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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia
November 19, 2013Posted by on
This new graphic design by digital artist Rolando Pulido says a lot in just one picture after the UN voted – once again – the Cuban dictatorship to form part of the Human Rights Council of this organization which defines itself as a promoter of rights and freedoms for all people. It shows dictator Raul Castro surrounded by the images of just some of his victims – Laura Pollan, Wilman Villar Mendoza, Juan Wilfredo Soto, Oswaldo Paya, Harold Cepero and Orlando Zapata Tamayo. Pictured on the upper left is also an image of Raul Castro preparing an assassination of a young Cuban in the early 60’s.
May 9, 2013Posted by on
This 8th of May, 2013, marked the second anniversary of the death of dissident Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia after a beating by the political police in the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara province.
As had been reported from inside the island through social networks, a number of activists in Santa Clara set out to pay tribute to the fallen dissident when they were impeded by police forces from arriving to the cemetery to deposit flowers.
Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, a baptist pastor and an independent blogger, had more details on his Twitter account (@maritovoz).
“Friends of Juan Wilfredo Soto paid tribute to him through march from park to cemetery and was strongly repressed by State Security upon their arrival”, said one message.
The activist identified some of the repressive agents who were in charge of the operation.
Pablo Echemendia, chief of Confrontation for the province, was one of the main ones. “He played a crucial role 2 years ago when they killed Juan Wilfredo Soto”.
Other agents which were present, according to Lleonart Barroso, were Captain Conde, First Lieutenant Misael, Major Adolby Gil, Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Yanez and Captain Yuniel Monteagudo. All of these are well known oppressors in that central province.
“I had held State Security responsible for Soto’s life 2 years ago, and now because of my denouncements, in the name of God I hold State Security responsible for my own life”, expressed Lleonart in another tweet.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Mario Félix Lleonart Barroso- Cell Phone: +53-382-508 / Twitter: @maritovoz
May 8, 2013Posted by on
This Wednesday, May 8th 2013, marks 2 years since human rights activist Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia died after a beating at the hands of the political police in the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara province, in Cuba.
Soto was beat by agents on May 5th 2011 in the mentioned city for the simple fact that he was out on the street carrying out a completely peaceful demonstration against the regime. He was urgently rushed to a hospital where he died three days later, on Mother’s Day.
He was 46 years old and was a proud father.
Members of Cuba’s internal opposition have considered Soto Garcia to be one of the many martyrs in the fight for freedom in the country, and have even used his name to create new pro-democracy groups.
“My friend Juan Wilfredo Soto (#JWS) was assassinated 2 years ago in Cuba for thinking differently”, wrote blogger and Baptist Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart on his Twitter account (@maritovoz), “God will do justice very soon for the assasination of Juan Wilfredo Soto, Oswaldo Paya, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Laura Pollan and many others”, signaled another message.
Meanwhile, dissident GuillermoFariñas wrote on his Twitter account (@chirusa32) that on the second anniversary of Soto’s death, 16 activists were impeded by political police forces to enter the cemetery where the remains of Soto Garcia lay in Santa Clara. Another 4 were arrested.
Friends of the dissident lovingly referred to Juan Wilfredo Soto as “The Student“.
His death has not been in vain.
August 18, 2012Posted by on
The dissident leader suffered strong chest and head pains during his arrest but was denied medical assistance in police unit and local Placetas Hospital. Meanwhile, activist Atruro Conde Zamora was threatened by police agents that they would fabricate him a crime in order to disappear him.
At around 9 AM on the morning of Friday, August 17th, the renown dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” was arrested by the political police along with Arturo Conde Zamora, also an activist, when they were both on their way to carry out a civic demonstration in front of a Jose Marti monument in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara. According to Antunez, the activity was going to be in condemnation of the deaths of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas and Harold Cepero Escalante, as well as other dissidents like Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Wilman Villar Mendoza, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, and Laura Pollan.
He also explained that other members of the Resistance had plans to join the protest. “Blas Fortun Martinez, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Xiomara Martinez Jimenez, Donaida Perez Paceiros and Yaite Cruz Sosa all had plans to meet up with us to join the activity“, said Antunez, but it was not possible at that moment.
Antunez explained that the arrest was violent and both men were taken to the Placetas Police Unit where they were confined to pestilent cells for 24 hours. During the detention, Antunez started to suffer “strong pains in the chest, head, and on the right eye“. The activist acquired many health issues during the 17 year prison term he was sentenced to in the 90’s for carrying out a peaceful demonstration against the Cuban regime. When his brother- Loreto Hernandez Garcia- went to the police unit at around 11 PM and tried to give him medicines for the pains he was suffering, the authorities flat out told him that this was not allowed. The activist did not receive medical attention during his time in the cell.
While the activists- both who are members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front- remained detained, the group of dissidents which was going to initially join the protest that morning decided to carry out their own demonstration outside the home of Antunez. His wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, also a leading dissident and president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, explained to various news sources like “Radio Republica” and “Radio Marti” that the group took to the streets and started to shout slogans like “Water, food, the people are dying”, “Freedom for Antunez and Conde Zamora”, and “Towards the National Strike”. These activities were closely watched by State Security agents but no arrests were reported.
Antunez also denounced that Arturo Conde Zamora received threats and insults during his time detained. “One of the officials told him: ‘Nigger, if you do not get out of the opposition we are going to fabricate a common crime for you and take you out of circulation’“. These tactics are common in Cuba, where countless dissidents have been taken to prison or have been fined for heavy sums for crimes they have never committed.
At around 9 AM of Saturday, Agusut 18th, Arturo Conde and Antunez were released. In the case of the latter, he was still suffering strong chest pains, so he tried to get checked at the Placetas Hospital, but once he arrived there he was told that they could not tend to him under the excuse that there were not enough doctors present.
Once Antunez returned to his home in Placetas he noticed that the cordons of police agents were still there, watching over all of his actions. Although he still feels some chest pains, Antunez- the secretary general of the Orlando Zapata National Resistance Front- affirmed that he feels “more firm and decided than ever” of his position: that he will “not shut up, and not leave Cuba“.
For more information from Cuba:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’- Cell Phone: +5352-731-656 // Twitter: @antunezcuba
October 19, 2011Posted by on
In memory and honor of Laura Pollan
Although a few days have passed since the death of Laura Pollan, I have not been able to update the blog during this time. The following report not only serves as proof of the constant repression in Cuba, but also as a tribute to Laura, considering that this Lady in White dedicated the majority of her time to resisting the Cuban dictatorship and fighting for human rights. In my opinion, like in the opinion of many other Cubans inside and outside of the island, the death of Pollan was the fault of the Castro regime. Some have said that the strange infection which she suffered from during her last days, which led her to the intensive care unit of the Calixto Garcia Hospital, was the product of a lethal injection given to her at the hands of government mobs- a theory which I do not in any way doubt, for they are very capable of this and much worse, and this must be kept into consideration. And, let’s say, that there was no lethal injection. Regardless, the reality is that the constant mob repudiation attacks, the brutal beatings, the blackmailing, and the harassment against this brave woman did play a crucial part in the deterioration of her health, and ultimately, her death.
The news of her death has been a very difficult blow for all Cubans, for that hurt, but not weak, resistance. Threatened, but not afraid. The example and spirit of Pollan will continue guiding the resistance, and no dictatorship can ever stop that.
Laura Pollan: A Cuban Repressed by the Regime, a Cuban Loved by her Compatriots
In less than two years, three known figures among the Cuban resistance have been killed by the Castro dictatorship- Orlando Zapata Tamayo in February of 2010, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia in May of 2011, and the most recent- Laura Pollan Toledo during this month of October 2011. And as has occurred after each one of these deaths, the funerary acts have been marked by the regime’s repression against dissidents and all those family and friends who wished to pay their final tributes to the victim.
It was around 7 PM on Friday, October 14th, when the news arrived. “Laura Pollan has passed away“, read various Tweets straight out of the island, after she had spent a little over a week in the intensive care unit of the Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana. From the very moment that her death was confirmed, Cubans in and out of the island mobilized to express their solidarity, their pain, and deep frustration. In Miami, Cubans shocked by the news- among them Reina Luisa Tamayo- congregated outside the popular local Versailles Cuban Restaurant, while the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity kept its doors open all night, offering a place to pray for the soul of the dignified Lady in White.
In Cuba, the pain shared by dissidents and relatives of Pollan was not respected by the dictatorship, which was expected. The political police and the National Police carried out an aggressive operation throughout the island, including in Holguin where dissidents Caridad Caballero Batista and Isabel Pena Torres were trying to get to the local bus station to travel to Havana to be present in the wake of Laura Pollan and express their solidarity with her relatives. “It was around 2:40 AM when we were intercepted on the street by National Police and State Security agents who shoved us in police vehicles and took us to the the Pedernales Unit“, the detainment center notorious for its completely dark cells and the aggression which functionaries treat inmates with, “The arrest was very violent, they pushed onto the vehicle, and State Security even gave orders to drag us through the floor“. The activists were kept in separate cells. Caridad added that on Sunday, at around 4 in the afternoon, a lieutenant by the name of Armando Rivera snatched the few belongings of Isabel Pena Torres which included documents of her medical history. Upon seeing this document, officer Rivera tore it to pieces and threw them on the floor. After an interrogation session and an aggressive beat down, Isabel had to pick up the pieces herself. Caridad and Isabel were later released from the dark and humid cells at around 8 PM on Saturday.
Caridad Caballero also informed of other violent arrests in other eastern parts of the country. “In Velasco, Holguin, Yonart Rodriguez Avila and his mother Mariblanca Avila were both detained as they tried to head to Havana. Instead they spent the night in prison cells“, while similarly “In Sagua, Anni Sarrion Romero and Milagros Leiva Ramirez, whom were traveling from Moa, were arrested at around 1:30 AM. Both women were beat off the bus by State Security and Political Police agents”. Caballero adds that despite the fact that she was detained for hours, her home remained surrounded by government agents the entire time.
During that same somber night when the news of Laura Pollan began to spread, police vehicles and G2 (Secret Police) agents immediately surrounded the home of former political prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia in the eastern town of Palmarito de Cauto. Ferrer’s wife, Belkis Cantillo, also tried to get to the funeral of Laura Pollan together with Aime Garces and Tania Montoya. The three women were arrested at around 11 PM. They were taking to the Police Unit of Contramaestre and from there they were transferred to the the 3rd National Revolutionary Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba, where they remained until Monday. Various activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) also suffered violent arrests- Leudis Fajardo Rivera, Martín Ruíz González, Mario Antonio Brocal Borges, Bárbaro Tresol Verdecía, Omar Wilson Estévez, Omar Pérez Torres, Yilian Pérez Sarrión, and Gerardo Guerrero Sarrión.
In Manzanillo, dissidents from the Independent and Democratic Cuban Party (CID) denounced that various activists from this same group had been detained, among them Juan Eduardo Salgado Jurado, Enrique Piñeiro Azahares, Abdel Mecochini Avalos, Manuel Enrique Peláez, Ramón Enamorado and Roberto Jurado Salgado as they tried to get to Moncada Avenue where they would take part in the signing of the condolences book for Laura Pollan. A few hours later, Ubaldo Manuel León suffered a mob repudiation attack in that same town.
In Banes, on Sunday October 16th there was a mass held in which various attendees prayed for Laura. The mass was assisted by dissidents Marta Diaz Rondon and Vivian Tamayo Ramayo. Upon concluding the services, both Rondon and Ramayo tried traveling to Holguin to join in solidarity with their fellow detained dissidents but they were arrested at around 11:30 AM and released at 1:50 PM. Ariel Cruz Meneses, Rafael Meneses Pupo, and Dayami Romero Ortiz were also arrested, at around 7:00 AM and released at 12 in the afternoon.
Former political prisoner of conscience Pedro Arguelles Moran reported that on the same night of Laura’s death, the regime’s police forces surrounded his home in Ciego de Avila, impeding him, and anyone else inside, from stepping outside to travel to the capital. The situation was repeated throughout the country, in a wide range of cities and provinces, while in Havana, the Maseda-Pollan family (accompanied by dissidents and friends) bid their final farewells to Laura Pollan. She was cremated a few hours later. The pastor and independent blogger, Ricardo Medina was present during the wake with his wife Katia Sonia Martin, also a Lady in White. Medina provided religious services for Pollan and published an excellent account which detailed the emotions of that somber moment on his blog. He also reported that his wife, Katia, and other women were intercepted by State Security agents on Sunday October 16th as they were taking floral arrangements to the Santa Rita Church . The government agents snatched their flowers and hurled them on the floor, destroying the arrangement altogether. Katia also suffered an arrest.
Even among so much pain and repression, solidarity and international support emerges
Although this has been a very difficult stage for the Cuban resistance, it is also important to point out that the devastating news of Laura Pollan’s death has also given way to an important emergence of solidarity amongst Cubans inside and outside of the island.
Some of these displays of solidarity have been:
Activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) demonstrated throughout the streets of Moa, Holguin, with signs which read ‘Laura has not died’ and ‘Laura, we will continue your struggle’. In Santiago de Cuba, Father Jose Conrado decided to dedicate his Sunday mass in the Church of Santa Teresita to Laura Pollan, while archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez did the same in another church. According to Jose Daniel Ferrer, various homes throughout the country declared themselves “in mourning”, hanging up signs honoring the fallen leader of the Ladies in White.
“Although it has been very sad for all of us, The Ladies in White and Ladies in Support will continue fighting for freedom, just like Laura always did. For us, she has not died. Laura continues to be alive in spirit, and she will be among us and guiding us, giving us strength to continue fighting against those who assassinated her. And we can say that, yes, she was killed, the government killed Laura through their countless beatings and even the disease she suffered from in her last days, which we cannot rule out the possibility that it was contracted at the hands of government mobs“, declares Caridad Caballero Batista from Holguin. From Placetas, Antunez declared through his Twitter account, “Laura, your brothers from the resistance are honoring you with the Resistance and Dignity Award“, while in Havana, the blogger Yoani Sanchez sported a T-shirt with Laura Pollan’s image all day in public, while also blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo handed the family in mourning a book of condolences.
On Sunday, a mass was dedicated in Havana to Laura Pollan in the Church of Santa Rita. It was accompanied by the weekly march of the Ladies in White, for the first time without their leader. It was attended by her husband, Hector Maseda, as well as Berta Soler and her husband Angel Moya, including many other Ladies and White and dissidents. Berta Soler declared that the movement of the Ladies in White had suffered a very strong blow but that it is emerging with much more strength, and that they would continue to be active and united in the name of Laura Pollan.
In the United States, various political figures joined Cuban dissidents in solidarity, from president Barrack Obama to Cuban-American legislators such as Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Marco Rubio, as well as Florida State Senator Bill Nelson. Other international leaders, from countries such as Spain and France, also offered condolences.
Cuban exiles in Tampa announced that there will be a march in honor of Pollan on Sunday, October 23rd, while Cubans in Madrid- in their majority former political prisoners from the Black Spring- also dedicated a mass to Laura.
During the Sunday Mass of October 16th, Miami’s Sanctuary for the Virgin of Charity (La Ermita de la Caridad) dedicated their services to Pollan, praying for her dignified soul. Attending were many former political prisoners and Ladies in White now in exile, who filled the sanctuary with white. The owner of Miami’s popular Versailles Cuban Restaurant- Felipe Vals- hung various signs throughout the locale which read ‘Zapata Lives and Laura Pollan Lives”, along with a note of admiration on behalf of Vals to Pollan which was placed at the entrance of the constantly busy restaurant. And as soon as the news came out, Miami Dade College announced that it would offer a scholarship which would carry the name of Laura Pollan.
Also in Miami, a number of exiled Cuban women have called on the community to carry out a vigil in memory of Laura Pollan, as well as to denounce the atrocities committed by the regime which lead to her death. The activity will take place on Friday, October 21st and will include the presence of a diverse range of exiled pro-freedom organizations such as MAR por Cuba, the Coalition of Cuban American Women, the Cuban Democratic Directorate, Exile United, Young Cubans in Action, and the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights (in exile). Meanwhile, Cuban musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan have announced that they are planning a massive event in honor of Pollan and in solidarity with the Ladies in White and Cuban resistance in general. After the assassination of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on February of 2010 and after the brutal beat down of the Ladies in White on March of 2010, the Estefans carried out a march in Miami which was attended by more than 100,000 people marching down 8th street, dressed in white, and flowers at hand.
Another Cuban figure has joined the list of heroes and patriots which have lost their lives for dedicating their efforts for achieving Cuba’s freedom, and although deeply pained, we can now say, with certainty (among many others) that Pedro Luis Boitel Lives! Orlando Zapata Tamayo Lives! Juan Wilfredo Soto Lives! and yes, Laura Pollan Lives!
July 18, 2011Posted by on
This Saturday, July 16th, the National Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front convoked a meeting in the city of Placetas, in Santa Clara. Because of this totally peaceful convocation, political police officials rapidly responded with aggression and arrests against dissidents which were traveling to Placetas from diverse regions of the country. Among those arrested are Juan Luis Perez Garcia, Guillermo Rodriguez, Mauri Emilio Ortiz Arredondo, Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, and Joan David Gonzalez. Meanwhile, a ring of more than 200 armed officials surrounded the home of Antunez, where the reunion was to take place.
As a result of all the violence and the arrests carried out against the dissidents, the activist leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez”, together with his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera and other activists from the OZT National Front, organized a “pots and pans” protest at 9 pm on the night of Sunday, July 17th.
We were able to record the audio of this civic protest and it may be heard below the text. During the protest, the participants explained that the ring of armed officials remained outside the house, even pulling out a megaphone and blasting music at full volume in an attempt to drown out the voices of the protestors. The human rights activists also pointed out that some children were incorporated into the mob of armed police officers, apparently ready for any orders to oppress or harass. Regardless, the dissidents continued their protest with the purpose of “denouncing the brutality which opposition members and members of the National OZT Front are subjected to“, and of “demanding freedom for those recently arrested for political reasons“. Antunez then reaffirmed that the demonstration was “dedicated to Boitel, to Zapata, to Wilfredo Soto (all three dissidents were killed by the regime), to Maceo, Jose Marti…to the resistance…to our brothers of the Assembly of the Resistance…“
In total, there were 17 members of the National OZT Front who took part, ringing their pots and pans and screaming slogans against the dictatorship and in favor of freedom. The activities commenced a few minutes after 9. “We do not want dialogue with the Castro tyranny“, added Antunez. This declaration was followed by chants of “dialogue no, resistance yes” and a strong declaration of “rights must be demanded in the street, with actions“. Antunez also named all dissidents who had been arrested during the weekend, along with the region of the country they represent.
“We do not have weapons,” declared Antunez, “the only things we can use as weapons is the truth, justice, and courage“.
Below is the audio, in Spanish. Please excuse the quality, there were audio problems on both sides.
Three Dissidents from Placetas Narrate the Violence which Occurred Against Them and Yris Perez Aguilera
May 30, 2011Posted by on
In the island of Cuba, the act of peacefully commemorating national heroes who have lost their lives while they have fought for the countries freedom- as has been the case with Pedro Luis Boitel and Orlando Zapata Tamayo- results in detainment, arrests, beatings, and large scale violence on behalf of the regime. That dictatorship’s status quo allows and defends such actions.
As a result of the protests and demonstrations which took place from May 13th on, under the title of Boitel & Zapata Live On Protest, dozens of dissidents were violently confronted by agents of Castro’s regime. Perhaps one of the most brutal of these events took place in Placetas, Villa Clara.
Activists from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front and from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights were arrested during the afternoon hours of May 25th, right when the Boitel-Zapata Protest was culminating and after a public march. Among these dissidents were Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez”, Idania Yanes Contrera, Alcides Rivera Rodriguez, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, and also Adriano Castaneda Meneses, an active member of the Orlando Zapata Civic Front who, in conversation with this blog, narrates, “During the closing of the Boitel-Zapata Live On Protest (which we also dedicated to Juan Wilfredo Garcia Soto who we lovingly referred to as ‘The Student’), we were carrying out a completely peaceful and silent march in which the participants were wearing their clothes inside out as a form of protest“.
Despite just how peaceful this march was, the authorities of the regime rapidly responded. “State Security really just feared other actions so they militarized the entire city of Placetas because they became very scared knowing that the people would join the opposition,” says Castaneda Meneses. As it tends to happen on the island, upon seeing that the dissidents were not giving in, regime officials began to carry out the beatings. “The women were beat, especially Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera. She was excessively beat by the State Security official whose last name is Veliz and who goes by the nickname of ‘The Weightlifter’. This agent is nothing else than a criminal who receives orders to beat defenseless women. Imagine that, if they beat innocent women what can we expect? We already know how this dictatorship behaves“, states Adriano.
After the beatings came the arrests. Under a government like the one which has ruled Cuba for 52 years (and which continues doing so), many times dissidents are used to reporting or being victims of arrests by the political police. However, on this specific occasion there was a very deep concern lingering over all for the life of Yris Tamara Perez, since she suffers from various serious health conditions and had received a very aggressive beating. The independent journalist and member from the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement, Donaida Perez Paceiro recounts, “After the arrests, at around 5 in the afternoon we received the news that Yris Tamara was unconscious in the Placetas General Hospital due to the (false) reason of hyperglycemia“. Upon receiving this news, the activist headed out straight to hospital with two other dissidents from the Rosa Parks Movement- Graciela Paceiro Espinosa and Yaimara Reyes Mesa. “When we arrived to the hospital we saw the State Security agent Veliz, aka ‘The Weightlifter’, (the same one who beat Yris) and with a very rude attitude he turned to go look for the doctor so that he could explain what was wrong with Yris“. Perez Paceiro recalls that, for a very long time, neither the agent or the doctor came out to give them explanations. When the door finally opened agent Veliz came out once more. “He told me that Yris Tamara was detained and that the doctor said she did not need a companion“.
While they were at the hospital trying to inquire about Yris Tamara’s health, the dissidents still had their clothes inside out from the peaceful march which had taken place a few hours prior. And precisely for that same reason, they were blackmailed even more. “Graciela Paceiro Espinosa, who is an elderly woman who is nearly 70 years old, stood before agent Veliz. He then told her that if she wanted to proceed and see Yris Tamara then she had to adjust her clothes on correctly. That elderly woman, right there before his face, responded by saying, ‘If to pass and see my sister in cause Yris I have to take fix my clothes, then I will do it’. And just like that, in front of all those agents, she took of her pants and blouse, turning them as they are supposed to be worn and put them back on. This was just blackmail because in the end they did not let her pass regardless,” expresses Donaida. This occurred while Donaida and Yaimara began to check throughout the hospital for Yris. They took the elevator up to the second floor and found nothing. The same occurred in the third floor. The dissidents noticed they were being watched but they ignored this and continued on their search. Donaida narrates, “Once we went back to the front desk to ask for Yris, and while we screamed anti-governmental slogans, I told Yaimara to run and were able to sneak into the back door of the hospital. There we were able to witness how they were pushing and dragging Yris, despite the fact that she was still in a deplorable state of health. She was grabbing onto the fence along the stairs and screaming so that we would hear her because they were trying to keep her hidden. I told them to let me accompany her on the police car because she was far too weak to be alone and they were trying to assassinate her“.
Afterwards, Donaida and Yaimara were also beaten and detained in the same way. While they were in jail cells they realized what really had happened to Yris. “It had noting to do with hypoglycemia as they had told us, but it was that, at the moment of her arrest, ‘The Weightlifter’ threw Yris’ head on the pavement while he was passing her from one cop car to another. In other words, Yris was unconscious because of the savage beating given to her by ‘The Weightlifter’. And this same agent also beat up Idania who also had severe pain on her leg and had to limp,” tells Donaida. “We were in cells, and around 10 at night Alcides and Idania were taken out and tossed into a Special Brigade car. Five minutes later, Yris Tamara Aguilera was taken out in a deplorable state of health, with numbness in her hands, head pains, vomit, and nausea. We had to be aware of whether she closed her eyes or not because we feared that she would die. Then, that bus which Idania was in did not head out until Yris was thrown in Police Car 275“.
Donaida and Yaimara were released at around 10 at night and both dissidents headed to the home of the well-known Jorge Luis “Antunez” who was still detained just like his wife Yris. They spent the night there and carried out a protest so that their companions in struggle would be released. They remained their until the morning of the 27th when Antunez was finally released. Two hours later, Yris was also released. Donaida recalls that, “Yris was dropped off as if she was an animal. Despite the conditions she was in, they threw her from the car onto the corner of the house. She was very weak and in a very bad state of health all thanks to the beating from that State Security agent who is a terrorist“.
Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera
“I have lived a very difficult and painful period. I really thought they had killed her (Yris),” said Antunez with a tone marked by worry but also by firmness, after having spent three days refusing to eat or drink anything. Right when he was released, the Placetas dissident quickly sent out Twitter messages informing the world that he would maintain his hunger strike until his wife returned home. When Yris returned, Antunez sent out another series of messages which describd the state Yris was in- with clothes full of blood stains and in a very weak state. “I believe it is another victory for the resistance, but what has just happened is also very alarming,” Antunez affirms. “The regime is willing to kill. They already did it with Orlando Zapata Tamayo, they did it with Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, and they tried doing it on May 25th to Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera“.
Meanwhile, Adriano Castaneda Meneses assures that, despite all the repression and violence against them, “The Front will continue working through their civic and peaceful struggle to achieve the long awaited freedom of Cuba, for the benefit of all Cubans in whatever part of the world they reside in“. After such difficult moments, the dissident Donaida Paceiro opts for not resting either, declaring, “They call us terrorists, but the real terrorists are them. And that official, ‘The Weightlifter’, I am responsibly accusing him, before all Cubans, before all the international human rights organizations, and before all the world, of having been a participant in the assassination of The Student (Juan Wilfredo Soto) and having nearly assassinated Yris Tamara. And this cannot continue happening“.
Antunez, although relieved in the sense that he can once again be alongside his wife, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, warns that danger and worry have not faded. “The fact that Yris is here, back home, and apparently recuperating does not mean that she is not in danger. She can barely walk, or barely move for that matter. Anything that happens related to her health within the next couple of days or months is the fault of the political police which beat her“.
Note: After this report was transcribed, and after Yris had been home for hours, Antunez sent out various Twitter messages explaining that Yris was suffering very serious head aches and dizziness. Later, she was admitted to a hospital once again and the doctor dismissed her situation.
May 26, 2011Posted by on
The Boitel-Zapata Live On Protest began on May 13th and culminated on the 25th. The objective of this annual protest has always been to pay tribute to Pedro Luis Boitel, and this year it also had the purpose of marking the birth of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, both dissidents who were murdered by the Cuban regime.
From the moment the protest was announced various anti-government activities took place throughout the entire island. The protest kicked off with a “pots and pans” demonstration (where participants ring their pots and casseroles with spoons and sticks) in Placetas and continued on with much solidarity and many demonstrations, and also with a high level of repression against each participant of the protest.
The Cuban Democratic Directorate is reporting on their web page that dissidents Jorge Luis “Antunez”, his wife Yris Tamara Perez, and activists Idania Yanez and Alcides Rivera Rodriguez were all violently arrested in Placetas after they all participated in a public march. According to the report, Yris Tamara Perez was then taken to the hospital in a state of unconsciousness after her brutal arrest. Afterwards, three other activists arrived to the hospital to check on Yris but were quickly arrested in the same manner.
In Pinar del Rio the dissident Raul Risco Perez explained, also to the Cuban Directorate, that various activists from the zone also carried out a “pots and pans” protest to mark the conclusion of the tribute, only to quickly be surrounded by political police agents in a matter of a few minutes.
In the early morning hours of the 25th Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was reporting through “Hablalo Sin Miedo” (an automated voice message system which allows dissidents to record denouncements of acts of repression against them) that an oppressive crackdown was unleashed on numerous dissidents in the Palma Soriano area. Various mob attacks and arrests would later occur here.
In the afternoon, the Eastern activist Marta Diaz Rondon walked to the cemetery where the remains of the Cuban martyr Orlando Zapata Tamayo reside, in order to take a floral arrangement and to pray for his soul. We were able to speak to her for this blog.
“A repressive crackdown has been carried out against all peaceful dissidents in Cuba. During morning hours the homes of various dissidents were surrounded. Here in Banes, Ariel Cruz Meneses and Rafael Cruz Meneses were both detained as they were walking towards my house. Ariel was beaten and they fractured his forehead; all of this was done by the political police“, explained Diaz Rondon.
Upon seeing such a heavy police presence in her town of Banes, the activist had to travel clandestinely to the cemetery, walking through high grasses and sugar cane fields under the scorching summer sun. Fortunately, after having walked various kilometers Diaz arrived to the cemetery. “Once there, we deposited our floral offerings and screamed ‘Zapata and Boitel Live’, ‘Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia lives’, Down with the Castro dictatorship’, ‘Long live human rights’, ‘We are all Resistance’, and ‘The streets belong to the people’. We then prayed before the tomb of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. We were there for a while and returned in the same fashion, hiding because there was a strong police operation in the cemetery. But thank God we were able to make it“.
On the day before, May 24th, Marta Diaz was also detained for trying to make it to the trial being held in Holguin against two young men- Marco Limas Cruz and Antonio Limas Cruz- who were arrested just for listening to the music of Los Aldeanos. “Hours prior, the streets were surrounded and the entrance of Holguin was closed off and various dissidents were detained, among them Caridad Caballero Batista and Esteban Sander,” recounts Marta.
Caridad Caballero and her husband Esteban Sander were released during the afternoon hours of May 25th after an arrest which lasted long hours. Repression in Cuba occurs daily, and because of the Boitel and Zapata Live On Protest, the repression has been carried out with more strength against peaceful dissidents.
These were only just a few stories of the repression, there are many other names and situations which must be told. However, Cuban dissidents continue their invaluable and dignified work, a fact that is perfectly captured in the words of Marta Diaz Rondon, “They are wrong if they think that all the beatings and mistreatment they give us are going to make us give in. We are going to continue fighting and we are going to continue taking to the streets until there are no more political prisoners in Cuba and until their exists freedom and democracy in our country“.
May 24, 2011Posted by on
Radio Marti is reporting about the health deterioration of Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Montiel, who initiated a hunger strike in protest of the assassination of Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia.
The (translated) report here:
Cuban Hunger Striker in Delicate State of Health
Dissident sticks to his hunger strike to demand proper punishment for the culprits of Juan Wilfredo Soto’s death.
The dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Montiel, who started a hunger strike this past May 9th and who was moved to the Arnaldo Milan Hospital of Santa Clara, continues interned in the hospital and his health is very delicate.
Garcia Montiel began suffering from gastric disorders on Tuesday morning and received specialized treatment. In conversation with ‘Marti News’ the dissident announced that he would not abandon his hunger strike which he started to demand that the Cuban authorities condemn the police officers which carried out the beating on Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia.
The death of Juan Wilfredo Soto in a Santa Clara hospital, two days after being beaten by police officers in the local Parque Vidal, was denounced by human rights activists who have all held the government accountable for the beating and demand the proper punishment for all those who participated in the violence against the dissident.
May 18, 2011Posted by on
I recommend the blog written by Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, “Confessing Cuban” to everyone. He writes this blog from his native village of Taguayabon and intends to denounce the reality not only of his town but of the day to day Cuba.
His blog has just been set up in English, and while more translations are yet to come, one of his most recent posts is a must-read. It’s titled “God Despises Lies” and in it he assures that some relatives of Juan Wilfredo Soto were lowly manipulated by the Cuban government so that they play along with the cynic and macabre game of the Castros as they use lies to try and cover up the death of the dissident.
The harrowing report also includes the stories of other Cubans who have “mysteriously” died, while the majority of day to day people continue believing the government has had something to do with these deaths.
This entry by Mario is also the response to Granma’s publication titled “Cuba Despises Lies”.
Here is his excellent account:
God Despises Lies (Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia)
The crime committed against Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia has taken an even more treacherous turn as the assassin, upon trying to dust off another death, has used methods so low like releasing a testimony from his sister Rosa who has suffered from psychiatric disorders since her adolescence. She (Rosa) is a person that is greatly susceptible to being manipulated as has occurred in this burdensome case. Her scarce faculties even prevented her from assisting her own brother’s burial, and she only visited the funeral for a few moments because of her severe nervous imbalance. The government also exercised obvious pressures on Madelin Soto, Juan Wilfredo’s niece, and on her husband Yasmil, using the fact that they economically depend on the State. Madelin is a civil worker for FAR and her husband is a law student and both of these positions are easy targets for pressures, which in this case were successful. But in the case of these two, they did attend both the funeral and the burial. They heard my clear words when I had the opportunity to direct my speech to all those who were present as minister for the service. I publicly stated my testimony about my last interaction with Wilfredo when, after 11 am on Thursday May 5th he informed me about the severe beating he had been subjected to on that same morning. That moment became etched in history after I sent out a Tweet narrating just how dismayed I felt.
To me, what proved his statements to me was his terrible death during the morning hours of that Sunday. Although I spoke clearly at the funeral, neither Madelin or Yasmil even tried to correct me on my “errors”. On the contrary, I greeted all the present relatives with the utmost respect, and they all thanked me for the words, including Madelin. These same relatives had even agreed on having Guillermo Farinas speaking the final words at the cemetery. He also passionately denounced the situation and no one argued against him, the same way that no one forced us to leave the cemetery as they made Rosa say in regards to Wilfredo’s son. But what happened after to Madelin and Yasmil? I can’t assure it, but I strongly believe that we find ourselves before an overly vile and quarrelsome government, and I can’t blame the relatives, although I am strongly disappointed by their highly contradictory behavior.
Continue reading here.