“Thank God, despite numerous arrests, at least 8 Ladies in White managed to make it to mass in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in Holguin this past Sunday, March 4th”, expressed dissident Caridad Caballero Batista who was one of the women arrested who could not make it to her temple for the 10th consecutive Sunday. This past 28th of February Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a non-profit Christian pro-human rights organization, published this report detailing the fundamental human rights violations which this Lady in White suffers when she is violently kept from walking to church every Sunday by the Cuban political police and State Security.
In the case of this past Sunday, 14 Ladies in White in total were arrested in Holguin alone. Among them were Adisnidia Cruz, Berta Guerrero, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and also Caridad Caballero. These last two were accompanied by Esteban Sande Suarez, husband of Caballero Batista and active dissident as well. Suarez, too, was arrested. In the case of Adisnidia Cruz, she was rapidly arrested as soon as she set foot outside her own house. The wave of arrests occurred at around 8:25 AM.
Caballero explains that she was violently shoved into a police vehicle, as tends to happen, and that she, her husband, and Gertrudis Ojeda were taken to the instructional unit of Pedernales, but “the other women which were arrested were kept in different units and later released in areas very far from their homes“.
Meanwhile, the 8 women who managed to make it to church decided to carry out a non-violent protest after mass but they too were detained. Among them were Nelda Molina Leyva, Sonia Ericelia, Romelia Piña González and Zuleidis Pérez. “They were only able to walk about 3 blocks when a bus full of agents arrived. They were only carrying flowers in their hands when they were arrested by political police and national revolutionary police agents”, detailed Caballero Batista.
In Banes, the Lady in White Marta Díaz Rondon was arrested during the afternoon of Saturday, March 3rd, in order to once again impede her from arriving to Holguin to march alongside her sisters in struggle. Rondon explains that around 12 in the afternoon, from the moment she stepped out of her house with intentions to head to Holguin, a State Security official started to follow her with his police vehicle. “He followed me absolutely everywhere I went, and this lasted for an hour. I told him to stop following me and I shouted some slogans in favor of freedom. He only responded to me by saying that I would not be allowed to go to Holguin“, denounced the opposition activist.
The persecution of Diaz Rondon culminated in her aggressive arrest at around 2 pm. The operation was directed by State Security official Freddy Aguero and another agent known as Osmany (this was the one who followed her throughout her town). Diaz was taken to the State Security Department of Banes where she was kept until 11 pm and then transferred at that time to the police unit and kept in a dungeon. “I decided to carry out a hunger strike in the form of protest while in the dungeon“, explains Diaz Rondon. She was kept in that dark and pestilent cell until the following day at around 12 pm when she was released.
“While I was detained, various State Security officials told me that they would not allow me to travel anywhere, that I’d be watched 24 hours a day, and that I would especially not be allowed to go to Holguin to march with the Ladies in White on Sundays”, denounced Rondon. In addition, the communist functionaries handed her a warning letter which reinstated that she was not allowed to travel freely throughout her own country. The response of this human rights activist was to let her oppressors known that her house is “not a dungeon“.
Also in Banes, at around 7 AM on that same Saturday, the Lady in White Miladis Rosa was arrested. She was released a few hours later at 11 and she was not allowed to assist Sunday mass.
Meanwhile, the former prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia published a Twitter message this Sunday which affirmed that 40 Ladies in White made it to mass at El Cobre Sanctuary in Santiago de Cuba, while another 4 made it to a church in Guantanamo, amid threats and aggressions. In Havana, another group of about 40 women made it to the Santa Rita Church. In total, throughout all the Cuban provinces, it was reported that 117 Ladies in White made it to mass.
Just days before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba, the Cuban regime continues to repress all peaceful dissidents, especially the Ladies in White who simply want to assist mass to pray for a country free of dictatorships.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell phone: 011-5352-629-749; Twitter: @caricaballero / Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell phone: 011-5352-771-639; Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon / Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell phone: 011-5353-631-267; Twitter: @jdanielferrer