Lady in White recounts threats by the regime and solidarity from Matanzas Bishop

Lady in White thanks Bishop and other religious leaders in Matanzas province for showing solidarity with them and defending them against government mobs, she denounces the use of minors in acts of repudiation, highlights the danger dissidents run on the island and affirms that she continues the struggle for freedom. 

After two consecutive weekends of police violence against numerous Ladies in White and male dissidents in the cities of Cardenas and Colon, in the province of Matanzas, on Sunday July 28th something different happened, although arrests were also reported, as were acts of repudiation and other forms of repression organized by the State.

Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the Ladies in White for the mentioned province, explains that 7 women were able to make it to La Parroquia of Cardenas, accompanied by 8 male dissidents during the morning.  Upon entering the temple, they noticed that the place was completely surrounded by members of the Revolutionary National Police and of the political police.  Ramos also confirmed that there were 19 police vehicles (with cameras), 3 vehicles of the PNR, 2 buses, 2 trucks fulls of police agents dressed in civilian clothing and even 2 ambulances.  In fact, the police had set up a stage just one block from the church with a life-sized doll dressed with an American flag, ready to be set on fire.  The mobs (of agents and collaborators) were trying to say with this that the dissidents were mercenaries being paid by the United States.

The ones who confirmed this to us were people who were inside the church.  They came up to us and warned us so that nothing would happen to us“, said Leticia, clearly moved by this display of solidarity.

Ramos adds that, in addition, there was “a small group of people of low social conduct – delinquents, rapists, etc. – who were waiting in front of the church with sticks and rocks“.  The activist explains that these criminals have a compromise with State Security and always respond to their orders.

But for the Lady in White one of the most critical situations was that the police forces used minors to participate in these acts of provocation and violence, arming them with rocks, as well as the fact that the repressors entered church property.  At that moment, the religious leaders came to the aid of the dissidents.

The mobs had the audacity to stand inside the church and were telling us ‘come outside, we are going to kill you’“, recounts Leticia, “The church leaders, among them the Bishop of Matanzas, Manuel Hilario de Cespedes, ordered the mobs to leave and to have some respect“.

The mentioned Bishop had specifically gone to that Parish that Sunday to offer Mass due to all the violence which occurred the previous weekends- on the 14th and 21st of July- when Ladies in White were beat, dragged, injected with needles and deported by the political police.

We approached Bishop Manuel y told him what had happened to us during the previous days and everything that was going to happen to us if we stepped out that morning.  He went out and was talking with the mobs and the officials.  He told us to stay inside the church for our own safety.  We were there from 9 AM to 1 PM.  At that time the first secretary of the Communist Party arrived to talk to the Bishop“, said the dissident.

After hours of negotiation, the Bishop ordered that the dissidents be transferred to their homes on a bus, “but that he was going to keep custody and watch over each one of us until we arrived at our homes…and that’s how it happened“.

The 15 dissidents were taken out of the church on bus while the Bishop traveled behind in another vehicle, making sure the repressors did not attack the men and women.

Captain Villamil and agent Kenny Aguero, both from State Security, were aboard the bus with the Ladies in White.  In a cynical fashion, Villamil told the Ladies, ‘we are only doing this once, and only once, but you already saw how the people got’.  Leticia rose from her seat and told him: “It was not the everyday people.  They were the people you convoked, all the ones present were soldiers or agents and the ones that beat us are the ones from your department.  When they leave us abandoned in desolate fields, all the torture, it’s all you.  And you did not have enough professional ethic, nor manhood, to stop the beatings against us, so with that said, do not speak anymore“.  According to Ramos, the official did not speak for the rest of the trip.

She also recounts that in the city of Colon something similar happened and the priest of the church had to come out to talk to the authorities so that they would not harass the Ladies in White.

We thank God and thank the Catholic church, specifically Bishop Manuel Hilario de Cespedes”, expressed Leticia, “we told the Bishop that we believe in the word of God, but not in the word of the communists“.

Despite the fact that the Lady in White expressed her sincere gratitude for the solidarity on behalf of the religious leader, she highlighted that members of the internal opposition still run serious risks with their lives at the hands of the dictatorship.

May State Security know that we are going to keep going to church on Sundays and we are going to maintain ourselves firm, as always.  They want blood and it will be our blood that will run.  They will stain their hands, once again, with the blood of the innocent because we are not backing down.  They must stop all this violence“.

Ramos Herreria added, “I am going to continue in the Ladies in White, I am going to continue in the Cuban opposition, and I am going to keep walking down the streets of Cuba because I am Cuban and I have the total right to do so, because the streets do not belong to the revolutionaries, they belong to all Cubans.  They may be willing to massacre the Ladies in White and all dissidents…similar things were done in dictatorships in Chile, Argentina and other countries, and they have been done in the dictatorship of the Castro brothers.  They are taking us to places to torture us, to beat us and to leave us abandoned in desolate places where there are no people to see how they disappear us.  The fault will lie only on the government.  But we will continue onward“.

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Leticia Ramos – Cell Phone: +52-481-807

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