Residing in Havana, Eriberto Liranza Romero is coordinator of activities for the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front in the Western region of Cuba. He is also president of the Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement, an organization made up of Cuban youths which promotes debates, meetings, and public manifestations in favor of Cuba’s freedom. Because of this, because of his anti-castro posture, and because of his incessant civil activism the authorities of the Cuban dictatorship have kept a close watch over him. He has suffered countless arrests due to his activism and opposition. Just this year (2011) he has lost count of the times he has been forcibly sent to the regime’s prisons or detainment centers. His most recent arrest occurred on June 18th.
“About a week ago, Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ and his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera arrived to my house and were staying here for a while“, says Eriberto, explaining that the dissident couple’s objective was to “find a medical specialist which would treat Yris for the after-effects she was suffering from as consequence of the beating she received by political police officials in Santa Clara“. This brutal beating which he makes reference to occurred on May 25th during a completely peaceful march in which Yris, along with other dissidents, had their clothes on backwards as a form of protest against the dictatorship.
“On Saturday, June 18th, we were able to make it to the house of Laura Pollan (Ladies in White) for an activity being held for father’s day. After that, and after a few more attempts to get some medical attention for Yris throughout the city, we were by the Parque de la Fraternidad when Antunez and Yris were surrounded by political police agents“, recounts the Havana-based dissident who was a few blocks ahead of Yris and Antunez driving to pick up his wife and children. “Once again they violently arrested Yris. An official by the name of Camilo rammed his car (and various others) in front of mine, nearly causing an accident“.
Eriberto had to quickly step on the brakes to prevent a catastrophic accident, which is what they seemingly wanted to do. He stepped out of his car and confronted the police agents who quickly began threatening him and pushing him. “Between the pushes I started screaming that I was not a criminal, that I was a human rights activist and I began shouting slogans like ‘long live human rights’ and ‘long live freedom‘”. As punishment, the political police responded with more repression. “They arrested me and kept me inside a car with my hands cuffed tight to my back. Later they moved me to another car and took me to the Aguilera police station located in the Lawton neighborhood of the 10 de Octubre municipality. I was kept there for 25 hours, until late the next day“, explains Liranza, lamenting that he was not able to spend Father’s Day with his children but standing firm by his convictions. “I was visited by a State Security official who simply approached me to threaten me, telling me to reconsider my friendship with Antunez and my work with the National OZT Front and that if I didn’t I would be imprisoned,” the young man informs. “Once again, I accuse the Castro regime not only of my situation, but also of the conditions in which Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera finds herself in, as she is in grave danger of losing her life due to the hunger strike she is carrying out to demand that her rights of free movement and access to medical care be respected“.
While some people around the world promote the Cuban health system as one of the best on an international scale, everyday Cubans, like Eriberto Liranza Romero know very well that such statements are completely false. “The propaganda which the regime distributes about excellent health care is a grand lie“, declares Romero, concluding, “Here we see how a woman who, simply for thinking differently and not agreeing with the politics of the regime, is denied the right of receiving adequate medical care. It is a very worrying situation, and I am calling on the international community so that they respond in favor of Yris and against the Castro brother regime“.