Three Cuban dissidents, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and who are currently in prison for expressing themselves against the totalitarian government, have been carrying out lengthy hunger strikes, according to statements made to this blog by Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the pro-democracy group and a former political prisoner himself.
The strikers are Enrique Figuerola Miranda, Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez.
Figuerola, being held in the Boniato Prison of Santiago de Cuba “has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days“, explained Ferrer Garcia. The activist adds that doctors have put an IV on him a couple of times but after this treatment “they have returned him to the prison cells, leaving him up to his own fate in inhumane conditions. He is very weak…his situation is very worrying for UNPACU and all of his family“.
Recently on the YouTube channel of UNPACU a video of an interview with Enrique’s wife, Mercedes Hechavarria Guevara, was published. She tells how her husband’s health has worsened and explains that during one of the visits allowed by the guards he told her that he would rather die for a just cause than to live under the dictatorship. Figuerola has been imprisoned for 9 months, without a trial.
In the cases of Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez, detained together in Havana, they are being kept in cells in the Valle Grande Prison, located in the capital, “all of this because of their activism out on the streets, in areas such as Central Havana and Old Havana“, assures Ferrer Garcia.
“Parada and Hernandez continue on hunger strike and are also under constant harassment…they have been victims of mistreatment, as have their wives. We are also very worried about them“.
Ferrer also made mention of the case of dissident rapper and UNPACU secretary for the city of Bayamo, Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico”, imprisoned for more than 2 months, also without a trial, due to the music he makes criticizing the regime and because of his activism out on the streets.
“Remon is in prison because the political police got scared of the growing sympathy he was receiving on behalf of his neighbors in Bayamo through the distinguished work this young man has been carrying out in favor of Cuba’s democratization“.
Yedisbel Roseyo Mojena, wife of Angel Yunier, took part in an interview with Ferrer. During the conversation, she detailed the situation of her husband and highlighed the constant police repression against him, before and during his imprisonment. (Check out the video here)
UNPACU has 10 activists in the Mar Verde Prison (Santiago de Cuba), among them 3 brothers- Alexei, Dianco and Diango Varga Martin. The last 2 are twins and just turned 18.
Miraida Martin Calderin, a member of the Ladies in White and mother of the brothers, was held in prison for approximately 2 months and was just recently released. She confirmed to Jose Daniel Ferrer that her sons “are being held in very difficult conditions…they frequently suspend our family visits, the guards physically assault them, and they are commonly confined to punishment cells“.
One of these political prisoners- Arcelio Noa– has also been victim of constant repression in the Mar Verde Prison. In fact, he has even inflicted injuries on himself in a moment of total desperation.
“Arcelio did this to himself because he was blinded by desperation. He is constantly harassed. They put him together with very dangerous criminals which the political police puts there and uses to attack him and all the other young political prisoners we have there”, denounced Ferrer.
The dissident organization UNPACU has more than 40 of its members behind bars due to the frequent and spontaneous civc demonstrations they carry out in centric places such as long lines, parks, terminals, street corners and other public locations.
Many other opposition groups also have numerous political prisoners. They are women, men, intellectuals, farmers, young, and old.
On another note, 5 activists of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front are still on hunger strike as well. Among the demonstrators is Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, seriously affected in health terms, who demands to have a home after he was forcefully evicted in the province of Villa Clara. Reports coming straight from the island have only confirmed that his health has kept deteriorating.