This 8th of April- Resurrection Sunday- in the Eastern Cuban city of Holguin, Ladies in White Caridad Caballero Batista and Isabel Pena Torres were arrested with violence. Political police agents applied headlocks on these women, then twisting their arms and taking them detained to the Pedernales Instructional Unit, where they were kept in completely dark cells until 11:30 AM, right when Sunday Mass at the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church came to an end.
However, Caridad Caballero says that on their way to church, right before being arrested, “Isabel and I were able to walk about 15 blocks with our flowers in hand, and the everyday people greeted us and wished us their blessings. Although we were just two women, they knew who we were and they said hello to us…it was a very beautiful moment“. Nevertheless, a number of State Security agents aboard a police vehicle followed the women throughout town until they were finally arrested out on the street. Caballero denounces that “the official who was in charge of this operation was agent Jordany Martinez Leon“.
In the case of Caridad Caballero, her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez, and their son Eric Sandez, they all had plans this Saturday and Sunday to arrive at church to receive their first communion and confirmation. On Saturday morning, Caridad and Esteban were able to surpass the cordons composed of the political police, the national police, and the Rapid Response Brigades, but Eric did not have the same luck, considering that he was trying to leave his house later but was impeded from doing so by numerous agents. In addition, all the telephone lines of the family were intercepted and blocked by the censoring apparatus of the Cuban regime. That night, Caridad and Esteban were able to make it to the Jesus Christ the Redeemer Church and received their first communion.
In reference to this experience, Caridad recounts that it was a very “emotional” moment for her, considering that it was the first time in 2012 that both were able to make it to Mass. “The churchgoers would greet us, they told us that they had not seen us for far too long, they asked how we were…they were very worried about us“, says the Lady in White. “It was an incredible moment,” said the activist in reference to so much solidarity, “It was a very emotional rencounter with people with who we have shared so much time with. I will never forget it“.
On Sunday, it was scheduled that the dissident couple would receive their confirmation, but due to Caridad’s arrest, it was not possible, though this time Eric was able to make it to church. He received his first communion. His house, however, was surrounded by Cuban soldiers but his father, Esteban, managed to clandestinely take his son out on that morning. According to Caballero Batista, “during Eric’s communion, many churchgoers asked him about me and he explained to them that I was detained for trying to arrive“. Another 5 Ladies in White were able to make it to church.
Meanwhile, in the same province of Holguin, in the municipality of Cacocum, the dissident couple made up of Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura and Franklin Peregrino del Toro spent the entire weekend with their home surrounded by political police agents. On Sunday the 8th, Guerrero Segura was violently arrested as she tried to leave her house for church. In that same region, Adis Nidia Cruz (also a Lady in White) was detained for trying to arrive to church to pray for the liberation of her two jailed sons (Marcos Maikel Cruz and Antonio Lima Cruz) who were sent to the Castro dungeons for publicly listening to anti-government music.
In Banes, Holguin Lady in White Marta Diaz Rondon and her husband Juan Oriol Verdecia managed to make it to Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Charity, though under “constant vigilance of State Security“. According to Rondon, these agents “persecuted us until we arrived at the actual church” and they waited for the activist and her husband outside the church until Mass was over in order to keep surveillance over them again all the way until they reach their homes. Other Ladies in White in Banes- Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Pinales Rosa- were not able to make it to Mass considering that uniformed police officials kept them from leaving their own homes. Diaz Rondon denounced the constant threats against her and assured that in Cuba, religious freedom is not respected.
Other arrests of Ladies in White were reported in Santiago de Cuba and in Havana, while in the town of Pedro Betancourt, Matanzas the regime unleashed a wave of 28 arrests of human rights activists. This occurred on Saturday April 7th after the former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta was violently arrested the previous day in the same town. Moya had plans to visit the cemetery where his mother is buried, but was intercepted by the Cuban police. The other 28 detainees had the sam plans- to travel to the cemetery. Moya Acosta was released on the night of Sunday.
The Lady in White from Havana, Sara Marta Fonseca, reported on her Twitter account (@SaraMartaCuba) that former political prisoner from Pinar del Rio, Raul Risco Perez, suffered an arrest at around 10:30 AM on Sunday. He was behind the bars of a police unit until 7 PM and the police agents confiscated various of his belongings, among them a laptop and voice recorder.
During this time, the former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia remains detained in a police unit of Palmarito de Cauto. Garcia was violently arrested this past Sunday 2nd, after his house was broken into by Cuban police. His wife, the Lady in White Belkis Cantillo Ramirez was detained alongside Jose Daniel but was released on Saturday night. Both Belkis and her 14 year old daughter Martha Beatriz Ferrer have suffered detentions and threats on behalf of the Cuban authorities during this weekend.
In Cuba, Holy Week goes by like any other week on the calendar- full of state sponsored persecution, aggression, and violence against dissidents and human rights activists who simply demand freedom for Cuba in a completely peaceful fashion.
Para mas información desde Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell: +5352-629-749 / Twitter: @Caricaballero //Marta Díaz Rondón – Cell: +5352-771-639/ Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon //Franklin Peregrino del Toro – Cell: +5353-139-855 // Ángel Moya Acosta – Cell: +5353-820-595 / Twitter: @jangelmoya