Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Pedro Luis Boitel Movement

Holguin: Dissident repressed by police but defended by everyday citizens

A young dissident recounts how he defended various self-employed sellers who were being harassed by the police in Holguin and how, because of this, he suffered beatings and threats at the hands of the agents.  The same people he defended then showed solidarity with him which impeded the violence for a moment.  Afterward, however, he was arrested and victim to more repression. Here he details the forms of torture he was subjected to. 

Denis Pino Basulto was walking near Cespedes Park in the city of Holguin on the morning of August 1st when he witnessed a strong presence of police agents who were harassing a number of self-employed sellers who were stationed in that area.  Upon seeing that the agents were snatching bags from the hands of various people, twisting their arms and shoving them into cop cars in the process, Pino became very bothered.

The Holguin activist, a member of pro-freedom groups like the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and the Patriotic Union of Cuba, could not remain silent when he saw National Revolutionary Police agents twisting the arms of an elderly man who was carrying a box of chocolates.

At that moment, I questioned the police officials…I asked them how was it possible to carry out such violence against such an old person, and they simply told me ‘this does not concern you’“, recounts Denis, who attributed this brutality to the communist revolution.  That is when the aggressions began.

Another agent arrived and asked me, ‘Why do you talk like that about this revolution?’ and then he twisted my arms and threw me to the floor.  He dragged me for approximately 2 meters and, with much difficulty, I was able to stand up and began to shout messages in favor of freedom of expression“.

The dissident alleges that the slogans, among them ‘Long Live Human Rights’, ‘Down with repression’, ‘Food for the people’, and ‘Fair salaries for our workers’ captured the attention of everyday people who were observing the situation.  They joined him in solidarity.

When they noticed that so many people were applauding me, the agents covered my mouth and applied a head-lock on me.  They threw me to the floor but the people kept screaming in my favor“, explained Pino Bauslto, adding that “because of this solidarity the agents had to let me go and I was able to continue on my way…I kept walking and I could hear people still clapping“.

After walking a couple of blocks away from the scene, 5 police agents pulled up in a vehicle very near Denis.  They got down and ordered the activist to show them his Identification Card.  Afterward, they twisted his arms once again and threw him inside the car.

There was a police agent inside the car, dressed in civilian clothing.  He slapped me, punched me on my forehead and put his hands around my throat to strangle me“, an action which has caused him much pain and has temporally affected his voice.  He was taken to the police unit known as Narciso Lopez, where the vehicle was parked and he was kept inside.  Shortly after, an official with badge #21897 tightly handcuffed Pino and later interrogated him.

This agent violently pushed me out of the car and dragged me out of the shade and left thrown out under the sun for about 25 minutes.  I was sweating there and listening to their threats.  He was telling me that he was going to kill me and that I was a mercenary and counter-revolutionary“, he said.

Pino was subjected to another beating.  This time they broke part of his lip and nose.  His knees were also scraped while being dragged through rough terrain.

Eventually, he was taken inside the unit and sat on a chair, where the threats and verbal offenses by the unknown officials continued.  “‘Keep on shouting your slogans and we are going to kill you, faggot’ they told me…one agent also said ‘we are gonna kill all the garbage like you, and not a single counter-revolutionary is going to be left alive‘”.  The beatings and strangulations continued.

The dissident was kept for 2 hours sitting in that chair with his handcuffs on until State Security agent Chapman arrived.  The mentioned official is notorious in Holguin for his constant persecution of human rights activists.  “Chapman interrogated me and told me that If I kept doing what I was doing they were going to kill me because they could not allow demonstrations, because they had to uphold the revolution“.

At some point, Pino affirms that the repressor admitted to him in the form of a taunt that, “you all may have the reason but we have the power, let’s see who could last longer“.

At that moment, the agent with badge #21897 told me that he didn’t care if I saw his identification number.  He kept telling me, ‘look at it, you worm.  And what? I’m going to kill you with my own two hands’“.  Such behavior has proven the impunity which these officials have under the communist regime.

Pino was released during afternoon hours, but not before receiving yet another threat by Chapman.  “He told me, ‘take care of yourself when you’re out on the street because their are a lot of criminals here from Santiago de Cuba and one of them could easily jump you and stab you“.  The activist considers this to be a direct death threat against him, using people at the service of State Security to make it seem as a common crime.

Pino Basulto, 29 years of age, has been victim of severe police violence on various occasions.  He explains that in most cases the repressors put their hands over his mouth and choke him.  He says it’s because the constant social and pro-freedom messages he begins to shout in front of any onlookers.

Although he assures that he will not stop his public opposition to the totalitarian system, he does indeed feel fear from time to time, fear that he could lose his life, or worse, that his family members may suffer the consequences, considering that his wife and young daughter are far too familiar with State vigilance.

I want the world to know about this situation…How is it possible that these repressors want to kill peaceful people like us?  We have rights, although in Cuba they are violated, and I ask the world to take measures against Castro’s system so that repression stops“, expressed Denis.  He also said to feel very grateful for exiled Cubans who echo the situation of those inside and demand their  freedom.  “Thank God for these brothers in exile, those who help us spread the news and make it go all over the world.  We have to let the world know that there is a dictatorship in Cuba“.

As a human rights activist, I ask the world to put pressure against Raul Castro, because he is the one who has given the orders to beat and kill us“.

For more information from Cuba, contact:
Denis Pino Basulto – Cell Phone: +52-552-837

Persecution of peaceful dissidents in Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila

Dissidents in Grua Nueva, among them Santa Gonzalez, Julio Columbie, and Idael Perez

Mobs organized by the Cuban regime’s State Security apparatus have been repudiating and harassing various dissidents in Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, this week.

Idael Pérez Díaz, member of the Central Opposition Coalition, the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and the Orlando Zapata Resistance Front, told this blog that during the morning and afternoon of Wednesday, May 8th, the mobs “threw rocks and shouted offensive words at us, while about 10 State Security jeeps spent the day stationed in the corners of the block, giving alcoholic beverages to all those participating in the repudiation“.

The acts of aggression took place outside the home of Perez Diaz where a number of dissidents from other cities, like Santa Clara, were congregated.

He also explained that the mobs were made up by people from other municipalities because the vast majority of neighbors refused to participate. Some neighbors even took food to the activists, considering that they couldn’t step outside their homes due to the police cordons.  Such actions of citizen solidarity are being reported with much frequency throughout the entire island.

Lediño, the chief of state Security for the province of Ciego de Avila, was the one directing the entire operation“, added Perez, “the other people are mainly from the Communist Party, only a few from this municipality, and the rest from other areas“.

Idael and his wife, Santa Gonzalez Pedroso, are renown local dissidents, as are their children, Idaelvis Perez Gonzalez and Delvis Perez Gonzalez.  The latter is just 12 years old and has been suffering psychological traumas due to the constant harassment of the regime against his family.

Delvis became very nervous and we had to get him out of the house with the help of some relatives“, said Idael.  On January of 2013, the minor was expelled from his wrestling team at school under the orders of State Security.  The pretext of the agents were that his parents were ‘counter-revolutionaries’.  (Audio here). 

Meanwhile, activists Julio Columbie Batista and Jenni Barallobre Columbie, also from Grua Nueva, were violently arrested near the city of Moron on May 7th, as they were returning from Camaguey.  They were detained for more than 48 hours and both were threatened with being jailed if they continued their opposition activities out on the streets, and if they kept on creating pro-freedom groups in nearby areas.

Idael, Santa and the rest of the congregated dissidents were also demanding the liberation of Columbie and Barallobre.

The repudiation came to an end on Thursday afternoon, but police guards were still keeping a tight vigilance over the dissident family, while still handing out beer to people from the Communist Party and other institutions of the dictatorship which were lending themselves to take part in such actions.

Despite all this, Santa Gonzalez Pedroso and other women from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights carried out a march to the local church as they do each Thursday, in honor of all those Cubans who have been killed for wanting democracy.  In this case, they were not arrested.

But the vigilance continues.

I hold State Security accountable for what could happen to us, my family and all other dissidents“, declared Idael Perez.

Listen to declarations by Idael Perez (in Spanish) below:

For more informaiton from Cuba, contact:

Idael Pérez Díaz – Cell Phone: +58-163-741
Santa González Pedroso – Cell Phone: +58-163- 728 / Twitter: @SantaCuba1
Julio Columbie Batista- Cell Phone: +52-627-602

Meet some of the hunger strikers in Cuba

Pictured in this photo is Luis Enrique Lozada (right), an activist of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), along with his family, in Maffo, Contramaestre. Lozada has been imprisoned for more than 2 weeks, after he was arbitrarily arrested by the political police. He offers his home each Tuesday to impart courses on civil disobedience and non-violent struggles for local activists as well as everyday citizens- neighbors, friends, etc. These encounters usually end in acts of repudiations and house raids at the hands of State Security, and it is also the reason for his detention last April 9th.

Luis Enrique was kept in the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba for various days before being transferred over to the Boniato Prison. In response, approximately 14 relatives and friends stood outside the unit demanding his release, carrying out hunger strikes and protests. On his part, Lozada also declared himself on hunger strike.

The protest expanded when a total of 20 activists from UNPACU joined in. But now, there are more than 50 Cubans on hunger strike for the same cause. Here are the faces and stories of some of them:

Pictured above is Enrique Lozada Aguedo. He’s the 17-year old son of Luis Enrique Lozada. For a while, he was the youngest member of UNPACU, and in 2012 called on the Cuban youth to join the dissident movement to demand their rights. Now, he has put his life on the line to demand his father’s release.

Darmis Aguedo Zaldivar, wife of Luis Enrique Lozada, mother of Enrique; she is a Lady in White and member of UNPACU. She demands an end to the violence against her husband, her children, and the rest of her family and members of the peaceful opposition movement in the Eastern region of the country.

Arnoldo Lozada Igarza is Luis Enrique’s brother. He is frequently subjected to police violence along with his brother while they participate in the courses on non-violent civic struggles.

This is Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez, from Santiago de   Cuba. She is frequently persecuted and arrested by the political police when she tries to make it to Sunday Mass at the National Cobre Shrine. She is the mother of the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez.

José Daniel Ferrer García, executive secretary of UNPACU, he is a former political prisoner of conscience and one of the leaders of the internal opposition on the island. He started his hunger strike alongside dozens of other activists in the Cespedes Park of Santiago de Cuba, right in front of the Cathedral of Santiago. Afterward, he took his protest back to his home in Palmarito de Cauto, which serves as one of the main meeting points of UNPACU. He said his protest was for the release of Luis Enrique Lozada as well as for the release of all detained UNPACU activists. In addition, he is calling for an end to violence against all peaceful dissidents in Cuba and is shedding light on the situation of more than 40 members of UNPACU who have been sentenced to prison terms for several years. Ferrer Garcia suffers from various health issues, all of them acquired in dungeons during his 7 year prison sentence, and his hunger strike may intensify these complications.

Sirley Avila, an ex delegate of the Popular Power Department in Limones, Las Tunas. She was fired for speaking without censorship and for trying to truthfully represent the people. Recently, she has joined the opposition. She’s been blacklisted by the government since.

More photos of some other hunger strikers:

Anyer Antonio Blanco, who provided the photos shown in this post, said on his Twitter account (@anyerantoniobla) on April 23rd that there are now a total of 54 hunger strikers. They hail from Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, San Luis, Holguin, Banes, Las Tunas, Pinar del Rio and many other places. The strikers are from UNPACU, but many other activists from diverse pro-freedom organizations have joined in fasts or with public protests, like the case of Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, where members of the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and of the Rosa Parks Movement have been carrying out several demonstrations, and the members of the Democratic Alliance of Pinar del Rio, who have more than 60 members fasting in the province of Pinar del Rio. The Ladies in White and national coalitions such as the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front have also joined in solidarity.

The political police has increased the level of violence against all those who lend their homes to show solidarity with the strikers, as well as against those who carry out marches or other civic protests. Many have been arrested and beaten, as was the case of Rubislandi Avila, rushed to a hospital after a brutal beat-down at the hands of the police in the town of Mella (Santiago de Cuba).

Meanwhile, in exile, Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia and Ana Belkis Ferrer Garcia (siblings of Jose Daniel Ferrer) have started a fast in solidarity with the strikers. Various Cubans living in different cities have joined the call. They are convoking others to participate in this display of support. Visit their webpage here.

For more videos of the hunger strikers, visit the YouTube channel of UNPACU.

Building collapse in Havana leaves one dead, various injured and…detainees?

During afternoon hours of February 26th, in Havana, a building located directly across the street from the Central Train Station collapsed, killing one 15 year old boy who was trapped in the rubble, and injuring another two, according to “Hablemos Press” . The scene turned even more chaotic when various political police agents who were present lashed out against various people who were trying to figure out the whereabouts of their loved ones. Also witnessing the events were dissidents Yonart Rodríguez Ávila and Denis Pino Basulto, both from the Eastern region of the country, who were arrested for displaying solidarity with the victims’ relatives.

Rodriguez Avila described his arrest in the “Foro Juvenil Cubano“, the blog of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, explaining that police agents covered the mouth of one of the relatives of the deceased and applied martial arts locks on others, keeping them from getting close to the scene of the disaster. It was then that the activists started to shout out slogans against the regime and in solidarity with the victims, which led to their arbitrary arrests.

Denis Pino told this blog that “a police agent applied a headlock on me, pushed down on my neck and strangled me. They dragged me, and delivered physical blows on my ribs and my head. They asphyxiated me until the point that I passed out“. The dissident was later taken to a nearby hospital but, once he awoke, he refused to be treated there for fear that they would attempt on his life.

“I left the hospital, I just walked out through a hallway“, he said.

Upon knowing that Yonart Rodriguez was still detained in the Dragones Unit of Havana, Pino Basulto set out towards that unit, protesting outside along with Yonart’s mother, the Lady in White Mariblanca Avila Exposito, also from Velasco, Holguin.

We were protesting there, demanding the release of Yonart“, explained Denis, “but they kept him there until the following day, on February 27th, and I was detained again for a few hours“.

Mariblanca Avila added that February 26th was her son’s 32nd birthday, which he spent in a dungeon.

Denis Pino showing some scars left on his body after violent arrest on January of 2012. Photo by: Luis Felipe Rojas

On his part, Denis points out that he emerged from his arrest with “lots of pain in my throat, pain in my ribs and on my arms. It was a very violent arrest. We were treated like animals“.

I want the world to know what is happening in Cuba. After 50 years of dictatorship, the buildings are still collapsing“, expressed Pino Basulto, also highlighting the absurd fact that activists were arrested for displaying solidarity with a family at the time of their profound pain and desperation. “This regime has increased repression against human rights activists. We are demanding that this repression, which is constant, come to an end“.

Denis Pino Basulto has been victim of police violence on numerous occasions due to his pro-freedom activism within various groups such as the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement, the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) and Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID). One of the most violent cases against this young dissident occurred on January 8th, 2012, when he was savagely beat by police officials in Holguin province, who covered his face with a plastic bag.

Various sources have indicated that politically-driven arrests have upped on the island so far during this year. The independent news agency based in Havana, “Hablemos Press“, for instance, documented 471 arrests of activists throughout Cuba only in the month of February, the shortest month of the year.

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Denis Pino Basulto – Cell Phone: +52-552-837

Yonart Rodriguez Avila – Cell Phone: +53-602-782 / Twitter: @Yonartcuba

Strength in Unity: Diverse pro-freedom groups protest in Holguin

“Change”, a popular message written on anti-regime signs hung in Cuba

The pro-freedom groups Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID), Claridad, the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement, the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO), the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and the LGBTA Observatory (an organization which champions rights for Cuban homosexuals) joined forces this Friday, 15th of February, and marched in the Eastern city of Holguin to protest the countless abuses against the Ladies in White this week and to honor the memory of Laura Pollan Toledo, fallen leader of that women’s group.

Since morning hours of that Friday, dissident Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, general coordinator of ADO, informed about the activities on his Twitter account (@LobainaCuba).  Meanwhile, former political prisoner and general coordinator of UNPACU, Jose Daniel Ferrer, published a link on his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) with an audio-testimony of some of the participants in the demonstration.

Javier Eduardo Martínez Reyes, president of the LGBTA group, provided details in the UNPACU YouTube channel, explaining that the political police unleashed a repressive operation against all participants, interrupting the activity.  Martinez Reyes detailed that the activists set out from his home, marching, but were quickly arrested.  There were a number of police vehicles waiting for the dissidents outside.

Martinez Reyes was detained alongside Franklin Peregrino de Toro (UNPACU) and Yunier Jimenez de la Cruz (ADO and CID) in a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of the Interior with license plate #021114.  They were taken to the police unit known as El Anillo, where they remained detained for various hours.  Other members of the LGBTA, ADO, CID and Claridad were also being held there, while other activists were taken to other police units.  The police threatened all of them, saying that they would confiscate all of their materials- cameras, cell phones, laptops, etc.

The dictatorship’s State Security apparatus has made it very clear with this arrest that they deeply fear the union of diverse dissident groups on the island.  Generally, groups which act completely independent from one another manage to march at least a few blocks before they are violently arrested, but when various organizations come together to carry out a public activity, the objective of the regime is to impede the everyday people from seeing this unity in action.  The regime spends countless resources on its propaganda machine to try and create divisions among pro-freedom groups, both in and out of Cuba.

Yunier Jimenez, photo-reporter from ADO and also a member of CID, held a conversation with “Radio Republica”, where he detailed what happened from his point of view.

“We were psychologically tortured (in the Anillo police unit)”, said Jimenez, “Captain Juan Ramon Chapman told me that he would do all in his power to cause me harm, and he tried to intimidate me, saying that that he was going to kill me.  He told me my days were counted and that they were going to find me one day with my mouth full of ants.  He said that if the same thing that happened to Oswaldo Paya didn’t happen to me, then something very similar would”.

The dissidents were released after 1 PM, after more threats from their oppressors.

“However, in the end we achieved our objective, which was to have the different movements here in Holguin work together and to demonstrate to the regime that we are all Resistance and that we do not fear them, because this year is the year of the opposition in Cuba”, declared Yunier in the recording.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers