Seventeen-year old Enrique Lozada Aguedo has proven to be a representation of Cuba’s future, of so many youths that have been abandoned by the totalitarian system and who are full of hope, despite the repressive tactics of the regime. Being the youngest of the more than 60 UNPACU strikers during the month of April and May, he made it very clear that he was willing to die to the freedom of his father, Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, and to demand that human rights be respected and upheld.
But what worries the Cuban dictatorship the most is not that the activist is willing to die, but that he is willing to live, for a new nation.
Now, Enrique sends out an important message. He calls on the Cuban youth to defend their rights and assures that, very soon, there will be freedom in Cuba, because there are many who are willing to fight for it. That’s what he had to say after more than 3 weeks on hunger strike, with a seriously affected health, but with a very strong spirit. Listen to his message, in Spanish, below:
Transcription and English translation, here:
“I am seventeen years old. I want to call on the youth of the world, not just the ones in my country. I want to convoke them so that they manifest themselves against the injustices that daily attempt against family harmony. I want to call on them to take a stand against all injustices that constantly go against our families, because we must fight against violence, against all things that violate our dignity and our morals.
I want to tell the Cuban authorities and the Cuban dictatorship that neither the beatings nor the imprisonments will stop us from demanding our rights. We are going to keep demanding freedom, we are going to keep speaking up for a Cuba where there is democracy, and we are even willing to give our lives for our country, for the land where we were born, for our sky, we are willing to do it.
To the civilized world, where there is democracy and freedom, I say that Cuba will soon be free, and soon, in Cuba there will be social justice. Cuba will soon be democratic.”
Barcelona-based blogger Joan Antoni Guerrero from “Punt de Vista” has reported about the repressive situation against the hunger strikers in Cuba, where it seems that this Tuesday, 7th of May, State police has attacked some strikers and activists. My translation of Guerrero’s report:
Various reports of activists in the last couple of minutes on various social Networks denounce that the political police has raided the Hospital of Santiago de Cuba, where there are a number of dissidents from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) on hunger strike. According to some sources there has been violence and beatings. It also seems that the phone lines of various dissidents have been blocked. Meanwhile, detained activist Luis Enrique Lozada was taken to intensive care, according to “Diario de Cuba”. The UNPACU hunger strikers started the hunger strike to demand his liberation.
The cited article from ‘Diario de Cuba’ contains an interview with Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UNPACU, mentioning that Lozada’s wife, Darmis Aguedo, “was able to see him and said he was very deteriorated physically, but said he would keep his posture until he is freed or until he dies, because he is not going to serve a sentence for a crime he did not commit”.
Blogger and activist Frank Abel Garcia (in Cuba) also tweeted about the situation:
TRANSLATION: “They have informed me that the political police beat the activists which were outside the hospital”.
Former political prisoner of conscience Pedro Arguelles Moran wrote on his Twitter (@PedroArguellesM):
TRANSLATION: “Luis Enrique Lozada transfered on Saturday to Provincial Hospital of Santiago. 39 activists protested and beat by State Security. Health of strikers worsening”.
More than 60 hunger strikers have put their lives on the line to demand the release of Luis Enrique Lozada, including his 17-year old son Enrique Lozada, one of the strikers in worst conditions. Lozada (father) has been detained unjustly since April 9th.
More activists keep joining the massive hunger strike encompassing more than 60 people throughout Eastern Cuba, demanding the release of detained dissident Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, while the other strikers who have already been refusing to eat for more than 3 weeks maintain their protest, which has led to the deterioration of their health. The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) has been publishing a series of videos and audios in their YouTube channel with updates on the situation.In this video (above), the youngest of the strikers, 17-year old Enrique Lozada, who is the son of Luis Enrique Lozada, defends his protest before various doctors sent by the government to try and make him give up on his demands in the Juan Bruno Zayas hospital of Santiago de Cuba.
“With the level of stress I have right now, knowing that my mother is also on hunger strike, as well as my uncle, seeing as how my family is being torn apart, do you really think I feel like living?”, the young Cuban tells the team of doctors, “Why am I going to live knowing that my father is dying in a prison cell because of a crime he never committed? Knowing that my family is falling to pieces”.
The video concludes with the protest of various hunger strikers that are present in that room. They point out that the regime has ignored their demands and has not even acknowledged the situation of Luis Enrique Lozada and the other strikers.
In this audio (above), Darmis Aguedo, wife of Luis Enrique Lozada, mother of Enrique, and also on hunger strike, explains that she was able to see her husband recently in the Provincial Hospital of Santiago. She said he was being held in an “isolated” room and under the “permanent” custody of two armed police guards. They were able to speak for a few minutes. She said he was still strong in spirit but his health proved otherwise, as he has lots of weight due to the hunger strike.
Meanwhile, independent journalist Alexei Jimenez informed on his Twitter account (@jugandomelavida) that the hunger strikers in Holguin- Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora– were taken to a hospital for a few hours on the night of May 5th. Berta Guerrero, a member of the Ladies in White and wife of Franklin Peregrino, offered more details. She said both strikers had been denied medical assistance various times.
On the afternoon of Sunday May 5th, various activists directed themselves to the nearest medical center, asking for an ambulance for Pergrino and Leiva but the medical employees ignored them. A few hours later, a doctor finally showed up at the house, taking both dissidents to the Lenin Hospital to be hydrated. Guerrero explains that the health of the Holguin hunger strikers- whom have already been in their protest for 15 days- has drastically weakened but that they will maintain their protest “until Lozada Igarza is freed”. In Gibara (Holguin), another 4 activists have joined the strike. The response of the political police has been to organize acts of repudiation against them.
Solidarity with the hunger strikers on behalf of the internal opposition has been national, however. In Palma Soriano, various UNPACU members recently carried out a public march, demanding Luis Enrique’s liberation, as can be observed in the following video:
Former political prisoners of conscience Ángel Moya Acosta and Félix Navarro Rodríguez were able to travel to Santiago de Cuba to show solidarity with Enrique Lozada, Ana Celia Rodriguez, Jose Daniel Ferrer and other strikers this Sunday, May 5th, while the Ladies in White dedicated their Sunday march to Luis Enrique Lozada.
On the morning of May 6th, former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, published a declaration in the name of the mentioned pro-freedom coalition in solidarity with the hunger striking activists.
As for the international scene, several activists have created a petition directed to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations so that there be an increase in solidarity with the case of Luis Enrique Lozada, his family, and all the strikers who have put their lives at risk for freedom. The petition can be signed by clicking here.
The cell phones of more than 40 dissidents in Cuba, the majority members of UNPACU, have been blocked in the past couple of days in order to prevent them from publishing information about the strike. Regardless, activists have been reporting the details any possible way they can. The lives of all those who are taking part in this strike are in danger, but they have all said they will continue onward, pressuring the dictatorship to free a Cuban who has not committed a crime and is being held behind bars.
Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Yoandri Naoski Ricardo Mir are residents of Banes, Holguin, and parents of 3 underage children. They live under constant surveillance, harassment and repression at the hands of Cuban political police agents, just because they have ideas different than those who are in power.
Gertrudis is a member of the Ladies in White and both are members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, a pro-freedom group based in the Eastern region of the island. Recently, the violence against them has duplicated, mainly affecting their children.
This past Thursday, 25th of April, Gertrudis and Yoandri stepped out of their home in the Nuevo Banes neighborhood, accompanied by 7 other dissidents, and carried out a peaceful protest-march in solidarity with the more than 60 hunger strikers of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who are demanding the immediate release of activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, who was arbitrarily arrested last April 9th and who has also been on hunger strike since. The protest was a success, considering that its spontaneous nature allowed them to surprise police officials who usually crack down on similar activities quickly. The 9 activists returned to the house without any problems after having marched several blocks shouting messages in favor of the freedom of all political prisoners and in solidarity with the everyday people.
Only a few minutes passed when, suddenly, numerous agents of the State police showed up in front of the house. Among them were agents Freddy Aguero and Lieutenant Colonel Roilan Cruz Oliva, notorious oppressors of the area. In just a matter of minutes, the agents raided the house, savagely beating Gertrudis, Yoandri and all others present, even two brothers of the Lady in White- Yadian Vergara Suarez and Yunior Vergara Suarez.
In an audio published by ‘Radio Republica’, Ojeda Suarez recounts how she was beaten by various members of the Ministry of the Interior to the point that they even broke her mouth. Her mother, Justina Suarez Rojas, was pushed and threatened, while Yoandri Naoki was beat and detained, taken in a cop car to the unit known as Pedernales, infamous for its inhumane conditions and horrid treatment against inmates (most of who are there unjustly). The police broke various objects inside the house and took various belongings of the dissidents, among them their only cell phone.
Witnessing all these events were the youngest children of Ojeda and Ricardo: Bianca Ricardo Ojeda (6) and Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Ojeda (5). The minors started to desperately scream for their parents.
Gertrudis was released a few hours later but Yoandri Naoki remained arrested for a little over a day. While she was still alone in her house, the political police organized a mob to carry out against an ‘act of repudiation’ against Gertrudis on the night of April 26th. During the repudiation, Ojeda was completely in-communicated.
Juan Miguel Gonzalez Marrero, a human rights activist and neighbor of the dissident couple, confirmed to this blog that the act of repudiation ended at about 9 PM.
On Thursday, May 2nd, the police once against lashed out against the activists, organizing a second act of repudiation outside the home of Gertrudis and Yoandri, and later, another outside the home of Juan Miguel Gonzalez. The reason this time around? Earlier that day they had held a vigil in the home of Ojeda Suarez, praying for the freedom of all political prisoners on the island.
“As soon as the vigil ended at Gertrudis’ home, I left towards my house and was brutally detained by State Security“, said Gonzalez, “I was threatened while in the police unit by Freddy Aguero, captain of State Security“.
The repudiation occurred that night, after his release. The participants were mostly members of the Communist Party, while almost none were neighbors. They shouted offensive words, slogans and threats against the dissidents.
Gonzalez points out that his 13-year-old daughter, Dayani Gonzalez Rodriguez, is also suffering psychological problems.
“She has witnessed various detentions firsthand and she is very afraid…she doesn’t even want to go to school“, he said.
The children of Gertrudis and Yoandri are also on the same path.
“They have traumatized my children. They don’t want to eat, they don’t go to school. They are treated differently and looked badly upon just because of the way their parents think, just because we are against this regime”, expressed Ojeda Suarez in another audio published by ‘Radio Republica’. “The State is torturing two children”.
On another note, Naoki denounces that the police agents robbed “67 signs, 28 books, a cell phone, the charger, and even a monument to Orlando Zapata Tamayo (assassinated political prisoner)” from his home. “They even took books by Jose Marti. In fact, an instructor known as Ezequiel from Banes told me: ‘this is not the Jose Marti I know’ and I responded, ‘as far as I know there is only one Jose Marti. What happens is that many of his thoughts are censored in this country and not included in your books’“.
“The mobs also woke my children up during the second act of repudiation on May 2nd…my kids are traumatized“.
Everything indicates that the acts of State-sponsored repression will continue against Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir and all other dissidents in Banes, Holguin, but they have taken on a posture of persistence and bravery.
“My defense is to say the truth…I am prepared for them [the regime] to come…and I do not care if they kill me…I do not mind dying for a just cause, to defend the human rights of all Cubans”, affirmed Gertrudis Ojeda.
For more information from Cuba, contact: Juan Miguel González Marrero- Cell Phone: +24-803-580
Young dissident rapper and human rights activist Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, member of the hip-hop duo ‘Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso’ (‘The Unwanted Children’), is still being held in the Provincial Prison of Granma, also known as “Las Mangas”, without any formal accusations or without having passed through trial, according to his aunt Jaqueline Garcia Jaenz, member of Cuba’s Ladies in White.
Garcia also highlights that in addition to being an arbitrary action, considering that the musician did not commit a crime and is being falsely accused of ‘attempt and resistance’ after police agents raided his home on the 26th of March, the fact that he is jailed in a provincial prison is another violation of the law.
Angel Yunier’s detention in Las Mangas violates a new law which was passed on March 18th which dictates that citizens who have pending trials cannot be kept in provincial prisons, but instead must be held in municipal penitentiaries”, said Garcia, “but Angel is being held in the Provincial prison and is there for a reason. They want to invent a crime for him; he has a pending trial but is innocent and has been in that center for nearly a month”.
Remon Arzuaga was arrested on March 26th, just days after having been beat and detained for various days after handing out pro-freedom documents. He was on hunger strike for various weeks and stopped the protest after the authorities told him they would revise his case, but to date, they have not kept their word. Activists who know him say that the repression against him is because he attracts many everyday people and chats with them, taking the pro-freedom message of the internal opposition to them. Also because of the lyrics of his rap songs.
“Welcome to Bayamo…criticizing has become suicide, I get burned and I don’t ask for help, I will criticize without mercy, I fight and I know the consequences”, go the lyrics from the single titled ‘Bayamo’ by the rap duo, “Bayamo this is my trench, I don’t look outside, my family is here inside, a seed which continues active and keeps producing, I will keep writing for you, a real Bayamo native, lyrics without salary is how I live, this is protest and let it be known”.
Meanwhile, Jaqueline Garcia also denounces the situation of her husband Ariel Arzuaga Pena, also a political prisoner, who is not receiving adequate medical attention in his penitentiary.
“On the 18th of April, Ariel awoke with his two legs swollen below the knees. There were no doctors present at that moment and a nurse told him to not worry about it”, explained the Lady in White, “a few days later a doctor finally visited him and prescribed an increase in the dose of medication for hypertension, but the swelling continued. A few days later they checked him again, this time with another doctor, and he said to lower the dosage. In other words, it’s a contradiction on behalf of the doctors and I really don’t know what they want to do to him”.
They have still not diagnosed the cause of the swelling since the 18th of April”, she said.
Garcia highlights that the hunger strike by more than 60 human rights activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) taking place right now throughout the island, especially in the Eastern region, in addition to demanding the freedom of dissident Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, are also protesting against the increased level of repression against UNPACU activists, like Angel Yunier, and other members of the internal opposition.
The strikers are already suffering serious health problems, and recently, the youngest of them- Enrique Lozada (17)– was urgently rushed to the hospital, alongside Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez and the elderly activist Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez.
For more information from Cuba , please contact: Jaqueline García Jaénz- Cell Phone: +58-401-025
After more than 2 weeks on hunger strike, three activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) have been urgently rushed to the JuanBrunoZayasHospital in Santiago de Cuba due to serious health complications.
The strikers are Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez (suffering from diabetes), the elderly activist Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez, and 17-year-old Enrique Lozada. The latter is the son of Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza who was arbitrarily arrested on April 9th. His arrest was what led to the massive strike by UNPACU activists. Now, the health of all the strikers is getting worse.
Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodriguez, a youth activist from UNPACU, published various messages on Twitter (@anyerantoniobla) detailing the situation.
“The general health of the hunger strikers is critical”, read one message written by Blanco Rodriguez.
In an audio published by “Radio Republica” Anyer points out that the three hunger strikers have been taken to the same hospital where Wilman Villar Mendoza was, while Luis Enrique Lozada has been confined to the same exact cell in the Aguadores Prison of Santiago where Villar was tortured and taken to his death. Wilman Villar was a political prisoner who died after a lengthy hunger strike in early 2012.
Recently, other strikers have also been taken to hospitals, as was the case of Lady in White Adriana Nunez Pascual and the activists from Holguin, Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Pedro Leiva Gongora.
There is much worry about the health of the strikers, especially the young Enrique Lozada. In a recent video published by UNPACU he said that he is willing to take his protest, for the liberation of his father, “to the final consequences”.
“We need the solidarity of all Cuban, inside and outside of the island”, expressed Blanco Rodriguez.
In a video recorded by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Enrique Lozada speaks during his third week on hunger strike, a protest started to demand the release of his father, activist Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, violently arrested by the political police last April 9th in Maffo, Contramaestre. Luis Enrique is also on hunger strike and is being confined in inhumane conditions in the Aguadores Prison of Santiago de Cuba.
More than 60 other dissidents have declared themselves on strike with the same motive, including dissident leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia. At age 17, Enrique is the youngest striker of the group. In this video, one can see that he is clearly weakened and already affected, health-wise, by the protest.
His spirit, however, remains intact.
“I am not afraid to die knowing that I am defending and fighting for my father’s freedom”, the young Lozada says in this video, “I prefer to die than to know my father is in prison without having committed a crime”.
All of the hunger strikers have had a drastic decline in their health, while the Cuban government has so far ignored their demands and has been torturing Luis Enrique Lozada, mentally and physically.
At this point, solidarity is crucial.
Here is the video (by UNPACU) with English subtitles (my translation):