Hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos in “critical” state

Cuban dissident Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, who has been on hunger strike since May 24th demanding a home after he was evicted by the regime, is in an extremely delicate state of health, according to various reports coming from the island this week.

Members of the opposition such as Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and Felix Reyes Gutierrez wrote on their Twitter accounts (@SaraMartaCuba and @FelixReyesGutie, respectively) that Santos Caballero “is suffering from a hypoglycemia crisis with much frequency, he runs the risk of dying at any moment” and that in dawn hours of July 16th, he “lost consciousness on three occasions”, classifying his state as “critical”.

Carlos Michael Morales Rodriguez, an independent blogger and a member of the Central Opposition Coalition, a pro-freedom group which Santos also belongs to, has been echoing the severity of the situation, offering a detailed report to ‘Radio Republica’ in regards to the health of the striker.

“The hunger striker is suffering a hepatic paralysis and his liver is starting to stop working or possibly could have already stopped”, detailed Morales Rodriguez in the audio, pointing out that the striker only has one kidney.  He lost the other vital organ during a severe beating by jailers while he was in prison.

In addition, Morales highlighted that Luis Enrique Santos has been on hunger strike for 54 days as of this 17th of July.  During these nearly 3 months of protest, Santos has been beat and threatened by members of the political police, and has also been lied to and manipulated by these same forces.  However, he has said that he will keep up his protest to the final consequences, demanding what belongs to any Cuban citizen: a place to reside and establish one’s life.

“I do want real change”: Protest in Placetas (Video)

Members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front went out to the streets of Placetas, Villa Clara in the morning hours of June 2nd to carry out a public protest where they announced the “I do Want” campaign and called for solidarity with hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos Caballero.

The “I do Want” campaign was launched by the Assembly of the Resistance in a joint effort by pro-democracy groups in and out of the island as a follow up to the “I do not cooperate” campaign, where numerous stickers calling on Cubans to not participate in repressive actions organized by the dictatorship such as acts of repudiation and snitching.  Now, the second phase of the initiative exhorts the people to cooperate with the internal opposition and demand their rights publicly.

Former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, and general secretary of the OZT Front, participated in the demonstration alongside activists from Havana, Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus.

“We are also demanding solidarity with our brother Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, who is currently between life and death”, exclaims Antunez during the activity.  Santos Caballero has been on hunger strike since May 24th, demanding a house after having been evicted by the police.

Afterward, the demonstrators shouted slogans in favor of democratic change and human rights.  They were not repudiated by any neighbors.

The video:

Testimonies of more dissidents attacked with machetes in Cuba (Video and Audio)

Goart Cruz Zamora

Recently, we saw the results of a machete attack against Werlando Leyva Batista, a member of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), at the hands of a State Security collaborator in the province of Holguin. Leyva Batista suffered injuries on one of his hands and legs.  Thanks to the solidarity of a number of Holguin activists, images came out straight from Cuba confirming the news.

Just days later, another 2 dissidents were victims of similar machete attacks, all of which have been orchestrated in one way or another by State Security.

Goart Cruz Zamora was one of the victims.  

Goart Cruz Zamora after machete attack

Zamora is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and is the secretary of the group for the “Harold Cepero” cell in Altamira, Santiago de Cuba.  On June 19th, he was attacked with a machete by Julio Cesar Limonta Nunez, who had been acting as a dissident but apparently had lent himself to the manipulations of State Security, according to declarations by Goart in a video published on the YouTube channel of UNPACU:

Goart assures that the aim of the attack, which occurred in his home, was to cut off his head.  The dissident managed to dodge the initial swing of the machete but the blade sliced parts of his shoulder and a hand.

I told Julio Cesar that ideas can’t be destroyed that way, and that he was not going to triumph being manipulated by the political police“, said the victim in the video, who adds that the aggressor quickly fled after the assault.  Goart signals an agent named Frank as the main culprit of the manipulation.

Another dissident who was attacked by a machete is Orlando Lazaro Gomez Hernandez, a member of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba and of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front in Camaguey.

Gomez Hernandez provided a testimony to the station “Radio Republica”, where he recounts how on the week of June 21st when he stepped out of his house with a sign with messages in solidarity with hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, he was intercepted by the local president of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR).  This functionary, named Julio, was wielding a machete.

“The president of the CDR ran out of his home with a machete and started to attack me with it.  He cut part of my right hand and also struck me on my back…other collaborators of his came out and as I fell to the ground they began to kick me”, recounts Gomez.

Luckily, the 3 activists mentioned in this post are alive to tell the story, but given the rise in violence against dissidents on the island, the next victim may not be so fortunate.

Whether it be in the Eastern region, in the center or in West of the country, the lives of freedom defenders are more at risk each day, all the while the dictatorship project an image of changes and reforms to the rest of the world.

Cuba: SOS for 3 hunger strikers on the verge of death

The debate about whether dissidents working for a democratic Cuba should turn to hunger strikes or not always rises in and out of the island whenever these protests are undertaken.  Whichever the opinions may be, the reality is that, right now, in Cuba there are 3 human rights activists on hunger strike, all of them on the verge of losing their lives due to the serious deterioration of their health.  And while their lives extinguish slowly, the dictatorship ignores their demands.

They are:

Luis Enrique Santos Caballero

A member of the Central Opposition Coalition (CCO) and of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, from the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara.  Has been carrying out his hunger strike since May 24th, demanding a home after he was forcefully evicted alongside his wife Ramona Maday García, an activist of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.  Santos Caballero spent more than 15 years behind bars and upon being released his father had passed away and he had nowhere to live.  He spent some time living at the homes of friends and fellow dissidents until he finally decided to occupy an abandoned establishment.  Police forces violently evicted Santos from this establishment.  He has been under constant persecution since then.

The dissident began to protest with his wife in the Vidal Park of Santa Clara for a number of days, demanding a home.  He was arrested, beaten and repudiated by government mobs on various occasions.  Santos decided to start a hunger strike, moving his protest to the city of Placetas, specifically in the home of dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’.

Santos Caballero has only one kidney.  He lost the other organ after a brutal beating by his jailers while he was still in prison.  It is precisely because the lack of one kidney that his health has deteriorated so quickly and why his health is critical.  Authorities have ignored his demands but Santos has said that he will take his protest to the final consequences.  #SOS

For more information from Cuba:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba

Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta

Osvaldo after house raid and beating in September 2012

The home of dissident  Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta and his family in the town of Bejucal was raided by police forces on September 2012 after he had announced the formation of a new pro-freedom group, the Patriotic Alliance, and that his oldest son, 24 year old Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo, refused to participate in military service.  Father and son were beaten until the point that their heads were broken.  Juana Castillo, wife of Osvaldo Rodriguez, was also physically assaulted while her youngest son (12 years old at the time) witnessed everything.  The minor is severely traumatized.

The 3 activists were rapidly detained and sent to an arbitrary trial in 2013.  Osvaldo Rodriguez was sentenced to 9 years of prison, his son to 7 years and Juana was sentenced to 5 years of correctional labor.  Osvaldo (father) is jailed in the Combinado del Este Prison, where he began his hunger strike on May 10th, protesting all the abuses against his family and the authorities’ refusal to allow family visits.  His son is being held in Valle Grande Prison of Havana.  On June 8th, dissident and Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, from Boyeros, Havana, reported that Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta had been transferred to the National Hospital’s penal ward, already with more than 30 days on hunger strike and in a “critical” state.

Fonseca has informed on her Twitter account that Rosa Acosta, mother of Osvaldo Rodriguez, suffered a pulmonary effusion and was interned in the National Hospital, where her son resides.  Authorities have not allowed them to see each other.  #SOS

For more information from Cuba:
Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +53-379-01 1/ Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba

Wilbert Parada Milán

Wilbert Parada Milán is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).  He was violently detained along with Roberto Hernandez on March 30th in Habana Vieja.  He began his hunger strike on May 13th in the Valle Grande Prison, also in Havana.

In a recent interview with this blog,  José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of UNPACU, explained that Parada’s arrest was due to the constant activism he had been carrying out throughout the capital, carrying out civic protests and handing out pro-freedom literature.

In another recent interview to ABC,  Yudisnelis Rodríguez Reina, wife of the dissident, explained that the hunger striker is in “critical state” in a cell of the Cominbado del Este’s hospital.

Jailers have not allowed Wilbert to have family visits and he has reportedly lost consciousness on a number of occasions.  Relatives and fellow dissidents fear for the worst with this activist, who finds himself in a struggle between life and death.  #SOS

For more information from Cuba:
José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer

Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta, Wilbert Parada Milán.  Three names we shouldn’t forget.  No more repression, no more dictatorship.

Dissidents take to the streets in Placetas in solidarity with Hunger Striker (Videos)

Members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara have been carrying out continuous public demonstrations since the beginning of June, in solidarity with the demands of  hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos Caballero who has refused to intake food since May 24th, demanding a home after he was forcefully evicted by government forces.

Now, new images of these protests have arrived from the island.  The demonstrations took place on the 1st, 2nd and 5th of June in the city of Placetas.  The videos have been published on the YouTube channels of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, leader of the OZT Front, and of Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello.

On June 1st, a group of activists demonstrated in a Placetas neighborhood, shouting slogans in favor of Santos Caballero and letting neighbors know about the situation.  In this activity,  once can see the face and body of the hunger striker, clearly deteriorated:

After the protest, various activists were violently arrested by the political police.  Among the detainees was Yoel Bravo.  We can see the moment of his arrest here:

On June 2nd, Ramona Maday Garcia, wife of Luis Enrique Santos and member of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, marched down the streets of Placetas with a sign explaining the situation of her husband, asking for solidarity from neighbors and denouncing the indifference of the regime:

The most recent video, filmed on June 5th, shows a protest in the a popular spot of Placetas.  According to Antunez and other dissidents, this activity ended in police violence when neighbors came out in defense of the demonstrators:

These audio-visuals show the desperation of a Cuban family which, after having been left without a home, have been demanding justice.  Luis Enrique and Ramona  spent a number of days protesting and sleeping in Vidal Park of Santa Clara and after arrests, acts of repudiation and the indifference of the authorities, the dissident decided to declare himself on hunger strike and take his protest to the home of Jorge Luis ‘Antunez’.  Activists have alerted that Santos’ state of health is extremely weak and he is suffering from frequent faint spells.  He also only has one kidney.  A photo published on Twitter by Antunez (@antunezcuba) shows the deterioration of the dissident:

#SOS

Critical situation for Cuban political prisoners on hunger strike

Three Cuban dissidents, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and who are currently in prison for expressing themselves against the totalitarian government, have been carrying out lengthy hunger strikes, according to statements made to this blog by Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the pro-democracy group and a former political prisoner himself.

The strikers are Enrique Figuerola Miranda, Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez.  

Figuerola, being held in the Boniato Prison of Santiago de Cuba “has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days“, explained Ferrer Garcia.  The activist adds that doctors have put an IV on him a couple of times but after this treatment “they have returned him to the prison cells, leaving him up to his own fate in inhumane conditions.  He is very weak…his situation is very worrying for UNPACU and all of his family“.

Recently on the YouTube channel of UNPACU a video of an interview with Enrique’s wife, Mercedes Hechavarria Guevara, was published.  She tells how her husband’s health has worsened and explains that during one of the visits allowed by the guards he told her that he would rather die for a just cause than to live under the dictatorship.  Figuerola has been imprisoned for 9 months, without a trial.

In the cases of Wilber Parada and Roberto Hernandez, detained together in Havana, they are being kept in cells in the Valle Grande Prison, located in the capital, “all of this because of their activism out on the streets, in areas such as Central Havana and Old Havana“, assures Ferrer Garcia.

Parada and Hernandez continue on hunger strike and are also under constant harassment…they have been victims of mistreatment, as have their wives.  We are also very worried about them“.

Ferrer also made mention of the case of dissident rapper and UNPACU secretary for the city of Bayamo, Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico”,  imprisoned for more than 2 months, also without a trial, due to the music he makes criticizing the regime and because of his activism out on the streets.

Remon is in prison because the political police got scared of the growing sympathy he was receiving on behalf of his neighbors in Bayamo through the distinguished work this young man has been carrying out in favor of Cuba’s democratization“.

Yedisbel Roseyo Mojena, wife of Angel Yunier, took part in an interview with Ferrer.  During the conversation, she detailed the situation of her husband and highlighed the constant police repression against him, before and during his imprisonment.  (Check out the  video here)

UNPACU has 10 activists in the Mar Verde Prison (Santiago de Cuba), among them 3 brothers- Alexei, Dianco and Diango Varga Martin.  The last 2 are twins and just turned 18.

Miraida Martin Calderin, a member of the Ladies in White and mother of the brothers, was held in prison for approximately 2 months and was just recently released.  She confirmed to Jose Daniel Ferrer that her sons “are being held in very difficult conditions…they frequently suspend our family visits, the guards physically assault them, and they are commonly confined to punishment cells“.

One of these political prisoners- Arcelio Noa– has also been victim of constant repression in the Mar Verde Prison.  In fact, he has even inflicted injuries on himself in a moment of total desperation.

Arcelio did this to himself because he was blinded by desperation.  He is constantly harassed.  They put him together with very dangerous criminals which the political police puts there and uses to attack him and all the other young political prisoners we have there”, denounced Ferrer.

The dissident organization UNPACU has more than 40 of its members behind bars due to the frequent and spontaneous civc demonstrations they carry out in centric places such as long lines, parks, terminals, street corners and other public locations.

Many other opposition groups also have numerous political prisoners.  They are women, men, intellectuals, farmers, young, and old.

On another note, 5 activists of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front are still on hunger strike as well.  Among the demonstrators is Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, seriously affected in health terms, who demands to have a home after he was forcefully evicted in the province of Villa Clara.  Reports coming straight from the island have only confirmed that his health has kept deteriorating.

 

 

 

Health of Cuban hunger striker, demanding a home after a forced eviction, worsens

Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, member of the Central Opposition Coalition, has been on hunger strike in the Vidal Park of Santa Clara, Villa Clara, along with his wife Ramona Maday Garcia, for more than a week, demanding that the regime give him a home after he was forcefully evicted during the month of April.

Santos, a former dissident prisoner, came out of jail to find that his father had passed away and that he had no home.  He spent various months staying at the homes of friends and fellow activists until he decided to occupy an abandoned establishment in the city of Santa Clara.  Police forces violently evicted him and his wife from the place, and the activist took shelter in the house of another dissident.  Eventually, he decided to demand the regime to give him the opportunity to have a house where he could establish himself and establish a family.

This Wednesday, May 29th, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’, former political prisoner and general secretary of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, published  an audio in his YouTube account detailing that another 4 activists had joined Luis Enrique’s hunger strike.  The striker shifted his protest to the home of Antunez, where the other dissidents also reside.  They are Arnaldo Perez, Fernando Vazquez, Yunier Santana, and most recently, Damaris Moya Portieles.  The latter is the president of the Central Opposition Coalition.

Although the life of each of these hunger-strikers is in danger, Antunez explains that the most worrying situation is that of Luis Enrique Santos Caballero who only has one kidney.  He lost his other kidney in prison after he was severely beat by a number of guards.  Santos Caballero has also seen his health affected in the last couple of days after sleeping under rain and wind in a public park for more than a week.

“Luis Enrique Santos is on the verge of losing his life for demanding something so basic, so elementary, which is having a home”, declares Antunez in the audio, “he is a man who truly looks like a cadaver…he is suffering the effects of a weakened physical state, and the lack of one kidney.  At any given moment, a fatal outcome may take place”.

Antunez called on the international community, especially people who have Twitter accounts and who run blogs about Cuba, to keep informing about the situation of Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, an activist who is willing to give his life so that at least his wife could have a decent home.

Para más información desde Cuba, contactar a:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Móvil: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba

Police applies absurd methods to repress a solidarity demonstration

Agents of the Cuban political police arrested a group of 9 dissidents, members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara this Tuesday 26th of March when they were carrying out a public demonstration as part of the “Yris Tamara Perez and Calixto Martinez Cannot Die” campaign.  The officials used violence against the demonstrators and, upon seeing that they did not have sufficient police vehicles to take the detainees, decided to tie some of the dissidents to a nearby porch until reinforcements arrived.

Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, secretary general of the OZT Front, witnessed the events and confirmed that they occurred during afternoon hours.  “These activists were carrying out a peaceful protest under the campaign to save Yris Tamara Perez and Calixto Ramon Martinez“, he recounted, explaining that the dissidents “took to the streets carrying signs with messages like ‘Justice for Yris and Calixto’ and ‘Don’t let them die’ when they abruptly assaulted and arrested by the police.  The agents violently threw them against the pavement“.

The former political prisoner identified some of the detainees as Julio Columbie Batista, Maikel Almenteros, José Lino Ascencio López, Yunier Santana Hernández, Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, Yanisbel Valido Pérez and Orlando Almaguer.

The solidarity campaign was launched this March by the OZT Front after Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, wife of Antunez and president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, was beat unconscious by police agents, causing serious health complications.  Her problems intensified when doctors in different hospitals of Placetas and Santa Clara refused her admission or treatment under strict orders of State Security.  Yris remains with ailing health, without medical assistance and in danger of being beat again at any time, just for stepping out of her house.

Meanwhile, ‘Hablemos Press’ reporter Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias has been imprisoned for 6 months now because of his work as an independent journalist.  He declared himself on hunger strike this month and this Tuesday marked the 20th day of his protest.

The campaign demands medical attention for Yris Perez and the immediate liberation of Calixto Ramon, through demonstrations like vigils, protests, marches, etc.

The police responded in a brutal and cynical manner“, added Antunez, as he explained that the usual methods applied such as beatings and arrests did not shock him, but he could not believe what he was seeing when “two of the activists- Yanisbel Valido Perez and Maikel Almentero Orama- were tied to a porch of a house located on Marti street when the police realized they did not have enough cars to take them all away at once“.

This tells us that the regime is even losing the capacity to repress“, said Antunez.

Another protest with similar outcomes took place on Monday in the same city of Placetas when a group of dissidents from Camaguey, among them Daniel Millet Jimenez, arrived.  A number of other activities have been reported throughout the island as part of this new campaign in solidarity with Yris Perez and Calixto Martinez.

There are more of those who protest than those who repress“, assured Antunez, who added that the campaign will continue with more strength, energy and activism until the objectives are achieved.

For more information form Cuba, contact:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’- Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba