In Palmarito de Cauto, located in Eastern Cuba, activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), along with various Ladies in White, decided to publicly celebrate Three Kings Day on January 6th. Three Kings Day, just like Christmas, was a very important and traditional holiday always celebrated on the island prior to the establishment of the Castro dictatorship. The communist regime outlawed the celebration of such dates, but Cubans have never stopped celebrating the holidays, in accordance with their economic possibilities of course. For such reasons, the coordinator of the UNPACU- former prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia- and other activists, decided to carry out a community (and independent) event to bring gifts and happiness to a group of Cuban children, as well as to their parents.
Ferrer explains that “50 Ladies in White assisted the event with their children- the majority were coming from Palma Soriano, Palmarito de Cauto, la ciudad de Santiago de Cuba, El Caney, Guantánamo, Moa, Holguín and other Eastern towns”. In total, nearly 200 people were able to meet in the home of a dissident to commemorate the day in which Christians celebrate the moment when three wise men from the East traveled, guided by the Northern star, to visit the newly born Jesus. The holiday is celebrated in Spain and all Hispanic countries.
“ The celebration was possible thanks to the generosity of brothers in exile”, explains Ferrer, “the kids were very enthusiastic, they were happy and ate sweets, drank soda and, in sum, enjoyed a moment of joy”. Many of the children also received gifts, which in their majority were toys.
The repressive presence of the political police was also present, though there were no beatings or arrests. The ex prisoner of conscience (Ferrer) narrates that the police, along with its Rapid Response Brigade forces, “had various buses stationed just 80 kilometers away from the festivity“, keeping a vigilant watch over those present. However, on the day prior to the event, Ferrer denounces that in Moa “the political police threatened Lady in White Annie Romero and other women, but they all remained firm and no arrests occurred“.
Ferrer, along with many other activists and neighbors agree on classifying the event as a success. “Many people are already asking us when there will be another event like this one”, according to Jose Daniel.
Though the UNPACU has decided to carry out activities such as these, they have not halted their public protests, as evident during the first days of 2012, when members of the pro-freedom organization sang protest songs and marched throughout the streets of various cities. In addition, the celebration of traditional holidays which the dictatorship has tried to erase from the memory and culture of Cubans, is also a form of Resistance.