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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Mayra Conlledo García
November 23, 2011Posted by on
On the morning of November 20th, Idania Yanez Contreras received a peculiar phone call from Yulema Benitez Sigler. Yanez, along with various other dissidents, had been helping Benitez Sigler as she was going through a forced eviction at the hands of the Cuban regime. In the phone call, Sigler told Idania (and the rest of the dissidents) to not show up in her house as they had planned to do so on that Monday, the day in which the authorities had declared they would demolish the house, saying that the regime had already given her a free plot of land and had already constructed her a new home. But dissident Yanez Contreras noticed that Yulema was crying and something was wrong. This led her to call another opposition member who lives nearer to Yulema and she asked him to please investigate what was really happening. As it turns out, according to Benitez herself, a State Security official by the last name of Gil along with a political police official, had threatened her with prison time and with taking away her three children if she did not make that phone call. It was a plan to keep activists away and to impede any sort of public protest.
Upon hearing this, Idania Yanez decided to go on with the original plans and she and a group of dissidents head out towards the humble and improvised home of Yulema, located by the Sagua Highway, Kilometer 1 1/2 in Santa Clara. With very little help, “Yulema constructed that house on a dump site“, explains Yanez, “along with her small children- the eldest who is 11, and the younger two who are 7 and 8- they cleaned out the site and managed to get rid of some animals living there. She had to sell the only television set she had in order to purchase the wood to make the house“. The family had no running electricity and the only light they had emanated from candles.
The first group of dissidents arrived to the house at around 6 AM on that Monday- they were three activists from the United Anti-Totalitarian Council: Yasmin Riveron, Yusmany Rafael Alvarez, and Jose Luis Lopez. They were also the first to be removed from the premises by force and then aggressively detained by State Security and political police agents. Just a few minutes after, another group of three (Damaris Moya Portieles, Enrique Martinez Marin, and Idania Yanez) was approaching the area. However, Yanez explains, they were also all violently arrested, detained, and sent off to different police units.
“Damaris was taken to the Encrucijadas Unit, Enrique deported back to the municipality of Manicaragua, and I was kept in a Police Unit of Santa Clara“, narrates Yanez, “Yasmin, Yusmany, and Jose were also detained in a police unit of that region“.
It was at that moment that the forces of the regime began to demolish Yulema’s house. When this news reached other members of the Resistance, some began to protest publicly. Yanez tells that “the fellow dissidents Guillermo del Sol Pérez, Alcides Rivera Rodríguez, Víctor Castillo Ortega, Ana Rosa Alfonso, Jose Luis Lopez, María del Carmen López, Ramón Abreu, Mayra García, Rolando Ferrer Espinosa and Omar Núñez Espinosa all showed up and began to protest outside the Police Unit where some of us were being kept“. All these activists who joined in solidarity were also arrested and taken into detention cells of the same Unit.
Other dissidents- Alberto Reyes Morales, Michel Oliva Lopez, Yanisbel Valido Perez, and Rodolfo Perez Benitez- decided to also protest outside that Unit. Though these were not detained, they remained there the entire day until 8:30 PM when the last of the activists was released.
“As of now, we do not know the whereabouts or situation of Yulema Benitez Sigler and her young children“, declared Idania Yanez to this blog during the afternoon hours of Tuesday, November 22nd. “What we do know is that her smallest son- 7 year old Reiko- fainted” during the violent arrests and the demolishing of the house.
Idania Yanez was savagely beaten and arrested a mere two weeks ago and suffered serious health complications along with her husband Alcides Rivera Rodriguez and dissident Rolando Ferrer Espinosa who were both on hunger strike at the time. Despite the fact that they were still recuperating they decided to try and assist a victim of the abuses of the Cuban dictatorship, someone who has not committed a single crime.
November 10, 2011Posted by on
The following audio was recorded by Bertha Antunez, in conversation with Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, wife of Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’. Aguilera reports that a government official from the Placetas Police Unit told her that her husband, along with the 12 other detained activists, will continue under custody for an “indefinite period of time because they are under a process of investigation”.
The audio is in Spanish but is followed by an English transcription:
” I have just been told by a guard from the Police Unit of Placetas that my husband Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez” and the other activists arrested alongside him will remain detained for an indefinite period of time because they are under a process of investigation. This was communicated to the guard by a State Security official who did not want to come out and speak to me”.
Antunez and the 12 other peaceful anti-government activists (Pastor Alexei Gómez, Rene Quiroga, José Ángel Abreu, Oscar Veranes Martínez, María del Carmen Martínez, Donaida Pérez Paseiro, Xiomara Martin Jiménez, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Orlando Alfonso Martínez, Enrique Martínez Marín, Mayra Conlledo García and Víctor Castillo Ortega) were arrested violently yesterday (November 8th) during a public sit-in. With the protest, they demanded freedom for all Cuban political prisoners and the immediate and unconditional end to government sponsored violence against opposition members and the country as a whole.
We must remember that in the 1960’s in the United States, this civic resistance method of protesting- specifically the sit ins- was a very popular tactic among the African-Americans who peacefully fought for their rights. Just as the Cuban Resistance has, the African-Americans suffered countless violations for their demands. But we must also point out and remember that, in the end, they did achieve their goals. The Cuban Resistance will also be victorious.
November 9, 2011Posted by on
A special thanks to Bertha Antunez who recorded and shared these declarations made by Damaris Moya Portieles on Tuesday, November 8th.
On Tuesday morning the dissidents from Santa Clara- Alcides Rivera Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer Espinosa- decided to end their hunger strike which lasted exactly 41 days and left them with serious health ailments.
Damaris Moya Portieles, provincial delegate of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement and Co-President of the Central Opposition Coalition, expressed her relief and satisfaction that both dissidents- which carried out the protest from her home- had ceased their hunger strikes after “Dissidents Marta Beatriz Roque and Arnaldo Ramos Lazarique visited them at home just a few days ago and asked them to please stop, considering that Raul Castro’s dictatorship already gave them an answer, which is that they will not stop the violent beatings” against dissidents. Many other members of the Cuban resistance asked them to do the same, declaring that these brave men are needed alive.
Rodriguez and Espinosa decided that, just as Moya Portieles expressed, the dissident’s struggle belongs “out on the streets, our stage“.
And it is in that same stage, or sector, where members of the Central Opposition Coalition and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front have planned to “work more directly and together with the everyday people, so that they step out of the lies hurled upon them by the dictatorship, and see just how they are being oppressed“, affirms Damaris.
Nevertheless, the human rights activist warns that Rodriguez and Espinosa still run serious health risks, considering that their lengthy hunger strike left them in a “very poor state of physical health“. Alcides is suffering from broncho-pneumonia, pain in his kindeys, and other complications, while Rolando is reeling from pains on his arm, “the tightening of his chest“, and has a “green-ish” color to him on his hands and feet. “A doctor which visited him told us that it is very probable that he may be suffering from a heart or blood circulation condition“, adds Portieles.
Strikers Alcides Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer have seen, through this protest, how the Castro dictatorship pays no attention to their demands. They’ve comprehended, according to declarations made by themselves and fellow dissidents, that before losing their lives while demanding their rights before a nomenclature which simply ignores such demands, it is better to confront the oppressors directly, face to face, despite repercussions this could have. “They may kill us on the way but we must put an end to this dictatorship“, affirms a confident Moya Portieles, “We are letting the dictator- and the world- know: this has not been a defeat. We are going to continue out on the streets, our scene, our stage. The dictator will know very well know who we- the Central Opposition Coalition and the National Resistance Front- are“.
Shortly after putting and end to the hunger strike, a group of 13 dissidents were violently arrested and beaten in Placetas during a peaceful sit-in protest in which they demanded the unconditional release of all political prisoners and an immediate end to government-sponsored violence against the resistance and the people of Cuba as a whole. Those detained were Jorge Luis García “Antúnez”, Pastor Alexei Gómez, Rene Quiroga, José Ángel Abreu, Oscar Veranes Martínez, María del Carmen Martínez, Donaida Pérez Paseiro, Xiomara Martin Jiménez, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Orlando Alfonso Martínez, Enrique Martínez Marín, Mayra Conlledo García y Víctor Castillo Ortega. (As of Wednesday afternoon, the activists remain imprisoned)
“The struggle continues“, assures Damaris Moya Portieles.