The Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista, her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez, and son Eric Sandez were arrested by various Cuban political police and State Security officials on the morning of Friday, March 16th as they were walking out of a local hospital in Holguin after picking up some medical exams. The family was on their way to a bus terminal because Caballero Batista had plans to travel to Havana to meet with a large group of Ladies in White in the capital, in order to participate in a reunion which would take place on the ninth anniversary of the Black Spring when 75 dissidents were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2003.
The dissident describes the incident more like “a kidnapping“, considering that they were not participating in a protest, just simply walking out of a hospital. “Right then and there, a police vehicle drove up to us and, a few minutes later, more cars arrived with a number of State Security and political police agents“. The three activists were forcefully shoved into police vehicles and taken to the instructional detention center of Pedernales where they were kept for three days.
In Pedernales, the family was separated- Esteban was taken to a torture cell in one penal ward while Caridad and her son were taken to another penal ward but kept in different cells. They were kept there without receiving any food or water and in inhumane conditions. Eric Sandez, who is only 19 years old, suffered a health crisis on Sunday, March 18th, where his sugar and blood level dropped dramatically and he lost consciousness. Eric suffers from this medical condition spontaneously, especially under stressful conditions. Caballero explains that her son “is also asthmatic and diabetic“. Despite this, the penal guards “aggressively twisted his arm and mistreated him“, affirmed his mother.
Caballero Batista noticed that her son had lost consciousness when she began to scream his name from her cell and received no answer from him. Various common prisoners who were in the same cell as Eric started to kick the prison bars and to call the guards which, despite the seriousness of the situation, took long to arrive. Eric was dragged out of the cell by the guards, all the while as they still twisted his arm. In those conditions, he was taken to the penal hospital. “The abuse was so much that even the doctor told the guards to stop hurting my son“, says Caridad. In the hospital, two serums were given to Eric and he was then returned to his cell once he had woken up.
Meanwhile, Esteban Sandez was also mistreated and even thrown off from the cement beds located inside his cell. On that same Sunday, guards also violently attacked Esteban, tearing apart the shirt he was wearing.
“The situation we have gone through during these past [nearly] 4 days has been horrible“, says Caridad Caballero. The three were released around 9 AM on Monday, March 19th. The political police officials who conducted the arrest told the three human rights activists that they were being detained because of “public disorder“.
As of yet, Caballero Batista has not been able to attend mass during 2012. She is usually arrested on the actual Sundays when she is only blocks away from her home, but this time the aggressions against her started early and lasted throughout the entire weekend, as regime officials impeded her from even leaving her own city.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 / Twitter: @Caricaballero