This Friday August 5th is the Day of Resistance in Cuba, and as is expected the regime has started a crackdown on dissidents who have participated in events commemorating this day or who are planning to take part within the next couple of days. The day before the resistance celebration, on August 4th, the activist/blogger/independent journalist Luis Felipe Rojas informed through his Twitter account that he had been cited by the political police for that same night in the police unit of his town, San German, in Holguin. “I’m expecting an arrest“, ended his Tweet. Hours after, Rojas was released but not before being threatened.
“They told me that they would apply all measures within their reach to impede any sort of actions which to us are peaceful activities but which they classify as ‘provocations’“, explains the dissident from Holguin. The detainment, according to Rojas, was “arbitrary” and its purpose was to prevent any intentions by the dissident to report and/or participate in events taking place on the 5th.
Among Cuban opposition members, the Day of Resistance was designated for the fifth of August in commemoration of ‘El Maleconazo’ which occurred on this day in 1994. On that day hundreds of everyday Cubans spontaneously took to the streets in Havana to demand their rights. Many believe that the dictatorship was shaking during that moment, in ways that perhaps they had not before.
17 years later the Cuban people continue demanding their inalienable rights. “(All throughout the island) there will be protest activities“, declares Luis Felipe, “What I mainly do is independent journalism, my work mainly consists of informing and denouncing what happens to dissidents and the Cuban people in general“. Rojas, author of the blog ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire‘, has suffered firsthand under the strict censorship of a regime which does not tolerate any form of dissent. In one of his most recent posts he details the long, difficult, and costly process which he, and most Cubans, must undergo to access the internet for just a few minutes. Regardless, he assures that he will be Tweeting and reporting during the Day of Resistance, also affirming that, “I will be in the streets as well, where I belong and and where my brothers in struggle have called me to be“.
In the detainment center, where Rojas spent around 2 hours, the threats continued. Luis recounts that “they showed me instruments of torture as a threat“. But this did not cause even the faintest sensation of fear for him. “I let them know that I absolutely do not fear them“, he declares , adding that “the detainment was arbitrary, at no point did they register me in their files, which also constitutes a violation of penal law…and I let them know that as well“.
This past Sunday July 31st the wife of Luis Felipe Rojas, Exilda Arjona, was victim of another form of violence- verbal abuse. “While I was at the burial service of Father Pedro Meurice“, tells Rojas, “a supporter of the regime who lives near my house, last name Leyva, who claims to be a support official of the political police, shouted insults against my wife“. Among the offenses were the common screams of “worm”, “counter-revolutionary”, and the claim that “the streets belong to the revolutionaries”. At that moment, Arjona was trying to get mass with her 7 year old son, Malcom. “My son is currently receiving psychiatric help since last November when they detained me in Guantanamo in front of him and my daughter“, explains Rojas. During the verbal aggression by Leyva, the couple’s young son “ran from the hands of my wife and returned to the house with a nervous breakdown“.
Understandably angered, Exilda, her mother, and the mother of Luis Felipe walked to the house of Leyva and publicly denounced his actions. “At no moment did locals come out to attack these women“.
“That peaceful protest carried out by the women is more proof that a grand sector of the Cuban people do not fear any form of repression that could possibly be exercised against them“, points out Luis Felipe. The author of ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire’ reinstates that despite any measures that have already been taken, or will be taken within the next couple of days, he and the rest of the Cuban dissidents will continue with the plans to peacefully commemorate the Day of Resistance. Among the plans are to hand out pamphlets with images of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and to march peacefully.
“We will always be paying tribute to Zapata, Boitel, and all those who have died for the freedom of Cuba“, assures Rojas, pointing out that this includes, “the brothers who have had to leave the country because they have been oppressed and have feared for the safety of their loved ones. August 5th is the day to remember all these- the deceased, those who have had to leave and now reside just 90 miles from us in exile, who have always supported us. My slogan is the same one as always: ZAPATA LIVES“.