Another report on one of the arrests of Cuban dissidents while they tried to pay tribute to Laura Pollan
Marta Diaz Rondon, activist from the Eastern Democratic Alliance and Vice-President of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, was one of the dissidents detained after news of Laura Pollan’s death began circulating throughout the island by word of mouth on the night of October 14th. “Since the day before, prior to confirming the death of Laura, my home was already surrounded by State Security agents; we were completely under vigilance“, narrates the resistance member. Just like many other dissident throughout the island attempted, Rondon decided to travel to Havana that night, but was quickly impeded from doing so by the regime’s representatives. “We told the uniformed officials that we were just going to participate in activities where we would pray for the soul of Laura Pollan, but they told us that the only praying we would do if we continued would be from a jail cell“.
The threats did not stop there and no other dissident from the area was allowed in or out of the home, and Marta was not an exception. The strict police cord around her home blocked her each time. “That specific operation began on the 14th at around 9 PM and it lasted until the afternoon hours of the 16th“, when the brave dissident was able to surpass the human wall and make it to a local church in Banes, although “under a very strict vigilance“. Once in the temple, Marta prayed for Laura and deposited flowers before a statue of the Virgin of Charity. “After mass, I head out to the local Mariana Grajales Park, where I once again deposited flowers before a statue of this patriotic woman (Grajales), in the name of our sister Laura who was like Mariana Grajales for us, because she always took to the street, she was brave, and very dignified“. Grajales was the mother of Cuban independence fighter Antonio Maceo, and she herself was very active in the independence movement.
After that moment in the park, the dissident William Ramayo Tamayo and Rondon agreed to head out to the Banes terminal, where they would catch transportation to the city of Holguin, where various fellow freedom fighters had suffered arrests and other acts of violence, among them Caridad Caballero Batista and Isabel Pena Torres. “We wanted to join our detained brothers and sisters in solidarity“, explains Rondon, “but upon boarding a ‘public’ vehicle and barely driving out of Banes, government agents ordered the car to pull over, and that is when they detained William and I“. The arrest was carried out by an official named Evelio and another political police officer. Diaz Rondon tells that, “I was brutally pulled out of the car, which was in fact full of passengers. I began to shout anti-government slogans and I also denounced that Laura had been murdered by the government. But before we were taken out of the car, I turned to the passengers and explained to them that I was not a terrorist, that I am just peacefully fighting for Cuba’s freedom“. Upon seeing that neither dissident would remain quiet, the agents delivered a blow to Marta’s mouth which led William to protest in her defense, but the physical aggression continued until they broke Marta’s lips. “During these blows, I looked at agent Evelio and told him that he was just another henchman for Castro and that I was not afraid of him“.
Tamayo and Rondon were taken aboard a government vehicle to a detention center in Banes, where they remained for over three hours. “They continued to threaten us there“, the dissident explains, “they told us that we were not allowed to leave Banes. They are under the impression that they are the rulers around here and that they can make us go to our houses whenever they feel like it, but my house is not a prison. I leave whenever I want to, and I am not afraid of the arrests. I am declaring that I will continue taking to the street, because those streets belong to the people, and I am free“.