On the ninth anniversary of Cuba’s Black Spring (where 75 dissidents were arbitrarily arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2003) and only one week before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the island, a number of human rights activists throughout the country were repressed and detained, especially the Ladies in White who were attempting to go to mass in their respective local churches, this past Sunday. This oppressive wave also extended itself into the city of Pinar del Rio, located in the Westernmost Cuban province with that same name, according to dissident Raul Risco Perez, president of the Democratic Alliance of Pinar del Rio.
Riso Perez denounced that “since the afternoon of March 13th a large operation began which did not allow any dissident to go near any church in the city of Pinar del Rio“. The activist mentioned that “we (dissidents) cannot even pass two blocks away from the areas where those Catholic churches are“.
As part of this operation, this Sunday March 18th, a number of Ladies in White from the Pinar del Rio municipality of San Juan y Martinez were impeded from going to church. Among them were Belkis Perez and Yasmin Martinez, who were both detained. In addition, a group of activists from the pro-democracy organization Independent and Democratic Party of Cuba (CID) were also arrested. Some of these activists were Pedro Luis Orlando Rodríguez, Maikel Hernández Perdigón, Rolando Pupo, Yusnier Pupo and Jordan Pupo (these last 3 are bothers).
In another part of town, Raul Risco and a group of local human rights activists carried out a public meeting about citizen rights in Cuba in the intersection of San Juan and Galiano street on the same Sunday. “[During this event] we were surrounded by agents of the political police and by dozens of members from the Rapid Response Brigades who did not let us march as we had planned to protest the massive arrests of the Black Spring”, explained the dissident.
“The current situation in the city of Pinar del Rio is one of much repression. The churches in the city of Pinar del Rio are completely militarized”, denounces Risco Perez.
For information from Cuba:
Raul Risco Perez – Cell phone: +5352-452-317 / Twitter: @RaulRiscoPerez