On August 20th 2013, the political police organized and carried out an act of repudiation against dissident Didier Martinez, surrounding his home in Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara, where he was with his family, among them his wife and underage child, as well as other activists. The mob – made up by police officials dressed in civilian clothing and other people who have obligations with the dictatorship – not only shouted obscene words to the dissidents, but also damaged the house and eventually beat those present.
This audio published by ‘Radio Repubica’ captures the testimony of Luis Enrique Monzon Rivero, one of the activists of the Central Opposition Coalition who was in the house. Monzon denounces that the agents were using a mysterious liquid in an attempt to burn down the door of the house and also began to throw rocks. They were armed with sticks and machetes. The repudiation lasted various hours and only ended for a short while, seeing as on the following day – August 21st – another one was carried out, according to statements by former political prisoner Librado Linares Garcia on his Twitter account (@LibradoLinares).
Linares sent out another message on the 22nd explaining that “at 1:30 AM, they threw 4 pieces of metal at Didier’s house, damaging it. His small child was terrorized”.
The violence worsened on the 23rd. Librado tweeted, “Didier Martinez and his wife Natali were savagely beat by 2 State Security agents”. Their son, who is only 3 years old, witnessed the whole thing.
However, Linares Garcia said that the everyday people “showed solidarity with the repressed” and “repudiated the repressors”.
Now, photos have arrived straight from the island showing the scars left on Didier’s body by a system which does tolerate the diversity of ideas (courtesy of activist Niurcy Acosta Pacheco). See them for yourselves:
Several Cuban opposition activists are calling on the international community as well as their fellow compatriots to denounce the situation of political prisoner Ivan Fernandez Depestre, who has been on hunger strike for more than 27 days and whose health has drastically worsened, placing him in a state very “near death”, according to a press release by the Cuban Democratic Directorate.
Fernandez Depestre was abruptly and violently jailed on July 30th after he participated in a peaceful demonstration in honor of Frank Pais, a Cuban martyr who stood up against totalitarianism on the island many years ago. Two days later, on August 2nd, Fernandez was sentenced to 3 years of prison under the Law of Social Pre-Dangerousness which orders time behind bars for citizens who look “dangerous” of committing “crimes” in the future. The activist has been on hunger strike since.
Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front, a coalition which Ivan is part of, has been frequently denouncing the situation and taking to his Twitter account to let the world know what is going on. In an audio published on his YouTube channel, Antunez expressed that Ivan is “agonizing in a protest that has lasted longer than 20 days” and that his health is “very critical”.
Antunez, who is currently in the city of Miami as part of an international tour to denounce the Cuban reality, has been in contact with dissidents on the island who have carried out several protests demanding the release of Fernandez and called on the international community and all human rights organizations to end their silence in regards to this case.
On August 26th, it was confirmed that Ivan was in the hospital of the penitentiary known as Guamajal, but on morning hours of the 27th, he was transferred back to El Pre Prison, in the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Activists have expressed worry that his life may end there due to the fact that he has been submitted to constant aggressions and very poor medical assistance.
On Friday, August 23rd, Damaris Moya, president of the Central Opposition Coalition, called on dissidents across the island to carry out protests in favor of Ivan’s freedom. A number of activities were documented, but so too was a brutal and repressive response on behalf of Cuba’s political police. Dissidents were beat, arrested, and deported, while many homes were raided and surrounded with police officials.
Antunez tweeted (@antunezcuba) this Tuesday that opposition members have not rested in their demands, saying that protests have taken place in municipalities and cities such as “Placetas, Santa Clara, Sagua la Grande, Holguin, Havana, etc”.
Ivan Fernandez Depestre is on hunger strike to demand his immediate release.
Cuban dissident Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, who has been on hunger strike since May 24th demanding a home after he was evicted by the regime, is in an extremely delicate state of health, according to various reports coming from the island this week.
Members of the opposition such as Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and Felix Reyes Gutierrez wrote on their Twitter accounts (@SaraMartaCuba and @FelixReyesGutie, respectively) that Santos Caballero “is suffering from a hypoglycemia crisis with much frequency, he runs the risk of dying at any moment” and that in dawn hours of July 16th, he “lost consciousness on three occasions”, classifying his state as “critical”.
Carlos Michael Morales Rodriguez, an independent blogger and a member of the Central Opposition Coalition, a pro-freedom group which Santos also belongs to, has been echoing the severity of the situation, offering a detailed report to ‘Radio Republica’ in regards to the health of the striker.
“The hunger striker is suffering a hepatic paralysis and his liver is starting to stop working or possibly could have already stopped”, detailed Morales Rodriguez in the audio, pointing out that the striker only has one kidney. He lost the other vital organ during a severe beating by jailers while he was in prison.
In addition, Morales highlighted that Luis Enrique Santos has been on hunger strike for 54 days as of this 17th of July. During these nearly 3 months of protest, Santos has been beat and threatened by members of the political police, and has also been lied to and manipulated by these same forces. However, he has said that he will keep up his protest to the final consequences, demanding what belongs to any Cuban citizen: a place to reside and establish one’s life.
The debate about whether dissidents working for a democratic Cuba should turn to hunger strikes or not always rises in and out of the island whenever these protests are undertaken. Whichever the opinions may be, the reality is that, right now, in Cuba there are 3 human rights activists on hunger strike, all of them on the verge of losing their lives due to the serious deterioration of their health. And while their lives extinguish slowly, the dictatorship ignores their demands.
Luis Enrique Santos Caballero
A member of the Central Opposition Coalition (CCO) and of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, from the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Has been carrying out his hunger strike since May 24th, demanding a home after he was forcefully evicted alongside his wife Ramona Maday García, an activist of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. Santos Caballero spent more than 15 years behind bars and upon being released his father had passed away and he had nowhere to live. He spent some time living at the homes of friends and fellow dissidents until he finally decided to occupy an abandoned establishment. Police forces violently evicted Santos from this establishment. He has been under constant persecution since then.
The dissident began to protest with his wife in the Vidal Park of Santa Clara for a number of days, demanding a home. He was arrested, beaten and repudiated by government mobs on various occasions. Santos decided to start a hunger strike, moving his protest to the city of Placetas, specifically in the home of dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’.
Santos Caballero has only one kidney. He lost the other organ after a brutal beating by his jailers while he was still in prison. It is precisely because the lack of one kidney that his health has deteriorated so quickly and why his health is critical. Authorities have ignored his demands but Santos has said that he will take his protest to the final consequences. #SOS
For more information from Cuba: Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba
Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta
The home of dissident Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta and his family in the town of Bejucal was raided by police forces on September 2012 after he had announced the formation of a new pro-freedom group, the Patriotic Alliance, and that his oldest son, 24 year old Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo, refused to participate in military service. Father and son were beaten until the point that their heads were broken. Juana Castillo, wife of Osvaldo Rodriguez, was also physically assaulted while her youngest son (12 years old at the time) witnessed everything. The minor is severely traumatized.
The 3 activists were rapidly detained and sent to an arbitrary trial in 2013. Osvaldo Rodriguez was sentenced to 9 years of prison, his son to 7 years and Juana was sentenced to 5 years of correctional labor. Osvaldo (father) is jailed in the Combinado del Este Prison, where he began his hunger strike on May 10th, protesting all the abuses against his family and the authorities’ refusal to allow family visits. His son is being held in Valle Grande Prison of Havana. On June 8th, dissident and Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, from Boyeros, Havana, reported that Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta had been transferred to the National Hospital’s penal ward, already with more than 30 days on hunger strike and in a “critical” state.
Fonseca has informed on her Twitter account that Rosa Acosta, mother of Osvaldo Rodriguez, suffered a pulmonary effusion and was interned in the National Hospital, where her son resides. Authorities have not allowed them to see each other. #SOS
For more information from Cuba: Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +53-379-01 1/ Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba
Wilbert Parada Milán
Wilbert Parada Milán is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). He was violently detained along with Roberto Hernandez on March 30th in Habana Vieja. He began his hunger strike on May 13th in the Valle Grande Prison, also in Havana.
In a recent interview with this blog, José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of UNPACU, explained that Parada’s arrest was due to the constant activism he had been carrying out throughout the capital, carrying out civic protests and handing out pro-freedom literature.
In another recent interview to ABC, Yudisnelis Rodríguez Reina, wife of the dissident, explained that the hunger striker is in “critical state” in a cell of the Cominbado del Este’s hospital.
Jailers have not allowed Wilbert to have family visits and he has reportedly lost consciousness on a number of occasions. Relatives and fellow dissidents fear for the worst with this activist, who finds himself in a struggle between life and death. #SOS
For more information from Cuba: José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta, Wilbert Parada Milán. Three names we shouldn’t forget. No more repression, no more dictatorship.
The home of Damaris Moya Portieles and her family in Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Damaris is the president of the Central Opposition Coalition and a member of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. She is one of the most persecuted activists in that central area but also one of the most active. Her home has become a constant target of repression on behalf of the political police, but as one can see, it has also become one of the bastions of resistance.
This is how dissidents live in Cuba.
As a response to constant acts of repudiations, raids and attacks organized by the regime, Moya Portieles and her family decided to write pro-freedom messages on her walls. Some of them read:
“The Cuban people are hungry, but they are also afraid. When the fear ends, so too will the hunger”.
“Down with Raul and Fidel (Castro)”.
“Freedom for Sonia Garro Alfonso and her husband”.
“Fidel and Raul are corrupt thieves”.
“No more hunger and misery”.
This photo was published on Twitter by Cuban-American activist Cecilia Rojas (@CeciliaF_Rojas). Cecilia recently visited Cuba after her mother passed away. She was brave enough to meet with some dissidents, among them Damaris Moya and Antunez. Due to this display of solidarity she was detained for various hours by the political police.
Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, member of the Central Opposition Coalition, has been on hunger strike in the Vidal Park of Santa Clara, Villa Clara, along with his wife Ramona Maday Garcia, for more than a week, demanding that the regime give him a home after he was forcefully evicted during the month of April.
Santos, a former dissident prisoner, came out of jail to find that his father had passed away and that he had no home. He spent various months staying at the homes of friends and fellow activists until he decided to occupy an abandoned establishment in the city of Santa Clara. Police forces violently evicted him and his wife from the place, and the activist took shelter in the house of another dissident. Eventually, he decided to demand the regime to give him the opportunity to have a house where he could establish himself and establish a family.
This Wednesday, May 29th, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, former political prisoner and general secretary of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, published an audio in his YouTube account detailing that another 4 activists had joined Luis Enrique’s hunger strike. The striker shifted his protest to the home of Antunez, where the other dissidents also reside. They are Arnaldo Perez, Fernando Vazquez, Yunier Santana, and most recently, Damaris Moya Portieles. The latter is the president of the Central Opposition Coalition.
Although the life of each of these hunger-strikers is in danger, Antunez explains that the most worrying situation is that of Luis Enrique Santos Caballero who only has one kidney. He lost his other kidney in prison after he was severely beat by a number of guards. Santos Caballero has also seen his health affected in the last couple of days after sleeping under rain and wind in a public park for more than a week.
“Luis Enrique Santos is on the verge of losing his life for demanding something so basic, so elementary, which is having a home”, declares Antunez in the audio, “he is a man who truly looks like a cadaver…he is suffering the effects of a weakened physical state, and the lack of one kidney. At any given moment, a fatal outcome may take place”.
Antunez called on the international community, especially people who have Twitter accounts and who run blogs about Cuba, to keep informing about the situation of Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, an activist who is willing to give his life so that at least his wife could have a decent home.
Para más información desde Cuba, contactar a: Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Móvil: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba
Mobs organized by the Cuban regime’s State Security apparatus have been repudiating and harassing various dissidents in Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, this week.
Idael Pérez Díaz, member of the Central Opposition Coalition, the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement and the Orlando Zapata Resistance Front, told this blog that during the morning and afternoon of Wednesday, May 8th, the mobs “threw rocks and shouted offensive words at us, while about 10 State Security jeeps spent the day stationed in the corners of the block, giving alcoholic beverages to all those participating in the repudiation“.
The acts of aggression took place outside the home of Perez Diaz where a number of dissidents from other cities, like Santa Clara, were congregated.
He also explained that the mobs were made up by people from other municipalities because the vast majority of neighbors refused to participate. Some neighbors even took food to the activists, considering that they couldn’t step outside their homes due to the police cordons. Such actions of citizen solidarity are being reported with much frequency throughout the entire island.
“Lediño, the chief of state Security for the province of Ciego de Avila, was the one directing the entire operation“, added Perez, “the other people are mainly from the Communist Party, only a few from this municipality, and the rest from other areas“.
Idael and his wife, Santa Gonzalez Pedroso, are renown local dissidents, as are their children, Idaelvis Perez Gonzalez and Delvis Perez Gonzalez. The latter is just 12 years old and has been suffering psychological traumas due to the constant harassment of the regime against his family.
“Delvis became very nervous and we had to get him out of the house with the help of some relatives“, said Idael. On January of 2013, the minor was expelled from his wrestling team at school under the orders of State Security. The pretext of the agents were that his parents were ‘counter-revolutionaries’. (Audio here).
Meanwhile, activists Julio Columbie Batista and Jenni Barallobre Columbie, also from Grua Nueva, were violently arrested near the city of Moron on May 7th, as they were returning from Camaguey. They were detained for more than 48 hours and both were threatened with being jailed if they continued their opposition activities out on the streets, and if they kept on creating pro-freedom groups in nearby areas.
Idael, Santa and the rest of the congregated dissidents were also demanding the liberation of Columbie and Barallobre.
The repudiation came to an end on Thursday afternoon, but police guards were still keeping a tight vigilance over the dissident family, while still handing out beer to people from the Communist Party and other institutions of the dictatorship which were lending themselves to take part in such actions.
Despite all this, Santa Gonzalez Pedroso and other women from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights carried out a march to the local church as they do each Thursday, in honor of all those Cubans who have been killed for wanting democracy. In this case, they were not arrested.
But the vigilance continues.
“I hold State Security accountable for what could happen to us, my family and all other dissidents“, declared Idael Perez.
Listen to declarations by Idael Perez (in Spanish) below: