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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez”
August 29, 2013Posted by on
Each Thursday in the central region of Cuba women dressed in black march to their nearest church, in a sign of honor and respect to compatriots who have lost their lives in the struggle for establishing a country free from dictatorships. Many times the women are beat, arrested or deported, but each week they walk. They are the members of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, named so in honor of the American civil rights hero.
The women of the Movement are mainly active in the provinces of Villa Clara, Ciego de Avila and Camaguey. They dress in black “as a sign of mourning“, according to the group’s president, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, originally from Sancti Spiritus and who has been known as one of the female leaders of the Cuban opposition for some years now after she begun her activities demanding the release of her husband, former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, who spent 17 years in the communist gulags for demanding change and freedom in the 90’s.
But why do these women mourn?
“Because we are honoring the many victims of the Castro tyranny“, explained Perez Aguilera, who explains that she is referring to the martyrs of all generations since 1959, “like Pedro Luis Boitel, Mario Chanes de Arma, Mario Manuel de la Pena, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Laura Pollan Toledo, Harold Cepero, Oswaldo Paya“… but she assures that “the list continues“.
Among the mentioned names are members of the pro-freedom Resistance from different stages in history, like Pedro Luis Boitel from the 70’s, Mario Manuel de la Pena (a young Cuban-American member of Brothers to the Rescue) from the 90’s, as well as more recent cases such as Zapata Tamayo, Pollan and Paya. On occasions, the marches have paid tribute to freedom fighters who died in combat or were executed in the Escambray mountains in the 60’s. They have also remembered rafters who have fled the island in search of freedom and have perished.
“We do this to not forget those heroes who fought for the freedom and democracy of Cuba“, says Yris.
Meanwhile, the political police and other repressive factions of the dictatorship lash out against these female activists each Thursday through different methods. At one point in time, each of the women would be arrested but now Perez explains that the agents have employed a new method, “arresting some” and “others not” in an attempt to try and create divisions among the group, an approach which has not yielded positive results for the regime.
“Some of us always manage to make it to church where we participate in Mass in honor of the martyrs, and also, every time one of our activists are left abandoned in some desolate field, they always return and continue the activity“, assures the dissident, a resident of Placetas, Villa Clara. Other cities where weekly marches are reported are Santa Clara, Grua Nueva and Camaguey.
The Rosa Parks Movement also carries out other civil disobedience demonstrations, such as sit-ins, public debates and protest marches. The goal of these activities is to demand the liberation of all political prisoners as well as to demand better social and living conditions for the everyday population.
And it is precisely because of all these Cubans who suffer under the reprisals of the communist regime or who have lost their lives that this female organization “will continue” with their actions, affirms Perez Aguilera.
Here are some declarations about the group made by Yris to this blog (in Spanish):
This past 28th of August, in honor of Martin Luther King’s legacy in the field of civil rights, exiled journalist, blogger and activist Luis Felipe Rojas interviewed Yris Tamara Perez, Damaris Moya and Yaite Cruz Sosa, all members of the Movement, in his program “Contacto Cuba”, transmited to the island through Radio Marti. Take a listen to the show here.
August 27, 2013Posted by on
Several Cuban opposition activists are calling on the international community as well as their fellow compatriots to denounce the situation of political prisoner Ivan Fernandez Depestre, who has been on hunger strike for more than 27 days and whose health has drastically worsened, placing him in a state very “near death”, according to a press release by the Cuban Democratic Directorate.
Fernandez Depestre was abruptly and violently jailed on July 30th after he participated in a peaceful demonstration in honor of Frank Pais, a Cuban martyr who stood up against totalitarianism on the island many years ago. Two days later, on August 2nd, Fernandez was sentenced to 3 years of prison under the Law of Social Pre-Dangerousness which orders time behind bars for citizens who look “dangerous” of committing “crimes” in the future. The activist has been on hunger strike since.
Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front, a coalition which Ivan is part of, has been frequently denouncing the situation and taking to his Twitter account to let the world know what is going on. In an audio published on his YouTube channel, Antunez expressed that Ivan is “agonizing in a protest that has lasted longer than 20 days” and that his health is “very critical”.
Antunez, who is currently in the city of Miami as part of an international tour to denounce the Cuban reality, has been in contact with dissidents on the island who have carried out several protests demanding the release of Fernandez and called on the international community and all human rights organizations to end their silence in regards to this case.
On August 26th, it was confirmed that Ivan was in the hospital of the penitentiary known as Guamajal, but on morning hours of the 27th, he was transferred back to El Pre Prison, in the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Activists have expressed worry that his life may end there due to the fact that he has been submitted to constant aggressions and very poor medical assistance.
On Friday, August 23rd, Damaris Moya, president of the Central Opposition Coalition, called on dissidents across the island to carry out protests in favor of Ivan’s freedom. A number of activities were documented, but so too was a brutal and repressive response on behalf of Cuba’s political police. Dissidents were beat, arrested, and deported, while many homes were raided and surrounded with police officials.
Antunez tweeted (@antunezcuba) this Tuesday that opposition members have not rested in their demands, saying that protests have taken place in municipalities and cities such as “Placetas, Santa Clara, Sagua la Grande, Holguin, Havana, etc”.
Ivan Fernandez Depestre is on hunger strike to demand his immediate release.
August 9, 2013Posted by on
On Thursday, August 8th, a press conference took place at the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies “Casa Bacardi” at the University of Miami with the renown Cuban dissidents Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’ and Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, both recently arrived to the city in a visit with the purpose to tell the world what really happens in Cuba.
Diverse local, national and international media outlets assisted the event, as did figures of the exiled Cuban community, many of them former political prisoners.
Antunez responded questions in regards to activism on the island, assuring that the pro-freedom movement is growing, making reference to the organization he leads – the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front – as well as the opposition in general, mentioning movements such as the Ladies in White.
Garcia Perez said that State violence has increased and that the recent deaths of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero are proof of what can happen to any citizen who decides to fight for true change. He highlighted the situation of political prisoners, making emphasis on people like Armando Sosa Fortuny and Ivan Fernandez Depestre.
He denied that on the island there have been real reforms and explained to the public about a new campaign in and out of the country under the title “I do Want”, created by the Assembly of the Resistance, a coalition of pro-democracy organizations in and out of the island.
Yris Tamara Perez, president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, briefly spoke to the press, detailing all the violence she and all the women of her group confront when they peacefully take to the streets and carry out marches in honor of pro-democracy martyrs and to demand freedom for the political prisoners. But she also sent out a message of hope for all Cubans, assuring that “our time of freedom is near”.
Antunez also responded to questions about racism in Cuba (which, according to him, the dictatorship practices with frequency) and the importance of technology and information, free from censorship.
Another subject touched by the dissident was the necessity to work towards a National Strike on the island, and thus creating a wave of actions of civil disobedience and non-cooperation to paralyze the structures of the tyranny.
During an emotional moment, journalist Vanessa Ruiz of ‘Marti News’ asked the dissident leader what have his impressions been of the Cuban exile in Miami. Antunez, with tears in his eyes, responded by saying that he feels pride every time he sees so many people which have never forgotten Cuba and continue helping those inside.
“The same dictatorship which assassinated Pedro Luis Boitel is the same dictatorship which assassinated Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero“, expressed Antunez, “and we are not from here or over there, the resistance to the dictatorship which began in 1959 is the same which continues now. We are only one“.
August 5, 2013Posted by on
In an emotional re-encounter with relatives and brothers in struggle, Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ and Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera arrived to Miami, the capital of the Cuban exile, on the night of Sunday, August 4th 2013 as part of a tour to “denounce the Cuban reality”.
Antunez spoke those words to the different media outlets that were present in the Airport of Miami. From the moment he walked through the door of Cuba arrivals, the renown dissident and former political prisoner began to speak about the situation of Cuba, highlighting the cases of political prisoners such as Ivan Fernandez Depestre and Armando Sosa Fortuny, denouncing the wave of arrests which occurred before his departure from the island and assured that his visit has only one purpose, to let the world know that in Cuba there have not been real reforms and that human rights violations continue against the people.
Antunez, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, also assured that pro-freedom demonstrations on the streets of Cuba are increasing.
On her part, Yris Perez, who heads the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, said she was very emotional and stood by the declarations made by her husband. Yris has been victim of constant beatings, actions which have caused her serious health complications. Regardless, she continues carrying out public opposition to the dictatorship.
Before offering their final remarks to the media, Antunez and Perez Aguilera reiterated that “they will not shut up or [permanently] leave Cuba“.
More images to come.
August 4, 2013Posted by on
Meet one of the newest political prisoners in Cuba, Ivan Fernandez Depestre (pictured above).
Ivan, who is approximately 40 years of age, recently joined the public opposition on the island, specifically the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front and the group Awakened Youth. He was arrested by the political police on July 30th when he participated in a protest march in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara in honor of a fallen patriot, Frank Pais, along with other dissidents. The authorities kept him detained and quickly sentenced him on August 2nd to a 2 year prison term in the Municipal Tribunal of Placetas.
During the ‘trial’, Fernandez Depestre was accused under the ‘Pre-Social Dangerousness Law’, which could dictate time behind bars for any citizen just because the authorities think that person would be a danger in the future. The law has been used to send thousands of Cubans to prison without having had committed crimes, and it is specifically used against dissidents, especially young ones.
Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, former political prisoner and leader of the OZT Front, has been reporting about this case and has asked for more solidarity with the jailed activist.
“Ivan Fernandez Depestre committed the horrible crime of daring to go out with other pro-freedom activists this past 30th of July in a peaceful march, dressed with their clothes backwards, paying tribute to Frank Pais on the anniversary of his death“, declared Antunez in an audio published on his YouTube account.
The dissident leader added that the only detainee that day was Fernandez Depestre, explaining that the activist does not have family support and that his sentence was a method used by State Security to try and make him give up on his recently begun struggle.
Fernandez Depestre has been participating in numerous pro-freedom demonstrations in the city of Placetas during the months of June and July. He has been detained and beat by the political police on various occasions.
“I am calling on the international community to join in solidarity with this activist“, expressed Antunez. He also added that in light of Ivan’s sentence, there would be a campaign in and out of Cuba with the aim to demand his freedom through civic actions out on the streets.
Meanwhile, Antunez and his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, leader of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, will carry out a trip abroad this August 4th to tell the world about Cuba’s reality and the political police has unleashed an operation of arrests and beatings against dissidents who have tried to say goodbye to the dissident couple.
More details on the Twitter account of Antunez: @Antunezcuba
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.
July 2, 2013Posted by on
Members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front went out to the streets of Placetas, Villa Clara in the morning hours of June 2nd to carry out a public protest where they announced the “I do Want” campaign and called for solidarity with hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos Caballero.
The “I do Want” campaign was launched by the Assembly of the Resistance in a joint effort by pro-democracy groups in and out of the island as a follow up to the “I do not cooperate” campaign, where numerous stickers calling on Cubans to not participate in repressive actions organized by the dictatorship such as acts of repudiation and snitching. Now, the second phase of the initiative exhorts the people to cooperate with the internal opposition and demand their rights publicly.
Former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, and general secretary of the OZT Front, participated in the demonstration alongside activists from Havana, Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus.
“We are also demanding solidarity with our brother Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, who is currently between life and death”, exclaims Antunez during the activity. Santos Caballero has been on hunger strike since May 24th, demanding a house after having been evicted by the police.
Afterward, the demonstrators shouted slogans in favor of democratic change and human rights. They were not repudiated by any neighbors.
June 17, 2013Posted by on
The debate about whether dissidents working for a democratic Cuba should turn to hunger strikes or not always rises in and out of the island whenever these protests are undertaken. Whichever the opinions may be, the reality is that, right now, in Cuba there are 3 human rights activists on hunger strike, all of them on the verge of losing their lives due to the serious deterioration of their health. And while their lives extinguish slowly, the dictatorship ignores their demands.
Luis Enrique Santos Caballero
A member of the Central Opposition Coalition (CCO) and of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, from the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Has been carrying out his hunger strike since May 24th, demanding a home after he was forcefully evicted alongside his wife Ramona Maday García, an activist of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. Santos Caballero spent more than 15 years behind bars and upon being released his father had passed away and he had nowhere to live. He spent some time living at the homes of friends and fellow dissidents until he finally decided to occupy an abandoned establishment. Police forces violently evicted Santos from this establishment. He has been under constant persecution since then.
The dissident began to protest with his wife in the Vidal Park of Santa Clara for a number of days, demanding a home. He was arrested, beaten and repudiated by government mobs on various occasions. Santos decided to start a hunger strike, moving his protest to the city of Placetas, specifically in the home of dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’.
Santos Caballero has only one kidney. He lost the other organ after a brutal beating by his jailers while he was still in prison. It is precisely because the lack of one kidney that his health has deteriorated so quickly and why his health is critical. Authorities have ignored his demands but Santos has said that he will take his protest to the final consequences. #SOS
For more information from Cuba:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba
Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta
The home of dissident Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta and his family in the town of Bejucal was raided by police forces on September 2012 after he had announced the formation of a new pro-freedom group, the Patriotic Alliance, and that his oldest son, 24 year old Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo, refused to participate in military service. Father and son were beaten until the point that their heads were broken. Juana Castillo, wife of Osvaldo Rodriguez, was also physically assaulted while her youngest son (12 years old at the time) witnessed everything. The minor is severely traumatized.
The 3 activists were rapidly detained and sent to an arbitrary trial in 2013. Osvaldo Rodriguez was sentenced to 9 years of prison, his son to 7 years and Juana was sentenced to 5 years of correctional labor. Osvaldo (father) is jailed in the Combinado del Este Prison, where he began his hunger strike on May 10th, protesting all the abuses against his family and the authorities’ refusal to allow family visits. His son is being held in Valle Grande Prison of Havana. On June 8th, dissident and Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, from Boyeros, Havana, reported that Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta had been transferred to the National Hospital’s penal ward, already with more than 30 days on hunger strike and in a “critical” state.
Fonseca has informed on her Twitter account that Rosa Acosta, mother of Osvaldo Rodriguez, suffered a pulmonary effusion and was interned in the National Hospital, where her son resides. Authorities have not allowed them to see each other. #SOS
For more information from Cuba:
Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +53-379-01 1/ Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba
Wilbert Parada Milán
Wilbert Parada Milán is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). He was violently detained along with Roberto Hernandez on March 30th in Habana Vieja. He began his hunger strike on May 13th in the Valle Grande Prison, also in Havana.
In a recent interview with this blog, José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of UNPACU, explained that Parada’s arrest was due to the constant activism he had been carrying out throughout the capital, carrying out civic protests and handing out pro-freedom literature.
In another recent interview to ABC, Yudisnelis Rodríguez Reina, wife of the dissident, explained that the hunger striker is in “critical state” in a cell of the Cominbado del Este’s hospital.
Jailers have not allowed Wilbert to have family visits and he has reportedly lost consciousness on a number of occasions. Relatives and fellow dissidents fear for the worst with this activist, who finds himself in a struggle between life and death. #SOS
For more information from Cuba:
José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta, Wilbert Parada Milán. Three names we shouldn’t forget. No more repression, no more dictatorship.
June 6, 2013Posted by on
Members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara have been carrying out continuous public demonstrations since the beginning of June, in solidarity with the demands of hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos Caballero who has refused to intake food since May 24th, demanding a home after he was forcefully evicted by government forces.
Now, new images of these protests have arrived from the island. The demonstrations took place on the 1st, 2nd and 5th of June in the city of Placetas. The videos have been published on the YouTube channels of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the OZT Front, and of Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello.
On June 1st, a group of activists demonstrated in a Placetas neighborhood, shouting slogans in favor of Santos Caballero and letting neighbors know about the situation. In this activity, once can see the face and body of the hunger striker, clearly deteriorated:
After the protest, various activists were violently arrested by the political police. Among the detainees was Yoel Bravo. We can see the moment of his arrest here:
On June 2nd, Ramona Maday Garcia, wife of Luis Enrique Santos and member of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, marched down the streets of Placetas with a sign explaining the situation of her husband, asking for solidarity from neighbors and denouncing the indifference of the regime:
The most recent video, filmed on June 5th, shows a protest in the a popular spot of Placetas. According to Antunez and other dissidents, this activity ended in police violence when neighbors came out in defense of the demonstrators:
These audio-visuals show the desperation of a Cuban family which, after having been left without a home, have been demanding justice. Luis Enrique and Ramona spent a number of days protesting and sleeping in Vidal Park of Santa Clara and after arrests, acts of repudiation and the indifference of the authorities, the dissident decided to declare himself on hunger strike and take his protest to the home of Jorge Luis ‘Antunez’. Activists have alerted that Santos’ state of health is extremely weak and he is suffering from frequent faint spells. He also only has one kidney. A photo published on Twitter by Antunez (@antunezcuba) shows the deterioration of the dissident:
May 29, 2013Posted by on
Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, member of the Central Opposition Coalition, has been on hunger strike in the Vidal Park of Santa Clara, Villa Clara, along with his wife Ramona Maday Garcia, for more than a week, demanding that the regime give him a home after he was forcefully evicted during the month of April.
Santos, a former dissident prisoner, came out of jail to find that his father had passed away and that he had no home. He spent various months staying at the homes of friends and fellow activists until he decided to occupy an abandoned establishment in the city of Santa Clara. Police forces violently evicted him and his wife from the place, and the activist took shelter in the house of another dissident. Eventually, he decided to demand the regime to give him the opportunity to have a house where he could establish himself and establish a family.
This Wednesday, May 29th, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, former political prisoner and general secretary of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, published an audio in his YouTube account detailing that another 4 activists had joined Luis Enrique’s hunger strike. The striker shifted his protest to the home of Antunez, where the other dissidents also reside. They are Arnaldo Perez, Fernando Vazquez, Yunier Santana, and most recently, Damaris Moya Portieles. The latter is the president of the Central Opposition Coalition.
Although the life of each of these hunger-strikers is in danger, Antunez explains that the most worrying situation is that of Luis Enrique Santos Caballero who only has one kidney. He lost his other kidney in prison after he was severely beat by a number of guards. Santos Caballero has also seen his health affected in the last couple of days after sleeping under rain and wind in a public park for more than a week.
“Luis Enrique Santos is on the verge of losing his life for demanding something so basic, so elementary, which is having a home”, declares Antunez in the audio, “he is a man who truly looks like a cadaver…he is suffering the effects of a weakened physical state, and the lack of one kidney. At any given moment, a fatal outcome may take place”.
Antunez called on the international community, especially people who have Twitter accounts and who run blogs about Cuba, to keep informing about the situation of Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, an activist who is willing to give his life so that at least his wife could have a decent home.
Para más información desde Cuba, contactar a:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Móvil: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba