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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Jose Daniel Ferrer
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 1, 2013Posted by on
Three Cuban dissidents, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and who are currently in prison for expressing themselves against the totalitarian government, have been carrying out lengthy hunger strikes, according to statements made to this blog by Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the pro-democracy group and a former political prisoner himself.
The strikers are Enrique Figuerola Miranda, Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez.
Figuerola, being held in the Boniato Prison of Santiago de Cuba “has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days“, explained Ferrer Garcia. The activist adds that doctors have put an IV on him a couple of times but after this treatment “they have returned him to the prison cells, leaving him up to his own fate in inhumane conditions. He is very weak…his situation is very worrying for UNPACU and all of his family“.
Recently on the YouTube channel of UNPACU a video of an interview with Enrique’s wife, Mercedes Hechavarria Guevara, was published. She tells how her husband’s health has worsened and explains that during one of the visits allowed by the guards he told her that he would rather die for a just cause than to live under the dictatorship. Figuerola has been imprisoned for 9 months, without a trial.
In the cases of Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez, detained together in Havana, they are being kept in cells in the Valle Grande Prison, located in the capital, “all of this because of their activism out on the streets, in areas such as Central Havana and Old Havana“, assures Ferrer Garcia.
“Parada and Hernandez continue on hunger strike and are also under constant harassment…they have been victims of mistreatment, as have their wives. We are also very worried about them“.
Ferrer also made mention of the case of dissident rapper and UNPACU secretary for the city of Bayamo, Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico”, imprisoned for more than 2 months, also without a trial, due to the music he makes criticizing the regime and because of his activism out on the streets.
“Remon is in prison because the political police got scared of the growing sympathy he was receiving on behalf of his neighbors in Bayamo through the distinguished work this young man has been carrying out in favor of Cuba’s democratization“.
Yedisbel Roseyo Mojena, wife of Angel Yunier, took part in an interview with Ferrer. During the conversation, she detailed the situation of her husband and highlighed the constant police repression against him, before and during his imprisonment. (Check out the video here)
UNPACU has 10 activists in the Mar Verde Prison (Santiago de Cuba), among them 3 brothers- Alexei, Dianco and Diango Varga Martin. The last 2 are twins and just turned 18.
Miraida Martin Calderin, a member of the Ladies in White and mother of the brothers, was held in prison for approximately 2 months and was just recently released. She confirmed to Jose Daniel Ferrer that her sons “are being held in very difficult conditions…they frequently suspend our family visits, the guards physically assault them, and they are commonly confined to punishment cells“.
One of these political prisoners- Arcelio Noa- has also been victim of constant repression in the Mar Verde Prison. In fact, he has even inflicted injuries on himself in a moment of total desperation.
“Arcelio did this to himself because he was blinded by desperation. He is constantly harassed. They put him together with very dangerous criminals which the political police puts there and uses to attack him and all the other young political prisoners we have there”, denounced Ferrer.
The dissident organization UNPACU has more than 40 of its members behind bars due to the frequent and spontaneous civc demonstrations they carry out in centric places such as long lines, parks, terminals, street corners and other public locations.
Many other opposition groups also have numerous political prisoners. They are women, men, intellectuals, farmers, young, and old.
On another note, 5 activists of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front are still on hunger strike as well. Among the demonstrators is Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, seriously affected in health terms, who demands to have a home after he was forcefully evicted in the province of Villa Clara. Reports coming straight from the island have only confirmed that his health has kept deteriorating.
May 28, 2013Posted by on
After her first trip ever outside of Cuba to denounce the reality faced by those who defend freedom in the country, Berta Soler, the representative of the Ladies in White, has returned to the island this Monday, 27th of May.
Soler was received by her two children and her husband, dissident leader and former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta, who used his Twitter account (@jangelmoya) to inform that, since early morning hours of Monday, State Security had set up various operations throughout the capital to arrest a number of Ladies in White who had plans to welcome Soler in the Jose Marti Airport.
Among the detainees were Leidis Coca and her husband, according to a message published by Moya, while other activists were surrounded in their homes by the State police, as was the case of Ladies in White Lourdes Esquivel and Sara Marta Fonseca, and dissident Andres Perez Suarez.
At around 10 PM, Moya confirmed that Berta Soler arrived and was “alongside her family and the Ladies in White”.
Meanwhile, the young Lady in White Sayli Navarro, from Matanzas, tweeted (@SayliNavarro), “Berta Soler embraces her family and the Ladies in White who waited for her. Welcome to your Cuba, the Cuba of all Cubans. Congratulations”.
It was precisely these numerous Ladies in White who stayed in Cuba who never stopped marching, Sunday after Sunday.
This past Sunday, May 26th, many of these women managed to surpass police cordons and arrive to their respective temples throughout the country to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners.
During morning hours the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and also former political prisoner, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, wrote in his Twitter (@jdanielferrer) that a total of 73 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass in the province of Santiago de Cuba, despite obvious police operations set up in different regions.
10 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass in the province of Guantanamo, confirmed Sayli Navarro.
Arrests were reported in the province of Holguin but have not yet been confirmed. In Holguin, each Sunday various women are impeded from arriving to church, seeing as the political police surrounds their homes since dawn hours and, in some cases, since the day before.
Navarro tweeted that a total of 21 Ladies participated in Mass in different cities of Matanzas province, according to Leticia Ramos Herreria.
Angel Moya confirmed that another 50 women marched down Havana’s 5th Avenue after participating in Mass at the Santa Rita Church. He added that “47 male human rights activists accompanied them”.
Berta Soler told the digital newspaper “Diario de Cuba” that she had returned “strengthened” to Cuba, considering that she found moral, spiritual and material support, especially on behalf of the Cuban exile.
Soler traveled to Cuba from Miami, where she had been in two occasions. (See video of her first visit to Miami here).Soler pointed out on various occasions during her trip that she did not consider the fact that she, and other dissidents, were allowed to travel outside of Cuba meant there were reforms in the country. Instead, she said it was the result of constant pressure on behalf of the opposition and that it was just an action taken to distract attention from the constant violence against activists, as well as the dire situation of numerous political prisoners.
The leader of the Ladies in White promised to take Cuba’s reality to the world, and she did. Now, she has returned to continue out on the streets, together with so many other mothers, daughters, sisters, and in sum, Cuban women and men who demand a free country.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Ángel Moya Acosta – Cell Phone: +53-820-595 / Twitter: @jangelmoya
Berta Soler – Cell Phone: +52-906-820
José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Sayli Navarro – Cell Phone: +52-731-652 / Twitter: @SayliNavarro
May 23, 2013Posted by on
The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba highlights the situation which a number of political prisoners of the mentioned group are facing, speaks about the repressive methods employed by the State against activists and affirms that activism and opposition out on the streets has only increased in the Eastern region of the country, attracting further solidarity from everyday people.
Protest marches, debates and the handing out of flyers with pro-freedom messages are occurring with much more frequency in different areas of Eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, former political prisoner and current executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), points out that in the month of May these actions have increased as part of the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign, where dissidents throughout the country pay tribute to martyrs Pedro Luis Boitel and Orlando Zapata Tamayo, both deceased after lengthy hunger strikes in prison.
On May 20th, Cuba’s Independence Day, two marches were carried out in Santiago de Cuba. One of them was led by 11 activists and finished in the Antonio Maceo Plaza, where police officials beat the demonstrators with helmets, sticks and other objects, all of this while everyday citizens were watching.
A second march was carried out by 16 dissidents who managed to walk down various blocks of the El Sueno neighborhood, shouting pro-freedom messages. The result was police persecution. “State Security and Rapid Response Brigade agents came and began to throw rocks and beat activists“, recounted Ferrer Garcia. The repressors also threw tar and tried to raid the home of Daniel Barriel, secretary of the “Zapata Lives” sector of UNPACU in that neighborhood, where the activists congregated after the march. But the police was not able to achieve their objective, considering that the civic protests of the dissidents only intensified, forcing the aggressors to leave.
“Our activists came out and did not allow the attack. Also, they took up a clever posture. When the regime organized mobs shouted ‘long live the youth’, our dissidents would shout ‘live!’, but when the mobs shouted ‘long live Fidel’, the activists would say ‘down!’. The agents had to leave the house eventually“, explained Jose Daniel, “the police is losing space because they use so many people and use so much gasoline to repress us, but there is not enough gasoline for ambulances and other necessary services. In addition, everyday people are not cooperating with them“.
On the following day, May 21st, another group of UNPACU activists walked to the Palma-Santiago highway and took out a large sign with numerous anti-regime messages, such as “UNPACU in favor of fair salaries” and “democracy and justice“. This captured the attention of various passerby’s who actually would stop their cars to read the messages and show support with the dissidents.
Ferrer Garcia explains that UNPACU has “been following up the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign as well as on the other commemorative dates like the death of Jose Marti and May 20th” with spontaneous marches and other demonstrations which have lasted more than 30 minutes, shouting slogans in favor of “freedom, democracy, the respect of human rights, the end of hunger, misery, low salaries and so many other ills which affect the population“.
The former political prisoner of conscience denounces that the repression on behalf of the regime has been increasing, but despite this, “the tyranny keeps losing in their confrontation against UNPACU, because even the people who in one way or another serve them are feeling very ashamed of the actions which State Security carries out against us“.
“The people are responding by criticizing the political police. On a daily basis they join the peaceful opposition movement in this area, where UNPACU has been carrying out a labor in favor of the society, working for the community, and this presents a serious problem for the tyranny, and it will just continue to create even more problems“, added Ferrer.
Currently, UNPACU has 40 of its members behind bars because of political motives. This past 21st of May Ferrer Garcia was able to establish communication with one of these prisoners who is being held in the Mar Verde Prision of Santiago.
“The activist told me about the situation which they find themselves in Mar Verde. He told me that Arcelio Noa had already been taken out of the punishment cell, but that he had intentionally hurt himself as a form of protest against the inhumane conditions he was being held in, and which the other 10 political prisoners we have in that prison have had to withstand“, said Ferrer, “lots of mistreatment, aggressions, and the guards are using common delinquents to harass them. These common prisoners are dangerous, many of them murderers, who lend themselves to such actions in exchange for food and other privileges. They are turned against the human rights defenders“.
Ferrer emphasized the situation of dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, known as “El Critico”, who is also the secretary of UNPACU for the city of Bayamo. The musician has been behind bars for more than 2 months in the Bayamo prison known as Las Mangas, still without a trial. He was violently arrested after the political police raided his home in March, attacking him and other relatives with tear gas.
“I was able to briefly speak with Angel Yunier on May 20th. In Las Mangas prison there is a very critical situation“, said the dissident leader, “Angel told me about the horrible medical attention offered to sick prisoners. He also told me that numerous prisoners have so many problems and they turn to self-infliction to call attention on so many abuses, the severe hunger, the lack of medical care and other cruel treatments“.
The young dissident continues to be in a judicial limbo while the authorities have not given his family any details as to what his fate will be.
The situation of activist Jorge Cervantes Garcia, from Contramaestre, is also critical. Ferrer says that “he is still recuperating from the lengthy hunger strike carried out to demand the freedom of Luis Enrique Lozada. Cervantes is still in Las Tunas prison, also amid a very hostile atmosphere. He was physically assaulted last week by a common prisoner who is addicted to mood-altering pills”.
Ferrer Garcia expressed that although the number of political prisoners is increasing, so too is the number of activists, mainly young ones, who are willing to go out to the streets to work towards a new Cuba.
Take a listen to the following audio (in Spanish) of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia:
For more information from inside Cuba, contact:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell Phone: +53 – 146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
May 8, 2013Posted by on
A young Cuban can finally hug his father- unjustly imprisoned for nearly one month- and a massive hunger strike by more than 60 citizens has come to an end, yielding positive results.
The protest was initiated by members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in demand for the release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza. He was arrested by the political police on April 9th after they raided his home in Maffo, Contramaestre. His crime? Offering his house each Tuesday to impart courses on peaceful resistance and civil disobedience. At the moment of his arrest, Lozada started a hunger strike. Members of his family followed his protest, starting their own strikes. Among them his 17-year old son Enrique Lozada, his wife Darmis Aguedo, his brother Arnoldo Lozada, and others. In just a few days about a dozen other activists, under the lead of former political prisoner and leader of UNPACU Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, also started strikes. Eventually, more than 60 dissidents in different regions such as Palma Soriano, Holguin, San Luis and Gibara were on hunger strike.
After what seemed like countless acts of repudiation, arrests, and threats by the political police, as well as serious health complications product of more than 4 weeks on strike, the activists achieved their objective on the night of May 7th: The authorities handed a document to Enrique Lozada, explaining that his father would be released, promising that he would be back home in Contramaestre on the following morning.
Upon confirming the news, the young activist finally stopped his strike, drinking juice. Enrique moved the world after he published a video assuring that he was willing to die for his father. His health was seriously affected.
“I am giving thanks in the name of the family and in the name of the hunger strikers, thanks to the hundreds of UNPACU activists that were carrying out different actions throughout the country, thanks to activists of other organizations who joined us in solidarity, thanks to our brothers in exile who have always backed us with solidarity”, expressed Jose Daniel Ferrer in one of the first audios published on the YouTube account of UNPACU.
The release of Lozada Igarza did not come easy. The same day in which the news was made public- May 7th- the regime unleashed a brutal wave of repression against various strikers and other activists showing solidarity. On that same afternoon, the political police assauled the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital of Santiago de Cuba, where some of the strikers had been taken, forcefully removing them. Some were beat and abandoned in different parts of the province. In the case of Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez, police agents ripped off her IV, which caused her much bleeding, according to a report by her son, the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez. The same occurred with Ernique Lozada, who even passed out after strong aggressions.
Another activist who was forcefully removed from the hospital was 60-year old Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez, while activists displaying solidarity in front of the hospital were also beat and detained, as was the case of Ovidio Martin Castellanos, among others.
In Holguin, the hunger strikers Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora were denied medical assistance on various occasions, but the protests by a number of dissidents forced the local hospital to assist him. The State-sponsored violence could not impede activists from joining the strikers in support. In Pinar del Rio, more than 50 dissidents held fasts, backing the call for Lozada Igarza’s freedom. Members of other pro-freedom movements like the Ladies in White, the Republican Party of Cuba and the OZT National Resistance Front carried out marches, protests, encounters and other activities in solidarity.
A campaign started by everyday citizens was created outside of Cuba, where activists used social networks to denounce the situation plaguing the strikers and in search of support. Various petitions were created with the purpose of taking the details to international human rights organizations, while in Twitter the hashtag #HuelgadeHambreUNPACU (“HungerStrikeCuba”) was created. This pressure led various politicians and other public figures to make public statements in favor of Luis Enrique Lozada’s release.
Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, representative of UNPACU in exile, started a fast alongside other activists in a display of support for those risking their lives on the island. They maintained the fast until the very moment in which Lozada’s liberation was announced.
This has been another series of actions that prove that Cubans can achieve positive things in their country and it is more proof that citizens do have power. The internal opposition, through the civic protests of UNPACU and others, left the dictatorship with no other option but to release human rights activist Luis Enrique Lozada.
It is clear that the regime has sent a message of violence to the opposition with their wave of aggressions during the strike, specially on the last day, just minutes before releasing the activist. But dissidents have also responded, sending their own message to the dictatorship:
“We will keep up the struggle…we have been able to get one man out of the dungeons of the tyranny, but other political prisoners are still behind bars in inhumane conditions”, said Jose Daniel Ferrer, mentioning more than 40 UNPACU activists who are imprisoned for having different ideas, “but we will continue fighting for their freedom, and for the freedom of Cuba, with much more strength, with much more dedication, and much more desire than ever”.
*Congratulations to all those who risked their lives for the release of an innocent man. – (Pedazos de la Isla)
May 7, 2013Posted by on
Barcelona-based blogger Joan Antoni Guerrero from “Punt de Vista” has reported about the repressive situation against the hunger strikers in Cuba, where it seems that this Tuesday, 7th of May, State police has attacked some strikers and activists. My translation of Guerrero’s report:
Various reports of activists in the last couple of minutes on various social Networks denounce that the political police has raided the Hospital of Santiago de Cuba, where there are a number of dissidents from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) on hunger strike. According to some sources there has been violence and beatings. It also seems that the phone lines of various dissidents have been blocked. Meanwhile, detained activist Luis Enrique Lozada was taken to intensive care, according to “Diario de Cuba”. The UNPACU hunger strikers started the hunger strike to demand his liberation.
The cited article from ‘Diario de Cuba’ contains an interview with Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UNPACU, mentioning that Lozada’s wife, Darmis Aguedo, “was able to see him and said he was very deteriorated physically, but said he would keep his posture until he is freed or until he dies, because he is not going to serve a sentence for a crime he did not commit”.
Blogger and activist Frank Abel Garcia (in Cuba) also tweeted about the situation:
TRANSLATION: “They have informed me that the political police beat the activists which were outside the hospital”.
Former political prisoner of conscience Pedro Arguelles Moran wrote on his Twitter (@PedroArguellesM):
More than 60 hunger strikers have put their lives on the line to demand the release of Luis Enrique Lozada, including his 17-year old son Enrique Lozada, one of the strikers in worst conditions. Lozada (father) has been detained unjustly since April 9th.
More information as the news develops…
May 6, 2013Posted by on
More activists keep joining the massive hunger strike encompassing more than 60 people throughout Eastern Cuba, demanding the release of detained dissident Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, while the other strikers who have already been refusing to eat for more than 3 weeks maintain their protest, which has led to the deterioration of their health. The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) has been publishing a series of videos and audios in their YouTube channel with updates on the situation.In this video (above), the youngest of the strikers, 17-year old Enrique Lozada, who is the son of Luis Enrique Lozada, defends his protest before various doctors sent by the government to try and make him give up on his demands in the Juan Bruno Zayas hospital of Santiago de Cuba.
“With the level of stress I have right now, knowing that my mother is also on hunger strike, as well as my uncle, seeing as how my family is being torn apart, do you really think I feel like living?”, the young Cuban tells the team of doctors, “Why am I going to live knowing that my father is dying in a prison cell because of a crime he never committed? Knowing that my family is falling to pieces”.
The video concludes with the protest of various hunger strikers that are present in that room. They point out that the regime has ignored their demands and has not even acknowledged the situation of Luis Enrique Lozada and the other strikers.
In this audio (above), Darmis Aguedo, wife of Luis Enrique Lozada, mother of Enrique, and also on hunger strike, explains that she was able to see her husband recently in the Provincial Hospital of Santiago. She said he was being held in an “isolated” room and under the “permanent” custody of two armed police guards. They were able to speak for a few minutes. She said he was still strong in spirit but his health proved otherwise, as he has lots of weight due to the hunger strike.
Meanwhile, independent journalist Alexei Jimenez informed on his Twitter account (@jugandomelavida) that the hunger strikers in Holguin- Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora- were taken to a hospital for a few hours on the night of May 5th. Berta Guerrero, a member of the Ladies in White and wife of Franklin Peregrino, offered more details. She said both strikers had been denied medical assistance various times.
On the afternoon of Sunday May 5th, various activists directed themselves to the nearest medical center, asking for an ambulance for Pergrino and Leiva but the medical employees ignored them. A few hours later, a doctor finally showed up at the house, taking both dissidents to the Lenin Hospital to be hydrated. Guerrero explains that the health of the Holguin hunger strikers- whom have already been in their protest for 15 days- has drastically weakened but that they will maintain their protest “until Lozada Igarza is freed”. In Gibara (Holguin), another 4 activists have joined the strike. The response of the political police has been to organize acts of repudiation against them.
Solidarity with the hunger strikers on behalf of the internal opposition has been national, however. In Palma Soriano, various UNPACU members recently carried out a public march, demanding Luis Enrique’s liberation, as can be observed in the following video:
Former political prisoners of conscience Ángel Moya Acosta and Félix Navarro Rodríguez were able to travel to Santiago de Cuba to show solidarity with Enrique Lozada, Ana Celia Rodriguez, Jose Daniel Ferrer and other strikers this Sunday, May 5th, while the Ladies in White dedicated their Sunday march to Luis Enrique Lozada.
On the morning of May 6th, former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, published a declaration in the name of the mentioned pro-freedom coalition in solidarity with the hunger striking activists.
As for the international scene, several activists have created a petition directed to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations so that there be an increase in solidarity with the case of Luis Enrique Lozada, his family, and all the strikers who have put their lives at risk for freedom. The petition can be signed by clicking here.
The cell phones of more than 40 dissidents in Cuba, the majority members of UNPACU, have been blocked in the past couple of days in order to prevent them from publishing information about the strike. Regardless, activists have been reporting the details any possible way they can. The lives of all those who are taking part in this strike are in danger, but they have all said they will continue onward, pressuring the dictatorship to free a Cuban who has not committed a crime and is being held behind bars.
April 30, 2013Posted by on
In a video recorded by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Enrique Lozada speaks during his third week on hunger strike, a protest started to demand the release of his father, activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, violently arrested by the political police last April 9th in Maffo, Contramaestre. Luis Enrique is also on hunger strike and is being confined in inhumane conditions in the Aguadores Prison of Santiago de Cuba.
More than 60 other dissidents have declared themselves on strike with the same motive, including dissident leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia. At age 17, Enrique is the youngest striker of the group. In this video, one can see that he is clearly weakened and already affected, health-wise, by the protest.
His spirit, however, remains intact.
“I am not afraid to die knowing that I am defending and fighting for my father’s freedom”, the young Lozada says in this video, “I prefer to die than to know my father is in prison without having committed a crime”.
All of the hunger strikers have had a drastic decline in their health, while the Cuban government has so far ignored their demands and has been torturing Luis Enrique Lozada, mentally and physically.
At this point, solidarity is crucial.
Here is the video (by UNPACU) with English subtitles (my translation):
April 29, 2013Posted by on
A number of Ladies in White were violently attacked and arrested by agents of the Cuban dictatorship this Sunday, April 28th, as they tried to assist Mass to pray for the freedom of Cuba.
One of the women who suffered the worst beatings was Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, representative of the group for the province of Santiago de Cuba who recently returned to Cuba after traveling to Brussels to receive the Sajarov Award alongside Laura Labrada Pollan and Berta Soler.
Cantillo’s arrest took place when a group of these women were on their way to the Rosario Church of Palma Soriano. The activist told ‘Diario de Cuba’ that various men, agents of the political police, were the ones who carried out the beating against her, even punching and attacking the women with umbrellas. “They punched me in one of my breasts, they kicked my ribs”, Belkis told the digital newspaper.
Other detainees were Taimi Vega Biscet, Yaima Naranjo, Mariela Rodríguez, Niurka Carmona, Denia Fernández, Madelaine Santos, Yasnay Ferrer and Yanela Ferrer, according to ex prisoner and dissident José Daniel Ferrer García who published the information on his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer).
Another 30 women managed to make it inside the church, but the political police organized an act of repudiation which consisted in shouts of death threats, racial slurs and other offensive phrases, according to Aime Garces, one of the Ladies inside. She explained to this blog that despite the repression “the Ladies in White will continue firm and without fear”.
Jose Daniel Ferrer recounted that Father Palma displayed solidarity with the persecuted women. On the YouTube channel of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) videos of what happened in Palma Soriano have been published:
In other parts of the island, Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass, as was the case in the province of Matanzas and in Havana. Dissident leader and former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta published various photos of these women marching in Havana on his Twitter account (@jangelmoya).
Moya recounts that 44 Ladies marched in the capital, demanding the release of Sonia Garro Alfonso (one of their members, jailed for more than a year) and her husband Ramon Alejandro Munoz. They were accompanied by more than 40 men, human rights activists.
Meanwhile in Miami, the representative of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, participated in an emotional and very symbolic Mass at the Ermita Shrine, along with exiled Ladies in White and former political prisoners, as well as many members of Miami’s exile community. The Mass, hosted by Father Rumin, was dedicated to the fallen Laura Pollan and all martyrs of the Cuban dictatorship. There was a moment of prayer for the Ladies who were violently arrested that morning in Cuba, simply for trying to do what so many people were doing on that afternoon in Miami.
Soler was handed a Cuban flag with the image of the Virgin of Chartiy, while she presented a Cuban flag at the altar.
A moving surprise came when Cuban musician Amaury Gutierrez showed up to sing “Laura“, a song written by Luis Piloto and dedicated to Laura Pollan. In Cuba, the Ladies in White sing this song each Sunday after carrying out their Sunday marches.
Soler has been received with much affection by the Cuban exile, while she has been seeking more international support for the internal opposition.
Through an excessive amount of violence, the dictatorship has sent a clear message to Berta Soler and other activists who have traveled outside the country to let the world know about the Cuban reality, as was the case of the repression against Belkis Cantillo, just days after having returned from her trip abroad. However, the Ladies in White are also sending out a clear message to that same dictatorship: they do not fear them, they will continue out on the streets and they will not rest until Cuba is free.
April 24, 2013Posted by on
Pictured in this photo is Luis Enrique Lozada (right), an activist of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), along with his family, in Maffo, Contramaestre. Lozada has been imprisoned for more than 2 weeks, after he was arbitrarily arrested by the political police. He offers his home each Tuesday to impart courses on civil disobedience and non-violent struggles for local activists as well as everyday citizens- neighbors, friends, etc. These encounters usually end in acts of repudiations and house raids at the hands of State Security, and it is also the reason for his detention last April 9th.
Luis Enrique was kept in the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba for various days before being transferred over to the Boniato Prison. In response, approximately 14 relatives and friends stood outside the unit demanding his release, carrying out hunger strikes and protests. On his part, Lozada also declared himself on hunger strike.
The protest expanded when a total of 20 activists from UNPACU joined in. But now, there are more than 50 Cubans on hunger strike for the same cause. Here are the faces and stories of some of them:
Pictured above is Enrique Lozada Aguedo. He’s the 17-year old son of Luis Enrique Lozada. For a while, he was the youngest member of UNPACU, and in 2012 called on the Cuban youth to join the dissident movement to demand their rights. Now, he has put his life on the line to demand his father’s release.
Darmis Aguedo Zaldivar, wife of Luis Enrique Lozada, mother of Enrique; she is a Lady in White and member of UNPACU. She demands an end to the violence against her husband, her children, and the rest of her family and members of the peaceful opposition movement in the Eastern region of the country.
Arnoldo Lozada Igarza is Luis Enrique’s brother. He is frequently subjected to police violence along with his brother while they participate in the courses on non-violent civic struggles.
This is Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez, from Santiago de Cuba. She is frequently persecuted and arrested by the political police when she tries to make it to Sunday Mass at the National Cobre Shrine. She is the mother of the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez.
José Daniel Ferrer García, executive secretary of UNPACU, he is a former political prisoner of conscience and one of the leaders of the internal opposition on the island. He started his hunger strike alongside dozens of other activists in the Cespedes Park of Santiago de Cuba, right in front of the Cathedral of Santiago. Afterward, he took his protest back to his home in Palmarito de Cauto, which serves as one of the main meeting points of UNPACU. He said his protest was for the release of Luis Enrique Lozada as well as for the release of all detained UNPACU activists. In addition, he is calling for an end to violence against all peaceful dissidents in Cuba and is shedding light on the situation of more than 40 members of UNPACU who have been sentenced to prison terms for several years. Ferrer Garcia suffers from various health issues, all of them acquired in dungeons during his 7 year prison sentence, and his hunger strike may intensify these complications.
Sirley Avila, an ex delegate of the Popular Power Department in Limones, Las Tunas. She was fired for speaking without censorship and for trying to truthfully represent the people. Recently, she has joined the opposition. She’s been blacklisted by the government since.
More photos of some other hunger strikers:
Anyer Antonio Blanco, who provided the photos shown in this post, said on his Twitter account (@anyerantoniobla) on April 23rd that there are now a total of 54 hunger strikers. They hail from Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, San Luis, Holguin, Banes, Las Tunas, Pinar del Rio and many other places. The strikers are from UNPACU, but many other activists from diverse pro-freedom organizations have joined in fasts or with public protests, like the case of Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, where members of the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and of the Rosa Parks Movement have been carrying out several demonstrations, and the members of the Democratic Alliance of Pinar del Rio, who have more than 60 members fasting in the province of Pinar del Rio. The Ladies in White and national coalitions such as the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front have also joined in solidarity.
The political police has increased the level of violence against all those who lend their homes to show solidarity with the strikers, as well as against those who carry out marches or other civic protests. Many have been arrested and beaten, as was the case of Rubislandi Avila, rushed to a hospital after a brutal beat-down at the hands of the police in the town of Mella (Santiago de Cuba).
Meanwhile, in exile, Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia and Ana Belkis Ferrer Garcia (siblings of Jose Daniel Ferrer) have started a fast in solidarity with the strikers. Various Cubans living in different cities have joined the call. They are convoking others to participate in this display of support. Visit their webpage here.
For more videos of the hunger strikers, visit the YouTube channel of UNPACU.