Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Miladis Rosa

Opposition leaders in Antilla arrested, diverse groups respond with solidarity

Members of ADO and other pro-freedom groups in meeting. Photo by: Luis Felipe Rojas

At around 3 PM on Wednesday, February 20th, leaders of different dissident groups were arrested by the State Police in the Eastern municipality of Antilla after a series of meetings.

The detainees were Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, general coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Yoandri Montoya, president of the Bayamo Youth Movement, and Eriberto Liranza Romero, president of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy. After the arrests, all the dissidents were abandoned in different desolate locations throughout the province of Holguin.

Eriberto Liranza, from Havana, recounts that he was visiting the Eastern region of the country since February 14th and that he had been trying to dodge police vigilance and persecution since then.

On the 15th, I evaded persecution in the city of Velasco, in the municipality of Gibara. I was with a couple of other activists and we managed to escape without being arrested until arriving to Antilla“, where he participated in the 9th Anniversary celebration of the Eastern Democratic Alliance along with another 50 activists.

He explains that after carrying out another commemorative activity in Antilla during morning hours of the 20th, a group of dissidents congregated outside the home of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez and carried out a protest, shouting slogans like “Orlando Zapata Lives” and “Down with the dictatorship“. Zapata was the political prisoner who, after tortures, mistreatment, and a lengthy hunger strike, died on February 23rd, 2010. He is considered a martyr and symbol of resistance by the internal Cuban opposition.

It seems that this protest was too much for the regime. It bothered them very much that we were freely going out to the streets“, said Liranza.

It was at that moment that the arrests occurred.

They arrested a group of us- Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Yoandri Montoya, Delmides Fidalgo and me… they aggressively put the handcuffs on us, they put them on very tightly, hurting our hands and arms“, recounts the dissident, “then they shoved us into police vehicles, where there was a glass window dividing us from the drivers seat. It was extremely hot inside“. They were taken to the Pedernales Unit, a center notorious for its mistreatment and torture of recluses, both political and common ones.

After various minutes in Pedernales, where they were mistreated and threatened with further repression, each of the activists were abandoned in different desolate areas. Rodriguez Lobaina was left in the rural area of Holguin known as La Caballeriza, while Liranza was left on the outskirts of Holguin, afterward being forced to leave the province. The whereabouts of Yoandri Montoya were unknown for a while but it was later confirmed that he arrived to his city of residence, Bayamo.

Montoya has been denouncing the increase of violence on behalf of the regime against him and other activists from the Movement which he heads in Bayamo. On recent occasions, in declarations to this blog and other independent outlets, the young activist has said he has been detained numerous times and that the young members of the group live under the constant vigilance of State Security officials and collaborators. In this month of February, police agents threatened Yoandri with taking him to prison. The dissident explains that this repression is due to the group’s increasing opposition on the streets of Cuba, demanding freedom, as well as their work with the community- one of the most prominent projects being the foundation of numerous independent gyms which provide exercise services and equipment for young locals, free of charge.

That same Wednesday, during morning hours, other detentions of Eastern Democratic Alliance members were reported, as were the cases of Yubel Cansino Acosta, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir (in Banes) and Luis Noa Silva (in Baracoa), according to Twitter messages published by Rolando Rodriguz (@LobainaCuba). Noa Silva was summoned to a police unit on the following day, where he was threatened with years of prison if he chose to continue his activism.

The detentions of the  leaders of these different pro-freedom groups unleashed a wave of solidarity among other members of the opposition in the Eastern region, such as other activists of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in the neighborhood of Los Negritos, in Banes, as well as other delegations of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy throughout Holguin.

Meanwhile, former political prisoner of conscience and general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, published a series of tweets (@jdanielferrer), denouncing the arrests. Minutes later, Ferrer reported that members of UNPACU in Holguin carried out peaceful actions, demanding the liberation of the detainees.

I am very thankful of all the brothers who heard what was happening to us and protested for our freedom“, expressed Eriberto Liranza, “We appreciate all the support…I have the best of opinions of the opposition here in Holguin. There is lots of youth involved, and there is a strong spirit of protest against the tyranny“.

For more information contact Eriberto Liranza in Cuba: +5353- 341-682

State Police Raid Home of Lady in White, Fire Water, Beat, and Arrest All Those Inside

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”.

In addition to throwing rocks to the activists, the mobs fired water at them, according to reports by Berta Soler and Yuri Miguel Carralero  to the “Háblalo sin Miedo” voice recording service.

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

Holguin: Arrests, Vigilance, and Police Cordons Not Enough to Stop Weekly Vigil and Meetings

As occurs every Wednesday, this 18th of July 2012, the “Vigils for the Freedom of All Cuban Political Prisoners” were celebrated across the island, while many Ladies in White also celebrated their monthly literary meetings.

From the province of Holguin, Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez informed that the literary meeting in that zone was carried out in the home of Berta Guerrero Segura, in the municipality of Cacocum.  However, Perez Velaquez says that “from the very early morning hours- starting at around 3 or 4 AM- there was a large police operation set in motion in nearly all the surroundings of Holguin, as well as many other municipalities like Velasco, Cacocum, Banes, Gibara, Antilla, and right here in the city of Holguin” in order to try and impede the female activists from arriving to their destination.

Among the Ladies who were surrounded and were not able to make it to the meeting were  Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Marta Díaz Rondón, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Daylin Guerrero, Lissette González Rodríguez  and Odalmys Suarez (all from different municipalities).  Meanwhile, 7 other women suffered arrests at the hands of the political police, among them Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosaida González Escalona, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves and Lisbeth Pena Hernández.

4 women were able to make it to the home of Berta Guerrero- Nelda Molina Leyva, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz where they were able to carry out their literary meeting.

Zuleidis Perez explained that the weekly vigil was carried out in her home in the city of Holguin.  Previously, this vigil would be celebrated in the home of the now exiled Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista.  “Upon Caridad Caballero going into exile, here in the province of Holguin we decided to continue her hard work, through which she was able to achieve that many members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance w0uld meet.  Now, we will continue these meetings, and we will be doing it from my house every Wednesday“.

Just as Caballero Batista would do it (who suffered a constant repression due to her tireless activism for freedom), Perez Velazquez also “let the activists present know about the arbitrary situations occurring in all of Cuba, all the arrests and more“, as well as the increasing level of activism.

Four men (human rights activists) were also arrested upon trying to arrive to the house, among them José Mir Cruz and Heladio Pupo Nieves.  Regardless, the vigil was carried out with members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Ladies in White.

These arbitrary actions and all these violations which are being committed in these provinces have been occurring every single Wednesday as well as every Sunday, where they prohibit us from making it to Mass at church“, affirmed Perez Velazquez, “they arrest us, beat us, threaten us, and mistreat us“.

Despite these crackdowns by the regime, the Lady in White assured that the Resistance in the province of Holguin will continue standing firm against the dictatorship.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778 // Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352- 771- 630 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon

Ladies in White Continue Marching: Sunday Report

Caridad Caballero Batista

As has occurred during the majority of Sundays of the present year, the Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista was impeded from arriving to Sunday Mass at the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in her city of residence- Holguin- due to an extensive police operation headed by the repressive agent Yordanys Maritnez Leon this past 24th of June.

The mentioned agent- Martinez Leon- has been responsible for the majority of violent acts against Caridad Caballero, her family, and other Ladies in White from Holguin, ordering acts of repudiation, beatings and arrests of those mentioned activists in order to keep them from arriving to Church every Sunday to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and for a democratic future on the island.

Caballero Batista explains that this Sunday, she awoke to find her home “completely surrounded by a police operation, which consisted of female police agents, numerous motorcycles, and other officers“.  Because of this, the activist was not able to leave her home.

In Cacocum, Holguin, the Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura was violently arrested by the political police at around 7:30 AM as she was trying to assist the same church in Holguin.  Meanwhile, two Ladies in White in Banes- Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Rosa- were trying to travel to Caballero Batista’s home to later march to church but they were intercepted and impeded by State Security agents from leaving their town.

Caballero Batista added that in the same province of Holguin, on Saturday June 23rd, the Lady in White Adisnidia Cruz Segreo, who was visiting her children in prison, was arrested.  Both of her sons are political prisoners- Marcos Maikel Cruz and Antonio Michel Lima Cruz. They were jailed for publicly listening to the rebellious and independent music of the rap-duo Los Aldeanos, and they have been considered prisoners of conscience.  Adisnidia was detained upon leaving the prison and held behind bars until afternoon hours on Sunday, after Mass had concluded.

Despite this crackdown, Caballero highlights that “4 women were able to make it to mass in the city of Holguin“.

The former political prisoner  José Daniel Ferrer García informed through ‘Háblalo sin Miedo’ that 4 Ladies in White managed to surpass police cordons and arrive to church in Bayamo.  Ferrer Garcia added that 35 Ladies in White assisted mass in the Sanctuary of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba, while another 7 women made it to Catholic Mass in Guantanamo.

From the province of Matanzas, Caridad Burunate informed through her Twitter account (@CaridadBurunate) that 6 Ladies in White (among them, her) made it to mass in the city of Colon, despite a strong vigilance on behalf of Cuba’s political police.

Another Sunday: Ladies in White do not Back Down in the Face of State Repression

The repression against the Ladies in White has not ceased, nor have the operations to impede them from participating in Sunday Mass in Holguin”, said from that same city Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Barista, one of the detainees, as tends to occur, this past Sunday April 29th, 2012.

Caballero Batista and her husband, Esteban Sandez Suarez were detained during morning hours when they were on their way to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin.  Some other activists/Ladies who suffered arrests at the hands of the political police were Isabel Pena Torres, Adisnida Cruz, and Marco Antonio Lima in Holguin and Berta Guerrero Segura in the municipality of Cacocun.  The latter was arrested along with her 2 year old daughter.  She was simply walking down a sidewalk, on her way to church, dressed in white and carrying her small child when police agents intercepted her.

In the case of Caballero and Sandez Suarez, both were physically assaulted by police officials who then shoved them into police vehicles and took them to the instructional unit known as Pedernales, where they are usually taken when detained.  The activist explained that they were placed in “pestilent cells which are completely sealed off and where there is barely enough ventilation to breath…it is horrible“.

Due to these horrid conditions in which the Lady in White and her husband are regularly confined to, as well as all the physical blows they receive and all the hunger strikes they carry out as a form of protest, both have started to suffer from serious pains and complications in the kidneys.

Meanwhile, Caballero adds that “in other regions of the country there were police operations which impeded various women from other municipalities, such as Banes and Velasco, from traveling to the city of Holguin to march together“.  In addition, during the morning of Saturday April 28th, the Lady in White Miladis Pena was intercepted, detained and deported by the police “despite the fact that she was not even traveling to Holguin“.

Other cases of violence against Ladies in White were reported throughout the island, as was the case in Santiago de Cuba where 7 women were violently arrested as they were on their way to the El Cobre Sanctuary.  They were then abandoned in desolate and remote areas, far from their homes.  Among these women was Belkis Cantillo Ramirez, wife of the recently released opposition leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.  Despite the repression and the aggressive measures, whether it be in Holguin or in Santiago de Cuba or other provinces, some women were able to surpass police cordons and assist Sunday Mass.

Strong censorship still remains, cellphones blocked

In her case, Caridad Caballero adds that “it has been more than 1 month since I do not have telephone service“.  The dissident explains that this has been part of yet another method of censorship being practice by the Cuban regime so that she cannot communicate with fellow activists.  Up to this moment, her phone “does not receive and cannot dial any national calls and cannot send or receive any text messages from within the country.  Only a few international calls are allowed to be received“.

Caridad Caballero Batista

In fact, Caballero has had various family issues in Guantanamo (her native province) during the past few weeks- one uncle passed away, another uncle is in critical condition, and her elderly grandmother is sick- and yet, the activist has not been able to establish concrete communication with them.  Her house phone is also blocked.

Because of this, Caballero and Sandez recently went to the central office of CUBACEL (State phone company) in Holguin and present their complaints and demands.  However, they did not receive a response and their phones are still not working properly.

The Cuban regime has tried at all costs to impede Cuban dissidents from communicating with one another, from traveling freely within their own country, and from demanding their rights out on the streets.  But despite all of this, according to Caballero Batista, “as long as we are alive, we will continue resisting“.

For mor informaiton form Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero

Recap: Another Violent Weekend in Cuba

Once again, the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista and her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez were impeded from assisting Catholic Mass this past Sunday, April 15th, in the city of Holguin.  It was the 17th consecutive Sunday that these activists could not attend Mass to pray for Cuba.

Caballero explained that it was a “terrible” moment of “much violence“, when they were walking to church at around 8 AM and were intercepted by various police agents which began to arrest them immediately.

They nearly broke our fingers this time“, said Caballero, “in Esteban’s case, one of the agents applied a headlock on him and strangled him.  His neck is now swollen“.  The activist says that the acts of aggression occurred before the eyes of everyday citizens.  The repressive operation was carried out by State Security official Jordanys Martinez Leon.  The dissident adds that Martinez Leon was accompanied by various women of the Ministry of the Interior and other functionaries from State Security and from the National Police.

The dissident couple was kept in a dark and foul-smelling dungeon in the Pedernales Unit, this time until 3 PM.  They are usually kept until 11:30 AM or 12 PM, as soon as Sunday Mass ends, as a form of blackmail and as a taunt.

In addition, the cell phones of Caridad and Esteban were blocked by the regime before and during the arrest, impeding them from communicating with other human rights activists in the region.

Regardless, Caballero was able to confirm that Berta Guerrero Segura, a Lady in White from Cacocum, Holguin, was also arrested on her way to church.  In addition to Segura, “three other Ladies- Vaniuska Suarez, Lisete Gonzalez, and Odenis Suarez- were also arrested.  They were on their way to Holguin when police agents forcefully made them get off the bus they were on at around 5 AM“, said Caballero.  These three women were detained in the police unit of Velazco for various hours that Sunday.  The police agents confiscated the white clothes the women were carrying with them.

Meanwhile, in the municipality of Banes, Holguin, three Ladies in White were able to make it to the local Catholic Church.  These were Marta Diaz Rondon, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, and Miladis Pinales.  Rondon told this blog that, as tends to occur, they peacefully marched amid a strong vigilance on behalf of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police.  Various weekends have passed where these women have been able to surpass police operations, yet they are persecuted until they arrive at church, where the agents wait outside until Mass has concluded.  Afterward, the officers follow the women back home, insulting them and taunting them all along the way.

From Palma Soriano, Tania Montoya said that more than a dozen Ladies in white made it to El Cobre Sanctuary, while another group was arrested.  Montoya highlighted that she and other Ladies in White have turned to methods of “crossing fields and rivers” in order to surpass police operations and arrive to the Sanctuary.  “There are usually very strong police operations in the exits of Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, and other towns“, explained the activist, “this is all done in order to impede us from moving freely“.

It is precisely because of these operations that an activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Omar Naranjo, decided to join the women in solidarity and help them cross grasslands in order to make it to the other side.  However, upon arriving to the town of El Cobre, various police agents were already waiting.  These same agents violently arrested Naranjo.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Still Jailed 

Tania Montoya explained that along with her husband, Raumel Vinajera, they put together some signs with messages in favor of the release of former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who has been once again confined to a dungeon and has been there for two weeks.  It was reported that on Monday, April 16th, various of these signs propped up throughout the town of Palma Soriano and they all had messages demanding freedom for Ferrer.

Caridad Caballero said to be “very worried” about the situation of Jose Daniel, considering that he has been victim of constant violence and that the authorities can easily revoke his Black Spring sentence if they so desire.  When it comes to the treatment of human rights activists in Cuba, Caballero assures that the Cuban regime “has no mercy with anyone“.

For more information from Cuba: 

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero //Marta Díaz Rondón – Cell Phone: +5352-771-639 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon // Tania Montoya – Cell Phone: +5353- 146 – 329

Twitter of José Daniel Ferrer García, being administered by his wife Belkis and brother Luis Enrique:   @jdanielferrer

Lady in White: “As Pope Benedict’s visit to Cuba nears, the political police increases its repression”. Another Sunday of Arrests.

This past 11th of March was the twelfth consecutive Sunday that Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista was forcefully kept from reaching church alongside other Ladies in the city of Holguin.  This time, Caballero was arbitrarily detained on Saturday, March 10th, together with her 19-year old son, Eric Sandez Caballero, at around 8:30 AM as they were both aboard a car headed towards a taxi and bus stop at the center of the city to take care of some personal chores.

As soon as we stepped down from the car, various State Security and political police officials ran at us and aggressively arrested us”, explained the activist, adding that the operation was led by agents Duglas Torres Pupo and Yordanis Martinez Leon, among others.  The arrest occurred before the eyes of a number of everyday citizens which were passing by that centric area.  Regardless, the regime deployed a number of police vehicles just to arrest two people.

Both mother and son were introduced in one of those police vehicles and taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales where they were kept in separate interrogation rooms.  “They told us that they were not going to allow us to move freely throughout the country and that they were going to start a smear campaign against us.  We responded by saying that we do not care for how many campaigns they carry out against us and that we are anti-Castro until the death, and that we will keep fighting for our rights: for freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and  the respect of human rights in Cuba“.

After this exchange of words, Caridad and Eric were moved to separate small and sealed off cells.  In the case of Eric, there were 4 other prisoners in his cell, all of who were being charged with different crimes, including robbery.  The guards did not give him a mattress and the 19-year old had to sleep on a piece of concrete in the cell.  Eric Sandez suffers from a medical condition where his sugar level and blood pressure suddenly drop and the blood flow to his brain becomes insufficient.  Whenever this happens to him, he must urgently be rushed to a doctor or a hospital.  Despite suffering from such a delicate condition, the functionaries of the Cuban regime still subject Eric to cruel and degrading treatment.

In the case of Caballero Batista, she was the only person in her cell, which was completely sealed off.  “The bathroom of the cell was a small hole on the floor and it was clogged.  I had to put up with that very strong smell, among mosquitoes, roaches, spiders, and other bugs“.  As she usually does, the Lady in White began to shout messages from her dungeon: “Down with Communism“, “Down with the Castros“, and “Long live Human Rights“.  Caballero affirms that she heard some common prisoners in the distance repeat her slogans.  “In fact, one of them told me to scream louder so it could be heard in all of the prison, and others would repeat my phrase when I would say ‘long live Human Rights‘”.

Caridad and Eric were kept in those cells (without drinking water) until Sunday at 11:30 AM, once the mass in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church of Holguin had concluded.  During this whole time, Caballero’s home was surrounded by numerous police vehicles and State Security officials with the intentions of keeping Esteban Sandez, Caridad’s husband, from leaving his own home.  Despite this, the dissident found a way to leave his house and directed himself to the nearest State Security unit where he publicly demanded the liberation of his wife and son.

In regards to her son, Caridad Caballero assured that although the regime is trying to “frighten him, he has come out much stronger.  Every time he has one of these situations he gets even more inspired to stay in the struggle“.

Meanwhile, in the town of Banes the Ladies in White Marta Diaz Rondon, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, and Miladis Pinales Rosa were once again arrested at around 5:30 AM as they were trying to travel to the city of Holguin to march to mass alongside other Ladies.  Diaz Rondon explained that in her case her home had been under “tight surveillance since Wednesday“.  Despite the vigilance, the dissident and these other two women decided to leave their homes during the early morning hours.  They noticed that barely any State Security officials and political police officers were around their homes at that time.  They took advantage of the moment and boarded a bus.  However, as the bus arrived to the exit point of Banes, a military checkpoint composed of numerous State Security officials were waiting for the Ladies.

They took us down from the buses by force, and at that moment, we were arrested.  They put us inside police vehicles and took us to the State Security headquarter of Banes”, said Rondon.  The three women were kept separated in that unit for 6 hours until mass in Holguin and Banes came to an end.  “They told each of us that every time we leave our homes we will be detained“.  Diaz Rondon has not been able to leave her own city for various weeks now.  

All the exits of Banes are under control of State Security and the political police, but I have told all the officials that my house is not a dungeon”, affirmed the Lady in White.

Other Ladies in White, such as Berta Guerrero Segura in Cacocum and Adisnidia Cruz in the city of Holguín, were reportedly detained also on that Sunday.  Only 3 women made it to mass in Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church, under much vigilance and constant threats on behalf of functionaries from the communist regime.

During that same Sunday night, it was confirmed  that dissidents Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez, Eriberto Liranza Romero (president of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy) and Rene Rouco Machín (President of the Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia Movement) were suddenly arrested.  The detentions were reported by Yris Tamara Aguilera, wife of Antunez and active dissident in her own right, who published various Twitter messages (@YrisCuba) with the information.  In the case of her husband, his arrest occurred in the central town of Placetas as he stepped out of his house and was walking to the corner of his block when guards detained him “under orders of the high command from Havana“.  Eriberto Liranza and Rene Rouco were arrested in their respective homes in Havana.  Yris Aguilera added that she does not know the whereabouts of her husband or of Liranza or Machin, and that in the town of “Sagua la Grande all homes of dissidents are surrounded“.

In regards to all these arbitrary arrests, Caridad Caballero declared that “as Pope Benedict’s visit to Cuba nears, the political police increases its repression against the peaceful defenders of human rights and the Ladies in White“.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: 011-5352-629-749; Twitter: @caricaballero / Marta Díaz Rondón – Cell Phone: 011-5352-771-639; Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon / Yris Tamara Aguilera – Cell Phone: 011-5352-417-749 ; Twitter: @YrisCuba

Numerous Ladies in White Arrested on Way to Church, 117 in Total Make it to Mass Throughout the Island

“Thank God, despite numerous arrests, at least 8 Ladies in White managed to make it to mass in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in Holguin this past Sunday, March 4th”, expressed dissident Caridad Caballero Batista who was one of the women arrested who could not make it to her temple for the 10th consecutive Sunday.  This past 28th of February Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a non-profit Christian pro-human rights organization, published this report detailing the fundamental human rights violations which this Lady in White suffers when she is violently kept from walking to church every Sunday by the Cuban political police and State Security.

In the case of this past Sunday, 14 Ladies in White in total were arrested in Holguin alone.  Among them were Adisnidia Cruz, Berta Guerrero, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and also Caridad Caballero.  These last two were accompanied by Esteban Sande Suarez, husband of Caballero Batista and active dissident as well.  Suarez, too, was arrested.  In the case of Adisnidia Cruz, she was rapidly arrested as soon as she set foot outside her own house.  The wave of arrests occurred at around 8:25 AM.

Caballero explains that she was violently shoved into a police vehicle, as tends to happen, and that she, her husband, and Gertrudis Ojeda were taken to the instructional unit of Pedernales, but “the other women which were arrested were kept in different units and later released in areas very far from their homes“.

Meanwhile, the 8 women who managed to make it to church decided to carry out a non-violent protest after mass but they too were detained.  Among them were Nelda Molina Leyva, Sonia Ericelia, Romelia Piña González and Zuleidis Pérez.  “They were only able to walk about 3 blocks when a bus full of agents arrived.  They were only carrying flowers in their hands when they were arrested by political police and national revolutionary police agents”, detailed Caballero Batista.

In Banes, the Lady in White Marta Díaz Rondon was arrested during the afternoon of Saturday, March 3rd, in order to once again impede her from arriving to Holguin to march alongside her sisters in struggle.  Rondon explains that around 12 in the afternoon, from the moment she stepped out of her house with intentions to head to Holguin, a State Security official started to follow her with his police vehicle.  “He followed me absolutely everywhere I went, and this lasted for an hour.  I told him to stop following me and I shouted some slogans in favor of freedom.  He only responded to me by saying that I would not be allowed to go to Holguin“, denounced the opposition activist.

The persecution of Diaz Rondon culminated in her aggressive arrest at around 2 pm.  The operation was directed by State Security official Freddy Aguero and another agent known as Osmany (this was the one who followed her throughout her town).  Diaz was taken to the State Security Department of Banes where she was kept until 11 pm and then transferred at that time to the police unit and kept in a dungeon.  “I decided to carry out a hunger strike in the form of protest while in the dungeon“, explains Diaz Rondon. She was kept in that dark and pestilent cell until the following day at around 12 pm when she was released.

While I was detained, various State Security officials told me that they would not allow me to travel anywhere, that I’d be watched 24 hours a day, and that I would especially not be allowed to go to Holguin to march with the Ladies in White on Sundays”, denounced Rondon.  In addition, the communist functionaries handed her a warning letter which reinstated that she was not allowed to travel freely throughout her own country. The response of this human rights activist was to let her oppressors known that her house is “not a dungeon“.

Also in Banes, at around 7 AM on that same Saturday, the Lady in White Miladis Rosa was arrested.  She was released a few hours later at 11 and she was not allowed to assist Sunday mass.

Meanwhile, the former prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia published a Twitter message this Sunday which affirmed that 40 Ladies in White made it to mass at El Cobre Sanctuary in Santiago de Cuba, while another 4 made it to a church in Guantanamo, amid threats and aggressions.  In Havana, another group of about 40 women made it to the Santa Rita Church.  In total, throughout all the Cuban provinces, it was reported that 117 Ladies in White made it to mass.

Just days before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba, the Cuban regime continues to repress all peaceful dissidents, especially the Ladies in White who simply want to assist mass to pray for a country free of dictatorships.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell phone: 011-5352-629-749; Twitter: @caricaballero / Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell phone: 011-5352-771-639; Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon / Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell phone: 011-5353-631-267; Twitter: @jdanielferrer

Banes, Holguin: Lady in White Denounces Dictatorship’s Violence

Second to the right, Marta Diaz Rondon. Second to the left, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez.

Marta Díaz Rondón, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Rosa are three Ladies in White and pro-democracy activists that have been beaten, dragged, arrested, and kept under surveillance for the simple act of paying tribute to their deceased brothers in struggle, for peacefully and publicly opposing the tyranny, and for trying to assist religious mass. 

January 15th

The 3 women- all of them residents from Banes, Holguin- suffered a brutal attack at the hands of state agents on the morning of Saturday, January 14th, as they were traveling towards the city of Holguin aboard a friend’s car to assist mass that Sunday along with other Ladies in White.  The violence began when a group of State Security agents and political police officials gave orders to the women to get off the car.  Considering that neither of the three had committed a single crime, they refused.  The violence began at that very moment.

It was a group of police agents, headed by State Security agent Freddy Aguero”, explains Marta Díaz Rondón, “they dragged us off the car as they were beating us”.  As they dragged the women, in addition to the accustomed physical blows delivered by officials, the women were being hurt as they were thrown against the car seats, the car steps, and the outside pavement.  In the case of Rondon, she suffered serious injuries on her head and on her thighs.  As for Gertrudis Ojeda, who just a few weeks ago was brutally beaten inside her own house by Cuban political police,  they “twisted her arms and hands, they nearly broke them“.  Afterward, the three activists were thrown inside a police vehicle.

The activists were first taken to a State Security department in Banes, where they once again were dragged, by their hair and by their arms- this time up the stairs to the 3rd floor where the offices of the department are located. Once upstairs, the agents decided where each woman would be taken to.  In the case of Diaz Rondon, she was taken to the unit known as Vagano, in Holguin, where she remained arrested for a total of 29 hours.  Gertrudis was taken to the Rafael Freire Unit (also for 29 hours), and Miladis was detained in a police unit in Banes for a number of hours until that afternoon.

During the arrest, we all carried out a protest.  We did not accept a single thing from them”, affirmed Rondon.  

The State Security agents confiscated Marta’s cell phone and kept it for an entire week, in an attempt to impede her from communicating the news to people outside the country, or even within the country.

January 21st

The brutal actions were repeated against Marta Diaz Rondon and Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez the Sunday of the following week, January 21st.  This time, the activists were able to assist mass in a local church of Banes, all dressed in white.  After the mass, they received word of arrests in the city of Holguin, the majority of them Ladies in White.  Rondon and Suarez decided to travel to Holguin to show solidarity with her brothers and sisters.

They were both able to arrive to the city, but upon arriving to the home of Caridad Caballero Batista, they noticed that no one was there.  Caridad and her husband Esteban had been victims of arrests, as had the majority of the Ladies in White in that area.  Rondon and Suarez headed towards the nearest State Security Unit, located right in front of San Jose Park.

That entire area was surrounded by State Security agents,” explained Diaz, “I told them I was there to find out about those who had been detained, but a number of agents aggressively ran up to us, headed by the official known as ‘The Polish’.  They threw us inside police vehicles and returned us back to Banes”.  The agents accused the women of ‘disobedience’ and they were kept in jail cells for various hours in a police center of Banes.

Despite the aggressions, a tribute ceremony was held for Orlando Zapata

Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Still full of bruises and reeling from very strong pains, Marta Diaz Rondon provided her home to carry out a tribute for Orlando Zapata Tamayo on that 23rd of January, 23 months after the political prisoner was killed by the Castro dictatorship.

We lit candles and deposited flowers in front of an Orlando Zapata monument we have in my house.  11 activists participated”, explained Rondon.

During the display of solidarity, the home of Rondon was surrounded by numerous State Security agents.  The Lady in White denounced that “everywhere that I go, I am constantly under surveillance.  They do not let me leave my own municipality.  And if I somehow find a way to sneak out, then they arrest me and send me back.  There are groups of agents stationed outside my house who  watch me 24 hours a day“.

In addition, Diaz Rondon condemned the “repressive crackdown unleashed by the regime against all men and women of the opposition after the assassination of Wilman Villar Mendoza.  The regime does not respect anything, they are beating us constantly“.  In fact, the dissident explains that a cyst has developed on her thighs, product of the ruthless beatings she had endured in the recent weeks, as policemen have also “dragged her around as if she was a sack of clothes“- repressive tactics which Rondon has compared to those employed by Nazis during Germany’s fascist era.  “The dictatorship’s henchmen are just like the Gestapo, they are equally assassins and beat any peaceful person as they wish“.

In this photo, taken in 2010 by Luis Felipe Rojas, Marta Diaz Rondon appears with various bruises on her thighs/legs. It is this same area where she is once again suffering from wounds because of beatings at the hands of the regime

Once Again, Ladies in White & Other Dissidents Impeded from Going to Church

Caridad Caballero Batista

On Sunday January 16th numerous arrests of Ladies in White and other dissidents occurred in the Eastern region of Cuba- particularly Holguin- as human rights activists were once again impeded from assisting their local churches.  The dissidents had plans to demand the freedom of Ivonne Malleza, Ignacio Martinez and Isabel Haydee Alvarez, as well as to pray for the health and spirit of hunger-striking political prisoner Wilman Mendoza, whom is currently in critical condition in the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital of Santiago de Cuba.  According to the independent journalist and Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista, the arrests began on Saturday morning with the violent arrests of Marta Diaz Rondon, Gertrudis Ojeda, and Miladis Rosa, as these three Ladies in White traveled from their native town of Banes towards the city of Holguin where they had planned to participate in Sunday mass.

Caballero Batista recounts that in Cacocum, Holguin, dissidents Franklin Peregrino del Toro and his wife Berta Guerrero were also detained.  Meanwhile, in the city of Holguin Batista was arrested alongside her husband Esteban Sande Suarez and Isabel Pena Torres (Lady in White).  All of these arrests occurred at around 8 am.

The arrest was very violent“, recalls Caridad, “We received physical blows on our arms, on our heads…we were kicked in our legs and all over our bodies“.

After the beating, Caballero, her husband Esteban, and dissident Isabel Pena were taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales, located in the outskirts of Holguin.  Upon arriving at the Unit (notorious for its deplorable cells and harsh treatment against inmates) a guard physically attacked Caridad Caballero.  “The guard punched me on the mouth because he wanted me to remain silent and not demand my rights“, explained the activist who did not cease protesting the aarbitrariness.

After being beaten, Caballero was pushed into a cell where there were two other women who were trying to pass as inmates.  But the reality of these women was another.  “Those women were not prisoners, they were placed their intentionally to harass me“, denounced Batista, who noticed that both these women had participated in violent acts against her and other dissidents in the town of Banes, when Reina Luisa Tamayo- mother of fallen political prisoner Orlando Zapata- still lived there.  The false inmates tried to intimidate Caridad but the dissident remained true to her anti-dictatorship posture.

While Batista, Sande, and Torres remained detained, various other dissidents, including Zuleidy Pérez González (Lady in White), Juan Cordero Perdomo, Enrique Núñez and Luis Jaime Merino head out to the State Security Unit to demand freedom for the three tireless activists.  These activists who had demonstrated such a sign of solidarity were also arrested by force and taken to Pedernales.  Batista added that “in Cacocum, in addition to Franklin Peregrino and his wife, also detained was Rosaida Gonzalez Escalona at aroudn 1 pm.  She was taken to the unit in the midst of constant physical aggressions“.

Caridad, Esteban and Isabel were released at around 1 in the afternoon.  Though numerous Ladies in White and other activists could not assist mass due to the violent operations against them, Caballero Batista nevertheless points out that she feels “joyful, because other women could end up going to church in Holguin afterall“, referring to a group of Ladies in White which managed to surpass the chord of vigilance set up around the area.  These women were able to assist mass during the morning at Jesus Christ the Redeemer of Humans, located in Holguin in the Pueblo Nueva neighborhood on 5th Street.  “Knowing that there are even a few of us in mass makes us much stronger“, adds Batista.   Among the Ladies in White who were able to assist mass on that morning in Holguin were Grisel Piña González, Ana María Aguilera Paneque, Noemi Hidalgo Gómez y Naida León.


During that same Sunday, another set of violent arrests of 19 Ladies in White occurred in Santiago de Cuba as the female activists left mass in El Cobre Sanctuary and marched towards the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital to morally support Mariza Pelegrino, wife of the very critical Wilman Mendoza.  Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia explained to ‘Hablalo sin Miedo‘ that the arrests were brutal.   


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