“On hunger strike because she cannot tolerate that the Cuban authorities get away with so much impunity”
On April 23rd, 2012, the Lady in White Leticia Ramos Herreria was arrested by the Cuban political police as she was carrying out her work as an independent journalist and trying to photograph the collapse of the Europa Hotel in the city of Cardenas, Matanzas. Herreria was released from jail after various hours but the agents who had carried out her arrest had stolen her bicycle during the arbitrary process. For this reason, upon being released, the activist directed herself to the front of the Police Unit of Cardenas and began a protest in demand that they return her only bicycle, which she shares with her brother. Her protest lasted until the following day, April 24th, when police agents handed her a brand new bicycle (instead of her own) along with all the pertaining ownership documents. Ramos Herreria had expressed that she felt victorious after having put the Cuban authorities in a situation where they had no other option but to give into her demands and give her what was hers, or something even better than what she originally had.
A couple of days later, Herreria’s brother was riding the bicycle when a man stopped him and told him that the bicycle belonged to him and that it had been stolen. Leticia’s brother explained that he had not robbed anything, and that the bicycle was given to his sister by the police. As it turns out, the uniformed Cuban officials had given Leticia a stolen bicycle and, for this reason, Leticia, her brother, and the man who claimed the bicycle all presented their complaints and demands in the Cardenas police unit.
On Thursday, May 3rd, various police agents showed up to the home of Ramos Herreria with a registry and occupation warrant and took the bicycle by force. The activist and her brother quickly filed a complaint and she and her brother were summoned to the police station for Friday, May 4th, at 9 AM. In the unit, the agents told her brother to convince Leticia to withdraw her claim but he refused, while she also affirmed that she would not cancel her denouncement and that she would begin another protest in demand that her bicycle be returned to her. And so she began to protest outside the Police Unit of Cardenas.
As the weekend began, the activist turned her protest into a hunger strike. Throughout the entire time, her sister in law- Katiuska Rodriguez- was accompanying her. At around 3 PM on Sunday, May 6th, police officials took Leticia Ramos Herreria, still on hunger strike, away from the front of the police unit, according to the former political prisoner from Matanzas, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo who published the information on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre). When Herreria’s husband, Rudel Monteoca, tried to find out information about his wife, he was told that she had been taken to a hospital due to various health complications. However, minutes later, it was confirmed that the activist was not in a hospital, but instead in the detention center known as Cienaga de Zapata. A police captain by the name of Lazaro had told Monteoca this.
During the moment in which Leticia was detained, she had “cracked lips, was shaking with fever, and her vision was blurry“, according to Ivan Hernandez. The Lady in White had been suffering from inflammation of her lungs recently as well as strong pains in the same area due to a beating she received at the hands of the state police on March 18th. On April 30th, Leticia and 10 other activists were brutally beaten by police agents when they were protesting against the robbery (by State Security) of various materials from the home of the dissident couple Yanerys Perez and Ivan Mendez. Due to this violence, former political prisoner Diosdado Gonzalez suffered from fractured ribs, and in the case of Leticia, she said on Friday, May 4th that she had “liquid in her left knee, and am wearing an orthopedic corset due all the kicks I received on my back where I have a hernia“.
Despite all the health complicaitons, Rudel Monteoca affirmed that his wife had told him that she would not leave her hunger strike until the police has returned her bicycle, not so much because of the fact that she had her bicycle stolen, but because she cannot tolerate that the Cuban authorities get away with so much impunity. “Leticia says that if they even try to put a serum on her, she will rip it off, because she will continue her hunger strike“, said another Tweet by Ivan Hernandez.
Various human rights activists in and out of the island have expressed much worry for the life of Leticia Ramos Herreria, considering that she is in no physical condition to carry out a hunger strike. Meanwhile, the political police has told the dissident and her husband that they “could complain wherever they wanted to, but we are not going to return the bicycle” (@ivanlibre). However, when the Lady in White was still standing outside the police unit on Friday May 4th, she assured that she felt “very strong and with lots of energy being provided by God” to continue her protest.
For more information:
(From Cuba) Ivan Hernandez Carrillo – Cell Phone: +5352-599-366 / Twitter: @ivanlibre
These accounts can also be followed for up to date news: @mspianoteacher / @SayliNavarro / @DirectorioCuba