Once again, the Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista and her husband Esteban Sandez Suarez were impeded from assisting Catholic Mass this past Sunday, April 15th, in the city of Holguin. It was the 17th consecutive Sunday that these activists could not attend Mass to pray for Cuba.
Caballero explained that it was a “terrible” moment of “much violence“, when they were walking to church at around 8 AM and were intercepted by various police agents which began to arrest them immediately.
“They nearly broke our fingers this time“, said Caballero, “in Esteban’s case, one of the agents applied a headlock on him and strangled him. His neck is now swollen“. The activist says that the acts of aggression occurred before the eyes of everyday citizens. The repressive operation was carried out by State Security official Jordanys Martinez Leon. The dissident adds that Martinez Leon was accompanied by various women of the Ministry of the Interior and other functionaries from State Security and from the National Police.
The dissident couple was kept in a dark and foul-smelling dungeon in the Pedernales Unit, this time until 3 PM. They are usually kept until 11:30 AM or 12 PM, as soon as Sunday Mass ends, as a form of blackmail and as a taunt.
In addition, the cell phones of Caridad and Esteban were blocked by the regime before and during the arrest, impeding them from communicating with other human rights activists in the region.
Regardless, Caballero was able to confirm that Berta Guerrero Segura, a Lady in White from Cacocum, Holguin, was also arrested on her way to church. In addition to Segura, “three other Ladies- Vaniuska Suarez, Lisete Gonzalez, and Odenis Suarez- were also arrested. They were on their way to Holguin when police agents forcefully made them get off the bus they were on at around 5 AM“, said Caballero. These three women were detained in the police unit of Velazco for various hours that Sunday. The police agents confiscated the white clothes the women were carrying with them.
Meanwhile, in the municipality of Banes, Holguin, three Ladies in White were able to make it to the local Catholic Church. These were Marta Diaz Rondon, Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, and Miladis Pinales. Rondon told this blog that, as tends to occur, they peacefully marched amid a strong vigilance on behalf of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police. Various weekends have passed where these women have been able to surpass police operations, yet they are persecuted until they arrive at church, where the agents wait outside until Mass has concluded. Afterward, the officers follow the women back home, insulting them and taunting them all along the way.
From Palma Soriano, Tania Montoya said that more than a dozen Ladies in white made it to El Cobre Sanctuary, while another group was arrested. Montoya highlighted that she and other Ladies in White have turned to methods of “crossing fields and rivers” in order to surpass police operations and arrive to the Sanctuary. “There are usually very strong police operations in the exits of Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, and other towns“, explained the activist, “this is all done in order to impede us from moving freely“.
It is precisely because of these operations that an activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Omar Naranjo, decided to join the women in solidarity and help them cross grasslands in order to make it to the other side. However, upon arriving to the town of El Cobre, various police agents were already waiting. These same agents violently arrested Naranjo.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Still Jailed
Tania Montoya explained that along with her husband, Raumel Vinajera, they put together some signs with messages in favor of the release of former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, who has been once again confined to a dungeon and has been there for two weeks. It was reported that on Monday, April 16th, various of these signs propped up throughout the town of Palma Soriano and they all had messages demanding freedom for Ferrer.
Caridad Caballero said to be “very worried” about the situation of Jose Daniel, considering that he has been victim of constant violence and that the authorities can easily revoke his Black Spring sentence if they so desire. When it comes to the treatment of human rights activists in Cuba, Caballero assures that the Cuban regime “has no mercy with anyone“.
For more information from Cuba:
Caridad Caballero Batista – Cell Phone: +5352-629-749 // Twitter: @caricaballero //Marta Díaz Rondón – Cell Phone: +5352-771-639 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon // Tania Montoya – Cell Phone: +5353- 146 – 329
Twitter of José Daniel Ferrer García, being administered by his wife Belkis and brother Luis Enrique: @jdanielferrer