Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Nelda Molina Leyva

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

Group of Ladies in White Defy their Oppressors in Holguin, Carry out Successful March

This past Sunday August 12th 2012, 9 Ladies in White in the city of Holguin did not let their violent arrests at the hands of political police and State Security agents keep them from carrying out their habitual Sunday march towards the local Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Catholic Church.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez, member of the women’s group and resident of Holguin, was one of the 14 detainees taken into custody in a “very violent” manner.  She adds that they were all “distributed throughout the province of Holguin, to different National Revolutionary Police Units, as if we were some sort of baggage.  It was not until 12 PM that we were taken out of the units in cop cars, State Security vehicles, and buses.  We were left in different points of Holguin, from 4 to 10 kilometers away from our homes“.

The rest of the detainees were Berta Guerrero Segura, Yoandra Garrido Silva, Mayra Silva, Mayra Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Romelia Pina González, Barbara Bauza, Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Nelda Molina Leyva, Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Danay Mendiola, Glisedis Pina González, Eleney Villamonte Cardozo and Noemi Hidalgo Gómez.

Their were reports of arrests of three other male dissidents, Alexei Jiménez, Rolando Sánchez Duran and Luis Miguel Carralero, who also try to assist Mass each Sunday “because they are Catholics and members of the Church, and also morally show their support for us, the Ladies in White.  Police agents have been arresting them each Sunday when they try to leave their homes, and they are usually taken to different and undisclosed locations“.

On the day before- Saturday August 11th- Perez Velazquez denounced that there were other arrests in Holguin:  Marcos Limas Dalmao (husband of Adisnidia Cruz Segreo), Luis Manuel Gonzalez and Antonio Pupo Caballero.

However, Zuleidis explained that two women-  Lisbeth Peña  Hernández and Liliana Campo- managed to make it inside the church in Holguin, where they participated in Mass and then marched with their white clothes and flowers.  As soon as the other 14 women were released, 9 of them were able to carry out their march successfully, defying the repressive forces.

Despite all these setbacks, 9 of us Ladies in White were able to meet up after they released us, at around 1 pm, and managed to carry out our peaceful march on the same street where the church is located“, said Perez Velazquez,  “this was something that our oppressors were not expecting, but we achieved it.  They must be infuriated, but so they and the rest of the world know: we are not going to stop.  Regardless of the detentions, the repression, and the beatings we are subjected to each and every Sunday, we are not going to stop.  We are not taking steps back in this peaceful struggle“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

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

In the City of Holguin, Ladies in White Surpass Police Cordon, Make it to Sunday Mass

This May 20th was the second consecutive Sunday in which the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista managed to surpass a strong police cordon and arrive to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin, this time accompanied by 5 other women of the group- Barbara Bauza, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González, Ana María Aguilera Paneque and Nelda Molina Leyva. The Sunday prior to this, only Caballero Batista was able to make it to church without being detained.  Before this, the activist had not been able to assist Sunday Mass during 2012 because of constant arrests.

Caballero recounts that a large number of political police officials were shocked after they surrounded her home for hours during that morning to later find that she had already left and made it to church.  Usually, the Lady in White cannot even walk two blocks from her home when she is violently taken into custody.  This time, she used a new method.

When she arrived to the church, Caridad explained that there was “an immense police operation” waiting for the Ladies in White.  “They had a number of buses, police cars, and motorcycles stationed just two blocks from the church.  In fact, they were even using firefighters who were waiting to oppress us as well as female prison guards“.

Despite all of this, through the “new tactics“, the 6 Ladies in White were able to assist Sunday mass in its entirety.  Upon arriving at the temple, Caballero Batista said that the churchgoers were overcome with emotion.  They welcomed the women and chatted with them for a while.

However, other Ladies in White in Holguin did suffer arrests, as were the cases of Berta Guerrero Segura, Adisnidia Cruz, and Zuleidys Perez Velazquez, according to Caballero, who speculated that the number of arrests was most likely greater but she “could not confirm about other women because our telephone service was blocked during the entire time of our trip to church as well as after the Mass“.

We were able to march.  We walked with the gladiolus in our hands while the everyday people were staring at us, nervous at what could happen with us.  The regime was not expecting this“, she said, clearly emotional, “Thanks to the grace of God, this Sunday- which is the second to last Sunday of Lent- we were able to assist Mass.  We thanked God for having let us arrive, at least some of us“.

Caridad  stood by her Christian faith, assuring that “through the help of his angels, Jesus Christ allowed us to arrive to church, proving that there is no authority which can hold us down“.

For more information Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone:  +5352-629749   // Twitter: @caricaballero

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

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