After the assassination of Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, which occurred this past May 8th, those who wield power in Cuba have unleashed another wave of repression against dissidents on the island. During Soto Garcia’s burial the atmosphere was tense- more than 80 dissidents traveled to Santa Clara to bid their farewells to the slaughtered activist, but police forces impeded the opposition members from carrying the coffin to the cemetery, according to a report by Yoani Sanchez made on her Twitter account.
On the following day, May 9th, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” awoke reporting that State Security agents were surrounding his house. This intense repressive operation, carried out by the authorities of the country, impeded dozens of dissidents from getting to the house of Antunez, where there had been a meeting planned with the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front and the Central Opposition Coalition. Among those who were intercepted were the eastern dissidents Marta Diaz Rondon and Caridad Caballero Batista.
Caridad Caballero Batista, in conversation with this blog, explains that both of them were traveling from Holguin to Placetas and after a lengthy trip both of them were detained right when they were about to arrive at the home of Antunez. “We arrived at Placetas late last night- it must have been about 10 or 11 pm. We tried to get in by car but State Security was surrounding the whole area“. Marta Diaz continues explaining, “We were only a block away from the house of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’ and Iris Tamara Perez Aguilera, and it was then that they detained Caridad Caballero Batista and me and beat us. When they detained us we started screaming ‘we are all resistance’, ‘the streets belong to the people’, ‘long live human rights’, ‘down with the dictatorship’, etc“. Caballero Batista adds, “they immediately and violently attacked us. They shoved us in the car when I started calling them murderers. They quickly hit me on my mouth and then covered both our mouths so we would not continue screaming ‘down with the dictatorship’, that they are assassins, and that they murdered Zapata and now they had just murdered another brother from the opposition (Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia)“.
Caballero Batista and Diaz Rondon were then taken to the Placetas Police Unit, where according to Diaz the repression continued, “There I was threatened by a female officer who had beaten me once before on September 12th of 2009. On that day, she savagely beat me in front of the State Security compound. She threatened again, and also told Cari ‘don’t look for trouble- or I’ll beat you like I beat her once‘”. Caridad Caballero responded in an honest and brave manner, telling the official, whose name has not yet been confirmed, “(that woman) was in police uniform and she was very corpulent and large. I told her ‘Yes, of course, that’s the only thing you know how to do’ and you could do it all you want but we are not afraid“. The dissidents were kept detained in the police unit for more than an hour. “We also screamed ‘long live human rights’ and ‘down with the dictatorship’. They then took us into a room and photographed us in different positions. Later, they moved us to another department where they put our information into a computer and then took our fingerprints. There we were able to meet Guillermo del Sol, a dissident who was also detained, as well as another young dissident from Sancti Spiritus. Librado Linares was also detained. I supposed many other of our brothers were detained“.
In regards to her release, Caridad Caballero recalls, “When they took us out of the police unit they took us to a place called Ocho Via which is located on the outskirts of Placetas. They kept us there in the car with all the windows rolled up for nearly an hour under the scorching sun. We were suffocating inside the car because they were not allowing us to get out. They then shoved us onto a truck which had no roof. We were thrown there as if we were just mere objects. And they then threw us out in Camaguey province at a bus stop“. When this interview was carried out during the night hours of yesterday, May 9th, both dissidents were still in the process of traveling back to their homes in Holguin, “we are still traveling. We are now in Las Tunas and we do not know when we will get back to Holguin,” explains Caballero Batista.
Although the Cuban authorities try to paralyze dissidents through fear and constant repression, these brave fighters have declared and proved that these tactics do not work on them. “We know who they are- they are low-lives. But none of these threats, beatings, and all those methods they use will be able to change our ideas, and we’re letting them know that very clearly. We are going to continue being firm with our posture, defending human rights and joining in solidarity with our brothers in the opposition from the point of Maisi to San Antonio (from one point of the island to another)“, affirms Caridad Caballero Batista. Marta Diaz Rondon adds, “We are going to keep fighting, although we are deeply saddened by the loss of our brother in cause Wilfredo Soto Garcia who was assassinated by the henchmen of the Castro regime. We are going to continue taking to the streets, we are letting them know that we are not afraid of their threats when they say they are going to kill us and beat us. We are going to keep struggling in the streets because the streets belong to the people and we are all resistance“.