Regime carries out acts of repudiation against dissidents in Gibara, Holguin

Members of different opposition groups were targets of acts of repudiation this past June 18th in the municipality of Gibara, in the province of Holguin.

Gabriel Arcángel Martínez Leyva, director of the Republican Party of Cuba in the mentioned municipality, said that the actions – organized by functionaries of the regime – began at 7:30 AM and ended near 12 in the afternoon.

An act of repudiation was carried out around the home of Trinidad Rodriguez.  Agents of the Rapid Response Brigade, the political police and of the National Revolutionary Police surrounded the house“, explained the activist, “it was a total of about 30 or 40 people who were shouting at us and threatening to beat us if we stepped out of the house.  This happened because we had plans to go to the Gibara Terminal to travel to the town of Velasco“.

‘Acts of repudiation’ is the name given to the situation where the Cuban government organizes groups of people who shout offenses and threats at dissidents outside their homes.  Many times, the actions end in house raids and the vast majority of its participants are members of the regime.  Very few times do activists confirm the participants as neighbors, and when they do, they are usually drunkards or criminals.

Martinez Leyva considers that the persecution and harassment are due to various social projects that are being carried out in the area.

This happens because of some projects carried out by the Republican Party of Cuba and by FLAMUR for the benefit of all Cubans“, said Martinez, “among these projects is ‘One Currency’ and ‘Increase and Lower’“.

The latter of the initiatives demands the totalitarian system to increase salaries of Cuban workers and lower prices of products and services of basic needs, like food, clothing and transportation.

Acts of repudiation also took place at the same time against other activists, among them Ylienly Aguilera Santos and Arselio Osvaldo Cruz Velazquez, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Gibara.

Repression against other members of the opposition in the province of Holguin have increased within the last months.  The Ladies in White in the area have also been denouncing these situations.

For example, Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the Ladies in White in that province, has said that State Security agents arrest a number of women each Sunday so that they do not make it to Mass, while other members like Gertrudis Ojeda Suárez (in the municipality of Banes) and Mildred Noemí Sánchez Infante (in the municipality of Antilla) have backed up these claims, seeing as they are some of the women who are quickly arrested by the political police when they step outside of their homes each Sunday.

Regime carries out acts of repudiation against dissidents in Gibara, Holguin

Lady in White not allowed to assist Mass so far in 2013 (Audio)

Each Sunday, police forces are deployed throughout the municipality of Antilla, in Holguin province, with the mission of carrying out an arrest. It’s not about a citizen who robs stores, or who breaks into homes or who kills or harasses other citizens. No. It has to do with a Lady in White: Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante. The police cordons are also activated when there are other civic activities taking place, just like the monthly encounter which the Ladies in white carry out. The harassment has been so severe that the mentioned activist has not been able to assist Sunday Mass in 2013 so far to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners as all these women do throughout the island.

Sanchez Infante was arrested at around 5 AM this past Friday, May 17th, as she was trying to travel from Antilla to the city of Holguin to participate in the monthly meeting held by the Ladies in White in that province. The main agent in charge of the arrest was Yosvany Reyes Maltrapa.

Agent Maltrapa twisted my left arm and with his other hand he punched my mouth“, explained Mildred. The activist was kept in a dungeon of a police unit until a couple of minutes past 10 AM, after the meeting had come to an end.

A couple of State Security agents also threatened Mildred’ mother, telling her that she should “talk her daughter out” of participating in dissident activities. If she didn’t do so, they would both suffer the consequences, one agent told the lady.

Mildred suffered yet another threat. “Agent Yosvany told me that he was going to attack me, or ‘get me’, one of these days when I was alone“, she denounces.

They always arrest me“, expressed Mildred, “in 2013 so far I have not been able to assist Mass in the city of Holguin…not even here in my own neighborhood of Antilla. When the police sees that Mass ends, then they release me. I don’t have the exact number of arrests I’ve had so far in 2013. I have not been able to participate in the reunions of the Ladies in White, in mass, or in another other peaceful activities of the opposition“.

Listen to Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante’s testimony (in Spanish) here:

This repression against the Ladies in White and other pro-freedom activists in the province of Holguin is constant.  Berta Guerrero, resident of the city of Holguin and representantive of the female group for the province, denounces that each Sunday a number of women are arrested when they try to make it to Mass.  In fact, a police agent has even told them that they would have to “buy a helicopter” if they wanted to make it to church.


For more informaiton from Cuba, contact:
Mildred Noemí Sánchez Infante- Cell Phone: +52-615-097

Lady in White not allowed to assist Mass so far in 2013 (Audio)

Ladies in White march in Cuba in honor of Mother’s Day

The Ladies in White marched through the streets of Cuba this Sunday, May 12th, in honor of Mother’s Day, sending out greetings to Cuban women around the world, as well as a special tribute to Laura Pollan Toledo, deceased founder of the group.  It was confirmed that some women suffered reprisals at the hands of the political police, although the majority were able to carry out their weekly march, flowers at hand, to assist Mass and pray for the freedom of all political prisoners.

In Havana, 48 Ladies in White marched down 5th Avenue accompanied by 29 male human rights activists.  They dedicated their walk to all the mothers of the world, according to a tweet published by former political prisoner and dissident leader Angel Moya Acosta (@jangelmoya).

Leticia Ramos Herrería, representative of the group in Matanzas, said that a total of 17 women marched and assisted Mass in the entire province.  She added that in Cardenas, city where she resides, “11 Ladies in White were able to march for 11 blocks after Mass all the way to the Monument of the Mothers, where we deposited 2 bouquets of flowers“.

After that tribute, Herreria explained that the activists began to shout “Long Live Laura Pollan” for various minutes.  In this occasion there were no arrests but there was a constant vigilance by the police.

Meanwhile“, recounted Leticia, “Citizens were congratulating us and wishing us a Happy Mother’s Day when we marched by them.  There was a display of solidarity“.

In the province of Holguin things looked a bit different.  Although 10 Ladies in White managed to arrive at their respective temples, some were arbitrarily arrested by the political police.

Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the women’s group for the mentioned province, said that all the Ladies in White from Holguin “awoke that morning with their homes surrounded by State Security, under strict vigilance.  The operation had started at dawn“.

Two of the detainees were Eimirce Cespedes Estrada (from Velasco, Holguin) and Yarelys Castaneda Almarales (Holguin).  The latter “was detained together with her 1 year old son who she was carrying in her arms.  Just like that, the political police took them to a dungeon for a number of hours“.

Her husband was also physically assaulted by various agents who applied a headlock on him when he came in defense of his wife.

Guerrero adds that Yolanda Perez Diaz, who is not a Lady in White but a member of the dissident Claridad Movement of Holguin, “was intercepted by agent Adony Charles, of State Security, who told her that she was on his bad side that morning and that he wouldn’t let her come out of her house“.

I am denouncing the constant abuse, the harassment, and the psychological war carried out by State Security against us, the Ladies in White of Holguin.  These violations are constant.  In fact, they have told us that we will never be able to go to church“, said Guerrero Segura.

In Palma Soriano 33 Ladies in White marched and successfully made it to church while in the municipality of Santiago de Cuba another 21 Ladies made it, according to declarations made by Ana Celia Rodriguez to this blog.  Rodriguez was one of the Cubans recently on hunger strike demanding the release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza.  Her health, like that of the majority of all other former strikers, is still delicate.

The majority of the members of the Ladies in White are mothers and chose to dedicate the symbolic date in honor of so many women who have risked their lives fighting for the freedom of not only their families but also of the entire nation, as is the case of Sonia Garro Alfonso, a Lady in White and Cuban mother who is currently in prison and has been for 1 year and 2 months.

Not even on Mother’s Day does the regime respect these women, carrying out arrests and keeping them under strict vigilance, but they keep praying, they keep speaking out, they keep marching.

In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s a video made by the authors of this blog in 2012, in honor of the Cuban woman:

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Leticia Ramos Herrería- Cell Phone: +52-481-807
Berta Guerrero Segura- Cell Phone: +53-632-110
Ana Celia Rodríguez- Cell Phone: +52-996-531

Ladies in White march in Cuba in honor of Mother’s Day

Ladies in White denounce constant persecution in Holguin province

I want to let the world know about the situation we Ladies in White are going through in the province of Holguin, Sunday after Sunday“, said Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the women’s group in the mentioned province, highlighting that each weekend the women are arrested by the political police in order to impede them from assisting Sunday Mass to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners.

Guerrero explains that since 2012 the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church, located in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood in the city of Holguin, “has been surrounded and under the surveillance of police officials on all four corners“.  These same agents arrest the women whenever they get near the temple, that’s if they even manage to make it out of their homes as these are constantly surrounded as well.

The persecution has expanded to the point that the Second Chief of Confrontation in the area, Yordanis Martinez Leon, has told Berta Guerrero and the rest of the women that “if they want to go to church they will have to buy a helicopter to drop them off inside because he is not going to allow them“.

Due to the constant arrests, a number of Ladies in White from Holguin try to assist Mass in another local church- the Cathedral of San Isidoro.  The vigilance is just the same there lately.

For instance, this Sunday 5th of May, only 3 women made it inside the San Isidoro Church and only 2 at Jesus Christ the Redeemer.  In the municipality of Cacocum another 2 Ladies marched and participated in Mass.  A total of 8 women were arrested.

Yesterday, May 5th, a police agent went inside The Redeemer Church and told the religious authorities that the Ladies in White were provoking public disorder.  A number of other agents entered the church after that“, recounted Guerrero.  “The two women who made it inside were mistreated by a woman who calls herself Eva and says to work in the church“.

On past Sundays the police has invaded the church, even offending Father Aldama on a number of occasions.  We have presented our complaints to the archbishop and the church in general but up to now we have not received a single response“.

Guerrero adds that during the Mass there are State Security agents keeping tight vigilance over the women, photographing the few who manage to make it inside.

When the women are arrested they are abandoned in desolate areas, far from their homes, such as the dumpster or near a cemetery.  Many are threatened with death, as the recent cases of  Bárbara Bauza Drigg and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.

On May 5th, State Security agents not only arrested Barbara Bauza and Ana Maria Aguilera, but they also threatened them with death.  They told them that they would kill them and leave them, once and for all, inside the cemetery because they were giving them too much trouble“, denounced Berta Guerrero.  The women were not able to identify the aggressor because he did not provide a name or badge number.

In 2012 Lady in White and Holguin native Caridad Caballero Batista (now in exile) could only assist Mass a total of 2 times.  She was violently arrested on each attempt every Sunday.  The same repression has continued throughout the entire province against these women who, despite the threats, keep marching, refusing to accept their homes as prison cells.

I am denouncing this regime run by the Castro brothers, for what may happen to any of us“, said Berta Guerrero.

Despite State violence, a total of 143 Ladies in White made it to Mass throughout the country, according to a report by the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’.  The female activists dedicated the march to detained hunger striker Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza and in solidarity with the more than 60 activists on hunger strike to demand his freedom.

For more information from Cuba, contact:
Berta Guerrero Segura- Cell Phone: +53-632-110

Ladies in White denounce constant persecution in Holguin province

Update: Tense situation for Cuban hunger strikers who demand release of jailed activist (Videos)

Dissident leader Jose Daniel Ferrer weakened during 19th day of hunger strike
Youngest hunger striker, Enrique Lozada (17) during hunger strike

More activists keep joining the massive hunger strike encompassing more than 60 people throughout Eastern Cuba, demanding the release of detained dissident Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, while the other strikers who have already been refusing to eat for more than 3 weeks maintain their protest, which has led to the deterioration of their health.  The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) has been publishing a series of videos and audios in their  YouTube channel with updates on the situation.In this video (above), the youngest of the strikers, 17-year old Enrique Lozada, who is the son of Luis Enrique Lozada, defends his protest before various doctors sent by the government to try and make him give up on his demands in the Juan Bruno Zayas hospital of Santiago de Cuba.

“With the level of stress I have  right now, knowing that my mother is also on hunger strike, as well as my uncle, seeing as how my family is being torn apart, do you really think I feel like living?”, the young Cuban tells the team of doctors, “Why am I going to live knowing that my father is dying in a prison cell because of a crime he never committed?  Knowing that my family is falling to pieces”.

The video concludes with the protest of various hunger strikers that are present in that room.  They point out that the regime has ignored their demands and has not even acknowledged the situation of Luis Enrique Lozada and the other strikers.

In this audio (above), Darmis Aguedo, wife of Luis Enrique Lozada, mother of Enrique, and also on hunger strike, explains that she was able to see her husband recently in the Provincial Hospital of Santiago.  She said he was being held in an “isolated” room and under the “permanent” custody of two armed police guards.  They were able to speak for a few minutes.  She said he was still strong in spirit but his health proved otherwise, as he has lots of weight due to the hunger strike.

Meanwhile, independent journalist Alexei Jimenez informed on his Twitter account (@jugandomelavida) that the hunger strikers in Holguin- Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora– were taken to a hospital for a few hours on the night of May 5th.  Berta Guerrero, a member of the Ladies in White and wife of Franklin Peregrino, offered more details.  She said both strikers had been denied medical assistance various times.

On the afternoon of Sunday May 5th, various activists directed themselves to the nearest medical center, asking for an ambulance for Pergrino and Leiva but the medical employees ignored them.  A few hours later, a doctor finally showed up at the house, taking both dissidents to the Lenin Hospital to be hydrated.  Guerrero explains that the health of the Holguin hunger strikers- whom have already been in their protest for 15 days- has drastically weakened but that they will maintain their protest “until Lozada Igarza is freed”.  In Gibara (Holguin), another 4 activists have joined the strike.  The response of the political police has been to organize acts of repudiation against them.

Solidarity with the hunger strikers on behalf of the internal opposition has been national, however.  In Palma Soriano, various UNPACU members recently carried out a public march, demanding Luis Enrique’s liberation, as can be observed in the following video:

Former political prisoners of conscience Ángel Moya Acosta and Félix Navarro Rodríguez were able to travel to Santiago de Cuba to show solidarity with Enrique Lozada, Ana Celia Rodriguez, Jose Daniel Ferrer and other strikers this Sunday, May 5th, while the Ladies in White dedicated their Sunday march to Luis Enrique Lozada.

On the morning of May 6th, former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, published a declaration in the name of the mentioned pro-freedom coalition in solidarity with the hunger striking activists.

As for the international scene, several activists have created a petition directed to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations so that there be an increase in solidarity with the case of Luis Enrique Lozada, his family, and all the strikers who have put their lives at risk for freedom.  The petition can be signed by clicking here.

The cell phones of more than 40 dissidents in Cuba, the majority members of UNPACU, have been blocked in the past couple of days in order to prevent them from publishing information about the strike.  Regardless, activists have been reporting the details any possible way they can.  The lives of all those who are taking part in this strike are in danger, but they have all said they will continue onward, pressuring the dictatorship to free a Cuban who has not committed a crime and is being held behind bars.

“Urgent Solidarity” with Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez, one of the hunger strikers. Artwork by Rolando Pulido
Update: Tense situation for Cuban hunger strikers who demand release of jailed activist (Videos)

On the streets of Cuba, Ladies in White remember the Black Spring

Ladies in White march on March 17th, 2013. Photo by Angel Moya (@jangelmoya)

This 17th of March was the first Sunday in which the Ladies in White marched throughout the streets of Cuba with their leader- Berta Soler– out of the country.  The women also dedicated their weekly march in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Black Spring, when 75 dissidents (the majority independent journalists) were arrested and sentenced to years of prison after quick trials.

Ivan Hernandez Carillo, an ex political prisoner from this same group of the 75, informed on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) that in Havana 51 Ladies in White marched and made it to Mass at the Santa Rita Church.

Hernandez also pointed out that in the province of Matanzas a total of 18 women marched.  4 did so in the city of Colon, 3 in Perico, 1 in the Espana Central and another 10 in Cardenas.  In Ciego de Avila province 2 women reportedly made it to Mass.

In the Eastern region of the country, 60 Ladies in White assisted Mass in the National ‘El Cobre’ Shrine (Santiago de Cuba) and 8 made it in Guantanamo province.

Former political prisoner (also from the 75) and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, denounced on his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) that a group of Ladies in White in the province of Holguin were arrested by the political police, among them the representative of the group in that area, Berta Guerrero Segura.

“These dignified Cuban women suffer persecution, violence, arbitrary arrests, economic asphyxiation, hunger, etc.”, highlighted another tweet by Ferrer.

Isael Poveda Silva, from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, said on his Twitter account (@IsaelCuba) that Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante was “insulted, offended, and arrested by State Security agents” as she was stepping out of her home in Antilla, Holguin.  The same thing happened to her last Sunday.

Meanwhile, Berta Soler, national representative of the group, has been denouncing the situation each of these women face on her first trip ever outside of Cuba, on international forums and interviews with diverse media outlets.  With the slogan “Yes to Cuba, No to Castro“, Soler has declared that the Ladies in White and the opposition in general have grown stronger despite the regime’s violent tactics and that, in reality, there have been no actual reforms by the totalitarian system, instead “tiny moves” which try to give an image of change to the rest of the world.

The repressive wave known as the Black Spring of 2003 was what led to the creation of this female group, made up by mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and aunts which demanded freedom for their relatives.

This Sunday was also the third anniversary in which many of these women were beaten and violently arrested by police agents in Havana, just days after the death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo.  These acts of violence are common each Sunday, but when this happened on that March of 2010, the images were captured by the cameras of the international media and went around the world, inspiring a high level of solidarity, including a march of more than 100,000 people in Miami just days later.

On the streets of Cuba, Ladies in White remember the Black Spring

Ladies in White continue on the streets in 2013

The Ladies in White kicked off 2013 the same way they finished 2012: out on the streets, flowers in hand, demanding freedom for all political prisoners and, in sum, for Cuba.

According to a series of Twitter messages published by former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo (@ivanlibre), 44 of these women carried out their accustomed march down Havana’s 5th Avenue after assisting Mass in the Santa Rita Church.

Other tweets published by the dissident explained that in the province of Matanzas a total of 18 Ladies made it to church, despite police vigilance.  Specifically, 11 made in the city of Cardenas, 2 in Perico and 5 in Colon.

In the Eastern province of Guantanamo, 8 Ladies in White reported that they achieved their objective and made it to Sunday Mass.

However, in Holguin- also in the East- several of these activists were arrested, declared Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, a young Lady in White who made it to church but confirmed the detentions of others.

I was able to make it because my husband took me on his bicycle and he managed to evade the police.  I quickly got off and that’s how I made it to church”, said Villamonte, “In total, 3 of us were able to make it to church this Sunday”.

Among the more than 5 detainees whom the young activist mentioned were Bertha Guerrero Segura, representative of the group in Holguin province, and Romelia Pina Gonzalez.

This Sunday, January 6th, was also Three Kings Day- a tradition which, like Christmas, was prohibited for many years under the current communist dictatorship and which is still ignored and talked down on the State media (the only allowed press).  To celebrate the date, a number of Ladies in White and other dissidents of diverse organizations on the island organized parties and gift exchanges for children.

Angel Moya Acosta, former political prisoner and husband of the national representative of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, wrote on his Twitter account (@jangelmoya) that the women managed to make it to their headquarters on Neptuno Street in Havana this Saturday, January 5th, with more than 40 children, giving them some toys and carrying out a small party for them in honor of the date.

Meanwhile, in Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, the also former political prisoner and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, detailed on his own account (@jdanielferrer) that numerous children spent a moment of celebration among friends and family in the homes of various activists throughout that region this Sunday.

Similar activities also took place this Sunday throughout different parts of Santiago de Cuba, Velasco and Holguin, although some of these were interrupted by the repressive actions of the political police.

2013 has already begun with various civic demonstrations out on the streets of the country, which have been carried out by diverse pro-freedom groups from East to West.

Ladies in White continue on the streets in 2013