Pots and pans ring throughout Cuba in solidarity with the Venezuelan opposition

On the night of Wednesday, April 17th, Cubans in diverse parts of the country rang their pots and pans as a display of support and solidarity with the Venezuelan opposition, a movement which also uses these methods of civil disobedience.

The protest was convoked by the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, a coalition which groups numerous internal opposition organizations. Other groups, as well as members of Cuba’s civil society, participated.

Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, secretary general of the Front, said in an audio published on his YouTube account that “a group of members of the Cuban resistance in different provinces shook neighborhoods and towns with the pots and pans protest” despite the fact that “the political police had a violent reaction against these activists”.

In the city where Antunez lives- Placetas, Villa Clara (right in the center of Cuba) – dissidents rang their pots and pans despite being surrounded by political police agents which threw rocks and shouted profanity. One of the rocks hit a 6 year old as well as the leading dissident Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, who is still suffering from a brutal beat-down at the hands of State Security agents in March.

Santa Clara (another city in the province of Villa Clara) was the scene of another demonstration, where member of the Central Opposition Coalition met at the home of Damaris Moya Portieles to carry out the protest. There, the political police arrested various dissidents, while they organized a violent act of repudiation. Regardless, independent blogger Carlos Michael Morales said that those present began to shout “Down with Nicolas Maduro, Down with Communism” and “Long Live Capriles“.

Other pots and pans protests were reported in the province of Camaguey, according to activist Santos Fernandez Sanchez, member of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba. Former political prisoner of conscience Librado Linares Garcia reported on his Twitter account (@LibradoLinares) that in Cienfuegos there were also protests, which provoked a violent reaction by the State police.

In Havana, numerous demonstrations were reported in more than 6 different municipalities, according to dissident Jose Diaz Silva. Among the municipalities was Boyeros, where Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo carried out a significant pots and pans protest along with her family and other activists. Agents of the Rapid Response Brigades and the political police surrounded the house and began to throw rocks, dirty water, eggs, tar and even used condoms. Julio Leon Fonseca, husband of Sara Marta, received a death threat from one of the agents in the mob.

“We have done this in support of the Venezuelan opposition, who are out on the streets demanding their rights”, said Sara Marta Fonseca in an audio published on ‘Radio Republica’, “they [the political police] have broken our windows…they came in to our porch and tore down signs. These are the things dictatorships do when they are about to topple…they are very bothered because the pots and pans rang in many parts of Cuba in support of the opposition and people of Venezuela”, said the dissident.

Alternative blogger Yusnaby Perez said on his Twitter account (@Yusnaby) that pots could be heard in parts of Central Havana.

“Not only in Central Havana”, read another message by Perez, “the pots and pans could also be heard in the town of Santa Fe…there are people on the street with signs”.

He managed to publish a video of the demonstration on YouTube minutes later:

Other pots and pans protests were confirmed in places like Mayabeque, Granma, Holguin and Guantanamo.

“We paid tribute and showed our support with our brothers in Venezuela, a country which was victim of a grotesque electoral fraud at the hands of Nicolas Maduro’s regime which is trying to perpetuate itself in power”, reiterated Antunez, “may these words serve to send all of Venezuela our respect, our admiration, our affection, and so that they know that the Cuban Resistance stands with them”.

The complete audio by Antunez here:

Pots and pans ring throughout Cuba in solidarity with the Venezuelan opposition

Lady in White Manages to Photograph Dungeon Where She Was Detained

Photo of Sara Marta Fonseca in police unit cell, posted by Roberto de Jesus Guerra (Hablemos Press)

In his Facebook account, Roberto de Jesús Guerra–  independent journalist and director of the (illegal) “Hablemos Press” news agency in Havana- has published a series of photos taken by the Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo when she was confined (for hours) in a cell of the 4th Police Unit of El Cerro this past 9th of July.  The photos demonstrate the horrid conditions in which the  dungeons of police units throughout Cuba are kept, where the regime sends peaceful dissidents and activists.  It seems the activist managed to sneak in a camera or cell phone.

The home of Fonseca Quevedo is constantly under attack by the Cuban political police, who keep a tight watch over who enters and leaves, as well as impeding dissidents from entering or, in many cases, exiting.  The house has also been attacked with objects such as condoms, mud, excrement and more.  Fonseca is frequently arrested for simply trying to leave her own neighborhood or for trying to carry out a nonviolent activity, as was the case on July 9th 2012 when the Lady in White had plans to carry out a tribute to the victims of the 13th of March Tugboat Massacre.  Her family- especially her husband Julio Leon Fonseca and her older son “Julito” (the rapper from the hip-hop duo ‘Primario and Julito‘) are also active members of the Resistance and suffer beatings, arrests, and threats just like Fonseca Quevedo.

It is the first time that Fonseca manages to capture images from the dungeons where she is commonly kept.

Photo of Sara Marta Fonseca in police unit cell, posted by Roberto de Jesus Guerra (Hablemos Press)
Photo of Sara Marta Fonseca in police unit cell, posted by Roberto de Jesus Guerra (Hablemos Press)
Photo of Sara Marta Fonseca in police unit cell, posted by Roberto de Jesus Guerra (Hablemos Press)
Lady in White Manages to Photograph Dungeon Where She Was Detained

Faces Which the Pope Did Not See: Sara Marta Fonseca, Julio Leon Perez

Julio Leon Fonseca and Sara Marta Fonseca

Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, Lady in white and National Coordinator of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, had no phone service since Saturday, March 17th when she was participating in a literary event in the headquarters of the Ladies in White, in the home of the fallen leader of the feminine group, Laura Pollan.  This mass interruption of dissident’s phone lines was a censorship tactic of the Cuban regime applied not only to Fonseca but on all Ladies in White who were present in the event on that day.  However, the majority of activists had their service re-established after that weekend, but Fonseca did not.  Her cell phone was completely blocked until the night of Thursday, March 29th, as were the phones of her children and her home phone.  For this reason, it was very difficult to clarify the details of her arrest during the Pope’s visit to the island just a week ago.  (The same applied for the majority of Cuban dissidents during March 26th through to March 28th, the three days of the Pope’s visit).

Fonseca Quevedo says that she and her husband, Julio Leon Perez, were arrested during the morning hours of Friday, March 23rd, as they were leaving their home in the neighborhood of Rio Verde, in the Havana municipality of Boyeros.  The couple was going to visit a few friends that morning.  After walking just a block, Fonseca narrates that there “was a police operation waiting for us, and without any explanations they told us we were detained and that we could not continue walking“.  It was in that moment that the agents started to shove Sara and Julio into one of the police vehicles.

When they pushed us into the car”, recounts Fonseca, “an agent punched my husband [Julio Leon] in the jaw as they were trying to take my cellphone“, despite the fact that her phone was completely blocked.  Sara Marta was taken to the Police Unit of Cotorro, while Julio was taken to the Unit of Santiago de las Vegas.  Both decided to declare themselves on “hunger strike during the entire time“, according to the activist.

As tends to occur, the penal authorities started to threaten the dissidents and they were introduced into dark, humid, and sealed-off cells. Sara Marta explains that many dissidents were also taken to the Cotorro Unit.  Julio also confirmed that in the Santiago Unit there were many dissidents being held.  “They took all of our fingerprints“, detailed Fonseca, “and then they took pictures of us.  It was an attempt to intimidate us“.  However, the activist expressed, in reference to intentions of the authorities to open cases of crimes for the dissidents, that “whatever they do, whatever they say, the regime will jail us whenever they wish to, not because we have a pending case or because they have our fingerprints or photos.  This is a dictatorship“.

On Sunday, March 25th, just a day before the arrival of Benedict XVI to Cuba, Fonseca and Leon were transferred to the same unit- the “Vivac“.  However, the couple did not know this, considering that they never saw each other there.  They found out they were in the same unit after they were released. The penal guards kept them in that unit for about 3 hours, though the reasons for doing so were unclear.  Fonseca suggests that “it was some sort of physiological torture…because later they just returned us to our respective units“.

The Lady in White pointed out that, according to her husband, on Wednesday, March 28th at around 8 PM, 14 dissidents who were detained in the Unit of Santiago de Las Vegas carried out the Vigil for the Unconditional Liberation of All Political Prisoners, Without Exile– a vigil which is carried out throughout the island each Wednesday.  In Rio Verde, Fonseca and her family always celebrate the vigil, despite the police vigilance and threats.  “These activists started to sing the Cuban national anthem from their dungeons.  At that moment, the common prisoners in the prison started to make noise with the cell bars.  It was a display of solidarity with the dissidents“.  According to Fonseca, the police officers did not realize that the noise was coming from the common prisoners and accused the dissidents of it, telling them to stop.  Once the vigil concluded, the majority of the common prisoners started to applaud, showing even more support for the activists.

Fonseca adds that “it is very probably that all Ladies in White were arrested during the Pope’s visit” and that many people who “are not public dissidents who belong to established opposition groups” were also massively arrested.  She highlighted one particular case, that of a young man whom she could not confirm his name, but who dedicates himself to paint signs with anti-government slogans and hang them on different parts of Havana.  He was in the same cell as Julio Leon Perez in the Las Vegas Unit.  “In the same vein, many everyday people were also arrested.  All the police units were full“, affirmed the activist.  Other accounts have confirmed that many homeless, alcoholic and mentally unstable Cubans were taken into custody to ‘clean up the streets of Havana’ for Benedict’s visit.

Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon were released on Wednesday night, already feeling physically weak due to their hunger strikes.  However, both declared that they have emerged even stronger in the spirit of Resistance.  Clearly emotional, Fonseca explained that in the Cotorro Unit another Lady in White (first name Jacqueline) was told by a common prisoner that “you, the Ladies in White, are not alone.  We all support you but we are afraid to do what you do“.  Fonseca expressed that she believes the day in which all these people- those who are not public dissidents or activists- publicly profess their disagreement with the dictatorship and join the peaceful actions of the Cuban Resistance is very near.  In reference to the Cuban regime’s attempt to make dissidents fearful, Fonseca assured that “the regime only wants to stay in power, but I feel that they have very little time left“.

For more information from Cuba:

Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +5353 – 379 – 011       // Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba

Faces Which the Pope Did Not See: Sara Marta Fonseca, Julio Leon Perez

Sara Marta Fonseca Harassed, Detained, and Deported from Pinar del Rio

Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon Fonseca

The Lady in White and leader of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, traveled from her Rio Verde neighborhood in Havana to the province of Pinar del Rio this past Sunday February 12th along with her husband and dissident Julio Leon Fonseca.  The activist couple had plans to meet with Raul Risco Perez, the coordinator of the Pinar del Rio Democratic Alliance.  However, upon arriving to the home of Risco Perez, all three dissidents and their relatives quickly became victims of a lengthy act of repudiation which began at 8 PM and lasted throughout the afternoon of Monday, February 13th.

At approximately “8 in the evening on Sunday, the president of the Cuban Woman’s Federation in Pinar del Rio knocked on the door of Risco.  She was the one who spoke out and told my husband and I that we had to return to Havana“, explained Fonseca Quevedo, adding that “this woman was accompanied by 8 police officials who were dressed as civilians.  They threatened us and told us we were not allowed to carry out any sort of activity“.  In just a matter of minutes, the building where Raul Risco lives was totally surrounded by oppressors of the regime.  “In fact, there were even officials standing by the stairs of the apartment“, pointed out Fonseca.

The building remained like that all of Sunday night and continued onto the following day.  Those participating in the act of repudiation were Ministry of the Interior officials, students of the Cadet School, and State Security officials, and the majority of them were “dressed in civilian clothing“, according to Sara Marta.  The aggressors screamed obscenities at the dissidents and their relatives and demanded that Fonseca and Leon immediately return to Havana.  In addition to the three dissidents, there were also relatives of Raul Risco in the house, including his elderly parents, his wife, and their small daughter.

Raul Risco denounced that in the mob act of repudiation more than 60 people participated, and that the majority of them were the “traditional oppressors” who normally participate in violent acts against dissidents in that area of Pinar del Rio.  “Among them were Colonel Jorge (chief of State Security in Pinar del Rio), Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Linares, Major Ivon, the First Lieutenant Lorenzo, the First Lieutenant Juan Carlos, Captain Alba (State Security), Officer Maikel (political police), officer Dignora (Ministry of the Interior), Officer Zacaria (Ministry of the Interior) and Jose Vargas from the Rapid Response Brigades“.  According to the dissident, this last one- Vargas- is one of the “biggest corrupt and repressive officials in the province, who regularly robs things that belong to the people, including food“.

At around 2:30 in the afternoon, Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon decided  to walk out of the apartment to run some errands, but their completely peaceful behavior culminated in an arrest.  Fonseca narrates that when they had walked only 3 blocks, “the chief of confrontation for State Security in Pinar del Rio arrived and told us that they were going to deport us to Havana in one of their police vehicles“.  Both Julio and Sara civilly resisted, declaring that they would continue walking and return to their home whenever they wanted to and through their own means.

They started to follow us“, recounts Fonseca, “and they called other police vehicles to arrest us.  They shoved us in one of their cars and some of the mobs arrived and started a brief act of repudiation because the car quickly sped off with us inside“.  During this time, the dissidents managed to scream back at the mobs- with slogans such as ‘Down with Fidel and Raul Castro’ and ‘We want free and multi-party elections’, and Sara Marta managed to quickly write a Twitter message on her cell phone, sending it out to the world as proof of the arbitrary arrest.  “They are detaining us“, read the message.  Fonseca was able to send out two more- “My husband Julio Ignacio and I taken under threats in a police vehicle towards Pinar del Rio exit.  Mobs are offending us” and “Deported  from the city by State Security in car and closely followed by political police“.

The dissidents were taken to the bus station of the area, and the agents tried to make them board a bus out of Pinar del Rio and to Havana, but both husband and wife refused, affirming that they would return to Havana on their own.  It was then that the officials stopped a taxi and the dissidents were pushed inside.  In the taxi, in addition to the driver, there were various citizens inside.  State Security officials and Political Police agents stopped the car various times on its route to Havana, with the purpose of harassing and intimidating the activists who were sitting in the backseat.

The people who were in the taxi became really upset and began to complain“, explained Fonseca, “Julio and I took advantage of the moment and explained to them why this was happening to us, who we are, and we handed out a few copies of the Declaration of Human Rights which we had on us“.

Upon arriving to their neighborhood of Rio Verde, Sara Marta and Julio were still under surveillance by uniformed and civilian clothes agents.

What happened to us is just more proof of the totalitarianism of the Cuban regime and the lack of respect towards human rights“, affirmed Fonseca Quevedo, “and it just inspires us even more, and the meeting we had planned with our brothers in Pinar del Rio will happen, whether the regime wants it or not“.

We are Cubans, we live in Cuba, and we have every right in the world to travel freely through any province of our country.  We will return to Pinar del Rio“.


For more information: Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo (011-5353-379-011).  Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba

Sara Marta Fonseca Harassed, Detained, and Deported from Pinar del Rio

10/05/11- Vigil for Sara Marta Fonseca, all Cuban Political Prisoners (Photos + Video)

(Wednesday, October 5th 2011)– Amid candles, signs, and prayers, a vigil was held in Miami’s famous Versailles Restaurant for the immediate and unconditional release of Sara Marta Fonseca, her husband Julio Leon Perez, and all Cuban political prisoners.  Every Wednesday, a vigil is held in Versailles by the group of former prisoners who help Cuba’s internal resistance directly, known as “Plantados” in demand for the freedom of Cuba’s constant victims of repression and imprisonment.  This time, the event also counted on the participation of other groups, as well as former prisoner from the group of the 75 and recently exiled Ladies in White.

The event officially began with a prayer as all the candles began to light up.  Then some of those who were present shared a few words- among them former political prisoners Angel de Fana, Huber Matos, and Fidel Suarez Cruz.  Many participants carried signs with photos not only of Sara Marta but also of other women who have suffered countless acts of repression and violence in recent days, women like Yris Tamara Aguilera, Marta Diaz Rondon, Caridad Caballero Batista, Laura Pollan, Belkis Cantillo, Aimee Garces and many others.

More than anything, the vigil proved (as it has been proven on many occasions) that Cubans can come together, despite various groups and ideologies, to demand freedom for all their sisters and brothers on the island.

The following is a video of the Vigil.  One can clearly see the solidarity displayed that night:

10/05/11- Vigil for Sara Marta Fonseca, all Cuban Political Prisoners (Photos + Video)

Vigil for the Freedom of Sara Marta Fonseca, all Cuban Political Prisoners

This Wednesday October 5th, in Miami, there will be a vigil held in demand for the immediate and unconditional freedom of Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and her husband Julio Ignacio Leon Perez, as well as for all Cuban political prisoners.  The event will be held in Miami’s Versailles Restaurant beginning at 8 pm and is being promoted by the pro-freedom organization ‘Plantados Hasta la Libertad de Cuba’.  The event is open to all those who wish to attend whether they be Cuban or not, in order to demand freedom for all those Cubans who have been imprisoned for defending freedom and human rights not only for themselves but for all the Cuban people.  More information can be found on the Facebook page created for this event.

The situation of the dissident couple continues to be grim, considering that they have been behind bars since Saturday, September 24th and have remained in hunger strike since then.  ‘Julito’ Fonseca, the eldest son of Fonseca and Leon, informed a few days ago that he was able to see his mother who, according to him, had many marks of physical blows but had remained very firm in her convictions against the tyranny, choosing to maintain her hunger strike until she is freed.  Meanwhile, it has been reported that his father was interned in the Carlos Finlay Hospital of Havana, due to a drop in sugar levels and other health ailments, products of a severe beating and also a hunger strike.

Actions of solidarity such as this vigil prove the slogan of those who fight form inside the island: We are all Resistance.

Freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca, Julio Ignacio Leon, and all Cuban political prisoners!

Vigil for the Freedom of Sara Marta Fonseca, all Cuban Political Prisoners

Yris Aguilera: A Testimony About Her Disappearance and Her Resistance

The three female dissidents from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights who had been disappeared by forces of the dictatorship this past 26th of September while they demanded freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon Perez have been released with clear marks of repression of which they were victim.  The three women were Donaida Perez Paceiro, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and Yris Tamara Aguilera.

Aguilera recounted that the violence began while the three women were on their way from the home of Fonseca to the G2 Unit of Havana along with ‘Julito’, the eldest son of Sara Marta and Julio Leon.  At that moment, “various agents intercepted us, among them agent Camilo and agent Veloria.  The latter is a very corpulent man“, according to the dissident.  Right away, Veloria told Yris that she was not allowed to take to the street, to which she replied that she does not follow orders from military officers.  “I added that at the entrance of Havana, there’s a huge billboard which reads ‘Welcome to the capital of Cubans‘ and that I am also one of those Cubans, so it was my right and I would continue despite the consequences”.

When the group of dissidents continued to walk, Veloria did not waste a second.  He went straight towards Yris and it was then that the physical aggression began.  “He grabbed me by my hair and dragged me for more than 50 meters.  I was able to see ‘Julito’, too, and he had about 7 State Security agents on top of him because they did not have enough time to prepare people to carry out repudiation attacks“, narrates Perez Aguilera.  They were all detained and taken to police units.  In the case of Yris, she was taken to the Aguilera Unit in Havana where she remained for two hours.  “After those two hours, they took me to a Criminal Investigation Center.  Once there, I began to protest and to ask why I was being held in a place like that, being punished, if I had not killed or attacked anyone at all.  I spent 72 hours there“.

Aguilera explains that on that Thursday, September 29th, “we were supposedly released, and I say ‘supposedly’ because I knew that it was just a form of manipulation set in motion to detain us once again, since they had warned us again that we were not allowed to go to the home of Sara Marta“.  Upon stepping out of their detention centers, the three women were able to meet up and start walking together.  However, they were lost in Havana, considering that they are not too familiar with the streets of the capital, coming from Placetas.  “Thanks to a man we bumped into along the way we were able to make it to Rio Verde, where Sara Marta lives, under his direction“.  But a few blocks right before getting to the house they were once again quickly intercepted by various State Security officials, among them agent Camilo again.  “They told me, ‘We already told you- you are not allowed near the house of Sara Marta’ and I responded that time and time again I would not follow orders and I would continue fighting for her“, declared Aguilera.  Upon seeing the determination of the dissidents, the officials called for police vehicles and arrested the three of them again.  “They took me to the Committee of the Defense of the Revolution Unit of La Lisa where I was kept in a cell.  I was very worried about my sisters considering that they had not eaten or drank anything for 72 hours, and I hadn’t either“, expressed Yris.

The three activists- Paceiro, Reyes, and Aguilera- remained in protest the entire time, refusing to accept water, food, or even to bathe.  “I was locked away in a cell with a huge fence and a lock.  I slept on a concrete slab”, remembers Yris, adding that “my worst day was on October 1st.  My kidneys were failing me, I had a lot of pain, and I had not been able to urinate for two entire days, something that was really worrying me“.

It was strictly prohibited for any of the activists to call relatives- access to phones was completely restricted.  This lack of information and lengthy detention led Antunez, husband of Yris, to declare that the women were all officially missing.  “I demanded to the chief of La Lisa Police Unit that I be allowed to make phone calls, for that was my right.  He simply replied by telling me that he had nothing to discuss with me“, explains Yris Tamara.  “Hours later, at around 6 pm, I was taken into a police vehicle to a ‘medical encampment’.  I once again refused medical attention because I knew it was yet another method of manipulation.  I told them that I preferred to die with dignity instead of living humiliated“.

I was kept there until 6 in the morning when a few officials came to tell me to go with them“, narrates the president of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement, who thought that at that moment she was going to be sentenced to actual prison terms but, as it turns out, she was going to be released.  “The officials called a Special Brigade bus to come pick me up.  It was rather ridiculous- there were 4 men and 3 women from the Special Brigades and one State Security Official.  In other words, 8 people for one woman.  At no point in time did they tell me where I was being taken but I figured I was going to be released once I saw that they also picked up Donaida and Yaimara.  They left me in Placetas, a few blocks before my house“.  Along the entire way Yris was vomiting after having spent such a long time in deplorable prison cells, suffering beatings, and carrying out a hunger strike- a combination of elements which led her to a deplorable state of health.

National and International Solidarity

When I got home, I was very happy to see so many brothers and sisters who had joined me in solidarity, letting me know that neither of us women were alone at any time“, Aguilera expresses.  The distinguished dissident also wished to thank the numerous organizations and individuals who demanded her unconditional freedom during her arrest which, in total, lasted 112 hours.

To my brothers and sisters from Santa Clara who declared themselves on hunger strike, I am forever grateful“, referring to the activists from the Central Opposition Coalition who had taken on this protest in demand for the release of the three female dissidents.  “To all those people in and out of the island who were concerned for us and our situation, thank you very much“.

Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ also added his gratitude for all the acts of international and national solidarity with his wife.   “Thanks to such important demands made by organizations such as the Assembly of the Resistance and various other news sources which covered the situation of the women, thanks to all of this my wife and the other two women were released“, declared Garcia, adding that he also felt a profound and sincere appreciation for the Ladies in White and their gesture to dedicate their Sunday march “not only to the political prisoners but also to Yris, Sara Marta, Donaida, Yaimara, along with Yelena Napoles“.

The struggle for Sara Marta’s freedom continues

The dissident couple made it clear that the struggle for freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Ignacio Leon is nowhere near over, “because it is possible that they may be sentenced under false charges, simply for excercising their free movement .  We are going to continue in the struggle, we will do everything possible to free our jailed brothers and sisters“.

Fonseca and Leon have been jailed since September 24th and have been on hunger strike since then.

Yris Aguilera: A Testimony About Her Disappearance and Her Resistance