Regime denies two prominent dissidents right to travel out of Cuba

PicMonkey Collage

This week the Cuban regime denied two well-known dissidents their right to travel out of Cuba, providing little or no explanations as to why the decision was taken.

The first of the refusals occurred in Eastern Cuba – specifically in Santiago de Cuba – when former political prisoner and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was told by authorities on October 7th that he would not be able to acquire his passport.  The functionaries said the activist could not travel for reasons of “public interest”, alleging he has engaged in criminal activities (in Cuba, political dissent is considered one of the highest offenses).

Ferrer Garcia was invited by the Unity Progress and Democracy Party to participate in an event in Europe.  It was the second time the Cuban regime denied him his passport.

On Friday October 11th, Leticia Ramos Herreria – representative of the Ladies in White for the central province of Matanzas – received a negative response from Cuban authorities after she started travel procedures two weeks earlier.

“ ‘Your petition has been denied, we cannot give you your passport to travel”’, that’s what immigration official told me”, tweeted Leticia on Friday (@LeticiaRHCuba).  No further explanations were provided.

Former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez (impeded from traveling as well on past occasions) also tweeted (@ivanlibre) about this situation, classifying it as “arbitrary” and pointing out that the Lady in White is in no way under an ‘extrapenal license’ that would impede here rights.

Leticia Ramos and Jose Daniel Ferrer are two of the many active opposition members on the island. Ramos is subject to frequent violent arrests every Sunday as she marches in Cardenas, Matanzas with other women for the freedom of all political prisoners and also engages in other activities in favor of the civil society.  Ferrer heads UNPACU, one of the many active pro-freedom groups in the country which started in the East and has spread throughout the island with many members.

Meanwhile, Blanca Reyes – exiled Cuban activist in Spain and representative of the Ladies in White in Europe – was also denied the right of entry into Cuba this week to visit her elderly and sick father.

“My father fractured his hip, he is going to be operated and the government of Cuba refuses my entry into the country to see him.  He is 93 years old”, wrote Blanca on the Ladies in White’s official Twitter account, @DamasdBlanco.

Reforms in Cuba?

Ladies in White, dissidents, defy another wave of violence

Matanzas, Santiago de Cuba and other provinces were the scene of more police violence against the Ladies in White and other dissidents when they assisted Mass this Sunday, August 25th.  This repression has been consecutive for more than one month.

At around 8 AM, former political prisoner Ivan Hernández Carrillo used his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) to provide details of what was happening in the city of Colon and other regions.

Hernandez confirmed that 7 Ladies in White managed to participate in Mass in the city of Cardenas but they “were arrested” upon stepping out of the church.  The detainees were Mercedes de la Guardia Hernández, Yamila Sendra Ruiz, Margarita Cienfuegos Acosta, Odalys Hernández Hernández, Katiuska Rodríguez Vives, Marisol Fernández Socorro and the representative of the group in the province, Leticia Ramos Herreria.

Another 2 women – Esmeralda García Wong and Amada Herrería Rodríguez – were arrested in the same city before making it to Mass.

All the previously mentioned women were beat by political police agents during the moment of their arrests.

Colon: Police car stationed in Bartolome Maso St to close off traffic and attack. Via @ivanlibre

Dissident Francisco Rangel Manzano was arrested in Colon, while renown opposition leader and former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta was arrested in Pedro Betancourt.  Hernandez Carrillo also confirmed the arrests of activists in the town of Los Arabos, including  José Hernández López, William Acevedo Roque and Yudaimis Fernández Martínez.

Ivan added in another Twitter message that, for the first time in more than one month, he was able to surpass police cordons and participate in Mass alongside 8 Ladies in White in Colon.  However, he informed that there were “Suzuki motorcycles of the political police” stationed outside the church, as well as various agents dressed in civilian clothing, among them Orestes, known for carrying out violent actions against locals.  There was also the “presence of regime collaborators inside the church” watching the activists.

During the Mass in Colon, Father Santana prayed for the dissidents, pointing out that the Day of the Virgin of Charity was nearing and that he was asking the Patron Saint of Cuba to “end all the hostilities, and that people who think one way can express their ideas and manifest them”.  Despite the solidarity during the Mass, however, State police agents arrested all the Ladies in White when they stepped out of the church: Lazara Rodríguez, Yanelis Pérez Reyes, María Teresa Castellano Valido, Maritza Acosta Perdomo, Sayli Navarro and Asunción Carillo (the latter is Ivan Hernandez’s mother).

Agents arrest Ladies in White in Colon, among them Sayli Navarro and Asuncion Carrillo. Via @ivanlibre
Asuncion Carrillo, mother of Ivan, does the “L” for “Libertad” (Freedom) before being shoved inside police car. Via @ivanlibre

These arrests consisted in pushing, headlocks, and pulling hair, according to Hernandez.  All the detainees were abandoned in desolate camps, far from their homes.  This was the case of Angel Moya, who later told Ivan that “what these henchmen do to us gives us more strength each day”.

After all the violent measures taken by the police, there were at least 24 Ladies in White and other dissidents who had been arrested in the province of Matanzas.  Despite the orders of the dictatorship to lash out against the opposition movement on the island, the Ladies in White took to the streets in all of Cuba, demanding freedom and rights.

Messages sent out by @ivanlibre highlighted that in Gibara, 7 Ladies in White arrived to Mass.  Unfortunately, the priest expelled them from the church afterward, forcing them to face the violent mobs.  The women were violently beat and detained.

In Cuba’s capital – Havana – 82 women marched with flowers and participated in Mass, while 7 managed to do so in the province of Villa Clara.  3 Ladies in White made it to church in Ciego de Avila, 22 in the Eastern province of Holguin and 10 in Guantanamo.

According to the Twitter account of independent news agency Hablemos Press (@HablemosPress), more than 50 Ladies in White participated in Sunday Mas but they were later brutally beat by police agents on 5th Street.  They were shoved into cars and buses.

The agency later tweeted that they had documented more than 65 arrests of Ladies in White in all the island.

Despite the violence, the Ladies in White and the Cuban opposition in general have left it clear that they will continue on the streets not only demanding their rights, but also the rights of the entire nation.

Thanks to Twitter, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo was able to publish various photos of the what happened on Sunday the 25th.

Meanwhile, Ivan also published photos of repressors and the vehicles they used during the violent operations in Colon, Matanzas:

These cars belong to political police officials in Matanzas and Havana. Via @ivanlibre

This is the same State Security agents who fractured arm of Lady in White Sonia Alvarez weeks ago during aggressions. Via @ivanlibre

Interview with Leticia Ramos in regards to State Security tactics, kidnapping and persecution

On Sunday, August 18th, the Cuban regime once again attacked the Ladies in White and various dissidents in the province of Matanzas through arrests, beatings and acts of repudiation.  There were also cases of repression in the province of Santiago de Cuba, where paramilitary mobs repudiated and attacked a number of women inside a house.  Despite the violence, more than 200 members of the Ladies in White were able to march and arrive at Mass, according to this article published by ‘Marti Noticias’.  In this blog, we will publish a series of interviews with various Cubans who have been repressed in these past days but continue expressing their ideas in favor of change and freedom. 

Leticia Ramos Herrería is the representative of the Ladies in White for the province of Matanzas.  She has been injected with mysterious substances, arrested, persecuted, and threatened with death in the last few weeks, as well as other activists.  Here, she speaks about what happened on Saturday August 17th and Sunday August 18th when State agents not only attacked her but also used psychological tactics against her:

Not only were you victim of police repression this Sunday, August 18th along with other Ladies in White, but also on Saturday, the 17th.  What was it exactly that happened?

On Saturday, August 17th, I was victim of a kidnapping at the hands of a high official of the National Revolutionary Police and a State Security agent right at the corner of my eldest son’s house.  They shoved me into a vehicle.

What happened inside that car?

When we were near the road which connects the city of Cardenas with Varadero, a Lada model vehicle with a blue license plate pulled up in front of us and told us to stop.  State Secuirty agent Livan and Captain Kenny Aguero came out of that car.  They walked over to the vehicle I was in and tried to take me out and put me in the other car.  I broke lose from their grasps and stood out in the middle of the street, where I began to shout slogans against the government such as “Down with Fidel, Down with Raul” and “Down with the dictatorship”.  A police official pulled my hair and pushed me.  Livan then shoved me into the vehicle.

Then, an argument broke out between officials Livan and Kenny Aguero.  They were shouting really obscene words at each other.  Eventually, they involved me in the argument but, without obscene words, I told them what they were: assassins, henchmen, and that I didn’t have to talk with them because I had been kidnapped.

Where did they take you once you were in the car again?

They took me to a town called Guasima, between Cardenas and Varadero.  They parked me in front of a pink house.  The officials tried to take me out of the car and take me to the backyard, where there was another Lada vehicle with a white sheet over its license plate.  Livan and Kenny told me to get down but I told them I wouldn’t, that I had no reason to go into any house and talk to anyone.

These officials entered the house and another official came out.  He did not identify himself.  He was tall and had dark hair.  He told me, “Leticia, I need you to get off the car because I need to have a talk with you”.  I told him I did not need to talk with any of them and that they could punch me to death out there but I wasn’t going to get off the car.  I told them I was going to start shouting because I was born and raised in that town and all of my father’s side of the family still lives there and If I started screaming, they would soon find out what was happening.  The agent closed the door, went around the car and got inside.

He tried to talk to me and at that moment he asked me to collaborate with State Security and work for them.  He told me I was going to have a better life with everything I wanted; If I wanted to move they would find me a house, and my sons would have the best jobs.  I told them that it was a severe act of disrespect and that none of them had the morale to tell me anything like that.  I let them know that I was fighting against a dictatorship and that I would continue to do so until the Castro brothers leave power and until Cuba has a real democracy.

At any moment were you able to identify the man who offered you to collaborate with the regime?

I wasn’t able to identify him, but in my opinion I think he was a high official of State Security as well as a psychologist.  They use people like that to carry out such actions. Based on the way he spoke to me I believe this, because they all know that I would never accept such a dirty offer.

After this situation, I told them to open the door because I was going to leave.  The man stepped out and left me in the car.  He walked back inside the house, later exiting with a notebook.  I was then changed from vehicles again.  I took advantage of the moment and told all the passerby’s what was happening and also let the repressors know that “I would not collaborate with you neither tomorrow, now or ever.  You are all assassins”.

In reference to this Sunday, August 18th, the political police once again lashed out against the Ladies in White in Matanzas…

Yes, in the morning various Ladies in White carried out a march from Playa Larga, where my house is, to the church, where we assisted Mass.  When the religious service came to an end, there were already mobs stationed on the corner of Real and Obispo Street.  These mobs were the same as always…they are paramilitary agents dressed in civilian clothing.

We decided to walk a block against these mobs.  They began to shout obscenities and pro-government slogans at us.  I told a group of Ladies in White to get aboard a wagon that would take them back to Playa Larga.  The mobs chased the wagon, threatening the women and eventually intercepting them.  Luckily, they were able to make it inside the home of Marisol Fernandez Socorro, another member of the group.  The mobs remained outside for a while shouting offenses at them.

As for me, I hopped aboard my husband’s electric bicycle to return back to my house.  But when we turned a corner, there were already mobs waiting for us.  They had been organized by State Security.  They shouted verbal offenses at us and blocked our path.  When I tried to get off the bike, among all the screams and threats, I got tangled and hurt my left thigh.  I was injured and lost lots of blood.

My husband, Rudel, took me to the hospital.  After much wait, I was able to see an orthopedic.  He gave me stitches on the wound, which turned out to be very deep (at least 10 centimeters).  This was all the fault of the mobs organized by the political police and the Castro brothers to harass and attack us, Sunday after Sunday, just for assisting Mass and marching.

what is your response to all of this persecution?

I am sending out a clear message to these repressors:  Wound or no wound, beatings or not beatings, I am going to continue assisting Mass, demanding freedom for all political prisoners, freedom for Cuba, and respect of Human Rights.  We are going to continue out on the streets because the streets belong to Cubans, not just them.  Down with the dictatorship! We want Human Rights! Laura Pollan Lives!

Check out this audio of Leticia Ramos recounting the events (in Spanish):

To contact Leticia Ramos in Cuba:
Cell Phone– + 52-481-807

More beatings, arrests, repudiation and injections against Ladies in White in Matanzas

After four weekends of unmeasurable violence against the Ladies in White and other dissidents in the cities of Cardenas and Colon in the province of Matanzas, Berta Soler – leader of the Ladies in White – traveled to Cardenas this Sunday, August 11th, to march together with the women being repressed, demanding freedom for all political prisoners.  The result was the fifth weekend of violence.

11 women managed to march and assist Mass at The Parish of Cardenas.  When the religious service came to an end, the Ladies left the temple in a march back home.

Leticia Ramos Herrería, representative of the women’s group for the province of Matanzas, said that a State Security official intercepted them and told them that they could not continue walking, all while the same mobs as always – organized by the regime – surrounded the women.

We remained in silence while the mobs shouted insults at us“, said Ramos Herreria, “then, the official told me that we were going to be arrested but without being beat.  It was all the contrary“.

Ramos recounts that all the women were beat and thrown inside police vehicles, among them Berta Soler and Maria Cristina Labrada, from Havana.  Some were taken to the National Revolutionary Police unit while others were left out in the Port of Cardenas.

Leticia explains that although she was also beat, in this case she was not the worst off.  “I want to shed light on the situation of Mercedes de la Caridad la Guardia who the agents, in addition to being beat, threw paint on her, later detained her in the PNR unit and then abandoned her 40 kilometers away from the city.  She was grabbed by the arm by PNR agent Yordan (badge #33500) and agent Yudy (the same woman who has beat us during past weekends and who threatened to shoot me in the forehead recently).  They punched her on her neck, face, abdomen, etc“.

Another worrying case was that of Elizabeth Pacheco Lama, a 23 year old Lady in White.  At the time of her arrest she was “injected on the head with different needles.  They dragged her, beat her, and even destroyed her shoes“, said Leticia.

Despite the State-sponsored violence, Leticia Ramos considers that one of the most significant factors that day was the fact that a number of everyday people showed solidarity with the persecuted women and, because of this, they also suffered violence at the hands of the police.

I want to thank many of the people of Cardenas who protected us.  The police pushed many of them against a wall, they beat them and many of them were shoved into police cars“, said the Matanzas dissident.

Meanwhile, in the city of Colon the violence was similar.  Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, former political prisoner and independent unionist, used his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) to detail that he was arrested upon stepping out of his home in the morning.

“After the violent arrest, dragging me threw the street and pushing me into a police vehicle, they abandoned me out on kilometer 170 on the national highway”, wrote the renown dissident.

Ivan Hernandez @ivanlibre tweeted this picture of the police agents stationed outside his home who later arrested him with violence.
Mobs harassing Ladies in White in Colon. Picture tweeted by @ivanlibre and @COliveraCuba

Ivan’s mother, Asuncion Carillo Hernandez (an elderly lady) was also arrested and they “left her out 1 kilometer after the exit of Colon, en route to San Jose”.

Ivan also tweeted about the case of Lady in White Maritza Perdomo, another woman who was harassed and arrested, kept in an unknown location for a while.

Hernandez Carrillo added that the police officials handcuffed him and twisted his arms back to the point that they cut his circulation in order to impede him from making the “L” shape with his hands (‘L’ for “Libertad”, Spanish for “Freedom”, a sign commonly used by Cuba’s opposition).

Renown dissident and former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta was also arrested that Sunday, among other human rights activists.

9 Ladies in White were able to make it to Mass in Colon, despite that many of them were later arrested and repressed.

Dissident Lazaro Diaz Sanchez published a photo on his Twitter account (@LazaroDiazSanch) of an injury he sustained after physical attacks by the political police approximately 3 weeks ago:


We blame the political police, the Castro brothers and their dictatorship for anything that may happen to Elizabeth Pacheco Lama, who was injected on the head.  She also has chunks of hair missing because they pulled it, her legs are scratched and she took many physical blows“, expressed Leticia Ramos, “We hold the dictatorship accountable for her physical integrity as well as that of all Ladies in White in Matanzas, and all of Cuba“.

Lady in White recounts threats by the regime and solidarity from Matanzas Bishop

Lady in White thanks Bishop and other religious leaders in Matanzas province for showing solidarity with them and defending them against government mobs, she denounces the use of minors in acts of repudiation, highlights the danger dissidents run on the island and affirms that she continues the struggle for freedom. 

After two consecutive weekends of police violence against numerous Ladies in White and male dissidents in the cities of Cardenas and Colon, in the province of Matanzas, on Sunday July 28th something different happened, although arrests were also reported, as were acts of repudiation and other forms of repression organized by the State.

Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the Ladies in White for the mentioned province, explains that 7 women were able to make it to La Parroquia of Cardenas, accompanied by 8 male dissidents during the morning.  Upon entering the temple, they noticed that the place was completely surrounded by members of the Revolutionary National Police and of the political police.  Ramos also confirmed that there were 19 police vehicles (with cameras), 3 vehicles of the PNR, 2 buses, 2 trucks fulls of police agents dressed in civilian clothing and even 2 ambulances.  In fact, the police had set up a stage just one block from the church with a life-sized doll dressed with an American flag, ready to be set on fire.  The mobs (of agents and collaborators) were trying to say with this that the dissidents were mercenaries being paid by the United States.

The ones who confirmed this to us were people who were inside the church.  They came up to us and warned us so that nothing would happen to us“, said Leticia, clearly moved by this display of solidarity.

Ramos adds that, in addition, there was “a small group of people of low social conduct – delinquents, rapists, etc. – who were waiting in front of the church with sticks and rocks“.  The activist explains that these criminals have a compromise with State Security and always respond to their orders.

But for the Lady in White one of the most critical situations was that the police forces used minors to participate in these acts of provocation and violence, arming them with rocks, as well as the fact that the repressors entered church property.  At that moment, the religious leaders came to the aid of the dissidents.

The mobs had the audacity to stand inside the church and were telling us ‘come outside, we are going to kill you’“, recounts Leticia, “The church leaders, among them the Bishop of Matanzas, Manuel Hilario de Cespedes, ordered the mobs to leave and to have some respect“.

The mentioned Bishop had specifically gone to that Parish that Sunday to offer Mass due to all the violence which occurred the previous weekends- on the 14th and 21st of July- when Ladies in White were beat, dragged, injected with needles and deported by the political police.

We approached Bishop Manuel y told him what had happened to us during the previous days and everything that was going to happen to us if we stepped out that morning.  He went out and was talking with the mobs and the officials.  He told us to stay inside the church for our own safety.  We were there from 9 AM to 1 PM.  At that time the first secretary of the Communist Party arrived to talk to the Bishop“, said the dissident.

After hours of negotiation, the Bishop ordered that the dissidents be transferred to their homes on a bus, “but that he was going to keep custody and watch over each one of us until we arrived at our homes…and that’s how it happened“.

The 15 dissidents were taken out of the church on bus while the Bishop traveled behind in another vehicle, making sure the repressors did not attack the men and women.

Captain Villamil and agent Kenny Aguero, both from State Security, were aboard the bus with the Ladies in White.  In a cynical fashion, Villamil told the Ladies, ‘we are only doing this once, and only once, but you already saw how the people got’.  Leticia rose from her seat and told him: “It was not the everyday people.  They were the people you convoked, all the ones present were soldiers or agents and the ones that beat us are the ones from your department.  When they leave us abandoned in desolate fields, all the torture, it’s all you.  And you did not have enough professional ethic, nor manhood, to stop the beatings against us, so with that said, do not speak anymore“.  According to Ramos, the official did not speak for the rest of the trip.

She also recounts that in the city of Colon something similar happened and the priest of the church had to come out to talk to the authorities so that they would not harass the Ladies in White.

We thank God and thank the Catholic church, specifically Bishop Manuel Hilario de Cespedes”, expressed Leticia, “we told the Bishop that we believe in the word of God, but not in the word of the communists“.

Despite the fact that the Lady in White expressed her sincere gratitude for the solidarity on behalf of the religious leader, she highlighted that members of the internal opposition still run serious risks with their lives at the hands of the dictatorship.

May State Security know that we are going to keep going to church on Sundays and we are going to maintain ourselves firm, as always.  They want blood and it will be our blood that will run.  They will stain their hands, once again, with the blood of the innocent because we are not backing down.  They must stop all this violence“.

Ramos Herreria added, “I am going to continue in the Ladies in White, I am going to continue in the Cuban opposition, and I am going to keep walking down the streets of Cuba because I am Cuban and I have the total right to do so, because the streets do not belong to the revolutionaries, they belong to all Cubans.  They may be willing to massacre the Ladies in White and all dissidents…similar things were done in dictatorships in Chile, Argentina and other countries, and they have been done in the dictatorship of the Castro brothers.  They are taking us to places to torture us, to beat us and to leave us abandoned in desolate places where there are no people to see how they disappear us.  The fault will lie only on the government.  But we will continue onward“.

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Leticia Ramos – Cell Phone: +52-481-807

Matanzas: Mores images of police violence against Ladies in White (Photos)

Leticia Ramos shows broken upper lip

After two consecutive weekends of violence carried out by the political police against the Ladies in White and other dissidents in the province of Matanzas (especially in the cities of Cardenas and Colon), more photos of the scars left by the agents have emerged.

Sayli Navarro, a young member of the Ladies in White from Perico, Matanzas, has published various photos of the injuries suffered by her mother, Sonia Alvarez Campillo, and Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the group in the mentioned province.

Sonia Alvarez with fractured arm after beating
Leticia Ramos shows broken lip
Leticia Ramos shows bruises on her arm after beating
Nail marks on one of Leticia Ramos’ arms
Leticia Ramos with bruise on her face after beating

Leticia was one of the activists who were injected with 3 needles containing unknown substances on Sunday, July 14th.  In addition, she has been frequently threatened with death by members of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police.

On Tuesday, July 23rd, dissidents Francisco Rangel and Ivan Hernandez Carrillo were harassed by police officials.  In the case of Rangel, he was arrested while walking down Central Street, in the Market Plaza of Colon, Matanzas.  Meanwhile, former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez was attacked with rocks.

“While in the Market Plaza, they attacked me with rocks”, wrote Hernandez on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre).

“This attack and arrest were carefully planed, because it was confirmed that three State Security officials, dressed in civilian clothing, we waiting for us in the Market Plaza”, added the dissident leader.

He also denounced that on Monday, July 22nd, there was an act of “harassment, intimidation, invasion of privacy and public disorder” carried out by regime-organized mobs “against the Ladies in White” in Colon, where members of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, the Communist Party and police agents took part.

Regime organized mobs harass home of Lady in White, Matanzas. Via @ivanlibre

Another bloody Sunday in Cuba, but the opposition continues defying the dictatorship

Ladies in White in Cardenas, Matanzas. The same ones who were violently beat this Sunday, 21st of July.

State Security and other police sectors of the Cuban regime repeated their violent actions against a number of Ladies in White and male dissidents in the province of Matanzas this Sunday, July 21st, mainly in the cities of Colon and Cardenas.  The news arrived just one week after similar violence on July 14th and after State Security agents had visited a number of work centers in the mentioned cities, convoking ‘corpulent’ people to participate in beatings against the dissidents.

However, the people who were convoked did not participate in the aggressions, according to independent unionist and former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre).  For this reason, the police was clearly bothered and once again unleashed a wave of arrests and beatings.  Ivan was one of the victims of repression that morning.

The dissident leader was arrested and beat by political police agents when he stepped out of his home in Colon to show solidarity with the Ladies in White of that area who were being harassed by paramilitary mobs.

Some of the other arrested activists between Colon and Cardenas were Juan Francisco Rangel, Reinier Penates Calzadilla, Francisco Brias Tamayo, Ibrahim Navarro, Emanuel Valles Rodríguez, Jorge Serrano Alfonso, Jesús González Lemus, Rudel Montes de Oca, Javier Erbello, Eduardo Hernández, Marisol Fernández, Batista Rodríguez Rivas, Niurka Rivero, José Hernández Carrillo, Irania Borrego, Nelson Ruiz Alonso, William Acevedo Roque, Yudaimis Hernández, José Hernández López, Elizabeth Pacheco, Juan Carlos Pazos, Eduardo Pacheco, former political prisoners Ángel Moya Acosta and Félix Navarro, as well as the daughter of the latter, Sayli Navarro.

In the majority, if not all, of these cases, after being threatened and beat, the dissidents were abandoned in desolate fields situated miles away from their homes or cities of residence.

Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the Ladies in White for Matanzas province and one of the most beat during this police operation, had much to tell about this.  She explains that in Cardenas the violence began after a group of women began their march after Mass at La Parroquia Church.

Since morning hours, there was a large cordon set up by the political police and the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) in front of the church.  There were also many women dressed in civilian clothes but they were really officials“, detailed Ramos. “We walked about a block or so when these people rushed up against us…they began to beat and started to shove us inside police vehicles“.

The detainees were taken individually to the Offices of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT), which Leticia describes as “a place being used lately as a torture center against dissidents, because it is located far away from the city and there no one can see how they beat us“.

In that center, police agents continued to beat the men and women while the guards simply joked around and laughed.  “The guards were laughing as the agents were beating us and together they began to verbally offend us, calling us ‘lesbians’ and threatening to ‘put a finger in our anus’, while the men were called ‘homosexuals’“, denounced Leticia.

One of the officials who beat the Lady in White the most was one known as “Chuly”, a member of the PNR.  She told Ramos that she was going to kill her, specifically by “putting a bullet right through my forehead if I kept assisting Mass and walking on Sundays“.  The same agent who injected Leticia with an unknown substance last Sunday also participated in the aggressions against her once again.

Leticia Ramos shows fracture on her lip after beating. July 21st 2013

There is also the case of Lady in White Odalys Hernandez who has a burn on her neck because they tried to strangle her.  She has bruises on her ribs, her abdomen and in her interior from the kicks she received.  Yamila Senda Ruiz was beat by the same officials who were beating me, while activists Francisco Villa, Manuel Barrio, Nelson Curbelo and others were detained and abandoned in desolate places“, recounts the dissident.

Leticia was abandoned in a place known as Sequeira, more than 20 kilometers from the road which leads to the town of Limonar.  The activist was able to return to her home in Cardenas thanks to the solidarity of an anonymous citizen who drove her back.  Something similar happened to Ivan Hernandez, who wrote on Twitter that a farmer gave him water and drove him back after the activist told him what had happened.  It is precisely this citizen solidarity which gravely worries the dictatorship.

“Today has been a victorious day for us, and a defeat for the tyrant”, wrote Hernandez, “they had to arrest us because they were not able to unify and convoke Cubans to repress us…as much as State Security tried to intimidate and recruit men in Colon for quite some days now, the people did not come to attack us”.

On her part, Leticia once against accused the government for what happened and assured that the official leading the operation was State Security Lieutenant Coronel Joaquin, the same person who masterminded the aggressions last weekend.

“All the blows are the fault of the regime and of Lieutenant Joaquin, who is in charge of this bloody hunt of Ladies in White and peaceful dissidents since last week in the province of Matanzas“, expressed Ramos Herreria, “but if they want to kill us, they are going to have to do it on the streets because the streets belong to the people of Cuba.  And I am Cuban and I am firm in my convictions.  We are all firm.  We will continue going to church and marching“.

Despite the violent atmosphere in Matanzas, it was reported that many Ladies in White in other provinces were able to surpass police cordons and march to and from their respective churches, from East to West of all Cuba.


For more information from Cuba, contact:

Leticia Ramos Herrería – Cell Phone: +52-481-807
Iván Hernández Carrillo – Cell Phone: +52-599-366 / Twitter: @ivanlibre
Sayli Navarro – Cell Phone: +52-731-652 / Twitter: @SayliNavarro

URGENT: State Security prepares mobs to attack Ladies in White in Matanzas

Screen shot 2013-07-20 at 4.30.06 PM

Since Thursday, July 18th, State Security agents have been visiting a number of work centers in the cities of Colon and Cardenas, in the central province of Matanzas, recruiting “tall and strong” people to participate in violent actions against the Ladies in White and other dissidents this upcoming Sunday, July 21st, when these activists have plans to participate in Mass to pray for the liberation of all political prisoners.

The news has been made public on the Twitter account of Ivan Hernandez Carrillo (@ivanlibre), independent unionist and former political prisoner.  The renown dissident hast sent out various messages of warning.

“Colon, Matanzas: State Security tells administrators of work centers to send strong and tall men to beat up the Ladies in White at 9 AM, this Sunday”, says one tweet.

The threats are also directed to other independent unionists.  State Security has plans to send more corpulent men “to the headquarters of the independent unions” at the same time.

On Sunday, July 14th, State Security carried out a violent operation against Ladies in White and other activists from Matanzas.  This resulted in broken heads and ribs, injections with unknown substances, and arrests.  The demonstrators were also threatened with death.  Lieutenant Coronel Joaquin was the official who ordered these actions.

“Ladies in White from Colon and Cardenas will go to Mass and march despite the threats of being ‘cut up with knives’ by the political police and State Security”, affirms Hernandez Carrillo.

He concludes his series of messages asking for solidarity with these dissidents who are facing serious threats to their lives.

“Please, we are asking for solidarity in light of this announced repression for this upcoming Sunday”, he expresses.

Ivan Hernandez was one of the dissidents arrested, beat, and injected with strange substances last weekend.  Other names of victims include Leticia Ramos Herreria, Marisol Fernandez, and Javier Erbello.

The face of a repressor and the consequences of his actions (Photos)

Photo by: @ivanlibre

This is Joaquin, Lieutenant Colonel of State Security who operates in the province of Matanzas, especially in the areas of Cardenas, Colon and Varadero.  The agent has taken up the task of persecuting dissidents from Matanzas and frequently orders violent actions against these activists.  Recently, this past Sunday, July 14th, Joaquin gave orders to a paramilitary mob to attack a group of Ladies in White and other dissidents in the cities of Cardenas and Colon.  The results were: broken heads and ribs, arrests, peaceful women being dragged through the streets, breaking glowers carried by the Ladies in White and multiple injections with needles containing unknown substances.

Here are just some of the photos of what is described above:

Activist Lazaro Diaz Sanchez with head injury after beating
State organized mobs surrounding home of Lady in White Caridad Burunate
Ladies in White surrounded and harassed by State sponsored mobs
Former political prisoner Felix Navarro showing one of his scars after beating. He also had a fractured rib

Leticia Ramos Herrería, representative of the Ladies in White in Matanzas province, was one of the victims of the arrests and also of the injections at the hands of a State Security agent.  In a denouncement published in this blog previously, Ramos Herreria commented that Joaquin is “a hitman and assassin” and was the one who “organized this operation“.  The renown dissidents said that anything that happens to her, or any other of the activists who were injected, is responsibility of Joaquin, the department which he leads, and in sum, the dictatorship.

Marisol Fernández, Javier Erbello and former political prisoner Iván Hernández Carrillo were some of the other people who were injected during these aggressions.

“Joaquin, Lieutenant Colonel of the political police said: ‘We are just waiting for the orders to kill all of you'”, wrote Hernandez Carillo in a message published on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre).

Government’s brutality isn’t enough to impede Ladies in White and other dissidents from marching

Ladies in White being harassed in city of Colon, Matanzas. Photo: @ivanlibre

Many words or phrases can describe what happened to the Ladies in White and other dissidents at the hands of the political police and State Security on the morning of Sunday, July 14th, in the province of Matanzas, but brutality would be the best choice, considering the amount of punches, kicks, arrests and injections with mysterious substances against peaceful men and women which took place.

One of the main recipients of this state-sponsored violence was Leticia Ramos Herreria, representative of the female group in the central province of Matanzas. Ramos recounts that 11 women in the city of Cardenas carried out their accustomed march in the morning, participating in Mass to pray for the liberation of all political prisoners on the island. But upon stepping out of the temple and just before starting to carry out their march in return, State Security intercepted the demonstration with severe violence.

Leticia explains that they were “intercepted by paramilitary mobs organized by State Security. They tore the flowers we were carrying and then, in my case, they hit me with a piece of wood on the shoulder, which is inflamed right now. I have scratches and bruises all over my body“.

The blows were also for the other 10 women, while Ramos Herreria was victim of a mysterious injection.

A State Security official, whose name I could not confirm but who had beat me previously on March 19th of this year, grabbed and twisted my right arm, put it under hers and pinched me with 3 needles. I have been bleeding in that spot and I do not know what those injections contained“, denounced the dissident, highlighting that during that night she began to feel nauseous and very weak.

The women were “verbally threatened by the police, who told them that if they continued assisting church they were going to kill them, while one woman from the Federation (a government organization) said she was going to cut our faces if we kept marching“. Ramos Herreria also pointed out that “there are other Ladies in White in the city of Cardenas who have bruises on their eyes, scratches on their backs, injuries on their feet and more…it was a brutal attack carried out by State Security officials“.

Marisol Fernández, another member of the Ladies in White, and dissident Javier Erbello, were also injected by needles that morning.

Ramos Herreria said that “anything that may happen to any Lady in White in Matanzas or in any part of Cuba, State Security are the responsible ones. If they injected some sort of virus in me, the culprits are State Security, especially Colonel Joaquin, who is an assassin and who was in charge of the entire operation“.

Former political prisoners Ivan Hernandez Carrillo and Felix Navarro Rodriguez, as well as human rights activist Lazaro Diaz Danchez, suffered the same fate in the city of Colon, Matanzas, when they were beat and arrested alongside other Ladies in White.

(This audio captures the moment these activists were being harassed and beat by paramilitary mobs in Colon. In Spanish, via @mspianoteacher):

Ivan Hernandez informed on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) when he was released a few hours later, explaining that “they took me to a town called 6 de Agosto. They hit me a lot, especially on my stomach and on my back“.

The dissident adds that “as the agents were beating me they told me: ‘We are just waiting for the orders to kill all of you’“.

Meanwhile, Felix Navarro suffered a fractured rib while Lazaro Diaz Sanchez was injured on his head.

Lazaro Diaz Sanchez after beating. Photo: @SayliNavarro
Felix Navarro after beating. Photo: @SayliNavarro

Another tweet sent by Hernandez Carrillo detailed that 8 Ladies in White were arrested in Pinar del Rio, the westernmost province of Cuba. However, 3 women were able to march and assist Mass there, surpassing police cordons.

In the capital – Havana – 54 Ladies in White marched to and from Santa Rita Catholic Church, while 5 were able to do so in Santa Clara Villa Clara. (In addition to the 12 in Colon and 11 in Cardenas, Matanzas that were able to make it but who suffered repression afterward).

In the Eastern province of Holguin, 26 Ladies in White assisted Mass and 50 of them managed to do so in El Cobre National Shrine in Santiago de Cuba. In Bayamo 5 marched and 11 did so in Guantanamo.

Ciego de Avila province had 4 Ladies in White who arrived to Mass while in Isla de Pinos 2 women marched.

The women dedicated their march that Sunday to the 19th anniversary of the ’13 de Marzo’ Tugboat Massacre, where dozens of children, women and men were gunned down and drowned by regime forces as they tried to flee the country in a tugboat.

The Cuban dictatorship has increased violence against dissidents of all organizations on the island, but all indications point out that this has been due to the strengthening of the pro-freedom movement in the country as well as an increase in its members, as is the case of the Ladies in White.

On her part, Leticia Ramos reiterates that “we will continue going to church on Sunday to pray for the freedom of Cuba and for the liberation of all political prisoners, and we are going to continue demanding that human rights be respected in Cuba. The streets belong to Cubans, and I am Cuban, and I am not leaving from here“.

We are going to keep taking to the streets and going to church. We will keep marching“.

Para mas detalles desde Cuba, contactar a:

Leticia Ramos Herrería – Cell Phone: +52-481-807
Iván Hernández Carrillo – Cell Phone: +52-599-366 / Twitter: @ivanlibre
Sayli Navarro – Cell Phone: +52-731-652 / Twitter: @SayliNavarro