Jose Daniel Ferrer Will Not Allow Threats of Being Returned to Prison Impede his Activism


Former political prisoner and general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, was kept in a dungeon for more than 72 hours during his most recent detention and was threatened by State Security agents that he could be sent back to prison if he continues participating in and organizing dissident activities throughout the Eastern region of the country. This time, his jailers filmed him on numerous occasions, such as when they read him an official warning letter which informed him that he’d be sent back to prison for continuing to cause what they termed as “public disorders”.

They had that camera during the entire time, but they only filmed the parts they found necessary”, explained Ferrer Garcia, “for example, when they put me in a cell with a terrible amount of heat, without food, without communication, and without my medicines for my health conditions- they didn’t film any of that”. The response of the dissident leader when they read him the warning was “that until in Cuba human rights are not respected, until there is no freedom, as long as Cubans can’t decide for themselves and be protagonists of their own destinies, I am going to continue doing the same thing we have been doing, and many other things- in a peaceful manner- in favor of freedom and democracy”.

This most recent arrest of Ferrer Garcia took place on Friday, August 24th, when UNPACU was celebrating its 1 year anniversary of having been created. For days prior to the date, combined forces of the political police, the Rapid Response Brigades, and State Security unleashed a wave of arrests and house raids against members of the mentioned organization throughout Eastern Cuba.

One of the first cases was that of Jorge Cervantes García on August 23rd, when a number of armed officials raided his home in Contramaestre, occupied many materials, threatened all those inside, and jailed Cervantes Garcia and his two underage children. He still remains detained.

In the case of Ferrer, his home had been surrounded by police agents for various days until they finally raided the house on the morning of the 24th. “They ransacked the house”, said the dissident, “they robbed everything they felt like, and what they did not steal they destroyed. I am talking about even toys and belongings of my children…they have robbed them or destroyed them”.

In addition, in the home of Ferrer Garcia, as well as those of other UNPACU activists, the police took printers, cameras, laptops, pamphlets and other materials, none of which have been returned, as tends to happen.

Marta Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo, 14 year old Lady in White and daughter of Jose Daniel, explained in an audio uploaded onto UNPACU’s YouTube account that police agents beat all those inside the house in the moment of the arrest, including herself, her cousin, her mother (Belkis Cantillo) and an aunt. Her elderly grandmother was also inside the house and suffered a sharp increase in her blood pressure.

Other detainees on that day were Anyer Antonio Blanco, Rafael Miguel Cabrera Montoya, Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Berta Guerrero Segura. The latter, who is the representative of the Ladies in White in Holguin, was arrested and mistreated along with her underage daughter, who she was carrying at the time of her arrest and forceful entry into a police vehicle.

Other reports denounced that another 6 homes were raided that day and more than 60 arrests occurred.

Meanwhile, activist Luis Miguel Gomez Hernandez reported that a group of UNPACU members were arrested in the municipality of Gibara on that same Friday, among them Ladies in White like Yoandra Garrido Silva and Maydaly Garrido Silva, as they too celebrated the anniversary. Gomez Hernandez was one of the detainees that afternoon and explained that they were all subjected to “interrogations and threats that we could not leave Gibara and that we would not be allowed to carry out any dissident activity, and that not even the Ladies in White could to Mass on Sundays“. This group was released but many other activists remain imprisoned, and some are on hunger strike (Ferrer Garcia put the number at more than 20).

Despite all that they have done to us, our activists celebrated the anniversary of UNPACU with marches, signs, pamphlets, slogans and other diverse ways, not only in the East but also in the West”, said Ferrer Garcia, referencing the case of Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, in Havana, who was arrested after carrying out commemorative events.

Other activists of diverse pro-democracy groups also paid tribute to UNPACU and demanded freedom for their detained members, as was the case of Lady in White and member of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, who carried out a public protest in Havana to commemorate the Day of the Resistance and in solidarity with the mentioned dissidents. In Placetas, Villa Clara, dissident leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” also included messages of freedom for Jose Daniel Ferrer and congratulating UNPACU as he also carried out a public protest along with other activists.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia was released during the morning hours of Sunday, August 26th and was quick to reiterate his compromise with the pro-freedom movement in Cuba.

The tyranny is very afraid”, affirmed the dissident, “and like a wounded beast, it will retaliate and cause lots of damage to peaceful people who want freedom for all Cubans, but we are willing to give it all. As Jose Marti said: ‘Freedom has a high price, and it is necessary to either give up and live without her, or decide to obtain it at its price’“.

For more information from Cuba:

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Phone: +5353-146-740 // Twitter: @jdanielferrer

Dissident Released from Prison, Stops Hunger Strike, but Still Under False Charges

Miguel Rafael Cabrera Montoya is a dissident from Palma Soriano and a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who recently canceled his hunger strike this past February 2nd.  He was carrying out the protest against his arbitrary arrest and the false charges pressed against him.  However, Montoya is still under the danger of being sentenced for a crime he never committed.

The dissident was one of the 6 eastern Cuban activists to be violently detained on August 28th of 2011 after being attacked by tear gas while at the home of Marino Antomachit (also a dissident).  Montoya, along with other activists who were arrested on that day, was released in November, but under the threats that he still had a pending trial.

From his town of Palmarito de Cauto, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia- former prisoner and current national coordinator of UNPACU- explained that the Cuban regime recently accused Cabrera Montoya of having committed a robbery.  “But what is absurd of this accusation“, highlights Ferrer Garcia, “is not only that the robbery is fabricated, but that the robbery he was being accused of had occurred in October of 2011 and in the city of Havana.  But in October, Miguel was jailed in the Aguadores prison along with the 6 other activists from UNPACU“.  In addition, Garcia pointed out that the wife of Montoya affirmed that her husband had not traveled to Havanas since 2 years ago.

After the accusations, various relatives of Cabrera went to a nearby State Security Unit and presented their complaints.  It was then that “they (the regime) changed their accusation to a supposed crime of public disorder“, according to Ferrer Garcia, who added that “this public disorder, in reality, was that Montoya stepped out of his house at 4 AM to see who was throwing things at his front porch“.  The activist did not even have enough time to clearly see what was happening outside of his house when he stepped out of his door, because he was rapidly detained by political police officials stationed outside.  Jose Daniel Ferrer added that these same officials “who actually were the ones throwing paint at Montoya’s house, also painted the phrases ‘Down with Fidel’ and ‘Down with Raul’ with the intention to accuse him of disorder.  Once in the police vehicle, the officials also informed him that he was being accused of public disorder, that he had a pending trial, and that he could not leave Palma Soriano“.

Upon being arrested again, Montoya decided to carry out a hunger strike in protest for his arbitrary detention and the pending false charges.  He was released during the night of February 2nd and he canceled his hunger strike.  However, the dictatorship’s officials informed him that he was still under the accusations of public disorder.

Why Miguel Rafael Cabrera Montoya?

Jose Daniel Ferrer explains that in Palma Soriano the UNPACU recently created 5 cells of the dissident group, 3 of which already have names- 28th of August (after the arbitrary and violent arrests of that day), the 10th of September (after another repressive wave against dissidents), and the 18th of March after the events of the Black Spring of 2003.

Due to the level of activism which is being carried out, we decided to vote on one coordinator for these groups, and everyone was agreeing on Miguel Rafael Cabrera Montoya“, pointed out Ferrer Garcia.  “As soon as that reached the ears of the political police, they unleashed a wave of slander, threats, pressures, defamation, and more, against him and his family.  But upon seeing that none of this affected him, they decided to detain him and accuse him“.

That’s why they have done all of this against Miguel, which of course worries us very much because it is possible for him to be taken to the tribunals and end up sentenced.  In that case, it would be yet another political prisoner which the regime will try to accuse under fabricated common crimes“, alerts Jose Daniel Ferrer.

A tactic of the Cuban regime against the non-violent Resistance has been to try and incriminate them under common crimes, thus making it seem to the world as if they were never taken to prison for opposing the dictatorship, and instead for being vandals who have committed robberies, aggressions, rapes, or other crimes.  Ferrer Garcia denounced that “with the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza, it is clear that the dictatorship does not want to publicly accuse us of anything political, because they know that they had to release all those dissidents jailed in Aguadores since the 28th of August thanks to the dissident’s own firmness, their protests, and the international solidarity campaign in their favor.  Now the regime has to fabricate common crimes because they know that this stirs doubts in some people- but only some people, because the majority of people who know anything about Cuba  know that such things are purely fabricated“.

Dissidents Arrested for Demanding “One Currency”

Seven activists from diverse opposition organizations were detained during the morning of Monday, November 28th, while protesting in front of the Melia Hotel of Santiago de Cuba.  Those arrested were Aimé Garcés Leyva, Vivian Peña Hernández, Yelena Garcés Nápoles, Yurileysi Vázquez López, Mirelis Frías and Héctor Félix Labrada Muñoz and Miguel Rafael Cabrera Montoya.  The last two are recently released political prisoners who spent weeks behind the bars for carrying out other non-violent dissident activities during the months of August and September.  The seven activists represent three different organizations- FLAMUR, the Republican Party of Cuba, and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPAC) and all make up the “One Currency” Campaign, reason why they were arrested.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who has been reporting about the latest developments of this story through his Twitter account, explained to this blog that the activists who are carrying out this campaign have been demonstrating publicly in different locations during the past few weeks in order to effectuate peaceful actions “against the dual currency system and in favor of just one currency“.  Ferrer is referencing the fact that the Cuban regime uses both a system of national currency and that of convertible currency (best known as “CUC”).  The former prisoner of conscience narrates that withing the past months many of these activists have been going to local places “which sell products in the convertible currency, and so they purchase some things and when it comes time to pay they pay with national currency“.

This has been done in a wide range of public spaces from restaurants to markets, and on this 28th of November they tried doing the same in the Melia Hotel of Santiago de Cuba.  Generally speaking, according to Ferrer, “local workers have received orders from their superiors that if they receive the equivalent needed in national currency, then there is no need to call the police.  But today the police were called and the dissidents ended up getting arrested right in front of the hotel”.

The dissidents were taken to the Third Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba and as of Monday afternoon they remain there.

This is one more of the many actions which have been taking place throughout the Eastern region of the country“, affirms Ferrer, outlining that a few days ago in the town of Contramaestre a very large protest was carried out by members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba.  “That protest has given people lots to talk about because hundreds of everyday people congregated around the scene in order to observe the activities and the majority demonstrated their solidarity with dissidents“.  Though 9 of the 10 opposition members of this protest were arrested, they were released during the afternoon hours of the following day.  They have witnessed gestures of solidarity and support on behalf of the everyday community.

Ferrer adds that “two Ladies in White who were present in that protest have told me that out on the street people have not grown tired in telling them that they are brave.  The people approach them to hug them, kiss them, or simply just to demonstrate sympathy“.