Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Rosaida González Escalona

State Police Lashes Out Against Ladies in White of Holguin

“They have told us that they are going to pour gasoline on us and are going to light fire to the house and burn us all alive, including the underage children”, said the representative of the Ladies in White in the province of Holguin, Berta Guerrero Segura, in reference to the mobs organized by State Security and the political police, which are made up by agents of the mentioned military groups and of other government entities.  These same mobs surrounded her home and carried out an act of repudiation during half of Thursday, October 4th and the majority of Friday, October 5th.

The Ladies in White in this Eastern province have been receiving threats and arrests not only on Sundays when they try to assist Catholic Mass, but daily, when they try to buy food or other products in the local market, when they try to carry out meetings to talk about personal issues or when they try to visit relatives or other activists, whether it be within the same province of Holguin or other regions.

The person usually leading and organizing these actions is State Security agent Rafael Chapman”, detailed Guerrero Segura, “and they have been cutting our phone lines… many of us are being arrested, while we can’t confirm the fate of others because our phones don’t work”.

The police operations against these women on Friday the 5th consisted in a mob made up by various uniformed soldiers surrounding Guerrero’s home, as well as two police vehicles stationed outside, keeping a tight vigilance and impeding any other woman or activist from coming close to the headquarters of the group in that province, located in the 26th of July neighborhood.

In regards to the threats that they would be burned alive, Berta Guerrero does not doubt for a second that the agents would actually turn to that, considering that they have been excessively violent in the past, like when they raided the home of Lady in White Glisedis Pina Gonzalez (also in Holguin) this past 18th of August 2012, where they beat all those inside, including some underage children who were also injured with incoming rocks being hurled at them by the government mobs.  The regime agents have also been frequently arresting the elderly aged Lady in White Rosaida Gonzalez Escalona, despite her frail health.  They have also mercilessly beaten other members of the group to the point of unconsciousness or heavy bruises.  Harassments are also common.

In one particular case, one of these Ladies in White, 22 year old Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, recounts that she was arrested upon trying to arrive to the national headquarters of the group in Havana this past 23rd of September to celebrate the day of the Virgin of Mercy.  The young activist explained that she was confined, along with other women, to the Havana police unit known as “El Vivac” and they were then deported towards Holguin.

When they had us en route to Holguin, in a police unit of Ciego de Avila, they actually gave us food- and good food- something which never happens in the dungeons.  I was confused by this but then I noticed they were recording us.  Their tactic was to record us eating good, to say that we were never treated bad, that they take care of us”, said Villamonte.

She added that “when we finally arrived to Holguin on Tuesday the 25th, Douglas, the chief of Confrontation, gave orders to lock us up in cells.  They put me in a dungeon with a camera pointing right at me, and a Ministry of the Interior official told me that I was being accused of ‘attempting against the government’ and that I should mentally prepare myself because long days were coming up ahead, seeing as I would be sentenced, according to him”.

Eleiny was moved to another unit in the same province, where another unidentified official (also with a MININT uniform) told her that he was going to lock her up with a common prisoner “who had swallowed a barbed wire, to test if I really was not afraid”.  In fact, he told her that “I was his woman for that day”.

Another Lady in White which accompanied her- Danay Mendiola- was told by the same official that “he was going to tear off her pants and underwear to see if she really was tough and did not have fear”.

These threats of sexual violation are common against women who simply try to march throughout the streets of Cuba dressed in white, with the mission of assisting Mass in their respective churches to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners throughout the island.

Similarly, in the same province but in the municipality of Velasco, the Lady in White Mariblanca Avila Exposito denounces that she too lives under a constant “state of harassment”, as she is always being watched and kept from leaving her own home.

In addition, her son Yonart Rodriguez Avila- an activist from the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy- and his wife Yisela Lorenzo Matos are constantly persecuted as well by political police agents.  They are often detained without explanations, as occurred this past 1st of October when the three of them were waiting to board a bus in Velasco and were detained for a number of hours.

After that arrest, they told us that we could not move freely and that we also couldn’t leave our home or the municipality of Velasco”, said Yonart Rodriguez, who adds that in the park adjacent to his house, there are always soldiers stationed there, keeping a watch over each and every one of his movements.

For more information from Cuba:

Berta Guerrero Segura – Cell Phone: +5353-632-110 //  Zuleidis Perez Velázquez – Cell Phone: +5358-244-778 // Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo- Cell Phone: +5352-393

Ladies in White, Activists Seek Solidarity to Put an End to Repression Against Them

“The repression this past weekend increased”, denounced Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) from the town of Palma Soriano, “and this is due to the fact that the political police of the tyranny is very bothered that last weekend, on the day of the Virgin of Mercy, about 50 Ladies in White from the Eastern region of the country surpassed the police operations they had set up around the entire area and were able to arrive to the capital…even though the majority of the women were eventually detained in Havana”.

As part of this crackdown, numerous Ladies in White from Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, Banes, Guantanamo, Bayamo and Holguin were arrested or impeded from leaving their homes when they tried to assist Sunday Mass in their respective churches.

Ferrer García explained that 4 Ladies in White were reported detained in Guantanamo and 14 in Santiago de Cuba.  The former political prisoner of conscience added that in Santiago “Darmis Aguedo and Adriana Isaac were beaten by the political police and were thrown off a truck onto the asphalt”.

In Banes, Marta Diaz Rondon explained that a police cordon was set up around her home, which kept her from leaving, as was the case of Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez in that same Eastern municipality.

Meanwhile, in other areas of Holguin province, 8 detainees were documented, among them Berta Guerrero Segura, Zuleidis Lisbeth Pérez Velázquez, Adisnidia Cruz, Danay Mendiola, Barbará Bauza Driggs and Glisedis Piña González.  Some of these women were detained in the notorious Pedernales Unit (known for torture and threats) and others were kept in “El Anillo” until after 1 PM, when Catholic Mass in the local Jesus Christ the Redeemer had already come to an end.

My house was completely surrounded by political police and State Security agents from the very early morning hours of Sunday, the 30th”, said Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the female group in the province of Holguin.  “A group of female agents dressed in red shirt and blue pants, along with male State Security agents, carried out an act of repudiation against us and screamed insults at us with obscene words before arresting us.  The officials leading the operation were Yordanys Martinez Leon (chief of Confrontation in Holguin), and agents Rafael Chapman and Adonys Charles”.

During the arrest, the women were accused of ‘public disorder’.  “In fact”, added Guerrero, “as a form of blackmail and mockery, they told me that if we wanted to go to Church we would have to get ourselves an airplane or a helicopter to drop us off on top of the Church because we were not going to be allowed inside”.

Despite the regime’s aggressive operations, in the provinces of Matanzas, Havana and Pinar del Rio a number of women were able to surpass the vigilance cordons and assist Mass, where they prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners and of Cuba.

But throughout Monday, October 1st, the political police once again lashed out against the Ladies in White in Holguin.

State Security and political police agents surrounded my house all over again”, said Berta Guerrero during the afternoon.  This time, the agents detained various women who were trying to make it into the house, among them Barbara Bauza and Adisnidia Cruz.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez detailed that the Ladies in White were giving out some small bags with food to their members “which were sent as gifts from our brothers in exile” and the regime agents robbed the humble products as they detained the women that day.

This has been just another form of robbery against us… mind you, those products were brought in legally to this country and they are all paid for”, denounced Perez, “and they don’t even give us an explanation nor have they, or will they, return them to us”.

Rosaida Gonzalez Escalona, an elderly Lady in White, was also arrested with violence, but without even participating in dissident activities that afternoon.  Her arrest occurred as she “was on her way to the train station of Holguin to say goodbye to one of her daughters…some agents came out of nowhere and detained her”, explained Perez Velazquez.

Meanwhile, the threats against others activists of Holguin also continued, like those against members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID).  “Police officials continue to threaten the CID members, telling them that they cannot meet anymore in my house, and that they can no longer carry out activities.  There are two activists- Ramon Zamora Rodriguez and Carlos Enrique Nunez Cutino- that were told that their homes would be demolished.  In addition, a group of young activists from the New Juvenile Impact organization are also under violent threats”, added Perez.

In reference to her own case and that of the majority of the other Ladies in White and dissidents, Berta Guerrero Segura alerted “the international community” that the oppressive situation throughout the island has become “unbearable”.

We, the Ladies in White, can’t even go to a store or a market because they always arrest us”, she said.  “Whatever may happen to any of us, or our husbands or children is the direct responsibility of the Castro regime”.  In fact, her husband- dissident Franklin Peregrino del Toro- is also frequently arrested when he accompanies his wife out on the streets and many times when he is trying to buy food for his family.

I have lost count of all our arrests, but I know that there have been more than 40 in 2012 alone.  We ask international organisms like Amnesty International to join us in solidarity, to pay attention to our situation.  Our children are also suffering in school, where they receive threats that they will be expelled due to our activism.  I want the world to know what is happening in Cuba”, expressed Berta Guerrero.

Ladies in White Denounce New Threats by Police in Holguin

In Cacocum, Holguín, the home of Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura has been completely surrounded by State Security agents, agents of the Rapid Response Brigades, and paramilitary troops from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) for 6 days, in order to try and impede that she or her family assist Mass or step out of the house to meet with other local activists.

My home has been surrounded since Friday, July 20 th, and it is something which is happening week after week”,  denounced Guerrero Segura, signaling that the agents carrying out the operations are “Reymundo Rodríguez Pupo, agent Wilson from Holguín and also Joel Guerrero, among others”.

These same oppressors have been threatening Guerrero, her husband (activist Franklin Peregrino del Toro) as well as numerous other women from that area, saying that if they try to continue their activism or carry out public demonstrations, they will be detained until after the 26th, a date which the regime uses to celebrate and glorify the 26th of July Movement which was headed by dictator Fidel Castro.

The number of arrests of these Eastern Ladies in White have also increased, as was proven this past Sunday, July 22nd, when 8 of these women were violently arrested in the province of Holguin when they tried to make it to church.

The 8 were Ana María Aguilera Paneque, Adisnidia Cruz, Maydelin Guerrero Silva, Yoandra Garrido Silva, María Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Rosa María Naranjo Nieve, Danaime Diota and Rosaida González Escalona.

Meanwhile, another 7 women did manage to surpass police cordons and make it to Sunday Mass, among them Berta Guerrero.  Many may recall that now exiled Lady in White, Caridad Caballero Batista, would continuously be arrested weekend after weekend to keep her from going to church during the present year, but alongside her many other women would also be detained.  Guerrero Segura is one of these women, who during 2012 has not been able to make it to church on Sunday’s due to the fact that she is always arrested and kept in detention cells for a number of hours until Mass has concluded.

Zuleidis Pérez, another Lady in White from the municipality of Holguin denounced that “there is a horrible police operation underway” during these days against activists in the Eastern region of the country.  “Despite this, and under these circumstances, on the 23rd we were able to carry out a symbolic wake in honor of Oswaldo Paya in my home“.

Berta Guerrero adds that numerous activists were able to carry out a pots-and-pans protest at her home in Cacocum during the night of the 24th to celebrate the Day of the Resistance (each 24th of the month) and also to pay homage to Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero

Guerrero also sent out a message to the international community, in regards to the increased repression against the Ladies in White and the civic opposition: “The Castro regime is desperate, and they deny us our rights to freedom of movement, religion, as well as the rights of our families, because they also impede our relatives from coming to our homes.  They also arrest them“.

We are always under threat, and we were denouncing that this is a totalitarian regime which is based on repression, harassment, and vexation against dissidents and Ladies in White“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez – 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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