Members of different opposition groups were targets of acts of repudiation this past June 18th in the municipality of Gibara, in the province of Holguin.
Gabriel Arcángel Martínez Leyva, director of the Republican Party of Cuba in the mentioned municipality, said that the actions – organized by functionaries of the regime – began at 7:30 AM and ended near 12 in the afternoon.
“An act of repudiation was carried out around the home of Trinidad Rodriguez. Agents of the Rapid Response Brigade, the political police and of the National Revolutionary Police surrounded the house“, explained the activist, “it was a total of about 30 or 40 people who were shouting at us and threatening to beat us if we stepped out of the house. This happened because we had plans to go to the Gibara Terminal to travel to the town of Velasco“.
‘Acts of repudiation’ is the name given to the situation where the Cuban government organizes groups of people who shout offenses and threats at dissidents outside their homes. Many times, the actions end in house raids and the vast majority of its participants are members of the regime. Very few times do activists confirm the participants as neighbors, and when they do, they are usually drunkards or criminals.
Martinez Leyva considers that the persecution and harassment are due to various social projects that are being carried out in the area.
“This happens because of some projects carried out by the Republican Party of Cuba and by FLAMUR for the benefit of all Cubans“, said Martinez, “among these projects is ‘One Currency’ and ‘Increase and Lower’“.
The latter of the initiatives demands the totalitarian system to increase salaries of Cuban workers and lower prices of products and services of basic needs, like food, clothing and transportation.
Acts of repudiation also took place at the same time against other activists, among them Ylienly Aguilera Santos and Arselio Osvaldo Cruz Velazquez, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Gibara.
Repression against other members of the opposition in the province of Holguin have increased within the last months. The Ladies in White in the area have also been denouncing these situations.
For example, Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the Ladies in White in that province, has said that State Security agents arrest a number of women each Sunday so that they do not make it to Mass, while other members like Gertrudis Ojeda Suárez (in the municipality of Banes) and Mildred Noemí Sánchez Infante (in the municipality of Antilla) have backed up these claims, seeing as they are some of the women who are quickly arrested by the political police when they step outside of their homes each Sunday.
A number of signs with messages in favor of the everyday people and against the Cuban dictatorship appeared in different parts of the municipality of Antilla, Holguin province, this Sunday June 9th.
Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante, a member of the Ladies in White and also of the pro-freedom groups Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) said that the majority of the signs read “Down with Hunger“.
She explained that the mentioned slogan is something which demonstrates the discontent and desperation of the citizens on the island, as well as one of the main concerns of Cubans: finding food.
Among the places where the signs appeared was the popular cafeteria known as “La Popular” located in Maximo Gomez Street and on the walls of the Cuban Women’s Federation office on Maceo Street. These said “Down with Fidel”.
Sanchez Infante said that the apparition of the signs led the National Revolutionary Police to worry.
“The PNR agents quickly showed up and erased the signs on the Federation’s office“, said the activist, “the messages reflect the true feelings of the people of Antilla“.
Sometimes, signs are hung by members of the internal opposition while other times they are placed by neighbors and everyday citizens who express themselves in this manner.
Other common messages on the signs are “Down with Unemployment”, “Fair Salaries”, and “Food for our Children”.
For more information from Cuba, contact: Mildred Noemí Sánchez Infante – Cell Phone: +52-615-097
Wearing flags with the image of the Virgin of Charity which were donated during her visit to the Ermita de la Caridad in Miami, Berta Soler led the march of the Ladies in White in Cuba’s capital, Havana, this past Sunday June 2nd. The women marched throughout the country, despite the presence of the political police.
A total of 68 women participated in Mass at the Santa Rita Church of Havana and marched down 5th Avenue afterward, according to a report by dissident leader Angel Moya Acosta. It was the first march in which Soler participated after returning to the island last week after an international trip denouncing the reality of Cuba.
More than 10 women participated in Mass and carried out marches in the province of Matanzas.
In the Eastern province of Guantanamo, 12 Ladies in White marched and made it to Mass, according to a message published by Sayli Navarro on her Twitter account (@SayliNavarro).
67 Ladies in White marched through the streets of Santiago de Cuba province and made it to Mass in the National Cobre Shrine, an emblematic temple within Cuban culture.
The website “Ya Cuba Twittea” reported that at least 3 Ladies in White from Santiago were taken down from a bus by force by the political police. The agents impeded them from arriving to Mass.
In the province of Holguin, various women were arrested.
Among the detainees were Rosa Maria Naranjo (Holguin), Danay Mendiola (Holguin), Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante (Antilla) and Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez (Banes). The latter- Ojeda Suarez- explained to this blog that the repression against her is constant. In fact, she recounts that when she was detained, a political police agent tried to handcuff her and physically harassed her.
Eleiny Villamonte, a young member of the female group in Holguin, confirmed that despite repression 5 women “were able to march and make it to Mass in the municipality of Cacocum and in the municipality of Holguin“.
Berta Soler also told “Marti Noticias” that she has plans of expanding the Ladies in White movement, creating delegations in all the provinces of the country.
Each Sunday, police forces are deployed throughout the municipality of Antilla, in Holguin province, with the mission of carrying out an arrest. It’s not about a citizen who robs stores, or who breaks into homes or who kills or harasses other citizens. No. It has to do with a Lady in White: Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante. The police cordons are also activated when there are other civic activities taking place, just like the monthly encounter which the Ladies in white carry out. The harassment has been so severe that the mentioned activist has not been able to assist Sunday Mass in 2013 so far to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners as all these women do throughout the island.
Sanchez Infante was arrested at around 5 AM this past Friday, May 17th, as she was trying to travel from Antilla to the city of Holguin to participate in the monthly meeting held by the Ladies in White in that province. The main agent in charge of the arrest was Yosvany Reyes Maltrapa.
“Agent Maltrapa twisted my left arm and with his other hand he punched my mouth“, explained Mildred. The activist was kept in a dungeon of a police unit until a couple of minutes past 10 AM, after the meeting had come to an end.
A couple of State Security agents also threatened Mildred’ mother, telling her that she should “talk her daughter out” of participating in dissident activities. If she didn’t do so, they would both suffer the consequences, one agent told the lady.
Mildred suffered yet another threat. “Agent Yosvany told me that he was going to attack me, or ‘get me’, one of these days when I was alone“, she denounces.
“They always arrest me“, expressed Mildred, “in 2013 so far I have not been able to assist Mass in the city of Holguin…not even here in my own neighborhood of Antilla. When the police sees that Mass ends, then they release me. I don’t have the exact number of arrests I’ve had so far in 2013. I have not been able to participate in the reunions of the Ladies in White, in mass, or in another other peaceful activities of the opposition“.
Listen to Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante’s testimony (in Spanish) here:
This repression against the Ladies in White and other pro-freedom activists in the province of Holguin is constant. Berta Guerrero, resident of the city of Holguin and representantive of the female group for the province, denounces that each Sunday a number of women are arrested when they try to make it to Mass. In fact, a police agent has even told them that they would have to “buy a helicopter” if they wanted to make it to church.
For more informaiton from Cuba, contact: Mildred Noemí Sánchez Infante- Cell Phone: +52-615-097
This 17th of March was the first Sunday in which the Ladies in White marched throughout the streets of Cuba with their leader- Berta Soler– out of the country. The women also dedicated their weekly march in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Black Spring, when 75 dissidents (the majority independent journalists) were arrested and sentenced to years of prison after quick trials.
Ivan Hernandez Carillo, an ex political prisoner from this same group of the 75, informed on his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) that in Havana 51 Ladies in White marched and made it to Mass at the Santa Rita Church.
Hernandez also pointed out that in the province of Matanzas a total of 18 women marched. 4 did so in the city of Colon, 3 in Perico, 1 in the Espana Central and another 10 in Cardenas. In Ciego de Avila province 2 women reportedly made it to Mass.
In the Eastern region of the country, 60 Ladies in White assisted Mass in the National ‘El Cobre’ Shrine (Santiago de Cuba) and 8 made it in Guantanamo province.
Former political prisoner (also from the 75) and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, denounced on his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) that a group of Ladies in White in the province of Holguin were arrested by the political police, among them the representative of the group in that area, Berta Guerrero Segura.
“These dignified Cuban women suffer persecution, violence, arbitrary arrests, economic asphyxiation, hunger, etc.”, highlighted another tweet by Ferrer.
Isael Poveda Silva, from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, said on his Twitter account (@IsaelCuba) that Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante was “insulted, offended, and arrested by State Security agents” as she was stepping out of her home in Antilla, Holguin. The same thing happened to her last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Berta Soler, national representative of the group, has been denouncing the situation each of these women face on her first trip ever outside of Cuba, on international forums and interviews with diverse media outlets. With the slogan “Yes to Cuba, No to Castro“, Soler has declared that the Ladies in White and the opposition in general have grown stronger despite the regime’s violent tactics and that, in reality, there have been no actual reforms by the totalitarian system, instead “tiny moves” which try to give an image of change to the rest of the world.
The repressive wave known as the Black Spring of 2003 was what led to the creation of this female group, made up by mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and aunts which demanded freedom for their relatives.
This Sunday was also the third anniversary in which many of these women were beaten and violently arrested by police agents in Havana, just days after the death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo. These acts of violence are common each Sunday, but when this happened on that March of 2010, the images were captured by the cameras of the international media and went around the world, inspiring a high level of solidarity, including a march of more than 100,000 people in Miami just days later.
State Security unleashed a wave of arrests, a Catholic administrator refused to lend his temple to shelter them, and the weather conditions consisted of heavy rains and lots of cold, and yet more than 100 Ladies in White marched throughout Cuba and participated in their respective churches to pray for the freedom of all political prisoners and the entire country this Sunday, March 3rd.
As each Sunday, former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo used his Twitter account (@ivanlibre) to document what was happening with these women throughout the island.
One of the first tweets published by Hernanez informed that in the province of Pinardel Rio 4 Ladies in White managed to march and arrive to Mass, while another 6 were detained. “Marti Noticias” published an article about the violent of Noralis Martin, the representative of the group in that province, alongside her husband Jose Rolando Casares.
The names of other Ladies detained in Pinar del Rio were Lin Elaida Quiñónez, Caridad Peinado Gutiérrez, Belkis Pérez Pérez, Yaima Ledesma Santana and Yaneris Rodríguez Morejón.
In Havana, despite heavy rains, 44 Ladies in White defied the vigilance of the state police and marched down 5th Avenue and participated in Mass at Santa Rita Church, accompanied by more than 30 male dissidents.
Hernandez Carrillo tweeted that in Matanzas province a total of 14 women made it to Mass. 7 participated in the city of Cardenas, 5 in Colon, 1 in Perico and 1 in Roque.
4 Ladies in White participated in Mass in the central province of Villa Clara, while another 3 were detained. These were Lisandra Farrai Rodríguez, Aime Moya Montes de Oca and Malvelis González Reyes.
In the Eastern region of the country, 4 women were arrested in Granma, 9 made it to Mass in Guantanamo, and a total of 54 Ladies in White participated in Mass at the El Cobre National Shrine, despite having slept the night out in the open after an administrator of that temple refused to offer them shelter.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), published a series of tweets (@jdanielferrer) recounting the situation.
“Without any doubts, the administrator known as Enrique, is being hostile towards the Ladies in White due to pressures of the political police”, read one message, while another signaled that “Enrique refused shelter to the Ladies in White because, supposedly, there were not enough rooms available in the Sanctuary…Afterwards, he gave various people rooms, including a political police agent who went there to watch the Ladies in White”.
“The day that the Cuban people open the archives of the G2 (secret police), many will be shocked to see how many collaborators were in different churches”, Ferrer Garcia expressed in another message.
Meanwhile, in Holguin 8 women arrived at church and another 4 were beaten by the police after Mass. The victims of the violence were Romelia Piña, Marlenis Abreu, Mirta Molina Leyva and Glisedis Piña González.
Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, a young member of the group, told this blog that at around 9 AM she was violently arrested by the police upon trying to make it to the Jesus Chrsit Redeemer of MenChurch in Holguin.
“The State Security agent known as ‘The Polish’ rushed up at me…he grabbed me by one of my arms and told me I was arrested“, said Villamonte, who peacefully resisted but was forcefully introduced into a police vehicle. She was taken to the police unit known as “La Segunda”.
“They left me there in a salon with an immigration agent. I was then taken to a room where a lady approached me and told me her story…she said she was very tired because she had made countless accusations against a man who had threatened her daughter with death but police authorities had completely ignored her case“, says Eleiny, “I told her that that’s how things are in this country, that they waited until someone was killed in order to act“.
When the immigration agent heard this, she told the Lady in White to shut up. “She nearly slapped me and told me various times to shut my mouth because, if not, I would suffer the consequences“. Eleiny stood by her opinions and, under various threats, was finally released at around 12:30 PM, after Mass had come to an end.
In the case of Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante, a Lady in White from Antilla, she was arrested as soon as she stepped out of her house on her way to the city of Holguin to participate in Mass alongside the other women, according to declarations she made to “Radio Republica” in this audio. Mildred was threatened by the police that she could not travel to Holguin during the weekends.
Berta Soler, representative of the Ladies in White at a national level, told the same medium that “just one Lady in White that arrives to any church in the country means that Christ is listening to our prayers…for the liberation of all political prisoners and the respect to human rights. And one Lady in White represents all Ladies in White in the country”.
At around 3 PM on Wednesday, February 20th, leaders of different dissident groups were arrested by the State Police in the Eastern municipality of Antilla after a series of meetings.
The detainees were Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, general coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Yoandri Montoya, president of the Bayamo Youth Movement, and Eriberto Liranza Romero, president of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy. After the arrests, all the dissidents were abandoned in different desolate locations throughout the province of Holguin.
Eriberto Liranza, from Havana, recounts that he was visiting the Eastern region of the country since February 14th and that he had been trying to dodge police vigilance and persecution since then.
“On the 15th, I evaded persecution in the city of Velasco, in the municipality of Gibara. I was with a couple of other activists and we managed to escape without being arrested until arriving to Antilla“, where he participated in the 9th Anniversary celebration of the Eastern Democratic Alliance along with another 50 activists.
He explains that after carrying out another commemorative activity in Antilla during morning hours of the 20th, a group of dissidents congregated outside the home of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez and carried out a protest, shouting slogans like “Orlando Zapata Lives” and “Down with the dictatorship“. Zapata was the political prisoner who, after tortures, mistreatment, and a lengthy hunger strike, died on February 23rd, 2010. He is considered a martyr and symbol of resistance by the internal Cuban opposition.
“It seems that this protest was too much for the regime. It bothered them very much that we were freely going out to the streets“, said Liranza.
It was at that moment that the arrests occurred.
“They arrested a group of us- Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Yoandri Montoya, Delmides Fidalgo and me… they aggressively put the handcuffs on us, they put them on very tightly, hurting our hands and arms“, recounts the dissident, “then they shoved us into police vehicles, where there was a glass window dividing us from the drivers seat. It was extremely hot inside“. They were taken to the Pedernales Unit, a center notorious for its mistreatment and torture of recluses, both political and common ones.
After various minutes in Pedernales, where they were mistreated and threatened with further repression, each of the activists were abandoned in different desolate areas. Rodriguez Lobaina was left in the rural area of Holguin known as La Caballeriza, while Liranza was left on the outskirts of Holguin, afterward being forced to leave the province. The whereabouts of Yoandri Montoya were unknown for a while but it was later confirmed that he arrived to his city of residence, Bayamo.
Montoya has been denouncing the increase of violence on behalf of the regime against him and other activists from the Movement which he heads in Bayamo. On recent occasions, in declarations to this blog and other independent outlets, the young activist has said he has been detained numerous times and that the young members of the group live under the constant vigilance of State Security officials and collaborators. In this month of February, police agents threatened Yoandri with taking him to prison. The dissident explains that this repression is due to the group’s increasing opposition on the streets of Cuba, demanding freedom, as well as their work with the community- one of the most prominent projects being the foundation of numerous independent gyms which provide exercise services and equipment for young locals, free of charge.
That same Wednesday, during morning hours, other detentions of Eastern Democratic Alliance members were reported, as were the cases of Yubel Cansino Acosta, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Yoandri Naoki Ricardo Mir (in Banes) and Luis Noa Silva (in Baracoa), according to Twitter messages published by Rolando Rodriguz (@LobainaCuba). Noa Silva was summoned to a police unit on the following day, where he was threatened with years of prison if he chose to continue his activism.
The detentions of the leaders of these different pro-freedom groups unleashed a wave of solidarity among other members of the opposition in the Eastern region, such as other activists of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in the neighborhood of Los Negritos, in Banes, as well as other delegations of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy throughout Holguin.
Meanwhile, former political prisoner of conscience and general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, published a series of tweets (@jdanielferrer), denouncing the arrests. Minutes later, Ferrer reported that members of UNPACU in Holguin carried out peaceful actions, demanding the liberation of the detainees.
“I am very thankful of all the brothers who heard what was happening to us and protested for our freedom“, expressed Eriberto Liranza, “We appreciate all the support…I have the best of opinions of the opposition here in Holguin. There is lots of youth involved, and there is a strong spirit of protest against the tyranny“.
For more information contact Eriberto Liranza in Cuba: +5353- 341-682
Category 2 Hurricane Sandy left behind a scene of destruction throughout all of Eastern Cuba, tearing down countless homes and costing the lives of at least 11 people during the morning hours of October 26th.
A few days later, the Cuban regime has responded with inefficiency in regards to the situation, as well as with the accustomed repression against human rights defenders. However, these same activists and the everyday people have been helping neighbors who have suffered hard hits, considering that the regime’s personnel have paid no attention to the suffering.
In Santiago de Cuba, one of the most affected provinces has “grave damages“, according to former political prisoner and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.
“Sandy has passed through a region that was already very poor, which was already damaged by so many years of the regime’s inefficiency, and it has left even more destruction of homes, farms, stores, churches and other establishments”, explained Ferrer, “it has left more hunger, there is no electricity and there are lots of necessities which Cubans already have to begin with. The entire region has nearly been left without any services. There is no drinkable water and there is destruction everywhere and people are trying to resolve with what they have”.
The dissident leader points out that during the storm, one activist on UNPACU in Palma Soriano sheltered about 30 people in his home. Meanwhile, the website of the pro-democracy Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) reported that various activists from this group have been assisting affected families, helping them rebuild what they can.
“Civil Defense has done nothing to help the affected”, affirmed Ferrer García. This declaration is one seconded as well by Lady in White and member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Marta Diaz Rondon, from Banes, Holguin.
“Here, the people are criticizing the government because they have neither protected or helped them”, said Diaz, “the people have told us- dissidents- to please take pictures and make their situations public. The entire town was misinformed before the hurricane passed. The state media said that there were only going to be some rains and winds, but at no moment did they mention a hurricane passing through Banes, while no one was evacuated”.
Many citizens witnessed before their eyes as their homes crashed down while they rushed to take shelter wherever they could.
The home of Diaz Rondon was penetrated by water brought my intense rains, while parts of her roof (made of zinc) fell. Meanwhile, in the same municipality of Banes but in another neighborhood, Lady in White Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez suffered the total destruction of her home.
Ojeda Suarez recounts that “the storm ripped off my roof, it tore down my back wall and all of my children’s furniture were soaked. The little bit of things I had have been destroyed, but I was not the only one. Two houses next to mine also fell to the ground. My brother-in-law also lost his roof and a wall. The situation in Banes is disastrous”.
The activist explained that the majority of the food she had was destroyed and that the people “are hungry” and “desperate“. She adds that before and after the storm, functionaries of the Communist Party have walked by her neighborhood but at no point in time did they stop by her house to ask if she needed any sort of help.
“The situation in Banes, when it comes to food, is critical. People cannot find food. We are cooking with rocks, and with pieces of debris from our homes”, added Marta Diaz Rondon.
In his part, activist Walter Cañete Cruz said that in the Los Pinos neighborhood of Banes, his home and that of many other citizens were also reduced to rubble, and that “the authorities have not appeared to try and fix the problems“.
The effects of the hurricane were not only felt in the Eastern region of the country, but also in some central areas, especially in the Northern coastal town of Playa Larga, in Cardenas, Matanzas, where Lady in White Leticia Ramos Herreria recounted that “the sea level rose and lots of water penetrated countless homes, and no officials from Civil Defense showed up to help us“.
In the absence of functionaries, many citizens turned to Ramos Herreria and other activists so that they would help them.
“A number of us activists went to the local Communist Party headquarters…after hours that we had presented our complaints there, some firefighters showed up in Playa Larga to save some lives”, declared Ramos, “in fact, the fire truck could not even enter the area because there was so much water. You couldn’t tell the street apart from the ocean. Many people told those firefighters that they had left them there abandoned”.
The accustomed repression against other human rights activists during the weekend was not withheld. On the same day of the hurricane, three activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance were arrested by the political police in Guantanamo when they were helping various people who evacuated themselves in a community known as El Caribe, according to Yanniel Cisneros. The detainees were Jesus Manuel Pena (father and son) and Isael Poveda Silva. In addition, a number of detentions of UNPACU members were also reported, while in Antilla, Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez Infante said a group of dissidents had been persecuted and arrested, among them Amada Pileta, Miguel Santana and Ángel Batista Vega.
From Havana, Berta Soler said that the Ladies in White dedicated their Sunday march this 28th of October not only to all political prisoners of conscience but also to the victims of the hurricane. “Despite the weather conditions which ravaged the Eastern region, and despite the repression of the government, 51 of us Ladies in White were able to march down Havana’s 5th Avenue, demanding the Cuban government to release all political prisoners and to respect the human rights of all citizens, but also in solidarity with all our Eastern brothers and sisters who have suffered, and continue suffering, lack of water, food, and attention from the government“.
Soler highlighted that although the political police detained a number of women throughout the East on that same day, 8 of them were able to march to church in Guantanamo and 2 in Holguin. Meanwhile, in Matanzas 16 women were able to carry out their emblematic and peaceful march.
“The Cuban regime truly did not prepare the people for these conditions in the East, but the Ladies in White are keeping our minds positive and we are offering all our solidarity to the Eastern people. In any way we can help, we will do so”, assured Soler, who added that more than 15 Ladies in White suffered partial or total losses of their homes.
The promoters of the Citizen Demand for Another Cuba initiative have published various addresses on their blog where aid can be sent to directly assist the people affected by the hurricane.
For more information from Cuba:
Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352-771-639 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia- Cell Phone: +5353-146-740// Twitter: @jdanielferrer
In the Eastern city of Holguin, a group of approximately 14 Ladies in White were participating in a monthly encounter in the home of Glisedis Piña Gonzalez (member of the women’s activist group) this Saturday, August 18th, when the house was raided by combined forces of the political police and State Security and all those inside- mostly women and children- were beaten and arrested.
Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez, a Lady in White from that same city of Holguin, could not assist the meeting (due to a personal illness) but shared details of the brutality.
“Very horrible violations have occurred”, said Velazquez, “at around 4:30 PM, paramilitary mobs carried out an act of repudiation against the women, shouting insults and throwing rocks at them”.
In addition to throwing rocks to the activists, the mobs fired water at them, according to reports by Berta Soler and Yuri Miguel Carralero to the “Háblalo sin Miedo” voice recording service.
It was during this repudiation that the police forces raided the home. “They violently searched the entire house, and all those women inside were beat all the way out and then arrested, and taken to police units. Along with the women, they also detained about 5 or 6 men (…) and also arrested 5 under age children who were also taken to police units”, detailed Perez Velazquez.
Among the male detainees was independent journalist Alexei Jimenez who also managed to phone ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (which translated into English literally means ‘Speak Without Fear’) where he explained that the agents attacked him with sticks on the head and ribs. “It is obvious that the people who were there doing that to us were police officers dressed in civilian clothing, not enraged everyday people. They were mobs organized by State Security agents“, assured Jimenez, referring to a common tactic applied by Cuba’s communist police apparatus to make it seem that everyday citizens are the ones attacking dissidents. Jimenez is frequently beaten and arrested each Sunday when he tries to accompany the Ladies in White to church in Holguin.
In the case of the women, among the detainees were Romelia Piña González, Glisedis Piña González, Berta Guerrero Segura, Eleini Villamonte Cardozo, Danay Mendiola, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Lisbeth Peña Hernández, Nelda Molina Leyva, Barbara Bouza and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.
The children who were detained were released during night hours, along with Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque (the only Lady in White released as of August 18th 2012). The children were sons and daughters of Ladies in White and activists.
Zuleidis Perez managed to establish communication with the 14 year old daughter of Romelia Piña Gonzalez once she arrived home. The minor was very nervous and, amid her fear, was only able to share some details with Zuleidis about what had happened in that house (her aunt’s home).
Other arrests of Ladies in White took place on that same morning in the same province of Holguin in the municipalities of Banes and Cacocum, when various women tried to travel to the city of Holguin to participate in the meeting. These detainees were Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Piñales Rosa in Banes, and Marlenis Abreu Almaguer in Cacocum. These three were released at around 6 PM.
A wave of escalating violence has been occurring throughout the island against human rights activists, among them many Ladies in White. These actions are being accompanied, in most cases, by home raids and brutal beatings. One other recent example is that of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez, from the municipality of Antilla, who had her home raided by police forces, was beat violently in front of her family, and arrested for more than 96 hours this past 13th of August. State police said they were searching for “enemy propaganda” in her house- a common term for any written or audio-visual materials which deal with the defense of human rights.
Meanwhile, the “Hablemos Press” independent news agency, with its headquarters in Havana, recently released a report in which they detailed that in the first 14 days of August more than 200 arrests of peaceful dissidents have occurred, while between the 10th and 14th, more than 20 home raids took place.
As for the detained women, Zuleidis Perez expressed: “[As of August 18th] we do not know of their whereabouts, so we are declaring them disappeared and we fear for their lives. If the police was capable of breaking into the home, beating them, and breaking furniture and other objects, then we should not doubt for a second that they are very capable of killing or disappearing them”.
On May 7th, 2012, various Cubans- among them a 13 month old child- were victims of a violent raid and arrest on behalf of the political police and State Security, according to the youth activist and independent journalist Cristian Toranzo Fundichely, a resident of Antilla, a municipality of Holguin.
The incidents began when the Lady in White Mildred Infante was arrested during morning hours when she was traveling from Antilla to Santiago de Cuba to visit some relatives. Infante was forcefully returned to her home by uniformed political police officials.
“Upon not being allowed to leave her own municipality, Mildred started to protest in her home by hanging up signs which read ‘Down with the Revolution’, ‘Down with Terrorism’, and ‘Freedom of Movement’“, explained Toranzo Fundichely. “Just a few moments later, police agents- under the orders of Lieutenant Roilan Cruz- arrived to the home with asphalt and gasoline and used this to smear the outer walls of the house, also dirtying the floor and covering the messages on the signs“. Agent Roilan Cruz was one of the main torturers and culprits in the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo in 2010.
The activist recounted that he was able to make it inside the home during the moment of harassment, as did his wife who was carrying their 13 month old child. The oppressors then broke into the home and started to beat and arrest all those who were present.
“My wife was hit”, said Funidchely, “they also shoved her and our 13 month old son was hit on the head. The agents did not have a single search warrant and took me, Mildred, and other dissidents out by force. They shoved us into State-owned vehicles and took us to the operational G2 unit known as Pedernales”.
The activists were kept in punishment cells until Friday, May 11th.
In regards to the moment of the aggressions, Cristian Toranzo explains that State Security brought various elderly people to scream “Long Live Communism” and “Long Live Fidel” at the activists. However, Toranzo assured that “the people- neighbors and others- did not respond to this“, they did not repeat their slogans and did not participate in the act of repudiation.
Fundichely is a member of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy as well as the Eastern Democratic Alliance. He is also one of the authors of the independent journal known as “El Antillano Libre“, which is published monthly and given out amongst the local Antilla population. To read one of the first five volumes (in Spanish), click here.