For fourteenth consecutive Sunday, Lady in White is impeded by political police from reaching church
There have already been 14 consecutive Sundays in which the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista has been arrested as she tries to assist mass in the local Catholic church of her neighborhood in the city of Holguin, the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church. The most recent arrest occurred this past 25th of March and took place amid a repressive wave of crackdowns unleashed by the Cuban regime in order to impede countless dissidents from assisting the Mass of Pope Benedict XVI which would take place on March 26th in Santiago and March 28th in Havana.
Caballero Batista was beaten and arrested along with also Lady in White Isabel Pena Torres in front of the ‘Hilda Torres’ school. “State Security followed us, as did the police“, said Caballero. In just a few minutes, various agents surrounded the dissidents and applied headlocks on them. “They then threw us inside the police vehicles. First they threw Isabel in and then they threw me on top of her, and they also stepped on Isabel“, narrated Caridad, adding that “the officials even broke my glasses against my head. I have bruises and bumps“.
Batista and Torres were taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales, where a number of dissidents were already being kept behind bars. “When I arrived to the cell, I started shouting ‘down with communism’ and ‘long live human rights’“, explains the Lady in White, “and then all dissidents in that prison started screaming other slogans“.
The conditions in the dungeons were the same as always- lots of heat, bad odor, small space, damp, and dark. Caballero also declared herself on hunger strike, a protest which lasted 4 days until she was released on the night of Wednesday, March 28th.
Throughout this time, military forces of the Cuban regime set up a cordon around the home of Caballero Batista with the intention of keeping her husband Esteban Sandez and son Eric Sandez from stepping out onto the street to demand her liberation. Upon being released and arriving to her home, Caballero learned that 19 year old Eric had also maintained himself on hunger strike throughout the entire time. Esteban and Eric have also not been able to assist mass during the months which have passed of 2012.
Caballero explained that the list of detainees was very long and highlighted certain cases like that of two Ladies in White- Milagros Leyva and Martiza Cardoza– who were dragged out of their homes and detained on Wednesday 21st through “brutal beatings” in Moa. She also mentioned the case of Reinaldo Millet Guerrero, also in Moa. Guerrero, who is a former political prisoner, was “savagely beaten by police agents to the point that they broke his lips“.
Despite the fact that Pope Benedict XVI did not defend Cuban dissidents, Caridad Caballero Batista still holds tight to her faith in God and affirms that she will keep trying to assist Catholic mass every Sunday.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 / Twitter: @caricaballero