Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: National ‘Boitel and Zapata Live’ March for Freedom

After Brutal Detainment, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia Affirms that the Struggle Continues

After ten days of arbitrary detention for participating in the re-initiation of the the National Boitel and Zapata Live On March, former political prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia narrated his experience during his violent arrest and during his forced stay in inhumane prison cells.

The arrest occurred on December 2nd in Palma Soriano, during the second stage of the National March in that region.  The previous day the March had taken place in Guantanamo and there were 35 dissidents arrested.  In Palma Soriano, according to Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, “dissidents were able to get 49 activists together.  The others were detained outside the house we were all in as they tried to come inside“.

Despite the arrests, Ferrer points out that the activists were able to surpass the local police operation against them because for two days activists were going into the house, one by one, hailing from Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba, San Luis, Palmarito de Cauto, and other regions.  Angel Moya Acosta, also an ex prisoner of conscience, was also present representing the Matanzas Unity group.  “When the officials became aware of this,” narrates Ferrer, “they unleashed a huge operation with hundreds of uniformed agents, dozens of political police officers, including chiefs and collaborators, and they closed down the streets and surrounded the house“.

Quickly, the Cuban regime officials parked two buses near the house.  Ferrer, the president of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), highlighted the irony and hypocrisy of  utilizing such buses, for they were the buses that were “introduced in the country by the religious group known as ‘Pastors for Peace’, supposedly to be used for noble social causes“.  Instead, the oppressors utilized the buses to crack down on the people who stepped out of their homes to carry out their march.  “They used the buses to block the roads and forcefully shoved us inside of them“.  The group of activists were divided between both buses and were also beaten against and inside of the buses.

Compared to Angel Moya, I received less physical blows,” tells Ferrer, “they did punch me, slap me, and even shoved a finger inside my mouth to prevent me from shouting for freedom“.

From there, the dissidents were distributed throughout police units of the region, all the while suffering beatings.  “In fact, the blood of three of the worst wounded was spread over the windows of one of the buses, right before the eyes of hundreds of neighbors from Palma Soriano who had took to the street to witness the brutality with which the police attacked a group of peaceful dissenters

As a result of the public violence, the activist confirmed a very important development: on the streets of Palma Soriano “one can hear many comments of everyday people favoring the opposition and many comments against the repressive agents of the tyranny“.

Inside the cells

The cell of the  “La Maya” Unit where Ferrer was forced to stay was nothing new for a former political prisoner who spent 7 and a half years in the communist Cuban gulags- poor food, poor hygiene, filth, insects, and in sum, inhumane conditions.  “In addition to such horrible conditions, the cell was infested with mosquitoes and I now have bites all over my body“.  Also present were the common threats.  “They threatened us with taking us to prison and in the case of Angel Moya, Jorge Cervantes, and myself (the last three to be freed) they presented us with a cautionary measure- a document which accused us of the crime of public disorder“.  The three members of the Resistance refused to accept the document and did not sign it at any moment, despite the pressure.

Jose Daniel adds that among the threats against him, they also threatened Jorge Cervantes, Angel Moya, and all the others who were participating in acts of civil disobedience against the dictatorship.  “The political police officials told me that their strategy is to jail 20, 30, or 40 activists or to jail the leaders which keep this dissident activism growing“, to which the opposition activist replied, “neither with my imprisonment or the imprisonment of 20 or 30 others will they be successful in paralyzing and destroying the struggle for freedom and human rights in Cuba, because the struggle is growing and will continue onward because it has a clearly defined goal: the absolute freedom of Cuba“.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was released in the afternoon hours of Monday, December 12th, along with Jorge Cervantes who remained in hunger strike during the entire length of the 10 days.  Ferrer declared that various police officials had told him that Angel Moya Acosta would be transferred and released to Havana because he was not wanted in the East.

If as of tomorrow, December 14th, we confirm that Moya is not released, then a group of Ladies in White and other dissidents will protest outside the Micro-9 Police Unit where Moya was detained in the first place.  We will demand his immediate release“, declared Ferrer.  As of the afternoon of the 14th, Moya had not been released and not much other information has been able to be confirmed for the moment.

Ferrer Garcia showed no signs of stopping or slowing down his constant activism in favor of a completely free Cuba.

Sara Fonseca, Detained and Threatened, but her Perseverance Remains the Same

For the first time since the death of Laura Pollan, the Ladies in White decided to continue the tradition of their weekly literary meetings in the headquarters of the group, the very home of Laura in Havana, this Tuesday October 18th.  But the functionaries of the Cuban regime also decided to continue their accustomed acts of violence and impediments, unleashing an aggressive operation with the intent of not allowing the women dressed in white to carry out a peaceful event such as this reunion.  The prominent dissident Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, who recently suffered a 2 week long arrest and a brutal beating, was once again victim of state-sponsored violence, suffering a detainment on that very morning.

Fonseca narrates that she set out from her home to the gathering at around 9 in the morning, right after having had breakfast, when she was quickly arrested.  “I felt very bad- besides the obvious, being in mourning over Laura Pollan’s death, which the dictatorship did not respect at all, I had also just eaten and such an aggressive arrest led me to start vomiting constantly throughout the day“.  According to Sara, this operation was set in motion in order “to impede the Ladies in White from reorganizing after the death of Laura“, adding that she and all the other women arrested and harassed on that day were constantly threatened.  “The agents told us that they will not allow us to continue to take to the streets- the same discourse as always.  However, it seems then that we will continue to get arrested because we are not going to stop carrying out our activities .  We are going to continue demanding the freedom of not only every single political prisoner but of the entire Cuban nation“.

Sara Marta was released at around 6 PM of the same day.  “On the next day (Wednesday the 19th) I awoke with more vomiting, but throughout the day I started to feel better, although I am still very frustrated about everything that has been happening“, referring to the death of Pollan and the constant violence against the internal resistance of the island.  Despite the police operation, Fonseca states that 19 women were able to participate in the reunion which “of course, was very difficult considering that it was the first gathering of the sort without Laura“.

The dissident adds that one of the many threats during her arrest was “once again, that I could not hold any more meetings with opposition members“, in an allusion to the fact that her house is constantly being used as a meeting point for opponents of the dictatorship.  There, the resistance frequently holds conferences, organizes future events, and carries out public protests.  “Now, right before my release, they told me that they were not going to allow me to be out on the streets past 10 PM, and that it was strictly prohibited for me to leave the province of Havana“.  Fonseca’s response reflected her determination and lack of fear: “Honestly, all these things that they tell me I listen to because I refuse to waste time on arguing with them, but I am in no way going to follow any of their orders“.

On the following day, Fonseca and other activists of the the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba held a vigil “for the immediate and total freedom, without exile,  for all political prisoners” in her house, defying the orders of the tyranny.  “My husband and I will continue organizing these same activities, and if we have to travel out of the province, we will do it, and they can do anything they want with us, really, but we are going to continue our struggle the same way as always“.

Day of Virgin of Mercedes: A Weekend of Repression in Cuba

Ladies in White beaten and harassed, a group of dissidents congregated at the home of Sara Marta Fonseca were arrested, and dissidents throughout the island had their homes surrounded. 

On the day of the Virgin of Mercedes, the patron saint of all prisoners, the unmeasured and usual violence against the peaceful Cuban dissidence was not absent.  Since days before, the Ladies in White had assured that they would march through the streets of Havana to the Church of Mercedes on Saturday, September 24th.  As a response to this persistent attitude, the state-run blog “Cambios en Cuba” published an entry where the author called on a full-scale violent operation against the Ladies, declaring that “simply, they will not be allowed” to carry out their non-violent actions.  This call made by the official blog was just a theatrical performance aimed to make it seem like (once again) the mobs around the home of Laura Pollan, which is also the headquarter of the Ladies in White, were everyday “infuriated revolutionary citizens” harassing the dissident women.  The group of more than 200 “furious citizens” circled the front door of Pollan, hurling insults and threats at the women, but the Ladies reassured that they would take to the street, despite the consequences.

The independent blogger, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, was able to make it to Neptune Street, where the mob repudiation act was taking place.  There, he was able to photograph the faces of those participating in the violence, which according to him were people who had been pre-selected by the government, seeing as the political police did not let any by-standers stand remotely close to the mob.  In his Twitter account, Pardo Lazo detailed that the screams against the Ladies in White were “Long live the Revolution” and “Down with Imperialism” in addition to other slogans “from the XX century“, such as “Witches in White” and “We have the best commander“.    When the Ladies tried to step out, the slogans changed into chants of “You will not pass“.  A short while after, the blogger also reported that the ‘protesters’ had set up loudspeakers on the street which were blasting Silvio Rodriguez music and a speech by Fidel Castro.  It was then that a bus arrived with uniformed officials from the Ministry of the Interior.  These agents continued the repudiation act with more force, and not to mention, brought food and juice for the mobs- their awards for being obedient to the dictatorship.

Photo taken by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, shows the “awards” which the government gave to the citizens it chose to carry out the mob repudiation attack.

When Laura Pollan and the rest of the Ladies in White once again, and finally, tried to step out of the house, the mobs- who although were ‘spontaneous’ yet who perfectly knew martial arts (as do all agents of the political police and State Security)- applied head and arm locks on the women, in addition to pulling their hair, pushing them, and beating them.  Meanwhile, Berta Soler and a group of 13 other Ladies in White marched out from an undisclosed house and were able to surpass the police operation and made it to the Church of Mercedes.  However, Soler declared to Radio Marti that her husband, former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya, who had accompanied the women, was not permitted entrance into the temple.

Harassment and Arrests in Rio Verde, in the home of Sara Marta Fonseca

While the government organized mobs attacked various Ladies in White on Neptune Street, in the Havana neighborhood of Rio Verde a number of dissidents were meeting at the home of Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo.  Among those present were Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez”, Yris Tamara Aguilera, and Eriberto Liranza Romero.

Liranza Romero narrates that the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front had met in the home of Sara Marta to declare that day a National Resistance Day, in protest against the “abuses committed by the political police against dissidents, specifically against the Ladies in White“.  Quickly, explains Romero, the home of Fonseca Quevedo was surrounded by political police agents who started shouting insults to the nearly 20 dissidents inside.  “Some of us stepped out of the house to show them that when their is dignity, principles, and faith in the struggle, despite anything that can happen to us, we will not fear“.  The political police responded with physical blows and by dragging various dissidents on the floor and into police vehicles, including Antunez, Yris Tamara, Sara Marta and her husband Julio Leon, and Eriberto himself.

I was taken to a police unit located in Santiago de Las Vegas where I was severely threatened, and where, in fact, one official even tried to instigate me to physically fight him“, denounced Eriberto.  “I was released in the afternoon of Sunday, September 25th“.

Romero denounces and warns that Sara Mata Fonseca and Julio Leon still remain detained in the 6th unit of el Cerro.  Sara Marta’s son- also named Julio- echoes this concern, as heard via an audio published by Berta Antunez, sister of Jorge Luis ‘Antunez’.  Jorge Luis had already been released at the time of this report, also having suffered beatings and threats.  It has been commented, and not yet confirmed, that penal authorities have made statements about wanting to process Sara and Julio for “acts of provocation”.  (We must remain fully attentive to this situation)

Surrounded Homes in Eastern Cuba

In similar news, human rights activists throughout the island have been victim of political police vigilance operations set up around their homes, in addition to receiving threats on behalf of government agents.

In the province of Holguin, well-known dissident Caridad Caballero Batista spent the entire weekend with soldiers surrounding her house.  In addition, her ID Card had been confiscated by state agents, impeding her from traveling to Havana in order to march alongside the Ladies in White.  The same story was repeated and applied to Marta Diaz Rondon, in Banes, who also had her house surrounded and who was threatened with “72 more hours of arrest” if she tried to leave her house.  Rondon and Caballero had both just been victims of beatings and arrests when they tried to take part in the National Boitel and Zapata Live March for Freedom this past Monday, along with 13 other dissidents, all of who were beaten and threatened as well.  The arrested dissidents also participated in a hunger strike until their release.

In the town of San German, the independent journalist and blogger Luis Felipe Rojas also denounced that his house had also been surrounded for 3 whole days in order to keep him from moving freely, seeing as he is constantly reporting (through his limited and censured means) acts of repression occurring against the Cuban resistance in whichever province of the country.  Rojas made it clear and denounced that the surveillance was not only occurring in Holguin and San German, but also in the towns of Moa and Cacocum, where many other dissident homes were surrounded.  “Turns out, now in order to travel from municipality to another, to meet up with friends, or go for a public walk we are supposed to wait for G2 (political police) approval“, read one of his more recent Tweets.

Crackdown Attempts to Deter an Unstoppable March (Pt. IV- Holguin)

Photo of one of the many arrests Caridad Caballero Batista has suffered

In Holguin, dissidents who stepped out from the home of Caridad Caballero Batista and Esteban Sande were impeded, beaten, and detained as they tried to carry out the National ‘Boitel and Zapata Live’ March for Freedom this Monday, September 19th, in that city.  In total, 14 dissidents were arrested, which besides Caballero Batista and Sande included other activists like Ariel Cruz Meneses, Juan Carlos Verdecia, Pedro Leiva, and Marta Diaz Rondon.  Esteban Sande tried to record the situation but when the political police officials noticed this, they chased him down to confiscate his camera.

Marta Diaz Rondon explains that there were more than 50 agents waiting to crack-down, and so they did.  “We were beaten, thrown in the police vehicles, and we were detained“, recounts the activist who traveled from her town of Banes to participate in the March with her brothers and sisters in cause.  All the dissidents were taken directly to the Instructional Police Unit of Pedernales, notorious for its tiny, pestilent, and inhumane cells.

Once in Pedernales, the officials began to separate the activists, sending them off to different detention centers.  In the case of Caridad Caballero, however, she was kept in Pedernales, where she slept on the filthy concrete floor for three nights, each morning awaking with “horrible ant bites on the face“.  In Marta’s case, she explains that, “along with Isabel Pena Torres and Denis Pino Basulto, we were taken to a detention center in the city of Gibara“.  On the way to the costal city of Gibara, these three freedom fighters began to shout anti-governmental slogans.  According to Diaz Rondon, at one point, “a State Security official threatened me, telling me that he wanted to throw me into the ocean to drown me“.  Once in the Unit of Gibara, the activists were each put in separate cells which were filled with cockroaches, mosquitoes, and even crabs.

Denis Pino Basulto, a 27 year old dissident who is a member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, described his cell as a dungeon of wretched conditions.  In addition to having to face constant mosquito bites, Basulto explains that he had very sharp pains in one of his legs, seeing as how a State Security agent had purposely slammed shut the police car door on him during the moment of his arrest in Holguin.  “That was done to me by an official nicknamed ‘The Polish‘”, denounces Denis, “he told me he was going to kill me“.

Denis shared his cell with with a 60 year old man.  After chatting with him for a while, he learned that this man had been thrown in that dungeon after being charged with ‘dangerousness’ on grounds of some housing and work issues, and that he had been there for 6 days.  The man’s eyes were swollen and had bacteria, caused by an infection he contracted in the prison.  “From our different cells, we began to shout that this man had to have medical attention, and so the authorities took him out, put him in a car, and he was taken to get checked“.

On the following day, Isabel Pena suffered a similar fate, seeing as she already suffers from various health complications.  Denis, along with Marta Diaz Rondon, began to shout about the situation of Isabel, denouncing her poor treatment.  This left the jailers with no other option but to also take her to the hospital, checking her in for one day.  Isabel recounts, “the police who took me to the hospital was also ‘The Polish’, and he was threatening me the entire time with slapping me.  He kept telling me that all day, even if I wasn’t looking his way“.

In the hospital, “The Polish” met up with 4 other agents and kept a tight watch on Pena Torres.  “They surrounded me and did not let anyone get near me the entire time“, as if she were a criminal.  Afterward, she was taken back to her cell in Gibara.  “Once I got there, I asked for just a little bit of water since I had been taking many pills for my conditions, but the guards flat out denied me the right.  They said that since I was in protest, I couldn’t have water at all”, referring to the fact that all those detained on that day had decided to initiate a hunger strike until the liberation of all those who were trying to carry out the march.

They remained with the protest until Thursday, September 22nd, when they began to release them.  In Pedernales, Caridad Caballero was released around 2 in the afternoon, but they did not provide her any means of transportation.  Caballero suffered a drop in blood pressure, due to the conditions she was kept in (excessive heat) and her hunger strike, but she had to find her own means of getting back home.  Along her way, she met a lady who was kind enough to provide her with coffee.  Caballero had to rest for about 2 hours until she had sufficient strength again to continue walking.

In Gibara, Marta Diaz Rondon and Isabel Pena were released first, although they both decided that they would maintain their hunger strike until Denis Pino was released.  In his case, he was kept for a few hours longer.  “During the wait for my release“, he says, “I wrote on my cell walls- ‘Zapata Lives’ and ‘Down with the Castros’.  The authorities told me I would not be released until I painted the walls and painted over my writing.  I refused over and over again“.  He was eventually released at around 4 pm, but the obstacles of the regime against him did not end there.

I told an official to provide me with some sort of signed document explaining what had happened to me so I could turn it in at work“, explains Denis, “he responded by telling me that people like me did not get any papers.  I told him that it was my right, and that where I work it is required I provide some sort of document whenever I miss days“.  The response of the activist was to jot down the tag number of the official- 27570.  “He treated me however he wanted to, he is just another henchman.  I then told him to at least provide transportation back to my house, seeing as how there were so many cars in that unit, but they refused to take me as well.  I had to travel back on my own account, having to ask people on the street to give me a ride back“, amid severe dizziness caused by three consecutive days of hunger strike.  Pino adds that it is possible that upon going back to work, it was very likely that he didn’t even have a job anymore, seeing as “they are desperate” to kick him out because of his dissident status, and perhaps they now have an excuse.

While Denis was detained, his wife had to visit all the Police Units of Holguin with their small daughter, searching for any sort of information on her husband.  Every single official she turned to refused to provide her with any sort of information, and did not even suggest as to where he may be.  That is why she considered him lost.  In addition, the officials also verbally abused her, offending her and telling her that she had no right to be taking her daughter around like that.

The dissident Julio Cesar Ramos, member of the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement, also tried to find out information about those who were detained on Monday.  “We went to all the police units, but they would not say a thing to us“, he says, adding that, “we decided to carry out a protest that morning until our brothers and sisters were released“.  He also called a wide range of other dissidents throughout the island, denouncing the situation.  All families and friends of those arrested had to go through that difficult uncertainty, without having a clue as to where they were being held and in what conditions.

Caridad Caballero explains that after her release, her house has remained in total surveillance on behalf of the agents of the government.  In addition, she denounces, her ID Card had been confiscated from her, preventing her from being able to travel to Havana for September 24th, a day when the Ladies in White have planned to march and assist mass.  Meanwhile, Marta Diaz Rondon details that she left the detainment cell with “strong chest pains, tachycardia, and dizziness“, but reiterates that despite all the threats and violence, her fight will continue to be completely non-violent, and that the March demanded three specific rights, which she will keep defending: that international human rights pacts be respected, that all political prisoners be freed, and that the right of all Cubans to march freely throughout their own country be respected.  Denis also reiterates these points and adds that, “The world must know that in Cuba Human Rights are violated by the totalitarian dictatorship, and they repress us and mistreat us.  But when things come from the heart, nothing can deter them, and that is why we will keep on with our struggle, so the world knows that in Cuba there are people who want change, and we are part of that change“.  The young dissident adds, “I am a father, and it is difficult, but I will keep fighting, even if the repression is constant- I need a free Cuba, because no one can live like this under this dictatorship“.

Crackdown Attempts to Deter an Unstoppable March (Pt. III- Santa Clara/Placetas)

On Thursday, September 15th, the National ‘Boitel and Zapata Live’ March for Freedom arrived at the central cities of Santa Clara and Placetas. The outcome of the demonstration was very similar to the outcomes of the other marches which took place in the Eastern region of the country- Palma Soriano, Bayamo, Baracoa. The dissidents who participated in this march awoke that Thursday with their homes surrounded by the combined forces of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police.

Among the dissidents who took part were former prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta (who is also one of the main coordinators of the National March), Guillermo Farinas, and Licet Zamora. Both Farinas and Moya offered declarations to various media outlets, detailing that they were rapidly impeded by the forces of the the Cuban government as they tried to carry out the march after an extensive operation of vigilance around their homes. They were then taken to detainment units. Farinas was released hours after, while Moya was kept for an additional day. Moya had already been arrested a few days prior to that as he was also involved with carrying out the non-violent march in the Eastern city of Palma Soriano, along the also former prisoner of conscience, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.

In Placetas, activists from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights also took to the street to participate in the March. The demonstrators were Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Donaida Perez Paceiro, Idania Yanez Contreras, Damaris Moya, Yanisbel Valido, and Leidis Garcia, among others. The group of women suffered the same outcome which all other activists who have participated in this historic march have suffered: they were beaten and arrested by uniformed officials.

The arrest occurred at around 10:15 in the morning,” affirmed Yris Tamara, “we were all taken to the Police Unit of Placetas“. Once there, in those pestilent cells, the activists explain that they decided to protest through non-cooperation. “I did not accept water at any moment“, despite the fact that she suffers various health ailments, among them, “a chronic asthma and low blood sugar levels“.

Due to the combination of various health issues, Yris Tamara suffered a sharp and nearly unsupportable pain in her kidneys while she was detained. Meanwhile, Damaris Moya was brutally beaten by her jailers, according to a testimony of Licet Zamora, who was detained along with these women and released before. Also, Donaida Perez Paceiro suffered a savage beating a few months ago in the city of Gibara (also for demonstrating peacefully) and still has sharp pains and wounds on her body. Paceiro’s pain worsened in the very cold, small, and uncomfortable jail cells.

Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez”, husband of Yris Tamara, was able to surpass a police barrier around his home, along with the young dissident Duniel Garcia Ruiz. Both activists wanted to join the March, but were not able to do so, seeing that the women had all been arrested already. When they protested this and tried to direct themselves to the police unit, they were both detained and deported back home. Afterward, Antunez was able to make it to the unit, bringing along some medicines with him for Yris’ complications. But such a harmless act was met with aggression on behalf of the government officials. “The Chiefs of Police in Placetas did not want to allow my husband to leave me my medicines, they were saying that they were not medicines, but instead food“, explains Yris. The officials she mentions are specifically Ivan Gonzalez and one nicknamed “The Weightlifter”. The latter is responsible for the beatings of many defenseless women in Cuba on countless occasions, among them Yris Tamara and other pro-freedom activists.

After 72 hours (3 days) all the activists from Placetas were released, on Sunday the 18th. They had clear physical marks, but were wholly intact in terms of their spirits of resistance. “I want to thank everyone who was concerned of our situation and raised their voices for us“, expressed Aguilera, adding an important message, “The March has not ended, it will continue. And we, those same women, those same men which were arrested on the 15th will continue marching, because the streets belong to the people, and we are part of the Cuban people“.

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On Monday, September 19th, 15 activists were arrested in Holguin for also carrying out this March. Their names: Caridad Caballero Batista, Marta Díaz Rondon, Aurelio Antonio Morales Ayala, Esteban Sande Suárez, Delbis Martínez Albides, Ariel Cruz Meneses, Rafael Meneses Pupo, Isabel Peña Torres, Walter Cañete Cruz, Alexander Ricardo Santisteban, Alexander Lam, Pedro Leiva Góngora, Juan Carlos Verdecia Évora, and Denis Pino.

On Wednesday, September 21st, various activists were also detained for the same reason in the Eastern city of Las Tunas.

Crackdown Attempts to Deter an Unstoppable March (Pt. II- Baracoa)

to of the March in Baracoa, taken by Luis Felipe Rojas

Members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, together with other dissidents, formed a group of about 26 dissidents and carried out an important march in Baracoa on Monday, September 12th under the banner of the National ‘Boitel and Zapata Live’ March for Freedom.  The activists initiated the march from Playa Duaba, a Cuban historic site where freedom fighter Antonio Maceo disembarked in 1895, during the War for Cuban Independence.

Among those present were the well-known dissident leader Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Eliecer Palma, Jose Triguero, and the dissident blogger Luis Felipe Rojas.

Rojas explained that the march began with the singing of the national anthem, and then they began to walk, Cuban flag at hand.  Both dissidents- Rojas and Lobaina- were reporting all that was happening via telephone to various means of communication which had contacted them, like Radio Marti and Radio Republica (stations from Miami which dedicate their programming to report the latest news from Cuba).  By doing this, the dissidents were also informing passer-bys about what they were doing and why they were doing it.

Once again, it was proven that the everyday Cuban people did not impede the march in any way.  “People came out of their houses to see us“, says Luis Felipe, “It was received well by the locals, not even a single person attacked us, despite the fact that in times past, that region has been known for talking horrors of the opposition“.

The response of the authorities, which had been keeping a strict watch on the march from the early morning when it began, was all the opposite.  The authorities quickly mobilized to arrest the demonstrators, though this time it was not marked by brutal beatings as usually occurs, though there were displays of violence, evident “in the cases of Isael Poveda Silva and Anderlay Guerra Blanco who were both violently handcuffed and shoved into police vehicles“, according to Rojas.

All the dissidents were detained in hot, pestilent cells which were “in horrible conditions“, until the following day.  Upon being released, they were “accused of public disorder and alteration of public order.  Of course, we refused to sign any of the documents they presented us with- the accusations and the release form“, explains the author of  “Crossing the Barbed Wire“.

In the case of Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Luis Felipe explains that he was threatened with 20 years of imprisonment if he continues organizing events for the “Boitel and Zapata Live” March.  Regardless, Lobaina has paid no attention to these threats, assuring that he will continue his anti-dictatorial demonstrations and activities.  The dissidents were then released and dispersed throughout various regions far from their homes, forcing them to travel long distances (at their own expense) in order to return home.  In his own case, Luis Felipe was released in Moa, significantly far from his hometown of San German.

(The threats and deportations) are common characteristics of the regime“, affirms Luis Felipe Rojas.  Meanwhile, Rolando Lobaina published a message on Twitter where he states that, “we will continue taking to the streets and we will keep demanding freedom and rights for Cuba“.

Crackdown Attempts to Deter an Unstoppable March (Pt. I- Palma Soriano)

Orlando Zapata Tamayo (right) and Pedro Luis Boitel (left)

In response to the ‘Boitel and Zapata Live’ National March for Cuban Freedom, the Cuban authorities have taken every possible measure in their attempt to deter a people who demand rights and freedom for an entire nation.

One of these waves of repression occurred Friday, September 9th in Eastern Cuba- specifically in Palma Soriano, a region which, according to former prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, has been “totally militarized” as product of a rising level of activism, which increased after the home of dissident Marino Antomarchi, full of dissidents, was attacked with tear gas.

In the midst of this strict vigilance, Angel Moya Acosta, also former prisoner of conscience and coordinator for the National Boitel Zapata March, was able to find a way to get to Palma Soriano.  Along with Jose Daniel Ferrer and other dissidents like Tania Montoya, Raudel Avila, Francisco Macias, and Raumel Vinajera, they all noticed that political police agents were surrounding homes of dissidents in order to impede free movement and the March.  Jose Daniel Ferrer recounts that, “the agents wanted to force us to stay in our homes, but one of the agreements we reached for the march was to refuse our houses as prison cells“, continuing, “so we stepped out, and an agent dressed in civilian clothes told us it was not permitted.  Upon us not accepting this, the agent grew very nervous, as their were no uniformed officers nearby to detain us.  However, they quickly arrived and grabbed us by the arms and shoved us in police cars“.

This “hunt for dissidents“, as Jose Daniel describes it, was headed by Major Dorkis.  “Dorkis led this hunt throughout the entire city, arresting various dissidents like Francisco Castellano, Tania Montoya, and many others“, explains the former prisoner.

The participants of the march were taken arrested to diverse police units, while some were dropped off 70-90 kilometers from Palma Soriano, leaving them in desolate roads and therefore making it impossible for them to return in time to participate in the march.  Ferrer Garcia narrates his experience in the dungeons for 3 days:

In the detainment unit we suffered physical abuses at the hands of police officers and agents of the Ministry“.  First came the violent search of the dissident’s belongings and bodies.  “One of the agents stomped on my feet, I still have the marks to prove it.  Angel Moya was thrown on the concrete floor and pushed down, searching him by force“.  Tania Montoya was not only searched but also was victim of a form of sexual abuse.  “More than 7 female police officers forcibly stripped her clothes off and searched her so thoroughly that they even stuck one of their fingers in her vagina“, denounced Ferrer.

Afterward, Ferrer was thrown in a “pestilent dungeon, which was 4 squared meters and which already had 6 men inside.  It was terribly hot“.  In addition, “there was very little water and we were given horrible nutrition“.  Ferrer was able to firsthand witness the abuses committed against the common prisoners being held in that center, although it was not something alien to him, considering that he had just been released from serving 7 years behind the bars since the Black Spring of 2003.  One of the worst abuses against the prisoners, according to Garcia, is medical negligence, as well as the conditions in which they have to live (sealed off cells) and sleep (on the concrete floor).  In his own case, he also had to sleep on the cement floor for 3 days, with the same clothes he had on the day of his arrest and without access to hygiene products.

In some sort of way, I had lots of space in comparison with other brothers in cause and common prisoners who had to share a small cell with 12 others, amid all that heat, filth, and poor diet“, he explains.

Jose Daniel Ferrer and Angel Moya Acosta were released on the third day of their arrest.  In Moya’s case, he has already been intercepted after that detainment.  As of now, the exact details are not yet available but it was reported on September 15th that Moya, along with other dissidents, had been arrested again in Santa Clara, as he tried to coordinate the same march.  Some other names of those arrested alongside him are Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Idania Yanez, Damaris Moya, and Guillermo Farinas.

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