Ladies in White, Activists Seek Solidarity to Put an End to Repression Against Them

“The repression this past weekend increased”, denounced Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) from the town of Palma Soriano, “and this is due to the fact that the political police of the tyranny is very bothered that last weekend, on the day of the Virgin of Mercy, about 50 Ladies in White from the Eastern region of the country surpassed the police operations they had set up around the entire area and were able to arrive to the capital…even though the majority of the women were eventually detained in Havana”.

As part of this crackdown, numerous Ladies in White from Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, Banes, Guantanamo, Bayamo and Holguin were arrested or impeded from leaving their homes when they tried to assist Sunday Mass in their respective churches.

Ferrer García explained that 4 Ladies in White were reported detained in Guantanamo and 14 in Santiago de Cuba.  The former political prisoner of conscience added that in Santiago “Darmis Aguedo and Adriana Isaac were beaten by the political police and were thrown off a truck onto the asphalt”.

In Banes, Marta Diaz Rondon explained that a police cordon was set up around her home, which kept her from leaving, as was the case of Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez in that same Eastern municipality.

Meanwhile, in other areas of Holguin province, 8 detainees were documented, among them Berta Guerrero Segura, Zuleidis Lisbeth Pérez Velázquez, Adisnidia Cruz, Danay Mendiola, Barbará Bauza Driggs and Glisedis Piña González.  Some of these women were detained in the notorious Pedernales Unit (known for torture and threats) and others were kept in “El Anillo” until after 1 PM, when Catholic Mass in the local Jesus Christ the Redeemer had already come to an end.

My house was completely surrounded by political police and State Security agents from the very early morning hours of Sunday, the 30th”, said Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the female group in the province of Holguin.  “A group of female agents dressed in red shirt and blue pants, along with male State Security agents, carried out an act of repudiation against us and screamed insults at us with obscene words before arresting us.  The officials leading the operation were Yordanys Martinez Leon (chief of Confrontation in Holguin), and agents Rafael Chapman and Adonys Charles”.

During the arrest, the women were accused of ‘public disorder’.  “In fact”, added Guerrero, “as a form of blackmail and mockery, they told me that if we wanted to go to Church we would have to get ourselves an airplane or a helicopter to drop us off on top of the Church because we were not going to be allowed inside”.

Despite the regime’s aggressive operations, in the provinces of Matanzas, Havana and Pinar del Rio a number of women were able to surpass the vigilance cordons and assist Mass, where they prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners and of Cuba.

But throughout Monday, October 1st, the political police once again lashed out against the Ladies in White in Holguin.

State Security and political police agents surrounded my house all over again”, said Berta Guerrero during the afternoon.  This time, the agents detained various women who were trying to make it into the house, among them Barbara Bauza and Adisnidia Cruz.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez detailed that the Ladies in White were giving out some small bags with food to their members “which were sent as gifts from our brothers in exile” and the regime agents robbed the humble products as they detained the women that day.

This has been just another form of robbery against us… mind you, those products were brought in legally to this country and they are all paid for”, denounced Perez, “and they don’t even give us an explanation nor have they, or will they, return them to us”.

Rosaida Gonzalez Escalona, an elderly Lady in White, was also arrested with violence, but without even participating in dissident activities that afternoon.  Her arrest occurred as she “was on her way to the train station of Holguin to say goodbye to one of her daughters…some agents came out of nowhere and detained her”, explained Perez Velazquez.

Meanwhile, the threats against others activists of Holguin also continued, like those against members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID).  “Police officials continue to threaten the CID members, telling them that they cannot meet anymore in my house, and that they can no longer carry out activities.  There are two activists- Ramon Zamora Rodriguez and Carlos Enrique Nunez Cutino- that were told that their homes would be demolished.  In addition, a group of young activists from the New Juvenile Impact organization are also under violent threats”, added Perez.

In reference to her own case and that of the majority of the other Ladies in White and dissidents, Berta Guerrero Segura alerted “the international community” that the oppressive situation throughout the island has become “unbearable”.

We, the Ladies in White, can’t even go to a store or a market because they always arrest us”, she said.  “Whatever may happen to any of us, or our husbands or children is the direct responsibility of the Castro regime”.  In fact, her husband- dissident Franklin Peregrino del Toro– is also frequently arrested when he accompanies his wife out on the streets and many times when he is trying to buy food for his family.

I have lost count of all our arrests, but I know that there have been more than 40 in 2012 alone.  We ask international organisms like Amnesty International to join us in solidarity, to pay attention to our situation.  Our children are also suffering in school, where they receive threats that they will be expelled due to our activism.  I want the world to know what is happening in Cuba”, expressed Berta Guerrero.

Ladies in White, Activists Seek Solidarity to Put an End to Repression Against Them

Police Operations Underway to Impede Ladies in White from Assisting Sunday Mass (Holguin)

The Cuban regime’s police operations to impede Ladies in White in the province of Holguin from assisting Sunday Mass are underway, denounced Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez this Saturday, 28th of July.

According to the activist, there are 4 women who managed to make it to a house which is located only 4 houses from the local Catholic church in the city of Holguin, the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men temple.  However, these 4 Ladies are completely “surrounded by 7 police agents with the intention of keeping them from attending Mass tomorrow.  They [the regime] do not even respect the fact that they are so close to the church“.

The four women who are practically under house arrest are  Romelia Piña González,  Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Glisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz Segreo. The house in which they are in is located on 18th Street, number 131, between 23rd and 27th in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood, on the same street as the church.

The agent who is running the operation, which consists of 7 men, is Rafael Chapman, a well known “oppressor from State Security“, explained Perez Velazquez.  “These 7 men impede the women from stepping out of the house, they are prohibiting them from any sort of mobility, and they even have their cell phones blocked.  They are threatening them, telling them that they cannot go to church tomorrow“.

Despite operations such as these, Zuleidis Perez affirms that the Ladies in White will march to church, although the situation will most likely culminate with arrests, as usually occurs each Sunday.

The tactics of the political police normally consist in detaining the women during morning hours- usually around 8 AM- and later releasing them at around 12:30 PM, once Mass has ended.

The Ladies in White are victims of this kind of repression throughout the island, including other Eastern regions such as Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, where they frequently suffer arrests, beatings, and even sexual threats.

Regardless, they continue to resist.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Police Operations Underway to Impede Ladies in White from Assisting Sunday Mass (Holguin)

Ladies in White Denounce New Threats by Police in Holguin

In Cacocum, Holguín, the home of Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura has been completely surrounded by State Security agents, agents of the Rapid Response Brigades, and paramilitary troops from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) for 6 days, in order to try and impede that she or her family assist Mass or step out of the house to meet with other local activists.

My home has been surrounded since Friday, July 20 th, and it is something which is happening week after week”,  denounced Guerrero Segura, signaling that the agents carrying out the operations are “Reymundo Rodríguez Pupo, agent Wilson from Holguín and also Joel Guerrero, among others”.

These same oppressors have been threatening Guerrero, her husband (activist Franklin Peregrino del Toro) as well as numerous other women from that area, saying that if they try to continue their activism or carry out public demonstrations, they will be detained until after the 26th, a date which the regime uses to celebrate and glorify the 26th of July Movement which was headed by dictator Fidel Castro.

The number of arrests of these Eastern Ladies in White have also increased, as was proven this past Sunday, July 22nd, when 8 of these women were violently arrested in the province of Holguin when they tried to make it to church.

The 8 were Ana María Aguilera Paneque, Adisnidia Cruz, Maydelin Guerrero Silva, Yoandra Garrido Silva, María Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Rosa María Naranjo Nieve, Danaime Diota and Rosaida González Escalona.

Meanwhile, another 7 women did manage to surpass police cordons and make it to Sunday Mass, among them Berta Guerrero.  Many may recall that now exiled Lady in White, Caridad Caballero Batista, would continuously be arrested weekend after weekend to keep her from going to church during the present year, but alongside her many other women would also be detained.  Guerrero Segura is one of these women, who during 2012 has not been able to make it to church on Sunday’s due to the fact that she is always arrested and kept in detention cells for a number of hours until Mass has concluded.

Zuleidis Pérez, another Lady in White from the municipality of Holguin denounced that “there is a horrible police operation underway” during these days against activists in the Eastern region of the country.  “Despite this, and under these circumstances, on the 23rd we were able to carry out a symbolic wake in honor of Oswaldo Paya in my home“.

Berta Guerrero adds that numerous activists were able to carry out a pots-and-pans protest at her home in Cacocum during the night of the 24th to celebrate the Day of the Resistance (each 24th of the month) and also to pay homage to Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero

Guerrero also sent out a message to the international community, in regards to the increased repression against the Ladies in White and the civic opposition: “The Castro regime is desperate, and they deny us our rights to freedom of movement, religion, as well as the rights of our families, because they also impede our relatives from coming to our homes.  They also arrest them“.

We are always under threat, and we were denouncing that this is a totalitarian regime which is based on repression, harassment, and vexation against dissidents and Ladies in White“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Ladies in White Denounce New Threats by Police in Holguin

Holguin: Arrests, Vigilance, and Police Cordons Not Enough to Stop Weekly Vigil and Meetings

As occurs every Wednesday, this 18th of July 2012, the “Vigils for the Freedom of All Cuban Political Prisoners” were celebrated across the island, while many Ladies in White also celebrated their monthly literary meetings.

From the province of Holguin, Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez informed that the literary meeting in that zone was carried out in the home of Berta Guerrero Segura, in the municipality of Cacocum.  However, Perez Velaquez says that “from the very early morning hours- starting at around 3 or 4 AM- there was a large police operation set in motion in nearly all the surroundings of Holguin, as well as many other municipalities like Velasco, Cacocum, Banes, Gibara, Antilla, and right here in the city of Holguin” in order to try and impede the female activists from arriving to their destination.

Among the Ladies who were surrounded and were not able to make it to the meeting were  Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Marta Díaz Rondón, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Daylin Guerrero, Lissette González Rodríguez  and Odalmys Suarez (all from different municipalities).  Meanwhile, 7 other women suffered arrests at the hands of the political police, among them Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosaida González Escalona, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves and Lisbeth Pena Hernández.

4 women were able to make it to the home of Berta Guerrero- Nelda Molina Leyva, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz where they were able to carry out their literary meeting.

Zuleidis Perez explained that the weekly vigil was carried out in her home in the city of Holguin.  Previously, this vigil would be celebrated in the home of the now exiled Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista.  “Upon Caridad Caballero going into exile, here in the province of Holguin we decided to continue her hard work, through which she was able to achieve that many members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance w0uld meet.  Now, we will continue these meetings, and we will be doing it from my house every Wednesday“.

Just as Caballero Batista would do it (who suffered a constant repression due to her tireless activism for freedom), Perez Velazquez also “let the activists present know about the arbitrary situations occurring in all of Cuba, all the arrests and more“, as well as the increasing level of activism.

Four men (human rights activists) were also arrested upon trying to arrive to the house, among them José Mir Cruz and Heladio Pupo Nieves.  Regardless, the vigil was carried out with members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Ladies in White.

These arbitrary actions and all these violations which are being committed in these provinces have been occurring every single Wednesday as well as every Sunday, where they prohibit us from making it to Mass at church“, affirmed Perez Velazquez, “they arrest us, beat us, threaten us, and mistreat us“.

Despite these crackdowns by the regime, the Lady in White assured that the Resistance in the province of Holguin will continue standing firm against the dictatorship.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778 // Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352- 771- 630 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon

Holguin: Arrests, Vigilance, and Police Cordons Not Enough to Stop Weekly Vigil and Meetings

Ladies in White Continue Marching: Sunday Report

Caridad Caballero Batista

As has occurred during the majority of Sundays of the present year, the Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista was impeded from arriving to Sunday Mass at the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in her city of residence- Holguin- due to an extensive police operation headed by the repressive agent Yordanys Maritnez Leon this past 24th of June.

The mentioned agent- Martinez Leon- has been responsible for the majority of violent acts against Caridad Caballero, her family, and other Ladies in White from Holguin, ordering acts of repudiation, beatings and arrests of those mentioned activists in order to keep them from arriving to Church every Sunday to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and for a democratic future on the island.

Caballero Batista explains that this Sunday, she awoke to find her home “completely surrounded by a police operation, which consisted of female police agents, numerous motorcycles, and other officers“.  Because of this, the activist was not able to leave her home.

In Cacocum, Holguin, the Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura was violently arrested by the political police at around 7:30 AM as she was trying to assist the same church in Holguin.  Meanwhile, two Ladies in White in Banes- Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Rosa– were trying to travel to Caballero Batista’s home to later march to church but they were intercepted and impeded by State Security agents from leaving their town.

Caballero Batista added that in the same province of Holguin, on Saturday June 23rd, the Lady in White Adisnidia Cruz Segreo, who was visiting her children in prison, was arrested.  Both of her sons are political prisoners- Marcos Maikel Cruz and Antonio Michel Lima Cruz. They were jailed for publicly listening to the rebellious and independent music of the rap-duo Los Aldeanos, and they have been considered prisoners of conscience.  Adisnidia was detained upon leaving the prison and held behind bars until afternoon hours on Sunday, after Mass had concluded.

Despite this crackdown, Caballero highlights that “4 women were able to make it to mass in the city of Holguin“.

The former political prisoner  José Daniel Ferrer García informed through ‘Háblalo sin Miedo’ that 4 Ladies in White managed to surpass police cordons and arrive to church in Bayamo.  Ferrer Garcia added that 35 Ladies in White assisted mass in the Sanctuary of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba, while another 7 women made it to Catholic Mass in Guantanamo.

From the province of Matanzas, Caridad Burunate informed through her Twitter account (@CaridadBurunate) that 6 Ladies in White (among them, her) made it to mass in the city of Colon, despite a strong vigilance on behalf of Cuba’s political police.

Ladies in White Continue Marching: Sunday Report

Lady in White: “We are Going to Continue Moving Forward and Nothing Can Hold us Back”

After having surpassed police operations for two consecutive Sundays, this past 27th of May Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista was once again arrested along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez as they were trying to assist Sunday Mass in the city of Holguin.  According to the activist, the violence occurred under the orders of State Security official Yordanys Martinez Leon, a well known local oppressor.

Just a few steps from my house, when we were trying to get to church at around 8:25 AM, agent Martinez Leon ran at me and quickly snatched my purse from my arm”,  said the activist, explaining that “that is what this specific agent always does first”. 

After the snatching of the purse, the official gave orders to a number of women dressed in green and who are members of the  Ministry of the Interior to continue with the arrest.  These agents twisted the arms of Caridad Caballero and shoved her into a police vehicle while other oppressors did the same with Esteban Sandez.  Both were taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales where they were confined to small, sealed-off and inhumane cells until 12:15 PM.

Some other Ladies in White in the city of Holguin who suffered the same fate were  Berta Guerrero Segura, Noemí Hidalgo Gómez and Adisnidia Cruz, among others.

According to Caballero Batista, there was a police operation consisting of constant vigilance and threats on behalf of countless political police officials throughout the entire week, until she finally was arrested on Sunday.  “Wherever I would go during the week, I had State Security agents following me“, she said.   “On Sunday, I awoke to find my house surrounded by a number of police vehicles State Security officials on motorcycles, National Police officers, and snitches from the Rapid Response Brigades“.  The dissident said that the latter constantly keep a watch over her and other local activists 24 hours a day.

Despite the constant persecution, Caballero Batista points out that another 5 Ladies in White were able to surpass police cordons and assist Mass in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church this past Sunday.

“We are victims of all sorts of violations just for demanding our rights to religious freedom and the complete freedom of all Cubans, and for simply going to Church to pray to God for our loved ones and for the freedom of all political prisoners.  But despite this repression, we are going to continue moving forward and nothing will hold us back.  I am letting State Security know this, as well as Fidel Castro and Raul Castro…they will have to kill us, but as long as we have strength we are going to continue taking to the streets to demand our rights”,  said Caridad Caballero Batista.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero

Lady in White: “We are Going to Continue Moving Forward and Nothing Can Hold us Back”

In the City of Holguin, Ladies in White Surpass Police Cordon, Make it to Sunday Mass

This May 20th was the second consecutive Sunday in which the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista managed to surpass a strong police cordon and arrive to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin, this time accompanied by 5 other women of the group- Barbara Bauza, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González, Ana María Aguilera Paneque and Nelda Molina Leyva. The Sunday prior to this, only Caballero Batista was able to make it to church without being detained.  Before this, the activist had not been able to assist Sunday Mass during 2012 because of constant arrests.

Caballero recounts that a large number of political police officials were shocked after they surrounded her home for hours during that morning to later find that she had already left and made it to church.  Usually, the Lady in White cannot even walk two blocks from her home when she is violently taken into custody.  This time, she used a new method.

When she arrived to the church, Caridad explained that there was “an immense police operation” waiting for the Ladies in White.  “They had a number of buses, police cars, and motorcycles stationed just two blocks from the church.  In fact, they were even using firefighters who were waiting to oppress us as well as female prison guards“.

Despite all of this, through the “new tactics“, the 6 Ladies in White were able to assist Sunday mass in its entirety.  Upon arriving at the temple, Caballero Batista said that the churchgoers were overcome with emotion.  They welcomed the women and chatted with them for a while.

However, other Ladies in White in Holguin did suffer arrests, as were the cases of Berta Guerrero Segura, Adisnidia Cruz, and Zuleidys Perez Velazquez, according to Caballero, who speculated that the number of arrests was most likely greater but she “could not confirm about other women because our telephone service was blocked during the entire time of our trip to church as well as after the Mass“.

We were able to march.  We walked with the gladiolus in our hands while the everyday people were staring at us, nervous at what could happen with us.  The regime was not expecting this“, she said, clearly emotional, “Thanks to the grace of God, this Sunday- which is the second to last Sunday of Lent- we were able to assist Mass.  We thanked God for having let us arrive, at least some of us“.

Caridad  stood by her Christian faith, assuring that “through the help of his angels, Jesus Christ allowed us to arrive to church, proving that there is no authority which can hold us down“.

For more information Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone:  +5352-629749   // Twitter: @caricaballero

In the City of Holguin, Ladies in White Surpass Police Cordon, Make it to Sunday Mass