In Cuba, this past Palm Sunday (April 1st) was marked by the accustomed police repression against the Ladies in White throughout the island who were simply trying to assist Mass in their respective churches.
The former political prisoner of conscience and the national coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, published a series of messages on Twitter during the morning of that same Sunday detailing that a number of Ladies in White who were on their way to the El Cobre Sanctuary in Santiago de Cuba were detained by the political police. Meanwhile, the women who were not detained were stripped from their cell phones and white clothes.
In response to the confiscation of their belongings, 6 Ladies in White were able to direct themselves to the Confrontation Unit of Santiago de Cuba and carried out a non-violent protest, demanding that their clothes and phones be returned.
‘Marti Noticias‘ offered more details about these events, publishing an article in which they quote two of these Ladies in White who suffered reprisals. According to the report, the Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez Torres said that Dorky, the chief agent of the Confrontation Unit, told the women that “since he did not feel like it”, he was not going to give them back their clothes during that same day.
In the same article, another Lady in White, Aurora Martin Calderon, informed that all the paths to the El Cobre Sanctuary in Santiago de Cuba were militarized by the forces of the Cuban regime. Because of this, only 7 women made it Mass in that temple.
Meanwhile, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia also offered declarations to the ‘Hablalo sin Miedo‘ website, explaining that because of the state repression which impeded dissidents from arriving to Santiago de Cuba, about “a dozen” Ladies in White decided to assist mass in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Palma Soriano. They were able to make it inside the church without being detained. However, a bus full of police agents ready to repress them was stationed outside the church. Fortunately, the women were not detained after Mass but they were under surveillance all along the way back home.
Also in Eastern Cuba, but in the city of Holguin, Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista was violently arrested along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez when they both tried to make it to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church. It was the fifteenth consecutive Sunday in which they were kept from assisting church.
Batista told this blog that “from early on in the morning, a police vehicle with numerous police officials inside was circling my house, as were various State Security motorcycles. They were trying to intimidate us to not step out“, but the couple left their home regardless. They were rapidly detained and taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales, where they were kept in humid and hermetically sealed punishment cells until 11:30 AM. “They do things like this is as a form of blackmail“, explains Caballero, “because our church begins its Mass at 9 AM and it concludes at 11 AM“.
Batista added that she could not communicate with other Ladies in White in that same city, such as Isabel Pena, due to the fact that many telephone lines continue to be blocked throughout the island.
Caridad Caballero also added that she and her husband are both suffering from strong kidney pains due to “so much time without drinking water during our hunger and thirst strikes” as well as because of the countless aggressions against them and the many times they have been left under the scorching sun as a method of torture.
In Banes, Holguin, the Ladies in white Marta Diaz Rondon and Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez were under tight surveillance ever since Saturday, March 31st. Although they were able to make it to church on Palm Sunday, they were surrounded in their homes upon returning. Police agents did not allow them to leave during the remainder of the day.
This has been a partial summary of the repressive actions committed against the Ladies in White on the first of April, Palm Sunday. For more information directly from Cuba, please contact:
Caridad Caballero Batista - Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @Caricaballero // Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352-771-639 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon