Dictatorship tries to impede celebrations of a date which belongs to all Cubans

Drawing of Marti on cover of famous Cuban magazine. 1955.

With all and for the good of all” – one of the most famous phrases by Jose Marti is, perhaps, also one of the ideas which the totalitarian system in Cuba fears the most, proven- year after year- every 28th of January when countless uniformed agents are sent out throughout the island to try and impede civic demonstrations to commemorate the anniversary of his birth.  2013, the 160th anniversary, was no exception.

The police operations began on Sunday the 27th.  In Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, the home of dissident Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez– member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)– was attacked with feces, staining the door and windows.  Dominguez directly blamed the political police for this, since he and his wife, Lady in White Taimi Vega Biscet, had plans to carry out a tribute to Marti.

These are methods employed by the political police, I hold them responsible as well as the Communist Party and all other instruments of the regime“, said the activist.

Meanwhile, despite police vigilance and direct threats by State Security, in Havana 41 Ladies In White managed to carry out their traditional march to Santa Rita Church and later to Mahatma Gandhi Park (See video, courtesy of ‘Hablemos Press’). These women deposited flowers in a statue of Marti in that park and commenced to read various phrases by the poet.

In Cardenas, Matanzas, Leticia Ramos Herreria and other Ladies in White marched for 26 blocks until they arrived to a local park to also deposit flowers in another Jose Marti statue.  This achievement bothered the authorities to the point that State Security officials summoned Ramos to a police unit for the following day.  The activist recounts that she was threatened and offended during the interrogation but that she refused to sign any sort of document and let them know very clear that she would continue going out to the streets of Cuba.

On Monday, the 28th, the repression increased but so did the peaceful and public demonstrations.  In the same province of Matanzas, but in the city of Colon, Juan Francisco Rangel was also summoned to the police station and later surrounded in his own home by agents to try and impede a march.  However, he managed to take to the streets along with other activists from the Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy, successfully carrying out the activity and depositing flowers for Marti, according to a Tweet published by Carlos Olivera (@COliveraCuba).

In Santa Clara, Villa Clara, a group of dissidents from the Central Opposition Coalition also took to the streets shouting slogans in favor of change and honoring Marti.  They were all violently arrested, according to a report by independent journalist and blogger Carlos Michael Morales Rodríguez.

Not too far from that city, in Placetas, members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front carried out a protest against the regime, also screaming slogans such as “Jose Marti Lives“, as was captured in an audio published by ‘Radio Republica’ in the voice of dissident leader Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’.

A successful march with signs containing anti-regime messages and Jose Marti phrases took place on the streets of Quemado de Guines, Villa Clara, by various members of the Cuban Reflection Movement, among them Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida, who said the march “took place despite strong police vigilance“.

Activity in Quemado de Guines infront of Marti bust. January 28th, 2013

Despite acts of repudiation and some arrests, in Camaguey a public activity was carried out by activists of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, said Daniel Millet Jimenez.

In Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, dissidents of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and from the Pedro Luis Boitel Resistance Movement congregated to honor Jose Marti.

Throughout the Eastern region of the country, members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in Baracoa, according to Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz, and of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy (CYMD) in Velasco, according to  Yonart Rodríguez Avila, also carried out their own meetings, marches and demonstrations in honor of Marti.  Yoandri Montoya Aviles said that in Bayamo, members of the Youth Movement of Bayamo paid homage to the “Apostle of Cuba”.

CYMD also carried out other activities in the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, in Havana, publishing some photos of the events in their blog.  In the same province, Lady in White  Sara Marta Fonseca held a vigil and an encounter in her home located in Rio Verde, Boyeros.

UNPACU also published some testimonies on their YouTube channel detailing repressive actions against activists for trying to carry out their own tributes in Guantanamo.

Former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo published a series of Twitter messages (@ivanlibre) denouncing that dissidents Pastor Alexis Huerta and Carlos Alberto Gómez, members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID), were violently arrested in the central city of Sancti Spiritus also for trying to carry out similar tributes as those occurring throughout the country.  Cases of repression, police cordons, and beatings were also confirmed in Pinar del Rio against other CID members and the Pinar del Rio Democratic Alliance.

These were only a few of the events which took place on the island between the 27th and 28th of January, when Cubans paid tribute to one of the figures most representative of their culture- a culture which does not belong just to one political group or dictator.

 “A just cause, from the bottom of a cave, is more powerful than any army”

-Jose Marti

A Summary of State Violence Against Minors in Matanzas, Cuba

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.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Burunate – Cell Phone:  +5352 – 563 – 003       // Twitter: @CaridadBurunate

Also follow the Twitter account of this Cuban exiled activist: @Mspianoteacher

Crackdown in Matanzas

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“.


For more information, directly from Cuba:

 Ángel Moya Acosta– Cell phone: (011-5353-820-595), Twitter: @jangelmoya / Carlos Olivera– Cell phone: (011-5352-562-839), Twitter: @ColiveraCuba / Juan Francisco Rangel– Cell phone: (011-5353-287-437), Twitter: @JFRangelCuba / Iván Hernández Carrillo– Cell phone: (011-5352-599-366), Twitter: @Ivanlibre / Caridad Burunate– Cell phone: (011-5352-563-003)

Matanzas: Anti-Government Signs Greatly Worry the Regime; Dissidents Harassed

Bicycle of dissident Jose Francisco Rangel w/ “Change” sticker. One of the reasons for repression against him.
"Boitel Lives" painted on the wall of a church in Colon, Matanzas a few weeks back

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.

Carlos Olivera

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“.

Lazara Sanchez and Caridad Burunate during a symbolic funeral of Wilman Villar Mendoza, 2012

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!

Functionaries of the regime threw pig excrement at the home of Caridad Burunate in Matnazas a few months ago.
This was Burunate's response: Putting up a sign whcih reads "down with state terrorism and 'crap' is what the government does"


A special thank you to the Cuban and Twitter activists @mspianoteacher for providing this report and these photos