"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Yaimara Reyes Mesa
March was yet another month which began with the accustomed peaceful protest carried out by the women of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. This time, the activity took place in front of the Communist Party headquarters in the town of Santa Clara. The video of the protest was published recently and you can see how Yris Tamara Aguilera, Yaite Cruz Sosa, Donaida Pérez Paseiros and Yaimara Reyes Mesa are rapidly harassed, dragged, and beaten by functionaries of the communist headquarters. In the case of Yris Tamara Aguilera, it can be seen how she sits down on the floor as a sign of non-cooperation. A functionary starts to yell at Yris, demanding that she get up from the street. The women were simply demanding freedom and an end to the impunity excercised by the regime, as occurs every first day of each month. The demonstration culminated in a violent arrest. See the video:
On Sunday, March 11th, dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Antunez was arbitrarily arrested as he was leaving his home in Placetas. He was kept in a dungeon until Wednesday the 14th despite the fact that he was suffering from serious chest pains. His wife, Yris Tamara Aguilera, and the same activists which participated in the march on video, were also arrested during afternoon hours of Wednesday the 14th. In the case of Yris Tamara, she was once again arrested on the morning of Thursday, March 15th, when she was on her way to a medical center to tend to the wounds she had received during her previous time in jail. After a public call from various activists who declared that they would “take to the streets if Yris was not liberated”, the regime decided to release the activist. The repression against these men and women is constant, but so too is their perseverance.
Placetas: 5 Activists are Still Detained, Among them prominent dissident Antunez, with Health Complications
Jorge Luis Garcia Antunez, opposition activist and national secretary of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, is still arrested in a police unit of Placetas (a town of central Cuba) since the night of Sunday, March 11th, when he was walking out of his house and towards the corner of his block. The arrest was reported, almost instantly, by his wife Yris Tamara Aguilera who was not at the house at that moment. Aguilera published a Twitter message where she explained that a witness of the arrest had informed her that when they were detaining Antunez they told him it was “under orders from the high command from Havana”. Also arrested were dissidents Eriberto Liranza Romero and Rene Rouco Machin in Havana.
On the following day, Romero and Machin were released but Antunez remained arrested. A detainee which was released hours after Antunez was taken to his cell told Yris that her husband was experiencing “many chest pains and was vomiting”, considering that he suffers from various health complications which he acquired from his 17 years in prison for his political activism. A few minutes after receiving this news, Yris decided to head out towards the police unit along with activists Donaida Perez Paseiros, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and Yaite Sosa, all members of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. There, the 4 women started to demand the liberation of Antunez. The protest continued until an official stepped out of the unit and told the women that Antunez would be released on the following day, which did not happen. For this reason, the women once again marched to the police unit at 9 AM on Tuesday. In this occassion, Yaimara Reyes could not go, but instead, Xiomara Martin Jimenez was present.
When the 4 women arrived at the unit, they once again started their civic protest. In just minutes, a number of officials started to harass them, and eventually started to beat them, drag them, and in the end, detain them. According to Dora Lara, an elderly activists from the Rosa Parks Movement who lives across the street from the police unit, she heard shouts of “Down with Fidel” from her home. In addition, Lara affirms that she was able to witness the violent beating carried out against the activists.
On the night of that same Tuesday, various activists from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front declared that if the dissidents were not released by Wednesday at 12 pm, they would take to the streets in protest against their arbitrary arrest.
Activists in diverse parts of the island have expressed concern for the fate of the detainees, especially Antunez who, according to various sources, continues to suffer from strong chest pains. For this reason, we demand the immediate liberation of the 5 human rights activists.
For more information, follow the Twitter account of Yris Tamara Aguilera (@YrisCuba), which is currently being administered by the exiled sister of Antunez, Bertha Antunez. There is also information available in the Twitter account of the Cuban Democratic Directorate (@DirectorioCuba).
Despite the Sexual Harassment and the Physical Aggressions, the Women of the Rosa Parks Movement Will Continue Marching
Every first day of the month has already started to become synonymous with acts of Resistance by the activists from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. This past March 1st, these Cubans once again took to the streets, but this time in different areas of the island.
In Banes, the Lady in White and Vice-President of the Rosa Parks Movement, Marta Diaz Rondon, led a group of other women to the Northern Cemetery in that same town where the remains of activist Marta Cecilia Perez Duconger lay. The dissidents decided to pay tribute to this Cuban on this specific date because she was one of the founders of the Rosa Parks Movement. Although they were able to carry out their tribute, a constant surveillance by the political police surrounded the women. In Matanzas, dissident Leticia Ramos, along with other activists, also took to the street and carried out a protest march.
However, without a doubt the worst violence occurred in Placetas, where a group of women from the Rosa Parks Movement, among them their president Yris Tamara Aguilera, surprised the regime functionaries in that area and stood outside the headquarters of the Municipal Headquarters of the Communist Party demanding freedom for the political prisoners Yazmin Conyedo and Yusmany Alvarez, an end to forced evictions, and, in sum, freedom for Cuba. Other women who participated were Donaida Pérez Paseiro, Yaite Cruz Sosa and Dora Pérez Correa. According to testimonies of these same women, many everyday Cubans displayed support and solidarity with them.
In just instants, a mob made up of State Security agents surrounded the women and quickly and violently arrested Blas Fortun Martinez, a dissident from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front who was reporting from the scene of the protest. This arrest was carried out by agent Idel Gonzalez Morfi, best known as ‘Railroad Nail’. Meanwhile, and despite the aggressions, the women kept firm and shouted “freedom” and “the streets belong to the people“.
The communist mobs did not take long to physically assault the demonstrators. In this case, the activists denounce that the women from State Security who work in the Communist Headquarters began to scratch them and even bite them. In addition, the functionaries began to take off their shoes and use them to beat the female dissidents. According to Donaida Perez, numerous passer-bys defended the dissidents, standing in between them and their aggressors.
After this display of violence, the women from the Rosa Parks Movement decided to head back to one of their homes- that of Dora Perez, which is located literally across the street from the Communist Headquarters. But State Security was not satisfied with beating them and harassing them for just a short while. Considering that the march was completely spontaneous, the agents could only manage to gather a small group of women from State Security during the initial violence. When some time had passed, the functionaries organized a larger repressive operation against the women. A number of agents surrounded the home of Dora Perez and started to hurl rocks and shout offensive slogans. Various soldiers broke into the home and beat all those inside, taking them detained, even those who did not participate in the protest, like Yaimara Reyes Mesa and Xiomara Martin Jiménez. Also, the daughter of Dora Perez, who is not even a public dissident, was beaten and arrested.
In the following audio, recorded and provided by the Cuban Democratic Directorate (in Spanish), one can hear the moment when the arrests occurred, as the dissidents are bravely confronting their oppressors and shouting “No more Castros“, “Long live Democracy“, and “freedom for the Cuban people“, among other slogans:
All the women inside the house were arrested and the soldiers even left the door of the house wide open. Yris Aguilera, Dora Perez, and Yaimara Reyes were taken to the Instructional Police Headquarters (UPOC) in Santa Clara. When news of this spread, on the next day members of the Central Opposition Coalition directed themselves to that unit, demanding the immediate liberation of the activists.
The women of the Rosa Parks Movement were released during the afternoon hours of March 3rd. But the violence did not stop there. In the case of Yris Tamara Aguilera, she was beat inside the police vehicle which was headed to leave her back at her house in Placetas. The official known as Yuniel Monteagudo Reina was the aggressor, and he is also forcefully lowered Yris’s pants, sexually harassing her. Yris protested and did not let him get any closer to her, despite his physical strength. In declarations made just minutes after this abuse, Yris denounced that agent Yuniel told her “I’m gonna tear off the pants of this nigger and I am going to get on top of her”. This was also strongly denounced by her husband, the well-known activist for human rights and opposition leader, Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’.
These women have affirmed that despite the increased violence against them every first day of the month (and any other day they voice their opinions), they will continue demonstrating in defense of human rights, against government impunity, state violence, and, in sum, the Castro dictatorship.
This information was based on Twitter messages published by the Cuban Democratic Directorate. For more information follow @DirectorioCuba.
And from Cuba: Yris Tamara Aguilera – Cell: 011-5352- 417-749, Twitter: @YrisCuba / Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez – Cell: 011-5352- 731-656, Twitter: @AntunezCuba
In honor of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on the second anniversary of his assassination this past February 23rd, activists from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front in Placetas took to the street to carry out a civic march. This march was rapidly repressed by political police agents.
As a display of civil disobedience, the demonstrators- among them Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez- sat on the floor when they saw their oppressors running towards them. The agents handcuffed, pushed, and arrested the activists, later shoving them in a bus to take them detained. The arrested dissidents were Yaimara Reyes Mesa, Yaité Cruz Sosa, Fautino Calá, Santos Fernández, Dinel Millet Jiménez y Antúnez, all of which began to shout slogans such as “freedom for Cuba” and “long live human rights”.
Here is the video:
“This will be a war with the aim to wear you out“, that’s what the new political police chief in Placetas- Raul Acare Martinez- told Antunez while the latter resided in a jail cell during his most recent detention. Martinez signaled that “every time you all (dissidents) go out to the streets, you will all continue to be arrested“.
Antunez has confirmed this, as he has been victim of 3 arrests (of 72 hours in length) in just one month. The most recent one was on Tuesday, November 8th, when 14 dissidents from the Central Opposition Coalition and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front met up in a public location in order to carry out a peaceful sit-in in solidarity with Alcides Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer, both of who were in hunger strike at the time. In addition, it was also a demonstration of solidarity with the savagely beaten Idania Yanez and various other dissidents who remain imprisoned for political reasons in Santiago de Cuba.
“As soon as we concluded that activity and we started to walk back to my house, we were violently repressed and taken to the police unit“, explains Antunez, emphasizing the cases of various of his brothers and sisters in struggle who suffered health complications, such as Xiomara Martin Jimenez who suffered “a serious hypertension crisis” and the blind activist Jose Angel Vazquez who was treated just as ruthless as the others. In the case of Antunez, relatives were informed that he was also experiencing various complications during his second day behind bars. “I regularly suffer from hypoglycemic problems, and I grew very dizzy, had tachycardia, and strong pains in my chest“, he narrates.
The dissident from Placetas adds that his sister, Caridad Garcia Perez Antunez, who is not even a dissident, was “beaten and arrested along with her 15 year old daughter” as they walked in front of his home, trying to find out what was happening to her brother.
After 72 hours, all the non-violent demonstrators were released but the ‘war to wear out’ was clearly underway.
Since the weekend and Monday the 14th, the home of Antunez “has been target of a massive police operation, where no one is allowed to walk in front of the house, passing cars are diverted and they are asking all neighbors for identification“. Despite this, numerous activists were able to surpass the police circle and met up to re-inaugurate a monument to the fallen Orlando Zapata Tamayo (which was debuted a few months ago during the ‘Zapata with Us’ campaign) which was destroyed by the political police last October 24th, during the Day of the Resistance.
Though some dissidents were present, many were detained, deported, or impeded from traveling. Among those arrested were María del Carmen Martínez López and Yanisbel Valido Pérez (Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, Central Opposition Coalition) and among those deported were Yaimara Reyes Mesa, Lorenzo Hernández García, and Blas Agusto Fortun Martínez. Many other activists, from other provinces, were not able to make it due to the strong police operation in their towns which would not let them mobilize, as was the case of Ricardo Pupo Sierra from Cienfuegos.
Regardless, among those present were “from Camaguey, Santo Fernandez Sanchez and Leonardo Garcia Tomas from the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID), and coming from Banes, Rene Quiroga, Aurelio Antonio Morales, and Vivian Tamayo Ramayo from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, and from Ciego de Avila Julio Columbie Batista“, informed Antunez.
The vigilance, the threats, and the repression on behalf of government agents has not ceased, but regardless, the activists carried out the planned activities. “Though many could not be there with us, there was still a significant number of people present,” affirms Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’, “and, in addition, Zapata was there with us in heart and in spirit“.
Antunez and other members of the Cuban resistance throughout the island have proved that even if the war unleashed against them by the dictatorship is trying to wear them out, they will not tire.
(Wednesday, October 5th 2011)- Amid candles, signs, and prayers, a vigil was held in Miami’s famous Versailles Restaurant for the immediate and unconditional release of Sara Marta Fonseca, her husband Julio Leon Perez, and all Cuban political prisoners. Every Wednesday, a vigil is held in Versailles by the group of former prisoners who help Cuba’s internal resistance directly, known as “Plantados” in demand for the freedom of Cuba’s constant victims of repression and imprisonment. This time, the event also counted on the participation of other groups, as well as former prisoner from the group of the 75 and recently exiled Ladies in White.
The event officially began with a prayer as all the candles began to light up. Then some of those who were present shared a few words- among them former political prisoners Angel de Fana, Huber Matos, and Fidel Suarez Cruz. Many participants carried signs with photos not only of Sara Marta but also of other women who have suffered countless acts of repression and violence in recent days, women like Yris Tamara Aguilera, Marta Diaz Rondon, Caridad Caballero Batista, Laura Pollan, Belkis Cantillo, Aimee Garces and many others.
More than anything, the vigil proved (as it has been proven on many occasions) that Cubans can come together, despite various groups and ideologies, to demand freedom for all their sisters and brothers on the island.
The following is a video of the Vigil. One can clearly see the solidarity displayed that night:
The three female dissidents from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights who had been disappeared by forces of the dictatorship this past 26th of September while they demanded freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon Perez have been released with clear marks of repression of which they were victim. The three women were Donaida Perez Paceiro, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and Yris Tamara Aguilera.
Aguilera recounted that the violence began while the three women were on their way from the home of Fonseca to the G2 Unit of Havana along with ‘Julito’, the eldest son of Sara Marta and Julio Leon. At that moment, “various agents intercepted us, among them agent Camilo and agent Veloria. The latter is a very corpulent man“, according to the dissident. Right away, Veloria told Yris that she was not allowed to take to the street, to which she replied that she does not follow orders from military officers. “I added that at the entrance of Havana, there’s a huge billboard which reads ‘Welcome to the capital of Cubans‘ and that I am also one of those Cubans, so it was my right and I would continue despite the consequences”.
When the group of dissidents continued to walk, Veloria did not waste a second. He went straight towards Yris and it was then that the physical aggression began. “He grabbed me by my hair and dragged me for more than 50 meters. I was able to see ‘Julito’, too, and he had about 7 State Security agents on top of him because they did not have enough time to prepare people to carry out repudiation attacks“, narrates Perez Aguilera. They were all detained and taken to police units. In the case of Yris, she was taken to the Aguilera Unit in Havana where she remained for two hours. “After those two hours, they took me to a Criminal Investigation Center. Once there, I began to protest and to ask why I was being held in a place like that, being punished, if I had not killed or attacked anyone at all. I spent 72 hours there“.
Aguilera explains that on that Thursday, September 29th, “we were supposedly released, and I say ‘supposedly’ because I knew that it was just a form of manipulation set in motion to detain us once again, since they had warned us again that we were not allowed to go to the home of Sara Marta“. Upon stepping out of their detention centers, the three women were able to meet up and start walking together. However, they were lost in Havana, considering that they are not too familiar with the streets of the capital, coming from Placetas. “Thanks to a man we bumped into along the way we were able to make it to Rio Verde, where Sara Marta lives, under his direction“. But a few blocks right before getting to the house they were once again quickly intercepted by various State Security officials, among them agent Camilo again. “They told me, ‘We already told you- you are not allowed near the house of Sara Marta’ and I responded that time and time again I would not follow orders and I would continue fighting for her“, declared Aguilera. Upon seeing the determination of the dissidents, the officials called for police vehicles and arrested the three of them again. “They took me to the Committee of the Defense of the Revolution Unit of La Lisa where I was kept in a cell. I was very worried about my sisters considering that they had not eaten or drank anything for 72 hours, and I hadn’t either“, expressed Yris.
The three activists- Paceiro, Reyes, and Aguilera- remained in protest the entire time, refusing to accept water, food, or even to bathe. “I was locked away in a cell with a huge fence and a lock. I slept on a concrete slab”, remembers Yris, adding that “my worst day was on October 1st. My kidneys were failing me, I had a lot of pain, and I had not been able to urinate for two entire days, something that was really worrying me“.
It was strictly prohibited for any of the activists to call relatives- access to phones was completely restricted. This lack of information and lengthy detention led Antunez, husband of Yris, to declare that the women were all officially missing. “I demanded to the chief of La Lisa Police Unit that I be allowed to make phone calls, for that was my right. He simply replied by telling me that he had nothing to discuss with me“, explains Yris Tamara. “Hours later, at around 6 pm, I was taken into a police vehicle to a ‘medical encampment’. I once again refused medical attention because I knew it was yet another method of manipulation. I told them that I preferred to die with dignity instead of living humiliated“.
“I was kept there until 6 in the morning when a few officials came to tell me to go with them“, narrates the president of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement, who thought that at that moment she was going to be sentenced to actual prison terms but, as it turns out, she was going to be released. “The officials called a Special Brigade bus to come pick me up. It was rather ridiculous- there were 4 men and 3 women from the Special Brigades and one State Security Official. In other words, 8 people for one woman. At no point in time did they tell me where I was being taken but I figured I was going to be released once I saw that they also picked up Donaida and Yaimara. They left me in Placetas, a few blocks before my house“. Along the entire way Yris was vomiting after having spent such a long time in deplorable prison cells, suffering beatings, and carrying out a hunger strike- a combination of elements which led her to a deplorable state of health.
National and International Solidarity
“When I got home, I was very happy to see so many brothers and sisters who had joined me in solidarity, letting me know that neither of us women were alone at any time“, Aguilera expresses. The distinguished dissident also wished to thank the numerous organizations and individuals who demanded her unconditional freedom during her arrest which, in total, lasted 112 hours.
“To my brothers and sisters from Santa Clara who declared themselves on hunger strike, I am forever grateful“, referring to the activists from the Central Opposition Coalition who had taken on this protest in demand for the release of the three female dissidents. “To all those people in and out of the island who were concerned for us and our situation, thank you very much“.
Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ also added his gratitude for all the acts of international and national solidarity with his wife. “Thanks to such important demands made by organizations such as the Assembly of the Resistance and various other news sources which covered the situation of the women, thanks to all of this my wife and the other two women were released“, declared Garcia, adding that he also felt a profound and sincere appreciation for the Ladies in White and their gesture to dedicate their Sunday march “not only to the political prisoners but also to Yris, Sara Marta, Donaida, Yaimara, along with Yelena Napoles“.
The struggle for Sara Marta’s freedom continues
The dissident couple made it clear that the struggle for freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Ignacio Leon is nowhere near over, “because it is possible that they may be sentenced under false charges, simply for excercising their free movement . We are going to continue in the struggle, we will do everything possible to free our jailed brothers and sisters“.
Fonseca and Leon have been jailed since September 24th and have been on hunger strike since then.
An SOS for Yris Tamara Aguilera, Sara Marta Fonseca, Donaida Pérez, Yaimara Reyes, Julio Ignacio León, Eriberto Liranza Romero…
Yris Tamara Aguilera
Sara Marta Fonseca
The worrying situation of the recently detained Cuban dissidents remains the same. Of the women arrested after a peaceful march through the streets of Rio Verde, Havana, very little is known, except that they have been severely beaten and the majority of them are disappeared, with unknown whereabouts.
Among them, one of the most worrying cases is that of Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, who has various serious health complications. According to her husband, prominent dissident leader Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’, “various activists who witnessed the repression last weekend on September 24th (during the march marking the Day of the Resistance, held every 24th of the month) have affirmed that my wife Yris received a brutal beating and many kicks all over her arms and head“. The same occurred to Donaida Perez Paceiro and Yaimara Reyes Mesa, both of whom together with Yris are part of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. “I am denouncing that these women are still arrested/disappeared and I am directly accusing the Castro dictatorship and its political police of this brutal repression and of everything that could occur“, declares Antunez, adding that, “the authorities of the country have been incapable of even informing the relatives of those jailed about their condition or their whereabouts“.
Antunez took the moment to also express gratitude for all the “signs of solidarity received from different parts of the world” and also emphasized that many dissidents within the island have also joined in solidarity. He mentioned protests which demanded the release of these dissidents in places like Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, and a hunger strike “being carried out right now by members of the Central Cuban Coalition, a group headed by Idania Yanez Contreras“. Up to the moment, the hunger strikers are Guillermo del Sol Perez, Michel Oliva López, Rolando Ferrer Espinosa, Alcides Rivera Rodríguez, and Julio Columbie Batista.
On the afternoon of Thursday, September 29th it was also reported that Eriberto Liranza Romero (detained on the previous day and released that same night) was once again arrested while he demanded to know the situation of Sara Marta Fonseca and her husband Julio Ignacio Leon, both detained. During night hours of that same day, Antunez published a Twitter message in which he informed that ‘Julito’ Leon Fonseca, son of Sara and Julio Ignacio, was finally able to see his mother for a few minutes after he protested for hours in the 4th Police Unit of El Cerro. According to Antunez, ‘Julito’ denounced that his mother has clear marks of a severe beating and was in a poor state of health. He also learned that his father had been checked in to the Carlos Finlay Hospital of Marianao in the Prisoners Unit. The information comes from an audio accompanying Antunez’s Tweet, which can be heard in Spanish here.
Son of Cuban Dissidents Demands to Know Where and How His Parents Are, Repression Increases (UPDATE)
Julio Leon Fonseca, son of Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Ignacio Leon, best known by his rapper name of ‘Julito’ from the hip-hop duo ‘Julito & El Primario’, has informed that he has not yet received news of his parents after they were severely beaten and arrested this past Saturday, September 24th. 96 hours later, on Wednesday, September 28th, the young dissident has declared, “My parents’ situation continues the same, they are still detained, and have been on a hunger and thirst strike for 96 hours so far“, in protest for their arbitrary arrest on behalf of the Cuban government.
“My mother (Sara Marta) has severe pains from a violent physical blow given to her on her spinal chord, carried out by State Security officials“, Fonseca explains. “As for my father (Julio Ignacio) he is also in lots of pain and is also carrying out a hunger and thirst strike“. On Monday, September 26th, ‘Julito’ and a group of dissidents attempted to head to the police unit of Santiago de Las Vegas to obtain information about his parents, but government politial police officials quickly surrounded the home of Fonseca and impeded the dissidents from walking. “We were savagely beaten and then detained. I have bruises on my eye and pain all over my elbows“, explains ‘Julito’, adding that the other dissidents who accompanied him were Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Donaida Perez Paceiro, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and his friend and musical partner Rodolfo Ramirez (who is best known as ‘El Primario’). The women mentioned are still detained, while Jultio and Rodolfo were both released on Tuesday, September 27th.
The independent dissident news agency, ‘Hablemos Press’, has published photos of the hip-hop duo after their release, and the marks left behind by State Security agents. The blogger Joan Antoni Guerrero also published the photos in his blog, ‘Punt De Vista‘.
‘Juilto’ Leon Fonseca
Rodolfo Ramirez, ‘El Primario’
Julio Leon Fonseca denounces that “as of now there is no other news” about his mother Sara Marta, his father Julio Leon Ignacio, and the women from Placetas- Yris Tamara Perez, Donaida Perez, and Yaimara Reyes- and that, together with other dissidents, he would again try to make it to the police unit of Santiago de Las Vegas, where it is assumed the arrested resistance members are being kept. “They have to show me my parents“, demands the young activist.
(UPDATE- 09/28/11): According to the ‘Cuban Resistance‘ Twitter, on the afternoon of Wednesday September 28th, Julito Leon Fonseca and prominent dissident Eriberto Liranza Romero walked to the Havana police station of Santiago de Las Vegas where it was supposed that Sara Marta and Julio Leon were being held. There, the activists demanded to know the real situation of the arrested dissidents, but, ironically, only more repression occurred. Eriberto Liranza was detained. Liranza was present at the September 24th beat down and was also detained until the 25th. According to his testimonies, while detained the first time he was continuously threatened by State Security agents who told him if he continued his peaceful anti-Castro activities he would be arrested. It seems that the oppressors are keeping their word.
There have been various reports about the beatings unleashed upon 5 women and a man in Gibara, Holguin, Cuba which occurred a week ago on August 1st. This account is from the voice of one of the brave women who suffered the beating in person- Caridad Caballero Batista.
Caballero Batista recounts that together with four other women- Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, Donaida Perez, and Trinidad Rodriguez Fabril- along with a male friend and dissident, Reinaldo Rodriguez Vazquez, they carried out a peaceful march in Gibara, Holguin, in demand of their rights and the rights of all Cubans. According to the testimony of Caballero, this area of Gibara is coastal, with beaches, boulevards, and is a popular vacation spot.
Immediately, upon carrying out this march, Caballero recounts that, “we were attacked and provoked by State Security and the Rapid Response Brigades“. The response from the dissidents came right away, shouting slogans in favor of freedom: “The streets belong to the people”, “freedom for all Cubans”, “no more hunger”, “just salaries”, and “down with Fidel and Raul“.
When the dissidents made it outside the terminal, the entire area was “surrounded by Coast Guards, the Rapid Response Brigade, the police, and State Security“. The activists realized that, as usual, they were about to get beaten. They then decided to apply a method of civic resistance (popularly used during the civil rights era in the United States) and sat down on the floor, refusing to move. Their protest was completely non-violent. Despite this, the agents started to punch them, kick them, and they even dragged them on the floor until they were tossed into the police vehicles.
“In the case of Donaida and Yaimara,” explains Caridad, “they were thrown into the trunk of the cop car“. In their defense, Caballero says that she “rushed out of the car and helped the women open the trunk. Immediately, however, the agents pushed me away and shoved them out, letting them fall on the floor“.
An indignant people
When Caridad Caballero was once again inside the cop car she was able to see a “lady wearing a red shirt who was demanding to the police officers that they explain why they were doing this, and they beat her too“. Meanwhile, “many others screamed that what was being done was an abuse, that we were only saying what everyone was thinking and feeling. The people were truly upset“, affirms Batista.
Antunez and Yris Tamara also told of a similar story in another interview in regards to that same event, where a random man interceded between the women being beat and the police officers, demanding an end to the violence. The man, whose identity is not known, also received brutal blows.
Detainment and more beatings
“They took us to the Cost Guard Unit located in El Guirito, a very desolated place which has a prison right next door“, explains Caballero. “They got us out of the truck by pulling our hair. At one point I felt like my scalp was going to be ripped off from my head. They punched our heads, kicked our backs, it was terrible“. Caridad adds that she, along with Trinidad, were separated and situated towards the back of the unit. There they were able to see the prison next door. It was then that they noticed various prisoners making signals to them, “letting us know that they had seen everything and that they had already contacted the human rights people, people outside that area, denouncing what had happened“.
Once again, the activists were beaten and then separated. Meanwhile, “Reinaldo was tossed into a cell and beaten for the third time that day“. As for the others, “Yris, Donaida, and Yaimara were taken to an unknown location. The last I saw from them was when they tried to separate Yaimara from the group. Donaida rushed out in defense but they hit her very hard and she fell on the floor. Upon seeing this we became very worried, and we started shouting ‘assassins’, ‘terrorists’, and ‘abusers’. When Donaida was picked up she could not stand on her own two feet, for she had been knocked un-conscience“.
“They kept us until the next day. They released me in the afternoon and they left me in a place called La Trocha, a very desolate area“, explains Caballero, adding that before the police agents kicked her out of the car they told her ‘long live the commander’ (referring to dictator Fidel Castro). Caridad quickly replied with “down with the commander“. Upon walking through that unknown area she realized that it was mostly all grassland. She walked and walked until she found a local, whom she asked for directions back to her town. “That person told me how to get back and I was finally able to make it back home after a while. But during this whole time my house was completely surrounded by State Security and they were not letting anyone go in or step out. The whole block was closed off to dissidents“.
Denouncing other beatings, arrests
Caballero Batista also denounced other acts of repression which occurred that same day throughout the island. “6 activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance- Esteban Romero, Milagro Leyva, Omar Wilson, Estevez, Lesli Fajardo Rivera, Omar Perez Torres, and Juan Carlos Vazquez Osorio- decided to carry out a non-violent march in Moa to mark the celebration of the Day of Resistance which was to occur on August 5th“. The activists took to the street with a handmade sign which read ‘The Streets Belong to the People’ and “they walked all the way to Moa’s Central Park. There, they were attacked by combined forces of State Security and the political police. They were then shoved into jail cells for 72 hours- 3 days. Some were deported, while others remained in Moa and we accused of public disorder“.
According to the dissident, in Banes there were also acts of violence. “Aurelio Antonio Morales was detained and savagely beaten by political police and State Security agents. He had bruises and wounds all over his body, and they even fractured his nasal septum. There was no information as to where he was being held. We only heard from him again 72 hours later when he was released“.
Caballero also condemned the recent detention of Luis Felipe Rojas as well as the brutal and bloody attack against Jose Daniel Ferrer, various other dissidents, and neighbors who had joined in solidarity, which occurred on Sunday August 7th in Palmarito de Cauto, also located in the Eastern region of Cuba.
Despite the violence and censorship, the opposition will continue onward
On the same day which the detainment and the beating in Gibara occurred, the repressive agents of the dictatorship confiscated the cell phones of all the dissidents involved. “Mine was returned to me two days later“, tells Caridad Caballero Batista, explaining that her mobile device came back with damage and its services continue to have many failures. “They practically broke it, now it blocks itself and drops calls“, explains Caballero. That same phone was used for this interview and the signal would get interrupted every once in a while, and the call dropped a couple of times as well. “Despite all the beatings they give us, despite all the torture inflicted upon us, we will continue defending human rights. And each time, with more strength to continue onward“.