Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Public Protest

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

New political prisoner in Cuba: Ivan Fernandez Depestre

Meet one of the newest political prisoners in Cuba, Ivan Fernandez Depestre (pictured above).

Ivan, who is approximately 40 years of age, recently joined the public opposition on the island, specifically the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front and the group Awakened Youth.  He was arrested by the political police on July 30th when he participated in a protest march in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara in honor of a fallen patriot, Frank Pais, along with other dissidents.  The authorities kept him detained and quickly sentenced him on August 2nd to a 2 year prison term in the Municipal Tribunal of Placetas.

During the ‘trial’, Fernandez Depestre was accused under the ‘Pre-Social Dangerousness Law’, which could dictate time behind bars for any citizen just because the authorities think that person would be a danger in the future.  The law has  been used to send thousands of Cubans to prison without having had committed crimes, and it is specifically used against dissidents, especially young ones.

Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, former political prisoner and leader of the OZT Front, has been reporting about this case and has asked for more solidarity with the jailed activist.

Ivan Fernandez Depestre committed the horrible crime of daring to go out with other pro-freedom activists this past 30th of July in a peaceful march, dressed with their clothes backwards, paying tribute to Frank Pais on the anniversary of his death“, declared Antunez in an audio published on his YouTube account.

The dissident leader added that the only detainee that day was Fernandez Depestre, explaining that the activist does not have family support and that his sentence was a method used by State Security to try and make him give up on his recently begun struggle.

Fernandez Depestre has been participating in numerous pro-freedom demonstrations in the city of Placetas during the months of June and July.  He has been detained and beat by the political police on various occasions.

I am calling on the international community to join in solidarity with this activist“, expressed Antunez.  He also added that in light of Ivan’s sentence, there would be a campaign in and out of Cuba with the aim to demand his freedom through civic actions out on the streets.

Listen to the audios by Antunez in regards to this situation: Click here and here.  

Meanwhile, Antunez and his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, leader of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, will carry out a trip abroad this August 4th to tell the world about Cuba’s reality and the political police has unleashed an operation of arrests and beatings against dissidents who have tried to say goodbye to the dissident couple.

More details on the Twitter account of Antunez: @Antunezcuba 

 

 

 

Jose Daniel Ferrer on ‘growing opposition and the power of information’

José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), informed this blog about various cases of police repression against dissidents  on the island but also highlighted that “not all news is negative“.  He affirms that his organization, as well as the opposition in general, continue gaining space amongst the population and keep putting the dictatorship in very difficult positions.

Among the positive news, we see that there are more places where new chapters of UNPACU are opening up, such as in Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and other areas in Eastern Cuba“, affirms Ferrer, “and each time there are more people who join or collaborate with our struggle.  We are also imparting workshops where we train citizens to be more effective when it comes to communication with population, as well as in confronting the repression of the tyranny“.

Due to the growing level of activism, Ferrer Garcia says that the number of political prisoners has increased.  These prisoners are mainly young activists who decide to go out to the street and it is these same citizens, according to the former political prisoner, that worry the regime the most, considering that they attract more people and speak in terms understood by everyday people.  One of these dissidents is independent rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, ‘El Critico’, who also serves as secretary for UNPACU in the province of Granma.

We are still very worried with the situation of Angel Yunier, who has been imprisoned since March 26th [after he gave a public discourse in favor of freedom].  In addition to the constant tortures and harassment he is subjected to, Yunier contracted cholera in Las Mangas Prison…it’s very worrying.  He is a young man who is arbitrarily imprisoned“, denounced Jose Daniel.  He also pointed out the situation of Alexander Otero Rodriguez, another young dissident, arrested alongside Angel Yunier in march.  His discourses in favor of freedom and his constant public activism has been another thorn on the side of the system.

Recently, independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’ reported that Alexander suffered a paralysis in the prison he is being held in while the authorities refused to transfer him to a hospital.

I also want to shed light on the case of Francisco Diaz Echemendia, from Santiago de Cuba.  He was one of the ones who went to Bayamo to the place where Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero died.  He went there to deposit flowers on the first anniversary of their deaths, and for this reason he was detained.  The police searched his house and kept him in a dungeon for 10 days, in inhumane conditions and under constant threats, etc“.

In a similar fashion, activist Denis Pino Basulto was detained in Holguin province for defending various independent street sellers who were being harassed by the political police.  The agents were taking their products and threatening them.  “Denis was beat and detained for various hours, but despite the excessive repression he maintains himself firm and committed with the cause“, said Ferrer.

Returning to the subject of positive news and growing public opposition, Ferrer Garcia assures that “on a daily basis, more people committed with the cause are taking to the streets, and they are taking audio-visual materials on CDs and USBs so that the population can become informed“.

These discs and flash drives usually contain images of pro-freedom demonstrations on the island, debates, protest music, and interviews with Cubans in and out of the country, among other things.

In response to the question of the role of these informational materials in the struggle for freedom, the activist expressed that “we always say that our grand problem is information.  If we could maintain a constant flow of uncensored and serious information, through the use of audio-visual works handed to the everyday Cuban population, if we can do this a lot more, then the mentality of citizens would evolve quicker in the process of assuming consciousness in this struggle“.

That way“, affirms Ferrer Garcia, “more people would join the struggle for freedom.  And the dictatorship would last much less time“.

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer 

Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero honored on the streets of Cuba (Video)

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.

Caught on video: Unmeasurable violence against Lady in White in Santiago de Cuba

Mobs organized and made up by police agents of the Cuban regime carried out a violent attack against pro-freedom dissidents, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), in Altamira, Santiago de Cuba, on July 18th, 2013.

The violence occurred after several public demonstrations in the area demanding the release of all political prisoners and in solidarity with the everyday people.

State Security organized paramilitary mobs to surround the homes of activists in Altamira, throwing rocks, bottles, and shouting verbal offenses as well as arresting and beating various demonstrators.

One of the people who suffered the worst repression was Marina Paz, a member of the Ladies in White.  She was kicked, dragged, robbed and even stripped of her clothing by the State mobs.  A video published on the YouTube channel of UNPACU and narrated by ex political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia displays the moment of the aggressions (See minute 1:30):

But we can also witness another factor in the video, and that is that dissidents have responded with more activism out on the streets.  Don’t take my word for it.  The images speak for themselves.

“I do want real change”: Protest in Placetas (Video)

Members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front went out to the streets of Placetas, Villa Clara in the morning hours of June 2nd to carry out a public protest where they announced the “I do Want” campaign and called for solidarity with hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos Caballero.

The “I do Want” campaign was launched by the Assembly of the Resistance in a joint effort by pro-democracy groups in and out of the island as a follow up to the “I do not cooperate” campaign, where numerous stickers calling on Cubans to not participate in repressive actions organized by the dictatorship such as acts of repudiation and snitching.  Now, the second phase of the initiative exhorts the people to cooperate with the internal opposition and demand their rights publicly.

Former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, and general secretary of the OZT Front, participated in the demonstration alongside activists from Havana, Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus.

“We are also demanding solidarity with our brother Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, who is currently between life and death”, exclaims Antunez during the activity.  Santos Caballero has been on hunger strike since May 24th, demanding a house after having been evicted by the police.

Afterward, the demonstrators shouted slogans in favor of democratic change and human rights.  They were not repudiated by any neighbors.

The video:

Daniel Barriel recounts house raid, arrest and the solidarity which achieved his release

When dissident Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo, organizer of the “Zapata Lives” cell of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Santiago de Cuba, heard abrupt knocks on his door on the morning of June 28th and noticed that they were coming from agents of the Cuban political police, he knew there were going to be problems, all because of his pro-democracy activism.  The agents ordered him to open the door, but since they did not present a search warrant, Barriel refused.  Police officials kicked down the door, breaking parts of it and raiding the house.

Upon entering my home, the 6 agents rushed towards me“, recounted the young dissident, “they started to beat me in front of my wife and my 5 year old son“.

Barriel was aggressively handcuffed (he still has the marks) and he was forcefully taken out of his home while still wearing underwear and shoved into a police vehicle.  He was taken to the Operations Unit of Versalles.

The police agents were accusing the activist of having painted messages against the Cuban regime on top of a mural with images of dictators Fidel and Raul Castro.    Daniel denies this, not because he is against the gesture, but because he explains that his activism is “public” and he does not have to hide his actions.

Upon arriving to the unit, they put me into an inhumane cell with only enough room for 2 prisoners which were already there.  One of these prisoners was an assassin and the other was a marijuana dealer“, said Barriel, who assures that he was victim of “psychological tortures” at the hands of State Security agents who continuously warned him that they would “disappear” him and that he “would not see the light of day again“.

The Santiago native adds that he was interrogated 2 more times and was then moved to another cell at around 4 in the afternoon, where the threats that he would go to prison continued.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UNPACU, explains that the Versalles Unit is known for the psychological tortures against detainees, as agents “try to break the will-power of the dissident and try to convince them to drop out of the opposition movement“.

In this torture process the detainees are usually kept for various days, weeks or months, but in the case of Daniel Barriel he was released the same day.  “All of this is due to the brave response of more than 40 of our activists“, explains Ferrer.

Numerous activists “met at the home of Barriel in the Sueno Neighborhood and publicly declared that they were going to take to the streets to protest“, recounts the former political prisoner.

Upon seeing the intelligent ad rapid response of the dissidents, the police decided to surround them in the house and brought members of the Rapid Response Brigades (paramilitary group) who tend to attack human rights defenders with weapons such as sticks, rocks, metal objects, etc”.  Despite this, the demonstrators remained firm and ready to go out to the street.

The persistence of the activists led the police to release Barriel Sanjurjo.

Suddenly, a couple of agents visited me and told me that there was a process open against me for the crime of writing over the murals and that they would summon me again to the unit, but that I would be released for the time being“, recounts the activist.  At the same time, Barriel’s mother received a phone call from a police agent asking her to please keep the more than 40 activists “calm” because they were going to release her son.

Daniel details that he was taken to his home in a police vehicle.  Upon arriving, he  noticed the presence of mobs who were carrying out an act of repudiation.  He pointed out that the aggressors were all officials or members of paramilitary groups but “none of them were neighbors or everyday people“.

Barriel pointed out that he was still in danger of going to prison, considering that the police told him accusations against him were  still open.  Regardless, he thanked all dissidents who showed solidarity with him during his arrest and affirmed that he will continue carrying out his work as director of the “Zapata Lives” Cell of UNPACU, which is made up mostly of young activists who define their activism with public activities on the streets, such as marches or the handing out of pro-freedom pamphlets.

This effort of working together and using pressure to achieve the liberation of a detained activist is not an isolated case.  This Monday, July 1st, for example, 3 activists were detained in the municipality of Banes, Holguin, among them Rafael Meneses Pupo.

The 3 were released from the National Revolutionary Police Unit when Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, member of the Ladies in White and of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, and her husband Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir carried out a protest inside the unit.

Cases such as these “prove that the political police doesn’t feel sure of itself, not even with their own officials“, while everyday citizens and the organized opposition continue gaining space, expresses Jose Daniel Ferrer.

For more information from Cuba, contact:
Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo – Cell Phone: +53-388-130

Residents of Grua Nueva publicly protest and demand repairs to main street

On Saturday June 22nd, the majority of residents of the neighborhood known as El Batey, in Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, publicly protested the horrible conditions of a heavily transited main road.

According to dissident Santa Gonzalez Pedroso, vice-president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, the motive for the protest was that the main street was in very bad conditions, it was dirty and produced lots of dust, which directly affected locals.

Here in Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, there are many children with a cold, there are many elderly neighbors in wheelchairs and other bedridden sick people, and this dust was asphyxiating all of us”, said Gonzalez Pedroso.

Neighbors have been complaining for a couple of days but their desperation finally tipped over on Saturday and “they took to the streets to demand a local delegate of Grua Nueva to fix the problem“, explained the activist.  She said she was arriving to her house at that very moment when she saw the crowd of protestors.

The citizens remained out on the street demanding repairs to the street, which is transited by all neighbors and by all cars and trucks trying to get to other towns.  The persistence of the demonstrators was so much that the delegate actually had to travel to the scene.  His response, however, was that he would not fix anything because that was “a troublesome” neighborhood.

The response of the protestors was to block the entrance point of the road.

All of the neighbors, including dissidents and everyday citizens, used lots of rocks and sticks to block off the entrance of the road“, recounts Gonzalez, explaining that this impeded cars from passing through.  It was a form of civil disobedience.

The result of the protest was that a number of government workers were sent to the scene with a pipe to water down the dirt road and some of the dust was eliminated and cars could finally pass by.

Santa Gonzalez classifies the events as a victory, but an incomplete victory nonetheless, considering that the discontent level is still high amongst the locals of El Batey, Grua Nueva and the road is not completely fixed.

Something big is going to happen here because the delegate says he is not going to fix this road, but they are going to have to fix it because it’s not just us, the dissident, who are demanding this.  It’s the people of Grua Nueva“, expresses Gonzalez, “Of course, the delegate fixed his own road, but the people here are publicly saying that that’s not fair“.

For more information from Cuba, contact:
Santa González Pedroso – Cell Phone: +58-163-728 / Twitter: @Santacuba1

“My Crime”, Making pro-freedom music under a dictatorship

This blog recently had a chance to catch up with Julito, independent and dissident rapper from the duo El Primario y Julito, who spoke to us about the group’s new record, an opposition rap agency, the difficulties independent artists face in Cuba and more. 

The dissident hip-hop group El Primario y Julito, based in Havana, recently launched their new album titled “My Crime” [‘Mi Delito’], a production which contains 14 songs, among them the first single “Lambon”, which has been accompanied by a music video.

Julio Leon Fonseca, better known as Julito, explains that “My Crime” is one of his favorite projects to date.  It consists of a number of “protest songs” and others which are more “commercial and reaggaeton-based“.

Among the protest anthems are “Este año si se Cae” [‘This year the dictatorship falls‘], a collaboration with the punk-rockers Porno Para Ricardo, while other invited artists on the disc are Rapper Issac and Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso [‘The Unwanted Children’].  The latter also form part of a new rap agency, along with Primario y Julito, dedicated to making protest music.

This agency consists of 5 rappers who are not allied with any government organization and we work completely independent because we are members of the opposition“, says Julito, “The agency is made up by us – Primario y Julito – and also Rapper Issac, from Santiago de Cuba, and The Unwanted Children, from Bayamo“.

The young musician highlighted the situation of Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico”, a member of The Unwanted Children, who has been arbitrarily detained for more than 2 months, being held in Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo, for making protest music and carrying out civic activities as a human rights defender.

Some artists affiliate themselves with certain musical or cultural groups belonging to the government, but we don’t buy that“, expresses Julito, “we make protest music and we have absolutely nothing to do with government agencies.  If we are going to protest, we will do so with our means, not with theirs“.

He adds, “in reality, this is not a government… it’s a family dynasty which took over the country and has not wanted to let go. This country, this government, has to change…or better said, this government has to cease existence“.

Some of the other 14 new songs are “Gobierno Tirano” [‘Tyrannical Government’], “Triste” [‘Sad’], “Malo” [‘Bad’], and “My Crime“, which is the title track and recounts how the regime classifies these musicians as being dangerous because they write lyrics critical of the system and publicly manifest their opinions without censorship.

This free attitude has cost independent artists on the island quite some reprisals.  Julito says that in the case of his group, “we have been beat, we have been arrested and we’ve been completely censured“.  In fact, Primario y Julito also go by the name “Los Censurados”, (‘The Censored Ones’).

When we started making music as a duo and we launched our first disc, we were summoned various times by the political police.  While in the police units, agents told us we would not have access to any stage and that we would not be allowed to perform live“, recounts the Havana-based musician, “In fact, I still haven’t been able to perform live because of this.  And it’s something I have always wanted to do as an artist, to see how the crowd reacts to my music.  But these things happen under dictatorships“.

Despite the censorship and the prohibition of not being able to present themselves publicly, Primario y Julito still have lots of followers.

“There are many people who listen to us, who know who we are out on the street, especially young people“, assures Julito, who also explains that in order to spread their art, they have to do so through their own means, “burning CDs and handing them out to the population“, while “opposition groups also help us spread our work throughout the country“.  In addition, they have to do record in “home studios” which other musician friends lend them.

He points out that an efficient way to assist artists like them in Cuba is to facilitate their access to blank CDs and USBs.

Our discs are not on sale in Cuba“, says Julito, son of well known dissident and Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo.  However, anyone can buy the new album on their website, www.elprimarioyjulito.com.

Roberto de Jesús Guerra, director of the Havana-based independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’, recently published a video-clip of one of the new singles of the rap group, “Este año si se Cae” [‘This year the dictatorship falls’].

Here we are“, expressed Julito, “My message to other young musicians like us in Cuba is that they join us to keep taking the sentiment of freedom to the people.  Here I am…and we have to keep fighting without fear and taking this protest music against the dictatorship“.


To contact directly with Julito:
Cell Phone: +53-246-070

Police brutality leaves female dissident leader unconscious and hospitalized

It’s not rare for Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera to suffer a beating by uniformed agents in Cuba.  Both she and her husband, the renown dissident and former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, live under constant police vigilance, which does not allow them- the majority of times- to freely move throughout their own city of residence, Placetas, or throughout the country, for that matter.  And when they manage to surpass vigilant cordons and arrive to other destinations, they are eventually intercepted and deported.  This was proven once again on Thursday, March 7th 2013, when the activist was brutally beaten by State Security agents and left lying unconscious on a street in the city of Santa Clara.

Perez Aguilera, president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, was with other women of the group participating in the weekly march they carry out every Thursday to pay homage to Cubans who have died while trying to achieve freedom in the country, when the violence took place.  It was around 9 AM when the others were detained: Damaris Moya, Yanisbel Valido, Natividad Blanco, Ramona García and Yris Tamara Aguilera herself.

The women were taken directly to cells in different police units throughout the region, but agent Eric Francis Aquino Yera and one known as Misael kept Yris in a separate police vehicle, by herself, from which she was taken out, or better said- dragged out- by her hair and thrown against the pavement various times to the point that she was left unconscious after suffering blows to the head, according to declarations made by Antunez in an audio published on the YouTube account “PlacetasCuba100″ (belonging to Yris Perez).

Minutes later, some neighbors showed up to the home of Damaris Moya in Santa Clara and told her husband, Yanoisy Contreras, that there was a person abandoned out in the road, passed out.  “We first thought it would be a drunkard”, said Antunez in the audio, “but when Yanoisy went to the corner of the block and saw that heart-wrenching scene, where Yris was just thrown there, bleeding and passed out… we urgently took her to the 20th Anniversary Hospital of Santa Clara”.

Yris’ condition was grave, which is why she was rushed to the Armando Milian Castro Hospital, located in the same city, where she was submitted to various exams.  However, the hospital authorities, in collaboration with State Security, expelled Yris Tamara from the hospital as soon as she gained her conscious back.

Upon arriving to Moya’s home, other dissidents who displayed solidarity with Yris were detained, among them Michel Oliva Lopez and Alberto Reyes Morales.  Others in Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara and Velasco, Holguin also were surrounded and arrested for protesting against the events.

“We are highlighting the seriousness of this situation”, said Antunez about his wife, “we hold the dictatorship accountable for the life of Yris”.

At around 7:30 PM it was reported, via Twitter, that when Antunez was taking Yris back towards Placetas, she suffered another loss of consciousness, as detailed in this other audio.

Due to the countless beatings she has received- product solely of political persecution- Perez Aguilera has developed a cyst in the lower back part of her neck.  She frequently suffers migraines, dizziness spells and other sharp pains due to this wound which she has not been able to tend to medically.


Eric Francis Aquino Yera, one of the agents who attempted against the life of Yris this Thursday, is the same official who, in 2012, threatened to rape the 5 year old daughter of Damaris Moya- Lazara Contreras.

The attack against the president of the Rosa Parks Movement comes the day prior to International Women’s Day, celebrated around the world.

These beatings have not managed to force Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera to give up her fight in the past, which gives rise to an important question- what is the real news here?  Is it the fact that the dissident was repressed? Or, rather, that she keeps going out to the streets demanding rights for all Cubans, despite whatever kind of consequence?  

For more information form Cuba, contact:

Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba

 
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