The Lady in White and leader of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, traveled from her Rio Verde neighborhood in Havana to the province of Pinar del Rio this past Sunday February 12th along with her husband and dissident Julio Leon Fonseca. The activist couple had plans to meet with Raul Risco Perez, the coordinator of the Pinar del Rio Democratic Alliance. However, upon arriving to the home of Risco Perez, all three dissidents and their relatives quickly became victims of a lengthy act of repudiation which began at 8 PM and lasted throughout the afternoon of Monday, February 13th.
At approximately “8 in the evening on Sunday, the president of the Cuban Woman’s Federation in Pinar del Rio knocked on the door of Risco. She was the one who spoke out and told my husband and I that we had to return to Havana“, explained Fonseca Quevedo, adding that “this woman was accompanied by 8 police officials who were dressed as civilians. They threatened us and told us we were not allowed to carry out any sort of activity“. In just a matter of minutes, the building where Raul Risco lives was totally surrounded by oppressors of the regime. “In fact, there were even officials standing by the stairs of the apartment“, pointed out Fonseca.
The building remained like that all of Sunday night and continued onto the following day. Those participating in the act of repudiation were Ministry of the Interior officials, students of the Cadet School, and State Security officials, and the majority of them were “dressed in civilian clothing“, according to Sara Marta. The aggressors screamed obscenities at the dissidents and their relatives and demanded that Fonseca and Leon immediately return to Havana. In addition to the three dissidents, there were also relatives of Raul Risco in the house, including his elderly parents, his wife, and their small daughter.
Raul Risco denounced that in the mob act of repudiation more than 60 people participated, and that the majority of them were the “traditional oppressors” who normally participate in violent acts against dissidents in that area of Pinar del Rio. “Among them were Colonel Jorge (chief of State Security in Pinar del Rio), Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Linares, Major Ivon, the First Lieutenant Lorenzo, the First Lieutenant Juan Carlos, Captain Alba (State Security), Officer Maikel (political police), officer Dignora (Ministry of the Interior), Officer Zacaria (Ministry of the Interior) and Jose Vargas from the Rapid Response Brigades“. According to the dissident, this last one- Vargas- is one of the “biggest corrupt and repressive officials in the province, who regularly robs things that belong to the people, including food“.
At around 2:30 in the afternoon, Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon decided to walk out of the apartment to run some errands, but their completely peaceful behavior culminated in an arrest. Fonseca narrates that when they had walked only 3 blocks, “the chief of confrontation for State Security in Pinar del Rio arrived and told us that they were going to deport us to Havana in one of their police vehicles“. Both Julio and Sara civilly resisted, declaring that they would continue walking and return to their home whenever they wanted to and through their own means.
“They started to follow us“, recounts Fonseca, “and they called other police vehicles to arrest us. They shoved us in one of their cars and some of the mobs arrived and started a brief act of repudiation because the car quickly sped off with us inside“. During this time, the dissidents managed to scream back at the mobs- with slogans such as ‘Down with Fidel and Raul Castro’ and ‘We want free and multi-party elections’, and Sara Marta managed to quickly write a Twitter message on her cell phone, sending it out to the world as proof of the arbitrary arrest. “They are detaining us“, read the message. Fonseca was able to send out two more- “My husband Julio Ignacio and I taken under threats in a police vehicle towards Pinar del Rio exit. Mobs are offending us” and “Deported from the city by State Security in car and closely followed by political police“.
The dissidents were taken to the bus station of the area, and the agents tried to make them board a bus out of Pinar del Rio and to Havana, but both husband and wife refused, affirming that they would return to Havana on their own. It was then that the officials stopped a taxi and the dissidents were pushed inside. In the taxi, in addition to the driver, there were various citizens inside. State Security officials and Political Police agents stopped the car various times on its route to Havana, with the purpose of harassing and intimidating the activists who were sitting in the backseat.
“The people who were in the taxi became really upset and began to complain“, explained Fonseca, “Julio and I took advantage of the moment and explained to them why this was happening to us, who we are, and we handed out a few copies of the Declaration of Human Rights which we had on us“.
Upon arriving to their neighborhood of Rio Verde, Sara Marta and Julio were still under surveillance by uniformed and civilian clothes agents.
“What happened to us is just more proof of the totalitarianism of the Cuban regime and the lack of respect towards human rights“, affirmed Fonseca Quevedo, “and it just inspires us even more, and the meeting we had planned with our brothers in Pinar del Rio will happen, whether the regime wants it or not“.
“We are Cubans, we live in Cuba, and we have every right in the world to travel freely through any province of our country. We will return to Pinar del Rio“.
For more information: Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo (011-5353-379-011). Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba