On Wednesday, January 23rd, dissident Orlando Triana Gonzalez, member of the Cuban Reflection Movement, was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months of prison due to his political activism. The prison sentence was dictated in the Tribunal of Camajuani and numerous dissidents were arrested throughout the central province of Villa Clara as they tried to make it to the trial to show solidarity with Triana, among them Librado Linares Garcia, leader of the MCR.
But a group of 4 dissidents in the municipality Quemado de Guines- 3 of MCR and 1 from FANTU- carried out a protest march with signs condemning the sentence and demanding freedom for Triana Gonzalez. The demonstrators were Maydelis González Almeida, Nosbel Jomolca, Juan Carlos Fernández Morales and Yosmel Martínez.
“Upon hearing the news of the sentence in the afternoon, we carried out a march down Second Avenue South in Quemado de Guines with signs and shouting slogans demanding freedom for Orlando Triana and all political prisoners“, said Gonzalez Almeida, “this dictatorial regime has committed yet another one of its injustices“.
The pro-freedom activist adds that the trial was “based on lies and false testimonies against the human rights defender Orlando Triana“.
During the protest, neighbors did not repudiate the demonstrators when they shouted slogans of freedom, while political police agents did not have time to carry out arrests, affirmed Maydelis. The video of the protest below:
Meanwhile, Librado Linares, who spent various hours detained in a police vehicle for trying to make it to the trial, said that the Movement which he leads will continue demanding freedom for Orlando Triana Gonzalez.
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.
Minutes before 2012 came to an end, members of the Cuban Reflection Movement (MCR) met in the ‘La Libertad’ Park in the town of Vuelta, in Camajuani, Villa Clara, to carry out a protest demanding freedom for Cuba. The following day- the first of 2013- these activists took it upon themselves to carry out a peaceful march while they carried signs with pro-freedom messages. Both civic actions occurred without arrests and were well-received by everyday citizens.
Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida, member of the MCR, said that the first protest was carried out by 5 dissidents, who were (besides her) Niurcy Acosta Pacheco, Raúl González, Nosbel Jomorca and Juan Carlos Fernández.
“We held up a sign in ‘La Libertad’ Park, with a message demanding freedom and democracy for Cuba in 2013“, recounted the dissident, “We were there for various minutes in that centric area and a number of citizens stopped by and read our sign. It was a very positive thing”.
For the first of January, the same group of activists, along with 3 minors who wished to participate in the demonstration (Sumely Santana González, Juliani Santana González and Daniel David Santana González) took to the streets of the same town of Vuelta and carried out a peaceful march.
Gonzalez Almeida says that they “walked for various blocks with a sign which read: ‘There is no such thing as the triumph of the revolution if there is no freedom and no democracy’. We walked through a very busy area of Vuelta. In fact, we even walked past the police unit of the town while carrying the sign“.
After some minutes, the march culminated without arrests or other repressive actions at the home of Niurcy Acosta.
“I feel that we have won a significant space because the people were staring at us, they were observing us, but at no point in time did they react negatively to us. We achieved our march“, expressed Maydelis, “We always have to say the good things that are happening, as well… we feel very happy because we feel we are gaining even more space here in Cuba“.
With this positive momentum, the dissident is of the opinion that very soon “the old dream of so many Cubans in and out of Cuba can be achieved: freedom“.
“But to get there, we have to all be united, despite the way we think. We must come together through love, truth, and democracy. And, like that, we will continue in the struggle“.
(The video above shows images of the details in this post, when 3 activists were being surrounded by regime agents, via: Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida)
The home of dissident couple Maydelis González Almeida and Nosbel Jamorca Buenavides, located in the municipality of Quemado de Guines, in Villa Clara province, was surrounded by members of the political police and State Security during the dawn hours of October 20th, who impeded the activists from going out to the streets. Also present in the house was human rights activistJuan Carlos Fernández Morales. The previously mentioned are all members of theCuban Reflection Movementand were planning to travel to the municipality of Camajuani to participate in a meeting at the home of the leader of that organization, Librado Linares García.
Linares García had Tweeted that morning that in addition to the situation in Quemado de Guines, dissidents were also surrounded in other municipalities such as Caibarien, Cumanayagua, and Vueltas, all of which belong to the province of Villa Clara.
According to Maydelis González, she noticed that her home was surrounded at around 5 AM. “When I took a glance outside I saw several State Security and police agents stationed there. They told me, my husband and Juan Carlos that we could not step out and that had to stay inside our homes“, explained the dissident, highlighting that the operation was being led under the direction of Jose Roque, a State Security official from Quemado de Guines.
The response of the activists was firm: “We are not going to accept our homes as prisons“.
Agent Roque told them that if they kept trying to step out, Maydelis would be taken to Penal Instruction in Santa Clara and that the two men would be detained in dungeons of the Quemado de Guines Police Unit.
“I told them that they could send me wherever they wished“, said Maydelis, “but I was going to step out of my house…and so we continued with our plans“.
The agents continued with the police cordon- which can be seen in the video attached to this post- but the response of the activists was to start shouting slogans against the agents and so that the citizens could hear, such as “Down with Raul because Fidel no longer exists“, and “The Streets Belong to the People“.
“Quickly, the police officers called the delegate of Quemado de Guines, known as Jose Lazaro, to bring his Lada vehicle (the green car which can be seen in the video) and they shoved us into the car and we were taken to the Quemado de Guines Unit until afternoon hours“.
In that Unit, there was also another activist who was detained- Yosmel Martinez Corcho, of the Central Opposition Coalition.
After the detention, the 4 dissidents were sent back to the home of Maydelis and Nosbel, where they carried out a meeting and where they continued to shout slogans against their oppressors.
The video attached to this post is courtesy of Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida, from the Cuban Reflection Movement. The quality of the images are not perfect, considering it was recorded with a cellphone from inside the home, but one can clearly hear the slogans being shouted by the dissidents.