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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Political Prisoners
November 20, 2013Posted by on
On Wednesday, November 20th, renown dissident Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, from Havana, sent out a message through “Radio Republica” so that members from all opposition organizations in and out of Cuba raise their voices and carry out activities to demand the liberation of political prisoner Marcelino Abreu Bonora who is currently suffering in the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital of Santa Clara, Villa Clara, in a hunger strike which has already lasted more than 60 days.
Fonseca, who serves as the spokesperson of the OZT National Resistance Front and one of the leaders of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba, as well as a member of the Ladies in White, highlighted in the audio that no person should be taken behind bars because of their ideas, explaining that this is precisely what has happened with Abreu who was jailed after handing out pro-freedom pamphlets in the Cuban capital (Havana). Afterwards, State Security fabricated a crime of “attempt, resistance and damages to a door lock” against the dissident. His time in prison has been in the central province of Villa Clara but due to his severe health situation during his prolonged hunger strike he has been taken to the hospital.
Sara Marta also sent out a message on her Twitter account (@SaraMartaCuba) calling on Cubans from around the world and from all social networks to join the call of solidarity with Marcelino Abreu, asking them to use the hashtag #FreeMarcelino on Twitter.
Almost immediately, a number of Twitter users, bloggers and activists began to Re-Tweet and share Fonseca’s message and convoked a Tweet-Protest for this Friday, November 22nd starting at 9 AM using #FreeMarcelino to raise awareness on the situation of this dissident who is in very “grave” condition, according to relatives and fellow opposition members. Similar protests have successfully taken place and have garnered massive participation in days past with the cases of dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon ‘El Critico’ (#FreeElCritico), the Lady in White Sonia Garro (#FreeSonia) and the case of Cuba’s election into the UN’s Human Rights Council (#DontVoteCuba).
Other dissidents currently in and out of Cuba have also been rallying support for the liberation of Marcelino, including José Daniel Ferrer García, Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, Carlos Michael Morales Rodríguez, Ricardo Lázaro Fiallo López, Damaris Moya Portieles and Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodríguez, among many others. All of the previously mentioned have described Abreu’s case as “urgent”. The young activist is a member of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Hard Line and Boycott Front.
October 31, 2013Posted by on
The absurd Law of Pre Social Dangerousness has taken another victim in Cuba. This time, it’s Jose Manuel Rodriguez, a member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in Baracoa, Guantanamo, in the Eastern region of the country.
According to an audio published on ‘Radio Republica’ by Isael Poveda Silva, a dissident and member of ADO-Press, Rodriguez had been receiving a series of acts of repudiation and threats at the hands of police agents until they finally detained him. On Wednesday, October 30th, he was sentenced to 4 years behind bars for the “simple fact of defending human rights and refusing to collaborate with the State Security apparatus”.
Poveda adds that the trial was extremely brief and authorities did not allow the presence of relatives and barred lawyers to participate in his defense.
The Law of Pre Social Dangerousness gives power to the regime to jail any citizen under the pretext that they may commit some sort of crime in the future. It is widely used to punish those who protest against the system as well as the youth.
Jose Manuel Rodriguez is the father of three underage children and he is married. The Eastern Democratic Alliance is demanding his immediate and unconditional release.
August 27, 2013Posted by on
Several Cuban opposition activists are calling on the international community as well as their fellow compatriots to denounce the situation of political prisoner Ivan Fernandez Depestre, who has been on hunger strike for more than 27 days and whose health has drastically worsened, placing him in a state very “near death”, according to a press release by the Cuban Democratic Directorate.
Fernandez Depestre was abruptly and violently jailed on July 30th after he participated in a peaceful demonstration in honor of Frank Pais, a Cuban martyr who stood up against totalitarianism on the island many years ago. Two days later, on August 2nd, Fernandez was sentenced to 3 years of prison under the Law of Social Pre-Dangerousness which orders time behind bars for citizens who look “dangerous” of committing “crimes” in the future. The activist has been on hunger strike since.
Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front, a coalition which Ivan is part of, has been frequently denouncing the situation and taking to his Twitter account to let the world know what is going on. In an audio published on his YouTube channel, Antunez expressed that Ivan is “agonizing in a protest that has lasted longer than 20 days” and that his health is “very critical”.
Antunez, who is currently in the city of Miami as part of an international tour to denounce the Cuban reality, has been in contact with dissidents on the island who have carried out several protests demanding the release of Fernandez and called on the international community and all human rights organizations to end their silence in regards to this case.
On August 26th, it was confirmed that Ivan was in the hospital of the penitentiary known as Guamajal, but on morning hours of the 27th, he was transferred back to El Pre Prison, in the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Activists have expressed worry that his life may end there due to the fact that he has been submitted to constant aggressions and very poor medical assistance.
On Friday, August 23rd, Damaris Moya, president of the Central Opposition Coalition, called on dissidents across the island to carry out protests in favor of Ivan’s freedom. A number of activities were documented, but so too was a brutal and repressive response on behalf of Cuba’s political police. Dissidents were beat, arrested, and deported, while many homes were raided and surrounded with police officials.
Antunez tweeted (@antunezcuba) this Tuesday that opposition members have not rested in their demands, saying that protests have taken place in municipalities and cities such as “Placetas, Santa Clara, Sagua la Grande, Holguin, Havana, etc”.
Ivan Fernandez Depestre is on hunger strike to demand his immediate release.
April 10, 2013Posted by on
Details of dissident rapper and activist Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, best known as “Critico de Arte”, has been limited since his arrest last 26th of March, considering that the political police took various cell phones away from his family members when they raided his home and took him to prison along with other relatives and neighbors which joined in solidarity. However, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)- opposition group which Remon also belongs to- confirmed this Tuesday, April 9th, that the young musician is still detained and on hunger strike.
“It’s been 15 days since Yunier Remon has been on hunger strike in a police unit of Bayamo”, wrote Ferrer Garcia on Wednesday in his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer). Another message recounts that on March 26th “Yunier Remon was beaten; while relatives and neighbors came out in his defense…they are now all accused of ‘attempt'”.
Jacqueline Garcia Jaenz, Lady in White and aunt of Angel Yunier, was one of the people attacked (in front of her underage daughter) and detained. She was released a couple of days later. Garcia also has her husband, Ariel Arzuaga Pena, behind bars for his peaceful opposition to the Cuban regime.
The music which Remon Arzuaga produces with his hip-hip group “Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso” (‘The Unwanted Children’) is censured in Cuba, as is the music of many other independent artists, whether they be within rap or other genres, such as Primario y Julito, Los Aldeanos, Porno para Ricardo, Eskuadron Patriota, Omni-Zona Franca and many others.
Relatives and fellow dissidents have expressed worry for Remon’s situation and the other 3 citizens detained alongside him, speculating that he will be sentenced to various years in prison, considering that he is being accused of “attempt” and “resistance”.
“As always, the victims are being accused by the culprits…that is how tyrannies function”, expressed Ferrer Garcia in another Twitter message.
This Wednesday, April 10th, Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga has been detained and on hunger strike for 15 days.
“The political police fears the growing support and sympathy which this youth has been receiving from the population”, said Ferrer.
March 25, 2013Posted by on
Political prisoner Ariel Arzuaga Pena, who is suffering various health ailments, was recently transferred to a penitentiary camp in the municipality of Bayamo, where he will not receive adequate medical attention, according to his wife Jaquelin Garcia Jaenz, a member of Cuba’s Ladies in White. Arzuaga was previously being held in the provincial prison of Granma.
“Ariel was transferred to the penitentiary, according to what the officials told me, due to all the health issues he is suffering, such as chronic pharingitis and advanced osteoporosis“, explained Garcia Jaenz, highlighting that in the prison he was being exposed to freezing temperatures many times and other times very humid conditions. However, she denounces that “he needs to be constantly attended by a doctor, but in the mentioned penitentiary there is no solid medical attention. In other words, the doctor only passes by once a week“.
The activist also recounts that her husband cannot apply any physical force or heavy lifting (due to the advanced osteoporosis on his spine) but he managed to tell her that in the new center he “has to carry the bucket of water to shower and has to clean the bathroom when it is his time to carry out his necessities“.
“They are not concerned for Ariel, they don’t take in to consideration that his sickness will get worse. On the contrary, they moved him to the new prison center to have him end up on a wheel chair“, assures Garcia.
Ariel Arzuaga was arrested on March of 2011, after the political police raided his home. Jaquelin was detained at the moment, so Ariel was home taking care of their underage daughter. The police physically assaulted the dissident and later accused him of an invented crime, alleging that he had threatened his young daughter with death.
Since then, Jaquelin has been denied visits with her husband, while he has been beat and threatened inside the prison on various occasions. All of this due to his posture against the totalitarian system on the island.
March 18, 2013Posted by on
Lady in White Sonia Garro Alfonso and her husband Ramon Alejandro Munoz have spent exactly one year in prison, without a trial, this Monday 18th of March, the same day of the 10th anniversary of the Black Spring, when 75 dissidents were imprisoned because of their pro-freedom posture.
Garro and Munoz, both members of the Independent Afro-Cuban Foundation, were arrested after being attacked with rubber bullets and suffering a beating by police forces in their Havana home. The prison authorities have not provided any clear information to their relatives as to why they are in prison or why they have not had a trial, although it is obvious that this has happened to them because of their activism. Yamilet Garro, Sonia’s sister, has taken on the task of visiting and taking care of Sonia and Ramon, although many times she has been denied her right to visits or to give them medicines or food, despite the fact that they both have health complications.
Sonia Garro and Ramon Munoz have an underage daughter together, which Yamilet has also been caring for.
In an audio recently published by former political prisoner Iván Hernández Carrillo, Yamilet Garro asked for more solidarity to free her loved ones. Meanwhile, an online petition was created to collect signatures to demand the same, while the hashtag #FreeSoniaGarro has gained much popularity on Twitter and Facebook.
Ladies in White as well as other dissidents throughout the island have dedicated their marches, protests, vigils and other activities in solidarity with Garro, Munoz, and the rest of the political prisoners in the country.
One year later: Sonia Garro imprisoned without trial and with several health issues, her sister asks for solidarity
March 11, 2013Posted by on
“They [the prison authorities] tell me that I have to wait, that her file is at the hands of the fiscal authorities and that her case is being analyzed”, said Yamilet Garro this past Sunday, March 10th, in reference to her sister, the Lady in White Sonia Garro Alfonso, and her brother-in-law Ramon Alejandro Munoz, just days before the 1 year anniversary in which they were both arrested by the political police. The declarations were made to former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo and published on his YouTube channel.
Sonia Garro and her husband Ramon Munoz, both members of the Independent Afro-Cuban Foundation, were arrested by the State Police in Havana on March 18th, 2012, after a violent operation which consisted in being shot by rubber bullets and being beat. It was part of a wave of detentions against dissidents during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the island. They were accused of “public disorder” and “assassination attempt” (with no proof) and both have suffered threats and mistreatments during their time behind bars.
Yamilet Garro also highlighted that her sister is suffering the deterioration of her health, considering that she has a cyst on her liver and has not received the adequate medical attention in the women’s prison known as “Manto Negro” (literally translated meaning ‘Black Cloak’).
Meanwhile, Ramon Munoz is being held in a cell alongside common prisoners, although the motives of his jailing were due to his posture against the Cuban regime. Munoz also has health problems, adds Yamilet in her declarations, as he suffers from a gastric ulcer.
In the past months, it has been denounced that State Security has used common female prisoners, convicted of crimes, to threaten Sonia Garro with death and/or beatings.
“I ask the world for solidarity with the situation of my sister”, said a desperate Yamilet Garro Alfonso, concerned for the fate of her relatives.
Her declarations can be heard, in Spanish, in the following audio:
January 28, 2013Posted by on
On Wednesday, January 23rd, dissident Orlando Triana Gonzalez, member of the Cuban Reflection Movement, was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months of prison due to his political activism. The prison sentence was dictated in the Tribunal of Camajuani and numerous dissidents were arrested throughout the central province of Villa Clara as they tried to make it to the trial to show solidarity with Triana, among them Librado Linares Garcia, leader of the MCR.
But a group of 4 dissidents in the municipality Quemado de Guines- 3 of MCR and 1 from FANTU- carried out a protest march with signs condemning the sentence and demanding freedom for Triana Gonzalez. The demonstrators were Maydelis González Almeida, Nosbel Jomolca, Juan Carlos Fernández Morales and Yosmel Martínez.
“Upon hearing the news of the sentence in the afternoon, we carried out a march down Second Avenue South in Quemado de Guines with signs and shouting slogans demanding freedom for Orlando Triana and all political prisoners“, said Gonzalez Almeida, “this dictatorial regime has committed yet another one of its injustices“.
The pro-freedom activist adds that the trial was “based on lies and false testimonies against the human rights defender Orlando Triana“.
During the protest, neighbors did not repudiate the demonstrators when they shouted slogans of freedom, while political police agents did not have time to carry out arrests, affirmed Maydelis. The video of the protest below:
Meanwhile, Librado Linares, who spent various hours detained in a police vehicle for trying to make it to the trial, said that the Movement which he leads will continue demanding freedom for Orlando Triana Gonzalez.
For more details from Cuba:
Librado Linares – Phone: +5352-378-063 / Twitter: @LibradoLinares
Maydelis Gonzalez- Phone: +5358-217-833 / Twitter: @maydeliscuba1
June 7, 2012Posted by on
Starting with the following post, this blog will point out a Twitter message by a Cuban living on the island each day. Today’s Tweet comes from former political prisoner from the group of the 75, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. In addition to being an independent journalist, Ivan is an independent unionist and lives in Colon, Matanzas.
[TRANSLATION] @Ivanlibre: #Cuba My opinion, dictated by no-one, I am willing to repeat it in any media outlet of the totalitarian system: “Radio Rebelde”, “Mesa Redonda”, etc.
Follow Ivan on Twitter! Search for him: @ivanlibre
In the vast majority of cases, Twitter is used freely and frequently throughout the world by all sorts of users. It is a message which is instantaneously published on the internet (which is limited to 140 characters) and deals with any subject which the user wishes to discuss, whether it be social, entertainment, humor, science, politics, commentary, etc. In Cuba, Twitter messages cost users 1 CUC (national currency) each and are only possible through phone text messages, unless the user has access to the internet (a rare Case in Cuba, considering the tight state censorship practiced over the web). In many cases, friends who have joined in solidarity in the exterior of the island help these Twitter users to publish their messages.
May 17, 2012Posted by on
Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, an activist who is member of the Central Opposition Coalition, was arrested this past 27th of March when he stepped out of his home in Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara and attempted to direct himself to the city of Havana to assist the Mass which was to be offered by Pope Benedict XVI that same afternoon. Chaviano has not returned to his house since that moment, for he has been confined to a punishment cell for trying to freely travel throughout his own country.
Recently, the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front published the video of the moment of Chaviano’s arrest. The video is divided in three parts. The first part shows Chaviano explaining that he is surrounded, focusing the camera on the oppressors which keep a tight vigilance over his home. This occurred just days before his arrest. The second half shows the aftermath of a mob repudiation attack against Chaviano’s home. In this segment, the dissident’s young son denounces the situation as well. The final part of the video is the rapid and violent arrest of Chaviano at the hands of State police agents. Watch it here: