Police forces of the Cuban regime have not only taken up the task of arresting, beating, deporting and spying on human rights activists on the island, but also have a long history of carrying out acts of vandalism against their homes. In the last couple of days, new cases of these actions have been documented.
Alexei Jiménez Almarales, an independent journalist from Holguin province, sent a note to this blog where he explains that the home of dissident couple Julio Cesar Álvarez Marrero (president of the Claridad Human Rights Movement) and Catalina Hidalgo Nonell (a member of the Ladies in White) was attacked by mobs organized by State Security on the morning of July 29th in the mentioned Eastern province.
“When they awoke on Sunday morning, they found the walls of their home full of signs with messages against them as well as exploded condoms full of paint…they had been thrown against the walls of their home, which was left completely filthy“, detailed Jimenez.
The repressors also “left a glass bottle with gasoline and a fuse on the tip in front of their house, as well as a box of matches next to the bottle“.
Julio Cesar Alvarez told the journalist that this serves as a direct threat of lighting his house on fire and he assures that “if something happens to me or to my wife, the culprit is the Cuban government“.
Meanwhile, on the same day in the city of Colon, in Matanzas province, the Lady in White Caridad Burunate suffered a similar attack when political police agents hurled feces at her house, all of this as an attempt to impede her from marching to church as all members of this female group do each Sunday.
“See the terror which Raul Castro’s regime has wanted to implant in Colon, Matanzas, filling my house with feces”, wrote the dissident on her Twitter account (@CaridadBurunate), publishing various photos of the aftermath along with the text. It is not the first time this is done to her.
Burunate’s home not only serves as a meeting point for a number of activists and Ladies in White in the area, but also as the headquarters of the community project known as “Lanza Flores-Capitán Tondique”, where members of the opposition in Matanzas prepare food for homeless and sick citizens.
Caridad Burunate responded to the attacks by hanging a sign outside her home explaining to everyday people what had happened, as well as by publishing another tweet which read, “Down with Fidel, Down with Raul, Down with the tyranny, Down with the dicatorship, Down with communism and Long Live a Free Cuba!”
– For more information from Cuba, contact: Alexei Jiménez Almarales – Cell Phone: +52-552-925 / Twitter: @jugandomelavida Caridad Burunate – Cell Phone: +52-563-003 / Twitter: @CaridadBurunate
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 Garcíainformed 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.
In the province of Matanzas, an 18 year old Cuban girl is beaten, arrested, and injected. In the same province, a 17 year old Cuban boy is arrested at gunpoint
Among the constant violent arrests, arbitrary detentions, and police harassment against Cuban human rights activists in the central province of Matanzas, two cases of abuse against minor-age relatives of dissidents occurred recently. These happened on Tuesday, March 27th, as Pope Benedict XVI was traveling from the Eastern province of Santiago to Havana where he would give his final Mass on the island:
Yisabel Marrero Burunate, the eldest daughter of Caridad Burunate, a Lady in White from Matanzas and member of the pro-human rights group known as the Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy. Just a few months ago, Yisabel turned 18 years old. While Pope Benedict XVI was on his way to Havana, the arrests in the area of Colon, Matanzas intensified. Just 300 meters away from the home of Burunate, a dissident was being violently arrested when Yisabel decided to step out of her house in his defense, screaming at his oppressors so that they cease beating him. She thought they were going to kill him.
The paramilitary brigades detained the dissident amid kicks and they then turned to assault Yisabel. Out in the street before the view of the public, the soldiers ruthlessly beat her. William Acevedo Roque, a friend of Yisabel who is 17 years old, tried to protect Yisabel, covering her with his arms. William was also violently attacked and ended up arrested, confined to a pestilent dungeon during that entire night and during the entire following day.
As this all occurred, Caridad Burunate was surrounded in her own house by a cordon of more than 50 political police officials, Rapid Response Brigade members, and various government ‘snitches’. These functionaries started to scream obscenities and offenses at the Lady in White. They threatened her, telling her that if she stepped out of her house she would be arrested. As a form of protest, Burunate hung a sign on her porch which read “give me my daughter back, she was kidnapped“. She also had another sign which said “the Castro tyranny is not letting me travel to Havana to assist the Pope’s Mass“.
Felipe Marrero, Caridad’s husband and the father of Yisabel, managed to head out to the State Security Unit of Colon along with Regla Burunate, Caridad’s sister. They started to protest in front of the unit, demanding the liberation of the young Yisabel. After 2 am, she was released.
The young Cuban was full of bruises and she said that she had suffered an asthma attack which was ignored by her oppressors, who shoved her into a dungeon. Without parental consent or authorization, Yisabel was injected with two drgus- Diazepam and Benadrilina, both of which are used in Cuba to treat patients who suffer from mental disorders. For the rest of the world, Diazepam was discontinued, but such is not the case for Cuba. Before returning the girl to her father, regime agents took her to a doctor so that he would write a medical report which stated that Yisabel had not been beaten. However, the doctor chose to stay true to his conscience and declared that he would not write up a false report, according to Yisabel herself.
Meanwhile, another similar case of repression in the same province was that of Ernesto Martinez Gonzalez, a 17 year old Cuban who was arrested at gunpoint. This arrest was carried out by a political police official. The agent threatened the youth by putting a gun to his head, only because Ernesto had defended his uncle, the dissident Carlos Olivera who is also an activist from the Pedro Luis Boitel Democracy Party and who was being violently arrested by the Cuban police at that moment. Olivera was victim of a beating before being introduced into a police vehicle, while his brother-in-law Richer Martinez Rodriguez, and another relative Leslier Morales Torres were also arrested. These dissidents were only trying to leave their homes and travel to Havana in order to participate in the papal Mass which would take place on March 28th. According to their own testimonies, the activists assured that it was thanks to international solidarity that they were released two days later, but each dissident received fines of 30 pesos.
According to relatives and his own testimony, Ernesto Martinez is still suffering from “panic” and “trauma” after being arrested under such violent conditions.
Colon and Perico, cities from Cuba’s central Matanzas province, were the scenes of a crackdown by the Castro regime against Cuban dissidents in that area this past Monday, February 27th.
One of the victims of the government violence was Angel Moya Acosta, an ex political prisoner from the group of the 75, who, on that morning, was on his way to the home of also ex prisoner from the 75, Felix Navarro Rodriguez, in the city of Perico. Upon arriving at that city, Moya noticed that there was a very strong combined operation, composed of State Security, the Rapid Response Brigades, and the National Revolutionary Police. According to the human rights activist, “a State Security official intercepted me and ordered me to leave that area, he confiscated my ID card, and called for a police vehicle“.
Moya assured his oppressors that as a free man he could transit through whatever part of his country he desired. However, the agents aggresively forced him into a police vehicle and drove him to the police unit of Playa Larga. “In that Unit, I was confined to a dark cell, without water, without my belongings, without a mattress, and completely infested with mosquitos and without being allowed access to a phone to inform my relatives of my situation“. The dissident, who spent nearly 8 years in the dungeons of the Cuban dictatorship, assured that those who oppress the country “use this kind of cells to torture the detainees, in an attempt to have us stop our activities“. And that’s how they kept him until the following day, Tuesday February 28th, until 10 AM.
Meanwhile, in Colon, and also on February 27th, the homes of dissidents Carlos Olivera and Juan Francisco Rangel were completely surrounded by State Security mobs. “My house had been surrounded since 2 AM. At around 8 AM, I decided to go out to the street (also to the civic activity being held in the home of Felix Navarro) but the police operation impeded me from doing so“, explained Olivera. A State Security Major told Olivera that he was not allowed to leave his home, to which the activist responded by saying that his house “will not become a prison“. Olivera tried to continue on his way but was rapidly arrested by force and shoved into a police vehicle, but not before writing a brief message on his Twitter account (@ColiveraCuba), denouncing that he was being detained. In addition, the dissident began to shout slogans in favor of freedom- “We want Multi-Party elections“, “Long live freedom of expression“, and “Down with the dictatorship“. As if he were a criminal for defending the rights of the people, Olivera remained behind the bars of a Colon police station until 8 PM.
The same tactics were applied against Juan Francisco Rangel when he also tried to go to the home of Felix Navarro. Rangel explains that “about 20 political police and State Security agents surrounded my home“, but despite this, he also decided to go out. In just instants, the police agents informed him that he could not continue. Among the oppressors was an official which savagely beat Rangel on December 5th, 2011, cracking his forehead. “There was also a person called Jesus Yanez, who is the Cultural Director here in Colon, who participates in acts of repudiation and other aggressions. Yanez also treated my wife with disrespect during the confrontation this Monday“, said Rangel, who told the agents that he would not tolerate further disrespect and abuses against his family. “At that moment, the physical aggression began and two agents ran up to me. That’s how they then shoved me into a police car, which I was able to see its license number- #208. Another repressor known as Alexander Guerra pushed me against the roof of the car and I hit my head“. Rangel’s wife managed to record the violence, which can be seen here:
In addition, Rangel informed that his sister-in-law Caridad Burunate, who is a Lady in White and member of the Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy, was surrounded at that same moment in her house in Colon. “In her case, she was surrounded by more aggresors than me“.
Meanwhile, the former prisoner of the Black Spring, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, was able to go out to a street in Colon, carrying a sign with images of the political prisoners Yasmin Conyedo and Yusmani Alvarez (both who have been arrested since January 8th, 2012) and Ernesto Borges, who is currently in a critical state of health due to a hunger strike he has been sustaining in protest for his freedom. Carrillo was able to upload a photo he took of himself just minutes before going out to the street. Only a few minutes later, he was brutally arrested by the repressive forces of those who were keeping surveillance over him. But, despite the brutality, a very important fact is that the moment of the arrest was caught on video. Since images are worth more than words, here they are:
In regards to this crackdown and the increase of violence which the Cuban dictatorship has unleashed against the civic Resistance on the island, the former political prisoner Angel Moya declared that “each passing day, the opposition is becoming stronger, and is very capacitated to lead the country towards the objectives we have always wanted to achieve, and we are not going to allow, at any cost, that the Cuban regime impede our victory“.
Bicycle of dissident Jose Francisco Rangel w/ “Change” sticker. One of the reasons for repression against him.
The dissidents from Cuba’s Matanzas province Jose Francisco Rangel Manzano, Provincial Delegate of the Pedro Luis Boitel Democracy Party in Matanzas, and Carlos Olivera, Vice-Delegate of the same Party, were summoned on the morning of February 19th to the police station in the city of Colon. Major Osmany Hernandez- a well known henchman and aggressor of Colon and surrounding municipalities- was in charge of the interrogations.
Francisco Rangel was warned, as agents told him that they would not tolerate further anti-government signs and/or graffiti propping up on walls along the centric roads of Colon, to which the dissident responded that he had no control over the appearance of those signs because it was the everyday people who was putting them because they have grown weary of the constant lies and oppression.
Major Osmany Hernandez said that they (the political police) knew that the orchestrator of the signs were Ivan Hernandez Carrillo and Felix Navarro, both former prisoners of conscience from the group of the 75. Francisco Rangel responded that if he was going to talk about an orchestrator that he too was one, because he did not need to demonstrate his opposition to the regime with signs put up in the dark of night. “My opposition and my posture against your system is up-front and public, out in the light of day. This shirt I am wearing right now which says ‘Change’, my bicycle has a sticker which says ‘change’, and right now I’ll tell you that I do not want to fix anything with you all in any way“, said the dissident.
When Major Osmany Hernandez mentioned that the anniversary of Orlando Zapata’s death was getting close, Francisco Rangel bravely reminded the agent that it was not just a mere death, but an assassination at the hands of the regime. The henchman told Rangel: “Let’s respect ourselves”. Rangel reminded Hernandez that “if we are going to talk about respect, then do not forget about how you have all thrown excrement at the homes of dissidents in Colon“. Upon saying this, the functionary had no response.
After this incident, dissident Carlos Olivera was interrogated. This specific interrogation was more violent, considering that Carlos refused to sit and the agents threw him against a window. After being beat as well, Carlos told his oppressors that he had nothing to talk about with them. They accused Olivera of being disrespectful for not wanting to sit, and the activist responded, “you’d have to kill me first. I have nothing to talk about with you. The signs are being put up by the people because they are tired of you all, they have nothing to do with Ivan and Felix“.
On the following day, February 20th, they also summoned Caridad Burunate, dissident and Lady in White of Colon, for more of the same as well as Lazaro Diaz Sanchez, an activist from the Pedro Luis Boitel Democracy Party. On this occasion, they wanted both dissidents to sign citations and take their finger prints. The interrogators, however, could not force them to do such things because the activists refused to subject themselves to the humiliation. One of their slogans are: “We are dissidents, not delinquents“.
Burunate then affirmed in one her most recent Tweets that despite all this harassment and all these citations: “The opposition in Colon, Matanzas will pay tribute to Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Pedro Luis Boitel on the anniversary of their assassinations. No more state terrorism!
A special thank you to the Cuban and Twitter activists @mspianoteacher for providing this report and these photos
The home of Lady in White Caridad Burunate Gomez, located in Colon, Matanzas, was the target of a failed mob repudiation attack this past Thursday, January 5th. Accompanying Caridad were some relatives, among them her husband (and also dissident) Francisco Rangel and also the former political prisoners of the group of the 75, Iván Hernández Carrillo and Félix Navarro.
The Lady in White narrated that she had known there was going to be an act of repudiation against her that day, for her neighbors had informed her that in their jobs they had ben visited by agents of the regime who had told them that it was mandatory to assist the acts of aggression that night at 8:30. “The agents said that if the workers did not go, then they would be fired from their jobs”, explained Burunate Gomez. Regardless, the only people who joined in on the verbal violence were “only government officials. They parked 10 police vehicles nearby and began to shout slogans against us. But everyday neighbors did not show up“.
In fact, th dissident detailed that the dictatorship’s representatives in that zone of Matanzas brought sound equipment in order to blast “revolutionary” music and also lights to point at the house, but they did not have anywhere to connect the speakers or the light bulbs, seeing as no neighbor wanted to provide their house, constituting an acto of non-cooperation against the dictatorship. All but one neighbor, that is.
Félix Navarro explained that the neighbors “turned off their lights and closed their doors. The only ones who lent themselves to the vandalism were Regla and Roberto Gambara, a married couple“. According to the former prisoner and the Lady in White, the Gambara family has a son living in the United States since he left the island on raft 7 years ago. “Regla and Roberto receive money and packages from relatives living outside and have even tried to apply for a visa to leave the country through the US Interest Section in Havana, but they have been denied“, added Navarro, highlighting the double-morals of the couple.
“In fact”, continues the activist, “up to the end of the 90’s, the house in which Roberto and Regla now live, there lived two of Roberto’s sisters- Iris and Teresa Gambara. They both left Cuba for the United States under the status of political refugees… it’s very ironic that now, that same house is being used to mob acts of repudiation against non-violent dissidents who are leading the struggle against totalitarianism and Castro-ism in Cuba“.
The speakers connected to the home of the Gambara family were used to amplify the voices of communist officials who were screaming obscenities at the dissidents, in addition to playing pro-dictatorial music. Caridad Burunate denounced that “the agents began to carry out their discourse about the 5 spies, saying that they will soon return. An agent by the name of Jesus Yanez Barrios stood right in front of my porch and screamed some very obscene words at me. He also called me a worm, accused us of receiving US money and saying that we had sold out our countries“.
That was when the repudiation act came to a conclusion, at around 9 PM. “I feel very happy“, assured Burunate, “because we were expecting to be repudiated by a large number of people but no neighbor, save for Regla and Roberto, participated“. The Lady in White continued, “we are very happy for our neighbors. It’s even more proof that the everyday people, not just the dissidents, do not want this dictatorship and does indeed want change. This was a defeat for the regime“.
Non-Cooperation is an essential element in struggles against totalitarianism and other corrupt systems, as has been witnessed in diverse parts around the world- today and in the past (from racist South Africa, communist Poland, Tunisia under a dictatorship, and even in the United States during the segregationist period are just a few examples of success).
The Burunate family lives amid constant threats and aggressions
Caridad Burunate and her entire family have been targets of attack on behalf of the Castro tyranny for quite some time now. They have had to witness acts of repudiation against them in a frequent, almost constant, fashion. In this link, you can see one of these mob attacks organized by the Cuban regime against this dissident family.
Burunate also denounced that her daughters, whom are still adolescents, have also suffered the repression directly. “One day, my daughter had to leave the house during a mob repudiation attack when agent Jaime Lopez hit her on the back, pulled her hair, and threw her on the floor“. Other relatives- like her own brother in law- have been imprisoned due to the dissident posture of the family.
In one instance, which only occurred a few days ago, “we were threatened by the political police and State Security, as they threw pig excrement at the house. One other morning we awoke to a house full of smashed eggs. On September 24th, during a pots and pans protest, they threw us huge rocks. They nearly hit my daughter on her head“.
Although this has been occurring with frequency, already during the first days of 2012 we can see an intensification of vigilance and repression in Colon, Matanzas, because numerous anti-government signs have been propping up throughout the city. “The signs say ‘Change’, ‘Democracy’, and ‘It is time for Cuba’“, explains Burunate, who also points out that the signs have appeared anonymously and have not been put up by a dissident group.
“This means that the everyday people want change, not just us public dissidents”, reaffirms the Lady in White Caridad Burunate.
Now Caridad Burunate can be followed on Twitter- @CaridadBurunate. Her husband has also opened his own ccount, Francisco Rangel- @JFRangelCuba. Each passing day, there are more and more Cubans who, through the solidarity of others, overcome and challenge the censorship imposed by the Cuban dictatorship.