamo, leaving it very clear that these women will continue their activities while their leader is outside of the country.
“Berta Soler is already inside the airplane”, wrote Ivan Hernandez afterwards in his Twitter, “May God protect her and may she have a safe trip, and that she may be able to raise her voice for the Cuban people in the free world”.