On Wednesday, August 28th, a number of members of the “Zapata Lives” cell of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in the Vista Alegre neighborhood of Santiago de Cuba set out to the Confrontation Unit of the Political Police to demand the release of a fellow dissident, Armando Gil, who was being processed for a crime of “disrespect” and “attempt” which he never committed.
Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo, coordinator of the Zapata Lives cell, told this blog that the group of dissidents stood outside the political police unit as a sign of protest.
“There were about 40 of us activists, demanding the liberation of our brother, in a completely peaceful fashion. In just a couple of minutes, we were surrounded by agents of the political police, the National Revolutionary police and more than 5 police cars“.
Upon seeing the confrontational response of the authorities, the dissidents decided to carry out a protest march to the nearby Ferreiro Park, where the arrests began.
“When we arrived to the park, the majority of us were arrested“, recounts Barriel. He was shoved in a cop car and taken to the Police Unit of San Luis, where he was kept in “a dungeon in inhumane conditions” for 8 hours. “Afterward, I was taken to the Unit known as The Third where i spent another 3 hours“.
The activist explains that in The Third he was interrogated. One of the officials called Barriel’s home to speak with his wife, ordering her to put an end to a demonstration that was taking place there by about 20 dissidents who were demanding the release of the detainees.
“They wanted me to call the house so I could speak with my wife and tell her to stop the activity in demand of our freedom. The political police had to give in and they went all the way to my house and had to speak with my wife, begging her to stop the activities. They told all the activists present that they were going to release us“, said Daniel, “and they released me and the majority of the detainees, but minutes before there were forceful detentions of some activists of my cell, as was the case of Angel Pese and Ernesto Jimenez Rodriguez. Both received physical blows“.
During night hours of Thursday the 28th and on the morning of Friday the 29th, there were still some activists detained, but Barriel considers that it was a “victory” because the police had to ask the demonstrators to stop, seeing as their intimidation methods were not working. The dissidents did not stop but did feel content with the release of their fellow members.
“We know that this is not going to stop, we know that the dictatorship is still going to keep carrying out acts of repression against us because they have the power to do so, and because they don’t want us to have rights“, expressed Daniel.
But the opposition member alleges that “we will continue with our struggle, with our methods, until we can achieve the freedom and democracy that the people need“.
To contact Daniel Barriel in Cuba:
Cell Phone: +53-388-130