Youth activist Yoandri Montoya Aviles and the movement which he presides over- Jovenes de Bayamo (‘Youth of Bayamo’)– have become targets of attack for the Cuban regime’s police. Montoya explains that his life in the city of Bayamo is under constant vigilance by the political police, which means he is frequently the victim of acts of repudiation, arrests, threats, and insults at the hands of the uniformed officials. He points out that all other dissidents in that area suffer the same fate.
But why the constant repression?
It has been proven that the Cuban dictatorship does not need an excuse to repress all those who think differently, but Yoandri points out that there are many factors that are putting the regime in a very uncomfortable spot lately, beginning with the growing public displays of popular discontent, reflected best by the almost daily apparition of signs with anti-government messages.
“Throughout the city of Byamo, and throughout the province of Granma in general, there have been anti-regime signs appearing constantly“, recounted the activist, “the majority of the times the signs have messages such as ‘No more lies’, ‘Down with hunger’, and ‘We want freedom’. And this has unleashed a very strong vigilance“.
The situation reached the point that there was a period of days in which “at least 10 arrests in each neighborhood occurred“, assured Montoya. “And what this demonstrates is that the Cuban people need total freedom“.
The activist explains that, for the most part, dissident groups do not dedicate themselves to hang such signs on public places, considering that they already voice their opposition to the regime out on the streets in a public manner. He says it’s the everyday citizens who do it, but the repercussions are always targeted at “public” dissidents.
Due to the appearance of so many signs, as well as a growing level of activism, various members of the Youth of Bayamo Movement were recently forced to visit police units this past 30th of November, where they were interrogated and threatened with being sent to prison under accusations of “social dangerousness“.
“However, all thee activists have undertaken a position of bravery- saying that they will not fear this kind of repression against them, because they are well aware of what they are doing and what they want: to defend the human rights of all Cubans“, expressed Montoya.
Some of the threatened activists were Luis Antonio Santisoto, Reynier Hernández and Rogelio Manuel Rey.
Meanwhile, Yoandri Montoya was arbitrarily arrested by the political police during the morning hours of November 25th in the neighborhood known as “La Union”, and explains that it was all because the citizen Niurka Vazquez Baez, a functionary of the Communist Party of Bayamo, turned to the authorities and accused him of having threatened her with death.
“The allegations made by this woman are completely false”, assures Montoya, “In fact, she is the one who constantly harasses me and every activist of the Movement when they go to my house, seeing as she lives close to me. She screams at us everyday, saying we are counter-revolutionaries, and also shouts insults“.
According to the dissident, Vazquez Baez frequently collaborates with State Police agents, so that they can easily arrest activists who are holding meetings or peaceful activities in his home, which also serves as the headquarters of that pro-democracy group.
“At no point in time have I threatened her with death, and because of her accusations I spent 48 hours arrested, where I was also interrogated by Andrei, a State Security Major. He told me that I would be processed for ‘threatening an authority of the Revolution’“, recounted Montoya. Although he has not been processed, yet, the accusations still weigh over him.
During his arrest, Montoya says that some of his neighbors actually directed themselves to the police unit to find out his whereabouts, demand his release, and to refute the accusations of the communist functionary.
Yoandri Montoya and the Youth of Bayamo Movement have been gaining the respect of their neighbors in that city, not only because they defend their rights but also because they have several community projects, such as the establishment of various “independent gyms“, centers where they provide exercise and sports equipment for young Cubans, all free of charge. Montoya explains that the purpose of the gyms is to keep the youth far from drugs and from participating in State-sponsored acts such as snitching, harassment, and repudiation.
The young dissident, as well as the rest of the members of the Movement, have reiterated that they will continue with their activism, despite any sort of blackmail by the regime to try and take them to dungeons or stop their public activities.