Jose Daniel Ferrer Will Not Allow Threats of Being Returned to Prison Impede his Activism

 

Former political prisoner and general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, was kept in a dungeon for more than 72 hours during his most recent detention and was threatened by State Security agents that he could be sent back to prison if he continues participating in and organizing dissident activities throughout the Eastern region of the country. This time, his jailers filmed him on numerous occasions, such as when they read him an official warning letter which informed him that he’d be sent back to prison for continuing to cause what they termed as “public disorders”.

They had that camera during the entire time, but they only filmed the parts they found necessary”, explained Ferrer Garcia, “for example, when they put me in a cell with a terrible amount of heat, without food, without communication, and without my medicines for my health conditions- they didn’t film any of that”. The response of the dissident leader when they read him the warning was “that until in Cuba human rights are not respected, until there is no freedom, as long as Cubans can’t decide for themselves and be protagonists of their own destinies, I am going to continue doing the same thing we have been doing, and many other things- in a peaceful manner- in favor of freedom and democracy”.

This most recent arrest of Ferrer Garcia took place on Friday, August 24th, when UNPACU was celebrating its 1 year anniversary of having been created. For days prior to the date, combined forces of the political police, the Rapid Response Brigades, and State Security unleashed a wave of arrests and house raids against members of the mentioned organization throughout Eastern Cuba.

One of the first cases was that of Jorge Cervantes García on August 23rd, when a number of armed officials raided his home in Contramaestre, occupied many materials, threatened all those inside, and jailed Cervantes Garcia and his two underage children. He still remains detained.

In the case of Ferrer, his home had been surrounded by police agents for various days until they finally raided the house on the morning of the 24th. “They ransacked the house”, said the dissident, “they robbed everything they felt like, and what they did not steal they destroyed. I am talking about even toys and belongings of my children…they have robbed them or destroyed them”.

In addition, in the home of Ferrer Garcia, as well as those of other UNPACU activists, the police took printers, cameras, laptops, pamphlets and other materials, none of which have been returned, as tends to happen.

Marta Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo, 14 year old Lady in White and daughter of Jose Daniel, explained in an audio uploaded onto UNPACU’s YouTube account that police agents beat all those inside the house in the moment of the arrest, including herself, her cousin, her mother (Belkis Cantillo) and an aunt. Her elderly grandmother was also inside the house and suffered a sharp increase in her blood pressure.

Other detainees on that day were Anyer Antonio Blanco, Rafael Miguel Cabrera Montoya, Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Berta Guerrero Segura. The latter, who is the representative of the Ladies in White in Holguin, was arrested and mistreated along with her underage daughter, who she was carrying at the time of her arrest and forceful entry into a police vehicle.

Other reports denounced that another 6 homes were raided that day and more than 60 arrests occurred.

Meanwhile, activist Luis Miguel Gomez Hernandez reported that a group of UNPACU members were arrested in the municipality of Gibara on that same Friday, among them Ladies in White like Yoandra Garrido Silva and Maydaly Garrido Silva, as they too celebrated the anniversary. Gomez Hernandez was one of the detainees that afternoon and explained that they were all subjected to “interrogations and threats that we could not leave Gibara and that we would not be allowed to carry out any dissident activity, and that not even the Ladies in White could to Mass on Sundays“. This group was released but many other activists remain imprisoned, and some are on hunger strike (Ferrer Garcia put the number at more than 20).

Despite all that they have done to us, our activists celebrated the anniversary of UNPACU with marches, signs, pamphlets, slogans and other diverse ways, not only in the East but also in the West”, said Ferrer Garcia, referencing the case of Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, in Havana, who was arrested after carrying out commemorative events.

Other activists of diverse pro-democracy groups also paid tribute to UNPACU and demanded freedom for their detained members, as was the case of Lady in White and member of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, who carried out a public protest in Havana to commemorate the Day of the Resistance and in solidarity with the mentioned dissidents. In Placetas, Villa Clara, dissident leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” also included messages of freedom for Jose Daniel Ferrer and congratulating UNPACU as he also carried out a public protest along with other activists.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was released during the morning hours of Sunday, August 26th and was quick to reiterate his compromise with the pro-freedom movement in Cuba.

The tyranny is very afraid”, affirmed the dissident, “and like a wounded beast, it will retaliate and cause lots of damage to peaceful people who want freedom for all Cubans, but we are willing to give it all. As Jose Marti said: ‘Freedom has a high price, and it is necessary to either give up and live without her, or decide to obtain it at its price’“.

For more information from Cuba:

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Phone: +5353-146-740 // Twitter: @jdanielferrer

State Police Raid Home of Lady in White, Fire Water, Beat, and Arrest All Those Inside

In the Eastern city of Holguin, a group of approximately 14 Ladies in White were participating in a monthly encounter in the home of Glisedis Piña Gonzalez (member of the women’s activist group) this Saturday, August 18th, when the house was raided by combined forces of the political police and State Security and all those inside- mostly women and children- were beaten and arrested.

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez, a Lady in White from that same city of Holguin, could not assist the meeting (due to a personal illness) but shared details of the brutality.

Very horrible violations have occurred”, said Velazquez, “at around 4:30 PM, paramilitary mobs carried out an act of repudiation against the women, shouting insults and throwing rocks at them”.

In addition to throwing rocks to the activists, the mobs fired water at them, according to reports by Berta Soler and Yuri Miguel Carralero  to the “Háblalo sin Miedo” voice recording service.

It was during this repudiation that the police forces raided the home. “They violently searched the entire house, and all those women inside were beat all the way out and then arrested, and taken to police units.  Along with the women, they also detained about 5 or 6 men (…) and also arrested 5 under age children who were also taken to police units”, detailed Perez Velazquez.

Among the male detainees was independent journalist Alexei Jimenez who also managed to phone  ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (which translated into English literally means ‘Speak Without Fear’) where he explained that the agents attacked him with sticks on the head and ribs.  “It is obvious that the people who were there doing that to us were police officers dressed in civilian clothing, not enraged everyday people.  They were mobs organized by State Security agents“, assured Jimenez, referring to a common tactic applied by Cuba’s communist police apparatus to make it seem that everyday citizens are the ones attacking dissidents.  Jimenez is frequently beaten and arrested each Sunday when he tries to accompany the Ladies in White to church in Holguin.

In the case of the women, among the detainees were Romelia Piña González, Glisedis Piña González, Berta Guerrero Segura, Eleini Villamonte Cardozo, Danay Mendiola, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Lisbeth Peña Hernández, Nelda Molina Leyva, Barbara Bouza and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.

The children who were detained were released during night hours, along with Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque (the only Lady in White released as of August 18th 2012).  The children were sons and daughters of Ladies in White and activists.

Zuleidis Perez managed to establish communication with the 14 year old daughter of Romelia Piña Gonzalez once she arrived home.  The minor was very nervous and, amid her fear, was only able to share some details with Zuleidis about what had happened in that house (her aunt’s home).

Other arrests of Ladies in White took place on that same morning in the same province of Holguin in the municipalities of Banes and Cacocum, when various women tried to travel to the city of Holguin to participate in the meeting.  These detainees were Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Piñales Rosa in Banes, and Marlenis Abreu Almaguer in Cacocum.  These three were released at around 6 PM.

A wave of escalating violence has been occurring throughout the island against human rights activists, among them many Ladies in White.  These actions are being accompanied, in most cases, by home raids and brutal beatings.  One other recent example is that of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez, from the municipality of Antilla, who had her home raided by police forces, was beat violently in front of her family, and arrested for more than 96 hours this past 13th of August.  State police said they were searching for “enemy propaganda” in her house- a common term for any written or audio-visual materials which deal with the defense of human rights.

Meanwhile, the “Hablemos Press” independent news agency, with its headquarters in Havana, recently released a report in which they detailed that in the first 14 days of August more than 200 arrests of peaceful dissidents have occurred, while between the 10th and 14th, more than 20 home raids took place.

As for the detained women, Zuleidis Perez expressed: “[As of August 18th] we do not know of their whereabouts, so we are declaring them disappeared and we fear for their lives.  If the police was capable of breaking into the home, beating them, and breaking furniture and other objects, then we should not doubt for a second that they are very capable of killing or disappearing them”.

(Listen to Zuleidis’ audio- In Spanish):

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358-244-778

Group of Ladies in White Defy their Oppressors in Holguin, Carry out Successful March

This past Sunday August 12th 2012, 9 Ladies in White in the city of Holguin did not let their violent arrests at the hands of political police and State Security agents keep them from carrying out their habitual Sunday march towards the local Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Catholic Church.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez, member of the women’s group and resident of Holguin, was one of the 14 detainees taken into custody in a “very violent” manner.  She adds that they were all “distributed throughout the province of Holguin, to different National Revolutionary Police Units, as if we were some sort of baggage.  It was not until 12 PM that we were taken out of the units in cop cars, State Security vehicles, and buses.  We were left in different points of Holguin, from 4 to 10 kilometers away from our homes“.

The rest of the detainees were Berta Guerrero Segura, Yoandra Garrido Silva, Mayra Silva, Mayra Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Romelia Pina González, Barbara Bauza, Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Nelda Molina Leyva, Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Danay Mendiola, Glisedis Pina González, Eleney Villamonte Cardozo and Noemi Hidalgo Gómez.

Their were reports of arrests of three other male dissidents, Alexei Jiménez, Rolando Sánchez Duran and Luis Miguel Carralero, who also try to assist Mass each Sunday “because they are Catholics and members of the Church, and also morally show their support for us, the Ladies in White.  Police agents have been arresting them each Sunday when they try to leave their homes, and they are usually taken to different and undisclosed locations“.

On the day before- Saturday August 11th- Perez Velazquez denounced that there were other arrests in Holguin:  Marcos Limas Dalmao (husband of Adisnidia Cruz Segreo), Luis Manuel Gonzalez and Antonio Pupo Caballero.

However, Zuleidis explained that two women-  Lisbeth Peña  Hernández and Liliana Campo– managed to make it inside the church in Holguin, where they participated in Mass and then marched with their white clothes and flowers.  As soon as the other 14 women were released, 9 of them were able to carry out their march successfully, defying the repressive forces.

Despite all these setbacks, 9 of us Ladies in White were able to meet up after they released us, at around 1 pm, and managed to carry out our peaceful march on the same street where the church is located“, said Perez Velazquez,  “this was something that our oppressors were not expecting, but we achieved it.  They must be infuriated, but so they and the rest of the world know: we are not going to stop.  Regardless of the detentions, the repression, and the beatings we are subjected to each and every Sunday, we are not going to stop.  We are not taking steps back in this peaceful struggle“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez– Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Ladies in White Denounce New Threats by Police in Holguin

In Cacocum, Holguín, the home of Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura has been completely surrounded by State Security agents, agents of the Rapid Response Brigades, and paramilitary troops from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) for 6 days, in order to try and impede that she or her family assist Mass or step out of the house to meet with other local activists.

My home has been surrounded since Friday, July 20 th, and it is something which is happening week after week”,  denounced Guerrero Segura, signaling that the agents carrying out the operations are “Reymundo Rodríguez Pupo, agent Wilson from Holguín and also Joel Guerrero, among others”.

These same oppressors have been threatening Guerrero, her husband (activist Franklin Peregrino del Toro) as well as numerous other women from that area, saying that if they try to continue their activism or carry out public demonstrations, they will be detained until after the 26th, a date which the regime uses to celebrate and glorify the 26th of July Movement which was headed by dictator Fidel Castro.

The number of arrests of these Eastern Ladies in White have also increased, as was proven this past Sunday, July 22nd, when 8 of these women were violently arrested in the province of Holguin when they tried to make it to church.

The 8 were Ana María Aguilera Paneque, Adisnidia Cruz, Maydelin Guerrero Silva, Yoandra Garrido Silva, María Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Rosa María Naranjo Nieve, Danaime Diota and Rosaida González Escalona.

Meanwhile, another 7 women did manage to surpass police cordons and make it to Sunday Mass, among them Berta Guerrero.  Many may recall that now exiled Lady in White, Caridad Caballero Batista, would continuously be arrested weekend after weekend to keep her from going to church during the present year, but alongside her many other women would also be detained.  Guerrero Segura is one of these women, who during 2012 has not been able to make it to church on Sunday’s due to the fact that she is always arrested and kept in detention cells for a number of hours until Mass has concluded.

Zuleidis Pérez, another Lady in White from the municipality of Holguin denounced that “there is a horrible police operation underway” during these days against activists in the Eastern region of the country.  “Despite this, and under these circumstances, on the 23rd we were able to carry out a symbolic wake in honor of Oswaldo Paya in my home“.

Berta Guerrero adds that numerous activists were able to carry out a pots-and-pans protest at her home in Cacocum during the night of the 24th to celebrate the Day of the Resistance (each 24th of the month) and also to pay homage to Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero

Guerrero also sent out a message to the international community, in regards to the increased repression against the Ladies in White and the civic opposition: “The Castro regime is desperate, and they deny us our rights to freedom of movement, religion, as well as the rights of our families, because they also impede our relatives from coming to our homes.  They also arrest them“.

We are always under threat, and we were denouncing that this is a totalitarian regime which is based on repression, harassment, and vexation against dissidents and Ladies in White“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Holguin: Arrests, Vigilance, and Police Cordons Not Enough to Stop Weekly Vigil and Meetings

As occurs every Wednesday, this 18th of July 2012, the “Vigils for the Freedom of All Cuban Political Prisoners” were celebrated across the island, while many Ladies in White also celebrated their monthly literary meetings.

From the province of Holguin, Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez informed that the literary meeting in that zone was carried out in the home of Berta Guerrero Segura, in the municipality of Cacocum.  However, Perez Velaquez says that “from the very early morning hours- starting at around 3 or 4 AM- there was a large police operation set in motion in nearly all the surroundings of Holguin, as well as many other municipalities like Velasco, Cacocum, Banes, Gibara, Antilla, and right here in the city of Holguin” in order to try and impede the female activists from arriving to their destination.

Among the Ladies who were surrounded and were not able to make it to the meeting were  Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Marta Díaz Rondón, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Daylin Guerrero, Lissette González Rodríguez  and Odalmys Suarez (all from different municipalities).  Meanwhile, 7 other women suffered arrests at the hands of the political police, among them Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosaida González Escalona, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves and Lisbeth Pena Hernández.

4 women were able to make it to the home of Berta Guerrero- Nelda Molina Leyva, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz where they were able to carry out their literary meeting.

Zuleidis Perez explained that the weekly vigil was carried out in her home in the city of Holguin.  Previously, this vigil would be celebrated in the home of the now exiled Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista.  “Upon Caridad Caballero going into exile, here in the province of Holguin we decided to continue her hard work, through which she was able to achieve that many members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance w0uld meet.  Now, we will continue these meetings, and we will be doing it from my house every Wednesday“.

Just as Caballero Batista would do it (who suffered a constant repression due to her tireless activism for freedom), Perez Velazquez also “let the activists present know about the arbitrary situations occurring in all of Cuba, all the arrests and more“, as well as the increasing level of activism.

Four men (human rights activists) were also arrested upon trying to arrive to the house, among them José Mir Cruz and Heladio Pupo Nieves.  Regardless, the vigil was carried out with members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Ladies in White.

These arbitrary actions and all these violations which are being committed in these provinces have been occurring every single Wednesday as well as every Sunday, where they prohibit us from making it to Mass at church“, affirmed Perez Velazquez, “they arrest us, beat us, threaten us, and mistreat us“.

Despite these crackdowns by the regime, the Lady in White assured that the Resistance in the province of Holguin will continue standing firm against the dictatorship.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778 // Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352- 771- 630 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon

Ladies in White Continue Marching: Sunday Report

Caridad Caballero Batista

As has occurred during the majority of Sundays of the present year, the Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista was impeded from arriving to Sunday Mass at the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in her city of residence- Holguin- due to an extensive police operation headed by the repressive agent Yordanys Maritnez Leon this past 24th of June.

The mentioned agent- Martinez Leon- has been responsible for the majority of violent acts against Caridad Caballero, her family, and other Ladies in White from Holguin, ordering acts of repudiation, beatings and arrests of those mentioned activists in order to keep them from arriving to Church every Sunday to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and for a democratic future on the island.

Caballero Batista explains that this Sunday, she awoke to find her home “completely surrounded by a police operation, which consisted of female police agents, numerous motorcycles, and other officers“.  Because of this, the activist was not able to leave her home.

In Cacocum, Holguin, the Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura was violently arrested by the political police at around 7:30 AM as she was trying to assist the same church in Holguin.  Meanwhile, two Ladies in White in Banes- Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Rosa– were trying to travel to Caballero Batista’s home to later march to church but they were intercepted and impeded by State Security agents from leaving their town.

Caballero Batista added that in the same province of Holguin, on Saturday June 23rd, the Lady in White Adisnidia Cruz Segreo, who was visiting her children in prison, was arrested.  Both of her sons are political prisoners- Marcos Maikel Cruz and Antonio Michel Lima Cruz. They were jailed for publicly listening to the rebellious and independent music of the rap-duo Los Aldeanos, and they have been considered prisoners of conscience.  Adisnidia was detained upon leaving the prison and held behind bars until afternoon hours on Sunday, after Mass had concluded.

Despite this crackdown, Caballero highlights that “4 women were able to make it to mass in the city of Holguin“.


The former political prisoner  José Daniel Ferrer García informed through ‘Háblalo sin Miedo’ that 4 Ladies in White managed to surpass police cordons and arrive to church in Bayamo.  Ferrer Garcia added that 35 Ladies in White assisted mass in the Sanctuary of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba, while another 7 women made it to Catholic Mass in Guantanamo.

From the province of Matanzas, Caridad Burunate informed through her Twitter account (@CaridadBurunate) that 6 Ladies in White (among them, her) made it to mass in the city of Colon, despite a strong vigilance on behalf of Cuba’s political police.

Lady in White: “We are Going to Continue Moving Forward and Nothing Can Hold us Back”

After having surpassed police operations for two consecutive Sundays, this past 27th of May Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista was once again arrested along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez as they were trying to assist Sunday Mass in the city of Holguin.  According to the activist, the violence occurred under the orders of State Security official Yordanys Martinez Leon, a well known local oppressor.

Just a few steps from my house, when we were trying to get to church at around 8:25 AM, agent Martinez Leon ran at me and quickly snatched my purse from my arm”,  said the activist, explaining that “that is what this specific agent always does first”. 

After the snatching of the purse, the official gave orders to a number of women dressed in green and who are members of the  Ministry of the Interior to continue with the arrest.  These agents twisted the arms of Caridad Caballero and shoved her into a police vehicle while other oppressors did the same with Esteban Sandez.  Both were taken to the Instructional Unit of Pedernales where they were confined to small, sealed-off and inhumane cells until 12:15 PM.

Some other Ladies in White in the city of Holguin who suffered the same fate were  Berta Guerrero Segura, Noemí Hidalgo Gómez and Adisnidia Cruz, among others.

According to Caballero Batista, there was a police operation consisting of constant vigilance and threats on behalf of countless political police officials throughout the entire week, until she finally was arrested on Sunday.  “Wherever I would go during the week, I had State Security agents following me“, she said.   “On Sunday, I awoke to find my house surrounded by a number of police vehicles State Security officials on motorcycles, National Police officers, and snitches from the Rapid Response Brigades“.  The dissident said that the latter constantly keep a watch over her and other local activists 24 hours a day.

Despite the constant persecution, Caballero Batista points out that another 5 Ladies in White were able to surpass police cordons and assist Mass in the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church this past Sunday.

“We are victims of all sorts of violations just for demanding our rights to religious freedom and the complete freedom of all Cubans, and for simply going to Church to pray to God for our loved ones and for the freedom of all political prisoners.  But despite this repression, we are going to continue moving forward and nothing will hold us back.  I am letting State Security know this, as well as Fidel Castro and Raul Castro…they will have to kill us, but as long as we have strength we are going to continue taking to the streets to demand our rights”,  said Caridad Caballero Batista.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero

In the City of Holguin, Ladies in White Surpass Police Cordon, Make it to Sunday Mass

This May 20th was the second consecutive Sunday in which the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista managed to surpass a strong police cordon and arrive to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin, this time accompanied by 5 other women of the group- Barbara Bauza, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González, Ana María Aguilera Paneque and Nelda Molina Leyva. The Sunday prior to this, only Caballero Batista was able to make it to church without being detained.  Before this, the activist had not been able to assist Sunday Mass during 2012 because of constant arrests.

Caballero recounts that a large number of political police officials were shocked after they surrounded her home for hours during that morning to later find that she had already left and made it to church.  Usually, the Lady in White cannot even walk two blocks from her home when she is violently taken into custody.  This time, she used a new method.

When she arrived to the church, Caridad explained that there was “an immense police operation” waiting for the Ladies in White.  “They had a number of buses, police cars, and motorcycles stationed just two blocks from the church.  In fact, they were even using firefighters who were waiting to oppress us as well as female prison guards“.

Despite all of this, through the “new tactics“, the 6 Ladies in White were able to assist Sunday mass in its entirety.  Upon arriving at the temple, Caballero Batista said that the churchgoers were overcome with emotion.  They welcomed the women and chatted with them for a while.

However, other Ladies in White in Holguin did suffer arrests, as were the cases of Berta Guerrero Segura, Adisnidia Cruz, and Zuleidys Perez Velazquez, according to Caballero, who speculated that the number of arrests was most likely greater but she “could not confirm about other women because our telephone service was blocked during the entire time of our trip to church as well as after the Mass“.

We were able to march.  We walked with the gladiolus in our hands while the everyday people were staring at us, nervous at what could happen with us.  The regime was not expecting this“, she said, clearly emotional, “Thanks to the grace of God, this Sunday- which is the second to last Sunday of Lent- we were able to assist Mass.  We thanked God for having let us arrive, at least some of us“.

Caridad  stood by her Christian faith, assuring that “through the help of his angels, Jesus Christ allowed us to arrive to church, proving that there is no authority which can hold us down“.

For more information Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone:  +5352-629749   // Twitter: @caricaballero

Cuban Police and Other State Agents Rather Persecute Dissidents than Delinquents

Uniformed and plain-clothed Cuban police agents arrest a peaceful human rights defender during a public demonstration

This past May 6th was yet another Sunday in which the Lady in White and independent journalist, Caridad Caballero Batista, was arrested along with her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez, by Cuban State Security agents in order to impede the couple from assisting Catholic Mass.  As occurs each Sunday, Batista and Sandez were confined in sealed-off cells in the Detention Center known as Pedernales and released just minutes after Mass had concluded.  These kinds of arrests were repeated all throughout the country against various human rights activists- Ladies in White in their majority- who were simply trying to make it to church.  In Cacocun, Holguin, for instance, Berta Guerrero Segura was violently arrested while she was trying to board a bus to the city of Holguin to attend Mass, while a group of women from Santa Clara were also detained, among them Belkis Toledo, Yurisdania Hurtado Perez, Lisandra Farra Rodriguez, and Jennifer Caridad Cairo.  Other activists in other regions of the island such as El Cobre were also taken to dungeons.

According to Caballero Batista, the Cuban police, as well as State Security and other watchdog branches of the regime, prefer to unleash this kind of repression against peaceful activists who demand freedom and democratic changes in Cuba instead of pursuing and detaining those who rob, rape, and even kill other citizens.

Here, in the province of Holguin, ever since the first of May there have been numerous violent cases.  In fact, there have even been some deaths“, said the activist, “For example, in the municipality of Calixto Garcia, on May 1st they stabbed a man to death.  On that same day during the March of May 1st in the Calixto Garcia plaza there was also a large confrontation between police officials and citizens… that day various people were injured“.  Caballero referenced other similar cases, among them a wave of hooded bandits who have been robbing homes and stores, as well as an increase of jewelry theft.  “This month they also killed a man just to take his ‘bicitaxi’ (three-wheeled bicycle used in Cuba) from him. Also recently, a group of thieves robbed 70,000 pesos from the Office of Aqueducts. In Holguin, people fear for their lives when they go out to the streets“.

However, Caballero Batista, her husband, and countless other dissidents throughout the island suffer constant persecution, threats, beatings, and arrests at the hands of police agents just for going out to the street with a white flower, for assisting vigils in which they pray for the freedom of political prisoners, for writing what their conscience dictates, or for carrying out non-violent civic activities.  “The Cuban government does not protecting its citizens.  Instead, it is repressing the peaceful human rights defenders, honest people, people of goodwill who try to achieve a better future for Cuba.  They (the regime) are strongly repressing us.  They are not acting against violence, and instead are using delinquents so that we, the human rights defenders, remain under constant vigilance“.

Whenever a dissident is arrested in Cuba, dozens of police vehicles belonging to State Security and/or the political police, as well as Suzuki motorcycles show up on the scene.  That is what happened (and what frequently happens) with Caballero Batista this past Sunday, 6th of May when she and her husband managed to surpass a police operation, but only for a few blocks, until they were surrounded by a large number of vehicles.  Agents of the Ministry of the Interior applied head locks on the activists and shoved them inside police vehicles.  “In fact, they even ran up to me and tried to snatch my purse“, said Caballero, adding that the main culprit for such an aggressive operation was agent Yordanys Martinez Leon, a local henchman.

But the question that Cuban citizens are asking themselves is, who arrests the delinquents? Why do the crimes not stop?

On her part, Caridad Caballero took advantage of the repression against her this weekend to let passer-bys know why she lives under constant persecution.  “This Sunday, I reacted to the violence by telling onlookers what was happening.  I told them who we are and why we were being arrested just for trying to go to church.  I told them, amid the violence, that we were human rights defenders“, she said. “We told them that there was no reason for us to be treated with such violence because we were not delinquents.  We were simply on our way to Mass and for that reason they were arbitrarily arresting us.  Despite the fact that the regime shook hands with Pope Benedict recently in an attempt to give off a benevolent image to the world, in this country Christians of good continue to be victims of violent arrests in order to keep us from assisting Sunday Mass, Sunday after Sunday“.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone:  +5352-629-749       // Twitter: @caricaballero

Another Sunday: Ladies in White do not Back Down in the Face of State Repression

The repression against the Ladies in White has not ceased, nor have the operations to impede them from participating in Sunday Mass in Holguin”, said from that same city Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Barista, one of the detainees, as tends to occur, this past Sunday April 29th, 2012.

Caballero Batista and her husband, Esteban Sandez Suarez were detained during morning hours when they were on their way to the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Church in the city of Holguin.  Some other activists/Ladies who suffered arrests at the hands of the political police were Isabel Pena Torres, Adisnida Cruz, and Marco Antonio Lima in Holguin and Berta Guerrero Segura in the municipality of Cacocun.  The latter was arrested along with her 2 year old daughter.  She was simply walking down a sidewalk, on her way to church, dressed in white and carrying her small child when police agents intercepted her.

In the case of Caballero and Sandez Suarez, both were physically assaulted by police officials who then shoved them into police vehicles and took them to the instructional unit known as Pedernales, where they are usually taken when detained.  The activist explained that they were placed in “pestilent cells which are completely sealed off and where there is barely enough ventilation to breath…it is horrible“.

Due to these horrid conditions in which the Lady in White and her husband are regularly confined to, as well as all the physical blows they receive and all the hunger strikes they carry out as a form of protest, both have started to suffer from serious pains and complications in the kidneys.

Meanwhile, Caballero adds that “in other regions of the country there were police operations which impeded various women from other municipalities, such as Banes and Velasco, from traveling to the city of Holguin to march together“.  In addition, during the morning of Saturday April 28th, the Lady in White Miladis Pena was intercepted, detained and deported by the police “despite the fact that she was not even traveling to Holguin“.

Other cases of violence against Ladies in White were reported throughout the island, as was the case in Santiago de Cuba where 7 women were violently arrested as they were on their way to the El Cobre Sanctuary.  They were then abandoned in desolate and remote areas, far from their homes.  Among these women was Belkis Cantillo Ramirez, wife of the recently released opposition leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.  Despite the repression and the aggressive measures, whether it be in Holguin or in Santiago de Cuba or other provinces, some women were able to surpass police cordons and assist Sunday Mass.

Strong censorship still remains, cellphones blocked

In her case, Caridad Caballero adds that “it has been more than 1 month since I do not have telephone service“.  The dissident explains that this has been part of yet another method of censorship being practice by the Cuban regime so that she cannot communicate with fellow activists.  Up to this moment, her phone “does not receive and cannot dial any national calls and cannot send or receive any text messages from within the country.  Only a few international calls are allowed to be received“.

Caridad Caballero Batista

In fact, Caballero has had various family issues in Guantanamo (her native province) during the past few weeks- one uncle passed away, another uncle is in critical condition, and her elderly grandmother is sick- and yet, the activist has not been able to establish concrete communication with them.  Her house phone is also blocked.

Because of this, Caballero and Sandez recently went to the central office of CUBACEL (State phone company) in Holguin and present their complaints and demands.  However, they did not receive a response and their phones are still not working properly.

The Cuban regime has tried at all costs to impede Cuban dissidents from communicating with one another, from traveling freely within their own country, and from demanding their rights out on the streets.  But despite all of this, according to Caballero Batista, “as long as we are alive, we will continue resisting“.

For mor informaiton form Cuba:

Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero