Faces Which the Pope Did Not See: Marta Diaz Rondon

In the face of constant vigilance, harassment, and detentions, Lady in White holds on to her faith and comes out of dungeons spiritually stronger

Marta Diaz Rondon

Lady in White Marta Diaz Rondon was under constant vigilance by the Cuban political police since Thursday, March 22nd when she arrived to the town of Buenaventura, in the province of Holguin, to visit her elderly mother.  Each time Rondon would step near the door of her mother’s home, agents of the Cuban regime would tell her that it would not be allowed for her to leave the house, and much less to assist Sunday’s Catholic Mass and the Papal Mass to be held on Monday, March 26th.

Juan Oriol Verdesia, Diaz Rondon’s husband and activist of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, was arrested in Banes, Holguin (his and Rondon’s hometown) during afternoon hours of Friday the 23rd.  Knowing of so many arrests and police operations, Rondon decided to leave her mother’s house anyway on Sunday at 8 AM.  She had made declarations to this blog earlier saying that she would go to Mass because she is a devout Catholic and does not need the Cuban dictatorship to tell her when she can or cannot worship.  She also had plans to travel back to Banes and later travel to Santiago de Cuba to the Pope’s Mass on that Monday.  “However,” she explains, “the regime’s forces did not want me to go to Mass“.

This attitude on behalf of the communist functionaries was made even more evident when the Lady in White boarded a vehicle and noticed that she was being followed by a State Security car.  The agents ordered the driver to pull over.  “The agents approached the vehicle and took me out by force.  They even shoved me against the car and I now have a bruise on my hip“, narrated Rondon.

Once detained, the Lady in White was taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales where she was put into a dark and isolated cell.  As a protest, Diaz Rondon decided to go on “strike“, refusing to drink water or to eat food.  She describes the cell as being in “inhumane conditions- there was a foul odor and countless insects.  I have a lot of mosquito bites all over my body.  It was a very dark place, and I was there for nearly 80 hours“.

During one of her days behind the bars, various officials from the Department of Criminology opened the door to Marta’s cell and took her to a very small room where they took her fingerprints and took photos of her, “as if I were a delinquent“, she said.  After this process, she was returned to her cell.

In that cell, we [the dissidents] began to shout slogans in favor of freedom each time another dissident was brought in”, recounts the activist.  In addition, she explained that in that the police unit was emptied out of common prisoners and filled with dissidents hailing from all the Eastern regions of the country.

Rondon spent her nights praying in the dark dungeons.  “I would pray the Rosary each night and I prayed for all political prisoners, for peace in the world, and for our Cuba.  I asked God to perform a miracle for this country“, says Marta, adding that because of her hunger strike her lips cracked and they were extremely dry.  She also lost her equilibrium because she was so weak, something which the guards taunted her about.  Regardless, Marta affirms that “God gave me strength, and I did not pass out“.

At around 5 PM on Wednesday, March 28th, when Pope Benedict had already left Cuba, Marta Diaz Rondon and the majority of the detained dissidents were released.  In her case, Rondon was “left in a desolated road, miles away” from her home in Banes.  The dissident had to walk the distance while feeling physically exhausted.

Rondon assures that she does not feel fear because of the repression against her, and that the wave of arrests against Cuban dissidents did not achieve the objective of making them give in and give up the struggle.  “The oppressors are the ones who are very afraid of us, even though we are completely peaceful“, said the Lady in White, “our weapons are our words“.

For more information Cuba:

Marta Díaz Rondón – Cell Phone:  +5352-771-639       / Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon

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