Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Jose Daniel Ferrer

Regime denies two prominent dissidents right to travel out of Cuba


PicMonkey Collage

This week the Cuban regime denied two well-known dissidents their right to travel out of Cuba, providing little or no explanations as to why the decision was taken.

The first of the refusals occurred in Eastern Cuba – specifically in Santiago de Cuba – when former political prisoner and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was told by authorities on October 7th that he would not be able to acquire his passport.  The functionaries said the activist could not travel for reasons of “public interest”, alleging he has engaged in criminal activities (in Cuba, political dissent is considered one of the highest offenses).

Ferrer Garcia was invited by the Unity Progress and Democracy Party to participate in an event in Europe.  It was the second time the Cuban regime denied him his passport.

On Friday October 11th, Leticia Ramos Herreria – representative of the Ladies in White for the central province of Matanzas – received a negative response from Cuban authorities after she started travel procedures two weeks earlier.

“ ‘Your petition has been denied, we cannot give you your passport to travel”’, that’s what immigration official told me”, tweeted Leticia on Friday (@LeticiaRHCuba).  No further explanations were provided.

Former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez (impeded from traveling as well on past occasions) also tweeted (@ivanlibre) about this situation, classifying it as “arbitrary” and pointing out that the Lady in White is in no way under an ‘extrapenal license’ that would impede here rights.

Leticia Ramos and Jose Daniel Ferrer are two of the many active opposition members on the island. Ramos is subject to frequent violent arrests every Sunday as she marches in Cardenas, Matanzas with other women for the freedom of all political prisoners and also engages in other activities in favor of the civil society.  Ferrer heads UNPACU, one of the many active pro-freedom groups in the country which started in the East and has spread throughout the island with many members.

Meanwhile, Blanca Reyes – exiled Cuban activist in Spain and representative of the Ladies in White in Europe – was also denied the right of entry into Cuba this week to visit her elderly and sick father.

“My father fractured his hip, he is going to be operated and the government of Cuba refuses my entry into the country to see him.  He is 93 years old”, wrote Blanca on the Ladies in White’s official Twitter account, @DamasdBlanco.

Reforms in Cuba?

State Security continues it’s repressive measures against imprisoned rapper ‘El Critico’

In the Eastern Cuban town of  Bayamo, prison authorities continue denying medical assistance to dissident rapper ‘El Critico’ while State Security continues harassing his wife in whichever way possible.  

‘El Critico’

Dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga ‘El Critico’, from the duo Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso (‘The Unwanted Children’) has been unjustly jailed in Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo since March 26th of 2013 after mobs organized by State Security raided his home.  While behind bars, he has been subjected to beatings, verbal threats and other forms of repression carried out by the political police.  During the month of July, he contracted cholera and was in a critical state of health.  Although no longer suffering from the mentioned disease, Remon still suffers other serious health ailments, such as chronic gastritis which brings him constant pains.  But the authorities have not provided him with adequate medical attention due to his pro-freedom ideas.

Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena, wife of the young musician, has been denouncing the absence of medical care for months.  Recently, she reiterated to this blog that the situation continues the same, or worse.

Ever since Angel Yunier is in prison they have not done any tests on him to see how his health is and there have been absolutely no follow-ups“, denounces Roseyo, “currently, my husband is having a serious crisis of pain which happens every day because of the gastritis.  He receives no medications for this and the authorities also do not provide him an adequate diet either“. Yudisbel adds that Angel may have an ulcer but this has not been confirmed due to the refusal of the authorities to provide medical exams.

Meanwhile, State Security has upped the tactics of vigilance and harassment against both Yudisbel and Angel.  In one of the most recent cases of manipulation, the regime’s intelligence apparatus has used Remon Arzuaga’s ex wife to harass Yudisbel.

Yunier has an ex wife with which he had a child a couple of years ago and now she is working together with State Security and together they have tried to sue Yunier with the pretext that he has not provided the necessary amount of money for child support“, explains Roseyo Mojena, who assures that this has happened because the police cannot accuse her husband of having committed any crime.  He is in prison because of his activism and because of that, the State turns to such practices.

Yudisbel Roseyo

What his ex wife is alleging is completely false, considering that Angel has always provided the required amount of money for her.  But now she says she wants a higher amount because, in her own words, ‘Angel is receiving money from the exterior’“, she adds.

The same accuser has been trying to create problems with Yudisbel, accusing her of random false crimes out in the middle of the street.  Yudisbel confirms that she has often seen the woman alongside State Security agents.

The vigilance against me by State Security and the National Revolutionary Police is also constant“, says Roseyo, highlighting a recent case on September 18th when a group of Ladies in White from Bayamo, Granma met at one of their homes to carry out their monthly meeting.  When the activity came to an end, Yudisbel was followed by two police vehicles.

Lieutenant Colonel Julio Cesar (the same one who is falsely accusing Yunier of attempt and who put him in prison) interrogated me and harassed me.  Alongside other agents, he told me that he could stop me whenever he felt like it and that he did not have to offer explanations“.

The young Bayamo native is frequently followed, even when she goes to the hospital to tend to health problems of her 7 month old son.

Angel Yunier ‘El Critico’, who also serves as a coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) for the province of Granma, is currently in a judicial limbo, without having had a trial and without any proof of having engaged in an actions of ‘attempt’.  His dissident posture, expressed through his music and activism, was what landed him in jail.

Listen below to the audio of Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena denouncing the lack of medical assistance for her husband in Las Mangas Prison (in Spanish): 

(NEWS UPDATE 9/24/13) – Dissident leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, national coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was arrested alongside other activists on September 23rd in Bayamo when they were going to participate in a symbolic wedding ceremony between Angel Yunier and Yudisbel.  The latter was also arrested.  After various hours detained, Ferrer Garcia reported via Twitter (@jdanielferrer) that a common prisoner was able to phone him from prison and confirm that Angel Yunier ‘El Critico’ was savagely beat by authorities in prison and taken to a punishment cell.  More details soon. 

To contact Yudisbel Roseyo in Cuba:
+53-552-353
 

‘El Critico’ speaks from prison, exhorts Cubans to keep fighting for freedom

During these days, authorities of the Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo have been threatening jailed dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico” – who has been unjustly jailed since last March – with suspending his right to one weekly phone call.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise after the young musician recently established communication with some brothers in struggle, taking out a message of resistance from behind the bars in an audio which has circulated throughout various media outlets.

The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) published an audio message on their YouTube channel, in which Angel Yunier, who is also an activist of the mentioned pro-freedom group, described how it is to live in the dungeons of the dictatorship.  He pointed out a number of cases of inhumane treatment inside the prison, which include cases of medical negligence and physical abuses which have cost the lives of various prisoners.

He emphasized the case of Rogelio Ovidio, a common prisoner who took his own life after he was beat by his jailers and refused medical assistance when they informed him he could possibly be infested with HIV.

Remon Arzuaga found the body of Ovidio on July 29th.  “I saw his body…his head was broken, his right arm was injured and his back was full of bruises.  I found him at 2 in the morning and he had already hung himself…I didn’t know he was dead right away because he was being held in a dark cell.  I saw his silhouette and I thought he was just sitting down“, said Angel from prison.

He also denounced the horrible and nearly non-existent medical attention in the penitentiary center.   Angel Yunier was in a grave state of health, infected with cholera, and it wasn’t until a very advanced stage of the disease that he was treated by doctors.  He assures that at least three prisoners have died of this disease due to the lack of adequate attention in the center.

“Since July 1st, this prison has been affected by this sickness…they said it was a diarrhea pandemic but it was proven to be cholera“.  In regards to the conditions of the prisons and hospitals where he has been, Angel described them as places with “horrible food regiments and very poor hygienic conditions.  I can’t say that where they take us are hospitals…in reality they are concentration camps where sick prisoners are isolated in.  They take them there just to say they are receiving medical care.  All us prisoners are also mistreated and beat there“.

The rapper also echoed the case of his fellow partner in struggle and political prisoners Alexander Otero.  Both were arrested together on March 26th in Bayamo during a violent act of repudiation against Yunier’s house.  Otero suffered a facial paralysis in prison and has not been treated due to his ideas.

Otero suffered an injury on his right arm and has also not received medical attention.  For three months now, he’s been with his right arm tied up and hanging loose…he needs surgical intervention for that arm but they won’t give it to him.  He also suffered a facial paralysis on July 29th on the right side of his face. As of right now, he cannot speak and has lots of difficulty closing his right eye“.

After making these denouncements public, prison authorities threatened Angel Yunier with suspending his right to one weekly call, according to declarations made to this blog by his wife, Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena.

I found out about this when I went to the corresponding visit on Saturday, August 24th.  When I arrived, they passed me to a room to meet with a Major named Javier.  They also brought in Angel Yunier at that moment“, recounts Yudisbel, “when Yunier came in, they started to threaten him, saying that he does not have the right to call any other person that is not his direct family, and that if he did not obey these orders they would permanently suspend his right to a phone call for having committed an ‘indiscipline’“.

The call by Angel Yunier which they are referring to was with Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the UNPACU, who made the conversation public.

Yudisbel was also threatened and denounces that her husband was treated very poorly, “as if he were an animal and as if he had no rights to anything.  He considers some of his friends to be like family, but the authorities don’t care about that.  One official told him that he had to ask his Re-Educator for permission, and only if it was approved, then he would take the message to Major Javier for further approval.  He said that in the event that his request were approved, he had to write down all the personal data of the person being called“.

The young Cuban added that the prison authorities have placed a person – a collaborator of State Security – to watch everything that Remon Arzuaga does.  Later, this person is in charge of passing on the information to his superiors.

In addition, the agents said that when they suspend his phone access, they were going to make it clear that it was all Angel’s fault because he had committed an indiscipline, and also as my fault because I make his denouncements public.  They told Yunier right in front of me that he was going to ‘pay a very high price’ if he broke the rules.  They also threatened to suspend all his prison visits.  The agents also told Angel that it all depended on him, whether he behaved and followed the rules“, added Yudisbel.

In other words“, she adds, “they are trying to change his ideas, but they will not succeed because he is firm, now more than ever, and I also support him unconditionally“.

On his part, in the audio ‘El Critico’ called on all his compatriots and brothers and sisters of the opposition to maintain themselves “firm and strong” and “keep fighting“.

Today, many of us young Cubans have chosen to stand up in defense of our rights“, expressed the dissident rapper, jailed for making protest music and for being a pro-freedom activist.  He reminded all those Cubans who struggle that “nothing will detain us as long as there is will and desire to see a free and democratic Cuba“.

The declarations by Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga were taken from an audio published by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) on their YouTube channel, while all declarations by Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena were obtained during a conversation with this blog.

To communicate with Yudisbel in Cuba:

Cell Phone– +53-552-353

Jose Daniel Ferrer on ‘growing opposition and the power of information’

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 

Unjustly jailed dissident rapper, “El Critico”, has contracted cholera in prison (Updated 8/2/13)

Critico2

Ángel Yunier Remón Arzuaga, dissident rapper best known as ‘El Critico’ from the hip-hop duo The Unwanted Children (‘Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso’), has contracted cholera during his unjust imprisonment, according to a relative, Julia Rosa Pina, in an audio published by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (organization to which he also belongs) during dawn hours of August 1st.

“Angel Yunier, who is arbitrarily detained, is suffering from cholera right now and  they have reported his health as ‘critical””, declared Pina in the audio, adding that the young musician was taken to the Hospital of Manzanillo, far from his family and friends  from the opposition.

In reality we do not have all the details of the situation because these people [the regime] manipulate information…all we know is that they are saying he is ‘critical’ and that in Las Mangas Prison there are many cases of cholera, while in the city of Bayamo the situation has gotten out of hand and there are 3 people who have died due to the sickness“, added Julia.

In days past, Remon Arzuaga’s wife – Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena – had informed that Las Mangas Prison, where he was being held behind bars without a trial and in pure arbitrary fashion, had been put in quarantine due to a breakout of cholera.  Ironically, the rapper had given a discourse in his jail cell to various prisoners in regards to bad hygienic practices in the penitentiary.  This cost him a beating at the hands of a common prisoners being manipulated by State Security and now he suffers from cholera.

Relatives and activists, such as Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia (leader of UNPACU) have expressed profound worry for the life of Angel Yunier, who has been subjected to different forms of aggression and blackmail at the hands of the political police since his unjust arrest on March 26th, after he gave a public discourse in favor of freedom outside of his home in Bayamo.

Remon’s young wife has had to be on-top of his situation as much as possible all the while raising their 5 month year old son, who has barely even seen his father.

We are calling on the international community so that they please support this young man – Angel Yunier.  At this moment, he needs all the support he can get, as does his family, who just because they decided to fight for Cuba’s freedom have found that many people have turned their backs on them“, expressed Julia, “and that’s why I am sending out this message…we will not give up demanding his freedom“.

At the moment this news was put together, we had not been able to establish communication with the wife of the musician, considering that she does not have a cell phone because political police agents robbed and destroyed all communication equipment the family owned when they raided their home in March.

#PassItOn for Ángel Yunier Remón Arzuaga ‘El Critico’.  We cannot allow the death of another Cuban for simply speaking without censorship and working towards a new Cuba, as well as for making protest music.  #FreeElCritico

*** UPDATE 8/2/13Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena confirms that her husband, Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, has been returned to Las Mangas Prison in Bayamo at around 3 PM of August 1st.  She explained to this blog that the rapper is “just a bit better” but is still suffering from the effects of cholera.

Yudisbel recounts that Angel Yunier was taken to the Manzanillo Hospital on July 28th but no one informed her of this.  She found out about the situation through a friend who is a political prisoner who managed to briefly establish communication with her via phone.

Upon finding out the news, I went to the Manzanillo Hospital and there were many State Security and Ministry of the Interior agents there and they would not let anyone pass to the salon where Yunier was“, explained the young Cuban woman.  In addition, the authorities would not tell her, or any other family member, that it was cholera that the dissident was suffering from, but Yudisbel was able to confirm it afterward with a doctor.

State Security prohibited doctors from telling us that it was cholera and were lying and saying that it was just a contagious virus“, said Yudisbel, who publicly complained in the hospital.

Although Angel Yunier is back in Bayamo, closer to his family, Yudisbel highlights that his life still runs danger, considering that Las Mangas Prison has had numerous cases of cholera.

Thanks to a nurse who decided to help us, Yunier managed to send a note in which he explained that when he was taken to the Manzanillo Hospital there had already been more than 100 cases of cholera in Las Mangas Prison, where 4 of these people had already died.  He also wrote that medical attention in the mention prison is horrible as are the hygienic conditions“.

For more information from Cuba:

José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: + 53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena (relative’s phone): +23-445-762

Cuba: Increase in arbitrary robberies and arrests at the hands of the State

In the last couple of weeks in Cuba there has been an increase in the amount of arbitrary arrests and robberies of pro-democracy dissidents at the hands of the political police.

Various cases have been coming in from the Eastern region of the country.  The case of activist Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez and former political prisoner Dany Lopez de Moya, both member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, is one of them.

Yuniesky recounts that on Tuesday, July 23rd, as they both were leaving a meeting at the home of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UNPACU, when they were near the highway of Palma Soriano, members of the National Revolutionary Police and the political police intercepted them.  Agent Norberto was running the operation.

The agents intercepted the vehicle we were traveling in“, explained Dominguez to this blog, “then, the agents used forced to get us out, pulling our clothes and beating us.  They did the same thing with Dany’s son, 15 year old Frank Daniel Rodriguez“.

The first thing the agents did was to snatch all the belongings of the detainees.  “They took Frank Daniel’s phone and purposely spent the money he had on it as a form of blackmail.  They also robbed CDs, USBs and other things” which were never returned.  The discs were destroyed.

Yuniesky explains that the motive of breaking the CDs is to keep them from spreading throughout the population, considering that UNPACU members fill them with images of protests and activism not only of their movement, but of the opposition in general.

Similarly, on July 18th, the political police arrested youth activists Yoandri Montoya Aviles and Juannier Rodriguez in the city of Bayamo. Both dissidents are members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) and were arrested while they filmed a documentary for PalenqueVision, the audio-visual project of this group.  The equipment they were using were robbed.

Juannier, who has been victim of expulsions and blackmail at his university due to his ties with the opposition, recounts that they were just “chatting with other young people in Bayamo, working on a video about their day-to-day reality when police agents suddenly arrived and took our cameras, breaking one of them“.

The agents accused the activists of being “delinquents” and were detained by force, shoved inside a bus and taken to a police unit.  Afterward, Juannier Rodriguez was deported to Guantanamo, his province of residence, but he defied the authorities and returned to Bayamo.

On Monday, July 22nd, the Cuban regime carried out a violent operation against a number of members of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) in the province of Las Tunas as they paid tribute to Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero on the first anniversary of their death.

Ezequiel Morales Carmenate, leader of the MCL in that area, denounced that paramilitary mobs, made up by members of the Communist Party, the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution and the political police “assaulted the home of Roger Curbelo, the headquarters of the MCL in the municipality of Puerto Padre“.  The agents penetrated the house, beating activists and robbing a Cuban flag as well as signs honoring Paya and Cepero, also accusing the dictatorship of having to do with the events which occurred on July 22nd 2012.

In the municipality of Majibacoa the home of Elber Perez (another leader of the MCL) was also the scene of excessive violence when the mobs assaulted the house during night hours, robbing countless documents, CDs and other work instruments.

On his part, Yuniesky Dominguez said that the upcoming anniversary of the assault of the Moncada Barracks on July 26th by the movement led by the Castros, who assumed power through violence on 1959, “has the regime very worried“. Why?

Because the activism of the peaceful opposition has put the regime in danger.  We are not fighting with weapons, nor do we carry out acts of sabotage as the July 26th Movement did.  However, our weapon is still lethal, and it is our words, and we work so that the people know what we do against the dictatorship and in favor of human rights and the population“.

That’s why, the activist explains, that in its desperation the dictatorship turns to physical aggressions and robbery of materials used by dissident to work towards freedom.  Materials which are obtained by activists with much difficulty, considering that the majority of these things are sent from abroad by people who have joined in solidarity, or in some cases, bought by the dissidents themselves, at a very elevated price.

Caught on video: Unmeasurable violence against Lady in White in Santiago de Cuba

Mobs organized and made up by police agents of the Cuban regime carried out a violent attack against pro-freedom dissidents, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), in Altamira, Santiago de Cuba, on July 18th, 2013.

The violence occurred after several public demonstrations in the area demanding the release of all political prisoners and in solidarity with the everyday people.

State Security organized paramilitary mobs to surround the homes of activists in Altamira, throwing rocks, bottles, and shouting verbal offenses as well as arresting and beating various demonstrators.

One of the people who suffered the worst repression was Marina Paz, a member of the Ladies in White.  She was kicked, dragged, robbed and even stripped of her clothing by the State mobs.  A video published on the YouTube channel of UNPACU and narrated by ex political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia displays the moment of the aggressions (See minute 1:30):

But we can also witness another factor in the video, and that is that dissidents have responded with more activism out on the streets.  Don’t take my word for it.  The images speak for themselves.

Daniel Barriel recounts house raid, arrest and the solidarity which achieved his release

When dissident Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo, organizer of the “Zapata Lives” cell of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Santiago de Cuba, heard abrupt knocks on his door on the morning of June 28th and noticed that they were coming from agents of the Cuban political police, he knew there were going to be problems, all because of his pro-democracy activism.  The agents ordered him to open the door, but since they did not present a search warrant, Barriel refused.  Police officials kicked down the door, breaking parts of it and raiding the house.

Upon entering my home, the 6 agents rushed towards me“, recounted the young dissident, “they started to beat me in front of my wife and my 5 year old son“.

Barriel was aggressively handcuffed (he still has the marks) and he was forcefully taken out of his home while still wearing underwear and shoved into a police vehicle.  He was taken to the Operations Unit of Versalles.

The police agents were accusing the activist of having painted messages against the Cuban regime on top of a mural with images of dictators Fidel and Raul Castro.    Daniel denies this, not because he is against the gesture, but because he explains that his activism is “public” and he does not have to hide his actions.

Upon arriving to the unit, they put me into an inhumane cell with only enough room for 2 prisoners which were already there.  One of these prisoners was an assassin and the other was a marijuana dealer“, said Barriel, who assures that he was victim of “psychological tortures” at the hands of State Security agents who continuously warned him that they would “disappear” him and that he “would not see the light of day again“.

The Santiago native adds that he was interrogated 2 more times and was then moved to another cell at around 4 in the afternoon, where the threats that he would go to prison continued.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UNPACU, explains that the Versalles Unit is known for the psychological tortures against detainees, as agents “try to break the will-power of the dissident and try to convince them to drop out of the opposition movement“.

In this torture process the detainees are usually kept for various days, weeks or months, but in the case of Daniel Barriel he was released the same day.  “All of this is due to the brave response of more than 40 of our activists“, explains Ferrer.

Numerous activists “met at the home of Barriel in the Sueno Neighborhood and publicly declared that they were going to take to the streets to protest“, recounts the former political prisoner.

Upon seeing the intelligent ad rapid response of the dissidents, the police decided to surround them in the house and brought members of the Rapid Response Brigades (paramilitary group) who tend to attack human rights defenders with weapons such as sticks, rocks, metal objects, etc”.  Despite this, the demonstrators remained firm and ready to go out to the street.

The persistence of the activists led the police to release Barriel Sanjurjo.

Suddenly, a couple of agents visited me and told me that there was a process open against me for the crime of writing over the murals and that they would summon me again to the unit, but that I would be released for the time being“, recounts the activist.  At the same time, Barriel’s mother received a phone call from a police agent asking her to please keep the more than 40 activists “calm” because they were going to release her son.

Daniel details that he was taken to his home in a police vehicle.  Upon arriving, he  noticed the presence of mobs who were carrying out an act of repudiation.  He pointed out that the aggressors were all officials or members of paramilitary groups but “none of them were neighbors or everyday people“.

Barriel pointed out that he was still in danger of going to prison, considering that the police told him accusations against him were  still open.  Regardless, he thanked all dissidents who showed solidarity with him during his arrest and affirmed that he will continue carrying out his work as director of the “Zapata Lives” Cell of UNPACU, which is made up mostly of young activists who define their activism with public activities on the streets, such as marches or the handing out of pro-freedom pamphlets.

This effort of working together and using pressure to achieve the liberation of a detained activist is not an isolated case.  This Monday, July 1st, for example, 3 activists were detained in the municipality of Banes, Holguin, among them Rafael Meneses Pupo.

The 3 were released from the National Revolutionary Police Unit when Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, member of the Ladies in White and of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, and her husband Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir carried out a protest inside the unit.

Cases such as these “prove that the political police doesn’t feel sure of itself, not even with their own officials“, while everyday citizens and the organized opposition continue gaining space, expresses Jose Daniel Ferrer.

For more information from Cuba, contact:
Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo – Cell Phone: +53-388-130

Details about house raid and arrest of a dissident in Santiago de Cuba

Daniel Barriel

On the morning of Friday, June 28th, the political police raided the home of activist Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo, of UNPACU, in Santiago de Cuba, beating him and later arresting him.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the pro-freedom group, sent out a document with details of these aggressions and denouncing the rise of violence against the Cuban opposition.  The document has been published via Twitter by the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez (@anyerantoniobla).

Here’s my English translation:

—-

Another assault, more arbitrary beatings and arrests of UNPACU members

Santiago de Cuba, June 28th 2013

At around 7 AM, more than a dozen Political Police and National Police agents violently raided the home of Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo, secretary of the “Zapata Lives” Cell of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), located on E Street, between 5 and 6th, Sueno Neighorhood, in Santiago de Cuba.  Lieutenant Colonel Dorquis and Captain Julio Fonseca led the assault.

Daniel Barriel was beat inside his house, in front of his wife Yileisis Chaovin and their two underage children.  He was then dragged out (in underwear) and taken to the Political Police Unit in Alturas de Versalles, in the southern part of the city.

The home was searched for more than two hours and the agents ended up taking three cell phones, various CDs, USB drives with audio-visual material, printouts and one photo camera.

Daniel Barriel and the “Zapata Lives” Cell, which is mainly made up of young dissidents, have been carrying out a series of important pro-democracy activities in the city of Santiago de Cuba.  This is why the regime has acted against them with such aggression.  On UNPACU’s YouTube channel a number of these videos have been published, showcasing their creativity and their dynamic attitude.

In the last 22 months, members of UNPACU have been victims of countless house raids, robbery, beatings, arbitrary detentions and imprisonment for political reasons, as occurs against all peaceful dissidents in Cuba.

Recently, Gohart Cruz Zamora, secretary of the “Harold Cepero” Cell in Altamira, Santiago de Cuba, was victim of a machete attack on his left shoulder.  The political police awarded the aggressor, who committed a crime of “attempt of murder”, with food and other benefits which promise to not process him or to evict him from the hut he lives in.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia

Executive Secretary of UNPACU

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Jose Daniel Ferrr – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer

*Note: Daniel Barriel appears in this video handing out pro-freedom literature in Santiago de Cuba recently. 

Cuba: SOS for 3 hunger strikers on the verge of death

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.

They are:

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

Osvaldo after house raid and beating in September 2012

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.

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