Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina

Opposition leaders in Antilla arrested, diverse groups respond with solidarity

Members of ADO and other pro-freedom groups in meeting. Photo by: Luis Felipe Rojas

At around 3 PM on Wednesday, February 20th, leaders of different dissident groups were arrested by the State Police in the Eastern municipality of Antilla after a series of meetings.

The detainees were Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, general coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Yoandri Montoya, president of the Bayamo Youth Movement, and Eriberto Liranza Romero, president of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy. After the arrests, all the dissidents were abandoned in different desolate locations throughout the province of Holguin.

Eriberto Liranza, from Havana, recounts that he was visiting the Eastern region of the country since February 14th and that he had been trying to dodge police vigilance and persecution since then.

On the 15th, I evaded persecution in the city of Velasco, in the municipality of Gibara. I was with a couple of other activists and we managed to escape without being arrested until arriving to Antilla“, where he participated in the 9th Anniversary celebration of the Eastern Democratic Alliance along with another 50 activists.

He explains that after carrying out another commemorative activity in Antilla during morning hours of the 20th, a group of dissidents congregated outside the home of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez and carried out a protest, shouting slogans like “Orlando Zapata Lives” and “Down with the dictatorship“. Zapata was the political prisoner who, after tortures, mistreatment, and a lengthy hunger strike, died on February 23rd, 2010. He is considered a martyr and symbol of resistance by the internal Cuban opposition.

It seems that this protest was too much for the regime. It bothered them very much that we were freely going out to the streets“, said Liranza.

It was at that moment that the arrests occurred.

They arrested a group of us- Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Yoandri Montoya, Delmides Fidalgo and me… they aggressively put the handcuffs on us, they put them on very tightly, hurting our hands and arms“, recounts the dissident, “then they shoved us into police vehicles, where there was a glass window dividing us from the drivers seat. It was extremely hot inside“. They were taken to the Pedernales Unit, a center notorious for its mistreatment and torture of recluses, both political and common ones.

After various minutes in Pedernales, where they were mistreated and threatened with further repression, each of the activists were abandoned in different desolate areas. Rodriguez Lobaina was left in the rural area of Holguin known as La Caballeriza, while Liranza was left on the outskirts of Holguin, afterward being forced to leave the province. The whereabouts of Yoandri Montoya were unknown for a while but it was later confirmed that he arrived to his city of residence, Bayamo.

Montoya has been denouncing the increase of violence on behalf of the regime against him and other activists from the Movement which he heads in Bayamo. On recent occasions, in declarations to this blog and other independent outlets, the young activist has said he has been detained numerous times and that the young members of the group live under the constant vigilance of State Security officials and collaborators. In this month of February, police agents threatened Yoandri with taking him to prison. The dissident explains that this repression is due to the group’s increasing opposition on the streets of Cuba, demanding freedom, as well as their work with the community- one of the most prominent projects being the foundation of numerous independent gyms which provide exercise services and equipment for young locals, free of charge.

That same Wednesday, during morning hours, other detentions of Eastern Democratic Alliance members were reported, as were the cases of Yubel Cansino Acosta, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir (in Banes) and Luis Noa Silva (in Baracoa), according to Twitter messages published by Rolando Rodriguz (@LobainaCuba). Noa Silva was summoned to a police unit on the following day, where he was threatened with years of prison if he chose to continue his activism.

The detentions of the  leaders of these different pro-freedom groups unleashed a wave of solidarity among other members of the opposition in the Eastern region, such as other activists of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in the neighborhood of Los Negritos, in Banes, as well as other delegations of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy throughout Holguin.

Meanwhile, former political prisoner of conscience and general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, published a series of tweets (@jdanielferrer), denouncing the arrests. Minutes later, Ferrer reported that members of UNPACU in Holguin carried out peaceful actions, demanding the liberation of the detainees.

I am very thankful of all the brothers who heard what was happening to us and protested for our freedom“, expressed Eriberto Liranza, “We appreciate all the support…I have the best of opinions of the opposition here in Holguin. There is lots of youth involved, and there is a strong spirit of protest against the tyranny“.

For more information contact Eriberto Liranza in Cuba: +5353- 341-682

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.

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.

Regime Orders Repudiation Against Activist, Numerous Arrests

Arrest of Caridad Caballero in 2011

Lady in White and member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Caridad Caballero Batista was in her home on this past Tuesday June 19th, at around 8 PM, along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez and son Eric Sandez, in the city of Holguin, when communist functionaries carried out a demonstration of repudiation against the family, which consisted of screaming hateful and aggressive slogans at them.

According to how the dissident described the situation, the participants of the repudiation were “mostly head officials“, among them from the Communist Party, from the Popular Power, from the Municipal Vigilance, and also from the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, all of which screamed phrases such as “we must eliminate the enemies of the revolution”.

They stood in front of my house“, explained Caballero, and remained there for a lengthy period of time from 8 PM on.  The act of repudiaiton seemed to be “a festival” for the participants, said the activist, because there was even music for them.

On the following day, Wednesday June 20th, various dissidents from Velasco, Holguin had plans to travel to the city of Holguin to visit Caballero Batista at her home in order to participate in the weekly meeting held there, where activists carry out a vigil and share news about the latest acitivties being carried out by the Resistance on the island.  All those who tried to travel were arrested.

The first activist to be detained on that morning was Manuel Martinez Leon during the early hours as he was arriving to the local terminal.  In response to this, more than 5 dissidents showed up outside the Gibara police unit, where Leon was being held.   These protestors also had plans to travel to the home of Caballero Batista.

In a report given to “Radio Republica”, the independent journalist Rafael Leyva Leyva, one of the protestors, explained that he, along with other dissidents, were going to remain protesting outside the police unit Manuel be freed.  In addition, Leyva said that they were holding the police agent Juan Carlos Espinosa responsible for the arbitrary arrest of Leon.

A few minutes later, these same activists who were protesting were also arrested, according to declarations of Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina provided to the exiled Cuban activist Alfredo Viso.  (Listen to the audio here).  Among the detainees were Jesus Diaz Morales, Jose Pena Batista and Jorge Perez Zaldivar.

Meanwhile, Marta Diaz Rondon- member of the Ladies in White in Banes was also kept from traveling to the city of Holguin to visit her sister-in-struggle Caridad Caballero.

According to Caballero Batista, the vigilance and repression has only increased against the Cuban opposition in general.  In fact, she points out that one camera which used to be installed down her block (to monitor who comes in and goes out) was taken down and re-installed right in front of the local Catholic Church, Jesus Christ the Redeemer of Men, surely to keep a tight watch over Ladies in White from Holguin who often are victims of beatings and arrests for trying to arrive to Sunday Mass in that temple.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero 

Cuban Dissidents Launch New Audio-Visual Project

Cuban dissidents from the Eastern Democratic Alliance have launched a new audio-visual project dubbed “Palenque Vision”, which will publish documentaries and other similar projects.  All the material published through “Palenque Vision” will be filmed, edited and produced from inside of Cuba by the activists themselves, as was the case of their first documentary- “Prisons of  Cuba: Sequence of Terror”.

This documentary of nearly 17 minutes was made public this past Wednesday, June 6th in Miami, during a conference in which the coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance- Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina- spoke directly from the island with members of the pro-democracy  Assembly of the Resistance and a number of media outlets.  The production includes the testimonies of 4 former Cuban political prisoners- José Daniel Ferrer García, Jorge Luis García ‘Antúnez’, Isael Poveda Silva and Rodolfo Barthelemy-who narrate the reality of Cuban political prisons: tortures, beatings, corruption amongst the guards, etc.

According to Lobaina, the documentary took about 6 months to finalize due to the fact the camera operators had to find clandestine ways to travel to the homes of the interviewees, considering that they are constantly under police surveillance.  In addition, the producers of the film had to find diverse and creative methods to send the material out of Cuba, seeing as they could not do it through the internet due to state-imposed censorship.

Rodríguez Lobaina added that “Palenque Vision” has opened its own YouTube channel, under the same name, where it will publish all of its projects as they are completed.  The channel is an extension of the blog of the Eastern Democratica Alliance, “Palenque Cubano”, where a number of activists publish essays, poems, reports and other literary works which narrate the Cuban reality.

See “Prisons of Cuba: Sequence of Terror” (English subtitles coming soon)

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

More Testimonies on Cuban Regime’s Repression Against Dissidents (Saturday Feb. 18th – Sunday 19th)

On Saturday, February 18th and Sunday the 19th, a number of repressive acts against peaceful dissidents occurred throughout Cuba, as it tends to happen during all weekends.  The following testimonies are just 3 denouncements among many, and they highlight the beatings, arrests, and the vigilance which the Cuban dictatorship unleashes upon the Resistance.

Guantanamo


The general coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, was violently arrested on Saturday the 18th along with activist Isael Pooveda Silva as they were heading back to their home towns from a meeting in Antilla.  “When we arrived at the police checkpoint, we were taken out of the car by force“, denounced Lobaina.  It was then that police agents began to carry out a search of their bodies.  “The check was very violent.  They twisted my arm, despite the fact that it is injured“, added the dissident.

Lobaina noticed that various people were witnessing the arrest and so he began to shout phrases in favor of freedom and he explained that he and Isael were human rights activists.  Despite this, the “police violently lashed out against me, and they handcuffed me.  Minutes later, we were taken to the Operations Unit of Guantanamo” where both activists remained until the following day.  “As usual“, signals Rodriguez Lobaina, “the political police showed its deep worry of the recent travels we carried out through different provinces of the Cuban East as they began to threaten us“.  Lobaina refers to the meeting held in Antilla in commemoration of the 8 years of the Eastern Democratic Alliance’s activism in favor of freedom.

Banes, Holguin


This past Sunday February 19th, Lady in White Marta Diaz Rondon was “under constant vigilance” as she walked to church along with Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, also a Lady in White.

We were able to make it to church in spite of the constant surveillance by State Security officials,” explained Rondon, “They would look at us and would try to provoke us, they were constantly behind us“. After mass, both Ladies in White had their homes surrounded for the rest of the day.

Although dissidents like Diaz Rondon and Ojeda Suares are always under surveillance by State Security agents, especially on Sundays, Rondon highlights that the repression has actually intensified against her since the communist authorities “want to prevent us from traveling to  the city of Holguin to meet with other Ladies in White and attend mass at the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church. Also, Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s second anniversary of his murder is coming up, which is another reason they are intensifying the repression“.

Amid the threats, we, the dissidents in Banes, do not fear repression. We will go to where Zapata was buried because his body rested there for 6 months and we will continue going to leave flowers on his tomb. Zapata gave his life for Cuba’s freedom and we will continue his example. His death will never be in vain“.

Boyeros, Havana


Sara Marta Fonseca, Lady in White, was arrested by the political police on Sunday at 8:50 am when she left her home in Rio Verde to join the march of the Ladies in White. Before her arrest, she was able to send the message “I’m being detained” through Twitter.

Fonseca was violently pushed inside the police car and taken to the police unit of Calabazar in the municipality of Boyeros where she was left for 30 minutes before being taken to the National Revolutionary Police (NRP) unit in Cotorro. Sara Marta explained, “I was interrogated 3 times and was detained for a total of 12 hours. I was released at around 8:30pm“. This time, she was told to get off the car a few blocks away from her house, contrary to the usual treatment where she is left stranded in desolated, dark areas.

The Lady in White affirms that during her detention she was “witness of the increase of violence in Cuba. I witnessed attacks with aggressors using short weapons, and apparently this kept them from leaving alone since they were responsible for me because they had arbitrarily arrested me“.

Fonseca suffers from various disc hernias in her back and is currently under immense pain due to the arrests, beatings and aggressions.

National Front Convokes Unity, Civic Actions for the Liberation of Ivonne Malleza and Pays Tribute to Vaclav Havel

Logo of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front

Under a strict vigilance from the political police, various Cuban pro-democracy activists met on the morning of December 19th under the direction of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front in the home of the distinguished dissident leader, Idania Yanez Contreras, located in Santa Clara.  Among those present were Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Luis Felipe Rojas, Delmides Fidalgo and Idania Yanez, whom all represent various dissident organizations such as the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Central Opposition Coalition.

Numerous reports confirmed that a dissident by the name of Alberto Reyes was arrested as he was trying to get to the meeting.  Despite this repressive atmosphere and constant vigilance on behalf of the regime’s police authorities, the dissidents discussed numerous subjects and launched various messages to the international community, among them an urgent call demanding the release of Ivonne Malleza, her husband Ignacio Martinez, and Isabel Haydee.  The three Cubans have been arrested since Wednesday, November 30th after participating in a public protest in Havana’s Fraternity Park.

The following text was drafted by various members of the National Orlando Zapata Tamayo Front and it outlines the topics discussed in the meeting:

Declaration of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front

The Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, in its work meeting with the Central Opposition Coalition and the Eastern Democratic Alliance, has agreed to ratify the alliance with these organizations due to the necessity of seeking the spirit of unity within the non-violent Cuban opposition.  The National Front, after a fruitful interchange in regards to the different dynamics of Resistance tactics within the country, acknowledges the work and leadership developed by dissidents Idania Yanez Contreras of the Central Opposition Coalition and Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina of the Eastern Democratic Alliance.  Yanez Contreras and Rodriguez Lobaina have effectively promoted and set forth civil activism and resistance in their respective regions. In the same vein, their personal characteristics have led to an increase of pro-democracy activists joining the struggle in both those regions.

The National Front expresses the moral compromise of all its activists with the memory of the martyrs Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Pedro Luis Boitel Abraham, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, and Laura Pollan Toledo.  The same way that their examples keep the spirit of the Front alive, we are calling on our activists to not allow anything to destroy the work previously achieved and to combat all forms of division and disenchantment within the dissident forces.

The National Front, and the participants of this work meeting, reaffirm the decision of continuing to carry out coordinated actions for solidarity, and demanding the freedom of Ivonne Galleza Galano, her husband Igancio Martinez, and another participant of the protest they took part in (Isabel Haydee), which led to the arrests of the three activists.

Also, on this day we send our condolences to the relatives and friends of the distinguished Czech politician Vaclav Havel.  The National Front salutes his definitive and unobjectionable compromise with the freedom of Cuba.

-Executives of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front

December 19th, 2011

Political Prisoner Andy Frometa Cuenca, Victim of Constant Tortures and Prolonged Sentences

His name is Andy Frometa Cuenca and he has practically lived his whole life behind bars.  His crime? Trying to leave his own country in search of a better life in a free land, something which the Cuban authorities classify as an “illegal exit”.  The day he was taken into prison- May 12th 1992- Frometa was barely 16 years old.  “He was a 15 year old kid, he turned 16 shortly after while in a cell of Park Unit 24 in Guantanamo“, explains Caridad Caballero Batista, Eastern Cuban dissident who has been demanding Frometa’s freedom for some time now.

In a declaration by Andy, shared with this blog through dissident Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina in May of the current year when the prisoner was on hunger strike, he narrates his hellish experiences in the Castro gulags where he has been subjected to countless forms of torture, as well as constant vigilance.  I have been subjected to arbitrary punishment under orders of the Cuban political police, which are bent on keeping me confined in inhumane punishment cells in order to damage my physical and mental health“, the young prisoner writes in the letter directed to Rodriguez Lobaina, adding, “Throughout these 19 years of imprisonment I have contracted multiple diseases and because they were not properly tended to by doctors I was declared incurable. The doctors have paid no attention whatsoever. The regime gets more pleasure knowing that human beings die in prison“.  Due to these diseases Frometa has been exposed to, he was in a handicap state for three years.

Despite that Frometa has already served 20 of the 42 years he was sentenced to, the regime has not ceased in their attempt to oppress him, because, according to Caridad Caballero, “Andy’s protests and rebelliousness irritates them“.  His punishment has not just been because of his attempt to leave the country, but also because of his firm and unbreakable attitude in the Castro dungeons.  “His other sentences have been due to ‘penitentiary misconduct’, ‘contempt’, and other similar categories which the regime creates and applies on people who oppose their system“.  Andy remained in the Boniatico Prison until he turned 20, and then he inaugurated the Camaguey Kilo 8 Special Regime Prison, popularly known as “I lost the key”.  In addition, he has passed through Combinado del Este, Kilo 5 1/2 of Pinar del Rio, the Guanajay Torture Cell, and he was also the first of a group of prisoners to be sent to the prison known as “White Shark” in Combinado of Guantanamo, where he has remained in inhumane conditions during the past 13 years.

Recently,  on the afternoon of October 13th, 2011 Andy was transferred from cell #22 in “White Shark” to the penal center Guantanamo, where he continues suffering ongoing tortures at the hands of his oppressors.  With 35 years of age, Andy Frometa Cuenca is one of the current Cuban political prisoners who has served the most time in the communist gulags of the island, and one of the many on the island who remain imprisoned due to political reasons.  “Andy does not have much family“, explains Caballero Batista, “his wife is the one taking care of him whenever she can.  They allow him phone calls every 7 days, family visits are only allowed every two to three months, and conjugal visits are every 4 months.  This has been so until the 13th of October, when he was transferred to the other prison“.

Frometa’s health is still very poor.  He suffers from progressive myopia, due to a disease he contracted while in prison, and which has led him to be “nearly blind

ADO-Press: Another Important Crack in the Censorship Wall

In an island where its rulers try to control the flow information with an iron grip, another important step towards freedom was taken on Tuesday October 4th, in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba, when activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance launched ADO-Press, an independent news agency of this opposition group.  This agency, with its headquarter in Eastern Cuba, joins the group of various independent news agencies that report what truly occurs in the country.

Independent journalist and blogger and also member of this new agency, Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal was present and reported that there were 18 activists in the home of Isael Poveda Silva, where the event was held.

According to Rojas, who in addition serves as a correspondent for ADO-Press, “the first objective of the organization is to let everyday Cubans know the reality of what occurs in Cuba, without ideological inclinations, considering that the state-run media responds only to one political party and does not respectfully represent the people“.  The activist added that in order to be that voice the agency will report news about social problems that directly affect ‘everyday’ Cubans, such as issues of housing, jobs, health, education, along with the human rights crisis on the island which also affects all inhabitants.

Various participants in the launch of ADO-Press. Photo: Luis Felipe Rojas

In the important meeting they also announced the executive members of ADO-Press.  The director is Rodolfo Barthelemy Cobas and the Sub-Director is Caridad Caballero Batista, well known dissident and independent journalist from Holguin.

Caballero Batista emphasized that the goal of ADO-Press is “to continue denouncing the crimes committed against Cubans and so that the world knows of the critical situation occurring on the island“.  According to the activist, one of the most serious problems affecting the island is the situation of political prisoners who are punished and tortured for their political ideas and peaceful demonstrations.

In addition, ADO-Press will consist of journalistic work carried out by other correspondents such as Emilio Leyva, Randy Caballero Suárez, Isael Poveda Silva, Raudel Ávila Losada, and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina.

Previously, we carried out our journalism in a more independent way, each of us on our own“, explains Batista, “now we do it in a more organized form through this agency“, explaining that in addition to the denouncements which ADO-Press will publish, they will also announce dissident activities so that everyday Cubans, that are perhaps not involved directly with the Resistance, know about the latest events, who the peaceful dissidents are, and for what reasons they are fighting.

In order to reach this objective, the Eastern Democratic Alliance, according to Luis Felipe Rojas, will use new technologies “like Twitter and blogs- such as ‘Palenque Cubano’ (the Alliance’s blog), or mine, ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire’, and others- as a platform” in order to send out news from Eastern Cuba to the rest of the country and the world.

In addition to correspondent, Rojas will also be adviser of new technology usage, teaching courses on how to use such technologies in an efficient manner while applying journalistic techniques.  He already began teaching some of these classes during the launching of ADO-Press, helping various dissidents to open their own Twitter accounts and sending their first messages, such as Yanet Mosquera (@yanetmosquera), Yoandri Montoya (@yoandrimon) , Julio Mone (@monebor), and Caridad Caballero (@caricaballero).

Despite all the fear the regime has and all the censorship it applies, we will continue publishing this news and sharing it with the world.  It is something very necessary“, affirms Caridad Caballero Batista.

After the ceremony celebrating the creation of ADO-Press, the activists premiered a documentary, produced and filmed by Palenque Vision- the Eastern Democratic Alliance audio visual group- titled “Cuban Prisons: A Sequence of Terror”.  The film explores the horrors of Cuban prisons, and according to the spectators, it was a success.  Copies of the movie were burned onto CDs and handed out among those present as well as to neighbors and other Cubans on the street.

News agencies such as ADO-Press in Eastern Cuba, and Hablemos Press with its headquarters in Havana, represent a new generation of citizens who are tired of the rhetoric and censorship of the state-controlled media.  These journalists/activists have been able to surpass the wall of censorship imposed on information by the government, sending messages to the exterior and informing those outside of the country, but they still face large obstacles in order to form their fellow citizens within Cuba.  The oppressive apparatus of the political police frequently interrupts and disables phone signals, prohibits the free us of internet, and censors any news on important events such as massive protests or cases of human rights violations on the national media.  It is difficult for a Cuban without links to the Resistance (and in many cases even dissidents themselves) to inform themselves, free of propaganda, in a rapid and efficient manner.  Though they are forbidden to partake in any television, radio, or written media spaces in their own country, the professional and extensive work carried out by these activists will continue to be spread throughout the island in whichever way possible, whether it be through handing out pamphlets and CDs or by carrying out public conferences.  Agencies such as ADO-Press are willing to confront the obstacles, working towards dismantling the state-monopoly over information, an essential step for achieving the ultimate freedom of a country.

Crackdown Attempts to Deter an Unstoppable March (Pt. II- Baracoa)

to of the March in Baracoa, taken by Luis Felipe Rojas

Members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, together with other dissidents, formed a group of about 26 dissidents and carried out an important march in Baracoa on Monday, September 12th under the banner of the National ‘Boitel and Zapata Live’ March for Freedom.  The activists initiated the march from Playa Duaba, a Cuban historic site where freedom fighter Antonio Maceo disembarked in 1895, during the War for Cuban Independence.

Among those present were the well-known dissident leader Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Eliecer Palma, Jose Triguero, and the dissident blogger Luis Felipe Rojas.

Rojas explained that the march began with the singing of the national anthem, and then they began to walk, Cuban flag at hand.  Both dissidents- Rojas and Lobaina- were reporting all that was happening via telephone to various means of communication which had contacted them, like Radio Marti and Radio Republica (stations from Miami which dedicate their programming to report the latest news from Cuba).  By doing this, the dissidents were also informing passer-bys about what they were doing and why they were doing it.

Once again, it was proven that the everyday Cuban people did not impede the march in any way.  “People came out of their houses to see us“, says Luis Felipe, “It was received well by the locals, not even a single person attacked us, despite the fact that in times past, that region has been known for talking horrors of the opposition“.

The response of the authorities, which had been keeping a strict watch on the march from the early morning when it began, was all the opposite.  The authorities quickly mobilized to arrest the demonstrators, though this time it was not marked by brutal beatings as usually occurs, though there were displays of violence, evident “in the cases of Isael Poveda Silva and Anderlay Guerra Blanco who were both violently handcuffed and shoved into police vehicles“, according to Rojas.

All the dissidents were detained in hot, pestilent cells which were “in horrible conditions“, until the following day.  Upon being released, they were “accused of public disorder and alteration of public order.  Of course, we refused to sign any of the documents they presented us with- the accusations and the release form“, explains the author of  “Crossing the Barbed Wire“.

In the case of Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Luis Felipe explains that he was threatened with 20 years of imprisonment if he continues organizing events for the “Boitel and Zapata Live” March.  Regardless, Lobaina has paid no attention to these threats, assuring that he will continue his anti-dictatorial demonstrations and activities.  The dissidents were then released and dispersed throughout various regions far from their homes, forcing them to travel long distances (at their own expense) in order to return home.  In his own case, Luis Felipe was released in Moa, significantly far from his hometown of San German.

(The threats and deportations) are common characteristics of the regime“, affirms Luis Felipe Rojas.  Meanwhile, Rolando Lobaina published a message on Twitter where he states that, “we will continue taking to the streets and we will keep demanding freedom and rights for Cuba“.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers