Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Rosa María Naranjo Nieves

Number of Ladies in White marching throughout the streets of Cuba increases

Wearing flags with the image of the Virgin of Charity which were donated during her visit to the Ermita de la Caridad in Miami, Berta Soler led the march of the Ladies in White in Cuba’s capital, Havana, this past Sunday June 2nd.  The women marched throughout the country, despite the presence of the political police.

A total of 68 women participated in Mass at the Santa Rita Church of Havana and marched down 5th Avenue afterward, according to a report by dissident leader Angel Moya Acosta.  It was the first march in which Soler participated after returning to the island last week after an international trip denouncing the reality of Cuba.

More than 10 women participated in Mass and carried out marches in the province of Matanzas.

In the Eastern province of Guantanamo, 12 Ladies in White marched and made it to Mass, according to a message published by Sayli Navarro on her Twitter account (@SayliNavarro).

67 Ladies in White marched through the streets of Santiago de Cuba province and made it to Mass in the National Cobre Shrine, an emblematic temple within Cuban culture.

The website “Ya Cuba Twittea” reported that at least 3 Ladies in White from Santiago were taken down from a bus by force by the political police.  The agents impeded them from arriving to Mass.

In the province of Holguin, various women were arrested.

Among the detainees were Rosa Maria Naranjo (Holguin), Danay Mendiola (Holguin), Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante (Antilla) and Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez (Banes).  The latter- Ojeda Suarez- explained to this blog that the repression against her is constant.  In fact, she recounts that when she was detained, a political police agent tried to handcuff her and physically harassed her.

Eleiny Villamonte, a young member of the female group in Holguin, confirmed that despite repression 5 women “were able to march and make it to Mass in the municipality of Cacocum and in the municipality of Holguin“.

Berta Soler also told  “Marti Noticias” that she has plans of expanding the Ladies in White movement, creating delegations in all the provinces of the country.

Health of hunger strikers in Holguin worsens

Independent journalist Alexei Jiménez Almarales, from Holguin, has sent the following note with an update on the worsening health of some of the hunger strikers in the mentioned province which have joined the protest of more than 50 activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), demanding the release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada, detained and on hunger strike after a brutal arrest last April 9th.

The hunger strikers in Holguin are Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora. Here is their situation:

Health of Holguin activists on hunger strike is worsening

Pedro Leiva

Franklin Peregrino

Strong headaches and weakness are plaguing hunger strikers Pedro Leiva Gongora and Franklin Peregrino del Toro.

These two dissidents form part of a group of various dozens of hunger strikers demanding the release of Luis Enrique Lozada.

Although more peaceful dissidents have been joining the strike, the Cuban government has not pronounced itself in the national media, and the everyday people remain uninformed about what is happening in the nation.

“We cannot allow them to die… we will take to the streets it necessary. The dictatorship has gone way too far”, expressed Rosa Maria Naranjo Nieves, a member of the Ladies in White.

For more information from Cuba, contact:

ALEXEI JIMENEZ ALMARALES
Phone Number: 52552925

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

More Testimonies from House Raid Victims: “I was threatened that If I don’t Leave the Ladies in White, They’d Kill Us All”

After the brutal house raid which occurred in the home of Lady in White Glisedis Pina Gonzalez in Holguin this past Saturday August 18th, all the detainees have been released.  Three of these activists have shared their testimonies with this blog, offering details of the harassment and threats they endured while being held in police units under the hands of State Security and the political police:

Rosa María Naranjo Nieves
Lady in White

The mobs of State Security agents broke into the home (…) one officer, in charge of matters with minors, grabbed a 14 year old and arrested her, nearly stripping her of her clothes.  Our response was to protest because of this, and he beat all of us.  Those women who were not hit inside, they were later beat outside by the mobs.  In my case, they punched me on my back and pulled my hair.  They then twisted my arm and shoved me into a police vehicle, which took me to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales.  That was on Saturday, August 18th, in the afternoon and I was held till the morning of Monday, August 20th.

On Saturday night, while I was in the cell, I started to get dizzy and desires to vomit.  I told the guards I felt bad so they took my blood pressure, which was on 210 with 120- very high.  They told me they did not have the medicines to take care of my blood pressure but later ended up giving me something and it went down slightly.  When I had it on 170, they shoved me into the dungeon again”.

Danay Mendiola
Lady in White

A MININT (Ministry of the Interior) agent whose name I did not get, beat us and applied immobilization locks on us.  They took us in police vehicles.  In the Unit, they beat us more.  They mistreated us, insulted us.  We were taken to the Pedernales Unit and kept there from Saturday to Monday.  We screamed slogans like “Down with hunger”, “Long live Human Rights”, and “Freedom for all political prisoners”.  They mistreated us, we were hungry, and I feel very weak.  In fact, my throat is in pain.  But we are going to keep fighting.  The more repression they carry out against us, the more strength we obtain to continue in the struggle.

A State Security agent known as ‘Chacman’- from Holguin- went to see me in my cell on Monday night and he told me that if we (referring to the Ladies in White) continued to be active, then he, and others, were going to kill us, because we are ‘counter-revolutionaries’.  He asked me what I gained with doing what I do.  I told him the only purpose was for the freedom of Cuba, and that if they keep repressing us, we were going to get more strength.  We are under total threats, every single Lady in White from Holguin province.

Chacman threatened me again, saying that if I did not leave the Ladies in White, he was going to kill us all, little by little, and slowly.  This happened on Monday.  He went to my cell to tell me this”.

Alexei Jiménez Almarades
Independent journalist

I am the husband of Lady in White Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo.  I had left my wife in the Glisedis’ house that afternoon, and when I returned to pick her up, I noticed that the entire entrance of the house was surrounded by mobs, organized by State Security.  A minor was accompanying me- my wife’s 16 year old female cousin.  The mobs violently rushed at us.  What was interesting, though, was that State Security alleged that the mobs were everyday neighbors, but it is obvious that this mobs were manipulated and sent by the counter-intelligence Department of Holguin.

I was aggressively attacked, they hit me on my arms, on my ribs, and I thank God that I was wearing a helmet for my bicycle.  They grabbed sticks and hit me with them, but the helmet protected me.

Afterward, once the women were detained, I directed myself to the State Security Unit at around 12 AM to demand them that they release all the detainees.  The agent known as ‘The Polish’ came out.  He quickly called a police car and they detained me.  Once detained, I remained in protest and on hunger strike, demanding freedom for the detained activists”.

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

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

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