Ladies in White celebrate release of Calixto Martinez, demand the same for all other political prisoners

Ladies in White together with Calixto Martinez, Havana, April 14th, 2013. Photo published by Angel Moya @jangelmoya

In what was an emotional encounter, 43 Ladies in White managed to carry out their habitual march in Havana this Sunday, 14th of April, not only with the presence of various human rights activists, but also with the participation of recently released independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias. The Ladies, in addition to celebrating the victory of Calixto’s liberation, also demanded the release of the many other political prisoners still behind bars in the island.

“When liberated, it is the duty of all political prisoners to come with the Ladies in White and stand with them in their bastion of freedom”, said Martinez Arias in declarations made to former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, published on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre).

Calixto Ramon Martinez was released from prison after more than 7 months behind bars, thanks to the solidarity of people in and out of Cuba who carried out campaigns and public activities to pressure the regime.

The Ladies in White also dedicated their march to Enrique Ros, famous Cuban exiled historian who passed away this week.

Ivan Hernandez tweeted that 16 Ladies in White marched and assisted Mass in the province of Matanzas, while 2 surpassed police cordons in Ciego de Avila and made it to church.

In Guantanamo, 10 Ladies in White marched and participated in Mass.

Meanwhile, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, 32 Ladies in White made it past operations set up by State Security and made it to El Cobre National Shrine. A number of women were reportedly detained between Saturday and Sunday.

Anyer Antonio Blanco, member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), published an audio on his Twitter account (@anyerantoniobla) where his mother, Lady in White, Ana Celia Rodríguez, was being arrested alongside another activist in Santiago. Rodriguez was forcefully taken out of a vehicle and sent to a police unit for various hours.

The Ladies in White have made it very clear that despite that they are being subjected to different forms of repression, they will continue risking it all on the streets to demand freedom for each and every Cuban who resides behind bars for thinking differently.

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU, later expressed in his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) that “with all the brutal repression, and the advantage of media and resources, once again, the Ladies in White surpass the methods of the political police”.

Calixto Ramon Martinez, back at the headquarters of Hablemos Press (Photos)

After his release from prison on the night of Tuesday, April 9th 2013, independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias has returned to the headquarters of Hablemos Press, the news agency of which he is a correspondent.

The news agency has published photos of this emotional return and encounter on their Facebook page. Here they are:

Meanwhile, in this audio published by “Radio Republica”, Calixto Ramon recounted his time in prison and sent out a message of appreciation to all those, in and out of Cuba, who joined in solidarity to demand his release. 8 dissidents went on hunger strike to demand his freedom, while many others took to the streets to carry out public protests.

In another audio, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, director of Hablemos Press, sent out his own message of appreciation and gratitude.

Martínez Arias has assured that he will continue reporting and working towards a Cuba where there is a free press and respect for Human Rights.

Solidarity in and out of Cuba achieves freedom for journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez

In a display of solidarity, activists in different parts of Cuba started hunger strikes and campaigns of protests and other public activities to demand the release of Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, jailed independent reporter of Hablemos Press.  The campaign managed to achieve its objective on the night of April 9th, something which dissidents are considering a victory.  

Three activists in the city of Camaguey started hunger strikes on Saturday April 6th, according to the Twitter account of Santos Fernandez Sanchez (@SantosFSanchez), member of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba.  The strikers were Daniel Millet Jimenez, Misael Canel Velazquez and Fernando Vazquez.

As part of  the waves of support, Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of Hablemos Press, also declared himself on hunger strike on Monday April 8th.  The journalist had explained that this was a promise he had made to Martinez Arias when they last spoke during the previous week.

Guerra confirmed on Monday afternoon that Calixto himself had also re-initiated his own hunger strike in the Valle Grande prison, where he was confined in punishment cells and mistreated by his jailers.  Calixto had already underwent a hunger strike from March 6th to the 28th.  He had stopped it when functionaries told him he’d soon be released.  Upon seeing that the promise was not kept soon enough, he turned to the same protest until his jailers had no other option but to give in.

On the afternoon of that same day, the 8th, Denis Noa Martinez and Gerardo Younel Avila, both reporters of Hablemos Press in Havana, also went on strike.

With the same objective, David Aguila Montero, a journalist based in Havana, made it public on Tuesday the 9th that he was also joining the hunger strikes.  Hours later, Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca confirmed on her Twitter account (@SaraMartaCuba) that activist Luis Manuel Fumero joined the protests in the capital.

Without counting Calixto Ramon, 8 Cubans were on hunger strike with the same objective:  freedom for the jailed journalist, putting their lives at risk during this time for the freedom of a colleague and fellow countryman.

Meanwhile, diverse dissident groups- like the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)– joined the call for Martinez’s release, carrying out several public protests.

On Monday, member of the Front in Placetas, Villa Clara, protested in a local park, while in Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila activist Julio Columbie Batista wrote on Twitter (@ColumbieJulio) that local dissidents began to fast and had been carrying out demonstrations in favor of Calixto.  In Havana, the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy echoed the protests while members of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba dedicated their weekly vigils in honor of the jailed reporter, as was the case in the home of Sara Marta Fonseca in Boyeros.  As part of the campaign in favor of Calixto, UNPACU protested in Las Villas, Villa Clara and in Maffo, Contramaestre on Tuesday.

On Twitter, the hashtags #LiberenaCalixto (‘Free Calixto’) and #CubaConCalixto (‘Cuba With Calixto’) surged with lots of strength, demanding justice through virtual means and taking Calixto’s case to different parts of the world.  The success of such actions are reflected in the fact that organizations such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders publicly joined the call.

At around 7:30 PM on Tuesday, April 9th, a number of activists took to their Twitter accounts to inform that the journalist had been released from prison.

“Calixto Ramon has been released…Victory”, read a tweet by Sara Marta Fonseca (@SaraMartaCuba).  She later wrote “I am very emotional right now after having spoken to my brother (in struggle) Calixto Ramon. Freedom for Cuba! Down with the dictatorship!”

Anyer Antonio Blanco (@anyerantoniobla) wrote “Calixto Ramon of Hablemos Press has been released! Another victory for Cuban civil society”.

Meanwhile, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo (@ivanlibre) tweeted, “Just a couple of minutes ago the Castro-communist tyranny has liberated independent journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias”.

The “crime” which landed Martinez in prison for more than 6 months was being the first journalist to report the cholera and dengue outbreak in the Eastern region of the island.  He was taken to prison for “disrespecting the figure of Fidel Castro”.

Details of his release are still emerging but if something is clear it’s that, once again, solidarity and pressure on behalf of the opposition and civil society have functioned against the Cuban dictatorship.  Unity amongst diverse groups and individuals strengthened the international call for the release of a man who had been locked away for writing according only to his own conscience.

This same solidarity can also achieve the release of so many other Cubans who are currently behind bars for thinking differently from the totalitarian system.

Police applies absurd methods to repress a solidarity demonstration

Agents of the Cuban political police arrested a group of 9 dissidents, members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara this Tuesday 26th of March when they were carrying out a public demonstration as part of the “Yris Tamara Perez and Calixto Martinez Cannot Die” campaign.  The officials used violence against the demonstrators and, upon seeing that they did not have sufficient police vehicles to take the detainees, decided to tie some of the dissidents to a nearby porch until reinforcements arrived.

Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, secretary general of the OZT Front, witnessed the events and confirmed that they occurred during afternoon hours.  “These activists were carrying out a peaceful protest under the campaign to save Yris Tamara Perez and Calixto Ramon Martinez“, he recounted, explaining that the dissidents “took to the streets carrying signs with messages like ‘Justice for Yris and Calixto’ and ‘Don’t let them die’ when they abruptly assaulted and arrested by the police.  The agents violently threw them against the pavement“.

The former political prisoner identified some of the detainees as Julio Columbie Batista, Maikel Almenteros, José Lino Ascencio López, Yunier Santana Hernández, Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, Yanisbel Valido Pérez and Orlando Almaguer.

The solidarity campaign was launched this March by the OZT Front after Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, wife of Antunez and president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, was beat unconscious by police agents, causing serious health complications.  Her problems intensified when doctors in different hospitals of Placetas and Santa Clara refused her admission or treatment under strict orders of State Security.  Yris remains with ailing health, without medical assistance and in danger of being beat again at any time, just for stepping out of her house.

Meanwhile, ‘Hablemos Press’ reporter Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias has been imprisoned for 6 months now because of his work as an independent journalist.  He declared himself on hunger strike this month and this Tuesday marked the 20th day of his protest.

The campaign demands medical attention for Yris Perez and the immediate liberation of Calixto Ramon, through demonstrations like vigils, protests, marches, etc.

The police responded in a brutal and cynical manner“, added Antunez, as he explained that the usual methods applied such as beatings and arrests did not shock him, but he could not believe what he was seeing when “two of the activists- Yanisbel Valido Perez and Maikel Almentero Orama- were tied to a porch of a house located on Marti street when the police realized they did not have enough cars to take them all away at once“.

This tells us that the regime is even losing the capacity to repress“, said Antunez.

Another protest with similar outcomes took place on Monday in the same city of Placetas when a group of dissidents from Camaguey, among them Daniel Millet Jimenez, arrived.  A number of other activities have been reported throughout the island as part of this new campaign in solidarity with Yris Perez and Calixto Martinez.

There are more of those who protest than those who repress“, assured Antunez, who added that the campaign will continue with more strength, energy and activism until the objectives are achieved.

For more information form Cuba, contact:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’- Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba

53 Ladies in White march in commemoration of the Black Spring (Video)

In this video published by the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’, 53 Ladies in White march down Havana’s popular 5th Avenue carrying small posters with the face of Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, imprisoned independent journalist who is currently on hunger strike. The women also dedicated the march to the 10th anniversary of the Black Spring, when 75 dissidents (the majority journalist) were jailed and sentenced to years in prison after false, corrupt and very quick trials. The events in this video took place on Sunday, March 18th.

The video:

From Cuba: Video-Declaration demands release of jailed reporter

#LiberenaCalixto (“Free Calixto”) is a hashtag being used with much popularity in the world of Twitter by users of this social media in and out of the island, with the intent of demanding the immediate release of jailed independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias who has been on hunger strike for more than 27 days in a dungeon of Havana, simply for reporting without censorship and with a perspective free form the grips of state control.

Now, his colleagues from the independent news agency “Hablemos Press” have published a video on their YouTube channel, narrating Calixto’s situation and demanding his immediate and unconditional release.  Watch it below:

Roberto de Jesús Guerra, the director of Hablemos Press, recently sent out a Tweet (@HablemosPress) informing that this past Thursday, 6th of December, penal authorities have refused to give Calixto water, with the intent of forcing him to desist his protest, according to testimonies of some common prisoners who have been able to establish communication with the Havana-based news agency.

If what the prisoners allege is certain, Calixto Ramon Martinez would be traveling down the same path as martyrs like Orlando Zapata Tamayo,who declared themselves on hunger strike but not on thirst strike, and were instead refused the liquid by authorities to give up their protest and/or to speed up their demise.

If you’d like to add your signature to an initiative demanding the release of the journalist, you may do so by visiting this digital petition.

Freedom for Calixto NOW!

Sara Marta Fonseca: Arrested on Mother’s Day in Cuba

“Once again, our country has suffered under the tyranny which oppresses all those citizens who raise their voices to defend the rights of the entire nation“, said Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, referring to this past weekend when Mother’s Day was being celebrated around the world.  The activist- mother of two- was one of the women detained by state police for trying to assist a reunion being held at the headquarters of the group, in the former home of Laura Pollan, located on Neptuno Street in Havana.

The mentioned reunion began on Saturday, May 12th and despite an extensive and aggressive act of repudiation (orchestrated by regime agents), a number of Ladies in White were able to make it and spend that moment together, exchanging gits and praying for the release of political prisoners.  However, Fonseca Quevedo explained that on that same day, the activists Yanerys Cabrera and Silvia Barbara Diaz Vazquez were also arrested during morning hours when they tried to reach the reunion.  Meanwhile, the home of Fonseca was surrounded by regime agents starting during late night hours of Friday, May 11th.

“At around 11 PM on Friday, there was a police operation around my house here in Rio Verde”, said Fonseca, “On Saturday, the 12th, we awoke and saw that we were totally surrounded by repressive agents of State Security, along with their informants, which we Cubans refer to as ‘snitches’ at the service of the dictatorship”. 

Fonseca and her family spent all of Saturday in that same manner, surrounded.

On Sunday- Mother’s Day- Sara Marta decided to step out of her home and walk to the headquarters of the Ladies in White to meet up with the rest of the women.  She had intentions of marching along with them to assist Sunday mass.  However, the forces of the Cuban regime had other plans for her.  “I was arrested and taken to the Santiago de las Vegas police unit, where I was kept for various hours“, said the human rights activist, adding that “the political police did not even have the courage to confront any of us Ladies in White they had arrested in such an arbitrary manner.  They did not give us a single explanation in regards to the measures taken against us“.

When Fonseca arrived to the police unit, handcuffed and in custody of various police officers, she began to shout “Long Live Laura Pollan”, “Long Live the Ladies in White”, and “Freedom for Cuba“.

During her time in the jail cell, Fonseca explained that she was able to see the political detainee Calixto Ramon Martinez Areas, an independent journalist and member of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba who was arrested on Thursday, May 10th, under accusations of “being illegal” in the Cuban Capital.  Various activists throughout the island, especially the independent journalists of ‘Hablemos Press’, have denounced the case of Areas and have demanded his unconditional and immediate release.  According to the Lady in White, Calixto Ramon had already “been on hunger strike for 4 days” when she saw him.

The independent journalist was arrested near the Jose Marti Airport, located in the municipality of Boyeros, in Havana.  The authorities want to deport him to his province of origin- Camaguey.  In regards to this, Fonseca Quevedo said “(the regime) continues violating the rights of all Cubans.  They deport us in our own country, as if we were foreigners“.

Despite the repression, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo said that she felt “very content” with the news that 68 Ladies in White surpassed police cordons and were able to march down Havana’s 5th Avenue and attend mass in the Santa Rita Church on Mother’s Day. “For me, this news was the best gift“, said the activist, despite the fact that she was jailed.

For more information from  Cuba:

Sara Marta Fonseca – Cell Phone:  +5353-379-011     // Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba