Photo taken from internet
This Wednesday, August 10th, the Eastern Cuban dissident Caridad Caballero Batista condemned various cases of evictions which have been occurring in Holguin, Cuba. Among the victims of these forced removals are people who are considered functionaries of the regime’s housing department as well as everyday workers and citizens.
One of the cases is that of 58 year old Iraiz Pina Gutierrez. Ms. Gutierrez has been involved in this situation since 2001. “She (Gutierrez) had her home here in Holguin“, explains Caballero, “but she was victim of blackmail on behalf of the head director of the housing department in this zone“. The regime’s officials quickly confiscated her house, “despite the fact that it was a family inheritance“, denounces Caridad.
“All her belongings were thrown out to the street. She lost everything“, she adds.
From the moment that happened, Gutierrez has turned to literally all the possible state organisms within the province of Holguin with absolutely no results. “Even though everything that Pina Gutierrez has done with her home has been strictly and compeltely legal“, Caballero claims, they have nevertheless left her without a roof over her head and she has received no assistance.
Hector Vega Batista, 50 years of age and resident of Velasco, is facing a similar situation. According to the dissident, Hector is “currently victim of a serious prosecution“.
“With his own hard work and sacrifice, Hector Vega constructed his small house. He has lived there for 15 years, and just like Gutierres, his property is legal”, details Caballero. On August 3rd, Rolando Serrano- a housing department functionary- sent a letter to Vega in which he stated that he would be evicted from his home and that he has 11 days to empty it all out and leave. If he does not comply with this order, the letter states, then he will be kicked out to the street.
“This is happening with various people“, explains Caridad Caballero with a concerned tone, “and each one of them are victims of manipulation on behalf of the regime’s Housing Department which is leaving people out in the streets without taking into consideration the fact that many of them have children“, as is the case with Hector Vega and Iraiz Pina Gutierrez.
The Cuban Resistance as Defenders of the Everyday Citizen
According to the testimony of Caridad Caballero, as well as testimonies offered by other dissidents, the Cuban resistance has not only become the sector of the population which demands social, political, and individual human rights, but it has also evolved into a solid movement which also represents people who are victims of evictions, job and school expulsions, medical negligence, and other crimes and inefficiencies.
“Seeing as how the government has paid absolutely no attention to these cases, these people, the victims, are turning to the human rights defenders so that we can put these stories out and make them known among international public opinion“, declares Caballero. “Even people who are housing officials, people who work, and who have even contributed one way or another to the regime, and who have done everything by Cuban legal standards, are being stripped of their right to have a house or a family inheritance of so many years“.
As a consequence, the number of everyday citizens who visit opposition members- or ‘the human right’s people’ as they call them- to denounce these issues and seek help, has dramatically increased, since the dictatorship does not lend them the least bit of attention and provides no solutions for them. “Now they depend on us to publicly denounce these cases“, says Batista, adding that “in Holguin, between 2007 and 2008, there were more than 1,000 people evicted and left out on the streets“.
Caridad Caballero also mentioned the case of an anonymous woman, who is one out of the many other cases. “There is a retired lady who has had her legal documents for more than 20 years and right now they are trying to evict her“. According to this ladies’ testimony, she went to the Central Committee as a last resort. Once there, Caballero explains that “the functionaries told her that they had no solution for her“, to which the victim of a possible eviction responded by saying, “then I will direct myself to the human rights defenders“. The functionaries looked at her harshly and quickly hurled insults her way.
As has been proven by declarations made by Caridad Caballero Batista, as well as numerous actions and condemnations by other dissidents on the island, the Cuban resistance is filling that social vacuum which the tyranny has chosen to ignore. A government has the responsibility to respond to cases of evictions, among other things, but considering that the 52 year long regime on the island does not solve any of these issues, the opposition has taken on the task of bringing these stories, these tales of impediments, corruption, and inefficiency, to light. Despite the fact that dissidents on the island do not have adequate resources, legal power, or access to the national press, they represent those who suffer in silence so that their voices be heard outside of the island. Their accounts help create international pressure and condemnation towards the Cuban dictatorship, pushing its functionaries to act, sometimes, when they wish to preserve their image before the public eye. For this reason, dissidents like Caridad Caballero Batista are condemning and bringing to light the evictions of Iraiz Pina Gutierrez and Hector Vega Batista, as well as that of many others.