The “War of Wearing Out”: Increase Violence, Destroy Symbols to Martyrs

This will be a war with the aim to wear you out“, that’s what the new political police chief in Placetas- Raul Acare Martinez- told Antunez while the latter resided in a jail cell during his most recent detention.  Martinez signaled that “every time you all (dissidents) go out to the streets, you will all continue to be arrested“.

Antunez has confirmed this, as he has been victim of 3 arrests (of 72 hours in length) in just one month.  The most recent one was on Tuesday, November 8th, when 14 dissidents from the Central Opposition Coalition and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front met up in a public location in order to carry out a peaceful sit-in in solidarity with Alcides Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer, both of who were in hunger strike at the time.  In addition, it was also a demonstration of solidarity with the savagely beaten Idania Yanez and various other dissidents who remain imprisoned for political reasons in Santiago de Cuba.

As soon as we concluded that activity and we started to walk back to my house, we were violently repressed and taken to the police unit“, explains Antunez, emphasizing the cases of various of his brothers and sisters in struggle who suffered health complications, such as Xiomara Martin Jimenez who suffered “a serious hypertension crisis” and the blind activist Jose Angel Vazquez who was treated just as ruthless as the others.  In the case of Antunez, relatives were informed that he was also experiencing various complications during his second day behind bars.  “I regularly suffer from hypoglycemic problems, and I grew very dizzy, had tachycardia, and strong pains in my chest“, he narrates.

Political Police agents 'hunting for dissidents' in Placetas. Taken from Antunez's blog "Im not leaving, im not shutting up"

The dissident from Placetas adds that his sister, Caridad Garcia Perez Antunez, who is not even a dissident, was “beaten and arrested along with her 15 year old daughter” as they walked in front of his home, trying to find out what was happening to her brother.

After 72 hours, all the non-violent demonstrators were released but the ‘war to wear out’ was clearly underway.

Since the weekend and Monday the 14th, the home of Antunez “has been target of a massive police operation, where no one is allowed to walk in front of the house, passing cars are diverted and they are asking all neighbors for identification“.  Despite this, numerous activists were able to surpass the police circle and met up to re-inaugurate a monument to the fallen Orlando Zapata Tamayo (which was debuted a few months ago during the ‘Zapata with Us’ campaign) which was destroyed by the political police last October 24th, during the Day of the Resistance.

Though some dissidents were present, many were detained, deported, or impeded from traveling.  Among those arrested were María del Carmen Martínez López and Yanisbel Valido Pérez (Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, Central Opposition Coalition) and among those deported were Yaimara Reyes Mesa, Lorenzo Hernández García, and Blas Agusto Fortun Martínez. Many other activists, from other provinces, were not able to make it due to the strong police operation in their towns which would not let them mobilize, as was the case of Ricardo Pupo Sierra from Cienfuegos.

Regardless, among those present were “from Camaguey, Santo Fernandez Sanchez and Leonardo Garcia Tomas from the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID), and coming from Banes, Rene Quiroga, Aurelio Antonio Morales, and Vivian Tamayo Ramayo from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, and from Ciego de Avila Julio Columbie Batista“, informed Antunez.

The vigilance, the threats, and the repression on behalf of government agents has not ceased, but regardless, the activists carried out the planned activities.  “Though many could not be there with us, there was still a significant number of people present,” affirms Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’, “and, in addition, Zapata was there with us in heart and in spirit“.

Antunez and other members of the Cuban resistance throughout the island have proved that even if the war unleashed against them by the dictatorship is trying to wear them out, they will not tire.

The “War of Wearing Out”: Increase Violence, Destroy Symbols to Martyrs

Caridad Caballero Does Not Give In Under Threats, Beatings, and Arrest

There have been various reports about the beatings unleashed upon 5 women and a man in Gibara, Holguin, Cuba which occurred a week ago on August 1st.  This account is from the voice of one of the brave women who suffered the beating in person- Caridad Caballero Batista.

Caballero Batista recounts that together with four other women- Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, Donaida Perez, and Trinidad Rodriguez Fabril- along with a male friend and dissident, Reinaldo Rodriguez Vazquez, they carried out a peaceful march in Gibara, Holguin, in demand of their rights and the rights of all Cubans.  According to the testimony of Caballero, this area of Gibara is coastal, with beaches, boulevards, and is a popular vacation spot.

Immediately, upon carrying out this march, Caballero recounts that, “we were attacked and provoked by State Security and the Rapid Response Brigades“.  The response from the dissidents came right away, shouting slogans in favor of freedom: “The streets belong to the people”, “freedom for all Cubans”, “no more hunger”, “just salaries”, and “down with Fidel and Raul“.

When the dissidents made it outside the terminal, the entire area was “surrounded by Coast Guards, the Rapid Response Brigade, the police, and State Security“.  The activists realized that, as usual, they were about to get beaten.  They then decided to apply a method of civic resistance (popularly used during the civil rights era in the United States) and sat down on the floor, refusing to move.  Their protest was completely non-violent.  Despite this, the agents started to punch them, kick them, and they even dragged them on the floor until they were tossed into the police vehicles.

In the case of Donaida and Yaimara,” explains Caridad, “they were thrown into the trunk of the cop car“.  In their defense, Caballero says that she “rushed out of the car and helped the women open the trunk.  Immediately, however, the agents pushed me away and shoved them out, letting them fall on the floor“.

An indignant people

When Caridad Caballero was once again inside the cop car she was able to see a “lady wearing a red shirt who was demanding to the police officers that they explain why they were doing this, and they beat her too“.  Meanwhile, “many others screamed that what was being done was an abuse, that we were only saying what everyone was thinking and feeling.  The people were truly upset“, affirms Batista.

Antunez and Yris Tamara also told of a similar story in another interview in regards to that same event, where a random man interceded between the women being beat and the police officers, demanding an end to the violence.  The man, whose identity is not known, also received brutal blows.

Detainment and more beatings

They took us to the Cost Guard Unit located in El Guirito, a very desolated place which has a prison right next door“, explains Caballero.  “They got us out of the truck by pulling our hair.  At one point I felt like my scalp was going to be ripped off from my head.  They punched our heads, kicked our backs, it was terrible“.  Caridad adds that she, along with Trinidad, were separated and situated towards the back of the unit.  There they were able to see the prison next door.  It was then that they noticed various prisoners making signals to them, “letting us know that they had seen everything and that they had already contacted the human rights people, people outside that area, denouncing what had happened“.

Once again, the activists were beaten and then separated.  Meanwhile, “Reinaldo was tossed into a cell and beaten for the third time that day“.  As for the others, “Yris, Donaida, and Yaimara were taken to an unknown location.  The last I saw from them was when they tried to separate Yaimara from the group.  Donaida rushed out in defense but they hit her very hard and she fell on the floor.  Upon seeing this we became very worried, and we started shouting ‘assassins’, ‘terrorists’,  and ‘abusers’.  When Donaida was picked up she could not stand on her own two feet, for she had been knocked  un-conscience“.

They kept us until the next day.  They released me in the afternoon and they left me in a place called La Trocha, a very desolate area“, explains Caballero, adding that before the police agents kicked her out of the car they told her ‘long live the commander’ (referring to dictator Fidel Castro).  Caridad quickly replied with “down with the commander“.  Upon walking through that unknown area she realized that it was mostly all grassland.  She walked and walked until she found a local, whom she asked for directions back to her town.  “That person told me how to get back and I was finally able to make it back home after a while.  But during this whole time my house was completely surrounded by State Security and they were not letting anyone go in or step out.  The whole block was closed off to dissidents“.

Denouncing other beatings, arrests

Caballero Batista also denounced other acts of repression which occurred that same day throughout the island.  “6 activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance- Esteban Romero, Milagro Leyva, Omar Wilson, Estevez, Lesli Fajardo Rivera, Omar Perez Torres, and Juan Carlos Vazquez Osorio- decided to carry out a non-violent march in Moa to mark the celebration of the Day of Resistance which was to occur on August 5th“.  The activists took to the street with a handmade sign which read ‘The Streets Belong to the People’ and “they walked all the way to Moa’s Central Park.  There, they were attacked by combined forces of State Security and the political police.  They were then shoved into jail cells for 72 hours- 3 days.  Some were deported, while others remained in Moa and we accused of public disorder“.

According to the dissident, in Banes there were also acts of violence.  “Aurelio Antonio Morales was detained and savagely beaten by political police and State Security agents.  He had bruises and wounds all over his body, and they even fractured his nasal septum.  There was no information as to where he was being held.  We only heard from him again 72 hours later when he was released“.

Caballero also condemned the recent detention of Luis Felipe Rojas as well as the brutal and bloody attack against Jose Daniel Ferrer, various other dissidents, and neighbors who had joined in solidarity, which occurred on Sunday August 7th in Palmarito de Cauto, also located in the Eastern region of Cuba.

Despite the violence and censorship, the opposition will continue onward

On the same day which the detainment and the beating in Gibara occurred, the repressive agents of the dictatorship confiscated the cell phones of all the dissidents involved.  “Mine was returned to me two days later“, tells Caridad Caballero Batista, explaining that her mobile device came back with damage and its services continue to have many failures.  “They practically broke it, now it blocks itself and drops calls“, explains Caballero.  That same phone was used for this interview and the signal would get interrupted every once in a while, and the call dropped a couple of times as well.  “Despite all the beatings they give us, despite all the torture inflicted upon us, we will continue defending human rights.  And each time, with more strength to continue onward“.

Caridad Caballero Does Not Give In Under Threats, Beatings, and Arrest