Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Category Archives: Rosario Morales la Rosa “Charito”

The Corner of the Indignant, an independent sales spot, turns 1 despite repudiation and repression (Videos)

The Corner of the Indignant, an independent sales point established by Lady in White and activist Rosario Morales la Rosa, best known as “Charito”, turned 1 year old this 10th of April. Morales has withstood all kinds of repudiation and repression on behalf of the State during her time managing her small store which carries house products. On the eve of it’s anniversary, the political police organized three aggressive acts of repudiation against her.

The Cuban mother explains that the first act of repudiation occurred during afternoon hours right in front of The Corner, located on Villa Panamericana in Havana. “A mob made up by members of the Communist Party, members of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, teachers and students of primary and secondary schools, and athletes carried out an intense act of repudiation against me which lasted about two hours“.

A second act took place minutes later. However, Rosario Morales stayed firm in her small sales point.

The mobs wanted to rip off my shirt which had the word ‘Change’ written on it”, the dissident told this blog, adding that the mentioned shirt serves as her ‘uniform’ while she works in The Corner. She was pushed and some of the people pulled her shirt, although they didn’t manage to rip it off of her. “In fact, they even screamed at me telling they were going to leave me without clothes“.

When the government-organized activity came to an end, Charito decided to return to her home in Cojimar. There, at around 8 PM, another mob was organized by State Security, this time even more violent in their insults.

“The people in this third mob were carrying stick and rocks“, recounted Morales, “they started to shout offensive slogans at me, and also screamed ‘mercenary’, ‘worm’, ‘down with the rotten roots’, and ‘use a machete on her, she’s alone‘”. They also shouted messages such as “Long Live Hugo Chavez” (of Venezuela) and “The street belongs to Fidel”.

The third act of repudiation lasted from 8 PM to 9:30 PM, approximately.

Former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo later published on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) various videos of the acts of repudiation:

On that same day, activist Ernesto Ulloa was also harassed by police. Morales said she thought the repression was due to the fact that various anti-regime signs and graffiti appeared that morning on Villa Panamericana with messages such as “Down with Hunger” and “Down with the regime”. There were also writings which demanded freedom for Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, jailed journalist who was actually released that night after 7 months of confinement.

Charito does not dismiss that the repudiation was also a message on the first anniversary of her store. The Corner of the Indignant sells home products at low prices, such as towels, bags, and coffee. Morales explains that on various occasions people who have participated in acts of repudiation against her go to her establishment to obtain products which are far too expensive in State outlets. Instead of refusing to offer them her services, Morales sells it to them or, in many cases, even gives it to them for free.

The Lady in White has been fined, arrested, harassed and beaten not only for her activism within the internal opposition but also because of her independent store, which is quite popular amongst locals.

At around 4 PM on Wednesday, April 10th, Ivan Hernandez reported that the regime was preparing yet another act of repudiation against Morales la Rosa, which would make it the 4th in less than 24 hours.

“In these very moments, the regime is organizing another act of repudiation in front of Charito’s home. This would be the 4th”, detailed the message. Another tweet minutes later said “according to her son Reinier, agents are building a stage with microphones and speakers in front of their house to repudiate them”.

Everything seems to indicate that the system’s repression against Charito will increase, but so too will the operation of The Corner of the Indignant and the activism of its manager.

For more information from Cuba, contact:
Rosario Morales la Rosa- Cell Phone: +53-857-319
Iván Hernández Carrillo- Cell Phone: +52-599-366 / Twitter: @ivanlibre

“Two women cause commotion in Havana”: Charito speaks after protest and arrest

Arrested for pots and pan protest in Havana’s Central Park, beaten, and confined in a dungeon for 3 days. She was fined for more than one thousand pesos and has a trial pending, which means she could soon go to prison for saying, out loud, what so many Cubans think.

Rosario Morales la Rosa. “Charito”. Lady in White.

After the pots and pans protest in Havana this past 14th of February which went around the world (see the video here),the Ladies in White Rosario Morales la Rosa- Charito- and Melkis Faure Echeverria were arrested by the political police, forcefully shoved into cop cars and taken to the Dragones Police Unit. But not before the everyday people defended them, affirmed Morales.

Charito, as she is best known amongst her friends and fellow dissidents, said she decided to carry out the protest (a kind of demonstration she is no stranger to) after having been detained three times in the same week. The arrests occurred on Wednesday when she was trying to visit the headquarters of the Ladies in White on Neptune   Street, in Havana, to participate in the activities honoring the fallen leader of the group, Laura Pollan, on her birthday. Each time Charito would try to make it to the event she was arrested and abandoned in a desolate and distant location known as Campo Florido, as occurred with many other women that day.

It was precisely during one of these detentions that a police agent, which Charito could not identify by name but instead by badge number- 01448- pointed a pistol at her head and threatened her with death. Before cracking at such a serious threat, the Cuban mother decided to publicly protest against the totalitarian system in Havana’s Central Park on the following day.

The pots and pans protest started to awaken people’s consciousness, both Cubans and tourists. First, they gathered around, staring, but then the police agents arrived“, recounts Charito, who was shouting social slogans alongside Melkis like ‘fair pay’ and ‘return economic assistance to the elderly’, “The police shut down traffic, they called for more police vehicles, and began to carry out arrests. But the people started making signs of solidarity to us; they were applauding us and repeated our messages“.

The dissident says that the police started to push all the people standing around, especially those who were filming with their cell phones and cameras. “Then they came up the steps and brutally arrested Mekis and I…many people followed us and were shouting ‘let them go, they are speaking the truth’“.

Charito was shoved into a police car, hurting her arm and foot during the process. One officer even “pulled me by my hair“, she said.

But amid the police aggressions, Charito explains that what she focused on was the fact that there was “human solidarity” on behalf of everyday Cubans and foreigners congregated around the vehicle where she was being held.

An Argentinean man (a tourist) followed me to the end. When they put me inside the car, a police agent pushed the Argentinean, and he threw his camera on the floor with violence. The tourist was very tall and he resisted, but the police finally twisted his arm and shoved him inside the vehicle, taking him to the Dragones Police Unit along with me“, she detailed.

Melkis Faure was also taken to the same Unit, but when both women saw each other, they had to be taken to the backyard of the center, because there was a large group of people conglomerated outside the building, protesting against the arrest and others finding out what had happened.

We could hear the police sirens. They were arresting more people. The Argentinean that was in the Unit told me that he was going to accuse the police for the physical blows he had received“, said Charito, who added that minutes later she was transferred to the Aguilera Polica Unit, while Melkis was kept in Dragones to be later released that night.

In the Aguilera Unit, Morales was confined to cell # 4, where she rapidly began her protest, refusing to eat any food and only drinking water from Thursday the 14th to Sunday the 17th, when she was released at around 5 PM.

I did not accept food, nor interviews with any of their agents“, declared Charito, “and then they accused me of altering the order. An official from Villa Marista (State Security) entered my cell on Saturday the 16th and told me that I had altered the public order and nearly started a massive uprising, that the people were really heated up with my protest, that we caused a commotion, and for this I had to go preventive prison“.

The response of the Lady in White was to accept the threat. “I told them that if they were going to take me to prison, well then I would carry out a protest and would rip all the uniforms they would give me“.

20 minutes after, the same agent returned to her cell and told her that she was being fined for 1,500 pesos (which she has not paid) and that she had to be confined to her house until they announce a trial date. “If I must go to trial, I will do it“, she said.

Upon leaving the dungeon on Sunday, Charito expressed her appreciation to all the people in and out of the country who echoed her case. In addition, she highlighted that the everyday citizens at the Park in Havana were very willing to carry out a large scale protest during the arrests. The activist cited another person, a mid-aged Cuban man, who she was not able to identify, who was also taken into custody at the Aguilera Unit at around 8 PM on Thursday night. This man told Charito that he had been detained for being at the park and criticizing the police violence.

That man told me that at least 30 tourists were detained and that the police was confiscating all cameras and cell phones of those present. He told me that agents desperately started to call out for reinforcements, for more police vehicles at the scene“.

I did not have enough time to even ask him his name“, says Charito, “because when the guards saw that we were talking, they took him away“.

Six Ladies in White staged a protest outside the Aguilera Police Unit after assisting Sunday Mass at Santa Rita Church along with Charito’s son, Reiner Biscet, to demand her liberation. The activist expressed that it was this pressure and solidarity that achieved her release, and that it was precisely also that same solidarity that made the regime tremble on that afternoon of February 14th.

In fact, this Wednesday 20th of February, former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo tweeted (@ivanlibre) that the political police has set up a cordon around Havana’s Central Park since after Charito and Melkis’ protest, impeding anyone from getting close to the area where the demonstration took place.

(Below is the audio-testimony of Charito after being released on Sunday. In Spanish):

To contact Rosario Morales personally, call: +5353-857-319

Pots-and-pans protest in Havana’s Central Park (VIDEO)

 protesta charito

“Down with police corruption”, “Long Live the Ladies in White”, “Long Live Human Rights”, and “Fair wages” were just some of the slogans shouted by two brave women who carried out a pots-and-pans protest in Havana’s Central Park this Thursday, February 14th (St. Valentine’s Day).

The women were Rosario Morales la Rosa, best known among her friends as “Charito“, and Melkis Faure Echevarría, both Ladies in White.  Charito has carried out similar protests in the past, including two famous pots-and-pans protests alongside Ivonne Malleza Galano, also a Lady in White.  In both of those previous cases, a crowd of everyday citizens surrounded the women to observe the protest and even to show their support.  In the case of this 14th of February, Rosario and Melkis were not repudiated by any citizen, while a significant number of people also crowded around to observe the demonstration.

The protest lasted about 15 minutes, when the women were arbitrarily arrested by the political police.  It was confirmed that Melkis was released during the night hours of that same Thursday, but when this video was published- on Friday the 15th- Rosario Morales “Charito” was still detained, her whereabouts unknown.

This week has been particularly violent for the Ladies in White.  More than 60 women were aggressively arrested as they paid tribute to Laura Pollan, their fallen leader, on the 13th of February.  In the case of Charito, she had already been detained this week and even threatened with death by one police official who pointed a gun to her head.  But this did not keep her from carrying out her protest this Thursday.

Hablemos Press“, an independent news agency stationed in Havana but with reporters throughout the island, published the video on their YouTube channel.  According to the agency’s director, Roberto de Jesus Guerra, the images were caught by an everyday citizen who later donated them to “Hablemos Press”.  See them for yourselves below:

The Corner of the Indignant: Arrests, Fine, and Threats Cannot Destroy Independent and Popular Point of Sales

[A special thanks to Ivan Hernandez Carrillo (@ivanlibre) and activist Maria Cama (@mspianoteacher) for providing this interview]

Rosario Morales, better known as “Charito”, with some of the merchandise she sells in her independent sales spot

Rosario Morales La Rosa, better known amongst her friends as “Charito“, was expelled from her job in Cuba because of her participation in the Ladies in White.  Upon not being employed, Charito remained without any source of economic income, considering that she does not have any family in exile who provides her with remittances.  For this reason, the activist from Havana decided to take matters into her own hands and turned to self-employment, setting up a sales spot on Villa Panamericana in East Havana.  She named it “The Corner of the Indignant“, and she sells house products such as towels, bags, mops and coffee.  Despite the frequent threats by the political police and State Security agents dressed in civilian clothing, Charito has been working hard on her store, which she opens from Monday to Saturday (not Sundays because she has dedicated this day to the traditional march to church with the Ladies in White).

At around 2 pm on the afternoon of Friday, August 10th, 2012- as “The Corner of the Indignant” celebrated its 4 months of being established- 8 police vehicles stationed themselves outside the store.  According to Charito, the vehicles were full of police agents and inspectors, who kept a tight watch over her.  They soon interrupted her sales.

The agents walked up to where I was and told me that they were going to confiscate all my merchandise and that I had to leave with them to a police unit because as of that moment I was detained”, narrated Rosario, “I gathered all my merchandise and they took me to the police unit”.

Once in the unit, Captain Wilfredo Gonzalez, along with two inspectors, gave the activist a warning letter and fined her for 400 pesos.  In addition, “they told me that I could not return to that spot to sell and that I needed a license.  I told them that I am going to continue selling because work is a necessity for me.  I have worked all my life and I was left without employment.  I am not going to allow that my family dies of hunger…cost me what it may”.

Charito, along with other Ladies in White, demanding freedom for her then-jailed son

Charito denounced that she was also threatened with being applied with charges of disobedience “for selling illegally”.  To this accusation, the Lady in White replied, “I d0 not care what they all do, I am not going to apply for a license and I am going to continue selling.  They are going to have to take me to the police unit every single day and I am simply not going to pay the fine.  I am an independent self-employed seller and I am not going to allow that, with my own sweat, they higher the ranks of a police officer or an inspector”.

During her detention, the accustomed insults against groups of the internal opposition were not missing.  According to Charito, the agents told her that the Ladies in White were “counter-revolutionaries” and were paid by the “empire” (term used by the dictatorship to refer to the United States).

Nobody pays me anything”, assured Charito, “I am a Lady in White because I sympathize with the cause as I sympathized with the cause for the freedom of the 75 dissidents arrested in 2003″.   The activist is also known for the public protests she has carried out, among them the one in 2011 where she and another Lady in White- Ivonne Malleza Galano- carried out a demonstration at the Cuatro Camino Market- one of Havana’s most popular markets- demanding “food for our children” and “fair salaries”.  The everyday people joined the protest and both participants were jailed.

Ever since her involvement with the Ladies in White, Charito and her family have suffered constant threats at the hands of the regime’s forces.  In fact, her son Reinier Biscet Morales has been imprisoned and has received beatings by political police agents.

According to Charito’s testimonies, The Corner of the Indignant is a place of much patronage by everyday Cubans who come searching for products that are difficult to find throughout the country.  Charito has also said that people frequently congratulate her and have even defended her when she is harassed by the police.  In one specific case which occurred earlier this year (2012), a lady who had participated in a violent repudiation attack against Charito approached the store to buy a product she desperately needed for her child.  When both women realized what was happening, the lady- shocked and ashamed- asked Charito for forgiveness for what she had done.  Morales la Rosa told her that she did not have to ask her for forgiveness and gave her the product, free of charge.  The woman has not been seen anymore participating in state-sponsored acts of violence and repudiation against the Lady in White.

Charito was released from her detention at around 7 PM on the night of that same Friday, August 10th.  Although they did not confiscate her merchandise, she was released under orders that she had to pay the fine (#234590) and that she could not continue selling.

Tomorrow I am going to go back to selling, cost me whatever it may.  I am neither going to pay the fine nor am I going to stop selling because I am not going to die of hunger and misery.  I am tired, I am going to keep selling until the final consequences”, affirmed Rosario “Charito” Morales La Rosa.

Ivonne Malleza (left) and Rosario Morales during pots and pan demonstration in Cuatro Camino Market in Havana. 2011.

The following is an audio of Rosario Morales narrating what happened in her arrest, courtesy of former political prisoner and independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo:

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