Holy Week: “Wave of Terror” Continues in Cuba

The Lady in White Belkis Cantillo Ramirez was released from prison during the evening hours of Friday, April 6th.  Ramirez had her home raided by a large number of political police agents and suffered a brutal arrest on April 2nd along with her husband, the leading dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who is still detained.  The arrests of the couple was part of a repressive crackdown in Eastern Cuba which resulted in 43 arrests of human rights activists.

Cantillo Ramirez spoke with ‘Marti Noticias’, offering details about her arrest.  “The political police broke into our home…they dragged me, they hit me on the head, they hit me on my stomach, on my breasts, everywhere“, the dissident explains, adding that her sister-in-law was also beat.  In the case of Jose Daniel, Cantillo explains that he was taken, by force, out of the house without a shirt or shoes.  According to testimonies of an activist who shared a cell with Ferrer Garcia and who was recently released, Ferrer remains in a jail cell in the same fashion he was taken out of his house.

The three children of Belkis and Jose Daniel witnessed all of the violence.  The eldest of the daughters, 14 year old Martha Beatriz Ferrer, also explained to ‘Marti Noticias’ that, as her parents were being arrested, the police officers also confiscated books, cameras, phones, magazines, and even a frame with the photo of Laura Pollan, fallen leader of the Ladies in White.

On Saturday afternoon, the young Cuban explained to the same news agency that she was physically and verbally assaulted by regime agents as she was on her way to the El Cobre Sanctuary of Santiago de Cuba, in order to participate in Sunday Mass alongside other Ladies in White.

Meanwhile, Tania Montoya (also a Lady in White) informed that her husband, activist Raumel Vinajera, was still jailed as well in the police unit known as “Micro 9”.  Vinajera was also arrested on April 2nd in his own home located in Palma Soriano.  Montoya told this blog that the dissident Hector Felix Labrada was recently released from Micro 9 and he was sharing a cell with Vinajera.  “He [Labrada] told me that my husband had very strong pains on his head and was suffering from dizziness“, explained the Lady in White, adding that “this is all because they beat him so much when they arrested him…it is very alarming“.

Tania Montoya

Montoya denounced that, just as it was done to Jose Daniel Ferrer and Belkis Cantillo, “our home was raided and they took everything- signs, magazines, books, etc.  They also broke into the home of Raumel’s mother“.  The same happened in the house of activist Aurora Martin, where according to Montoya “the agents broke off the railings around the house and raided the home, beating all those inside and then taking them jailed“.  Among those beaten in the house was a sister of Aurora who “passed out” due to the amount of violence she received.

The sister of Aurora suffered many beatings to the point that she lost consciousness and passed out.  In the same fashion, they shoved her into a police vehicle.  In addition, Aurora’s daughter was there with her 3 month old daughter.  They also received physical blows, and even the little one received a blow on one of her legs“, added Tania Montoya.

The Lady in White described the repression as a “wave of terror” and informed that this wave continued through Friday, April 6th.  “Today, April 6th, we confirmed that Jorge Cervantes Garcia (Contramaestre) and Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria (Moa) were both violently arrested“.

Furthermore, the dissident narrates that she and other Ladies in White were able to make it to Mass this past 6th of April, precisely on Good Friday.  “Once inside the church we prayed to our Lord Jesus Christ so that he give us strength to withstand all of this and to please bring freedom to Cuba“.  Montoya also prayed for the dissidents who remain behind bars, among them José Daniel Ferrer, Dani López de Moya, Adriana Núñez, Santiago Castellanos and her husband Raumel Vinajera.  Amnesty International also released an urgent action report, echoing the situation of the jailed activists.

Here in Cuba, on one hand the regime releases some from prison while, on the other, they detain more“, expressed Tania Montoya, affirming that despite what may happen, this Sunday she will march to church, as will many other women throughout the island.

For more information from  Cuba:

Tania Montoya – Cell:  +5353- 146-329       // Belkis Cantillo Ramírez – Móvil:   +5353-790-867

Dissidents Arrested for Demanding “One Currency”

Seven activists from diverse opposition organizations were detained during the morning of Monday, November 28th, while protesting in front of the Melia Hotel of Santiago de Cuba.  Those arrested were Aimé Garcés Leyva, Vivian Peña Hernández, Yelena Garcés Nápoles, Yurileysi Vázquez López, Mirelis Frías and Héctor Félix Labrada Muñoz and Miguel Rafael Cabrera Montoya.  The last two are recently released political prisoners who spent weeks behind the bars for carrying out other non-violent dissident activities during the months of August and September.  The seven activists represent three different organizations- FLAMUR, the Republican Party of Cuba, and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPAC) and all make up the “One Currency” Campaign, reason why they were arrested.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who has been reporting about the latest developments of this story through his Twitter account, explained to this blog that the activists who are carrying out this campaign have been demonstrating publicly in different locations during the past few weeks in order to effectuate peaceful actions “against the dual currency system and in favor of just one currency“.  Ferrer is referencing the fact that the Cuban regime uses both a system of national currency and that of convertible currency (best known as “CUC”).  The former prisoner of conscience narrates that withing the past months many of these activists have been going to local places “which sell products in the convertible currency, and so they purchase some things and when it comes time to pay they pay with national currency“.

This has been done in a wide range of public spaces from restaurants to markets, and on this 28th of November they tried doing the same in the Melia Hotel of Santiago de Cuba.  Generally speaking, according to Ferrer, “local workers have received orders from their superiors that if they receive the equivalent needed in national currency, then there is no need to call the police.  But today the police were called and the dissidents ended up getting arrested right in front of the hotel”.

The dissidents were taken to the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba and as of Monday afternoon they remain there.

This is one more of the many actions which have been taking place throughout the Eastern region of the country“, affirms Ferrer, outlining that a few days ago in the town of Contramaestre a very large protest was carried out by members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba.  “That protest has given people lots to talk about because hundreds of everyday people congregated around the scene in order to observe the activities and the majority demonstrated their solidarity with dissidents“.  Though 9 of the 10 opposition members of this protest were arrested, they were released during the afternoon hours of the following day.  They have witnessed gestures of solidarity and support on behalf of the everyday community.

Ferrer adds that “two Ladies in White who were present in that protest have told me that out on the street people have not grown tired in telling them that they are brave.  The people approach them to hug them, kiss them, or simply just to demonstrate sympathy“.