More than a month after hurricane Sandy swept through Cuba, leaving countless material and human losses in its trail, the Cuban government continues to deny assistance to citizens to repair their homes, whether they be dissidents or everyday people. In one specific case, the Lady in White from Banes, Holguin, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and her husband, human rights activist Naoki Ricardo Mir, continue living practically out in the open air, considering that parts of their roof and some walls were completely destroyed, and all this with their 3 underage children, 2 of which suffer from asthma.
Recently, it was brought to light that the donations which have arrived from abroad to the island are being sold- at elevated prices- by Housing Department functionaries to those citizens in need who are already impoverished to begin with. Ojeda Suarez points out that some functionaries have visited the homes of her neighbors to assess the damages, but at no point have they asked her if she needs any assistance, despite the fact that what’s left of her home is “practically pieces“.
This led the dissident and her husband to hang various signs on the front porch which denounced that her children suffer from asthma and are suffering an increase in attacks due to the humidity and the coldness they are being exposed to after pieces of the roof were torn off by the massive storm.
“The signs said ‘Discrimination of asthmatic children on behalf of the government’, and ‘They are refusing our right to reconstruct our roof because we are dissidents‘”, recounts Ojeda, “this was after my husband had asked one of the functionaries when they would sell us the materials and he simply responded that we would not be helped“.
The eldest son of the couple is 14 years old, while the daughter is 6 years old and the youngest boy is 5. The two latter are the ones who suffer from “chronic asthma“.
“The regime knows very well that my children suffer from this condition. I have showed them the medical certificates on other occasions, but they (the regime) do not care about any of that. They are endangering the lives of 2 children because of the way we, their parents, think“, affirmed the Lady in White.
This past 19th of November, when Gertrudis and Naoki were out of the neighborhood, they returned to find that the signs and the front wall had been covered with paint, an action they attribute to State Security.
“Some neighbors who sympathize with us told us all the details of what had happened”, explained Gertrudis, “a number of State Security agents, among them Lieutenant Colonel Roilan, showed up to my house and threw buckets of paint at the walls and signs. They also photographed the entire house“.
Gertrudis and Naoki, both active members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) express that they are tired of demanding the necessary materials from the regime and assure that they will find a way to rebuild their home through their own means, something very difficult considering Cuba’s economic situation.
“One day, with the help of God, and through my very own means, I will fix all of this. They are selling the materials at extremely elevated prices that no Cuban can afford. The amount Cubans make in one month is less than the price that they are selling one roof-tile for. And because we are dissidents, they refuse to sell it to us. But we will fix this house, for my children“, said Ojeda Suarez.
“My smallest child suffers from frequent air loss due to all the recent cold nights“, she adds, highlighting the urgency of her situation.
Meanwhile, activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) have published various videos which demonstrate the reality of other citizens who lost nearly everything during hurricane Sandy and who also have not received help from the regime, as is the case of this mother and her infant son. On the same note, these photos depict some destroyed homes throughout the Eastern region of the country, while the following video sheds light on the testimonies of various affected citizens. See for yourselves:
For more information on the situation of Gertrudis Ojeda and her family, she can be reached at: +5358-025-501