Cuban blogger accused of public disorder for leaving his house, arrested, threatened, and kept from going to papal mass
Independent Cuban blogger and journalist Luis Felipe Rojas was on his way to buy bread and yogurt for his family when he was arrested by the political police on Saturday, March 24th, in his town of San German, Holguin.
At the moment in which Rojas stepped out through his front door, a member of the Rapid Response Brigades intercepted him, telling him that he could not be out on the street. Rojas did not accept this, highlighting the slogan of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front- “my house is not a dungeon“. However, just a few minutes later when the blogger was on his way back, a jeep of the Operational Guards was stationed outside his house. It was then that various agents from the political police arrested Luis Felipe, taking him to the local police unit of San German.
“[At the Unit] they put me in a room which is used for conferences, where I slept on the floor”, explained the blogger. When he noticed that his arrest was going to last various days, Rojas declared himself on hunger and thirst strike on the afternoon of Sunday, in protest for the suspension of his pilgrimage to Santiago de Cuba on Monday to assist the papal mass. Due to his hunger strike, he began to bleed from his throat. He maintained this protest until Tuesday night when he decided to drink water because of his intense throat pains, yet he maintained himself without eating anything. He was released during the afternoon hours of Wednesday, March 28th, hours after Pope Benedict XVI had left the island.
While Rojas was in the police unit, he was threatened various times by communist functionaries, especially the delegate from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) of San German known as Ronnier Gallardo. Rojas explains that during the process of release, “he, and others, threatened me. They told me that everytime a functionary tells me I cannot leave my house and I disobey, I would be arrested“. Also during his detention, officials ripped of a small white bracelet which the blogger carried. It had the word “change” on it.
During Rojas’ arrest, a cordon consisting of police officers and members of the Rapid Response Brigades was set up around his home, impeding his wife, Exilda Arjona, and their two small children (8 year old Malcom and 3 year old Brenda) from leaving the house. In addition, Arjona’s cell phone was blocked by ETECSA, the state-run phone company (under orders of the regime).
“My family and I must remain very alert. I ask all those who care to listen to have it clear that, in any case of accusations against us, I did not commit a single crime, much less one of ‘public disorder'”, affirmed Rojas, referring to the charges of ‘public disorder’ which the regime officials had accused him of. “I maintain my firm position that here in Cuba, neither my neighborhood nor my house will be a dungeon. The streets belong to the people, and I am a free man“, he assured.
In regards to the crackdown which preceded and accompanied the Pope’s visit to Cuba, Rojas expressed that the Cuban regime is planning a violent operation and this process was only “a test on how to massively surround neighborhoods, how to arrest people, and how to keep them all in a certain place. We must remain very attentive about this“.
Regardless, the activist assured that “sooner or later we will achieve the freedom of Cuba. The fear which the authorities are feeling is not because of any other reason“.
For more information from Cuba:
Luis Felipe Rojas – Cell Phone: +5352-771-487 / Twitter: @alambradas (Espanol); @alambradas_en (English)