On the morning of Friday, June 28th, the political police raided the home of activist Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo, of UNPACU, in Santiago de Cuba, beating him and later arresting him.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the pro-freedom group, sent out a document with details of these aggressions and denouncing the rise of violence against the Cuban opposition. The document has been published via Twitter by the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez (@anyerantoniobla).
Here’s my English translation:
Another assault, more arbitrary beatings and arrests of UNPACU members
Santiago de Cuba, June 28th 2013
At around 7 AM, more than a dozen Political Police and National Police agents violently raided the home of Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo, secretary of the “Zapata Lives” Cell of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), located on E Street, between 5 and 6th, Sueno Neighorhood, in Santiago de Cuba. Lieutenant Colonel Dorquis and Captain Julio Fonseca led the assault.
Daniel Barriel was beat inside his house, in front of his wife Yileisis Chaovin and their two underage children. He was then dragged out (in underwear) and taken to the Political Police Unit in Alturas de Versalles, in the southern part of the city.
The home was searched for more than two hours and the agents ended up taking three cell phones, various CDs, USB drives with audio-visual material, printouts and one photo camera.
Daniel Barriel and the “Zapata Lives” Cell, which is mainly made up of young dissidents, have been carrying out a series of important pro-democracy activities in the city of Santiago de Cuba. This is why the regime has acted against them with such aggression. On UNPACU’s YouTube channel a number of these videos have been published, showcasing their creativity and their dynamic attitude.
In the last 22 months, members of UNPACU have been victims of countless house raids, robbery, beatings, arbitrary detentions and imprisonment for political reasons, as occurs against all peaceful dissidents in Cuba.
Recently, Gohart Cruz Zamora, secretary of the “Harold Cepero” Cell in Altamira, Santiago de Cuba, was victim of a machete attack on his left shoulder. The political police awarded the aggressor, who committed a crime of “attempt of murder”, with food and other benefits which promise to not process him or to evict him from the hut he lives in.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia
Executive Secretary of UNPACU
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Jose Daniel Ferrr – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
*Note: Daniel Barriel appears in this video handing out pro-freedom literature in Santiago de Cuba recently.
A young Cuban can finally hug his father- unjustly imprisoned for nearly one month- and a massive hunger strike by more than 60 citizens has come to an end, yielding positive results.
The protest was initiated by members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in demand for the release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza. He was arrested by the political police on April 9th after they raided his home in Maffo, Contramaestre. His crime? Offering his house each Tuesday to impart courses on peaceful resistance and civil disobedience. At the moment of his arrest, Lozada started a hunger strike. Members of his family followed his protest, starting their own strikes. Among them his 17-year old son Enrique Lozada, his wife Darmis Aguedo, his brother Arnoldo Lozada, and others. In just a few days about a dozen other activists, under the lead of former political prisoner and leader of UNPACU Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, also started strikes. Eventually, more than 60 dissidents in different regions such as Palma Soriano, Holguin, San Luis and Gibara were on hunger strike.
After what seemed like countless acts of repudiation, arrests, and threats by the political police, as well as serious health complications product of more than 4 weeks on strike, the activists achieved their objective on the night of May 7th: The authorities handed a document to Enrique Lozada, explaining that his father would be released, promising that he would be back home in Contramaestre on the following morning.
Upon confirming the news, the young activist finally stopped his strike, drinking juice. Enrique moved the world after he published a video assuring that he was willing to die for his father. His health was seriously affected.
“I am giving thanks in the name of the family and in the name of the hunger strikers, thanks to the hundreds of UNPACU activists that were carrying out different actions throughout the country, thanks to activists of other organizations who joined us in solidarity, thanks to our brothers in exile who have always backed us with solidarity”, expressed Jose Daniel Ferrer in one of the first audios published on the YouTube account of UNPACU.
The release of Lozada Igarza did not come easy. The same day in which the news was made public- May 7th- the regime unleashed a brutal wave of repression against various strikers and other activists showing solidarity. On that same afternoon, the political police assauled the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital of Santiago de Cuba, where some of the strikers had been taken, forcefully removing them. Some were beat and abandoned in different parts of the province. In the case of Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez, police agents ripped off her IV, which caused her much bleeding, according to a report by her son, the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez. The same occurred with Ernique Lozada, who even passed out after strong aggressions.
Another activist who was forcefully removed from the hospital was 60-year old Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez, while activists displaying solidarity in front of the hospital were also beat and detained, as was the case of Ovidio Martin Castellanos, among others.
In Holguin, the hunger strikers Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora were denied medical assistance on various occasions, but the protests by a number of dissidents forced the local hospital to assist him. The State-sponsored violence could not impede activists from joining the strikers in support. In Pinar del Rio, more than 50 dissidents held fasts, backing the call for Lozada Igarza’s freedom. Members of other pro-freedom movements like the Ladies in White, the Republican Party of Cuba and the OZT National Resistance Front carried out marches, protests, encounters and other activities in solidarity.
A campaign started by everyday citizens was created outside of Cuba, where activists used social networks to denounce the situation plaguing the strikers and in search of support. Various petitions were created with the purpose of taking the details to international human rights organizations, while in Twitter the hashtag #HuelgadeHambreUNPACU (“HungerStrikeCuba”) was created. This pressure led various politicians and other public figures to make public statements in favor of Luis Enrique Lozada’s release.
Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, representative of UNPACU in exile, started a fast alongside other activists in a display of support for those risking their lives on the island. They maintained the fast until the very moment in which Lozada’s liberation was announced.
This has been another series of actions that prove that Cubans can achieve positive things in their country and it is more proof that citizens do have power. The internal opposition, through the civic protests of UNPACU and others, left the dictatorship with no other option but to release human rights activist Luis Enrique Lozada.
It is clear that the regime has sent a message of violence to the opposition with their wave of aggressions during the strike, specially on the last day, just minutes before releasing the activist. But dissidents have also responded, sending their own message to the dictatorship:
“We will keep up the struggle…we have been able to get one man out of the dungeons of the tyranny, but other political prisoners are still behind bars in inhumane conditions”, said Jose Daniel Ferrer, mentioning more than 40 UNPACU activists who are imprisoned for having different ideas, “but we will continue fighting for their freedom, and for the freedom of Cuba, with much more strength, with much more dedication, and much more desire than ever”.
*Congratulations to all those who risked their lives for the release of an innocent man. – (Pedazos de la Isla)
After more than 2 weeks on hunger strike, three activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) have been urgently rushed to the JuanBrunoZayasHospital in Santiago de Cuba due to serious health complications.
The strikers are Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez (suffering from diabetes), the elderly activist Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez, and 17-year-old Enrique Lozada. The latter is the son of Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza who was arbitrarily arrested on April 9th. His arrest was what led to the massive strike by UNPACU activists. Now, the health of all the strikers is getting worse.
Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez, a youth activist from UNPACU, published various messages on Twitter (@anyerantoniobla) detailing the situation.
“The general health of the hunger strikers is critical”, read one message written by Blanco Rodriguez.
In an audio published by “Radio Republica” Anyer points out that the three hunger strikers have been taken to the same hospital where Wilman Villar Mendoza was, while Luis Enrique Lozada has been confined to the same exact cell in the Aguadores Prison of Santiago where Villar was tortured and taken to his death. Wilman Villar was a political prisoner who died after a lengthy hunger strike in early 2012.
Recently, other strikers have also been taken to hospitals, as was the case of Lady in White Adriana Nunez Pascual and the activists from Holguin, Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora.
There is much worry about the health of the strikers, especially the young Enrique Lozada. In a recent video published by UNPACU he said that he is willing to take his protest, for the liberation of his father, “to the final consequences”.
“We need the solidarity of all Cuban, inside and outside of the island”, expressed Blanco Rodriguez.
Pictured in this photo is Luis Enrique Lozada (right), an activist of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), along with his family, in Maffo, Contramaestre. Lozada has been imprisoned for more than 2 weeks, after he was arbitrarily arrested by the political police. He offers his home each Tuesday to impart courses on civil disobedience and non-violent struggles for local activists as well as everyday citizens- neighbors, friends, etc. These encounters usually end in acts of repudiations and house raids at the hands of State Security, and it is also the reason for his detention last April 9th.
Luis Enrique was kept in the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba for various days before being transferred over to the Boniato Prison. In response, approximately 14 relatives and friends stood outside the unit demanding his release, carrying out hunger strikes and protests. On his part, Lozada also declared himself on hunger strike.
The protest expanded when a total of 20 activists from UNPACU joined in. But now, there are more than 50 Cubans on hunger strike for the same cause. Here are the faces and stories of some of them:
Pictured above is Enrique Lozada Aguedo. He’s the 17-year old son of Luis Enrique Lozada. For a while, he was the youngest member of UNPACU, and in 2012 called on the Cuban youth to join the dissident movement to demand their rights. Now, he has put his life on the line to demand his father’s release.
Darmis Aguedo Zaldivar, wife of Luis Enrique Lozada, mother of Enrique; she is a Lady in White and member of UNPACU. She demands an end to the violence against her husband, her children, and the rest of her family and members of the peaceful opposition movement in the Eastern region of the country.
Arnoldo Lozada Igarza is Luis Enrique’s brother. He is frequently subjected to police violence along with his brother while they participate in the courses on non-violent civic struggles.
This is Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez, from Santiago de Cuba. She is frequently persecuted and arrested by the political police when she tries to make it to Sunday Mass at the National Cobre Shrine. She is the mother of the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez.
José Daniel Ferrer García, executive secretary of UNPACU, he is a former political prisoner of conscience and one of the leaders of the internal opposition on the island. He started his hunger strike alongside dozens of other activists in the Cespedes Park of Santiago de Cuba, right in front of the Cathedral of Santiago. Afterward, he took his protest back to his home in Palmarito de Cauto, which serves as one of the main meeting points of UNPACU. He said his protest was for the release of Luis Enrique Lozada as well as for the release of all detained UNPACU activists. In addition, he is calling for an end to violence against all peaceful dissidents in Cuba and is shedding light on the situation of more than 40 members of UNPACU who have been sentenced to prison terms for several years. Ferrer Garcia suffers from various health issues, all of them acquired in dungeons during his 7 year prison sentence, and his hunger strike may intensify these complications.
Sirley Avila, an ex delegate of the Popular Power Department in Limones, Las Tunas. She was fired for speaking without censorship and for trying to truthfully represent the people. Recently, she has joined the opposition. She’s been blacklisted by the government since.
More photos of some other hunger strikers:
Anyer Antonio Blanco, who provided the photos shown in this post, said on his Twitter account (@anyerantoniobla) on April 23rd that there are now a total of 54 hunger strikers. They hail from Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, San Luis, Holguin, Banes, Las Tunas, Pinar del Rio and many other places. The strikers are from UNPACU, but many other activists from diverse pro-freedom organizations have joined in fasts or with public protests, like the case of Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, where members of the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and of the Rosa Parks Movement have been carrying out several demonstrations, and the members of the Democratic Alliance of Pinar del Rio, who have more than 60 members fasting in the province of Pinar del Rio. The Ladies in White and national coalitions such as the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front have also joined in solidarity.
The political police has increased the level of violence against all those who lend their homes to show solidarity with the strikers, as well as against those who carry out marches or other civic protests. Many have been arrested and beaten, as was the case of Rubislandi Avila, rushed to a hospital after a brutal beat-down at the hands of the police in the town of Mella (Santiago de Cuba).
Meanwhile, in exile, Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia and Ana Belkis Ferrer Garcia (siblings of Jose Daniel Ferrer) have started a fast in solidarity with the strikers. Various Cubans living in different cities have joined the call. They are convoking others to participate in this display of support. Visit their webpage here.
Dozens of members of the Ladies in White assisted Mass this Sunday, April 21st, despite numerous cordons set up by the political police. The women prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners as they habitually do, and also in solidarity with victims of violence in Cuba, like the 40 hunger strikers of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), as well as the victims of a terrorist attack this past week in the US city of Boston.
Former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta offered more details on his Twitter account (@jangelmoya). “50 Ladies in White marched down 5th Avenue and dedicated their march to the hunger strikers in Santiago de Cuba, as well as the victims of the terrorist attack in Boston”.
More than 170 people were injured while 3 died in the Boston bombings. Meanwhile, in Eastern Cuba, the repressive actions of the government have dramatically increased against the 40 hunger strikers, among them Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, as they demand the release of detained dissident Luis Enrique Lozada (also on hunger strike) and calling for an end to the brutality against human rights activists in the country.
The strikers, as well as numerous other dissidents who have joined them in demonstrations of solidarity, have been victims of acts of repudiation, death threats, house raids and arrests this week.
A total of 20 Ladies in White in the province of Matanzas managed to march with flowers in their hands, according to Sayli Navarro (@SayliNavarro), a young member of the group.
Navarro added that in Guantanamo 8 women marched and made it to Mass. When the religious service came to an end, the Ladies carried out their monthly meeting in the headquarters of the group in that area.
Anyer Antonio Blanco, an activist of UNPACU, reported that 34 Ladies in White participated in Mass at Palma Soriano, where Father Palma (the local priest) dedicated the sermon to the women and prayed for their protection, as well as for the hunger strikers.
Blanco said that 16 women carried out their civic march in Santiago de Cuba, and as far as he confirmed, only 1 woman was arbitrarily arrested.
During night hours of that same Sunday, the renown Ladies in White Laura Pabrada, daughter of the fallen leader of the group Laura Pollan, and Belkis Cantillo, representative of the group in Santiago de Cuba and wife of Jose Daniel Ferrer, traveled to Brussels to meet up with Berta Soler, representative of the movement, to finally receive the Sajarov Award, given to them in 2005. The Cuban dictatorship had denied Laura Pollan and other members of the group to travel outside of the country to pick up the award, but now the 3 mentioned women have been able to travel.
Soler has expressed that, in reality, these things don’t represent reforms, but instead attempts to distract international attention over the escalating level of repression against the internal opposition. However, she has been internationally denouncing the constant human rights violations in Cuba during her time outside the country, emphasizing cases such as that of Sonia Garro, Lady in White imprisoned in Havana for more than 1 year along with her husband Ramon Alejandro Munoz.
A total of 26 member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), among them one of its leaders, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, remain on hunger strike as a civic protest against the growing number of violent detentions of human rights activists and the increase of political prisoners. As of now, all the strikers hail from the Eastern region of the country.
The protest originated on Monday, April 15th, when a group of about 14 activists stood outside the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba, demanding the release of dissident Luis Enrique Lozada, of UNPACU, who has been detained and on hunger strike in the mentioned unit since Tuesday, April 9th. His underage son, Enrique Lozada, as well as other relatives and brothers-in-struggle decided to carry out their own hunger strikes in solidarity.
On Tuesday, April 16th, a total of 24 dissidents of the same pro-freedom organization took the protest to the Cespedes Park of Santiago de Cuba, in front of the Cathedral of Santiago and the Communist Party of that area. Here is the video, courtesy of UNPACU, of the protest. One can also see various violent arrests of peaceful dissidents who tried to join the demonstration:
During the night of the 16th, monsignor Dionisio Garcia Ibanez, of Santiago, personally told Jose Daniel Ferrer that he would intercede for them, so that the political detainees, like Luis Enrique Lozada, be liberated.
Ferrer and the other hunger strikers returned to their homes, but they are still on strike. In this video, they explain their reasoning:
This 18th of April the UNPACU strikers are as follows: 11 in Palmarito de Cauto, 6 in San Luis and 9 in Santiago de Cuba, with a total of 26.
Meanwhile, on Twitter the young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez created the hashtag #huelgadehambreUNPACU (“hungerstrikeUNPACU”) to demonstrate solidarity with those carrying out the protest and the political prisoners. Blanco Rodriguez also published various messages informing that in diverse regions of the island there have been signs appearing with messages in favor of the strikers, while many public protests have been carried out, also in solidarity with the 26 dissidents which have put their own lives at risk for the freedom of others.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
José Daniel Ferrer García- Cell Phone: + 53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Anyer Antonio Blanco- Cell Phone: +58-146-606 / Twitter: @anyerantoniobla
In what was an emotional encounter, 43 Ladies in White managed to carry out their habitual march in Havana this Sunday, 14th of April, not only with the presence of various human rights activists, but also with the participation of recently released independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias. The Ladies, in addition to celebrating the victory of Calixto’s liberation, also demanded the release of the many other political prisoners still behind bars in the island.
“When liberated, it is the duty of all political prisoners to come with the Ladies in White and stand with them in their bastion of freedom”, said Martinez Arias in declarations made to former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, published on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre).
Calixto Ramon Martinez was released from prison after more than 7 months behind bars, thanks to the solidarity of people in and out of Cuba who carried out campaigns and public activities to pressure the regime.
The Ladies in White also dedicated their march to Enrique Ros, famous Cuban exiled historian who passed away this week.
Ivan Hernandez tweeted that 16 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass in the province of Matanzas, while 2 surpassed police cordons in Ciego de Avila and made it to church.
In Guantanamo, 10 Ladies in White marched and participated in Mass.
Meanwhile, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, 32 Ladies in White made it past operations set up by State Security and made it to El Cobre National Shrine. A number of women were reportedly detained between Saturday and Sunday.
Anyer Antonio Blanco, member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), published an audio on his Twitter account (@anyerantoniobla) where his mother, Lady in White, Ana Celia Rodríguez, was being arrested alongside another activist in Santiago. Rodriguez was forcefully taken out of a vehicle and sent to a police unit for various hours.
The Ladies in White have made it very clear that despite that they are being subjected to different forms of repression, they will continue risking it all on the streets to demand freedom for each and every Cuban who resides behind bars for thinking differently.
José Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU, later expressed in his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) that “with all the brutal repression, and the advantage of media and resources, once again, the Ladies in White surpass the methods of the political police”.