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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Marlenis Abreu Almaguer
March 4, 2013Posted by on
State Security unleashed a wave of arrests, a Catholic administrator refused to lend his temple to shelter them, and the weather conditions consisted of heavy rains and lots of cold, and yet more than 100 Ladies in White marched throughout Cuba and participated in their respective churches to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and the entire country this Sunday, March 3rd.
As each Sunday, former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo used his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) to document what was happening with these women throughout the island.
One of the first tweets published by Hernanez informed that in the province of Pinardel Rio 4 Ladies in White managed to march and arrive to Mass, while another 6 were detained. “Marti Noticias” published an article about the violent of Noralis Martin, the representative of the group in that province, alongside her husband Jose Rolando Casares.
The names of other Ladies detained in Pinar del Rio were Lin Elaida Quiñónez, Caridad Peinado Gutiérrez, Belkis Pérez Pérez, Yaima Ledesma Santana and Yaneris Rodríguez Morejón.
In Havana, despite heavy rains, 44 Ladies in White defied the vigilance of the state police and marched down 5th Avenue and participated in Mass at Santa Rita Church, accompanied by more than 30 male dissidents.
Hernandez Carrillo tweeted that in Matanzas province a total of 14 women made it to Mass. 7 participated in the city of Cardenas, 5 in Colon, 1 in Perico and 1 in Roque.
4 Ladies in White participated in Mass in the central province of Villa Clara, while another 3 were detained. These were Lisandra Farrai Rodríguez, Aime Moya Montes de Oca and Malvelis González Reyes.
In the Eastern region of the country, 4 women were arrested in Granma, 9 made it to Mass in Guantanamo, and a total of 54 Ladies in White participated in Mass at the El Cobre National Shrine, despite having slept the night out in the open after an administrator of that temple refused to offer them shelter.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), published a series of tweets (@jdanielferrer) recounting the situation.
“Without any doubts, the administrator known as Enrique, is being hostile towards the Ladies in White due to pressures of the political police”, read one message, while another signaled that “Enrique refused shelter to the Ladies in White because, supposedly, there were not enough rooms available in the Sanctuary…Afterwards, he gave various people rooms, including a political police agent who went there to watch the Ladies in White”.
“The day that the Cuban people open the archives of the G2 (secret police), many will be shocked to see how many collaborators were in different churches”, Ferrer Garcia expressed in another message.
Meanwhile, in Holguin 8 women arrived at church and another 4 were beaten by the police after Mass. The victims of the violence were Romelia Piña, Marlenis Abreu, Mirta Molina Leyva and Glisedis Piña González.
Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, a young member of the group, told this blog that at around 9 AM she was violently arrested by the police upon trying to make it to the Jesus Chrsit Redeemer of MenChurch in Holguin.
“The State Security agent known as ‘The Polish’ rushed up at me…he grabbed me by one of my arms and told me I was arrested“, said Villamonte, who peacefully resisted but was forcefully introduced into a police vehicle. She was taken to the police unit known as “La Segunda”.
“They left me there in a salon with an immigration agent. I was then taken to a room where a lady approached me and told me her story…she said she was very tired because she had made countless accusations against a man who had threatened her daughter with death but police authorities had completely ignored her case“, says Eleiny, “I told her that that’s how things are in this country, that they waited until someone was killed in order to act“.
When the immigration agent heard this, she told the Lady in White to shut up. “She nearly slapped me and told me various times to shut my mouth because, if not, I would suffer the consequences“. Eleiny stood by her opinions and, under various threats, was finally released at around 12:30 PM, after Mass had come to an end.
In the case of Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante, a Lady in White from Antilla, she was arrested as soon as she stepped out of her house on her way to the city of Holguin to participate in Mass alongside the other women, according to declarations she made to “Radio Republica” in this audio. Mildred was threatened by the police that she could not travel to Holguin during the weekends.
Berta Soler, representative of the Ladies in White at a national level, told the same medium that “just one Lady in White that arrives to any church in the country means that Christ is listening to our prayers…for the liberation of all political prisoners and the respect to human rights. And one Lady in White represents all Ladies in White in the country”.
For more information from Cuba:
Berta Soler- Cell Phone: +52-906-820
Eleiny Villamonte- Cell Phone: +52-393-169
Mildred Sánchez- Cell Phone: +52-615-097
Iván Hernández- Cell Phone: +52-599-366 / Twitter: @ivanlibre
José Daniel Ferrer- Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Ángel Moya Acosta- Cell Phone: +53-820-595 / Twitter: @jangelmoya
December 31, 2012Posted by on
Ladies in White throughout the country made it to Mass and carried out their weekly march this last Sunday of 2012, the 30th of December, after a year in which repression against them, and the opposition in general, has increased drastically.
32 of these women arrived at Mass in the Santa Rita Church of Havana, 7 in Pinar del Rio, 20 in Matanzas, 6 in Guantanamo, 2 in Ciego de Avila and 2 in Holguin, affirmed Berta Soler, representative of the female group.
Soler considered the situation to be “an achievement“, considering that in nearly all the cases, in the mentioned provinces the Ladies in White arrived at their respective churches, surpassing police cordons and evading arrests, except in Holguin where 9 of the women were detained.
The detainees in the mentioned Eastern province were Bertha Guerrero Segura, Ana María Aguilera Panque, Romelia Piña González, Marlene Abreu Almaguer, Rosa María Naranjo Nieve, Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, Viviana Campo, Eunices Céspedes Estrada y Bárbara Bauza Driggs.
Bertha Guerrero, representative of the group in Holguin, detailed that the arrests occurred during early morning hours, especially that of Eunices Cespedes, resident of the municipality of Velasco, who was abruptly arrested at 4 in the morning.
“They kept us arrested up to around 12:30 in the afternoon, after Mass had ended in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church“, said Guerrero, “Afterward, they left us stranded in different parts on the outskirts of Holguin, forcing us to walk miles to get to our homes“. State Security agents placed a video camera this year in front of the mentioned church to keep watch over the Ladies. The same camera had previously been installed outside the home of recently exiled Lady in White and human rights activist Caridad Caballero Batista, who also suffered countless arrests this year for trying to make it to church. The camera was relocated as soon as she left the country.
During her arrest, Bertha Guerrero denounced that the Second Chief of Confrontation, known as Yordanis Martinez Leon, told her that “if the Ladies in White want to make it to church, we’d have to buy ourselves a helicopter to drop us off at the church because they were never going to let us get there“. It is not the first time this repressor tells her that.
“Sunday after Sunday we have been detained and, in addition, also threatened with our children and families“, added Guerrero, citing the case which also occurred this Sunday, where one of the detainees- Barbabra Bauza- “had her son arrested because on Saturday, some citizen burned a Cuban flag in the Calixto Garcia park. Her son was arriving home in the morning and since State Security had not been able to arrest or blame anybody, they did so with him, taking him to the instructional unit known as Pedernales. Agent Rafael Chapman, of State Security, told Barbara that he does not care if her son is a minor (16 years of age), for he would invent a crime for him and take him to prison. This happens simply because he is the son of a Lady in White“. She added that the women are ready to take to the streets in protest to demand his freedom.
Guerrero said that despite the repression, the Ladies in White of Holguin will continue marching and that she has hope that 2013 will bring good things for Cuba.
In an emotional case, Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the Ladies in White in the province of Matanzas, explained that in addition to the fact that 20 women of the province made it to Mass, in the church known as “The Parish” in the city of Cardenas, a group of these acitvists were greeted with respect and admiration by churchgoers.
“The people rose from their seats when it was time to share the greeting of peace, and they came up to us, hugged us, and gave us their blessings“, recounted Ramos, “When we left the church, we carried out our march and many people also came up to us, displaying their support, greeting us, saying that we are doing the right things and saying that they hope more people rise like us“.
Leticia said she felt lots of happiness, considering that “we have achieved to carve out a space not only in the church but also amongst the people“.
There have been far too many beatings, arrests, deportations, threats, and other forms of State persecution and violence against the Ladies in White this 2012. In fact, one of the most repressive of cases occurred in February when two members of the group- one from Pinar del Rio and the other from Palma Soriano- suffered miscarriages after police arrested and harassed them. Their names are Noralys Martin Hernandez and Taimi Vega Biscet. (Read more about these cases here).
Regardless, everything signals that the increase in repression is attributed to the fact that the group has significantly increased in size and that its members have not stopped defying the dictatorship for one moment. They have been persistent in their marches, declarations and activities.
“Despite the repression“, said Berta Soler, “the most important thing is that the Ladies in White will continue stronger and more prepared than ever. We will continue our peaceful struggle for the freedom of all political prisoners as well as the respect of human rights in 2013. We will continue to grow throughout the island. The Cuban government’s repression has only made us more united“.
For more information from Cuba:
Berta Soler- Cell Phone: +5352-906-820
Bertha Guerrero Segura- Cell Phone: +5353-632-110
Leticia Ramos Herrería- Cell Phone: +5352-481-807
August 19, 2012Posted by on
In the Eastern city of Holguin, a group of approximately 14 Ladies in White were participating in a monthly encounter in the home of Glisedis Piña Gonzalez (member of the women’s activist group) this Saturday, August 18th, when the house was raided by combined forces of the political police and State Security and all those inside- mostly women and children- were beaten and arrested.
Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez, a Lady in White from that same city of Holguin, could not assist the meeting (due to a personal illness) but shared details of the brutality.
“Very horrible violations have occurred”, said Velazquez, “at around 4:30 PM, paramilitary mobs carried out an act of repudiation against the women, shouting insults and throwing rocks at them”.
It was during this repudiation that the police forces raided the home. “They violently searched the entire house, and all those women inside were beat all the way out and then arrested, and taken to police units. Along with the women, they also detained about 5 or 6 men (…) and also arrested 5 under age children who were also taken to police units”, detailed Perez Velazquez.
Among the male detainees was independent journalist Alexei Jimenez who also managed to phone ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (which translated into English literally means ‘Speak Without Fear’) where he explained that the agents attacked him with sticks on the head and ribs. “It is obvious that the people who were there doing that to us were police officers dressed in civilian clothing, not enraged everyday people. They were mobs organized by State Security agents“, assured Jimenez, referring to a common tactic applied by Cuba’s communist police apparatus to make it seem that everyday citizens are the ones attacking dissidents. Jimenez is frequently beaten and arrested each Sunday when he tries to accompany the Ladies in White to church in Holguin.
In the case of the women, among the detainees were Romelia Piña González, Glisedis Piña González, Berta Guerrero Segura, Eleini Villamonte Cardozo, Danay Mendiola, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Lisbeth Peña Hernández, Nelda Molina Leyva, Barbara Bouza and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.
The children who were detained were released during night hours, along with Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque (the only Lady in White released as of August 18th 2012). The children were sons and daughters of Ladies in White and activists.
Zuleidis Perez managed to establish communication with the 14 year old daughter of Romelia Piña Gonzalez once she arrived home. The minor was very nervous and, amid her fear, was only able to share some details with Zuleidis about what had happened in that house (her aunt’s home).
Other arrests of Ladies in White took place on that same morning in the same province of Holguin in the municipalities of Banes and Cacocum, when various women tried to travel to the city of Holguin to participate in the meeting. These detainees were Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Piñales Rosa in Banes, and Marlenis Abreu Almaguer in Cacocum. These three were released at around 6 PM.
A wave of escalating violence has been occurring throughout the island against human rights activists, among them many Ladies in White. These actions are being accompanied, in most cases, by home raids and brutal beatings. One other recent example is that of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez, from the municipality of Antilla, who had her home raided by police forces, was beat violently in front of her family, and arrested for more than 96 hours this past 13th of August. State police said they were searching for “enemy propaganda” in her house- a common term for any written or audio-visual materials which deal with the defense of human rights.
Meanwhile, the “Hablemos Press” independent news agency, with its headquarters in Havana, recently released a report in which they detailed that in the first 14 days of August more than 200 arrests of peaceful dissidents have occurred, while between the 10th and 14th, more than 20 home raids took place.
As for the detained women, Zuleidis Perez expressed: “[As of August 18th] we do not know of their whereabouts, so we are declaring them disappeared and we fear for their lives. If the police was capable of breaking into the home, beating them, and breaking furniture and other objects, then we should not doubt for a second that they are very capable of killing or disappearing them”.
(Listen to Zuleidis’ audio- In Spanish):
For more information from Cuba:
Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358-244-778
August 15, 2012Posted by on
This past Sunday August 12th 2012, 9 Ladies in White in the city of Holguin did not let their violent arrests at the hands of political police and State Security agents keep them from carrying out their habitual Sunday march towards the local Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Catholic Church.
Zuleidis Perez Velazquez, member of the women’s group and resident of Holguin, was one of the 14 detainees taken into custody in a “very violent” manner. She adds that they were all “distributed throughout the province of Holguin, to different National Revolutionary Police Units, as if we were some sort of baggage. It was not until 12 PM that we were taken out of the units in cop cars, State Security vehicles, and buses. We were left in different points of Holguin, from 4 to 10 kilometers away from our homes“.
The rest of the detainees were Berta Guerrero Segura, Yoandra Garrido Silva, Mayra Silva, Mayra Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Romelia Pina González, Barbara Bauza, Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Nelda Molina Leyva, Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Danay Mendiola, Glisedis Pina González, Eleney Villamonte Cardozo and Noemi Hidalgo Gómez.
Their were reports of arrests of three other male dissidents, Alexei Jiménez, Rolando Sánchez Duran and Luis Miguel Carralero, who also try to assist Mass each Sunday “because they are Catholics and members of the Church, and also morally show their support for us, the Ladies in White. Police agents have been arresting them each Sunday when they try to leave their homes, and they are usually taken to different and undisclosed locations“.
On the day before- Saturday August 11th- Perez Velazquez denounced that there were other arrests in Holguin: Marcos Limas Dalmao (husband of Adisnidia Cruz Segreo), Luis Manuel Gonzalez and Antonio Pupo Caballero.
However, Zuleidis explained that two women- Lisbeth Peña Hernández and Liliana Campo- managed to make it inside the church in Holguin, where they participated in Mass and then marched with their white clothes and flowers. As soon as the other 14 women were released, 9 of them were able to carry out their march successfully, defying the repressive forces.
“Despite all these setbacks, 9 of us Ladies in White were able to meet up after they released us, at around 1 pm, and managed to carry out our peaceful march on the same street where the church is located“, said Perez Velazquez, “this was something that our oppressors were not expecting, but we achieved it. They must be infuriated, but so they and the rest of the world know: we are not going to stop. Regardless of the detentions, the repression, and the beatings we are subjected to each and every Sunday, we are not going to stop. We are not taking steps back in this peaceful struggle“.
For more information from Cuba:
Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778
July 28, 2012Posted by on
The Cuban regime’s police operations to impede Ladies in White in the province of Holguin from assisting Sunday Mass are underway, denounced Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez this Saturday, 28th of July.
According to the activist, there are 4 women who managed to make it to a house which is located only 4 houses from the local Catholic church in the city of Holguin, the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men temple. However, these 4 Ladies are completely “surrounded by 7 police agents with the intention of keeping them from attending Mass tomorrow. They [the regime] do not even respect the fact that they are so close to the church“.
The four women who are practically under house arrest are Romelia Piña González, Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Glisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz Segreo. The house in which they are in is located on 18th Street, number 131, between 23rd and 27th in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood, on the same street as the church.
The agent who is running the operation, which consists of 7 men, is Rafael Chapman, a well known “oppressor from State Security“, explained Perez Velazquez. “These 7 men impede the women from stepping out of the house, they are prohibiting them from any sort of mobility, and they even have their cell phones blocked. They are threatening them, telling them that they cannot go to church tomorrow“.
Despite operations such as these, Zuleidis Perez affirms that the Ladies in White will march to church, although the situation will most likely culminate with arrests, as usually occurs each Sunday.
The tactics of the political police normally consist in detaining the women during morning hours- usually around 8 AM- and later releasing them at around 12:30 PM, once Mass has ended.
The Ladies in White are victims of this kind of repression throughout the island, including other Eastern regions such as Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, where they frequently suffer arrests, beatings, and even sexual threats.
Regardless, they continue to resist.
For more information from Cuba:
Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778