Pedazos de la Isla

"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation

Situation of dissident rapper “El Critico”, on hunger strike, worsens significantly #FreeElCritico

15 days on hunger strike – which then also became a thirst strike as well – have been leaving serious consequences on the life of independent musician and political prisoner Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, best known in the Cuban rap world as “El Critico”, a member of the duo The Unwanted Children (‘Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso’), based in the Eastern city of Bayamo.

“El Critico” is very weak, he can barely speak, and his vital signs are very low.  Despite this worrying state, he has suffered a beating recently at the hands of a re-educator in the prison known as Javier, according to his wife Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena – a young member of the Ladies in White – and Julia Pina, an activist of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), pro-freedom organization which Remon is also part of.

On the night of Monday, October 28th, a doctor from Las Mangas Prison called Yudisbel to inform her that her husband was refusing to accept an IV  as a form of protest and that he was in a critical state.  Yudisbel was able to sustain a brief conversation with him but barely understood what he was saying, except for a phrase where he affirmed that it’s either “freedom or death” for him.

Her audio – in Spanish- below:

After a number of hours, a group of doctors picked Yudisbel up from her home and took her to the prison, where she was able to briefly see Yunier.  The rapper accepted an IV at that moment and when he had a bit more energy he told his wife that he had been beat 2 days prior and reaffirms his pro-freedom position.

On her part, Roseyo Mojena has said that she will also continue “on the streets” and although she is deeply worried for the life of her husband, she said she is supporting his struggle.  The couple has a 9 month old son.

The Cuban dictatorship is demanding an 8 year sentence for Remon under accusations of “attempt” although he was the one who was assaulted last March 26th during an act of repudiation against his home.  The person in charge of the act of repudiation is State Security chief Julio Cesar, also notorious for persecuting and beating other dissidents in Bayamo.

Report on recent beating of El Critico, with English subtitles:

State police kidnaps young dissident in Havana

Yunior Ramirez Roca is the 26 year old Cultural Promoter for the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy.  He dedicates his time to handing out pro-freedom literature on the streets of Havana as well as using art – specifically music and dance – to carry out activities aimed to attract young Cubans and keep them away from drugs and alcohol, as well as keeping them away from participating in State-sponsored acts of violence and propaganda.

At around 6 AM on Saturday, October 5th, agents of Cuba’s political police pounded on the door of the home where Yunior had been living in the Cotorro neighborhood of Havana.  Shocked and confused, the onwer of the house- a lady named Maria – opened the door just to find the police barge in and forcefully take Yunior, destination unknown, according to Eriberto Liranza, president of the CYMD.

No one knew where Yunior was being kept for various days until Liranza finally managed to investigate and confirm late in the week that the young dissident was being held in the detention center known as Vivac.

After further invesigation, Liranza confirmed that “the police wants to deport Yunior Ramirez to Isle of Youth”.  The Isle of Youth is a small island-province below mainland Cuba and was originally known as Isle of Pines before the Castro dictatorship took over.

Eriberto explained that Ramirez is originally from the mentioned province but has been living in Havana for some time now. His activism is enough reason for the State to try and get rid of him and maintain him in a more isolated location.

On behalf of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, we hold the regime accountabile for the life of Yunior Ramirez Roca”, declared Liranza.

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Eriberto Liranza Romero – Cell Phone: 58-183-142

Regime denies two prominent dissidents right to travel out of Cuba


PicMonkey Collage

This week the Cuban regime denied two well-known dissidents their right to travel out of Cuba, providing little or no explanations as to why the decision was taken.

The first of the refusals occurred in Eastern Cuba – specifically in Santiago de Cuba – when former political prisoner and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was told by authorities on October 7th that he would not be able to acquire his passport.  The functionaries said the activist could not travel for reasons of “public interest”, alleging he has engaged in criminal activities (in Cuba, political dissent is considered one of the highest offenses).

Ferrer Garcia was invited by the Unity Progress and Democracy Party to participate in an event in Europe.  It was the second time the Cuban regime denied him his passport.

On Friday October 11th, Leticia Ramos Herreria – representative of the Ladies in White for the central province of Matanzas – received a negative response from Cuban authorities after she started travel procedures two weeks earlier.

“ ‘Your petition has been denied, we cannot give you your passport to travel”’, that’s what immigration official told me”, tweeted Leticia on Friday (@LeticiaRHCuba).  No further explanations were provided.

Former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez (impeded from traveling as well on past occasions) also tweeted (@ivanlibre) about this situation, classifying it as “arbitrary” and pointing out that the Lady in White is in no way under an ‘extrapenal license’ that would impede here rights.

Leticia Ramos and Jose Daniel Ferrer are two of the many active opposition members on the island. Ramos is subject to frequent violent arrests every Sunday as she marches in Cardenas, Matanzas with other women for the freedom of all political prisoners and also engages in other activities in favor of the civil society.  Ferrer heads UNPACU, one of the many active pro-freedom groups in the country which started in the East and has spread throughout the island with many members.

Meanwhile, Blanca Reyes – exiled Cuban activist in Spain and representative of the Ladies in White in Europe – was also denied the right of entry into Cuba this week to visit her elderly and sick father.

“My father fractured his hip, he is going to be operated and the government of Cuba refuses my entry into the country to see him.  He is 93 years old”, wrote Blanca on the Ladies in White’s official Twitter account, @DamasdBlanco.

Reforms in Cuba?

#PassItOn: Angel Yunier Remon ‘El Critico’, Pt. 2

#Free

The audio-visual series #PassItOn once again highlights the situation of Cuban dissident rapper and pro-freedom activist Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga ‘El Critico’, who is still behind bars in the Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo since March of 2013. He has been subjected to beatings and threats at the hands of his jailers. On occasions, he has been denied his right to telephone calls and family visits. During the month of July 2013 he contracted cholera and was in a very critical state of health. Although he has recuperated from the condition, he is still suffering from another ailment — chronic gastritis — and the authorities refuse to provide him with medical assistance. His wife, Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena, has also been under constant harassment by the regime’s State Security apparatus. On September 23rd 2013, Remon was mistreated in prison and denied his right to his family visits. His crime continues being his protest music and his activism. He is also coordinator of the opposition group UNPACU in Granma province and a member of the hip-hop duo The Unwanted Children (‘Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso’).

If you like this video, help spread the word and #PassItOn

#FreeElCritico

Dissident speaks about the importance of unity against the dictatorship

From Boyeros, Havana, dissident leader Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo spoke about activities carried out in different parts of the island on September 24th, the Day of the Virgin of Mercedes, patron saint of prisoners. She explains that members of groups such as the Orlando Zapata National Resistance Front, the Pro Human Rights Party and others set out to their respective local churches to pray for the liberation of all political prisoners.  In Havana, more than 70 Ladies in White participated in Mass and, together with a large number of everyday people, created a moment of freedom inside the temple, despite the presence of the political police outside.  Fonseca also explains that the regime fears when diverse opposition groups work closely with the everyday population:

“This 24th of September, it was once again proven that the Castro-communist dictatorship fears the unity of the opposition with the people.  In that unity lies the beginning of the end of so many years of suffering.  Very soon, God-willingly, Cuba will be free.  There will be no more political prisoners, men and women jailed because of their ideas”.

To listen to the complete declaration by Sara Marta (in Spanish) click this link from ‘Radio Republica’.

State Security continues it’s repressive measures against imprisoned rapper ‘El Critico’

In the Eastern Cuban town of  Bayamo, prison authorities continue denying medical assistance to dissident rapper ‘El Critico’ while State Security continues harassing his wife in whichever way possible.  

‘El Critico’

Dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga ‘El Critico’, from the duo Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso (‘The Unwanted Children’) has been unjustly jailed in Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo since March 26th of 2013 after mobs organized by State Security raided his home.  While behind bars, he has been subjected to beatings, verbal threats and other forms of repression carried out by the political police.  During the month of July, he contracted cholera and was in a critical state of health.  Although no longer suffering from the mentioned disease, Remon still suffers other serious health ailments, such as chronic gastritis which brings him constant pains.  But the authorities have not provided him with adequate medical attention due to his pro-freedom ideas.

Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena, wife of the young musician, has been denouncing the absence of medical care for months.  Recently, she reiterated to this blog that the situation continues the same, or worse.

Ever since Angel Yunier is in prison they have not done any tests on him to see how his health is and there have been absolutely no follow-ups“, denounces Roseyo, “currently, my husband is having a serious crisis of pain which happens every day because of the gastritis.  He receives no medications for this and the authorities also do not provide him an adequate diet either“. Yudisbel adds that Angel may have an ulcer but this has not been confirmed due to the refusal of the authorities to provide medical exams.

Meanwhile, State Security has upped the tactics of vigilance and harassment against both Yudisbel and Angel.  In one of the most recent cases of manipulation, the regime’s intelligence apparatus has used Remon Arzuaga’s ex wife to harass Yudisbel.

Yunier has an ex wife with which he had a child a couple of years ago and now she is working together with State Security and together they have tried to sue Yunier with the pretext that he has not provided the necessary amount of money for child support“, explains Roseyo Mojena, who assures that this has happened because the police cannot accuse her husband of having committed any crime.  He is in prison because of his activism and because of that, the State turns to such practices.

Yudisbel Roseyo

What his ex wife is alleging is completely false, considering that Angel has always provided the required amount of money for her.  But now she says she wants a higher amount because, in her own words, ‘Angel is receiving money from the exterior’“, she adds.

The same accuser has been trying to create problems with Yudisbel, accusing her of random false crimes out in the middle of the street.  Yudisbel confirms that she has often seen the woman alongside State Security agents.

The vigilance against me by State Security and the National Revolutionary Police is also constant“, says Roseyo, highlighting a recent case on September 18th when a group of Ladies in White from Bayamo, Granma met at one of their homes to carry out their monthly meeting.  When the activity came to an end, Yudisbel was followed by two police vehicles.

Lieutenant Colonel Julio Cesar (the same one who is falsely accusing Yunier of attempt and who put him in prison) interrogated me and harassed me.  Alongside other agents, he told me that he could stop me whenever he felt like it and that he did not have to offer explanations“.

The young Bayamo native is frequently followed, even when she goes to the hospital to tend to health problems of her 7 month old son.

Angel Yunier ‘El Critico’, who also serves as a coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) for the province of Granma, is currently in a judicial limbo, without having had a trial and without any proof of having engaged in an actions of ‘attempt’.  His dissident posture, expressed through his music and activism, was what landed him in jail.

Listen below to the audio of Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena denouncing the lack of medical assistance for her husband in Las Mangas Prison (in Spanish): 

(NEWS UPDATE 9/24/13) – Dissident leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, national coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was arrested alongside other activists on September 23rd in Bayamo when they were going to participate in a symbolic wedding ceremony between Angel Yunier and Yudisbel.  The latter was also arrested.  After various hours detained, Ferrer Garcia reported via Twitter (@jdanielferrer) that a common prisoner was able to phone him from prison and confirm that Angel Yunier ‘El Critico’ was savagely beat by authorities in prison and taken to a punishment cell.  More details soon. 

To contact Yudisbel Roseyo in Cuba:
+53-552-353
 

Despite police reprisals, high turnout of dissidents at activities for Patron Saint

September 8th 2013 was yet another anniversary of the appearance of the Virgin of Charity, Patron Saint of Cuba, but this did not keep the totalitarian system on the island from practicing their accustomed acts of harassment and repression against Ladies in White and the opposition in general.  However, members of the pro-freedom movement took to the streets and, in what was a high turnout throughout the country, participated in Masses and processions for “Cachita”, as Cuba’s Virgin is popularly referred to in folklore.

Matanzas province witnessed its 9th consecutive Sunday of police violence against the Ladies and other dissidents, specifically in the cities of Cardenas and Colon.

Since early morning, former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo (in the city of Colon) used his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) to explain what was happening.  Eventually, he documented a total of 27 arrests among Ladies in White and other opposition members.

Hernandez was one of the detainees, as were also former political prisoners Felix Navarro and Angel Moya Acosta.  Other activists violently arrested that morning were Francisco Rangel, William Acevedo Roque, Jose Hernandez Lopez and Luis Alberto Amaya Fleitas.

In regards to his arrest, Ivan said that they used “2 uniformed police officials and 3 secret political police agents dressed in civilian clothing”.  The repressors forcefully lowered Ivan’s pants and then proceeded to shove him inside a police vehicle.

Regardless, the renown dissident pointed out that 8 Ladies in White assisted Mass dedicated to the Virgin of Charity in the city of Colon while another 6 women managed to do so in the city of Cardenas.  But they too were lashed out against.

Leticia Ramos, the representative of the Ladies for the province of Matanzas, tells this blog that “upon leaving Mass in Cardenas, the Ladies in White were attacked by the political police and mobs made up and organized by State Security.  In the case of this Sunday, we were not as severely beat as in the past but there was still violence“.

Ramos remained detained from 9 AM to 2 PM, confined to a cell in the National Revolutionary Police Unit of the town known as Marti.  She denounces that other women like Mercedes de la Guardia Hernandez and Odalys Hernandez were left abandoned in desolate fields in a place called Limonal.  Something similar happened to Marisol Fernandez and Yamila Senda Ruiz, while Katuiska Rodriguez and Elizabeth Pacheco were taken to the Cardenas Center for Investigations where they “were accused of creating ‘public disorder’ and ‘disobedience’ and then handed a document with these accusations.  They both refused to sign it“, said Leticia.

Similarly, in Colon, the Ladies in White were intercepted by the political police as soon as they walked out of Mass, being subjected to aggressive arrests while agents shouted threats and offensive words at them.  Among the detainees were women such as Sayli Navarro, Tania Echeverria and Asuncion Carrillo.

Ivan Hernandez published a series of photos on Twitter documenting this repression:

Meanwhile, over at Havana – Cuba’s capital – a total of 80 Ladies in White managed to march down the centric 5th Avenue, carrying white flowers and participating in Mass in honor of the Virgin and praying for the liberation of all political prisoners, according to the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’.

In the Eastern region of the country, dissidents and Ladies in White massively participated in Mass at the emblematic National Shrine of the Virgin of Charity in Santiago de Cuba.

The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) sent out a press release in which they confirm that 201 of its members accompanied 57 Ladies in White to Mass dedicated to the Virgin.  They also published the following video of the event:

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, former political prisoner and leader of UNPACU, wrote on Twitter (@jdanielferrer) that “managing to get 200 activists in a public place and more-so on a day like that Virgin’s is not an easy task in totalitarian Cuba”, highlighting that the result constituted a victory.

Ferrer added that UNPACU activists which were at the Sanctuary took shirts and other accessories which identified themselves as human rights defenders.  The event, according to the dissident, took place in front of thousands of devotees, both everyday Cubans and international tourists.  None of these groups repudiated the activists.  He assures that the political police “was very nervous” and did not know how to respond.

In Guantanamo and Holguin it was confirmed that various Ladies in White made it to Mass.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern town of Bayamo another 8 Ladies in White managed to surpass police cordons and arrive at Mass, according to Yudibsel Roseyo Mojena, a member of the women’s group and wife of political prisoners and dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga.

Since Saturday, State Security had been keeping a close eye on us but we managed to make it to Mass anyway and participate afterward in the procession for the Virgin“, explained the young Cuban woman.  “During the entire time of the procession agents of State Security and of the National Revolutionary Police were watching the Ladies in White.  The vigilance lasted all day“.

Yudisbel adds that the majority of the town took part in the procession – more proof that the dictatorship was never able to do away with Cuban’s devotion to their Virgin.  A number of independent sources confirmed that there was massive turn out of everyday people in other regions throughout the island as well.

In Miami (the Cuban exile) there was also an emotional Mass and concert in honor of Cachita.  A large portion of the Cuban-American community participated in this annual event as did figures of the peaceful resistance, such as Rosa Maria Paya, who offered a speech and prayer in favor of unity, peace and freedom.

Imprisoned rapper suffering from health problems, his wife continues being threatened

Dissident rapper and political prisoner Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico” is still confined to a jail cell in Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo with health problems and very poor medical assistance, confirms his wife Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena.

The musician, who is a member of the hip-hop duo The Unwanted Children and of the opposition group Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), is suffering from “chronic gastritis” according to Yudisbel, who assures that the authorities “are not giving him any kind of medication, nor are they giving him medical exams.  We do not know if he has an ulcer or not“.

The young Cuban mother explains that since Angel was arbitrarily imprisoned on March of 2013, his jailers told him that they would tend to his medical problems but it has been false.  “The culprits are State Security“, said Yudisbel, “these agents robbed all the documents having to due with the health of Angel, myself, and our child…they were all disappeared and they have not carried out any exams.  It’s a form of punishment against Angel because of his rebellious posture“.

During the month of July the dissident contracted cholera in prison and was brought down to a very delicate state of health.  Although he is now recuperating, he has expressed that the conditions of extremely poor hygiene in the prison may lead his health to worsen again.

Meanwhile, both Angel and Yudisbel have been receiving threats and blackmail in and out of the prison at the hands of the political police.

During my most recent visit with him, they took me into an isolate room where there were various State Security agents.  They told me that they were going to be present during the visits from now on, listening to everything we were talking to“, denounced the young Cuban.  But the dissident couple did not remain silent.  They carried out a protest and various common prisoners joined in solidarity.

We both told agent Javier, the main agent of Las Mangas Prison, that we were not going to accept a visit like that.  We protested.  Some prisoners joined the protest.  They all said that it was not fair that Angel was being treated like that“.

As a result of the protest, the authorities allowed them a ‘normal’ visit, but the threats continued against Yudisbel when she left the penitentiary.

Once I left the prison they subjected me to a body inspection but they did not find anything“, recounts Roseyo, “afterward, a vehicle with State Security agents followed me all the way home.  I was on a motorcycle when the agent known as Allen tried to crash into me with his car.  I started to argue with him, denouncing what he had done.  He simply responded to me by saying that he was going ‘to take me’ and told me to leave my husband.  He said that if I didn’t do so he would do it for me because ‘he had the power to do anything‘”.

The agent then told me that he was protected by the law and, therefore, was the authority“.

Yudisbel Roseyo affirms that neither her or her husband will give in to the constant threats.

Despite the conditions in which they are keeping Angel Yunier, and despite all the punishment he is subjected to, we are never going to give up on our ideas.  The threats and the intimidation by State Security are never going to force either of us to give up, not now and not ever“, she said.

Yudisbel added that ‘El Critico’ will keep writing protest lyrics from behind the bars.

To contact Yudisbel Roseyo in Cuba:
Cell Phone – +53-552-353

Attempt against life of dissident leader and her son in Havana

Sara Marta Fonseca and her son, Ignacio Leon Fonseca, during a pots and pans protest at their home in Havana

A vehicle nearly ran over dissident leader Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and her son Ignacio Leon Fonseca twice in a matter of minutes in Boyeros, Habana, on the 31st of August.

It took place near 11 AM on the corner of 273rd and 160th street when Fonseca was taking care of some personal chores.

The car, a modern model and blue in color, sped up towards us“, described the dissident, who also alerted about what had occurred through a Twitter message that morning (@SaraMartaCuba).  Fonseca told this blog that she and her son quickly jumped back when they saw the car speeding towards them.

When we jumped out of the way, the car stopped.  Then, we tried to cross the street again but this time about 2 kilometers behind the car, but once again when we tried to cross the car charged against us but this time backing up.  We were able to get out of the way on time again“.

Sara Marta managed to look inside the car but could not identify anyone, although she confirmed that there were 4 men and that one of them was carrying a Walkie-Talkie.  This equipment is widely used by police agents on the island.

The attempt against Fonseca’s life took place in front of some neighbors who, according to the opposition member, began to publicly complain.

One of the neighbors approached the car and yelled at the driver, ‘Do you not know how to drive?

Once seeing that the discontent amongst locals was increasing, the blue car sped up and drove away.  But the mysterious and dangerous actions did not end there.

We finished our personal chores that morning but  when we were on 273rd Street and 2nd, I was talking to a neighbor precisely about what had happened when a motorcycle arrived.  Interestingly enough, the bike was also blue, and it began to surround us.  It went around about 3 times.  The driver would break and stare at the person I was talking to, as if trying to identify him.  After those 3 turns, the motorcycle drove away“.

Fonseca Quevedo does not in any way doubt that the State has to do with what happened to her and her son that morning.  In fact, she is pretty sure it was sent by the authorities, considering that police violence has been on the rise during the last few months.  Recently, when dissidents are detained, explains Sara, State Security agents threaten to assassinate them while they are being interrogated.

Fonseca, a renown activist and member of the Cuban Pro Human Rights Party, the Ladies in White and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front (all pro-freedom groups on the island), is no exception to the rule and has been threatened and arrested several times in the last month.

The increase of violence in Cuba also includes savage beatings at the hands of police officials, deportations and kidnappings which end in abandoning the dissidents in desolate fields far from their homes.

Sara Marta, who is known amongst the opposition for carrying out frequent vigils and public activities of civil disobedience in favor of freedom, points out that it is not only her life and her son’s life that are in danger, but also the lives of all dissidents in the country.  However, she assures that the dramatic rise in violence is also proof of the fear that the dictatorship is feeling.

Sara Marta in front of her house, sign reads ‘Down with Communism’, ‘Down with Fidel’

For more information from Cuba:

Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +53-379-011 / Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba

Consequences of police violence in Sagua la Grande, Cuba (Images)

Didier Martinez and his wife Natali. Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara.

On August 20th 2013, the political police organized and carried out an act of repudiation against dissident Didier Martinez, surrounding his home in Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara, where he was with his family, among them his wife and underage child, as well as other activists.  The mob – made up by police officials dressed in civilian clothing and other people who have obligations with the dictatorship – not only shouted obscene words to the dissidents, but also damaged the house and eventually beat those present.

This audio published by ‘Radio Repubica’ captures the testimony of Luis Enrique Monzon Rivero, one of the activists of the Central Opposition Coalition who was in the house.  Monzon denounces that the agents were using a mysterious liquid in an attempt to burn down the door of the house and also began to throw rocks.  They were armed with sticks and machetes.  The repudiation lasted various hours and only ended for a short while, seeing as on the following day – August 21st – another one was carried out, according to statements by former political prisoner Librado Linares Garcia on his Twitter account (@LibradoLinares).

Linares sent out another message on the 22nd explaining that “at 1:30 AM, they threw 4 pieces of metal at Didier’s house, damaging it.  His small child was terrorized”.

The violence worsened on the 23rd.  Librado tweeted, “Didier Martinez and his wife Natali were savagely beat by 2 State Security agents”.  Their son, who is only 3 years old, witnessed the whole thing.

However, Linares Garcia said that the everyday people “showed solidarity with the repressed” and “repudiated the repressors”.

Now, photos have arrived straight from the island showing the scars left on Didier’s body by a system which does tolerate the diversity of ideas (courtesy of activist Niurcy Acosta Pacheco).  See them for yourselves:

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