Amid Threats and Health Complications, Andres Carrion Continues Hunger Strike

Andrés Carrión Álvarez, the Cuban who shouted ‘Down with Communism’ during the papal mass in Santiago de Cuba this past March, and who is also a coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), is still on hunger strike, according to the national coordinator of the mentioned organization, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.  With his protest, Carrion demands the return of numerous belongings which were recently stolen from him by the political police.  He is also denouncing the increased level of repression against members of the internal Cuban opposition.  As of this Saturday, June 23rd 2012, the activist has been on hunger strike for 13 days and is already starting to suffer some serious health complications.

Carrion is feeling very bad.  It is the first hunger strike he carries out,” explains Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, “he is currently carrying out his protest from bed, he feels very weak, with very strong pains.  Relatives and members of UNPACU and other opposition groups are very worried about his health“.

Carrion Alvarez is carrying out his protest in the Vista Hermosa neighborhood, located on 5th Street, #6 in the city of Santiago de Cuba.  According to Ferrer Garcia, this location is the “headquarters of the Wilman Villar Mendoza cell, which is an extension of UNPACU“.

During afternoon hours of this 23rd of June, another coordinator of UNPACU, Ovidio Martin Castellano, made an urgent call to the ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ website, informing that in that same headquarters of the Wilman Villar Mendoza cell, where numerous activists were congregated to show solidarity with Andres Carrion Alvarez, was surrounded by the political police, which was carrying out an act of repudiation and was threatening to raid the home.

Just minutes later, the human rights activist Osmany Cespedes Napoles also left an urgent message on ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’, denouncing that the police forces finally did raid the home, taking Ovidio Martin Castellano and 5 other dissidents with them.  According to Napoles, the 6 detainees were taken by agents of the National Police and of the Special Brigades, under orders of agents Brito and Dorky.  They were mounted on buses and taken to an undisclosed location.  As of now, their whereabouts are still unknown.

Meanwhile, Andres Carrion Alvarez continues his hunger strike.

For more information from Cuba:

Andrés Carrión Álvarez – Cell phone: +5352-997-989 

 José Daniel Ferrer García- Cell Phone: +5353-146-740 // Twitter: @jdanielferrer 

Cuban who Demonstrated Against Dictatorship During Papal Mass Released from Prison Under Conditional “Freedom”

Andrés Carrión Álvarez, the Santiago de Cuba native who publicly protested against the Cuban dictatorship during the papal mass on March 26th, was released during the night hours of Friday, April 13th but under certain conditions, according to Alfonso Chaviano, an activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

Chaviano explained that Carrion was “forced to sign a document which prohibits him from leaving his municipality and/or province, Santiago de Cuba“.

In regards to the conditions of the young Cuban, Chaviano said that “he is physically well but is very nervous, dazed” considering that he was subjected to countless interrogations and was confined to a hermitically sealed off cell in inhumane conditions.

Andres Carrion was jailed for the simple act of shouting “Down with Communism” and “Freedom for Cuba” as the first Mass by Pope Benedict XVI was about to go under way in Santiago de Cuba.  In addition, he was beaten and repudiated by State Security agents dressed in civilian clothing who were stationed at the Mass in order to keep surveillance over Cuban citizens.  The news of his violent arrest was reported all around the world due to the arbitrary nature of the detention and because one of the repressors who beat Carrion was dressed in a Red Cross uniform.  Fortunately, the cameras of the international press caught the images.  What followed was an international campaign, launched by internal Cuban dissidents, exiles, and human rights organizations which demanded the immediate release of Carrion.

Recently, Carrion’s mother- Mirta Alvarez Bestard- was interviewed by “Diario de Cuba”.  (This interview was translated into English by exiled Cuban activist Laida Carro of the Coalition of Cuban-American Women and can be read here).  In the conversation, Bestard expressed serious worry for the fate of her son in Cuba.

Carrion lives with his wife in the small town of Boniato, in Santiago de Cuba.  The international community should remain attentive over what may still occur to this brave Cuban, considering that the forces of the communist Cuban regime will, without a doubt, keep surveillance over him and will impede him from moving freely throughout his own country.  All for expressing what he felt.

Here is the video of his arrest:

Wave of Arrests in Eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer, Belkis Cantillo Among the Detainees

Belkis Cantillo, Lady in White and wife of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia

In Eastern Cuba, April 2nd 2012 began with various non-violent protests carried out by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in the municipality of El Caney, in Santiago de Cuba, according to the former political prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia who published the news through his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer).  According to the activist, the members of UNPACU were demanding the liberation of Rogelio Tabio, who has been on hunger strike for more than a month now and who is currently in very weak physical condition.  Activists also demanded the liberation of Andres Carrion, the Cuban who screamed ‘down with communism’ during the Pope’s Mass in Santiago de Cuba.  The dissidents also demanded freedom for Bismark Galan who was detained on April 1st for filming a documentary about a young girl who is sick and who has not received adequate medicine.  In addition, the dissidents were demonstrating against the violence which Ladies in White are constantly victim of.

Ferrer continued to inform through Twitter throughout the day, explaining that in El Caney 10 human rights activists from UNPACU “took to the streets screaming slogans against the dictatorship and in favor of human rights”.  When the demonstration came to an end, the dissidents headed to the home of Guillermo Cobas, a well known activist in that area.  The home was rapidly surrounded by political police agents who then started a mob repudiation attack.  During this time, in another center of Santiago de Cuba, in the Vista Hermosa neighborhood, another 14 activists from UNPACU were carrying out a similar protest, according to Ferrer.

Meanwhile, another Tweet narrated that 22 members of UNPACU were detained with violence in the home of Raumel Vinajera in La Concepcion, Palma Soriano.  These dissidents were planning to go to the street to carry out another similar protest.  Ferrer Garcia told ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ that, around 11 AM, the home of Vinajera was “raided”, as was that of his mother.  Ferrer explained that “the latter [Vinajera’s mother’s] was destroyed”.

Just hours later, at around 5 PM, Jose Daniel Ferrer made an urgent phone call to ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’, denouncing that his home in Palmarito de Cauto was about to get raided by a number of political police agents.  Ferrer said that the “agents want to tear down the door”.  Minutes later, former political prisoner Pedro Arguelles Moran confirmed that the police ended up breaking into Ferrer’s home, arresting him and his wife, the Lady in White Belkis Cantillo, as well as other dissidents who were inside the house.

Angel Antonio Blanco, an activist from UNPACU, also told ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ that police officers were “robbing” things inside the home of Ferrer Garcia, as they also did with the home of Raumel Vinajera.

As of this moment, the whereabouts of Ferrer Garcia and the rest of the detainees are unknown.  Ferrer, as well as other activists, had assured that the repressive wave which occurred in Cuba during the papal visit was only a preparation for a larger scale violent crackdown which would be set in motion to squash any social rebellion.   We are alerting the international community that right now, in Cuba, there are many peaceful dissidents behind bars, just because they defended human rights.  Among the detainees are independent journalists, Ladies in White and former political prisoners, as well as a hunger striker- Rogelio Tabio- who is fighting for his life.