This past 20th of May, Cuban Independence Day, numerous pro-freedom activities were carried out throughout the island. Now, a video has arrived from Santiago de Cuba which shows a march carried out by 16 dissidents, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), throughout various blocks of the Sueño Neighborhood. The participants of the march described it as a “spontaneous” and “successful” demonstration.
The activists who marched were not repressed by the political police during the moment of the activity, and much less by everyday citizens. They demanded freedom for all political prisoners, mentioning specific names such as Bismark Mustelier, Jorge Cervantes Garcia and Dany Lopez de Moya. They also shouted “Zapata Lives“, “Harold Cepero Lives” and “Oswaldo Paya lives“, among other messages in favor of freedom and true change.
Cuban political police agents, infuriated by the success of the march, organized a mob which carried out an act of repudiation against the dissidents when they returned to the home of Daniel Barriel Sanjurjo. The mob shouted offensive slogans as well as things like ‘Down with the worms’ and ‘Leave the country’. As a response, the activists expressed “Down with the political police” and “Long live the Cuban People“.
The dissidents did not back down at any moment. Some of them were detained and beat later on. See the video here:
The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba highlights the situation which a number of political prisoners of the mentioned group are facing, speaks about the repressive methods employed by the State against activists and affirms that activism and opposition out on the streets has only increased in the Eastern region of the country, attracting further solidarity from everyday people.
Protest marches, debates and the handing out of flyers with pro-freedom messages are occurring with much more frequency in different areas of Eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, former political prisoner and current executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), points out that in the month of May these actions have increased as part of the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign, where dissidents throughout the country pay tribute to martyrs Pedro Luis Boitel and Orlando Zapata Tamayo, both deceased after lengthy hunger strikes in prison.
On May 20th, Cuba’s Independence Day, two marches were carried out in Santiago de Cuba. One of them was led by 11 activists and finished in the Antonio Maceo Plaza, where police officials beat the demonstrators with helmets, sticks and other objects, all of this while everyday citizens were watching.
A second march was carried out by 16 dissidents who managed to walk down various blocks of the El Sueno neighborhood, shouting pro-freedom messages. The result was police persecution. “State Security and Rapid Response Brigade agents came and began to throw rocks and beat activists“, recounted Ferrer Garcia. The repressors also threw tar and tried to raid the home of Daniel Barriel, secretary of the “Zapata Lives” sector of UNPACU in that neighborhood, where the activists congregated after the march. But the police was not able to achieve their objective, considering that the civic protests of the dissidents only intensified, forcing the aggressors to leave.
“Our activists came out and did not allow the attack. Also, they took up a clever posture. When the regime organized mobs shouted ‘long live the youth’, our dissidents would shout ‘live!’, but when the mobs shouted ‘long live Fidel’, the activists would say ‘down!’. The agents had to leave the house eventually“, explained Jose Daniel, “the police is losing space because they use so many people and use so much gasoline to repress us, but there is not enough gasoline for ambulances and other necessary services. In addition, everyday people are not cooperating with them“.
On the following day, May 21st, another group of UNPACU activists walked to the Palma-Santiago highway and took out a large sign with numerous anti-regime messages, such as “UNPACU in favor of fair salaries” and “democracy and justice“. This captured the attention of various passerby’s who actually would stop their cars to read the messages and show support with the dissidents.
Ferrer Garcia explains that UNPACU has “been following up the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign as well as on the other commemorative dates like the death of Jose Marti and May 20th” with spontaneous marches and other demonstrations which have lasted more than 30 minutes, shouting slogans in favor of “freedom, democracy, the respect of human rights, the end of hunger, misery, low salaries and so many other ills which affect the population“.
The former political prisoner of conscience denounces that the repression on behalf of the regime has been increasing, but despite this, “the tyranny keeps losing in their confrontation against UNPACU, because even the people who in one way or another serve them are feeling very ashamed of the actions which State Security carries out against us“.
“The people are responding by criticizing the political police. On a daily basis they join the peaceful opposition movement in this area, where UNPACU has been carrying out a labor in favor of the society, working for the community, and this presents a serious problem for the tyranny, and it will just continue to create even more problems“, added Ferrer.
Currently, UNPACU has 40 of its members behind bars because of political motives. This past 21st of May Ferrer Garcia was able to establish communication with one of these prisoners who is being held in the Mar Verde Prision of Santiago.
“The activist told me about the situation which they find themselves in Mar Verde. He told me that Arcelio Noa had already been taken out of the punishment cell, but that he had intentionally hurt himself as a form of protest against the inhumane conditions he was being held in, and which the other 10 political prisoners we have in that prison have had to withstand“, said Ferrer, “lots of mistreatment, aggressions, and the guards are using common delinquents to harass them. These common prisoners are dangerous, many of them murderers, who lend themselves to such actions in exchange for food and other privileges. They are turned against the human rights defenders“.
Ferrer emphasized the situation of dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, known as “El Critico”, who is also the secretary of UNPACU for the city of Bayamo. The musician has been behind bars for more than 2 months in the Bayamo prison known as Las Mangas, still without a trial. He was violently arrested after the political police raided his home in March, attacking him and other relatives with tear gas.
“I was able to briefly speak with Angel Yunier on May 20th. In Las Mangas prison there is a very critical situation“, said the dissident leader, “Angel told me about the horrible medical attention offered to sick prisoners. He also told me that numerous prisoners have so many problems and they turn to self-infliction to call attention on so many abuses, the severe hunger, the lack of medical care and other cruel treatments“.
The young dissident continues to be in a judicial limbo while the authorities have not given his family any details as to what his fate will be.
The situation of activist Jorge Cervantes Garcia, from Contramaestre, is also critical. Ferrer says that “he is still recuperating from the lengthy hunger strike carried out to demand the freedom of Luis Enrique Lozada. Cervantes is still in Las Tunas prison, also amid a very hostile atmosphere. He was physically assaulted last week by a common prisoner who is addicted to mood-altering pills”.
Ferrer Garcia expressed that although the number of political prisoners is increasing, so too is the number of activists, mainly young ones, who are willing to go out to the streets to work towards a new Cuba.
Take a listen to the following audio (in Spanish) of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia:
For more information from inside Cuba, contact: Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell Phone: +53 – 146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
Between the days of January 19th and 22nd, state sponsored violence against the Cuban opposition aggressively increased in different parts of the country. Some of the aggressions started on Saturday 19th, the year anniversary of the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza, a dissident who spent more than 50 days on hunger strike demanding his release from an unjust prison sentence, and continued through the morning hours of Tuesday the 22nd, when Rapid Response Brigades used unknown toxic substances to try and interrupt an encounter among dissidents in the central region of the country:
After brutality in Mafo, Contramaestre, vigilance and repudiation continues
As numerous activists and blogs reported on Saturday, January 19th, the home of Luis Enrique Lozada in Mafo, Contramaestre was raided by mobs made up by Rapid Response Brigades, State Security and political police agents of the regime. The home was destroyed and all those present were beat with cables, sticks, knives, and a sort of whip, as well as other sharp weapons. Images of the results- broken heads, wounded bodies, etc. – went around the world (see here) and, on the following day, the harassment continued.
José Daniel Ferrer García, general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) denounced that during the dawn hours of Sunday, “another attack took place, this time against the home of Ovidio Martin Castellanos, a coordinator of UNPACU in the province of Santiago de Cuba“. (Video)
Meanwhile, the home of political prisoner Jorge Cervantes, also located in Contramaestre, was attacked in a similar fashion, reducing it to ruble, leaving the wife of Cervantes, Lady in White Kenia Leguen, and her two underage children without a roof.
In an act of solidarity, Luis Enrique Lozada offered his home to the Lady in White and her two children.
“So many stones were thrown at Kenia’s home that the roof was considerably damaged“, explained Ferrer Garcia, “This is not the first time this happens to this family- the young Kenia told me, with much pain in her voice, that she was condemned to live without a roof“.
In other news, on Saturday afternoon, dissident Jesus Diaz Morales was arrested in Velasco, Holguin, for having convoked a peaceful march in honor of Wilman Villar. On Monday, the 21st, mobs once again surrounded the home of Luis Enrique Lozada, watching and intimidating all those who were inside. In this case, the mobs left a few hours later, according to a tweet published by Anyer Anotnio Blanco (@anyerantoniobla).
“These aggressive actions will continue, and they will correspond with the level of non-violent activism carried out by UNPACU, in favor of freedom and democracy in Cuba, as we keep growing in number of activism and actions“, declared Ferrer, “Without a doubt, our activism in a phenomenon that is very worrying for the tyranny but very hopeful for the people“.
Mobs try to impede encounter of the Ladies in White
On Monday, January 21st, when the world celebrated Martin Luther King day, the Ladies in White held an encounter at their headquarters on Neptune Street in Havana to pay tribute to the civil rights leader and, at the same time, to Wilman Villar Mendoza, as well as to demand the freedom of all political prisoners. The presence of State Security was not absent.
According to Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, one of the Ladies in White who managed to make it to the encounter, “during the 116th meeting of the group, various women who tried to make it were arrested, while the headquarter was surrounded by paramilitary mobs, the political police, and State Security. They also blocked off traffic on Neptune Street, a main street in Havana. No car could pass by…all of this to keep women from arriving“. However, the dissident points out that 42 members managed to surpass cordons of vigilance and make it to the house.
But the mobs increased their violent actions, shouting slogans such as “Use a machete, theirs only a few of them“, and other offensive phrases. (Video here)
10 women were reported detained upon trying to arrive.
Despite the offensive slogans, the Ladies in White responded by maintaining their civility, shouting “Freedom“, “Long live human rights“, “Long live Laura Pollan“, and “Freedom for all political prisoners“.
“Once again, it has been demonstrated that the regime highly fears unity within the opposition, as well as the Ladies in White, out on the streets of Cuba“, expressed Fonseca Quevedo, “This implants terror in them, to think that peaceful women march through the streets of Havana to demand freedom. I want everyone to know that we, the Ladies in White, will keep walking for freedom in Cuba“.
On the previous day, Sunday January 20th, ‘Hablemos Press’ reported that 116 Ladies in White managed to march and arrive to Mass throughout the country, but a total of 36 were arbitrarily arrested, deported, and threatened.
Toxic gases and substances against dissidents in Sagua la Grande
In Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara, paramilitary mobs and police agents lasted the entire day of January 21st carrying out an act of repudiation and keeping vigilance over a group of activists from the Central Opposition Coalition and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front who were meeting in the home of former political prisoner Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr, Wilman Villar Mendoza and to discuss important subjects of the opposition.
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, leader of the Front and one of the dissidents present, explained that during the acts of repudiation, the agents “shouted offensive phrases” at the group of more than 20 dissidents in the house. He added that there were “underage children and an elderly woman inside as well“.
In the afternoon, two activists of the Cuban Reflection Movement– Nosbel Jomolca and Juan Carlos Fernandez– were arrested as they tried entering the house.
Regardless, Antunez feels that the encounter was “a success“, considering that none of the neighbors of Vazquez Chaviano participated in the repudiation.
“The mobs of the dictatorship have not been able to receive support of the neighbors. Far from helping them, they maintained their solidarity with us“, said Antunez, “The soldiers became very aggressive, inciting us to come out of the house to beat us with stick, but we congratulate and appreciate the support of the people of Sagua la Grande. Right in front of the repressive mobs, they refused to participate“.
Clearly bothered, during the dawn hours of Tuesday, January 22nd, political police officials launched toxic gases and liquids at the home full of dissidents. The attack caused cough, skin eruptions, tachycardia, and breathing problems on its victims, including the underage ones.
Antunez sent out an alert to the world of what could happen to all those who suffered the attacks, seeing as they have already begun to show some symptoms.
Despite all of this, the dissident leader said that they will continue resisting and that “regardless of all the tactics of the tyranny, the Cuban Resistance, beyond any organization, is united…united in action“.
The repression against Cuban dissidents, organized by the dictatorship and carried out by agents of State Security, the political police, the Ministry of the Interior and members of the Rapid Response Brigade, has not stopped, but it has clearly increased during the first weeks of 2013. This past weekend it escalated to a level of immeasurable violence, where the lives of all those who have decided to fight for freedom are in danger.
Former political prisoner and general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, was kept in a dungeon for more than 72 hours during his most recent detention and was threatened by State Security agents that he could be sent back to prison if he continues participating in and organizing dissident activities throughout the Eastern region of the country. This time, his jailers filmed him on numerous occasions, such as when they read him an official warning letter which informed him that he’d be sent back to prison for continuing to cause what they termed as “public disorders”.
“They had that camera during the entire time, but they only filmed the parts they found necessary”, explained Ferrer Garcia, “for example, when they put me in a cell with a terrible amount of heat, without food, without communication, and without my medicines for my health conditions- they didn’t film any of that”. The response of the dissident leader when they read him the warning was “that until in Cuba human rights are not respected, until there is no freedom, as long as Cubans can’t decide for themselves and be protagonists of their own destinies, I am going to continue doing the same thing we have been doing, and many other things- in a peaceful manner- in favor of freedom and democracy”.
This most recent arrest of Ferrer Garcia took place on Friday, August 24th, when UNPACU was celebrating its 1 year anniversary of having been created. For days prior to the date, combined forces of the political police, the Rapid Response Brigades, and State Security unleashed a wave of arrests and house raids against members of the mentioned organization throughout Eastern Cuba.
One of the first cases was that of Jorge Cervantes García on August 23rd, when a number of armed officials raided his home in Contramaestre, occupied many materials, threatened all those inside, and jailed Cervantes Garcia and his two underage children. He still remains detained.
In the case of Ferrer, his home had been surrounded by police agents for various days until they finally raided the house on the morning of the 24th. “They ransacked the house”, said the dissident, “they robbed everything they felt like, and what they did not steal they destroyed. I am talking about even toys and belongings of my children…they have robbed them or destroyed them”.
In addition, in the home of Ferrer Garcia, as well as those of other UNPACU activists, the police took printers, cameras, laptops, pamphlets and other materials, none of which have been returned, as tends to happen.
Marta Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo, 14 year old Lady in White and daughter of Jose Daniel, explained in an audio uploaded onto UNPACU’s YouTube account that police agents beat all those inside the house in the moment of the arrest, including herself, her cousin, her mother (Belkis Cantillo) and an aunt. Her elderly grandmother was also inside the house and suffered a sharp increase in her blood pressure.
Other detainees on that day were Anyer Antonio Blanco, Rafael Miguel Cabrera Montoya, Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Berta Guerrero Segura. The latter, who is the representative of the Ladies in White in Holguin, was arrested and mistreated along with her underage daughter, who she was carrying at the time of her arrest and forceful entry into a police vehicle.
Other reports denounced that another 6 homes were raided that day and more than 60 arrests occurred.
Meanwhile, activist Luis Miguel Gomez Hernandez reported that a group of UNPACU members were arrested in the municipality of Gibara on that same Friday, among them Ladies in White like Yoandra Garrido Silva and Maydaly Garrido Silva, as they too celebrated the anniversary. Gomez Hernandez was one of the detainees that afternoon and explained that they were all subjected to “interrogations and threats that we could not leave Gibara and that we would not be allowed to carry out any dissident activity, and that not even the Ladies in White could to Mass on Sundays“. This group was released but many other activists remain imprisoned, and some are on hunger strike (Ferrer Garcia put the number at more than 20).
“Despite all that they have done to us, our activists celebrated the anniversary of UNPACU with marches, signs, pamphlets, slogans and other diverse ways, not only in the East but also in the West”, said Ferrer Garcia, referencing the case of Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, in Havana, who was arrested after carrying out commemorative events.
Other activists of diverse pro-democracy groups also paid tribute to UNPACU and demanded freedom for their detained members, as was the case of Lady in White and member of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, who carried out a public protest in Havana to commemorate the Day of the Resistance and in solidarity with the mentioned dissidents. In Placetas, Villa Clara, dissident leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” also included messages of freedom for Jose Daniel Ferrer and congratulating UNPACU as he also carried out a public protest along with other activists.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was released during the morning hours of Sunday, August 26th and was quick to reiterate his compromise with the pro-freedom movement in Cuba.
“The tyranny is very afraid”, affirmed the dissident, “and like a wounded beast, it will retaliate and cause lots of damage to peaceful people who want freedom for all Cubans, but we are willing to give it all. As Jose Marti said: ‘Freedom has a high price, and it is necessary to either give up and live without her, or decide to obtain it at its price’“.
For more information from Cuba:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Phone: +5353-146-740 // Twitter: @jdanielferrer
For more than four days, the Cuban political police has ordered paramilitary mobs and common criminals to throw stones, fecal matter, dead animals, mud and toxic materials at the home of Jorge Cervantes Garcia, a dissident from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), in Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba.
A report made earlier by “Diario de Cuba” offered details about these events, while Cervantes also offered his testimony which was published in a press release by the Cuban Democratic Directorate. In the mentioned press release, Cervantes not only denounces the assault against his family (where he even suffered a blow by various stones, producing him serious wounds), but also the arrest of a dissident doctor who visited his home to evaluate the wreckage and his injuries.
Now, UNPACU has published various videos on their YouTube channel with the results of the State-sponsored violence against Cervantes Garcia.
Dr. Roberto Serrano Delis traveled from Songo La Maya to visit Jorge Cervantes Garcia and to evaluate his wounds, especially the ones on his left leg, product of the stoning by the Castro mobs. In this video, one can see the deep wounds which the doctor classifies as “serious” and “with signs of an infection”.
Various dissidents from UNPACU help Jorge Cervantes Garcia to pick up the left overs of the constant attacks against his home.
Dr. Delis offers another testimony about the assault on Cervantes’ home. In this video one can see the outside of the house, stained with tar, mud, and feces.
The Cuban political police, together with State Security, has been violently attacking the home of Patriotic Union of Cuba member Jorge Cervantes Garcia in Contramaestre since last 6th of July, throwing excrement, dead animals, and even tearing down walls, putting the lives of those inside (among them small children) in danger.
“Diario de Cuba” has the report (my translation into English):
Home of Dissident Jorge Cervantes Attacked with Excrement and Dead Animals
The home of activist Jorge Cervantes, in the Eastern town of Contramaestre, has been under attack by forces of the police and State Security for three days now. The agents have been using common criminals to tear down the walls of the house and attack it with excrement and dead animals.
“We have been suffering this wave of terror for three days now. They are throwing asphalt against my house, as well as rocks, excrement, and dead animals, in the middle of this situation we have in this country with cholera”, denounces Cervantes himself during a communication with Diario de Cuba.
Inside the home there are seven people. Four of them are children less than 4 years old which “cannot stop crying”.
“Here everything is stained with excrement. They tore down the walls of one of the rooms, they have torn down window blinds, and even part of the roof of one of my neighbors”, added the activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).
Supposedly, the authorities are asking citizens to cut down on hygienic measures due to the difficult epidemiological situation which the country is going through right now.
After ten days of arbitrary detention for participating in the re-initiation of the the National Boitel and Zapata Live On March, former political prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia narrated his experience during his violent arrest and during his forced stay in inhumane prison cells.
The arrest occurred on December 2nd in Palma Soriano, during the second stage of the National March in that region. The previous day the March had taken place in Guantanamo and there were 35 dissidents arrested. In Palma Soriano, according to Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, “dissidents were able to get 49 activists together. The others were detained outside the house we were all in as they tried to come inside“.
Despite the arrests, Ferrer points out that the activists were able to surpass the local police operation against them because for two days activists were going into the house, one by one, hailing from Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba, San Luis, Palmarito de Cauto, and other regions. Angel Moya Acosta, also an ex prisoner of conscience, was also present representing the Matanzas Unity group. “When the officials became aware of this,” narrates Ferrer, “they unleashed a huge operation with hundreds of uniformed agents, dozens of political police officers, including chiefs and collaborators, and they closed down the streets and surrounded the house“.
Quickly, the Cuban regime officials parked two buses near the house. Ferrer, the president of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), highlighted the irony and hypocrisy of utilizing such buses, for they were the buses that were “introduced in the country by the religious group known as ‘Pastors for Peace’, supposedly to be used for noble social causes“. Instead, the oppressors utilized the buses to crack down on the people who stepped out of their homes to carry out their march. “They used the buses to block the roads and forcefully shoved us inside of them“. The group of activists were divided between both buses and were also beaten against and inside of the buses.
“Compared to Angel Moya, I received less physical blows,” tells Ferrer, “they did punch me, slap me, and even shoved a finger inside my mouth to prevent me from shouting for freedom“.
From there, the dissidents were distributed throughout police units of the region, all the while suffering beatings. “In fact, the blood of three of the worst wounded was spread over the windows of one of the buses, right before the eyes of hundreds of neighbors from Palma Soriano who had took to the street to witness the brutality with which the police attacked a group of peaceful dissenters”
As a result of the public violence, the activist confirmed a very important development: on the streets of Palma Soriano “one can hear many comments of everyday people favoring the opposition and many comments against the repressive agents of the tyranny“.
Inside the cells
The cell of the “La Maya” Unit where Ferrer was forced to stay was nothing new for a former political prisoner who spent 7 and a half years in the communist Cuban gulags- poor food, poor hygiene, filth, insects, and in sum, inhumane conditions. “In addition to such horrible conditions, the cell was infested with mosquitoes and I now have bites all over my body“. Also present were the common threats. “They threatened us with taking us to prison and in the case of Angel Moya, Jorge Cervantes, and myself (the last three to be freed) they presented us with a cautionary measure- a document which accused us of the crime of public disorder“. The three members of the Resistance refused to accept the document and did not sign it at any moment, despite the pressure.
Jose Daniel adds that among the threats against him, they also threatened Jorge Cervantes, Angel Moya, and all the others who were participating in acts of civil disobedience against the dictatorship. “The political police officials told me that their strategy is to jail 20, 30, or 40 activists or to jail the leaders which keep this dissident activism growing“, to which the opposition activist replied, “neither with my imprisonment or the imprisonment of 20 or 30 others will they be successful in paralyzing and destroying the struggle for freedom and human rights in Cuba, because the struggle is growing and will continue onward because it has a clearly defined goal: the absolute freedom of Cuba“.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was released in the afternoon hours of Monday, December 12th, along with Jorge Cervantes who remained in hunger strike during the entire length of the 10 days. Ferrer declared that various police officials had told him that Angel Moya Acosta would be transferred and released to Havana because he was not wanted in the East.
“If as of tomorrow, December 14th, we confirm that Moya is not released, then a group of Ladies in White and other dissidents will protest outside the Micro-9 Police Unit where Moya was detained in the first place. We will demand his immediate release“, declared Ferrer. As of the afternoon of the 14th, Moya had not been released and not much other information has been able to be confirmed for the moment.
Ferrer Garcia showed no signs of stopping or slowing down his constant activism in favor of a completely free Cuba.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia narrates how the Castro regime has been increasingly using violence, repudiation, and censorship against anyone who stands up against them.
From it’s very beginnings the Castro brother dictatorship has used terror against those who dissent, and against the population in general. And this tactic never remained solely in the past. In recent times, we have seen how more and more repression has been unleashed throughout all the provinces of the country, and in the past few weeks there has been an incessant oppressive operation against opposition members in the Eastern region of the island. The hunger strike of Jorge Cervantes Garcia (which has now concluded) inspired dozens of Eastern dissidents to peacefully take to the streets and protest and display solidarity with him. But it also “inspired” political police agents, and agents of the G2, to practice ruthless violence against any form of non-conformity under the orders of the revolution’s “commanders”.
In addition to the physical violence, the arrests, and all the raids which representatives of Cuba’s dictatorship carry out, they have also been applying severe measures of censorship. On Wednesday, June 28th, the former political prisoner of conscience, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who is a resident of the Eastern city of Palmarito de Cauto, used his limited Twitter messaging service to inform that his cell phone had been blocked by the government-sponsored telecommunications company, CUBACEL. After various attempts, we were able to establish communication with the dissident through another phone number. Ferrer explained that blocking phone lines has always been a method utilized by the Castro brothers in an attempt to stop the free flow of information, impeding important reports of repression from quickly coming to light. And from the moment Ferrer was released from prison he has become an excellent Twitter-reporter, using 140 character messages to inform people around the world about countless crimes being committed by the authorities of the country against peaceful dissidents and everyday Cubans. For this reason, he explains, his telephone line was blocked, though this action will not keep him from sharing his reports and denouncing the crimes.
Jose Daniel Ferrer narrates, “As part of the repressive crack down used by the Castro brother’s political police in this Eastern part of the country, on Sunday June 26th two violent mob repudiation attacks were organized against two dissident families from Palma Soriano“. The first of these acts occurred in the home of the couple Aime Leyva and Julio Ballester located in the Calixto Garcia Street. There were various Ladies in White and Ladies in Support inside the house at the time, as well as various men. “The mobs threw rocks, threw eggs, scratched the walls, shouted offenses, screamed, and really just did whatever they felt like doing. Lazaro Agustin Alonso and his brother bravely stood between the members of the Rapid Response Brigades and the women being harassed inside the house. The women ended up getting hit by these people who support the Castro regime. They were hit badly, they were thrown on the floor, they were kicked,” recounts Ferrer.
Some of the names of the women victims are Maritza Sanchez, Vivian Pena Hernandez, Nelsa Fernandez Fonseca, and Adriana Nunez Pascual, “they had eggs thrown at them, were hit, and spit on,” explains Jose Daniel, continuing, “and there were also 4 arrests- Yelena Napoles, Yuvisleidis Olivares, Marielena Matos, and Adnia Alegre“. All the women who were arrested were taken to police units, where they spent nearly the entire day. Outside the home of Yelena Napoles, one of the arrested, another intense repressive operation was taking place. “They began with a mob repudiation attack, shouting slogans in favor of the Castro regime, cursing the dissidents, defaming them, and eventually throwing rocks at the house,” details Ferrer Garcia. And as tends to occur in the Cuba ruled by the Castros, the oppressors attempted to incriminated patriotic symbols at the hands of the dissidents, when it is known that such symbols belong to all Cubans, despite their ideology. “The members of the mob tried everything possible to snatch the Cuban flag being held up by three dissidents inside the house“.
Jose Daniel continues his narration, explaining that “these repressive actions organized by the political police were set in motion in an attempt to impede a peaceful march which was to be carried out by the previously mentioned women along Maceo Street, one of the main streets of Palma Soriano. It was going to be a march where all participants were going to be wearing white and it would coincide with a protest carried out by Cuban exiles in Spain, in front of the Cuban embassy, for the sake of defending the life of Jorge Cervantes Garcia who had been on hunger strike for 4 weeks“. Cervantes Garcia ceased his hunger strike after Cuban authorities told him he was going to be exiled to Spain, where his brother Agustin resides.
Ferrer reiterates that such violent acts have been increasingly occurring, noting that this past 23rd of June “an agent following orders of the political police fractured three ribs on the peaceful activist Amado Verdecia Diaz“, while just a few days before, during Fathers Day on June 19th, “a member of the Rapid Response Brigade named Roberto Gomez attacked peaceful dissident Wildo Saguierre Fuentes with a machete. He chopped at him three times with his machete- once on the arm, the other on the hand of the same arm, and the third which amputated a piece of his pinky finger on his right hand. This man, who operates under orders and provocations of the political police, has been going around saying that he already used his machete against a dissidents and that there are still a few others he needs to use it on“. Other cases, which have been reported by Ferrer through his Twitter account, include that of Amaury Abelenda and Leonardo Rico who had a gun pointed at them by a San Luis city official, as well as reports which point out that doctors and nurses from the Santiago Provincial Hospital are being used to participate mob repudiation acts against dissidents who showed support for Cervantes while he was on strike. “This is part of the mechanism being implemented by the political police throughout all of Cuba in order to terrorize peaceful dissidents and the population in general,” explains Jose Daniel. “They know that, each day, the people are more and more unhappy and terror is the main instrument used by the regime to try and paralyze that growing discontent“.
Once again, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia pointed out that censorship was being used as a method of control. He pointed out that when everyday Cubans travel down roads and highways throughout the country, the telephone communication is very weak, making it very difficult to make or receive calls. Despite this, dissidents like Jose Daniel continue reporting what they suffer, as well as what the rest of their compatriots suffer.
Since May 29th when Jorge Cervantes Garcia declared himself on hunger strike in protest for his unjust imprisonment, throughout the Cuban island there have been numerous oppressive acts carried out against dissidents who have attempted to join Cervantes in solidarity. The majority of these arrests, beatings, and harassment have been concentrated in the Eastern region of the country, seeing as how Cervantes resides in the Saturnino Lora Hospital in Santiago de Cuba. One of the most recent violent and repressive acts occurred this past Wednesday, June 22nd, against dissident Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina and 4 other activists which accompanied him.
“Yesterday (June 22nd) I decided to carry out a peaceful protest in the Eastern region of Guantanamo“, stated Rolando Lobaina, adding that the specific area where that protest would talk place is a “military neighborhood“. Regardless, Rolando Lobaina and 4 other activists went up to the third floor of an apartment building located in the San Justo neighborhood of Guantanamo where they started a protest to “demand the freedom of Jorge Cervantes and also to condemn the practices of the Cuban government against pro-human rights dissidents as well as all the violent tactics implemented, as occurred in the case of Yoandry Montoya Aviles who was physically assaulted on two recent occassions (June 15th and 19th)“.
The protestors put up various signs with pro-democratic slogans like “Long Live Human Rights”, “Long Live a Free Cuba”, along with slogans which demanded freedom for Jorge Cervantes. They also hung a Cuban flag and the flag of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front along with writing various messages on the wall such as “Down with Fidel”, “Long Live Orlando Zapata Tamayo”, and “Long Live Freedom”.
As was expected, the representatives of the dictatorship did not take long to respond. “Immediately, in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes, there was already a mob of about 200 people harassing us outside, together with the repressive national police and State Security“, recounts Lobaina, “we received many insults but we responded by shouting pro-freedom slogans“.
It was at this point that Rolando decided to come down from the third floor together with the other dissidents and take to the streets amid the massive mob concentrated outside. “It was a difficult situation because, I repeat, it took place in a military neighborhood“, explains Lobaina, while affirming that despite this they “took to the streets with the Cuban flag. We wanted to show them that we are not afraid and that the streets belong to the people. And with that same slogan (“the streets belong to the people”) we marched“. As consequence of this completely civic demonstration the political police officials responded with violence. “Colonel Causadilla, a military officer that is treated like a God here in this city, arrested us after walking for just about two blocks“, the dissident narrates, adding “I received various physical blows right before they shoved me into the police car. We were later taken to various interrogation units and 25 hours after, on Thursday the 23rd, we were released little by little. I was the last to be released. I want to tell the international community about the aggression we were (and are) subject to in Guantanamo and all of Cuba. We have received threats on our lives on behalf of those same mobs which are at the complete service of State Security“.
Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina warns that the situation which hunger striker Jorge Cervantes Garcia is facing is worryingly similar to that which was faced by the fallen Orlando Zapata Tamayo. The Eastern dissident points out the similarity between Zapata and Cervantes not only in terms of the similar torture the authorities exercised against them but also in the fact that many dissidents demanded that the life of Zapata be saved and now they are doing the same with Cervantes. “This situation is extremely similar to the marches we carried out for Zapata. During that protest we sent a message, in time, to save the life of the martyr Zapata and now we are doing the same with Cervantes to avoid a fatal outcome“.
In his blog, Luis Felipe Rojas has just published a letter penned by the eastern dissident Rolando Lobaina in which he explains all the threats he and his brother Nestor (now exiled) faced during the beginning of this year, the arrests, and the absurd confiscations of technologies like internet and cell phones due to their status of being “counter-revolutionary” devices. Just a few hours after publishing the letter, Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina was detained today, June 22nd, while he was on his way to show his support for the prisoner on hunger strike Jorge Cervantes Garcia. Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia has reported it on his Twitter:
Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina is my friend, and because he refused to leave Cuba a few months ago he has been condemned to suffer various unsuspected dangers which constantly lurk around him. A few days ago I received this letter written by him and I wish to share it with my readers.
Lately, I have been thinking about the journey my brother Nestor and I embarked upon against the Castro dictatorship. We both carried out numerous civic demonstrations against totalitarianism here in Cuba. The last demonstration we both participated in was the campaign dubbed “What are Human Rights?”, which was held in accordance with International Human Rights Day celebrated on December 10th 2010. But the day before, my brother was taken to prison as part of a political police strategy to force him to leave the country as finally did occur on April 7th 2011.
Thinking back on that event I also recall that on that December day Eriberto Liranza Romero (who had already substituted my brother Nestor as president of the Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement) was also detained. Eriberto told me that during those days the Chief of Section 21 of State Security in Havana assured him that my brother and I would soon be arrested. Sure enough, months later, on March 16, 2011, I was detained by the National Police while on the road from Guantanamo to Baracoa and then taken to a military barracks and later transferred to a State Security interrogation center located in the province where I was arrested for 3 days. While I was being confined to a prison cell, an ostentatious search with modern search techniques was being carried out in the home of my mother in Baracoa, under the direction of the MININT Delegate, the maximum representative of that organization in the province. The objective was to confiscate a satellite antenna system that provided internet connection access which had been lying somewhere in my mother’s house for months, and which I had never got around to using because it was missing pieces, along with the fact that I did not know how to operate it. And because of that device they wanted to accuse me of espionage and other strings of “legal” violations which the police resort to when they want to involve someone in some sort of scandal.
I was released under the condition that the investigations against me would continue, would be processed, and that one day I would be sent back to prison. At that moment I did not understand the condition but as time passed it made sense. It was all a scheme designed to make me leave my country, something that I refuse to do.
During those days my imprisoned and isolated brother awaited his departure from the country along with his family and they allowed me one visit. He informed me that the police and the G2 were pressuring him to convince me to join the group of relatives headed for exile in Spain. My brother informed me that the political police had assured him that I was going to spend long years in prison if I did not leave the country.
In that family visit, which took place in Havana before Nestor’s exile, all the relatives who would also leave for Spain were pressured as well to convince me to hop on that “flight” with the rest of them. The words used by the uniformed officials were “we’ll turn him into dirt”.
But I committed the “sin” of refusing the offer. I believe a few rebels should stay here and make the lives of those who run the totalitarian system impossible.
Because I have chosen not to leave the country and because the regime apparently has a muzzle on in regards to prison terms for dissidents, logic indicates that the path they will most likely take is that of trying to morally, psychologically, and physically destroy me, as they have done with the country, lives, and hopes of all Cubans. I am convinced that I am not the only one.
They resort to any possible method to implement this. They create “dissidents” who attack or question me in order to win a “white card” which would allow them to leave the country and they send delinquents in an attempt to start a complicated situation with me so that they could find a reason which would justify what the political police need in order to imprison me. In recent days I have received harassing calls, reproachful messages, threats of physical aggression and other, no less alarming, suspicious messages having to do with the opposition. It’s as if they want to return to the era of violence in the universities during the decade of the 40′s of the past century.
At this point in all the provocations, I know that I am confronting an enemy which is capable of making ashes out of anyone. I know that the regime is not on good terms at all with the people and if they seek to do away with the political scene of the island then they should know that this will not occur with me. I suppose that they included various criminals in the list of political prisoners deported to Spain in order to tarnish our images, the images of those political prisoners, the reasons for which the Cuban people fight for, and the civil movement which has been going on for more than 20 years before the eyes of national and international opinion. Or perhaps those other people in my country who, when it comes to the opposition, lend themselves to collaborate with the oppressive forces in order to receive gifts of white cards or exit permits from the country, all the while becoming loyal to the slogan “when the river overflows then there are earnings for the fishermen”.
It’s not the first time they resort to campaigns which degrade our images in an attempt to exasperate the legal bases of our cause, whether it be accusations of improper handling of funds which are aimed at assisting pro-democracy programs on the island or some other bad-intentioned ruse. I denounce ETECSA (Cuban telecommunications company), which is a business run by no other than Ramiro Valdes, Castro’s strongman, when it comes to controlling communication and internet in Cuba. He is also an accomplice of stealing 5 cellphones from my home, which was part of a political police operation against me, seizing my belongings to study them in a criminal forensic lab.
I have always said that we Cubans, those of us in or outside of the island, will fix our country. But we must start right now. That is why we must find how to make our struggle more effective without shifting our attention from the pillars which move society, maybe even the refugee program should be an option so it won’t serve as a trampoline for the heartless, with all due respect for all those who are politically persecuted. I will never forget that I am one of them.
Now, more than ever, is a decisive point for the future of Cuba, and it will not be through paternalism or dietetic romanticism that we will achieve freedom for our country. It is clear that the regime is trying all in its power to diminish the street confrontations between the opposition and the oppressive forces. But it will not be successful in its attempt to stop my activism because I have a responsibility with my people.
I must remind my enemies that the freedom cause in the island has its foundations in all the fecund deaths which sowed the seeds which would pass on to future generations, based on the morals of Varela, Marti, Jose Antonio Echeverria, Boitel, Zapata, and Soto. And continued by so many like Farinas, Antunez, Liranza, Sara Marta, Caridad Caballero, Marta Diaz Rondon, and many others out of a list of names (of humble people) impossible for me to mention in this small piece of civic resistance called “the digital world”.
Let me be clear: If something happens to me, only the Cuban government is responsible. For those who are analyzing the direction of the measures which favor them, it’s time to step aside. It is crucial that we all help to create awareness about the importance of the struggle for democracy on the island”.