This past Saturday November 12th in Cacocum, Holguin, the Cuban dissident Franklin Peregrino del Toro, who is director of the opposition organization Republican Party of Cuba (PRC), was victim of a violent repressive crackdown along with his wife, independent journalist Berta Guerrero Segura, at the hands of State Security and Rapid Response Brigade officials.
The violence began as soon as the dissident couple decided to step out of their own house on that same Saturday. “The government officials (who had been surrounding my home for a while) harassed me and then threw me on the floor and began to beat me on the head“, denounces del Toro, adding that his wife was also victim of the physical aggressions. “The agents then twisted my right arm upward and continued the beating until police vehicles arrived to detain me“.
Although she was beaten and threatened, Guerrero was able to remain in the house, but del Toro was detained and taken to the National Revolutionary Police Unit, where he was kept for three hours. Upon being released, Franklin returned to his home and decided to continue carrying out his dissident activities.
On the following day- Sunday- both Peregrino and Guerrero decided to assist mass in the local church. It was around 7:40 AM when the same story unfolded. Franklin explains that “a State Security official by the name of Reymundo told us that we could not leave our house“. The dissident’s response was the same one echoed by so many other Cuban freedom fighters within the past months: “my house is not a prison“. Franklin then commenced to leave his house and was able to make it outside, though the police vehicles were already on their way. “I was detained at around 7:50 and this time they kept me until 9:30 AM but the vigilance and aggression has been constant since then“, he denounces.
As of that moment, the home of Franklin and Berta was completely surrounded by government agents (among them agents Pena Silva, Reymundo, and Canegue) who remained for a very long portion of the day outside, hurling insults at the couple and threatening them. “They reiterated that we could not step out of our house, and much less out of the municipality of Cacocum, and my wife and I simply reiterated that our home is not a prison“.
Months of Repression
Franklin Peregrino and Berta Guerrero also denounced that, along with numerous dissidents throughout the region and the entire island, they have been suffering entire months of repression. In his personal case, Peregrino explains that “September was also a month defined by constant repression against us“, referring to the 19th when he was brutally detained in the province of Holguin and kept in horrid conditions until the 22nd in the ‘El Anillo’ Unit. During this detention, the dissident carried out a hunger strike which left him with serious health issues. “In addition, I also contracted a fever and a virus. They had forced me to share a cell with a young man who was infected with some sort of virus, he was very sick and it spread to me. This is a tactic which the government uses on purpose“.
“Now, during November, the repression has escalated once more. We are constantly being watched, in every part of this town“, Peregrino states.
For the young Franklin and his wife, it is very difficult to live under these conditions, especially when the couple has a 2 year old daughtr and a 14 year old son to look after. “They impede us even from going out to get food for our kids. It is very exhausting“.
Message for the Cuban dictators
Despite the difficulties faced by Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Berta Guerrero Segura, both have decided to convert their suffering into resistance, sending out a clear and direct message to the dictatorship which rules over the country with an iron fist. “We are not stepping down“, expresses Peregrino, “we are going to maintain ourselves very firm and will continue denouncing the abuses because the impunity must cease. We are going to denounce every violation committed by the Castro dictatorship. I will always say ‘Down with the Castros’ and we will always be against them because we are defending the people“.
Below is an audio (in Spanish) of Franklin Peregrino, delivering his message to the Cuban dictatorship:em>