‘El Critico’ speaks from prison, exhorts Cubans to keep fighting for freedom

During these days, authorities of the Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo have been threatening jailed dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico” – who has been unjustly jailed since last March – with suspending his right to one weekly phone call.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise after the young musician recently established communication with some brothers in struggle, taking out a message of resistance from behind the bars in an audio which has circulated throughout various media outlets.

The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) published an audio message on their YouTube channel, in which Angel Yunier, who is also an activist of the mentioned pro-freedom group, described how it is to live in the dungeons of the dictatorship.  He pointed out a number of cases of inhumane treatment inside the prison, which include cases of medical negligence and physical abuses which have cost the lives of various prisoners.

He emphasized the case of Rogelio Ovidio, a common prisoner who took his own life after he was beat by his jailers and refused medical assistance when they informed him he could possibly be infested with HIV.

Remon Arzuaga found the body of Ovidio on July 29th.  “I saw his body…his head was broken, his right arm was injured and his back was full of bruises.  I found him at 2 in the morning and he had already hung himself…I didn’t know he was dead right away because he was being held in a dark cell.  I saw his silhouette and I thought he was just sitting down“, said Angel from prison.

He also denounced the horrible and nearly non-existent medical attention in the penitentiary center.   Angel Yunier was in a grave state of health, infected with cholera, and it wasn’t until a very advanced stage of the disease that he was treated by doctors.  He assures that at least three prisoners have died of this disease due to the lack of adequate attention in the center.

“Since July 1st, this prison has been affected by this sickness…they said it was a diarrhea pandemic but it was proven to be cholera“.  In regards to the conditions of the prisons and hospitals where he has been, Angel described them as places with “horrible food regiments and very poor hygienic conditions.  I can’t say that where they take us are hospitals…in reality they are concentration camps where sick prisoners are isolated in.  They take them there just to say they are receiving medical care.  All us prisoners are also mistreated and beat there“.

The rapper also echoed the case of his fellow partner in struggle and political prisoners Alexander Otero.  Both were arrested together on March 26th in Bayamo during a violent act of repudiation against Yunier’s house.  Otero suffered a facial paralysis in prison and has not been treated due to his ideas.

Otero suffered an injury on his right arm and has also not received medical attention.  For three months now, he’s been with his right arm tied up and hanging loose…he needs surgical intervention for that arm but they won’t give it to him.  He also suffered a facial paralysis on July 29th on the right side of his face. As of right now, he cannot speak and has lots of difficulty closing his right eye“.

After making these denouncements public, prison authorities threatened Angel Yunier with suspending his right to one weekly call, according to declarations made to this blog by his wife, Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena.

I found out about this when I went to the corresponding visit on Saturday, August 24th.  When I arrived, they passed me to a room to meet with a Major named Javier.  They also brought in Angel Yunier at that moment“, recounts Yudisbel, “when Yunier came in, they started to threaten him, saying that he does not have the right to call any other person that is not his direct family, and that if he did not obey these orders they would permanently suspend his right to a phone call for having committed an ‘indiscipline’“.

The call by Angel Yunier which they are referring to was with Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the UNPACU, who made the conversation public.

Yudisbel was also threatened and denounces that her husband was treated very poorly, “as if he were an animal and as if he had no rights to anything.  He considers some of his friends to be like family, but the authorities don’t care about that.  One official told him that he had to ask his Re-Educator for permission, and only if it was approved, then he would take the message to Major Javier for further approval.  He said that in the event that his request were approved, he had to write down all the personal data of the person being called“.

The young Cuban added that the prison authorities have placed a person – a collaborator of State Security – to watch everything that Remon Arzuaga does.  Later, this person is in charge of passing on the information to his superiors.

In addition, the agents said that when they suspend his phone access, they were going to make it clear that it was all Angel’s fault because he had committed an indiscipline, and also as my fault because I make his denouncements public.  They told Yunier right in front of me that he was going to ‘pay a very high price’ if he broke the rules.  They also threatened to suspend all his prison visits.  The agents also told Angel that it all depended on him, whether he behaved and followed the rules“, added Yudisbel.

In other words“, she adds, “they are trying to change his ideas, but they will not succeed because he is firm, now more than ever, and I also support him unconditionally“.

On his part, in the audio ‘El Critico’ called on all his compatriots and brothers and sisters of the opposition to maintain themselves “firm and strong” and “keep fighting“.

Today, many of us young Cubans have chosen to stand up in defense of our rights“, expressed the dissident rapper, jailed for making protest music and for being a pro-freedom activist.  He reminded all those Cubans who struggle that “nothing will detain us as long as there is will and desire to see a free and democratic Cuba“.

The declarations by Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga were taken from an audio published by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) on their YouTube channel, while all declarations by Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena were obtained during a conversation with this blog.

To communicate with Yudisbel in Cuba:

Cell Phone– +53-552-353

Jose Daniel Ferrer on ‘growing opposition and the power of information’

José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), informed this blog about various cases of police repression against dissidents  on the island but also highlighted that “not all news is negative“.  He affirms that his organization, as well as the opposition in general, continue gaining space amongst the population and keep putting the dictatorship in very difficult positions.

Among the positive news, we see that there are more places where new chapters of UNPACU are opening up, such as in Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and other areas in Eastern Cuba“, affirms Ferrer, “and each time there are more people who join or collaborate with our struggle.  We are also imparting workshops where we train citizens to be more effective when it comes to communication with population, as well as in confronting the repression of the tyranny“.

Due to the growing level of activism, Ferrer Garcia says that the number of political prisoners has increased.  These prisoners are mainly young activists who decide to go out to the street and it is these same citizens, according to the former political prisoner, that worry the regime the most, considering that they attract more people and speak in terms understood by everyday people.  One of these dissidents is independent rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, ‘El Critico’, who also serves as secretary for UNPACU in the province of Granma.

We are still very worried with the situation of Angel Yunier, who has been imprisoned since March 26th [after he gave a public discourse in favor of freedom].  In addition to the constant tortures and harassment he is subjected to, Yunier contracted cholera in Las Mangas Prison…it’s very worrying.  He is a young man who is arbitrarily imprisoned“, denounced Jose Daniel.  He also pointed out the situation of Alexander Otero Rodriguez, another young dissident, arrested alongside Angel Yunier in march.  His discourses in favor of freedom and his constant public activism has been another thorn on the side of the system.

Recently, independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’ reported that Alexander suffered a paralysis in the prison he is being held in while the authorities refused to transfer him to a hospital.

I also want to shed light on the case of Francisco Diaz Echemendia, from Santiago de Cuba.  He was one of the ones who went to Bayamo to the place where Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero died.  He went there to deposit flowers on the first anniversary of their deaths, and for this reason he was detained.  The police searched his house and kept him in a dungeon for 10 days, in inhumane conditions and under constant threats, etc“.

In a similar fashion, activist Denis Pino Basulto was detained in Holguin province for defending various independent street sellers who were being harassed by the political police.  The agents were taking their products and threatening them.  “Denis was beat and detained for various hours, but despite the excessive repression he maintains himself firm and committed with the cause“, said Ferrer.

Returning to the subject of positive news and growing public opposition, Ferrer Garcia assures that “on a daily basis, more people committed with the cause are taking to the streets, and they are taking audio-visual materials on CDs and USBs so that the population can become informed“.

These discs and flash drives usually contain images of pro-freedom demonstrations on the island, debates, protest music, and interviews with Cubans in and out of the country, among other things.

In response to the question of the role of these informational materials in the struggle for freedom, the activist expressed that “we always say that our grand problem is information.  If we could maintain a constant flow of uncensored and serious information, through the use of audio-visual works handed to the everyday Cuban population, if we can do this a lot more, then the mentality of citizens would evolve quicker in the process of assuming consciousness in this struggle“.

That way“, affirms Ferrer Garcia, “more people would join the struggle for freedom.  And the dictatorship would last much less time“.

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer 

Once again, police lashes out against rapper, relatives and other activists in Bayamo

Angel Yunier Remon and Jaqueline Garcia

This past Thursday, 21st of March, political police agents raided the home of Lady in White Jaquelin Garcia, in Bayamo, beating all those inside (among them underage children) and violently arresting rapper and activist Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, of the hip-hop group “Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso” (‘The Unwanted Children’).  After spending more than three days detained, the young musician was released and on Tuesday, March 26th, the same police forces once again lashed out against him, surrounding his Bayamo home and beating all those inside, among them his aunt Jaquelin Garcia, Alexander Otero Rodriguez, various neighbors, relatives and Remon, according to declarations by activist Yoandri Gutierrez to the blog “Ya Cuba Twittea”, a digital space which publishes denouncements directly from Cuba.

“[The activists] were victim of a vile act of provocation by regime mobs, directed by State Security agents”, Gutierrez told the blog, “During the act of vandalism more repressive agents showed up, supporting the paramilitary group against the dissidents.  Among the agents present were Julio Cesar and Andrei, who were telling the members of the mob to insult and physically assault the dissidents.  A major of ‘Public Order’ known as Natividad physically assaulted Angel Yunier’s mother, Eugenia Arzuaga Pena”.

All those present were beat and detained, according to the report.  In addition, agent Andrei showed up to the house of Jaquelin Garcia afterward, breaking in and confiscating white clothes (which she uses to march with the Ladies in White) as well as her cellphone.

On his Twitter account, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia (@jdanielferrer), leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), confirmed that Angel Yunier, Jaqueline Garcia, and other relatives and activists were still detained this Thursday March 28th.

“Jaqueline Garcia and Yunier Remon were brutally beaten, and relatives of Remon came out in their defense…they were also beat”, said the tweet, “they are still detained”.

Relatives, friends and other members of the Cuban opposition have expressed worry for the fate of Remon, Garcia and all other detainees, considering that regime officials are very capable of inventing crimes for them and taking them to prison.

Jaqueline Garcia is mother of a 4 year old girl and wife of political prisoner Ariel Arzuaga Pena, who is suffering from various health ailments and is not receiving adequate medical care in the penitentiary.