Cuban opposition leader narrates some of the most recent repressive actions against him and other dissidents in the Eastern part of the island, but highlights the growing activism on behalf of the Cuban Resistance.
During his most recent arrest in the city of Havana- which took place on May 9th- Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), explained that he was deported from the capital to his home in Palmarito de Cauto by agents of the political police who were armed with guns and gave him orders that he was to not return to Havana to “cause disorder“.
Since that incident, the home of Ferrer Garcia has remained under a constant and tight vigilance under the watch of the political police and State Security. He has also been subjected to other methods of repression.
“They (the regime) are trying to keep me as incommunicado as possible”, said the human rights activist, explaining that when he suffered another arrest on April 2nd (which lasted 27 days), his phone, as well as that of his wife Belkis Cantillo Ramirez, was stolen during the break-in to his home by soldiers. As of yet, the regime has not re-installed telephone services back to either Cantillo or Ferrer. However, the Lady in White tried to renovate her line using another cell phone, following the steps provided by the State Phone Company “Cubacel” of having to pay 3 Cuban pesos to recuperate the line. Such efforts have been in vain, despite that the activist has paid what was required. “She paid the necessary quantity but they returned her line blocked. The 3 pesos were in vain because, under the orders of the political police, the phone is not allowed to function”. Meanwhile, Ferrer said that he has not been able to do the same with his phone, not only because it would be a waste, but also because he has not had the time or resources to travel all the way to the city of Santiago de Cuba, a 4-5 hour trip, to visit the offices of Cubacel.
In addition to the censorship, Ferrer Garcia recounts that the political police has been using measures of “death threats and other attacks” against all activists of UNPACU in that area. “In fact“, adds the dissident, “they are even using drunkards against activists, and they are stoning our homes“.
One of the other acts of violence occurred when, in the middle of the night, an unknown person killed Ferrer’s pet dog. “This dog would always bark in the middle of the night whenever any government agent or snitch would approach the home“, he said.
“They are also putting nails and spikes so that they pierce the tires of bicycles of activists, vehicles, or any other sort of transportation carrying a visitor to my house“. According to Ferrer, this tactic has been applied by the regime so that visitors are discouraged from traveling to his home as well as keeping relatives and friends of political prisoners from traveling to the prisons where their loved ones are being held. Most of the times, these prisons are located very distant from the relative’s home. In addition, the political police is threatening friends and even independent food sellers so that they do not approach the home of Ferrer.
During the past weeks, a number of arrests against dissidents have occurred, as is the case with the Lady in White Annie Sarrion Romero and her husband Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria who were both violently beaten and detained in Moa, Holguin. On the morning of May 20th, various other Ladies in white were arrested as they tried to assist mass in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity while numerous dissidents from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front and UNPACU also awoke with their homes completely surrounded by uniformed state agents.
Despite this, Ferrer Garcia affirms that the repression has not been able to do away with the spirit of Resistance of the activists throughout the island. Countless signs with anti-government messages have continued to appear all over Eastern Cuba and they demand an end to the Castro dictatorship as well as freedom for all political prisoners, among them Bismark Mustelier Galán, Dany López de Moya, Sonia Garro Alfonso, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano and Niurka Luque Álvarez.
“The regime has intentions to wear us out, but they have not achieved their objective”, said the activist, “we are always on the offensive, and our offensive is to continue providing information to citizens so that they listen to our message which lets them know that there is a project for change and that it is possible to advance beyond the serious crisis facing the country. Also, our message is that we cannot lose hope”.
Follow José Daniel Ferrer García on Twitter: @jdanielferrer