For a very long time now and since she began to be active in the public Cuban opposition years ago, the Lady in White from the city of Holguin, Caridad Caballero Batista, has been victim of blackmail, arrests, and other violent actions along with her family- her husband Esteban Sandez and their son Eric. In the four months so far of 2012, Batista has not been able to assist Mass in her local Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church, located in the neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo. When she tries to leave her home each Sunday, she is intercepted by Cuban political police agents and members of the Rapid Response Brigades who unleash all sorts of violence against the dissident, including sexual harassment, dragging her on the floor, and death threats. Caballero and her family are usually kept in dark and pestilent cells which are sealed-off and smell of urine and feces and are full of all sorts of insects. This is the cross which not only Caridad must carry, but also other Ladies in White who profess their faith in God publicly and who also demand freedom for all Cubans out on the streets of their own country, despite the consequences. However, this Saturday April 7th and Sunday the 8th, Caballero Batista, her husband, and son will receive their communion and confirmations as devout Catholics. The question is: will they be able to make it to church without getting arrested?
Caballero said that she hopes that the forces of the Cuban dictatorship do not “interfere” with her Holy Week plans, but it has been proven that, despite the fact that the regime has decided to ‘observe’ Holy Friday as a ‘national holiday’, this means very little, or nothing. “As we all saw during the papal visit to Cuba, the regime’s functionaries said that in Cuba there is complete religious freedom, and that is not true. This was confirmed furthermore in the mass arrests which occurred, all with the intentions of keeping countless dissidents from assisting the Pope’s Masses in Santiago and Havana. Many people are still behind bars“, said the Lady in White. Caridad herself was one of these detainees during the Pope’s visit to Cuba. Meanwhile, on April 6th- Holy Friday- more arrests of Ladies in White who were simply trying to assist Mass were confirmed, among them Ivonne Malleza and Lazara Mitjans in Havana.
“We ask public opinion to be aware of what is happening in Cuba and what will happen this weekend”, expressed Caballero, “and we pray to God that on Saturday and Sunday we are able to make it to Church to receive these holy sacraments”.
Caridad, Esteban and Eric have spent the past two years taking all the necessary religious preparations to be able to receive their confirmations. They have been receiving catechism classes, although amid much difficulty. In the case of 19 year old Eric, he considers himself to be a dissident like his parents, and for this reason he receives the same amount of repression. Eric suffers from various health complications, among them a cerebral condition which randomly causes him to drop in blood and sugar levels, nearly always ending in loss of conscience. These attacks have occurred to him many times during his time in dungeons for simply trying to go to church. He has received all sorts of threats and taunts from communist functionaries just for being a public dissident and for being a devout Catholic.
Although the oppressors have told this family that they will be kept from moving freely throughout their own country, the three have assured that they will continue clinging tightly to their faith, and they will leave their homes as they wish.
It is important to note that, in cases such as these, international solidarity is crucial.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352- 629 – 749 // Twitter: @caricaballero