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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)
June 17, 2013Posted by on
The debate about whether dissidents working for a democratic Cuba should turn to hunger strikes or not always rises in and out of the island whenever these protests are undertaken. Whichever the opinions may be, the reality is that, right now, in Cuba there are 3 human rights activists on hunger strike, all of them on the verge of losing their lives due to the serious deterioration of their health. And while their lives extinguish slowly, the dictatorship ignores their demands.
Luis Enrique Santos Caballero
A member of the Central Opposition Coalition (CCO) and of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, from the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Has been carrying out his hunger strike since May 24th, demanding a home after he was forcefully evicted alongside his wife Ramona Maday García, an activist of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. Santos Caballero spent more than 15 years behind bars and upon being released his father had passed away and he had nowhere to live. He spent some time living at the homes of friends and fellow dissidents until he finally decided to occupy an abandoned establishment. Police forces violently evicted Santos from this establishment. He has been under constant persecution since then.
The dissident began to protest with his wife in the Vidal Park of Santa Clara for a number of days, demanding a home. He was arrested, beaten and repudiated by government mobs on various occasions. Santos decided to start a hunger strike, moving his protest to the city of Placetas, specifically in the home of dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’.
Santos Caballero has only one kidney. He lost the other organ after a brutal beating by his jailers while he was still in prison. It is precisely because the lack of one kidney that his health has deteriorated so quickly and why his health is critical. Authorities have ignored his demands but Santos has said that he will take his protest to the final consequences. #SOS
For more information from Cuba:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba
Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta
The home of dissident Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta and his family in the town of Bejucal was raided by police forces on September 2012 after he had announced the formation of a new pro-freedom group, the Patriotic Alliance, and that his oldest son, 24 year old Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo, refused to participate in military service. Father and son were beaten until the point that their heads were broken. Juana Castillo, wife of Osvaldo Rodriguez, was also physically assaulted while her youngest son (12 years old at the time) witnessed everything. The minor is severely traumatized.
The 3 activists were rapidly detained and sent to an arbitrary trial in 2013. Osvaldo Rodriguez was sentenced to 9 years of prison, his son to 7 years and Juana was sentenced to 5 years of correctional labor. Osvaldo (father) is jailed in the Combinado del Este Prison, where he began his hunger strike on May 10th, protesting all the abuses against his family and the authorities’ refusal to allow family visits. His son is being held in Valle Grande Prison of Havana. On June 8th, dissident and Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, from Boyeros, Havana, reported that Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta had been transferred to the National Hospital’s penal ward, already with more than 30 days on hunger strike and in a “critical” state.
Fonseca has informed on her Twitter account that Rosa Acosta, mother of Osvaldo Rodriguez, suffered a pulmonary effusion and was interned in the National Hospital, where her son resides. Authorities have not allowed them to see each other. #SOS
For more information from Cuba:
Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +53-379-01 1/ Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba
Wilbert Parada Milán
Wilbert Parada Milán is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). He was violently detained along with Roberto Hernandez on March 30th in Habana Vieja. He began his hunger strike on May 13th in the Valle Grande Prison, also in Havana.
In a recent interview with this blog, José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of UNPACU, explained that Parada’s arrest was due to the constant activism he had been carrying out throughout the capital, carrying out civic protests and handing out pro-freedom literature.
In another recent interview to ABC, Yudisnelis Rodríguez Reina, wife of the dissident, explained that the hunger striker is in “critical state” in a cell of the Cominbado del Este’s hospital.
Jailers have not allowed Wilbert to have family visits and he has reportedly lost consciousness on a number of occasions. Relatives and fellow dissidents fear for the worst with this activist, who finds himself in a struggle between life and death. #SOS
For more information from Cuba:
José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta, Wilbert Parada Milán. Three names we shouldn’t forget. No more repression, no more dictatorship.
June 10, 2013Posted by on
A number of signs with messages in favor of the everyday people and against the Cuban dictatorship appeared in different parts of the municipality of Antilla, Holguin province, this Sunday June 9th.
Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante, a member of the Ladies in White and also of the pro-freedom groups Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) said that the majority of the signs read “Down with Hunger“.
She explained that the mentioned slogan is something which demonstrates the discontent and desperation of the citizens on the island, as well as one of the main concerns of Cubans: finding food.
Among the places where the signs appeared was the popular cafeteria known as “La Popular” located in Maximo Gomez Street and on the walls of the Cuban Women’s Federation office on Maceo Street. These said “Down with Fidel”.
Sanchez Infante said that the apparition of the signs led the National Revolutionary Police to worry.
“The PNR agents quickly showed up and erased the signs on the Federation’s office“, said the activist, “the messages reflect the true feelings of the people of Antilla“.
Sometimes, signs are hung by members of the internal opposition while other times they are placed by neighbors and everyday citizens who express themselves in this manner.
Other common messages on the signs are “Down with Unemployment”, “Fair Salaries”, and “Food for our Children”.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Mildred Noemí Sánchez Infante – Cell Phone: +52-615-097
June 10, 2013Posted by on
This past 20th of May, Cuban Independence Day, numerous pro-freedom activities were carried out throughout the island. Now, a video has arrived from Santiago de Cuba which shows a march carried out by 16 dissidents, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), throughout various blocks of the Sueño Neighborhood. The participants of the march described it as a “spontaneous” and “successful” demonstration.
The activists who marched were not repressed by the political police during the moment of the activity, and much less by everyday citizens. They demanded freedom for all political prisoners, mentioning specific names such as Bismark Mustelier, Jorge Cervantes Garcia and Dany Lopez de Moya. They also shouted “Zapata Lives“, “Harold Cepero Lives” and “Oswaldo Paya lives“, among other messages in favor of freedom and true change.
Cuban political police agents, infuriated by the success of the march, organized a mob which carried out an act of repudiation against the dissidents when they returned to the home of Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo. The mob shouted offensive slogans as well as things like ‘Down with the worms’ and ‘Leave the country’. As a response, the activists expressed “Down with the political police” and “Long live the Cuban People“.
The dissidents did not back down at any moment. Some of them were detained and beat later on. See the video here:
June 1, 2013Posted by on
Three Cuban dissidents, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and who are currently in prison for expressing themselves against the totalitarian government, have been carrying out lengthy hunger strikes, according to statements made to this blog by Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the pro-democracy group and a former political prisoner himself.
The strikers are Enrique Figuerola Miranda, Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez.
Figuerola, being held in the Boniato Prison of Santiago de Cuba “has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days“, explained Ferrer Garcia. The activist adds that doctors have put an IV on him a couple of times but after this treatment “they have returned him to the prison cells, leaving him up to his own fate in inhumane conditions. He is very weak…his situation is very worrying for UNPACU and all of his family“.
Recently on the YouTube channel of UNPACU a video of an interview with Enrique’s wife, Mercedes Hechavarria Guevara, was published. She tells how her husband’s health has worsened and explains that during one of the visits allowed by the guards he told her that he would rather die for a just cause than to live under the dictatorship. Figuerola has been imprisoned for 9 months, without a trial.
In the cases of Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez, detained together in Havana, they are being kept in cells in the Valle Grande Prison, located in the capital, “all of this because of their activism out on the streets, in areas such as Central Havana and Old Havana“, assures Ferrer Garcia.
“Parada and Hernandez continue on hunger strike and are also under constant harassment…they have been victims of mistreatment, as have their wives. We are also very worried about them“.
Ferrer also made mention of the case of dissident rapper and UNPACU secretary for the city of Bayamo, Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico”, imprisoned for more than 2 months, also without a trial, due to the music he makes criticizing the regime and because of his activism out on the streets.
“Remon is in prison because the political police got scared of the growing sympathy he was receiving on behalf of his neighbors in Bayamo through the distinguished work this young man has been carrying out in favor of Cuba’s democratization“.
Yedisbel Roseyo Mojena, wife of Angel Yunier, took part in an interview with Ferrer. During the conversation, she detailed the situation of her husband and highlighed the constant police repression against him, before and during his imprisonment. (Check out the video here)
UNPACU has 10 activists in the Mar Verde Prison (Santiago de Cuba), among them 3 brothers- Alexei, Dianco and Diango Varga Martin. The last 2 are twins and just turned 18.
Miraida Martin Calderin, a member of the Ladies in White and mother of the brothers, was held in prison for approximately 2 months and was just recently released. She confirmed to Jose Daniel Ferrer that her sons “are being held in very difficult conditions…they frequently suspend our family visits, the guards physically assault them, and they are commonly confined to punishment cells“.
One of these political prisoners- Arcelio Noa- has also been victim of constant repression in the Mar Verde Prison. In fact, he has even inflicted injuries on himself in a moment of total desperation.
“Arcelio did this to himself because he was blinded by desperation. He is constantly harassed. They put him together with very dangerous criminals which the political police puts there and uses to attack him and all the other young political prisoners we have there”, denounced Ferrer.
The dissident organization UNPACU has more than 40 of its members behind bars due to the frequent and spontaneous civc demonstrations they carry out in centric places such as long lines, parks, terminals, street corners and other public locations.
Many other opposition groups also have numerous political prisoners. They are women, men, intellectuals, farmers, young, and old.
On another note, 5 activists of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front are still on hunger strike as well. Among the demonstrators is Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, seriously affected in health terms, who demands to have a home after he was forcefully evicted in the province of Villa Clara. Reports coming straight from the island have only confirmed that his health has kept deteriorating.
May 30, 2013Posted by on
A new video published by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) on the YouTube channel of Ana Belkis Ferrer shows the repressive methods utilized by the Cuban regime against currently jailed dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, “El Critico”, in Bayamo.
Friends and family of Remon have been denouncing the situation the young activist has been going through since last March after various detentions and a House raid. Now, these denouncements are proven in the new video which document the events which preceded his arrest. The video has been subtitled in English (my translation):
Remon’s home was attacked multiple times by police officials with tar and other materials. The results of such actions can be seen in the first half of the video. His response was to paint the phrase “I do not commit any crimes, that is why I am free. Down with the rob-alution”. Eventually, after another attack, the rapper writes “Down with the dictatorship” in large and visible letters right on the Street in front of his House. The police then says agents to cover the message while they also convoke an act of repudiation against the dissident.
However, the vast majority of neighbors do not take part in shouting offensive slogans at Remon and he proceeds to talk to them about their rights, the repression of the dictatorship and calls of them to not feel fear because he knows that they do not support the regime. He invites the onlookers to pass by his House to pick up “pro-freedom literature” which is banned on the island.
Remon also offers a moving and brave discourse about Cuba’s “beautiful history” which was “destroyed by the Castro dictatorship” and urges citizens to wake up from the lethargy imposed by the system.
These are the reasons why a young Cuban rapper is currently behind bars in the Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo.
#PassItOn for Angel Yunier Remon.
May 28, 2013Posted by on
After her first trip ever outside of Cuba to denounce the reality faced by those who defend freedom in the country, Berta Soler, the representative of the Ladies in White, has returned to the island this Monday, 27th of May.
Soler was received by her two children and her husband, dissident leader and former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta, who used his Twitter account (@jangelmoya) to inform that, since early morning hours of Monday, State Security had set up various operations throughout the capital to arrest a number of Ladies in White who had plans to welcome Soler in the Jose Marti Airport.
Among the detainees were Leidis Coca and her husband, according to a message published by Moya, while other activists were surrounded in their homes by the State police, as was the case of Ladies in White Lourdes Esquivel and Sara Marta Fonseca, and dissident Andres Perez Suarez.
At around 10 PM, Moya confirmed that Berta Soler arrived and was “alongside her family and the Ladies in White”.
Meanwhile, the young Lady in White Sayli Navarro, from Matanzas, tweeted (@SayliNavarro), “Berta Soler embraces her family and the Ladies in White who waited for her. Welcome to your Cuba, the Cuba of all Cubans. Congratulations”.
It was precisely these numerous Ladies in White who stayed in Cuba who never stopped marching, Sunday after Sunday.
This past Sunday, May 26th, many of these women managed to surpass police cordons and arrive to their respective temples throughout the country to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners.
During morning hours the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and also former political prisoner, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, wrote in his Twitter (@jdanielferrer) that a total of 73 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass in the province of Santiago de Cuba, despite obvious police operations set up in different regions.
10 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass in the province of Guantanamo, confirmed Sayli Navarro.
Arrests were reported in the province of Holguin but have not yet been confirmed. In Holguin, each Sunday various women are impeded from arriving to church, seeing as the political police surrounds their homes since dawn hours and, in some cases, since the day before.
Navarro tweeted that a total of 21 Ladies participated in Mass in different cities of Matanzas province, according to Leticia Ramos Herreria.
Angel Moya confirmed that another 50 women marched down Havana’s 5th Avenue after participating in Mass at the Santa Rita Church. He added that “47 male human rights activists accompanied them”.
Berta Soler told the digital newspaper “Diario de Cuba” that she had returned “strengthened” to Cuba, considering that she found moral, spiritual and material support, especially on behalf of the Cuban exile.
Soler traveled to Cuba from Miami, where she had been in two occasions. (See video of her first visit to Miami here).Soler pointed out on various occasions during her trip that she did not consider the fact that she, and other dissidents, were allowed to travel outside of Cuba meant there were reforms in the country. Instead, she said it was the result of constant pressure on behalf of the opposition and that it was just an action taken to distract attention from the constant violence against activists, as well as the dire situation of numerous political prisoners.
The leader of the Ladies in White promised to take Cuba’s reality to the world, and she did. Now, she has returned to continue out on the streets, together with so many other mothers, daughters, sisters, and in sum, Cuban women and men who demand a free country.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Ángel Moya Acosta – Cell Phone: +53-820-595 / Twitter: @jangelmoya
Berta Soler – Cell Phone: +52-906-820
José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Sayli Navarro – Cell Phone: +52-731-652 / Twitter: @SayliNavarro
May 23, 2013Posted by on
As part of a new Project of this blog we launch “Pass it On” (‘Pasa la Voz’), an audio-visual series that aims to tell the story of Cubans with free minds. In this first edition, we dedicate the video to dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico de Arte”, member of the hip-hop duo ‘The Unwanted Children’, from Bayamo. “El Critico” has been imprisoned since March 2013 for handing out pro-freedom literature, as well as because of his protest music and constant activism. The young Cuban is also a member of the pro-freedom Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). As of yet, he has not had a trial.
These videos are designed to be shared online, so feel free to Pass it On!
For more videos visit “Pedazos de la Isla” on YouTube.
May 23, 2013Posted by on
The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba highlights the situation which a number of political prisoners of the mentioned group are facing, speaks about the repressive methods employed by the State against activists and affirms that activism and opposition out on the streets has only increased in the Eastern region of the country, attracting further solidarity from everyday people.
Protest marches, debates and the handing out of flyers with pro-freedom messages are occurring with much more frequency in different areas of Eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, former political prisoner and current executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), points out that in the month of May these actions have increased as part of the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign, where dissidents throughout the country pay tribute to martyrs Pedro Luis Boitel and Orlando Zapata Tamayo, both deceased after lengthy hunger strikes in prison.
On May 20th, Cuba’s Independence Day, two marches were carried out in Santiago de Cuba. One of them was led by 11 activists and finished in the Antonio Maceo Plaza, where police officials beat the demonstrators with helmets, sticks and other objects, all of this while everyday citizens were watching.
A second march was carried out by 16 dissidents who managed to walk down various blocks of the El Sueno neighborhood, shouting pro-freedom messages. The result was police persecution. “State Security and Rapid Response Brigade agents came and began to throw rocks and beat activists“, recounted Ferrer Garcia. The repressors also threw tar and tried to raid the home of Daniel Barriel, secretary of the “Zapata Lives” sector of UNPACU in that neighborhood, where the activists congregated after the march. But the police was not able to achieve their objective, considering that the civic protests of the dissidents only intensified, forcing the aggressors to leave.
“Our activists came out and did not allow the attack. Also, they took up a clever posture. When the regime organized mobs shouted ‘long live the youth’, our dissidents would shout ‘live!’, but when the mobs shouted ‘long live Fidel’, the activists would say ‘down!’. The agents had to leave the house eventually“, explained Jose Daniel, “the police is losing space because they use so many people and use so much gasoline to repress us, but there is not enough gasoline for ambulances and other necessary services. In addition, everyday people are not cooperating with them“.
On the following day, May 21st, another group of UNPACU activists walked to the Palma-Santiago highway and took out a large sign with numerous anti-regime messages, such as “UNPACU in favor of fair salaries” and “democracy and justice“. This captured the attention of various passerby’s who actually would stop their cars to read the messages and show support with the dissidents.
Ferrer Garcia explains that UNPACU has “been following up the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign as well as on the other commemorative dates like the death of Jose Marti and May 20th” with spontaneous marches and other demonstrations which have lasted more than 30 minutes, shouting slogans in favor of “freedom, democracy, the respect of human rights, the end of hunger, misery, low salaries and so many other ills which affect the population“.
The former political prisoner of conscience denounces that the repression on behalf of the regime has been increasing, but despite this, “the tyranny keeps losing in their confrontation against UNPACU, because even the people who in one way or another serve them are feeling very ashamed of the actions which State Security carries out against us“.
“The people are responding by criticizing the political police. On a daily basis they join the peaceful opposition movement in this area, where UNPACU has been carrying out a labor in favor of the society, working for the community, and this presents a serious problem for the tyranny, and it will just continue to create even more problems“, added Ferrer.
Currently, UNPACU has 40 of its members behind bars because of political motives. This past 21st of May Ferrer Garcia was able to establish communication with one of these prisoners who is being held in the Mar Verde Prision of Santiago.
“The activist told me about the situation which they find themselves in Mar Verde. He told me that Arcelio Noa had already been taken out of the punishment cell, but that he had intentionally hurt himself as a form of protest against the inhumane conditions he was being held in, and which the other 10 political prisoners we have in that prison have had to withstand“, said Ferrer, “lots of mistreatment, aggressions, and the guards are using common delinquents to harass them. These common prisoners are dangerous, many of them murderers, who lend themselves to such actions in exchange for food and other privileges. They are turned against the human rights defenders“.
Ferrer emphasized the situation of dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, known as “El Critico”, who is also the secretary of UNPACU for the city of Bayamo. The musician has been behind bars for more than 2 months in the Bayamo prison known as Las Mangas, still without a trial. He was violently arrested after the political police raided his home in March, attacking him and other relatives with tear gas.
“I was able to briefly speak with Angel Yunier on May 20th. In Las Mangas prison there is a very critical situation“, said the dissident leader, “Angel told me about the horrible medical attention offered to sick prisoners. He also told me that numerous prisoners have so many problems and they turn to self-infliction to call attention on so many abuses, the severe hunger, the lack of medical care and other cruel treatments“.
The young dissident continues to be in a judicial limbo while the authorities have not given his family any details as to what his fate will be.
The situation of activist Jorge Cervantes Garcia, from Contramaestre, is also critical. Ferrer says that “he is still recuperating from the lengthy hunger strike carried out to demand the freedom of Luis Enrique Lozada. Cervantes is still in Las Tunas prison, also amid a very hostile atmosphere. He was physically assaulted last week by a common prisoner who is addicted to mood-altering pills”.
Ferrer Garcia expressed that although the number of political prisoners is increasing, so too is the number of activists, mainly young ones, who are willing to go out to the streets to work towards a new Cuba.
Take a listen to the following audio (in Spanish) of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia:
For more information from inside Cuba, contact:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell Phone: +53 – 146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
May 21, 2013Posted by on
Raday Matos Matos, a young dissident from the city of Baracoa, Guantanamo province, spoke with this blog about a recent march that 7 members of the Juan Pablo II Opposition Movement and of the Eastern Democratic Alliance from the mentioned city carried out this past Saturday, 18th of May, as part of the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign, kicked off to honor Cuban martyrs Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Pedro Luis Boitel, political prisoners who died after lengthy hunger strikes. The march was also to publicly denounce the social situation which everyday citizens go through on the island. The demonstration was repressed by political police forces, but the dissident managed to receive solidarity on behalf of their neighbors.
The dissidents set out in march carrying signs which read “Down with hunger“, “down with the dictatorship“, “down with low salaries“, “long live peace” and “freedom“.
The arrests took place minutes after the march started, which went from La Laguna neighborhood all the way to Marti Park.
Raday recounts, “before the arrest we were physically assaulted by secret agents at the service of the political police. In fact, they hurt a woman amongst us the most, Daisy Romero Fernandez“.
Other assaulted dissidents were Luis Noa Silva, Jorge Luis Reyes and Francisco Luis Manzanet, president of the Juan Pablo II Movement. The latter also provided this audio with more details about the activity, published on the YouTube account of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).
The police officials snatched the signs which the dissidents were carrying and ripped them, all of this before the stare of various everyday citizens who, according to Matos Matos, started to shout messages against the repressors and in favor of the activists.
With further violence, the agents forced the activists inside police vehicles which took them to the National Revolutionary Police Unit of the municipality, where they were all kept for a number of hours. In the case of Raday, the agents issues a written warning for him because of his acts of civil disobedience.
On the following day- May 19th- the majority of the dissidents in all of Baracoa awoke to find their homes surrounded by the political police. The agents were impeding the activists from stepping outside of their homes.
“We have been surrounded, harassed and haven’t been able to leave our own homes. Other activists have called me to confirm that they are going through the same things, saying that the political police and State Security are keeping a tight vigilance over their homes“, denounces Matos, “many police vehicles have been passing by my house, going around, keeping watch, surrounding each of our homes“.
Persecution of dissidents on behalf of the State police have been increasing in the city of Baracoa, but everything indicates that it is because of the growing level of activism out on the streets, especially on behalf of young nonconformists.
“We accuse the government for all the repression, persecution and all the aggression“, said Raday Matos.
Listen to the audio of Raday Matos Matos (in Spanish):
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Raday Matos Matos- Cell Phone: +58-144-692 / Twitter: @radaymatos
Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz- Cell Phone: +58-325-844
May 15, 2013Posted by on
Another video has been published of the march carried out by the Ladies in White this past Mother’s Day, 12th of May, in Havana, in honor of Cuban mothers around the world. The women marched to the Santa Rita Church and later held a public meeting in the Gandhi Park of the same city.
This new video, filmed and edited inside of Cuba by members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), demonstrated the mentioned activity. Don’t miss it: