Each day that passes, there are more everyday Cuban citizens who show solidarity with the Ladies in White and defend them when they are being harassed by the political police, State Security, or other entities of the Cuban regime, according to former political prisoner and general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.
“The past two Saturdays, the majority of travelers en route to the Sanctuary of El Cobre came out in defense of Belkis Cantillo when political police agents forced her to get off the vehicle she was traveling on towards the Sanctuary with intentions to assist Sunday Mass“, explained Ferrer Garcia. Cantillo is his wife and is the representative of the Ladies in White in the Eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.
The activist added that “also in the Sanctuary, women constantly approach the Ladies in White and express their sympathy and desire to want to join the group. For example, this Sunday August 5th, one churchgoer- a Catholic woman- approached the group of Ladies in White who were able to make it inside without being arrested and told them that she wanted to join the group because they were fighting a just cause and she wanted to put her grain of sand“.
According to Ferrer and other Ladies in White, this kind of citizen solidarity gives the women more moral strength to continue in the struggle for the freedom of all political prisoners, freedom of religion, expression, and movement, and in sum, complete freedom for all the Cuban people.
This Sunday August 5th, there were more than 10 arrests of Ladies in white in Santiago de Cuba at the hands of the political police, who had a mission to impede the women from making it to Mass. Among the detainees in Santiago were Vivian Peña, Taimi Vega Biscet, Mercedes Fernández, Adriana Figueredo, Liudmilla Cedeño, Aimé Garcés, Mercedes Echavarria and the 14-year-old daughter of Ferrer Garcia- Martha Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo.
“These women were arbitrarily arrested as they tried to assist Mass at the Sanctuary of El Cobre. They were kept in security check points and, in some cases, were later taken and kept in police units, as occurred with Liudmilla Rodriguez Palomo and Vivian Pena Hernandez“, detailed Ferrer Garcia, “in cases such as those, they spent more than 24 hours arrested in police units“.
However, 21 Lades in White managed to make it to the Sanctuary in Santiago while 7 achieved it in Guantanamo.
In Holguin, the violence against Ladies in White was “out of hand“, according to a denouncement by Zuleidis Perez Velazquez, one of the 13 women violently arrested by the police that Sunday.
“We were arrested, beaten and threatened. In fact they told us they’d put us in prison and/or even kill us. We are very bruised, as is the case of Eleini Cardoso who was kicked in her lower stomach and in her abdomen. She is still reeling from the pain“, said Perez Velazquez, who was punched in the mouth.
The other 12 detainees were Berta Guerrero Segura, Eleini Villamonte Cardozo, Romelia Pina González, Marlenys Abreu Almaguer, Noemi Hidalgo Gómez, Rosa Maria Naranjo Nieves, Danaidis Duqueznes, Mildred Sánchez Infante, Liliana Castro, Ana María Aguilera Paneque, Adisnidia Cruz Segreo and Rosaida González Escalona.
Zuleidis added that the political police also arrested 4 men. “These were Yusniel Carrarelo Vázquez, Marco Limas Dalmao, Juan Miguel Pina Santana and Alexeis Jiménez. They were arrested because they simply wanted to assist Mass because they are Catholic and, in addition, they are dissidents which provide moral and spiritual support for us while we’re at Mass”.
The Lady in White pointed out, however, that 2 women did manage to make it to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church. They were Glisedis Piña González and Lisbeth Pena Hernández.
“Despite the repression and the beatings, these 2 women were able to carry out the march in the name of all us Ladies in White in Holguin, and to prove to the regime that it does not matter that they detain us, that they finish us off, and that they threaten us publicly and keep those promises, even if 2 arrive to Mass, then those 2 will carry out the march. And we will not stop at any moment. On the contrary, this gives us more strength to struggle“, assured Velazquez.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Ladies in White in Matanzas- Leticia Ramos Herreria– confirmed that 6 members of the women’s group made it to Mass in the city of Colon (although “under vigilance”, according to Caridad Burunate) while 3 others made it in the city of Perico and another 6, hailing from the city of Cardenes (Herreria amongst them), managed to make it to Havana in order to participate in the Sunday march of the Ladies in White in the capital. In this demonstration, Ramos Herreria explained that the women present shouted “Freedom“, updated about the arrests occurring in the East of the country, and paid homage to Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero. 47 women marched.
For more information from Cuba:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia– Cell Phone: (+5353-146-740), Twitter: @jdanielferrer // Leticia Ramos Herreria– Cell Phone: (+5352-481-807) // Caridad Burunate– Cell Phone: (+5352-563-003, Twitter: @CaridadBurunate // Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez– Cell Phon: (+5358- 244- 778)e