Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Raumel Vinajera

Why Do You Fight?

“Why Do You Fight”? That is the question which blogger, writer, photographer and activist Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal asked various of dissidents in Cuba in his latest documentary, produced from within the island.

The reasons which the interviewees give are diverse, but they all coincide in that the Cuban dictatorship destroys freedom for all citizens and that they (dissidents) not only fight for their individual rights, but also for the rights of the entire nation.

Rojas Rosabal interviewed José Daniel Ferrer García (former political prisoner), Marta Díaz Rondon (Lady in White), Caridad Caballero Batista (Lady in White) , Tania Montoya (Lady in White) , Raumel Vinajera (former political prisoner) , Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina (former political prisoner)  and Reina Luisa Tamayo (mother of assassinated political prisoner, Orlando Zapata Tamayo).  In addition, the film includes some everyday images of Cuba taken by Rojas himself.

“Why do you Fight?” was published through the YouTube account of Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, also an independent blogger and photographer and includes English subtitles.

Recap: Another Violent Weekend in Cuba

Once again, the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista and her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez were impeded from assisting Catholic Mass this past Sunday, April 15th, in the city of Holguin.  It was the 17th consecutive Sunday that these activists could not attend Mass to pray for Cuba.

Caballero explained that it was a “terrible” moment of “much violence“, when they were walking to church at around 8 AM and were intercepted by various police agents which began to arrest them immediately.

They nearly broke our fingers this time“, said Caballero, “in Esteban’s case, one of the agents applied a headlock on him and strangled him.  His neck is now swollen“.  The activist says that the acts of aggression occurred before the eyes of everyday citizens.  The repressive operation was carried out by State Security official Jordanys Martinez Leon.  The dissident adds that Martinez Leon was accompanied by various women of the Ministry of the Interior and other functionaries from State Security and from the National Police.

The dissident couple was kept in a dark and foul-smelling dungeon in the Pedernales Unit, this time until 3 PM.  They are usually kept until 11:30 AM or 12 PM, as soon as Sunday Mass ends, as a form of blackmail and as a taunt.

In addition, the cell phones of Caridad and Esteban were blocked by the regime before and during the arrest, impeding them from communicating with other human rights activists in the region.

Regardless, Caballero was able to confirm that Berta Guerrero Segura, a Lady in White from Cacocum, Holguin, was also arrested on her way to church.  In addition to Segura, “three other Ladies- Vaniuska Suarez, Lisete Gonzalez, and Odenis Suarez- were also arrested.  They were on their way to Holguin when police agents forcefully made them get off the bus they were on at around 5 AM“, said Caballero.  These three women were detained in the police unit of Velazco for various hours that Sunday.  The police agents confiscated the white clothes the women were carrying with them.

Meanwhile, in the municipality of Banes, Holguin, three Ladies in White were able to make it to the local Catholic Church.  These were Marta Diaz Rondon, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, and Miladis Pinales.  Rondon told this blog that, as tends to occur, they peacefully marched amid a strong vigilance on behalf of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police.  Various weekends have passed where these women have been able to surpass police operations, yet they are persecuted until they arrive at church, where the agents wait outside until Mass has concluded.  Afterward, the officers follow the women back home, insulting them and taunting them all along the way.

From Palma Soriano, Tania Montoya said that more than a dozen Ladies in white made it to El Cobre Sanctuary, while another group was arrested.  Montoya highlighted that she and other Ladies in White have turned to methods of “crossing fields and rivers” in order to surpass police operations and arrive to the Sanctuary.  “There are usually very strong police operations in the exits of Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, and other towns“, explained the activist, “this is all done in order to impede us from moving freely“.

It is precisely because of these operations that an activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Omar Naranjo, decided to join the women in solidarity and help them cross grasslands in order to make it to the other side.  However, upon arriving to the town of El Cobre, various police agents were already waiting.  These same agents violently arrested Naranjo.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Still Jailed 

Tania Montoya explained that along with her husband, Raumel Vinajera, they put together some signs with messages in favor of the release of former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who has been once again confined to a dungeon and has been there for two weeks.  It was reported that on Monday, April 16th, various of these signs propped up throughout the town of Palma Soriano and they all had messages demanding freedom for Ferrer.

Caridad Caballero said to be “very worried” about the situation of Jose Daniel, considering that he has been victim of constant violence and that the authorities can easily revoke his Black Spring sentence if they so desire.  When it comes to the treatment of human rights activists in Cuba, Caballero assures that the Cuban regime “has no mercy with anyone“.

For more information from Cuba: 

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero //Marta Díaz Rondón – Cell Phone: +5352-771-639 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon // Tania Montoya – Cell Phone: +5353- 146 – 329

Twitter of José Daniel Ferrer García, being administered by his wife Belkis and brother Luis Enrique:   @jdanielferrer

Holy Week: “Wave of Terror” Continues in Cuba

The Lady in White Belkis Cantillo Ramirez was released from prison during the evening hours of Friday, April 6th.  Ramirez had her home raided by a large number of political police agents and suffered a brutal arrest on April 2nd along with her husband, the leading dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who is still detained.  The arrests of the couple was part of a repressive crackdown in Eastern Cuba which resulted in 43 arrests of human rights activists.

Cantillo Ramirez spoke with ‘Marti Noticias’, offering details about her arrest.  “The political police broke into our home…they dragged me, they hit me on the head, they hit me on my stomach, on my breasts, everywhere“, the dissident explains, adding that her sister-in-law was also beat.  In the case of Jose Daniel, Cantillo explains that he was taken, by force, out of the house without a shirt or shoes.  According to testimonies of an activist who shared a cell with Ferrer Garcia and who was recently released, Ferrer remains in a jail cell in the same fashion he was taken out of his house.

The three children of Belkis and Jose Daniel witnessed all of the violence.  The eldest of the daughters, 14 year old Martha Beatriz Ferrer, also explained to ‘Marti Noticias’ that, as her parents were being arrested, the police officers also confiscated books, cameras, phones, magazines, and even a frame with the photo of Laura Pollan, fallen leader of the Ladies in White.

On Saturday afternoon, the young Cuban explained to the same news agency that she was physically and verbally assaulted by regime agents as she was on her way to the El Cobre Sanctuary of Santiago de Cuba, in order to participate in Sunday Mass alongside other Ladies in White.

Meanwhile, Tania Montoya (also a Lady in White) informed that her husband, activist Raumel Vinajera, was still jailed as well in the police unit known as “Micro 9″.  Vinajera was also arrested on April 2nd in his own home located in Palma Soriano.  Montoya told this blog that the dissident Hector Felix Labrada was recently released from Micro 9 and he was sharing a cell with Vinajera.  “He [Labrada] told me that my husband had very strong pains on his head and was suffering from dizziness“, explained the Lady in White, adding that “this is all because they beat him so much when they arrested him…it is very alarming“.

Tania Montoya

Montoya denounced that, just as it was done to Jose Daniel Ferrer and Belkis Cantillo, “our home was raided and they took everything- signs, magazines, books, etc.  They also broke into the home of Raumel’s mother“.  The same happened in the house of activist Aurora Martin, where according to Montoya “the agents broke off the railings around the house and raided the home, beating all those inside and then taking them jailed“.  Among those beaten in the house was a sister of Aurora who “passed out” due to the amount of violence she received.

The sister of Aurora suffered many beatings to the point that she lost consciousness and passed out.  In the same fashion, they shoved her into a police vehicle.  In addition, Aurora’s daughter was there with her 3 month old daughter.  They also received physical blows, and even the little one received a blow on one of her legs“, added Tania Montoya.

The Lady in White described the repression as a “wave of terror” and informed that this wave continued through Friday, April 6th.  “Today, April 6th, we confirmed that Jorge Cervantes Garcia (Contramaestre) and Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria (Moa) were both violently arrested“.

Furthermore, the dissident narrates that she and other Ladies in White were able to make it to Mass this past 6th of April, precisely on Good Friday.  “Once inside the church we prayed to our Lord Jesus Christ so that he give us strength to withstand all of this and to please bring freedom to Cuba“.  Montoya also prayed for the dissidents who remain behind bars, among them José Daniel Ferrer, Dani López de Moya, Adriana Núñez, Santiago Castellanos and her husband Raumel Vinajera.  Amnesty International also released an urgent action report, echoing the situation of the jailed activists.

Here in Cuba, on one hand the regime releases some from prison while, on the other, they detain more“, expressed Tania Montoya, affirming that despite what may happen, this Sunday she will march to church, as will many other women throughout the island.

For more information from  Cuba:

Tania Montoya – Cell:  +5353- 146-329       // Belkis Cantillo Ramírez – Móvil:   +5353-790-867

Wave of Arrests in Eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer, Belkis Cantillo Among the Detainees

Belkis Cantillo, Lady in White and wife of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia

In Eastern Cuba, April 2nd 2012 began with various non-violent protests carried out by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in the municipality of El Caney, in Santiago de Cuba, according to the former political prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia who published the news through his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer).  According to the activist, the members of UNPACU were demanding the liberation of Rogelio Tabio, who has been on hunger strike for more than a month now and who is currently in very weak physical condition.  Activists also demanded the liberation of Andres Carrion, the Cuban who screamed ‘down with communism’ during the Pope’s Mass in Santiago de Cuba.  The dissidents also demanded freedom for Bismark Galan who was detained on April 1st for filming a documentary about a young girl who is sick and who has not received adequate medicine.  In addition, the dissidents were demonstrating against the violence which Ladies in White are constantly victim of.

Ferrer continued to inform through Twitter throughout the day, explaining that in El Caney 10 human rights activists from UNPACU “took to the streets screaming slogans against the dictatorship and in favor of human rights”.  When the demonstration came to an end, the dissidents headed to the home of Guillermo Cobas, a well known activist in that area.  The home was rapidly surrounded by political police agents who then started a mob repudiation attack.  During this time, in another center of Santiago de Cuba, in the Vista Hermosa neighborhood, another 14 activists from UNPACU were carrying out a similar protest, according to Ferrer.

Meanwhile, another Tweet narrated that 22 members of UNPACU were detained with violence in the home of Raumel Vinajera in La Concepcion, Palma Soriano.  These dissidents were planning to go to the street to carry out another similar protest.  Ferrer Garcia told ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ that, around 11 AM, the home of Vinajera was “raided”, as was that of his mother.  Ferrer explained that “the latter [Vinajera's mother's] was destroyed”.

Just hours later, at around 5 PM, Jose Daniel Ferrer made an urgent phone call to ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’, denouncing that his home in Palmarito de Cauto was about to get raided by a number of political police agents.  Ferrer said that the “agents want to tear down the door”.  Minutes later, former political prisoner Pedro Arguelles Moran confirmed that the police ended up breaking into Ferrer’s home, arresting him and his wife, the Lady in White Belkis Cantillo, as well as other dissidents who were inside the house.

Angel Antonio Blanco, an activist from UNPACU, also told ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ that police officers were “robbing” things inside the home of Ferrer Garcia, as they also did with the home of Raumel Vinajera.

As of this moment, the whereabouts of Ferrer Garcia and the rest of the detainees are unknown.  Ferrer, as well as other activists, had assured that the repressive wave which occurred in Cuba during the papal visit was only a preparation for a larger scale violent crackdown which would be set in motion to squash any social rebellion.   We are alerting the international community that right now, in Cuba, there are many peaceful dissidents behind bars, just because they defended human rights.  Among the detainees are independent journalists, Ladies in White and former political prisoners, as well as a hunger striker- Rogelio Tabio- who is fighting for his life. 

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