This past May 6th was yet another Sunday in which the Lady in White and independent journalist, Caridad Caballero Batista, was arrested along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez, by Cuban State Security agents in order to impede the couple from assisting Catholic Mass. As occurs each Sunday, Batista and Sandez were confined in sealed-off cells in the Detention Center known as Pedernales and released just minutes after Mass had concluded. These kinds of arrests were repeated all throughout the country against various human rights activists- Ladies in White in their majority- who were simply trying to make it to church. In Cacocun, Holguin, for instance, Berta Guerrero Segura was violently arrested while she was trying to board a bus to the city of Holguin to attend Mass, while a group of women from Santa Clara were also detained, among them Belkis Toledo, Yurisdania Hurtado Perez, Lisandra Farra Rodriguez, and Jennifer Caridad Cairo. Other activists in other regions of the island such as El Cobre were also taken to dungeons.
According to Caballero Batista, the Cuban police, as well as State Security and other watchdog branches of the regime, prefer to unleash this kind of repression against peaceful activists who demand freedom and democratic changes in Cuba instead of pursuing and detaining those who rob, rape, and even kill other citizens.
“Here, in the province of Holguin, ever since the first of May there have been numerous violent cases. In fact, there have even been some deaths“, said the activist, “For example, in the municipality of Calixto Garcia, on May 1st they stabbed a man to death. On that same day during the March of May 1st in the Calixto Garcia plaza there was also a large confrontation between police officials and citizens… that day various people were injured“. Caballero referenced other similar cases, among them a wave of hooded bandits who have been robbing homes and stores, as well as an increase of jewelry theft. “This month they also killed a man just to take his ‘bicitaxi’ (three-wheeled bicycle used in Cuba) from him. Also recently, a group of thieves robbed 70,000 pesos from the Office of Aqueducts. In Holguin, people fear for their lives when they go out to the streets“.
However, Caballero Batista, her husband, and countless other dissidents throughout the island suffer constant persecution, threats, beatings, and arrests at the hands of police agents just for going out to the street with a white flower, for assisting vigils in which they pray for the freedom of political prisoners, for writing what their conscience dictates, or for carrying out non-violent civic activities. “The Cuban government does not protecting its citizens. Instead, it is repressing the peaceful human rights defenders, honest people, people of goodwill who try to achieve a better future for Cuba. They (the regime) are strongly repressing us. They are not acting against violence, and instead are using delinquents so that we, the human rights defenders, remain under constant vigilance“.
Whenever a dissident is arrested in Cuba, dozens of police vehicles belonging to State Security and/or the political police, as well as Suzuki motorcycles show up on the scene. That is what happened (and what frequently happens) with Caballero Batista this past Sunday, 6th of May when she and her husband managed to surpass a police operation, but only for a few blocks, until they were surrounded by a large number of vehicles. Agents of the Ministry of the Interior applied head locks on the activists and shoved them inside police vehicles. “In fact, they even ran up to me and tried to snatch my purse“, said Caballero, adding that the main culprit for such an aggressive operation was agent Yordanys Martinez Leon, a local henchman.
But the question that Cuban citizens are asking themselves is, who arrests the delinquents? Why do the crimes not stop?
On her part, Caridad Caballero took advantage of the repression against her this weekend to let passer-bys know why she lives under constant persecution. “This Sunday, I reacted to the violence by telling onlookers what was happening. I told them who we are and why we were being arrested just for trying to go to church. I told them, amid the violence, that we were human rights defenders“, she said. “We told them that there was no reason for us to be treated with such violence because we were not delinquents. We were simply on our way to Mass and for that reason they were arbitrarily arresting us. Despite the fact that the regime shook hands with Pope Benedict recently in an attempt to give off a benevolent image to the world, in this country Christians of good continue to be victims of violent arrests in order to keep us from assisting Sunday Mass, Sunday after Sunday“.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero