This Tuesday, June 19th, the Cuban regime sentenced Bismark Mustelier Galan, an active dissident and member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) with two years in prison, according to the coordinator of the mentioned organization, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia. Galan was being held in the Aguadores Prison since April 1st 2012 for civically protesting in a hospital when he learned that a minor who was sick was not receiving medical attention. Because of this, the communist authorities on the island accused him and, ultimately sentenced him, for “resistance” and “disrespect”.
Only Bismark’s wife, Alina Fonseca Guevara, and a handful of relatives were able to assist the trial, said Ferrer Garcia, explaining that “more than 30 activists who were trying to show solidarity with Galan were arrested and taken to different police units throughout the province of Santiago- the majority to the Third Unit, and others to Micro 9 and a police unit in Mella“. The police operations began during the morning hours of that same Tuesday.
Some cases of repression which the former political prisoner outlined were that of activist Ovidio Martin Castellano, “who was beaten by police agents” during his arrest, as well as that of Sergio Lezcay- also an activist- who was detained in the Third Unit and attacked by tear gas by the prison guards. “Sergio passed out because of these gases, and it is something very serious, the use of tear gas against peaceful dissidents who are being held in narrow cells with very little ventilation. It is a criminal and abusive behavior on behalf of the jailers, the police officers of the unit, and the political police which allows such actions“.
In addition to activists from UNPACU, various members of the Ladies in White also faced reprisals, as did “two activists from the Republican Party of Cuba“. Many were impeded from leaving their homes by police officers, while others were held in security check points alongs the way to Bismark’s trial.
On June 14th, more than 20 dissidents had also mobilized towards the tribunal where the trial was supposed to be held, but it was suspended for the 19th. In total, the trial was postponed three times. Jose Daniel Ferrer explains that the authorities gave Bismark’s wife very little information and that State Security was very fearful of such mobilization of so many dissidents, so much so that a couple of agents visited his home in Palmarito de Cauto to tell him to dissuade the activists. “They came to my home to try and convince me to talk with the dissidents of UNPACU, they told me that it was not necessary for them to go near the court, and they told me they moved the trial to the 19th. They also said that if we failed to comply they would have to act…but it is us who act, and who set the initiative, carry out peaceful protests whenever necessary“.
On the same 14th, another activist of UNPACU- Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez- informed that the home of Alina Fonseca had been surrounded by State Security officials, among them agent Alejandro. The wife of Gonzalez, Lady in White Taimi Vega Biscet (who lost her unborn child in the beginning of 2012 due to the aggressions of the political police), was also “surrounded and later threatened by agent Rodolfo“.
Although it all indicates that the state repression will continue increasing against human rights activists in the Eastern region of the country, Ferrer Garcia signals that the activities of the Resistance in favor of freedom and democracy will also increase, something proven by the constant apparition of signs with anti-government messages, according the dissident.
“Signs appear on police units, on the headquarters of the Communist Party, at the homes of Rapid Response Brigade members, etc“, he explained, “the messages on the signs demand change“, in addition to including slogans such as “Down with the Dictatorship”, “Down with Hunger”, and “Down with the Castro brothers”.
“Signs and stickers are also appearing on buses and trucks“, adds Ferrer, sharing a story of one case where the police chief of Palmarito de Cauto found a sticker upon entering his unit. The sticker read: “Join us“. According to some witnesses (dissidents among them), the agent was infuriated and started to rip the stickers from the wall. Signs also propped up in front of the home of the Aguadores Prison Chief, Luis Enrique Lopez Diaz, in the city of Santiago de Cuba. These signs read: “Down with Luis Enrique, assassin”, and “Down with Fidel and Raul“.
To inform everyday Cubans about situations such as that of Bismark Mustelier and other activists, members of UNPACU have also been handing out leaflets which explain the work they do and which demand the rights of the people for a just salary and access to the internet, among other rights.
“This mechanism is yielding very good results“, said Ferrer, “One thing that paralyzes the majority of Cubans is misinformation. So we talk to them and tell them to tear off the oppressive methods around them in order to live in honesty, with freedom and human rights“. And, according to the dissident, the everyday Cubans are listening to the message and often have public chats about these issues.
On his part, Ferrer Garcia said that the prison sentence of Bismark Mustelier Galan was not because of any crime, but instead it was simply “vengeance of the political police because of his successful activism in favor of freedom“.
The leader of UNPACU affirms that this organization will keep carrying out activities demanding freedom for Galan and all of the Cuban population in general, a struggle which “is difficult, but not impossible“.