A partial summary of events in the Eastern region of Cuba
José Daniel Ferrer García reported that a self-employed coach driver from Palma Soriano was being harassed by a Cuban police official. As a response, various dissidents from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in that area civilly confronted the policemen, defending the driver. “The dissidents began to explain to the coachmen and other people around about their rights, and it all culminated in that the officials fined activist Alexei Rodriguez for defending the driver“, explained Ferrer, the national coordinator of the pro-democracy group.
Numerous videos have been circulating throughout the internet via UNPACU about forced evictions which are occurring in the zone of El Cobre prior to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the island. The citizens being evicted live in shanty homes along the route leading to the Cobre Sanctuary, which is by where the Pope will travel this March. Nidia Lopez, a mother of 3 small children who also suffer from various health ailments, was already evicted from her home. Meanwhile, the Cuban authorities have begun constructing a temporary home for Pope Benedict to reside in during his visit to the Sanctuary.
During Thursday the 16th and Friday the 17th, numerous signs with anti-Castro slogans propped up throughout the town of Contramaestre. Among the messages were “Wilman Lives”, “Fidel and Raul are assassins”, and “UNPACU”. They have been found during the morning in public places such as walls, sidewalks, and bus stops. As a response to these displays of opposition, “the political police is looking for Jorge Cervantes, for they are alleging that he is the responsible one for putting up the signs“, explains Jose Daniel Ferrer. “They have not been able to arrest him because he is currently outside of this municipality“.
In this city there have also appeared 6 anti-government signs as of Thursday. The political police is accusing dissidents Roberto González and Omar Silueta of having put them up. In the case of Silueta, according to Jose Daniel Ferrer, “he was taken to the police unit and strongly threatened that he would be arrested if he continued putting up signs…they are accusing him of being responsible“. Meanwhile, Roberto Gonzalez is outside the municipality and the police is still searching for him. Both men “are under the threat of a possible arrest“, denounces Ferrer.
Lady in White Karina Hernandez was threatened and expelled from her job by Cuban authorities on Thursday February 16th. The reason for the expulsion, according to regime functionaries, was because she had been far too many unexcused absences. However, the activist had turned in a note which explained that she would miss various days due to health complications she and her young son were suffering from. The real reason for her being fired is her political activism in favor of freedom in Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer reported.
Members of the Resistance and Democracy Movement, an organization affiliated to UNPACU, imparted a series of classes on civic activism. Jose Daniel Ferrer explained that “the political police surrounded the home where the classes were taking place and did not let any dissident arrive to the event“.
The home of Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista has remained under a strong surveillance on behalf of armed Cuban agents since Wednesday February 15th. This tends to occur on Wednesdays since the dissident carries out a weekly vigil on this day in solidarity with Cuban political prisoners and in demand for their immediate liberation. A number of activists were kept from assisting the vigil, but as every other Wednesday, Caballero and her husband Esteban Sandez held the vigil anyway.
46 activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance met in Antilla, Holguin to celebrate the 8th anniversary of the mentioned organization, according to Directorio Democratico Cubano. Among those present were Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina (coordinator of the group), Luis Felipe Rojas, Franklin Peregrino del Toro, Marta Diaz Rondon, and Eriberto Liranza Romero. The latter traveled all the way from Havana to show his solidarity with his Eastern brothers-in-struggle. Caridad Caballero, who is also an active member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, was impeded from traveling to the meeting, due to the military operation around her home. The same occurred with a number of other activists throughout the Eastern region of Cuba.
Remembering Orlando Zapata…
In addition, members of UNPACU have already began a campaign paying tribute to Orlando Zapata Tamayo on the 2nd anniversary of his assassination at the hands of the Cuban dictatorship on February 23rd. Jose Daniel Ferrer pointed out that activists have already begun to wear T-shirts with images of Zapata and have been handing out pamphlets and CDs with the story of the martyr.