On Thursday, September 15th, the National ‘Boitel and Zapata Live’ March for Freedom arrived at the central cities of Santa Clara and Placetas. The outcome of the demonstration was very similar to the outcomes of the other marches which took place in the Eastern region of the country- Palma Soriano, Bayamo, Baracoa. The dissidents who participated in this march awoke that Thursday with their homes surrounded by the combined forces of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police.
Among the dissidents who took part were former prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta (who is also one of the main coordinators of the National March), Guillermo Farinas, and Licet Zamora. Both Farinas and Moya offered declarations to various media outlets, detailing that they were rapidly impeded by the forces of the the Cuban government as they tried to carry out the march after an extensive operation of vigilance around their homes. They were then taken to detainment units. Farinas was released hours after, while Moya was kept for an additional day. Moya had already been arrested a few days prior to that as he was also involved with carrying out the non-violent march in the Eastern city of Palma Soriano, along the also former prisoner of conscience, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.
In Placetas, activists from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights also took to the street to participate in the March. The demonstrators were Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Donaida Perez Paceiro, Idania Yanez Contreras, Damaris Moya, Yanisbel Valido, and Leidis Garcia, among others. The group of women suffered the same outcome which all other activists who have participated in this historic march have suffered: they were beaten and arrested by uniformed officials.
“The arrest occurred at around 10:15 in the morning,” affirmed Yris Tamara, “we were all taken to the Police Unit of Placetas“. Once there, in those pestilent cells, the activists explain that they decided to protest through non-cooperation. “I did not accept water at any moment“, despite the fact that she suffers various health ailments, among them, “a chronic asthma and low blood sugar levels“.
Due to the combination of various health issues, Yris Tamara suffered a sharp and nearly unsupportable pain in her kidneys while she was detained. Meanwhile, Damaris Moya was brutally beaten by her jailers, according to a testimony of Licet Zamora, who was detained along with these women and released before. Also, Donaida Perez Paceiro suffered a savage beating a few months ago in the city of Gibara (also for demonstrating peacefully) and still has sharp pains and wounds on her body. Paceiro’s pain worsened in the very cold, small, and uncomfortable jail cells.
Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez”, husband of Yris Tamara, was able to surpass a police barrier around his home, along with the young dissident Duniel Garcia Ruiz. Both activists wanted to join the March, but were not able to do so, seeing that the women had all been arrested already. When they protested this and tried to direct themselves to the police unit, they were both detained and deported back home. Afterward, Antunez was able to make it to the unit, bringing along some medicines with him for Yris’ complications. But such a harmless act was met with aggression on behalf of the government officials. “The Chiefs of Police in Placetas did not want to allow my husband to leave me my medicines, they were saying that they were not medicines, but instead food“, explains Yris. The officials she mentions are specifically Ivan Gonzalez and one nicknamed “The Weightlifter”. The latter is responsible for the beatings of many defenseless women in Cuba on countless occasions, among them Yris Tamara and other pro-freedom activists.
After 72 hours (3 days) all the activists from Placetas were released, on Sunday the 18th. They had clear physical marks, but were wholly intact in terms of their spirits of resistance. “I want to thank everyone who was concerned of our situation and raised their voices for us“, expressed Aguilera, adding an important message, “The March has not ended, it will continue. And we, those same women, those same men which were arrested on the 15th will continue marching, because the streets belong to the people, and we are part of the Cuban people“.
On Monday, September 19th, 15 activists were arrested in Holguin for also carrying out this March. Their names: Caridad Caballero Batista, Marta Díaz Rondon, Aurelio Antonio Morales Ayala, Esteban Sande Suárez, Delbis Martínez Albides, Ariel Cruz Meneses, Rafael Meneses Pupo, Isabel Peña Torres, Walter Cañete Cruz, Alexander Ricardo Santisteban, Alexander Lam, Pedro Leiva Góngora, Juan Carlos Verdecia Évora, and Denis Pino.
On Wednesday, September 21st, various activists were also detained for the same reason in the Eastern city of Las Tunas.