“With all and for the good of all” – one of the most famous phrases by Jose Marti is, perhaps, also one of the ideas which the totalitarian system in Cuba fears the most, proven- year after year- every 28th of January when countless uniformed agents are sent out throughout the island to try and impede civic demonstrations to commemorate the anniversary of his birth. 2013, the 160th anniversary, was no exception.
The police operations began on Sunday the 27th. In Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, the home of dissident Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez– member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)– was attacked with feces, staining the door and windows. Dominguez directly blamed the political police for this, since he and his wife, Lady in White Taimi Vega Biscet, had plans to carry out a tribute to Marti.
“These are methods employed by the political police, I hold them responsible as well as the Communist Party and all other instruments of the regime“, said the activist.
Meanwhile, despite police vigilance and direct threats by State Security, in Havana 41 Ladies In White managed to carry out their traditional march to Santa Rita Church and later to Mahatma Gandhi Park (See video, courtesy of ‘Hablemos Press’). These women deposited flowers in a statue of Marti in that park and commenced to read various phrases by the poet.
In Cardenas, Matanzas, Leticia Ramos Herreria and other Ladies in White marched for 26 blocks until they arrived to a local park to also deposit flowers in another Jose Marti statue. This achievement bothered the authorities to the point that State Security officials summoned Ramos to a police unit for the following day. The activist recounts that she was threatened and offended during the interrogation but that she refused to sign any sort of document and let them know very clear that she would continue going out to the streets of Cuba.
On Monday, the 28th, the repression increased but so did the peaceful and public demonstrations. In the same province of Matanzas, but in the city of Colon, Juan Francisco Rangel was also summoned to the police station and later surrounded in his own home by agents to try and impede a march. However, he managed to take to the streets along with other activists from the Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy, successfully carrying out the activity and depositing flowers for Marti, according to a Tweet published by Carlos Olivera (@COliveraCuba).
In Santa Clara, Villa Clara, a group of dissidents from the Central Opposition Coalition also took to the streets shouting slogans in favor of change and honoring Marti. They were all violently arrested, according to a report by independent journalist and blogger Carlos Michael Morales Rodríguez.
Not too far from that city, in Placetas, members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front carried out a protest against the regime, also screaming slogans such as “Jose Marti Lives“, as was captured in an audio published by ‘Radio Republica’ in the voice of dissident leader Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’.
A successful march with signs containing anti-regime messages and Jose Marti phrases took place on the streets of Quemado de Guines, Villa Clara, by various members of the Cuban Reflection Movement, among them Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida, who said the march “took place despite strong police vigilance“.
Despite acts of repudiation and some arrests, in Camaguey a public activity was carried out by activists of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, said Daniel Millet Jimenez.
In Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, dissidents of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and from the Pedro Luis Boitel Resistance Movement congregated to honor Jose Marti.
Throughout the Eastern region of the country, members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in Baracoa, according to Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz, and of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy (CYMD) in Velasco, according to Yonart Rodríguez Avila, also carried out their own meetings, marches and demonstrations in honor of Marti. Yoandri Montoya Aviles said that in Bayamo, members of the Youth Movement of Bayamo paid homage to the “Apostle of Cuba”.
CYMD also carried out other activities in the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, in Havana, publishing some photos of the events in their blog. In the same province, Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca held a vigil and an encounter in her home located in Rio Verde, Boyeros.
UNPACU also published some testimonies on their YouTube channel detailing repressive actions against activists for trying to carry out their own tributes in Guantanamo.
Former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo published a series of Twitter messages (@ivanlibre) denouncing that dissidents Pastor Alexis Huerta and Carlos Alberto Gómez, members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID), were violently arrested in the central city of Sancti Spiritus also for trying to carry out similar tributes as those occurring throughout the country. Cases of repression, police cordons, and beatings were also confirmed in Pinar del Rio against other CID members and the Pinar del Rio Democratic Alliance.
These were only a few of the events which took place on the island between the 27th and 28th of January, when Cubans paid tribute to one of the figures most representative of their culture- a culture which does not belong just to one political group or dictator.
“A just cause, from the bottom of a cave, is more powerful than any army”