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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Luis Felipe Rojas
March 22, 2013Posted by on
During the midnight hours of March 21st, the paramilitary agent Miguel Sarduy stabbed Juan Pavon, a citizen of San German, Holguin, to death, according to a report by human rights activist Eliecer Palma, of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO), in his Twitter account (@eliecerpalma1).
In conversation with this blog, Palma said that he had confirmed the news after talking to neighbors who witnessed the crime.
The victim, Juan Pavon, who lived on 13th Street, “dedicated himself to lend money to people, and Sarduy had an outstanding debt with him. With this already existing debt, Sarduy told him to lend him more money, which Pavon refused. The response of the paramilitary agent was to tell him ‘I am going to kill you’ and that is exactly what he did“, explained Eliecer.
Pavon’s body was found with 7 stab wounds. He leaves behind two children, one female and one male. He was about 60 years old and had already retired.
Miguel Sarduy, also known as ‘Mingue’, “is a man who is despised in this community of San German. This man was used by State Security to act as a vigilante for the regime, to watch us, the activists, to impede our rights. He was completely at their service“.
Recently exiled dissident Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal has denounced Sarduy in the past on his blog, “Crossing the Barbed Wire”. In Rojas’ case, the agent would constantly keep watch over him and his family; he would threaten and repudiate them, all under the orders of State Security. Other repressors like Jorge Leyva and Alredo Caraba Llosa operated alongside him.
“Miguel Sarduy is one of the typical cases in Cuba where the police uses citizens who have committed crimes for their dirty work“, said Rojas Rosabal from Miami, “Up to the moment of committing the crime- a murder in this case- his job was to watch us dissidents in San German. He would follow each of our steps, or he would just stand outside his house to inform who would go in and out of my house, then he would inform another ‘informant’ and, in sum, for the political police. And it’s something that they still do in Cuba, use delinquents and criminals to harass and provoke peaceful human rights defenders“.
The authorities have detained Sarduy, although it is not clear if they will process him. Just three days ago, he physically assaulted his sister, which resulted in his detention, but he was freed a few days later, according to Eliecer Palma.
Palma adds that the fact that the political police uses people like Sarduy to repress dissidents constitutes a grave danger for the lives of all those who decided to publicly oppose the Cuban dictatorship.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Eliecer Palma- Cell Phone: +52-771-487 / Twitter: @eliecerpalma1
July 10, 2012Posted by on
“Why Do You Fight”? That is the question which blogger, writer, photographer and activist Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal asked various of dissidents in Cuba in his latest documentary, produced from within the island.
The reasons which the interviewees give are diverse, but they all coincide in that the Cuban dictatorship destroys freedom for all citizens and that they (dissidents) not only fight for their individual rights, but also for the rights of the entire nation.
Rojas Rosabal interviewed José Daniel Ferrer García (former political prisoner), Marta Díaz Rondon (Lady in White), Caridad Caballero Batista (Lady in White) , Tania Montoya (Lady in White) , Raumel Vinajera (former political prisoner) , Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina (former political prisoner) and Reina Luisa Tamayo (mother of assassinated political prisoner, Orlando Zapata Tamayo). In addition, the film includes some everyday images of Cuba taken by Rojas himself.
“Why do you Fight?” was published through the YouTube account of Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, also an independent blogger and photographer and includes English subtitles.
April 30, 2012Posted by on
The independent Cuban poet, blogger, and journalist Luis Felipe Rojas was arrested once again by political police agents for freely writing about the current situation of Cuba on his blog and on other independent communication outlets.
That is how Rojas himself reported the news after being released this past Sunday April 29th. His arrest occurred at around 7:30 AM on Saturday, April 28th in his home, located in the town of San German, Holguin. ”The lieutenant from the political police in San German, Yasmany Suarez Ramirez, showed up to my house with 4 other police officers who were aboard a Jeep from the Operational Guard“, explained the writer, “they detained me and took me from my home, driving me to the local police unit“. Rojas remained in that unit for about 30 minutes.
Afterward, Major Alberten (“who has been in charge of oppressing dissidents in San German for about 3 or 4 years now“) drove Rojas to the Operational Unit of Holguin, known best by detainees as “Pedernales”- a center which consists of sealed off, pestilent, and inhumane cells.
“[In Pedernales] they interrogated me under the direction of Major Jesus Jimenez, a political police instructor in charge of the cases of dissidents”, said Luis Felipe, who added that the interrogation consisted of 3 main issues or accusations. First, the blogger was threatened about “the news which I publish in regards to Cuban prisons“. In addition, other accusations were related “to the subject of the restructuring of the workforce, and they also told me that the news I published was false and that I simply do it to send it out to foreign media“.
Rojas affirms that his news is “factual, and besides, any citizen can give their opinion about any subject they wish“.
“In addition, I believe that my detention and interrogation also occurred because I recently gave a lengthy interview to Amnesty International and because I am a human rights correspondent of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in San German“.
Before being released, the police agents told Rojas to cease communicating with the foreign press, whether it be on his blog or through other mediums, to talk about the situation in Cuba.
In his blog, “Crossing the Barbed Wire“, Rojas publishes real stories of dissidents and everyday Cubans who must confront immense difficulties for wishing to live their lives outside the tight control of the state. He is also a photographer who publishes images of the repressive agents on the island and everyday scenes throughout the country.
Amid the threats, the blogger has assured directly from San German that “I will continue reporting and informing“.
For more information from Cuba:
Luis Felipe Rojas – Cell Phone: +5352-771-487 // Twitter: @alambradas
March 30, 2012Posted by on
Cuban blogger accused of public disorder for leaving his house, arrested, threatened, and kept from going to papal mass
Independent Cuban blogger and journalist Luis Felipe Rojas was on his way to buy bread and yogurt for his family when he was arrested by the political police on Saturday, March 24th, in his town of San German, Holguin.
At the moment in which Rojas stepped out through his front door, a member of the Rapid Response Brigades intercepted him, telling him that he could not be out on the street. Rojas did not accept this, highlighting the slogan of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front- “my house is not a dungeon“. However, just a few minutes later when the blogger was on his way back, a jeep of the Operational Guards was stationed outside his house. It was then that various agents from the political police arrested Luis Felipe, taking him to the local police unit of San German.
“[At the Unit] they put me in a room which is used for conferences, where I slept on the floor”, explained the blogger. When he noticed that his arrest was going to last various days, Rojas declared himself on hunger and thirst strike on the afternoon of Sunday, in protest for the suspension of his pilgrimage to Santiago de Cuba on Monday to assist the papal mass. Due to his hunger strike, he began to bleed from his throat. He maintained this protest until Tuesday night when he decided to drink water because of his intense throat pains, yet he maintained himself without eating anything. He was released during the afternoon hours of Wednesday, March 28th, hours after Pope Benedict XVI had left the island.
While Rojas was in the police unit, he was threatened various times by communist functionaries, especially the delegate from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) of San German known as Ronnier Gallardo. Rojas explains that during the process of release, “he, and others, threatened me. They told me that everytime a functionary tells me I cannot leave my house and I disobey, I would be arrested“. Also during his detention, officials ripped of a small white bracelet which the blogger carried. It had the word “change” on it.
During Rojas’ arrest, a cordon consisting of police officers and members of the Rapid Response Brigades was set up around his home, impeding his wife, Exilda Arjona, and their two small children (8 year old Malcom and 3 year old Brenda) from leaving the house. In addition, Arjona’s cell phone was blocked by ETECSA, the state-run phone company (under orders of the regime).
“My family and I must remain very alert. I ask all those who care to listen to have it clear that, in any case of accusations against us, I did not commit a single crime, much less one of ‘public disorder’”, affirmed Rojas, referring to the charges of ‘public disorder’ which the regime officials had accused him of. ”I maintain my firm position that here in Cuba, neither my neighborhood nor my house will be a dungeon. The streets belong to the people, and I am a free man“, he assured.
In regards to the crackdown which preceded and accompanied the Pope’s visit to Cuba, Rojas expressed that the Cuban regime is planning a violent operation and this process was only “a test on how to massively surround neighborhoods, how to arrest people, and how to keep them all in a certain place. We must remain very attentive about this“.
Regardless, the activist assured that “sooner or later we will achieve the freedom of Cuba. The fear which the authorities are feeling is not because of any other reason“.
For more information from Cuba:
Luis Felipe Rojas – Cell Phone: +5352-771-487 / Twitter: @alambradas (Espanol); @alambradas_en (English)
Cuban Blogger Luis Felipe Rojas Still Detained and on Hunger Strike, His Family Surrounded in San German, Holguin
March 27, 2012Posted by on
The author of the blog “Crossing the Barbed Wires“, Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal, is still detained since last Saturday, March 24th. Just days before his arrest, he had confirmed that his name was finally included on the list of those who would be allowed to travel to the Mass of Pope Benedict XVI on March 26th. This occurred after communist functionaries had told him that either his wife or him could go, but not both. After demanding his rights, they added both their names, as well as the names of their young children. It seems that this, however, was just a taunt because the blogger was rapidly detained on the afternoon of the 24th.
Considering that the majority of telephone lines of dissidents on the island remain blocked, the information that has come out of Cuba has been scarce. Together with Luis Felipe Rojas, there are countless other activists detained but very little information is known about their situations. In the case of Rojas, the Baptist Cuban Pastor, Mario Barroso, managed to send out some Twitter messages (@maritovoz) detailing that the blogger remains detained “without having ingested any food or liquid”. Barroso added that Rojas’ brother was “desperate” as he was very worried about his brother’s health. In addition, the Pastor denounced the situation, explaining that Luis is a “devout Catholic” and was arrested “in order to keep him from attending the Pope’s Mass”. Meanwhile, Rojas’ wife, Exilda Arjona, and their two small children, Malcom (8) and Brenda (3) are surrounded in their own home in the town of San German by political police guards, under the threat that if they step out, they will be arrested.
This is just one of the many cases of in-communications, detentions, threats, and harassment against Cubans who demand freedom during these days in which Pope Benedict XVI travels throughout the island.
We demand the immediate liberation of Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal , as well as that of all other arrested Cuban dissidents.
March 26, 2012Posted by on
Just hours before Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Cuba, this blog will continue publishing statements of numerous Cuban dissidents and activists about his visit to the island. The question is: Now that the cameras of the world will be focused on Cuba: what message would you send the Pope and the world?
Response from Luis Felipe Rojas, activist, independent journalist and author of the blog “Crossing the Barbed Wire”
“My message to His Holiness Benedict VXI is that, when it comes to Cuba, may you hear the voice of a people and understand that there is a world of pain, that is, a world of persecution for political reasons, on the grounds of sexual preference, for ideological reasons and for many other reasons.
There are a great number of people within that world of pain, and we are those who cannot live a normal everyday life because we are fired and expelled from our work. There is also a group of sick people, of people dispossessed of every kind of right, in Cuba. This is the world of pain and we ask you, as you are coming on a pastoral and spiritual journey, that you hear us, that you see us, that you help us at least to tell the world that we exist. That is a Christian message, he should not forget that”.
Luis Felipe Rojas made these declarations on Friday, March 23rd. He was arrested as part of a large crackdown of dissidents on Saturday, March 24th. There are not many details available on his whereabouts, considering that the phone of his wife, Exilda (pictured above alongside him and their children) has been blocked and many other dissidents from their small town of San German have been detained as well or have also had their phone lines cut. The only thing confirmed is that his family is under house arrest, under orders that they cannot step out to the street.
February 26, 2012Posted by on
More than 10 Cuban Political Police agents surrounded and beat Delmides Fidalgo Lopez, one of the vice-coordinators of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, this past February 23rd in Buenaventura, Holguin, as different commemorative events across the island were being held in honor of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. The attack agains the activist occurred at around 5 in the afternoon as he tried to leave his own house, according to the dissident blogger Luis Felipe Rojas.
“As soon as he stepped out of his house, he was intercepted by various police officials and, later, more than 10 other agents arrived on the scene. All these policemen began to beat Delmides, and they even finished breaking his glasses“, explained Rojas, who pointed out that nearly two months ago another political police agent had also physically attacked Delmides, shattering one of the lens on his glasses. This time, the dictatorship’s functionaries completely destroyed the glasses. ”Delmides suffers from severe myopia and he can’t even see where he is walking without his glasses“, narrated Rojas.
The police agents continued the aggressions and threw the dissident to the floor, beating him even more when he tried to pull out his cellphone to communicate with fellow Resistance members to denounce what he was being subjected to. Delmides Fidalgo was detained for the rest of the day and released during the afternoon of the 24th.
In addition, Luis Felipe Rojas denounced that during the 23rd, numerous homes in his town of San German were surrounded by the political police, including his own and those of dissidents Elieser Palma Pupo and Jose Antonio Triguero Mullet.
“Our homes were surrounded by uniformed soldiers and many of them were armed, and also by a group of civilian-clothed paramilitary officials, trained by the political police to combat peaceful dissidents who simply wanted to pay tribute to Orlando Zapata Tamayo“, expressed Rojas.
February 6, 2012Posted by on
Under daily harassment, the Cuban Resistance continues active
This past weekend, from Friday February 3rd to Sunday February 5th, was the fifth consecutive weekend of police harassment and total vigilance around the home of dissident blogger Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal in San German, in the province of Holguin. Rojas explained that the repression is not only against him, but also against all of the dissidents who live in that town.
“On the morning of Friday, February 3rd, the dissident Jose Antonio Triguero Mullet- who is a member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Liberal Party of Cuba- was arrested in the bus terminal of San German“, explained the blogger. The authorities wanted to impede Mullet from traveling to the city of Holguin, something which “is happening with all activists of San German“, added Rojas. “There is a permanent check point in the terminal and the three points of exit of this town- towards Granma, Santiago de Cuba, and the city of Holguin“.
On Saturday, February 4th, the presence around the home of Rojas increased, with the participation of numerous National Revolutionary Police officials, State Security agents, and members of the Rapid Response Brigade. The harassment led the dissident to a verbal confrontation with one of the vigilantes, a retired official from the Ministry of the Interior by the name of Luis Perez. “He tried to subjugate me in the middle of the street, telling me to go back home“, denounced Rojas, “but the main slogan which all of us members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Naitonal Resistance Front and the Eastern Democratic Alliance abide by is that the streets belong to the people and that none of our homes will be dungeons. With that said, we will continue to go out to the streets“.
On the following day- Sunday the 5th- Rojas and his wife Exilda Arjona, along with a group of human rights activists, were able to surpass the vigilance and leave their home and walk to the local church, under constant watch. They assisted mass and, upon exiting the church, noticed a “strong police presence which consisted of uniformed officials and officials dressed in civilian clothing“.
It is precisely this vigilance and this constant harassment with which Cuban dissidents must live, for the simple fact of wanting freedom for themselves, their families, and all of the people in general. In the case of Luis Felipe Rojas- author of “Crossing the Barbed Wire“- he lives surrounded. It seems as if an independent writer, his wife, and their two small children present a serious threat to the military dictatorship of Cuba.
January 30, 2012Posted by on
The home of dissident blogger Luis Felipe Rojas in San German, Holguin, remained surrounded by uniformed political police agents throughout the entire day of Saturday, January 28th, which was also the anniversary of Jose Marti’s birth, the poet and leading Cuban freedom fighter, known best as “the apostle of Cuba”. Just two days prior to the aggressive surveillance, Rojas’ home was the target of vandalism at the hands of mobs directed by the Cuban regime who threw paint at the front part of the house.
“My house is always under vigilance“, denounces Rojas, “but now it’s completely surrounded by political police agents dressed in uniformed and carrying arms. There are police vehicles, an olive green Jeep belonging to the Operational Guard, and various motorcycles belonging to the political police“. In addition, the dissident and friend of Rojas- Elieser Palma Pupo- was arrested as he tried to make it to the surrounded home. “The arrest occurred at around 5 pm and was carried out by Captain Abel Ramirez and Lieutenant Saul Vega“, whom are both State Security functionaries, informed the independent blogger.
As soon as the arrest took place, Luis Felipe stepped out of his home and began to question the functionaries of the regime. During the exchange- which in reality was more like an argument- agent Abel Ramirez accused Rojas and his family of having staged the whole ordeal and thrown paint on his own house in order “to provoke something“, according to the dissident, who also added that numerous neighbors showed solidarity with him, denouncing the tactics of the Castro regime.
“Though we know it is pointless, we have denounced the case of the vandalism in my house in a police unit of San German“, explained Rojas “and they told me they would come to my house in a few hours, but 48 hours have passed and they have not come, since they cannot accuse themselves“.
As a product of the manipulation and repression of the Cuban dictatorship, Luis Felipe Rojas expresses that he profoundly worries about his wife and two children- a daughter of 4 and a son of 8. “My son Malcom has been suffering nervous issues for quite some time” , assured Rojas, outlining that it is product of all the repression the young one must see, including when his father gets arrested just for opposing the regime and freely writing his ideas.
“I am sending out an alert in regards to what can happen to me and my family“, said Rojas, “and I accuse the Cuban government and- specifically- three political police officials who are Yordanis Martínez León, chief of the so called ‘Enemy Confrontation’ brigades, Captain Abel Ramirez, and Lieutenant Saul Vega for the most recent arbitrary arrests, arbitrary vigilance around my house and now for vandalizing my house through an act of terrorism“. The dissident added that he would try to contact pro-human rights international organizations to present a formal denouncement.
In addition to the constant vigilance, Rojas’ cell phone has been blocked by the regime on a nearly constant basis, impeding the journalist from sending out Twitter or text messages, considering that the blogger interviews dissidents throughout the country, captures images of the Cuban reality, and never keeps his denouncements quiet”.
For more info: 011-5352-771-487 (Luis Felipe Rojas)/ 011-5353-684-380 (Exilda Arjona, wife of Rojas).
January 18, 2012Posted by on
The morning of Tuesday January 17th began with the home of independent dissident blogger Luis Felipe Rojas, in San German, Holguin, surrounded by a tight police vigilance operation, which consisted of armed and uniformed forces of the National Revolutionary Police, the Political Police, and the Rapid Response Brigades. The vigilance was so strong that even the eastern Lady in White Mildred Sanchez Infante was arrested as she was trying to arrive to the home of Rojas.
But why so much vigilance for a journalist, someone who just reports what they see or what their conscience dictates? The answer, Rojas supposes, is that he has been teaching workshops on new technologies and journalism tactics to numerous dissidents from Holguin throughout the past month.
The dissident explains that “within the Eastern Democratic Alliance, we have agreed on assuming the task of getting these new technologies into the hands of human rights activists whether or not they are independent journalists, or whether or not they have a blog in which they express their ideas, and to teach them to become the sources of news, reporting about arrests, etc“.
Through the numerous workshops, the author of ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire’ aspires to also “educate citizens on the basics of journalism so that human rights activists learn to make denouncements, write news, and simply use the new technologies“.
Rojas has published a summary of some of the most recent technological workshops he has taught in one of his latest blog entries. On Monday, January 16th, he taught another course to members of the dissident groups Republican Party of Cuba and Republican Youth Impact at the home of independent journalist Jose Ramon Pupo Nieve. “We practiced the same techniques. It was a mix of ideas, so that activists could debate and learn how to use alternative tools“, explained the blogger.
Ironically, after offering numerous workshops on internet and programs such as Twitter and blogs, Luis Felipe Rojas noticed that on the morning of the 17th his cell phone had been blocked. “I could not send out any multimedia information- in other words photos, videos, and audios“, denounced Rojas, directly accusing the state-run Cuban phone company known as Cubacel. “It is all the responsibility of the Cubacel corporation which is directed by State Security, whom have denied me service as a measure of repression and censorship. It is State Security themselves who decide who will enjoy benefits in this country and who will not“.
Once again, the Cuban dictatorship has shown that it feels a profound fear not only of public demonstrations but also of the free flow of information.