Ladies in White, dissidents, defy another wave of violence

Matanzas, Santiago de Cuba and other provinces were the scene of more police violence against the Ladies in White and other dissidents when they assisted Mass this Sunday, August 25th.  This repression has been consecutive for more than one month.

At around 8 AM, former political prisoner Ivan Hernández Carrillo used his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) to provide details of what was happening in the city of Colon and other regions.

Hernandez confirmed that 7 Ladies in White managed to participate in Mass in the city of Cardenas but they “were arrested” upon stepping out of the church.  The detainees were Mercedes de la Guardia Hernández, Yamila Sendra Ruiz, Margarita Cienfuegos Acosta, Odalys Hernández Hernández, Katiuska Rodríguez Vives, Marisol Fernández Socorro and the representative of the group in the province, Leticia Ramos Herreria.

Another 2 women – Esmeralda García Wong and Amada Herrería Rodríguez – were arrested in the same city before making it to Mass.

All the previously mentioned women were beat by political police agents during the moment of their arrests.

Colon: Police car stationed in Bartolome Maso St to close off traffic and attack. Via @ivanlibre

Dissident Francisco Rangel Manzano was arrested in Colon, while renown opposition leader and former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta was arrested in Pedro Betancourt.  Hernandez Carrillo also confirmed the arrests of activists in the town of Los Arabos, including  José Hernández López, William Acevedo Roque and Yudaimis Fernández Martínez.

Ivan added in another Twitter message that, for the first time in more than one month, he was able to surpass police cordons and participate in Mass alongside 8 Ladies in White in Colon.  However, he informed that there were “Suzuki motorcycles of the political police” stationed outside the church, as well as various agents dressed in civilian clothing, among them Orestes, known for carrying out violent actions against locals.  There was also the “presence of regime collaborators inside the church” watching the activists.

During the Mass in Colon, Father Santana prayed for the dissidents, pointing out that the Day of the Virgin of Charity was nearing and that he was asking the Patron Saint of Cuba to “end all the hostilities, and that people who think one way can express their ideas and manifest them”.  Despite the solidarity during the Mass, however, State police agents arrested all the Ladies in White when they stepped out of the church: Lazara Rodríguez, Yanelis Pérez Reyes, María Teresa Castellano Valido, Maritza Acosta Perdomo, Sayli Navarro and Asunción Carillo (the latter is Ivan Hernandez’s mother).

Agents arrest Ladies in White in Colon, among them Sayli Navarro and Asuncion Carrillo. Via @ivanlibre
Asuncion Carrillo, mother of Ivan, does the “L” for “Libertad” (Freedom) before being shoved inside police car. Via @ivanlibre

These arrests consisted in pushing, headlocks, and pulling hair, according to Hernandez.  All the detainees were abandoned in desolate camps, far from their homes.  This was the case of Angel Moya, who later told Ivan that “what these henchmen do to us gives us more strength each day”.

After all the violent measures taken by the police, there were at least 24 Ladies in White and other dissidents who had been arrested in the province of Matanzas.  Despite the orders of the dictatorship to lash out against the opposition movement on the island, the Ladies in White took to the streets in all of Cuba, demanding freedom and rights.

Messages sent out by @ivanlibre highlighted that in Gibara, 7 Ladies in White arrived to Mass.  Unfortunately, the priest expelled them from the church afterward, forcing them to face the violent mobs.  The women were violently beat and detained.

In Cuba’s capital – Havana – 82 women marched with flowers and participated in Mass, while 7 managed to do so in the province of Villa Clara.  3 Ladies in White made it to church in Ciego de Avila, 22 in the Eastern province of Holguin and 10 in Guantanamo.

According to the Twitter account of independent news agency Hablemos Press (@HablemosPress), more than 50 Ladies in White participated in Sunday Mas but they were later brutally beat by police agents on 5th Street.  They were shoved into cars and buses.

The agency later tweeted that they had documented more than 65 arrests of Ladies in White in all the island.

Despite the violence, the Ladies in White and the Cuban opposition in general have left it clear that they will continue on the streets not only demanding their rights, but also the rights of the entire nation.

Thanks to Twitter, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo was able to publish various photos of the what happened on Sunday the 25th.

Meanwhile, Ivan also published photos of repressors and the vehicles they used during the violent operations in Colon, Matanzas:

These cars belong to political police officials in Matanzas and Havana. Via @ivanlibre

This is the same State Security agents who fractured arm of Lady in White Sonia Alvarez weeks ago during aggressions. Via @ivanlibre

Ladies in White, dissidents, defy another wave of violence

More beatings, arrests, repudiation and injections against Ladies in White in Matanzas

After four weekends of unmeasurable violence against the Ladies in White and other dissidents in the cities of Cardenas and Colon in the province of Matanzas, Berta Soler – leader of the Ladies in White – traveled to Cardenas this Sunday, August 11th, to march together with the women being repressed, demanding freedom for all political prisoners.  The result was the fifth weekend of violence.

11 women managed to march and assist Mass at The Parish of Cardenas.  When the religious service came to an end, the Ladies left the temple in a march back home.

Leticia Ramos Herrería, representative of the women’s group for the province of Matanzas, said that a State Security official intercepted them and told them that they could not continue walking, all while the same mobs as always – organized by the regime – surrounded the women.

We remained in silence while the mobs shouted insults at us“, said Ramos Herreria, “then, the official told me that we were going to be arrested but without being beat.  It was all the contrary“.

Ramos recounts that all the women were beat and thrown inside police vehicles, among them Berta Soler and Maria Cristina Labrada, from Havana.  Some were taken to the National Revolutionary Police unit while others were left out in the Port of Cardenas.

Leticia explains that although she was also beat, in this case she was not the worst off.  “I want to shed light on the situation of Mercedes de la Caridad la Guardia who the agents, in addition to being beat, threw paint on her, later detained her in the PNR unit and then abandoned her 40 kilometers away from the city.  She was grabbed by the arm by PNR agent Yordan (badge #33500) and agent Yudy (the same woman who has beat us during past weekends and who threatened to shoot me in the forehead recently).  They punched her on her neck, face, abdomen, etc“.

Another worrying case was that of Elizabeth Pacheco Lama, a 23 year old Lady in White.  At the time of her arrest she was “injected on the head with different needles.  They dragged her, beat her, and even destroyed her shoes“, said Leticia.

Despite the State-sponsored violence, Leticia Ramos considers that one of the most significant factors that day was the fact that a number of everyday people showed solidarity with the persecuted women and, because of this, they also suffered violence at the hands of the police.

I want to thank many of the people of Cardenas who protected us.  The police pushed many of them against a wall, they beat them and many of them were shoved into police cars“, said the Matanzas dissident.

Meanwhile, in the city of Colon the violence was similar.  Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, former political prisoner and independent unionist, used his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) to detail that he was arrested upon stepping out of his home in the morning.

“After the violent arrest, dragging me threw the street and pushing me into a police vehicle, they abandoned me out on kilometer 170 on the national highway”, wrote the renown dissident.

Ivan Hernandez @ivanlibre tweeted this picture of the police agents stationed outside his home who later arrested him with violence.
Mobs harassing Ladies in White in Colon. Picture tweeted by @ivanlibre and @COliveraCuba

Ivan’s mother, Asuncion Carillo Hernandez (an elderly lady) was also arrested and they “left her out 1 kilometer after the exit of Colon, en route to San Jose”.

Ivan also tweeted about the case of Lady in White Maritza Perdomo, another woman who was harassed and arrested, kept in an unknown location for a while.

Hernandez Carrillo added that the police officials handcuffed him and twisted his arms back to the point that they cut his circulation in order to impede him from making the “L” shape with his hands (‘L’ for “Libertad”, Spanish for “Freedom”, a sign commonly used by Cuba’s opposition).

Renown dissident and former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta was also arrested that Sunday, among other human rights activists.

9 Ladies in White were able to make it to Mass in Colon, despite that many of them were later arrested and repressed.

Dissident Lazaro Diaz Sanchez published a photo on his Twitter account (@LazaroDiazSanch) of an injury he sustained after physical attacks by the political police approximately 3 weeks ago:

@LazaroDiazSanch

We blame the political police, the Castro brothers and their dictatorship for anything that may happen to Elizabeth Pacheco Lama, who was injected on the head.  She also has chunks of hair missing because they pulled it, her legs are scratched and she took many physical blows“, expressed Leticia Ramos, “We hold the dictatorship accountable for her physical integrity as well as that of all Ladies in White in Matanzas, and all of Cuba“.

More beatings, arrests, repudiation and injections against Ladies in White in Matanzas

Another bloody Sunday in Cuba, but the opposition continues defying the dictatorship

Ladies in White in Cardenas, Matanzas. The same ones who were violently beat this Sunday, 21st of July.

State Security and other police sectors of the Cuban regime repeated their violent actions against a number of Ladies in White and male dissidents in the province of Matanzas this Sunday, July 21st, mainly in the cities of Colon and Cardenas.  The news arrived just one week after similar violence on July 14th and after State Security agents had visited a number of work centers in the mentioned cities, convoking ‘corpulent’ people to participate in beatings against the dissidents.

However, the people who were convoked did not participate in the aggressions, according to independent unionist and former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre).  For this reason, the police was clearly bothered and once again unleashed a wave of arrests and beatings.  Ivan was one of the victims of repression that morning.

The dissident leader was arrested and beat by political police agents when he stepped out of his home in Colon to show solidarity with the Ladies in White of that area who were being harassed by paramilitary mobs.

Some of the other arrested activists between Colon and Cardenas were Juan Francisco Rangel, Reinier Penates Calzadilla, Francisco Brias Tamayo, Ibrahim Navarro, Emanuel Valles Rodríguez, Jorge Serrano Alfonso, Jesús González Lemus, Rudel Montes de Oca, Javier Erbello, Eduardo Hernández, Marisol Fernández, Batista Rodríguez Rivas, Niurka Rivero, José Hernández Carrillo, Irania Borrego, Nelson Ruiz Alonso, William Acevedo Roque, Yudaimis Hernández, José Hernández López, Elizabeth Pacheco, Juan Carlos Pazos, Eduardo Pacheco, former political prisoners Ángel Moya Acosta and Félix Navarro, as well as the daughter of the latter, Sayli Navarro.

In the majority, if not all, of these cases, after being threatened and beat, the dissidents were abandoned in desolate fields situated miles away from their homes or cities of residence.

Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the Ladies in White for Matanzas province and one of the most beat during this police operation, had much to tell about this.  She explains that in Cardenas the violence began after a group of women began their march after Mass at La Parroquia Church.

Since morning hours, there was a large cordon set up by the political police and the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) in front of the church.  There were also many women dressed in civilian clothes but they were really officials“, detailed Ramos. “We walked about a block or so when these people rushed up against us…they began to beat and started to shove us inside police vehicles“.

The detainees were taken individually to the Offices of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT), which Leticia describes as “a place being used lately as a torture center against dissidents, because it is located far away from the city and there no one can see how they beat us“.

In that center, police agents continued to beat the men and women while the guards simply joked around and laughed.  “The guards were laughing as the agents were beating us and together they began to verbally offend us, calling us ‘lesbians’ and threatening to ‘put a finger in our anus’, while the men were called ‘homosexuals’“, denounced Leticia.

One of the officials who beat the Lady in White the most was one known as “Chuly”, a member of the PNR.  She told Ramos that she was going to kill her, specifically by “putting a bullet right through my forehead if I kept assisting Mass and walking on Sundays“.  The same agent who injected Leticia with an unknown substance last Sunday also participated in the aggressions against her once again.

Leticia Ramos shows fracture on her lip after beating. July 21st 2013

There is also the case of Lady in White Odalys Hernandez who has a burn on her neck because they tried to strangle her.  She has bruises on her ribs, her abdomen and in her interior from the kicks she received.  Yamila Senda Ruiz was beat by the same officials who were beating me, while activists Francisco Villa, Manuel Barrio, Nelson Curbelo and others were detained and abandoned in desolate places“, recounts the dissident.

Leticia was abandoned in a place known as Sequeira, more than 20 kilometers from the road which leads to the town of Limonar.  The activist was able to return to her home in Cardenas thanks to the solidarity of an anonymous citizen who drove her back.  Something similar happened to Ivan Hernandez, who wrote on Twitter that a farmer gave him water and drove him back after the activist told him what had happened.  It is precisely this citizen solidarity which gravely worries the dictatorship.

“Today has been a victorious day for us, and a defeat for the tyrant”, wrote Hernandez, “they had to arrest us because they were not able to unify and convoke Cubans to repress us…as much as State Security tried to intimidate and recruit men in Colon for quite some days now, the people did not come to attack us”.

On her part, Leticia once against accused the government for what happened and assured that the official leading the operation was State Security Lieutenant Coronel Joaquin, the same person who masterminded the aggressions last weekend.

“All the blows are the fault of the regime and of Lieutenant Joaquin, who is in charge of this bloody hunt of Ladies in White and peaceful dissidents since last week in the province of Matanzas“, expressed Ramos Herreria, “but if they want to kill us, they are going to have to do it on the streets because the streets belong to the people of Cuba.  And I am Cuban and I am firm in my convictions.  We are all firm.  We will continue going to church and marching“.

Despite the violent atmosphere in Matanzas, it was reported that many Ladies in White in other provinces were able to surpass police cordons and march to and from their respective churches, from East to West of all Cuba.

–-

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Leticia Ramos Herrería – Cell Phone: +52-481-807
Iván Hernández Carrillo – Cell Phone: +52-599-366 / Twitter: @ivanlibre
Sayli Navarro – Cell Phone: +52-731-652 / Twitter: @SayliNavarro

Another bloody Sunday in Cuba, but the opposition continues defying the dictatorship

Ladies in White make it clear that they will continue on the streets of Cuba

Despite a propaganda-based campaign by the Cuban dictatorship against the Ladies in White in recent days, this 30th of June – the last day of the month – these women managed to march and assist Mass in different areas of the country, demanding freedom for all those Cubans who reside behind bars for thinking differently.

A total of 70 Ladies in White marched in Havana and participated in Mass at Santa Rita Catholic Church, according to a message published by former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta on his Twitter account (@jangelmoya).  The women were accompanied by 43 male dissidents.

In Matanzas province, 25 Ladies in White carried out their activities on the streets of different cities, reported Sayli Navarro (@SayliNavarro), a young member of the group.

Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, an independent unionist and former political prisoner, confirmed via Twitter (@ivanlibre) that in the central province of Villa Clara 6 Ladies in White marched to and from church without any problems.

Amid police vigilance, 1 Lady in White marched in the province of Ciego de Avila.

Hernandez Carrillo added in the Eastern province of Holguin, despite some arrests, 5 women were able to march.  Among these was Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, from the municipality of Banes, who managed to march for the first time in 2013.

I’ve been arrested as soon as I step out of my house each Sunday of 2013“, explained Ojeda Suarez to this blog, “and this Sunday I was finally able to march to the Catholic Church of Banes…with strong police vigilance, but I was able to go inside and there were 2 other  Ladies in White from the municipality waiting for me“.

As soon as Mass concluded, the 3 women marched, dressed in white and carrying flowers.

This has been a huge blow for State Security and we are very happy with this in Banes“, expressed Gertrudis, “despite the constant harassment, we carried out our march…and we will continue going out, even if they arrest us“.

In Guantanamo another 11 members of the female group marched and in Granma 5 managed to do so.

Ivan Hernandez added that 44 Ladies in White participated in Mass in El Cobre National Shrine in Santiago de Cuba and later carried out their symbolic march in solidarity with the political prisoners on the island.  State Security had blocked service on Belkis Cantillo’s cell phone for the entire day.  Cantillo is the representative of the group in that province.

The Ladies in White have made it more than clear that they will continue firm, marching out on the streets of Cuba, despite police persecution, while their membership increases.

 

Ladies in White make it clear that they will continue on the streets of Cuba

More than 163 Ladies in White march in Cuba for the freedom of all political prisoners

As occurs each Sunday, dozens of Ladies in White took to the streets of their respective cities this June 9th to participate in Mass and pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and later carry out civic marches carrying flowers and photos of some prisoners.

In the Cuban capital- Havana- 76 Ladies in White participated in Mass in the Santa Rita Church, according to a message published by dissident and former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre).  Moments later, Angel Moya Acosta, also a former political prisoner of conscience, tweeted (@jangelmoya) that 62 women carried out the habitual march down 5th Avenue accompanied by another 40 male activists.

In the central province of Villa Clara, 6 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass, while in Sancti Spiritus 2 women managed to do the same.

Ivan Hernandez added that a total of 21 women marched and made it to Mass in the province of Matanzas.  7 of them made it to the city of Colon, 12 in Cardenas and another 2 in Perico.

In the Eastern province of Santiago de Cuba 40 women marched to El Cobre National Shrine.  At least 3 arrests were confirmed, however, according to Hernandez Carrillo.  The detainees were Moraima Díaz Pérez, Edelmis León and Graciela Domínguez.

Sayli Navarro, a young member of the Ladies in White, informed on her Twitter account (@SayliNavarro) that a total of 12 women marched and made it to Santa Catalina de Ricci Parish in the province of Guantanamo, despite the strong vigilance on behalf of State Security agents.

In Holguin province, various arrests occurred, among them of Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez in the municipality of Banes.  She told this blog that “just like every other Sunday, I was detained by State Security and forcefully taken to the local police unit, amid verbal threats“.  Last weekend, the same agents threatened to handcuff and beat Ojeda.

The dissident has been victim of constant vigilance and police persecution. In fact, the government agents have raided her home and carried out numerous acts of repudiation on various occasions.  These actions have mainly affected her underage children.

“All of this is proof that repression against Ladies in White and the opposition continues in Cuba.  That is why I am denouncing, for all the world to hear, all these arrests I am being victim of, as well as my other sisters in struggle, all of them carried out by the dictatorship of the Castro brothers“, declared Gertrudis.

A number of other women were able to march in the municipality of Holguin.  Meanwhile, in the municipality of San German activist Eliecer Palma used his Twitter account (@eliecerpalma1) to confirm that 6 Ladies in White “managed to march and participated in the Church of San German, along with other dissidents”.

It’s important to point out that each one of these cases where Ladies in White march there has also been a strong presence by the political police which sets up cordons days before to arrest the women or to keep watch over them.  Many times, the Ladies in White have to leave their homes on Friday or during dawn hours of Saturday and passing through fields or desolate places to arrive to their respective churches and surpass these cordons.

Regardless, these women continue out on the streets so that the everyday people can listen to their demands and to show them that it is possible to obtain a public space on the island, despite the dictatorship’s repression.

More than 163 Ladies in White march in Cuba for the freedom of all political prisoners

Number of Ladies in White marching throughout the streets of Cuba increases

Wearing flags with the image of the Virgin of Charity which were donated during her visit to the Ermita de la Caridad in Miami, Berta Soler led the march of the Ladies in White in Cuba’s capital, Havana, this past Sunday June 2nd.  The women marched throughout the country, despite the presence of the political police.

A total of 68 women participated in Mass at the Santa Rita Church of Havana and marched down 5th Avenue afterward, according to a report by dissident leader Angel Moya Acosta.  It was the first march in which Soler participated after returning to the island last week after an international trip denouncing the reality of Cuba.

More than 10 women participated in Mass and carried out marches in the province of Matanzas.

In the Eastern province of Guantanamo, 12 Ladies in White marched and made it to Mass, according to a message published by Sayli Navarro on her Twitter account (@SayliNavarro).

67 Ladies in White marched through the streets of Santiago de Cuba province and made it to Mass in the National Cobre Shrine, an emblematic temple within Cuban culture.

The website “Ya Cuba Twittea” reported that at least 3 Ladies in White from Santiago were taken down from a bus by force by the political police.  The agents impeded them from arriving to Mass.

In the province of Holguin, various women were arrested.

Among the detainees were Rosa Maria Naranjo (Holguin), Danay Mendiola (Holguin), Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante (Antilla) and Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez (Banes).  The latter- Ojeda Suarez- explained to this blog that the repression against her is constant.  In fact, she recounts that when she was detained, a political police agent tried to handcuff her and physically harassed her.

Eleiny Villamonte, a young member of the female group in Holguin, confirmed that despite repression 5 women “were able to march and make it to Mass in the municipality of Cacocum and in the municipality of Holguin“.

Berta Soler also told  “Marti Noticias” that she has plans of expanding the Ladies in White movement, creating delegations in all the provinces of the country.

Number of Ladies in White marching throughout the streets of Cuba increases

Video captures Berta Soler’s emotional return to Cuba

Angel Moya Acosta, former political prisoner of conscience and husband of Berta Soler, representative of the Ladies in White, has published a video on his YouTube channel of Soler’s return to the island after she had been traveling abroad for a couple of months for the first time ever, denouncing the Cuban reality.

In the emotional re-encounter, we can see how a number of Ladies in White welcome Soler. Many of these women, as well as activists from other pro-freedom groups, were arrested by the political police so that they wouldn’t arrive to the Jose Marti Airport in Havana for the encounter.  However, Soler received a very warm welcome from relatives and friends.

In the video, Berta promises to expand the membership of the Ladies in White and reaffirms her compromise with the struggle in favor of human rights and freedom in Cuba.

Video captures Berta Soler’s emotional return to Cuba