Hunger strikers in Cuba: Minor, Lady in White and elderly man rushed to hospital

Enrique Lozada, 17 years old

After more than 2 weeks on hunger strike, three activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) have been urgently rushed to the JuanBrunoZayasHospital in Santiago   de Cuba due to serious health complications.

The strikers are Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez (suffering from diabetes), the elderly activist Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez, and 17-year-old Enrique Lozada. The latter is the son of Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza who was arbitrarily arrested on April 9th. His arrest was what led to the massive strike by UNPACU activists. Now, the health of all the strikers is getting worse.

Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez, a youth activist from UNPACU, published various messages on Twitter (@anyerantoniobla) detailing the situation.

“The general health of the hunger strikers is critical”, read one message written by Blanco Rodriguez.

In an audio published by “Radio Republica” Anyer points out that the three hunger strikers have been taken to the same hospital where Wilman Villar Mendoza was, while Luis Enrique Lozada has been confined to the same exact cell in the Aguadores Prison of Santiago where Villar was tortured and taken to his death. Wilman Villar was a political prisoner who died after a lengthy hunger strike in early 2012.

Recently, other strikers have also been taken to hospitals, as was the case of Lady in White Adriana Nunez Pascual and the activists from Holguin, Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora.

There is much worry about the health of the strikers, especially the young Enrique Lozada. In a recent video published by UNPACU he said that he is willing to take his protest, for the liberation of his father, “to the final consequences”.

“We need the solidarity of all Cuban, inside and outside of the island”, expressed Blanco Rodriguez.

Rising popular discontent worries Cuban regime, repression increases

A family from Palmarito de Cauto (Santiago de Cuba) which was affected by hurricane Sandy protests on street

Fourteen activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) were violently arrested by the political police this past week in the Eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, said Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, general coordinator of the mentioned pro-freedom group.

Specifically, there were 13 human rights activists detained and one relative“, explained the dissident, “3 of these are being held in the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba, confined in very harsh conditions since last Monday when they carried out a public protest demanding respect for the citizens affected by Hurricane Sandy in Santiago“.

Another 6 detainees, arrested on Tuesday, November 27th, were beaten, according to witnesses.  One of them- Lazaro Romero-suffered a severe head injury, added Ferrer.  This occurred when the group was on its way to greet Lady in White Adriana Nunez Pascual, who was celebrating her birthday that day.  It was also reported that Alexei Varga Martin suffered violent physical aggressions.

Meanwhile, last Friday- the 23rd- Francisco Claro Osorio was arrested after he was accused by policemen of putting up signs with anti-Castro messages throughout the city“, said Ferrer Garcia, “afterward, they detained his brother- Ruben Claro- when he was taking him some products for his personal hygiene in the police unit“.

This 30th of November, Abel Lopez Perez was also detained.  “His brother- Hector Lopez Perez- was also detained.  Police agents searched his home and we still have not been able to confirm if they occupied some materials or equipment which we use to record or publish denouncements, etc“.

Ferrer assures that this wave of arrests- as well as many others being reported throughout the country- is attributed to the increase of pro-democracy activism in the streets of Cuba.

In addition, all these repressive actions indicate that the tyranny is more fearful every time because they know that the majority of Cubans no longer withstand the lack of freedom, the oppression, and the misery in which they are subjected“, he affirmed.  “All of this plus that fact that, for example, in Santiago de Cuba, as well as many other regions of Eastern Cuba, after more than a month of hurricane Sandy, there are still hundreds of families without roofs, who barely even have enough food for their children, and there is a worrying outbreak of diseases like dengue and cholera due to a sanitary and hygienic crisis“.

The former political prisoner points out that the Cuban regime, instead of assisting citizens in reconstructing their homes after the storm, responds with “agents of the political police and other repressive organisms in the street so that they patrol the entire region, always ready to oppress, because there is much discontent and spontaneous protests are taking place throughout different spots where they are supposed to instead be selling materials for the reconstruction of homes“.

Many of these protests have occurred, according to Ferrer Garcia, because “there is a horrible bureaucracy, which is very complex, very complicated and full of lots of corruption.  Functionaries only give materials to their own relatives and friends, while the rest of the people- the everyday citizens- are the ones who suffer the most and are those whose problems are not solved and that’s why these repressive actions occur.  When they see 3 or 4 activists congregated who try to film a citizen protest or documenting a difficult social situation, then the repressive agents are there, rapidly mobilizing to beat, detain, and take them to dungeons for numerous days“.

UNPACU recently published a video on their YouTube account of a protest carried out by citizens affected by the hurricane.  See the video here.

And it is precisely these kinds of protests, as well as other peaceful demonstrations by human rights activists throughout the island, which Ferrer Garcia  affirms bring much fear to the dictatorship, signaling that they have very little time left.

For more information from Cuba:

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell Phone: +5353-146-740 // Twitter: @jdanielferrer