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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Oswaldo Paya
November 19, 2013Posted by on
This new graphic design by digital artist Rolando Pulido says a lot in just one picture after the UN voted – once again – the Cuban dictatorship to form part of the Human Rights Council of this organization which defines itself as a promoter of rights and freedoms for all people. It shows dictator Raul Castro surrounded by the images of just some of his victims – Laura Pollan, Wilman Villar Mendoza, Juan Wilfredo Soto, Oswaldo Paya, Harold Cepero and Orlando Zapata Tamayo. Pictured on the upper left is also an image of Raul Castro preparing an assassination of a young Cuban in the early 60’s.
August 12, 2013Posted by on
This past August 5th, 2013 a violent act of repudiation took place in the city of Holguin, in the province by the same name, in Eastern Cuba. The repudiation took place in the home of dissident Ramon Zamora, a member of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, where they had plans to carry out a conference and debate about The Path of the People, a pro-freedom project created by the late Oswaldo Paya. In addition to the repudiation against the home, a total of 43 dissidents in different areas of the city were arrested as they tried to arrive to their destination. Among the detainees were members of diverse pro-freedom groups, such as the Patriotic Union of Cuba, the Ladies in White, CID, the Republican Party of Cuba and the Christian Liberation Movement.
Now, images of the beginning of the act of repudiation at the home of Ramon Zamora (where there were women, children and elderly people) have arrived. In the following video, sent by independent journalist Alexei Jimenez Almarales, we can see mobs organized by State Security insulting and provoking the dissidents inside the house. We can also observe the presence of vehicles used by the political police (white Ladas):
Caridad Caballero Batista, renown dissident from Holguin who had to take exile in the United States recently, spoke with this blog and identified two State Security agents at the beginning of the video (second 0:48). There are two individuals near the Lada car. Caballero identified the one with the red shirt as “El Polaco” and the one with the baseball cap as Michael. These agents are responsible for carrying out and ordering arrests, vigilance and repudiation against human rights activists in Holguin.
A second video also sent by Alexei Jimenez shows the testimonies of two underage children and one elderly man, recounting the moment of the act of repudiation. The children express that they felt lots of fear while the mobs arrested and beat their family members and tried to raid the house. Meanwhile, the 63 year old man details how he was beat and later left abandoned in a desolate field far from his home. There are also pictures of the injuries he sustained after the assault. Check it out here:
August 6, 2013Posted by on
Independent journalist Alexei Jimenez Almarales, from Holguin, has sent the following note in regards to 43 arrests of local dissidents on the afternoon of August 5th, the anniversary of El Maleconazo (when numerous Cubans took to the streets in Havana demanding freedom in 1994). The activists had plans to divulge and debate The Path of the People, a pro-freedom project started by Oswaldo Paya.
“State Security detained 43 dissidents in the city of Holguin last Monday, on the 19th anniversary of ‘El Maleconazo’
Activists from various organizations decided to meet and debate about Oswaldo Paya’s project known as ‘The Path of the People’. The political police came out and directed themselves towards the home of dissident Ramon Zamora Rodriguez, where meeting was to take place.
The detentions and beatings started in the place where The Path of People was to be debated and they extended to various points of the city, culminating in a total of 43 detainees all in the same day, a historical record of violation of human rights on behalf of State Security in Holguin”.
Jimenez Almarales provided a list with the names of the 43 detainees (including himself):
Julio Cesar Ramos Curbelo
Alexander Marrero De La Rosa
Suleidy lisbet Pérez Velázquez
Carmen Oropesa Ramírez
Alexei Jiménez Almarales
Jorge Luis Recio Arias
Emir José Bermúdez Pérez
Julio Cesar Albares Marrero
Rosa María Naranjo Nieves
Danai Mendiola Duquesne
Luis Jaime Meriño
Mauricio Martínez Días
Yolanda Pérez Días
Marisol Pupo Rodríguez
José Luis Ricardo Soberats
Yuri Miguel Carralero Vázquez
Bernardo Cintero Gonzales
Gilberto Solí Gonzales
Ramón Zamora Rodríguez
Maylin Ricardo Góngora
Pedro Leiva Góngora
Juan Sacaría Verdecía
Maidolis Leiva Portelles
Damaris García Martínez
Rafael Leyva Leyva
José Isidoro Urbino Zaldívar
Mairin Poso De La Torre
Fuera de la casa de ramón Zamora
Yosbanis Pupo Pérez
Fidel García Roldan
Berta Guerrero Segura
Magdelivia Pelegrino Guerrero
Franklin Pelegrino Del Toro
Rubier Cruz Campo
Liliana Campos Bruzón
Yolangel Pupo Pérez
Ricardo Rodríguez Feria
Amauri Güero Mora
Roberto González Hernández
Eladio Pupo Nieves
Arlenis Rodríguez Ávila
José Luis Mir Cruz
Amilkar Pérez Riverón
Livia Hernández Pérez
The detainees included members of diverse organizations, among them the Christian Liberation Movement, the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, the Patriotic Union of Cuba, the Republican Party of Cuba, the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Ladies in White and FLAMUR.
Audios recorded during the very moment of the violence, specifically of the act of repudiation by paramilitary agents towards the home of Ramon Zamora, were published on various media outlets in the internet. In this audio by Radio Republica and this one published by UNPACU, more details are provided. Agents broke doors and windows to detained activists, and also violently harassed women and underage children.
Meanwhile, Alexei Jimenez reported that this past Saturday, August 3rd, State Security agents attacked dissident Julio Alberto Arias, a member of the Republican Party, in the same city of Holguin. “Julio Alberto was detained by 4 State Security agents who twisted his arm out on the street and took him to the PNR Unit known as La Primera“, detailed Jimenez.
The journalist provided this photo of the attacked dissident:
Human rights activists have been denouncing an increase in police violence on the island, and all of this because activism in favor of freedom has been increasing as well.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Alexei Jimenez – Cell Phone: +52-552-925 / Twitter: @jugandomelavida
July 26, 2013Posted by on
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, former political prisoner and general secretary of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, has published a video on his YouTube account of a march carried out by members of the mentioned pro-freedom on Monday, July 22nd, in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara, on the first anniversary of the mysterious and unclear deaths of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero.
In the video, Antunez publicly demands the dictatorship to say the truth about the deaths, supporting the call of Paya’s family who have not given up on their objective to carry out an independent investigation of the events which occurred that day in the city of Bayamo.
The dissidents also denounce “fraudulent-change”, a term coined by Paya in reference to the cosmetic measures carried out by the regime to make it seem as if their were real changes on the island in the eyes of the international media.
Meanwhile, ‘Hablemos Press’ published a video of the tribute which took place the same day in the Colon Cemetery of Havana, where the remains of Oswaldo lay. Various people took part in the heartfelt event, and a note penned by the Christian Liberation Movement was read aloud.
A number of activities in honor of the fallen activists were reported in diverse regions of the island, from East to West. They included but were not limited to marches, vigils, debates, fasts and Masses, and although many of them were violently repressed by the State, it was once again confirmed that the legacy of Paya and Cepero lives on.
July 25, 2013Posted by on
In the last couple of weeks in Cuba there has been an increase in the amount of arbitrary arrests and robberies of pro-democracy dissidents at the hands of the political police.
Various cases have been coming in from the Eastern region of the country. The case of activist Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez and former political prisoner Dany Lopez de Moya, both member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, is one of them.
Yuniesky recounts that on Tuesday, July 23rd, as they both were leaving a meeting at the home of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UNPACU, when they were near the highway of Palma Soriano, members of the National Revolutionary Police and the political police intercepted them. Agent Norberto was running the operation.
“The agents intercepted the vehicle we were traveling in“, explained Dominguez to this blog, “then, the agents used forced to get us out, pulling our clothes and beating us. They did the same thing with Dany’s son, 15 year old Frank Daniel Rodriguez“.
The first thing the agents did was to snatch all the belongings of the detainees. “They took Frank Daniel’s phone and purposely spent the money he had on it as a form of blackmail. They also robbed CDs, USBs and other things” which were never returned. The discs were destroyed.
Yuniesky explains that the motive of breaking the CDs is to keep them from spreading throughout the population, considering that UNPACU members fill them with images of protests and activism not only of their movement, but of the opposition in general.
Similarly, on July 18th, the political police arrested youth activists Yoandri Montoya Aviles and Juannier Rodriguez in the city of Bayamo. Both dissidents are members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) and were arrested while they filmed a documentary for PalenqueVision, the audio-visual project of this group. The equipment they were using were robbed.
Juannier, who has been victim of expulsions and blackmail at his university due to his ties with the opposition, recounts that they were just “chatting with other young people in Bayamo, working on a video about their day-to-day reality when police agents suddenly arrived and took our cameras, breaking one of them“.
The agents accused the activists of being “delinquents” and were detained by force, shoved inside a bus and taken to a police unit. Afterward, Juannier Rodriguez was deported to Guantanamo, his province of residence, but he defied the authorities and returned to Bayamo.
On Monday, July 22nd, the Cuban regime carried out a violent operation against a number of members of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) in the province of Las Tunas as they paid tribute to Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero on the first anniversary of their death.
Ezequiel Morales Carmenate, leader of the MCL in that area, denounced that paramilitary mobs, made up by members of the Communist Party, the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution and the political police “assaulted the home of Roger Curbelo, the headquarters of the MCL in the municipality of Puerto Padre“. The agents penetrated the house, beating activists and robbing a Cuban flag as well as signs honoring Paya and Cepero, also accusing the dictatorship of having to do with the events which occurred on July 22nd 2012.
In the municipality of Majibacoa the home of Elber Perez (another leader of the MCL) was also the scene of excessive violence when the mobs assaulted the house during night hours, robbing countless documents, CDs and other work instruments.
On his part, Yuniesky Dominguez said that the upcoming anniversary of the assault of the Moncada Barracks on July 26th by the movement led by the Castros, who assumed power through violence on 1959, “has the regime very worried“. Why?
“Because the activism of the peaceful opposition has put the regime in danger. We are not fighting with weapons, nor do we carry out acts of sabotage as the July 26th Movement did. However, our weapon is still lethal, and it is our words, and we work so that the people know what we do against the dictatorship and in favor of human rights and the population“.
That’s why, the activist explains, that in its desperation the dictatorship turns to physical aggressions and robbery of materials used by dissident to work towards freedom. Materials which are obtained by activists with much difficulty, considering that the majority of these things are sent from abroad by people who have joined in solidarity, or in some cases, bought by the dissidents themselves, at a very elevated price.
July 22, 2013Posted by on
Countless Cubans and non-Cubans have changed their profile pictures on social networks in honor of them, there have been Masses and chats, independent libraries have been founded with their names, and their have been marches in their memory.
The Cuban dictatorship continues to not understand that with the disappearance (ordered by them) of Cuban dissidents, they cannot destroy their ideas.
It’s what has happened with Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, who were both added to a long list of martyrs of democracy last July 22nd, 2012.
One year after their death, the Christian Liberation Movement (pro-freedom group which they headed) has only gotten stronger. The young faces of the organization have risen with much more energy, their members have been promoting The Path of the People throughout the island, international organisms have shown solidarity with them and they have also made a project which Paya and Cepero worked for into a reality- the publication of the independent newspaper “Somos Liberacion” (‘We are Liberation’).
I refer to the dictatorship having to do with the death of the activists with certainty because, if they have nothing to hide then why do they flat-out refuse to carry out an independent investigation of the events which occurred that Sunday in the Eastern city Bayamo? They have completely ignored the demands of the Paya family, and they have repeated the same exact threats against Oswaldo towards them. The system has put itself up against the wall.
The response of the family has been to not stop. They have not given up in demanding an investigation, not for a moment, not in the international scene and certainly not in Cuba.
Oswaldo Paya lived under persecution, but he lived free, just like Harold did. Expulsions from work or educational centers, acts of repudiation, constant vigilance, threats, defamation and censorship were just a few of the tactics utilized by a desperate regime, which managed to disappear them physically. But that was the only “achievement” of the State.
Now, the message of Oswaldo and Harold is heard with much more strength in all of the island, standing up against fraudulent changes and demanding real freedom. On this first anniversary, in Cuba and in other parts of the world there have been, and will be, activities in honor of these brave men.
The truth is that the dictatorship fears the truth. And part of this truth is that they were not successful in extinguishing the legacy of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas and Harold Cepero Escalante. They live.
July 18, 2013Posted by on
A special thank you to Manuel Robles Villamarin, a young member of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) for offering this interview, where he talks about his involvement in the pro-freedom movement in Cuba, the projects for change carried out by the MCL, the Cuban youth, and more.
Pieces of the Island blog (PDLI): Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you decide to incorporate yourself in the pro-democracy movement in Cuba?
Manuel Robles: I was born and raised in Havana, “the capital of all Cubans”. I studied towards a technical degree in information, and later entered the Jose Antonio Echevarria Institute for Superior Studies, working towards a degree in electronic telecommunication engineering.
When I was about to enter my fourth year I was expelled from the university for being a member of the Christian Liberation Movement. I’ve officially been part of the MCL for 2 years now, and it has been a decision, an option, which I made to find a purpose in my life and find out which way I’d like to gear myself.
I remember that while I was in the World Youth Campaign 2011 in Madrid, representing the Cuban delegation before the Pope, I felt that God told me, “Manuel, help free your people”. That is why I returned and why I am here fighting for freedom and rights for all Cubans, and doing so in a peaceful manner.
PDLI: What are some of the problems young Cubans face on the island?
Manuel Robles: The Cuban youth suffers an ill called hopelessness, because many people decide not to tell people that it is worth it to fight for what they want.
They also suffer from the fact that privileges are only for a few.
Oswaldo Paya always said that these transformations that we have been seeing are not changes. He called it fraudulent-change. Changes have to be total. In other words, half of a reform does not constitute change, it’s really just playing along with the government. Young people suffer under this. If you are not with “them” (the regime), if you do not say what they want you to say, if you don’t project yourself as they wish, then you will not be able to study in a university, you can’t have your own business, you don’t have enough money to enjoy with your family or your friends, you suffer from having many relatives far away and not being able to embrace them or welcome them in their homeland, because many of our relatives are not allowed back in the island. They suffer constant dejection by not having even the most minimal of necessities to be able to obtain food, clothing, or just simply enjoying their lives.
These are some of the problems of the Cuban youth, among others.
PDLI: You mention ‘fraudulent-change’. The MCL has presented alternatives to confront these tricks. Tell us a bit about these projects.
Manuel Robles: The Varela Project, which we are now asking for its plebiscite, is something very important for the Cuban democratic movement and also to achieve the changes which all Cubans want and need. It is a project which, in 2002, was turned in with more than 10,000 signatures, which is what the constitution establishes in order to reach a referendum and to inform the people about the situation, so that the people can decide whether it is approved or not.
The regime just showed, once again, its totalitarian roots, based on fear. But the people put their signatures out there. They wrote down their addresses, saying ‘I am here and as a citizen, demanding that this be taken into consideration because the people want it’. That is what the Varela Project asks for: freedom, peace, justice. It also demands the right to freedom of expression and press, that plurality be respected as well as the diversity of ideas found within society. It also demands amnesty for those who are jailed for political motives, and in that manner we can open up the path to national reconciliation.
The Varela Project also proposes to use the law to guarantee Cubans free and responsible participation in the country’s economy so that they could run their own businesses and contract freely, something that is a privilege for a handful right now.
It proposes a new electoral law, something very important to reach the constitutional right of all Cubans to elect and be elected, and that there be more than one candidate for each position in the National Assembly of Popular Power and that they be elected directly by the citizens. It also calls for elections in a period of no longer than a year after this referendum is approved.
PDLI: What has happened with the delivery of these signatures?
Manuel Robles: The National Assembly has this project locked away in a drawer. And it was even handed in again a few years ago, and many Cuban citizens – even more than the ones needed as per the law- are demanding that this project be made public and that there be a referendum and a plebiscite.
That’s what we’re asking for, which is something that is already achieved, something we already have in our hands for change. Something we need.
PDLI: According to news you have made public, you have received threats because of your activism…
Manuel Robles: Yes, such threats form a very important foundation within the operations of the government. They work with a very strong war – I would say it’s the strongest kind – and I’m talking about psychological war. They use this medium which has already been introduced and is intravenous, injected in the veins of the Cuban people.
There are two kinds of people: those who subdue themselves to fears and those who put fear as a marker to surpass.
In my case, State Security has called me and told me “this is the phone of the dead guy” and then they hang up. Then, I have called back to the same number which called me and I say, “I’ve received a call from this number, who is it?” and they just tell me “oh, this is the number of the dead guy” and they just recite my cell phone number and hang up. I am not a paranoid person but their is no doubt in my mind that this is a threat, and one of the worst kinds – a death threat.
PDLI: Do everyday Cubans really support the communist regime?
Manuel Robles: It’s something very interesting. For some years now, the Cuban people are not the same as before. People have been waking up, as if they were washing their faces with water upon rising from bed. They start to get filled with energies because they are already totally anguished. No more calamity, no more suffering. People are tired of the divisions. They are over-saturated of so many lies. What the system has been doing to us is sickening. The government is playing Cubans for fools. But Cubans are intelligent.
The Cuban people are tired and that’s why each time there are less citizens who participate in the fraudulent election system in Cuba. Each time, there are less people who pay the mandatory work quota in unions, and less people who participate in organizations which promote arms. There are less Cubans who want to affiliate themselves with the Communist Youth Union, the Cuban Communist Party, etc.
PDLI: In regards to this same subject – citizen discontent – you recently published a note on your Twitter account in regards to some residents of Havana who have been expressing their complaints in regards to a very bad housing situation…
Manuel Robles: Yes, there is a place in the Vedado neighborhood, on E Street, between 15 and 17 where there is a building which has been declared “irreparable” and “inhabitable” for some years now. The residents of that building have done many things. They have gone to the State Council, they have taken all the steps of what supposedly needs to be done to obtain a response. They have felt abandoned to the point that they have had no other option and have continued demanding. In 2012, a building on Infanta Street caved in, and the citizens of the other building went to the housing department and said “look what just happened, we don’t want the same to happen to our children or any other citizens”. The functionaries only responded by saying “you are not the only one”, as if saying that if the building falls apart, their lives do not matter, something which really hurt and bothered them.
Recently, after so many complaints and after the people have said that if their is no solution they would turn to the opposition and make public denouncements, Mariela Castro, who is the deputy for the Plaza de la Revolucion municipality, showed up to an accountability meeting. These meetings are organized by blocks, under the orders of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. In reality, they are just more absurdities of the government.
And so Mariela showed up and took note of the situation. She took photographs and told them to wait for a response. So these people are just waiting. If there is no response soon, they will make declarations in front of the independent media.
PDLI: What message would you like to send out to the Cuban youth?
Manuel Robles: I’ve always said that there is only one Cuba, and that we Cubans are just one people, wherever it is that we are. Cubans have the right to be Cuban, and not only do we have that right, but we are Cuban, wherever it is we may be, whatever our forms of thinking may be.
To the Cuban people, whether you are in Madrid, Miami, Florida, Baltimore, Havana, Camaguey, wherever, I say: have strength and never lose faith. Never stop fighting and never stop looking towards what is truly essential. And what is essential at this very moment is that we unify ourselves despite normal and healthy differences we all have as human beings.
We must look at a Cuba with a future, a Cuba that is possible to reconstruct. We must open our hearts and give everything in our reach in terms of love, solidarity, respect, and in healing so many things, to reconcile with so many things, and take steps that are very important. It is crucial to forget our personal interests, our personal pains, because these things are what impede the bases and mediums to achieve what we all want which is freedom and rights for our people.
I’d like to tell everyone that this is the moment for change, the time for the plebiscite, for the Varela Project, and we are already walking down The Path of the People.
PDLI: Thank you very much for this interview…
Manuel Robles: I’d like to conclude with a phrase from someone who is very important to me – Oswaldo Paya.
He used to say: “it has been faith what has given me strength amid failures. When people suggest and force you to abandon the struggle, you persist through the faith of Christ“.
Follow Manuel Robles on Twitter! @manue_rv
July 15, 2013Posted by on
The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) has announced that there will be various activities to honor Oswaldo Paya Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante this upcoming 22nd of July of 2013 in Cuba and in Miami, on the first anniversary of the death of these pro-freedom activists.
On their website, the MCL explains that there will be a Mass at 3 PM on the 22nd in the Chapel of the Colon Cemetery, in Havana. The organizers of this event ask all participants to take flowers to later march silently to the place where Oswaldo Paya reposes.
At 8 PM on the same day, there will also be a Mass the Ermita de la Caridad in Miami, Florida, which will be presided by Juan Rumin, current rector of this historic and symbolic sanctuary.
Also, on Friday July 19th there will be a colloquium “about the legacy of Oswaldo Paya” at 8 PM in the Sacred Family Salon of La Inmaculada Church in Hialeah, Florida, located on 4497 West 1st Avenue, just minutes from the heart of Miami.
Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of the deceased opposition leader, wrote on her Twitter account (@RosaMariaPaya) that there will also be a tribute to Harold Cepero on Wednesday, July 17th, in Washington DC.
For further details check out MCL’s website.
July 1, 2013Posted by on
Reflections about the reality of Cuba in the words of deceased dissident leader Oswaldo Paya Sardiñas will be published in a book, according to an announcement made by relatives during an exclusive interview with journalist Juan Manuel Cao in the city of Miami.
Paya’s widow, Ofelia Acevedo, and his daughter Rosa Maria Paya, offered an interview in the news program “El Espejo” on the night of June 28th, where they chatted about different topics and revealed the news.
According to Acevedo, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) finished writing his book just 2 weeks before his death.
The book “was written by an everyday Cuban who has suffered, has lived and has dreamed inside of Cuba and who has had the experience which all Cubans have had under 53 years of totalitarianism, and in addition who has had the experience of always having rebelled against that domination”, explained Ofelia.
She also classifies the book as “a reflection of Cuba’s reality in this very important moment in Cuban history, where he speaks of dangers and hopes” and it’s objective is to help all Cubans understand that “change is possible”.
On her part, the young Rosa Maria Paya, who has distinguished herself as one of the leaders of MCL, explained that she has already read the book and believes that “it will be important for Cubans to have access, in mass, to this series of ideas which are not just simply descriptions but are also a project to turn that possibility, which is to live in freedom in our country, into a reality”.
This 22nd of July will mark exactly one year since Oswaldo Paya died in strange circumstances, alongside the young activist Harold Cepero, in a car ‘accident’ in the city of Bayamo. It has also been a year since the Cuban dictatorship has prohibited an independent investigation of the events.
However, relatives of Paya and fellow dissidents have not stopped demanding the investigation and assure that, whether it be from exile or from within Cuba, they will continue demanding that the process be carried out in order to find the truth.
To watch the interview with Rosa Maria and Ofelia (in Spanish) click here.
June 3, 2013Posted by on
Manuel Robles, young member of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) in Havana recently wrote on his Twitter account (@manue_rv) that he had received a call from inside of Cuba which he could not respond to at that moment. When he called back, an unknown voice asked if his number belonged “to the dead person”.
Robles said the number which called him was +72-053-912.
This Monday, June 3rd, Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of the fallen leader of MCL, Oswaldo Paya, denounced on her Twitter account (@RosaMariaPaya) the situation confronting Robles, explaining that they are calling “his cell phone with death threats”. Paya added that “State Security continues with their threats”.
These threats are common against members of the Movement. Ofelia Acevedo, widow of Oswaldo Paya, has received similar calls, while Rosa Maria and an aunt have also received them. Other dissidents from different pro-freedom groups face similar situations. Oswaldo would frequently receive them as well.
The Paya family has not stopped denouncing this reality, as they have also not stopped demanding an independent investigation of the events which led to the death of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero.
This July will mark one year since their mysterious deaths in the Eastern Cuban city of Bayamo.