Critical situation for Cuban political prisoners on hunger strike

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.




Critical situation for Cuban political prisoners on hunger strike

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

Rising popular discontent worries Cuban regime, repression increases