Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Romelia Piña González

With perseverance, more than 100 Ladies in White attended Mass this first Sunday of March

State Security unleashed a wave of arrests, a Catholic administrator refused to lend his temple to shelter them, and the weather conditions consisted of heavy rains and lots of cold, and yet more than 100 Ladies in White marched throughout Cuba and participated in their respective churches to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and the entire country this Sunday, March 3rd.

As each Sunday, former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo used his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) to document what was happening with these women throughout the island.

One of the first tweets published by Hernanez informed that in the province of Pinardel Rio 4 Ladies in White managed to march and arrive to Mass, while another 6 were detained. “Marti Noticias” published an article about the violent of Noralis Martin, the representative of the group in that province, alongside her husband Jose Rolando Casares.

The names of other Ladies detained in Pinar del Rio were Lin Elaida Quiñónez, Caridad Peinado Gutiérrez, Belkis Pérez Pérez, Yaima Ledesma Santana and Yaneris Rodríguez Morejón.

In Havana, despite heavy rains, 44 Ladies in White defied the vigilance of the state police and marched down 5th Avenue and participated in Mass at Santa Rita Church, accompanied by more than 30 male dissidents.

Ladies in White march in Havana. March 3rd, 2013. Pubished by @jangelmoya

Hernandez Carrillo tweeted that in Matanzas province a total of 14 women made it to Mass. 7 participated in the city of Cardenas, 5 in Colon, 1 in Perico and 1 in Roque.

4 Ladies in White participated in Mass in the central province of Villa Clara, while another 3 were detained. These were Lisandra Farrai Rodríguez, Aime Moya Montes de Oca and Malvelis González Reyes.

Ladies in White march in Colon, Matanzas. March 3rd, 2013. Published by @SayliNavarro

In the Eastern region of the country, 4 women were arrested in Granma, 9 made it to Mass in Guantanamo, and a total of 54 Ladies in White participated in Mass at the El Cobre National Shrine, despite having slept the night out in the open after an administrator of that temple refused to offer them shelter.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), published a series of tweets (@jdanielferrer) recounting the situation.

“Without any doubts, the administrator known as Enrique, is being hostile towards the Ladies in White due to pressures of the political police”, read one message, while another signaled that “Enrique refused shelter to the Ladies in White because, supposedly, there were not enough rooms available in the Sanctuary…Afterwards, he gave various people rooms, including a political police agent who went there to watch the Ladies in White”.

“The day that the Cuban people open the archives of the G2 (secret police), many will be shocked to see how many collaborators were in different churches”, Ferrer Garcia expressed in another message.

Meanwhile, in Holguin 8 women arrived at church and another 4 were beaten by the police after Mass. The victims of the violence were Romelia Piña, Marlenis Abreu, Mirta Molina Leyva and Glisedis Piña González.

Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, a young member of the group, told this blog that at around 9 AM she was violently arrested by the police upon trying to make it to the Jesus Chrsit Redeemer of MenChurch in Holguin.

The State Security agent known as ‘The Polish’ rushed up at me…he grabbed me by one of my arms and told me I was arrested“, said Villamonte, who peacefully resisted but was forcefully introduced into a police vehicle. She was taken to the police unit known as “La Segunda”.

They left me there in a salon with an immigration agent. I was then taken to a room where a lady approached me and told me her story…she said she was very tired because she had made countless accusations against a man who had threatened her daughter with death but police authorities had completely ignored her case“, says Eleiny, “I told her that that’s how things are in this country, that they waited until someone was killed in order to act“.

When the immigration agent heard this, she told the Lady in White to shut up. “She nearly slapped me and told me various times to shut my mouth because, if not, I would suffer the consequences“. Eleiny stood by her opinions and, under various threats, was finally released at around 12:30 PM, after Mass had come to an end.

In the case of Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante, a Lady in White from Antilla, she was arrested as soon as she stepped out of her house on her way to the city of Holguin to participate in Mass alongside the other women, according to declarations she made to “Radio Republica” in this audio. Mildred was threatened by the police that she could not travel to Holguin during the weekends.

Berta Soler, representative of the Ladies in White at a national level, told the same medium that “just one Lady in White that arrives to any church in the country means that Christ is listening to our prayers…for the liberation of all political prisoners and the respect to human rights. And one Lady in White represents all Ladies in White in the country”.

For more information from Cuba:

Berta Soler- Cell Phone: +52-906-820
Eleiny Villamonte- Cell Phone: +52-393-169
Mildred Sánchez- Cell Phone: +52-615-097
Iván Hernández- Cell Phone: +52-599-366 / Twitter: @ivanlibre
José Daniel Ferrer- Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Ángel Moya Acosta- Cell Phone: +53-820-595 / Twitter: @jangelmoya

Ladies in White continue on the streets in 2013

The Ladies in White kicked off 2013 the same way they finished 2012: out on the streets, flowers in hand, demanding freedom for all political prisoners and, in sum, for Cuba.

According to a series of Twitter messages published by former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo (@ivanlibre), 44 of these women carried out their accustomed march down Havana’s 5th Avenue after assisting Mass in the Santa Rita Church.

Other tweets published by the dissident explained that in the province of Matanzas a total of 18 Ladies made it to church, despite police vigilance.  Specifically, 11 made in the city of Cardenas, 2 in Perico and 5 in Colon.

In the Eastern province of Guantanamo, 8 Ladies in White reported that they achieved their objective and made it to Sunday Mass.

However, in Holguin- also in the East- several of these activists were arrested, declared Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, a young Lady in White who made it to church but confirmed the detentions of others.

I was able to make it because my husband took me on his bicycle and he managed to evade the police.  I quickly got off and that’s how I made it to church”, said Villamonte, “In total, 3 of us were able to make it to church this Sunday”.

Among the more than 5 detainees whom the young activist mentioned were Bertha Guerrero Segura, representative of the group in Holguin province, and Romelia Pina Gonzalez.

This Sunday, January 6th, was also Three Kings Day- a tradition which, like Christmas, was prohibited for many years under the current communist dictatorship and which is still ignored and talked down on the State media (the only allowed press).  To celebrate the date, a number of Ladies in White and other dissidents of diverse organizations on the island organized parties and gift exchanges for children.

Angel Moya Acosta, former political prisoner and husband of the national representative of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, wrote on his Twitter account (@jangelmoya) that the women managed to make it to their headquarters on Neptuno Street in Havana this Saturday, January 5th, with more than 40 children, giving them some toys and carrying out a small party for them in honor of the date.

Meanwhile, in Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, the also former political prisoner and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, detailed on his own account (@jdanielferrer) that numerous children spent a moment of celebration among friends and family in the homes of various activists throughout that region this Sunday.

Similar activities also took place this Sunday throughout different parts of Santiago de Cuba, Velasco and Holguin, although some of these were interrupted by the repressive actions of the political police.

2013 has already begun with various civic demonstrations out on the streets of the country, which have been carried out by diverse pro-freedom groups from East to West.

Last Sunday of 2012: Ladies in White Keep Marching

Ladies in White throughout the country made it to Mass and carried out their weekly march this last Sunday of 2012, the 30th of December, after a year in which repression against them, and the opposition in general, has increased drastically.

32 of these women arrived at Mass in the Santa Rita Church of Havana, 7 in Pinar del Rio, 20 in Matanzas, 6 in Guantanamo, 2 in Ciego de Avila and 2 in Holguin, affirmed Berta Soler, representative of the female group.

Soler considered the situation to be “an achievement“, considering that in nearly all the cases, in the mentioned provinces the Ladies in White arrived at their respective churches, surpassing police cordons and evading arrests, except in Holguin where 9 of the women were detained.

The detainees in the mentioned Eastern province were Bertha Guerrero Segura, Ana María Aguilera Panque, Romelia Piña González, Marlene Abreu Almaguer, Rosa María Naranjo Nieve, Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, Viviana Campo, Eunices Céspedes Estrada y Bárbara Bauza Driggs.

Bertha Guerrero, representative of the group in Holguin, detailed that the arrests occurred during early morning hours, especially that of Eunices Cespedes, resident of the municipality of Velasco, who was abruptly arrested at 4 in the morning.

They kept us arrested up to around 12:30 in the afternoon, after Mass had ended in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church“, said Guerrero, “Afterward, they left us stranded in different parts on the outskirts of Holguin, forcing us to walk miles to get to our homes“.  State Security agents placed a video camera this year in front of the mentioned church to keep watch over the Ladies.  The same camera had previously been installed outside the home of recently exiled Lady in White and human rights activist Caridad Caballero Batista, who also suffered countless arrests this year for trying to make it to church.  The camera was relocated as soon as she left the country.

During her arrest, Bertha Guerrero denounced that the Second Chief of Confrontation, known as Yordanis Martinez Leon, told her that “if the Ladies in White want to make it to church, we’d have to buy ourselves a helicopter to drop us off at the church because they were never going to let us get there“.  It is not the first time this repressor tells her that.

Sunday after Sunday we have been detained and, in addition, also threatened with our children and families“, added Guerrero, citing the case which also occurred this Sunday, where one of the detainees- Barbabra Bauza- “had her son arrested because on Saturday, some citizen burned a Cuban flag in the Calixto Garcia park.  Her son was arriving home in the morning and since State Security had not been able to arrest or blame anybody, they did so with him, taking him to the instructional unit known as Pedernales.  Agent Rafael Chapman, of State Security, told Barbara that he does not care if her son is a minor (16 years of age), for he would invent a crime for him and take him to prison.  This happens simply because he is the son of a Lady in White“.  She added that the women are ready to take to the streets in protest to demand his freedom.

Guerrero said that despite the repression, the Ladies in White of Holguin will continue marching and that she has hope that 2013 will bring good things for Cuba.

In an emotional case, Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the Ladies in White in the province of Matanzas, explained that in addition to the fact that 20 women of the province made it to Mass, in the church known as “The Parish” in the city of Cardenas, a group of these acitvists were greeted with respect and admiration by churchgoers.

The people rose from their seats when it was time to share the greeting of peace, and they came up to us, hugged us, and gave us their blessings“, recounted Ramos, “When we left the church, we carried out our march and many people also came up to us, displaying their support, greeting us, saying that we are doing the right things and saying that they hope more people rise like us“.

Leticia said she felt lots of happiness, considering that “we have achieved to carve out a space not only in the church but also amongst the people“.

There have been far too many beatings, arrests, deportations, threats, and other forms of State persecution and violence against the Ladies in White this 2012.  In fact, one of the most repressive of cases occurred in February when two members of the group- one from Pinar del Rio and the other from Palma Soriano- suffered miscarriages after police arrested and harassed them.  Their names are Noralys Martin Hernandez and Taimi Vega Biscet. (Read more about these cases here).

Regardless, everything signals that the increase in repression is attributed to the fact that the group has significantly increased in size and that its members have not stopped defying the dictatorship for one moment.  They have been persistent in their marches, declarations and activities.

Despite the repression“, said Berta Soler, “the most important thing is that the Ladies in White will continue stronger and more prepared than ever.  We will continue our peaceful struggle for the freedom of all political prisoners as well as the respect of human rights in 2013.  We will continue to grow throughout the island.  The Cuban government’s repression has only made us more united“.

For more information from Cuba:

Berta Soler- Cell Phone: +5352-906-820

Bertha Guerrero Segura- Cell Phone: +5353-632-110

Leticia Ramos Herrería- Cell Phone: +5352-481-807

State Police Raid Home of Lady in White, Fire Water, Beat, and Arrest All Those Inside

In the Eastern city of Holguin, a group of approximately 14 Ladies in White were participating in a monthly encounter in the home of Glisedis Piña Gonzalez (member of the women’s activist group) this Saturday, August 18th, when the house was raided by combined forces of the political police and State Security and all those inside- mostly women and children- were beaten and arrested.

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez, a Lady in White from that same city of Holguin, could not assist the meeting (due to a personal illness) but shared details of the brutality.

Very horrible violations have occurred”, said Velazquez, “at around 4:30 PM, paramilitary mobs carried out an act of repudiation against the women, shouting insults and throwing rocks at them”.

In addition to throwing rocks to the activists, the mobs fired water at them, according to reports by Berta Soler and Yuri Miguel Carralero  to the “Háblalo sin Miedo” voice recording service.

It was during this repudiation that the police forces raided the home. “They violently searched the entire house, and all those women inside were beat all the way out and then arrested, and taken to police units.  Along with the women, they also detained about 5 or 6 men (…) and also arrested 5 under age children who were also taken to police units”, detailed Perez Velazquez.

Among the male detainees was independent journalist Alexei Jimenez who also managed to phone  ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (which translated into English literally means ‘Speak Without Fear’) where he explained that the agents attacked him with sticks on the head and ribs.  “It is obvious that the people who were there doing that to us were police officers dressed in civilian clothing, not enraged everyday people.  They were mobs organized by State Security agents“, assured Jimenez, referring to a common tactic applied by Cuba’s communist police apparatus to make it seem that everyday citizens are the ones attacking dissidents.  Jimenez is frequently beaten and arrested each Sunday when he tries to accompany the Ladies in White to church in Holguin.

In the case of the women, among the detainees were Romelia Piña González, Glisedis Piña González, Berta Guerrero Segura, Eleini Villamonte Cardozo, Danay Mendiola, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Lisbeth Peña Hernández, Nelda Molina Leyva, Barbara Bouza and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.

The children who were detained were released during night hours, along with Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque (the only Lady in White released as of August 18th 2012).  The children were sons and daughters of Ladies in White and activists.

Zuleidis Perez managed to establish communication with the 14 year old daughter of Romelia Piña Gonzalez once she arrived home.  The minor was very nervous and, amid her fear, was only able to share some details with Zuleidis about what had happened in that house (her aunt’s home).

Other arrests of Ladies in White took place on that same morning in the same province of Holguin in the municipalities of Banes and Cacocum, when various women tried to travel to the city of Holguin to participate in the meeting.  These detainees were Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Piñales Rosa in Banes, and Marlenis Abreu Almaguer in Cacocum.  These three were released at around 6 PM.

A wave of escalating violence has been occurring throughout the island against human rights activists, among them many Ladies in White.  These actions are being accompanied, in most cases, by home raids and brutal beatings.  One other recent example is that of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez, from the municipality of Antilla, who had her home raided by police forces, was beat violently in front of her family, and arrested for more than 96 hours this past 13th of August.  State police said they were searching for “enemy propaganda” in her house- a common term for any written or audio-visual materials which deal with the defense of human rights.

Meanwhile, the “Hablemos Press” independent news agency, with its headquarters in Havana, recently released a report in which they detailed that in the first 14 days of August more than 200 arrests of peaceful dissidents have occurred, while between the 10th and 14th, more than 20 home raids took place.

As for the detained women, Zuleidis Perez expressed: “[As of August 18th] we do not know of their whereabouts, so we are declaring them disappeared and we fear for their lives.  If the police was capable of breaking into the home, beating them, and breaking furniture and other objects, then we should not doubt for a second that they are very capable of killing or disappearing them”.

(Listen to Zuleidis’ audio- In Spanish):

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358-244-778

Group of Ladies in White Defy their Oppressors in Holguin, Carry out Successful March

This past Sunday August 12th 2012, 9 Ladies in White in the city of Holguin did not let their violent arrests at the hands of political police and State Security agents keep them from carrying out their habitual Sunday march towards the local Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Catholic Church.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez, member of the women’s group and resident of Holguin, was one of the 14 detainees taken into custody in a “very violent” manner.  She adds that they were all “distributed throughout the province of Holguin, to different National Revolutionary Police Units, as if we were some sort of baggage.  It was not until 12 PM that we were taken out of the units in cop cars, State Security vehicles, and buses.  We were left in different points of Holguin, from 4 to 10 kilometers away from our homes“.

The rest of the detainees were Berta Guerrero Segura, Yoandra Garrido Silva, Mayra Silva, Mayra Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Romelia Pina González, Barbara Bauza, Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Nelda Molina Leyva, Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Danay Mendiola, Glisedis Pina González, Eleney Villamonte Cardozo and Noemi Hidalgo Gómez.

Their were reports of arrests of three other male dissidents, Alexei Jiménez, Rolando Sánchez Duran and Luis Miguel Carralero, who also try to assist Mass each Sunday “because they are Catholics and members of the Church, and also morally show their support for us, the Ladies in White.  Police agents have been arresting them each Sunday when they try to leave their homes, and they are usually taken to different and undisclosed locations“.

On the day before- Saturday August 11th- Perez Velazquez denounced that there were other arrests in Holguin:  Marcos Limas Dalmao (husband of Adisnidia Cruz Segreo), Luis Manuel Gonzalez and Antonio Pupo Caballero.

However, Zuleidis explained that two women-  Lisbeth Peña  Hernández and Liliana Campo- managed to make it inside the church in Holguin, where they participated in Mass and then marched with their white clothes and flowers.  As soon as the other 14 women were released, 9 of them were able to carry out their march successfully, defying the repressive forces.

Despite all these setbacks, 9 of us Ladies in White were able to meet up after they released us, at around 1 pm, and managed to carry out our peaceful march on the same street where the church is located“, said Perez Velazquez,  “this was something that our oppressors were not expecting, but we achieved it.  They must be infuriated, but so they and the rest of the world know: we are not going to stop.  Regardless of the detentions, the repression, and the beatings we are subjected to each and every Sunday, we are not going to stop.  We are not taking steps back in this peaceful struggle“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Police Operations Underway to Impede Ladies in White from Assisting Sunday Mass (Holguin)

The Cuban regime’s police operations to impede Ladies in White in the province of Holguin from assisting Sunday Mass are underway, denounced Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez this Saturday, 28th of July.

According to the activist, there are 4 women who managed to make it to a house which is located only 4 houses from the local Catholic church in the city of Holguin, the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men temple.  However, these 4 Ladies are completely “surrounded by 7 police agents with the intention of keeping them from attending Mass tomorrow.  They [the regime] do not even respect the fact that they are so close to the church“.

The four women who are practically under house arrest are  Romelia Piña González,  Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Glisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz Segreo. The house in which they are in is located on 18th Street, number 131, between 23rd and 27th in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood, on the same street as the church.

The agent who is running the operation, which consists of 7 men, is Rafael Chapman, a well known “oppressor from State Security“, explained Perez Velazquez.  “These 7 men impede the women from stepping out of the house, they are prohibiting them from any sort of mobility, and they even have their cell phones blocked.  They are threatening them, telling them that they cannot go to church tomorrow“.

Despite operations such as these, Zuleidis Perez affirms that the Ladies in White will march to church, although the situation will most likely culminate with arrests, as usually occurs each Sunday.

The tactics of the political police normally consist in detaining the women during morning hours- usually around 8 AM- and later releasing them at around 12:30 PM, once Mass has ended.

The Ladies in White are victims of this kind of repression throughout the island, including other Eastern regions such as Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, where they frequently suffer arrests, beatings, and even sexual threats.

Regardless, they continue to resist.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Holguin: Arrests, Vigilance, and Police Cordons Not Enough to Stop Weekly Vigil and Meetings

As occurs every Wednesday, this 18th of July 2012, the “Vigils for the Freedom of All Cuban Political Prisoners” were celebrated across the island, while many Ladies in White also celebrated their monthly literary meetings.

From the province of Holguin, Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez informed that the literary meeting in that zone was carried out in the home of Berta Guerrero Segura, in the municipality of Cacocum.  However, Perez Velaquez says that “from the very early morning hours- starting at around 3 or 4 AM- there was a large police operation set in motion in nearly all the surroundings of Holguin, as well as many other municipalities like Velasco, Cacocum, Banes, Gibara, Antilla, and right here in the city of Holguin” in order to try and impede the female activists from arriving to their destination.

Among the Ladies who were surrounded and were not able to make it to the meeting were  Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Marta Díaz Rondón, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Daylin Guerrero, Lissette González Rodríguez  and Odalmys Suarez (all from different municipalities).  Meanwhile, 7 other women suffered arrests at the hands of the political police, among them Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosaida González Escalona, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves and Lisbeth Pena Hernández.

4 women were able to make it to the home of Berta Guerrero- Nelda Molina Leyva, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz where they were able to carry out their literary meeting.

Zuleidis Perez explained that the weekly vigil was carried out in her home in the city of Holguin.  Previously, this vigil would be celebrated in the home of the now exiled Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista.  “Upon Caridad Caballero going into exile, here in the province of Holguin we decided to continue her hard work, through which she was able to achieve that many members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance w0uld meet.  Now, we will continue these meetings, and we will be doing it from my house every Wednesday“.

Just as Caballero Batista would do it (who suffered a constant repression due to her tireless activism for freedom), Perez Velazquez also “let the activists present know about the arbitrary situations occurring in all of Cuba, all the arrests and more“, as well as the increasing level of activism.

Four men (human rights activists) were also arrested upon trying to arrive to the house, among them José Mir Cruz and Heladio Pupo Nieves.  Regardless, the vigil was carried out with members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Ladies in White.

These arbitrary actions and all these violations which are being committed in these provinces have been occurring every single Wednesday as well as every Sunday, where they prohibit us from making it to Mass at church“, affirmed Perez Velazquez, “they arrest us, beat us, threaten us, and mistreat us“.

Despite these crackdowns by the regime, the Lady in White assured that the Resistance in the province of Holguin will continue standing firm against the dictatorship.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778 // Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352- 771- 630 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon

In the City of Holguin, Ladies in White Surpass Police Cordon, Make it to Sunday Mass

This May 20th was the second consecutive Sunday in which the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista managed to surpass a strong police cordon and arrive to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin, this time accompanied by 5 other women of the group- Barbara Bauza, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González, Ana María Aguilera Paneque and Nelda Molina Leyva. The Sunday prior to this, only Caballero Batista was able to make it to church without being detained.  Before this, the activist had not been able to assist Sunday Mass during 2012 because of constant arrests.

Caballero recounts that a large number of political police officials were shocked after they surrounded her home for hours during that morning to later find that she had already left and made it to church.  Usually, the Lady in White cannot even walk two blocks from her home when she is violently taken into custody.  This time, she used a new method.

When she arrived to the church, Caridad explained that there was “an immense police operation” waiting for the Ladies in White.  “They had a number of buses, police cars, and motorcycles stationed just two blocks from the church.  In fact, they were even using firefighters who were waiting to oppress us as well as female prison guards“.

Despite all of this, through the “new tactics“, the 6 Ladies in White were able to assist Sunday mass in its entirety.  Upon arriving at the temple, Caballero Batista said that the churchgoers were overcome with emotion.  They welcomed the women and chatted with them for a while.

However, other Ladies in White in Holguin did suffer arrests, as were the cases of Berta Guerrero Segura, Adisnidia Cruz, and Zuleidys Perez Velazquez, according to Caballero, who speculated that the number of arrests was most likely greater but she “could not confirm about other women because our telephone service was blocked during the entire time of our trip to church as well as after the Mass“.

We were able to march.  We walked with the gladiolus in our hands while the everyday people were staring at us, nervous at what could happen with us.  The regime was not expecting this“, she said, clearly emotional, “Thanks to the grace of God, this Sunday- which is the second to last Sunday of Lent- we were able to assist Mass.  We thanked God for having let us arrive, at least some of us“.

Caridad  stood by her Christian faith, assuring that “through the help of his angels, Jesus Christ allowed us to arrive to church, proving that there is no authority which can hold us down“.

For more information Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone:  +5352-629749   // Twitter: @caricaballero

Numerous Ladies in White Arrested on Way to Church, 117 in Total Make it to Mass Throughout the Island

“Thank God, despite numerous arrests, at least 8 Ladies in White managed to make it to mass in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in Holguin this past Sunday, March 4th”, expressed dissident Caridad Caballero Batista who was one of the women arrested who could not make it to her temple for the 10th consecutive Sunday.  This past 28th of February Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a non-profit Christian pro-human rights organization, published this report detailing the fundamental human rights violations which this Lady in White suffers when she is violently kept from walking to church every Sunday by the Cuban political police and State Security.

In the case of this past Sunday, 14 Ladies in White in total were arrested in Holguin alone.  Among them were Adisnidia Cruz, Berta Guerrero, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and also Caridad Caballero.  These last two were accompanied by Esteban Sande Suarez, husband of Caballero Batista and active dissident as well.  Suarez, too, was arrested.  In the case of Adisnidia Cruz, she was rapidly arrested as soon as she set foot outside her own house.  The wave of arrests occurred at around 8:25 AM.

Caballero explains that she was violently shoved into a police vehicle, as tends to happen, and that she, her husband, and Gertrudis Ojeda were taken to the instructional unit of Pedernales, but “the other women which were arrested were kept in different units and later released in areas very far from their homes“.

Meanwhile, the 8 women who managed to make it to church decided to carry out a non-violent protest after mass but they too were detained.  Among them were Nelda Molina Leyva, Sonia Ericelia, Romelia Piña González and Zuleidis Pérez.  “They were only able to walk about 3 blocks when a bus full of agents arrived.  They were only carrying flowers in their hands when they were arrested by political police and national revolutionary police agents”, detailed Caballero Batista.

In Banes, the Lady in White Marta Díaz Rondon was arrested during the afternoon of Saturday, March 3rd, in order to once again impede her from arriving to Holguin to march alongside her sisters in struggle.  Rondon explains that around 12 in the afternoon, from the moment she stepped out of her house with intentions to head to Holguin, a State Security official started to follow her with his police vehicle.  “He followed me absolutely everywhere I went, and this lasted for an hour.  I told him to stop following me and I shouted some slogans in favor of freedom.  He only responded to me by saying that I would not be allowed to go to Holguin“, denounced the opposition activist.

The persecution of Diaz Rondon culminated in her aggressive arrest at around 2 pm.  The operation was directed by State Security official Freddy Aguero and another agent known as Osmany (this was the one who followed her throughout her town).  Diaz was taken to the State Security Department of Banes where she was kept until 11 pm and then transferred at that time to the police unit and kept in a dungeon.  “I decided to carry out a hunger strike in the form of protest while in the dungeon“, explains Diaz Rondon. She was kept in that dark and pestilent cell until the following day at around 12 pm when she was released.

While I was detained, various State Security officials told me that they would not allow me to travel anywhere, that I’d be watched 24 hours a day, and that I would especially not be allowed to go to Holguin to march with the Ladies in White on Sundays”, denounced Rondon.  In addition, the communist functionaries handed her a warning letter which reinstated that she was not allowed to travel freely throughout her own country. The response of this human rights activist was to let her oppressors known that her house is “not a dungeon“.

Also in Banes, at around 7 AM on that same Saturday, the Lady in White Miladis Rosa was arrested.  She was released a few hours later at 11 and she was not allowed to assist Sunday mass.

Meanwhile, the former prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia published a Twitter message this Sunday which affirmed that 40 Ladies in White made it to mass at El Cobre Sanctuary in Santiago de Cuba, while another 4 made it to a church in Guantanamo, amid threats and aggressions.  In Havana, another group of about 40 women made it to the Santa Rita Church.  In total, throughout all the Cuban provinces, it was reported that 117 Ladies in White made it to mass.

Just days before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba, the Cuban regime continues to repress all peaceful dissidents, especially the Ladies in White who simply want to assist mass to pray for a country free of dictatorships.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell phone: 011-5352-629-749; Twitter: @caricaballero / Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell phone: 011-5352-771-639; Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon / Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell phone: 011-5353-631-267; Twitter: @jdanielferrer

Despite the Arrests, the Vigilance and the Threats to their Family, these Dissidents Will Not Stop Protesting

Caridad Caballero Batista shows her bruises, products of State brutality in Cuba

Arrested and beaten more than four times during just the first month of 2012 and constantly threatened and surrounded, Caridad Caballero Batista  has once again been victim of repressive acts at the hands of the Cuban dictatorship this past Sunday, January 29th, when she was violently detained as she was trying to make it to the Jesus Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin, to pray for the immediate freedom of Cuba.  But Caballero Batista is not the only one in her family to suffer the repression- her young son Eric and her husband Esteban Sande Suarez are also harassed because of the family’s dissident posture.  The latter- Esteban- was also arrested this past Sunday, and so were other Ladies in White and activists, all for the same reason.

Caballero narrates that the arrests occurred at 8 in the morning.  The first Ladies in White- besides her- to be arrested were Zuleidys Pérez Velázquez , Adis Nidia Cruz Hebreo, Ana María Aguilera Paneque, Berta Guerrero Seguro and Isabel Peña Torres.  All the gladiolus flowers they were carrying were snatched from their hands by State Security agents and destroyed.

After being violently pushed into police vehicles, the women were taken, as is custom, to the Instructional Unit known as Pedernales, located in the outskirts of Holguin.  In the case of Adis Nidia Cruz, from Pedernales she was taken to the police unit of Buenaventura, Berta Guerrero was taken to a cell in the police unit of the Rafael Freire municipality, while Ana Maria Paneque was confined to a cell in the Frontiers Unit of Gibara.  It was also reported that Lady in White Maritza Cardoza Romero was arrested in Moa.

As soon as the arrests took place, a group of dissident men who belong to diverse opposition organizations like the Liberal Party of Cuba, the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and the Eastern Democratic Alliance marched all the way to the Pedernales Unit to demand the freedom of the Ladies in White.  “These men were also arrested“, explains Caballero Batista.  Their names are  Juan Carlos Verdecía Domínguez, Luis Jaime Merino, Félix Tomas Zapata, Esteban Sande Suarez, and Marco Antonio Lima. “In the case of Esteban (my husband) he was put in a torture cell of Pedernales, where the beds are really just concrete slabs and located about 6 feet ontop.  Jaime Merido was handcuffed inside the cop vehicle and the agents shoved a dirty rag into his mouse so he would not talk”,  denounced Caballero.

The Lady in White adds that on the following day, Monday the 30th, the guards of Pedernales announced their morning inspection, where prisoners must recognize their presence.  “Esteban refused to participate because he had not committed a single crime and, besides, he is not a soldier to be paying tribute to those same people who oppress us“, she explains, “for that reason, they threw him down from his bed and onto the floor.  The same happened with Juan Carlos Verdecia, for the same reason“.  Both men still have bruises and sharp pains due to the aggression.

Once again, citizen solidarity reigns 

All of the women who had been arrested were released on Monday at around 3 in the afternoon.  Berta Guerrero, Lady in White and wife of dissident Franklin Peregrino del Toro, was abandoned in a remote area of the Rafael Freire municipality, even though her house is located in the town of Cacocum, miles away.  Without any money or a purse, Guerrero tried using her cellphone to communicate with her husband, but she did not have enough credit.  It was then that, according to Caballero Batista, “local Cubans- the real Cubans- noticed this. One man approached her and offered to take her back home“.  Adis Nidia, who was similarly abandoned in another area, counted with the solidarity of a man who paid her bus ticket so she could return home.

In the case of Caridad Caballero and Esteban Sande, they were left outside Pedernales and had to walk and find their own ways to get back home.

Though these dissidents were kept in sealed-off cells and under constant threats, Caballero highlights that 4 other Ladies in White did successfully make it to church.  “These women were Romelia Piña González, Gisely González, Nelia Molina Leyva and Gloria Piña González. They were able to participate in mass and prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners and for the freedom of all those detained, as well as all Cubans”.  

Son of dissident couple who suffers from medical issues is also victim of Castro-sponsored violence

Caridad and Esteban denounced that Eric Sande, their 19 year old son, is also victim of the tyranny’s repression, despite his young age and the fact that he suffers from a medical condition which affects his brain.  “It is a condition where, sometimes, he does not receive enough oxygen in his brain“, explains his mother, “when this happens to him, his blood pressure drops and he often even loses consciousness“.  Not even taking this into consideration, the regime’s authorities arrested Eric during the week of January 20th and he was victim of numerous physical abuses.  His blood pressure dropped very low during this time as he was being held in inhumane conditions.

Eric Sande, son of Caridad Caballero and Esteban Sande Suarez

When we were arrested this Sunday 29th, my house was surrounded by State Security, despite the fact that Esteban and I were not even there.  An official from the Confrontation Unit, whose last name is Martinez Leon, came here“, denounced Caridad, “and aggressively threatened my son, telling him that he would have to pay for his parents activism“.

In addition, Batista points out that Eric- who frequently attends Sunday mass- is preparing himself for his confirmation.  Some local authorities have even gone as far as to harass him in church and trying to impede that he take the necessary classes required for this religious service.

We are holding State Security responsible for what could happen to our son“, declares Batista.

The Cuban dictatorship never attacks dissidents only.  Instead, they also go after their families, whether they be young or old, men or women.  Accepting these consequences and holding tight to their compromise with freedom for Cuba, Caridad Caballero Batsita and Esteban Sande Suarez have affirmed that they will continue with their acts of Resistance.  In fact, when they were released from their dungeons this past weekend, Caballero says that she looked her oppressors in the eyes and assured them that “it looks like we will see each other again next Sunday because we are not going to stop going to church, we will not stop being Ladies in White, and we will continue with our activities“.

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