In Palmarito de Cauto, located in Eastern Cuba, activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), along with various Ladies in White, decided to publicly celebrate Three Kings Day on January 6th. Three Kings Day, just like Christmas, was a very important and traditional holiday always celebrated on the island prior to the establishment of the Castro dictatorship. The communist regime outlawed the celebration of such dates, but Cubans have never stopped celebrating the holidays, in accordance with their economic possibilities of course. For such reasons, the coordinator of the UNPACU- former prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia- and other activists, decided to carry out a community (and independent) event to bring gifts and happiness to a group of Cuban children, as well as to their parents.
Ferrer explains that “50 Ladies in White assisted the event with their children- the majority were coming from Palma Soriano, Palmarito de Cauto, la ciudad de Santiago de Cuba, El Caney, Guantánamo, Moa, Holguín and other Eastern towns”. In total, nearly 200 people were able to meet in the home of a dissident to commemorate the day in which Christians celebrate the moment when three wise men from the East traveled, guided by the Northern star, to visit the newly born Jesus. The holiday is celebrated in Spain and all Hispanic countries.
“ The celebration was possible thanks to the generosity of brothers in exile”, explains Ferrer, “the kids were very enthusiastic, they were happy and ate sweets, drank soda and, in sum, enjoyed a moment of joy”. Many of the children also received gifts, which in their majority were toys.
The repressive presence of the political police was also present, though there were no beatings or arrests. The ex prisoner of conscience (Ferrer) narrates that the police, along with its Rapid Response Brigade forces, “had various buses stationed just 80 kilometers away from the festivity“, keeping a vigilant watch over those present. However, on the day prior to the event, Ferrer denounces that in Moa “the political police threatened Lady in White Annie Romero and other women, but they all remained firm and no arrests occurred“.
Ferrer, along with many other activists and neighbors agree on classifying the event as a success. “Many people are already asking us when there will be another event like this one”, according to Jose Daniel.
Though the UNPACU has decided to carry out activities such as these, they have not halted their public protests, as evident during the first days of 2012, when members of the pro-freedom organization sang protest songs and marched throughout the streets of various cities. In addition, the celebration of traditional holidays which the dictatorship has tried to erase from the memory and culture of Cubans, is also a form of Resistance.
Members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) carried out a peaceful protest in front of the ‘Vista Hermosa’ neighborhood of Santiago de Cuba this January 1st, marking the first protest of the new year in that city. The dissidents, who were wearing white clothes and carrying signs which demanded “justice” and “freedom for all political prisoners”, were singing along to the notes of the song “Memorandum para un Tirano” (‘Memorandum for a Tyrant’), which was penned and originally performed by Cuban singer-songwriter Marisela Verena and later popularized by Willy Chirino (Chirino’s version is the one the activists are singing along to in the video).
The UNPACU, like countless other dissident pro-democracy organizations have chosen this form of protest to combat a dictatorship which responds with unmeasurable violence. This method of demonstrating non-comformity with the brutal system proves to the everyday population that dissidents are non-violent, but are very willing to take to the streets to demand justice, even if their lives are threatened by this choice. In addition, publicly singing a song like this constitutes yet another form of Resistance, for the music of both Chirino and Verena is prohibited on the island, due do the fact that both Cubans oppose the Castro dictatorship.
Here is the video of the demonstration, courtesy of the UNPACU:
(Later, the demonstrators marched through the streets of the town, singing the Cuban national anthem and raising their signs)
And a video of Willy Chirino in one of his most famous performances of “Memorandum for a Tyrant”, before a crowd of Cuban rafters in Panama. The concert took place in 1994, right in the midst of the “rafter crisis”, where thousands of Cubans were fleeing the island on raft, many times resulting in death:
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“.
Via “Hablalo sin Miedo“, the dissident and former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia informs of various acts of repression which have occurred, and are currently happening, in Cuba this weekend.
Guantanamo. Yesterday (Saturday November 12), the activists from the Resistance and Democracy Movement- Niorvis Rivera Guerra and Francisco Soria Claro- were detained by the political police. Up to the moment, there whereabouts are unknown. Arbitrary arrests and violent mob attacks against this opposition group have been increasing. According to Rogelio Tavio, the leader of the group, the activists respond to each attack with more non-violent actions in favor of freedom and democracy.
Placetas, Santa Clara. Members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front are surrounded, and various have been detained. Only one Catholic priest was able to make it to the home of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” and prayed for the victims of the repression. The priest spoke to the activists about the upcoming visit of the Pope to Cuba. The tyranny cruelly oppresses those who, with firmness and valor, work for establishing freedom and democracy in our nation.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia
Coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba
Meanwhile, Antunez (who was recently beaten and detained for various days), has published this Tweet of warning:
(via Laida Carro of the Coalition of Cuban-American Women)
A summary of the brutal repression in Cuba this past week, including reports of what just occurred this weekend- violent arrests of various Ladies in White and two hunger strikers being urgently rushed to the hospital, under life-threatening conditions. The regime tightens its grip, the resistance does not falter one bit:
PEACEFUL HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS CONTINUE FACING BRUTAL MOB ATTACKS, BEATINGS, AND ARBITRARY ARRESTS FOR THEIR PEACEFUL ACTIONS
October 30, 2011
In the Eastern city of Guantanamo, the home of Niovis Rivera Guerra, (member of the Resistance and Democracy Movement), his wife, Yurilaidy Travieso and three young daughters, 13, 9 and 3 years old, was surrounded by patrol cars, military vehicles, and subjected to, at least, two days of brutal mob attacks (October 25-26, 2011) of around 400 people. Asphalt was thrown against the house, all the windows, as well as the door, were stoned and broken, the family received death threats, and Rivera Guerra was beaten and tear gased. All this brutal violence was because the family displayed pro democracy and human rights posters in the front of their home. This is the fifth time in 2011, that the home of this activist is attacked. Several members of the Resistance and Democracy Movement were beaten and arrested when they tried to come to the aid of Niovis Rivera Guerra and his family: Hermis Figueras Ros, Francisco Osoria Claro, and the Adventist Pastor Raul Martinez Caraballo.
Also in Eastern Cuba, on October 26, 2011, several cities suffered government repression, In Contramaestre, any activist or citizen who visits the home of human rights defender, Jorge Cervantes is under scrutiny by the political police. In Moa, Rapid Response Brigades threw eggs against the home of the coordinator of the UMPACU, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria and the Lady in White, Annis Sarrion Romero.
Two human rights defenders in Santa Clara (Central Cuba) who were on a hunger strike since September 28, 2011, demanding that the Cuban government put a stop to the violence against peaceful activists, were taken in critical state to the Provincial Hospital Arnaldo Milian Castro. Alcides Rivera Rodriguez was admitted to the hospital on Thursday, October 27, 2011, and diagnosed with bronchopneumonia. Rolando Ferrer Espinosa was admitted on the following day. Alcides has lost almost 60 lbs. while Ferrer Espinosa who is suffering a severe abdominal pain has lost over 30 lbs.of his body weight. Both continue in critical condition.
On October 24, 2011 several human rights activists were arrested in Havana when peaceful organizations such as the National Front of Civil Resistance and Desobedience and the Human Rights Party called on activists to gather at the Martin Luther King Park. Adjacent streets to this park were all surrounded by State Security agents. Among several activists arbitrarily detained and released were Sara Marta Fonseca and Rodolfo Ramirez Cardoso.
On Sunday, October 30, 2011, ten Ladies in White, in Eastern Cuba, were beaten and arbitrarily detained as they tried to attend mass in the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba. The following women were mistreated and suffered short term detention: Aymeé Garcés Leyva (as well as her husband Julio Valcarcel), Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, Vivian Peña Hernández, Liudmila Rodríguez Palomo, Adriana Núñez Pascual, María Elena Matos, Oria Casanova Moreno, Yuremi González Pavót, Tania Bandera González, Ana Celia Rodríguez Torres and a minor 14 years old, Marta Beatriz Ferrer Cantillo the daughter of Lady in White, Belkis Cantillo and the expolitical prisoner of conscience, Jose Daniel Ferrer.
At least three homes of activists who had gathered in the Eastern cities of Palma Soriano and Palmarito de Cauto to protest the violence against the Ladies in White on October 30 were surrounded by repressive forces. Under siege were the following human rights defenders of the National Front Orlando Zapata as well as members of the UMPACU ( Patriotic Union of Cuba): Prudencio Villalon, Roberto Quiñones, Pedro Manuel Guerrero, Julio Cesar Salazar, Ruben Torres, Dany Lopez, Rudy San Ramirez, Rolando Humberto Gonzalez, Maximiliano Sanchez, Abraham Cabrera, Amauri Abelenda and Manuel Martinez.
FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA: José Daniel Ferrer – + 53 53631267 / Belkis Cantillo – + 53 53790867 /
Although a few days have passed since the death of Laura Pollan, I have not been able to update the blog during this time. The following report not only serves as proof of the constant repression in Cuba, but also as a tribute to Laura, considering that this Lady in White dedicated the majority of her time to resisting the Cuban dictatorship and fighting for human rights. In my opinion, like in the opinion of many other Cubans inside and outside of the island, the death of Pollan was the fault of the Castro regime. Some have said that the strange infection which she suffered from during her last days, which led her to the intensive care unit of the Calixto Garcia Hospital, was the product of a lethal injection given to her at the hands of government mobs- a theory which I do not in any way doubt, for they are very capable of this and much worse, and this must be kept into consideration. And, let’s say, that there was no lethal injection. Regardless, the reality is that the constant mob repudiation attacks, the brutal beatings, the blackmailing, and the harassment against this brave woman did play a crucial part in the deterioration of her health, and ultimately, her death.
The news of her death has been a very difficult blow for all Cubans, for that hurt, but not weak, resistance. Threatened, but not afraid. The example and spirit of Pollan will continue guiding the resistance, and no dictatorship can ever stop that.
Laura Pollan: A Cuban Repressed by the Regime, a Cuban Loved by her Compatriots
In less than two years, three known figures among the Cuban resistance have been killed by the Castro dictatorship- Orlando Zapata Tamayo in February of 2010, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia in May of 2011, and the most recent- Laura Pollan Toledo during this month of October 2011. And as has occurred after each one of these deaths, the funerary acts have been marked by the regime’s repression against dissidents and all those family and friends who wished to pay their final tributes to the victim.
It was around 7 PM on Friday, October 14th, when the news arrived. “Laura Pollan has passed away“, read various Tweets straight out of the island, after she had spent a little over a week in the intensive care unit of the Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana. From the very moment that her death was confirmed, Cubans in and out of the island mobilized to express their solidarity, their pain, and deep frustration. In Miami, Cubans shocked by the news- among them Reina Luisa Tamayo- congregated outside the popular local Versailles Cuban Restaurant, while the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity kept its doors open all night, offering a place to pray for the soul of the dignified Lady in White.
In Cuba, the pain shared by dissidents and relatives of Pollan was not respected by the dictatorship, which was expected. The political police and the National Police carried out an aggressive operation throughout the island, including in Holguin where dissidents Caridad Caballero Batista and Isabel Pena Torres were trying to get to the local bus station to travel to Havana to be present in the wake of Laura Pollan and express their solidarity with her relatives. “It was around 2:40 AM when we were intercepted on the street by National Police and State Security agents who shoved us in police vehicles and took us to the the Pedernales Unit“, the detainment center notorious for its completely dark cells and the aggression which functionaries treat inmates with, “The arrest was very violent, they pushed onto the vehicle, and State Security even gave orders to drag us through the floor“. The activists were kept in separate cells. Caridad added that on Sunday, at around 4 in the afternoon, a lieutenant by the name of Armando Rivera snatched the few belongings of Isabel Pena Torres which included documents of her medical history. Upon seeing this document, officer Rivera tore it to pieces and threw them on the floor. After an interrogation session and an aggressive beat down, Isabel had to pick up the pieces herself. Caridad and Isabel were later released from the dark and humid cells at around 8 PM on Saturday.
Caridad Caballero also informed of other violent arrests in other eastern parts of the country. “In Velasco, Holguin, Yonart Rodriguez Avila and his mother Mariblanca Avila were both detained as they tried to head to Havana. Instead they spent the night in prison cells“, while similarly “In Sagua, Anni Sarrion Romero and Milagros Leiva Ramirez, whom were traveling from Moa, were arrested at around 1:30 AM. Both women were beat off the bus by State Security and Political Police agents”. Caballero adds that despite the fact that she was detained for hours, her home remained surrounded by government agents the entire time.
During that same somber night when the news of Laura Pollan began to spread, police vehicles and G2 (Secret Police) agents immediately surrounded the home of former political prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia in the eastern town of Palmarito de Cauto. Ferrer’s wife, Belkis Cantillo, also tried to get to the funeral of Laura Pollan together with Aime Garces and Tania Montoya. The three women were arrested at around 11 PM. They were taking to the Police Unit of Contramaestre and from there they were transferred to the the 3rd National Revolutionary Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba, where they remained until Monday. Various activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) also suffered violent arrests- Leudis Fajardo Rivera, Martín Ruíz González, Mario Antonio Brocal Borges, Bárbaro Tresol Verdecía, Omar Wilson Estévez, Omar Pérez Torres, Yilian Pérez Sarrión, and Gerardo Guerrero Sarrión.
In Manzanillo, dissidents from the Independent and Democratic Cuban Party (CID) denounced that various activists from this same group had been detained, among them Juan Eduardo Salgado Jurado, Enrique Piñeiro Azahares, Abdel Mecochini Avalos, Manuel Enrique Peláez, Ramón Enamorado and Roberto Jurado Salgado as they tried to get to Moncada Avenue where they would take part in the signing of the condolences book for Laura Pollan. A few hours later, Ubaldo Manuel León suffered a mob repudiation attack in that same town.
In Banes, on Sunday October 16th there was a mass held in which various attendees prayed for Laura. The mass was assisted by dissidents Marta Diaz Rondon and Vivian Tamayo Ramayo. Upon concluding the services, both Rondon and Ramayo tried traveling to Holguin to join in solidarity with their fellow detained dissidents but they were arrested at around 11:30 AM and released at 1:50 PM. Ariel Cruz Meneses, Rafael Meneses Pupo, and Dayami Romero Ortiz were also arrested, at around 7:00 AM and released at 12 in the afternoon.
Former political prisoner of conscience Pedro Arguelles Moran reported that on the same night of Laura’s death, the regime’s police forces surrounded his home in Ciego de Avila, impeding him, and anyone else inside, from stepping outside to travel to the capital. The situation was repeated throughout the country, in a wide range of cities and provinces, while in Havana, the Maseda-Pollan family (accompanied by dissidents and friends) bid their final farewells to Laura Pollan. She was cremated a few hours later. The pastor and independent blogger, Ricardo Medina was present during the wake with his wife Katia Sonia Martin, also a Lady in White. Medina provided religious services for Pollan and published an excellent account which detailed the emotions of that somber moment on his blog. He also reported that his wife, Katia, and other women were intercepted by State Security agents on Sunday October 16th as they were taking floral arrangements to the Santa Rita Church . The government agents snatched their flowers and hurled them on the floor, destroying the arrangement altogether. Katia also suffered an arrest.
Even among so much pain and repression, solidarity and international support emerges
Although this has been a very difficult stage for the Cuban resistance, it is also important to point out that the devastating news of Laura Pollan’s death has also given way to an important emergence of solidarity amongst Cubans inside and outside of the island.
Some of these displays of solidarity have been:
Activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) demonstrated throughout the streets of Moa, Holguin, with signs which read ‘Laura has not died’ and ‘Laura, we will continue your struggle’. In Santiago de Cuba, Father Jose Conrado decided to dedicate his Sunday mass in the Church of Santa Teresita to Laura Pollan, while archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez did the same in another church. According to Jose Daniel Ferrer, various homes throughout the country declared themselves “in mourning”, hanging up signs honoring the fallen leader of the Ladies in White.
“Although it has been very sad for all of us, The Ladies in White and Ladies in Support will continue fighting for freedom, just like Laura always did. For us, she has not died. Laura continues to be alive in spirit, and she will be among us and guiding us, giving us strength to continue fighting against those who assassinated her. And we can say that, yes, she was killed, the government killed Laura through their countless beatings and even the disease she suffered from in her last days, which we cannot rule out the possibility that it was contracted at the hands of government mobs“, declares Caridad Caballero Batista from Holguin. From Placetas, Antunez declared through his Twitter account, “Laura, your brothers from the resistance are honoring you with the Resistance and Dignity Award“, while in Havana, the blogger Yoani Sanchez sported a T-shirt with Laura Pollan’s image all day in public, while also blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo handed the family in mourning a book of condolences.
On Sunday, a mass was dedicated in Havana to Laura Pollan in the Church of Santa Rita. It was accompanied by the weekly march of the Ladies in White, for the first time without their leader. It was attended by her husband, Hector Maseda, as well as Berta Soler and her husband Angel Moya, including many other Ladies and White and dissidents. Berta Soler declared that the movement of the Ladies in White had suffered a very strong blow but that it is emerging with much more strength, and that they would continue to be active and united in the name of Laura Pollan.
In the United States, various political figures joined Cuban dissidents in solidarity, from president Barrack Obama to Cuban-American legislators such as Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Marco Rubio, as well as Florida State Senator Bill Nelson. Other international leaders, from countries such as Spain and France, also offered condolences.
Cuban exiles in Tampa announced that there will be a march in honor of Pollan on Sunday, October 23rd, while Cubans in Madrid- in their majority former political prisoners from the Black Spring- also dedicated a mass to Laura.
During the Sunday Mass of October 16th, Miami’s Sanctuary for the Virgin of Charity (La Ermita de la Caridad) dedicated their services to Pollan, praying for her dignified soul. Attending were many former political prisoners and Ladies in White now in exile, who filled the sanctuary with white. The owner of Miami’s popular Versailles Cuban Restaurant- Felipe Vals- hung various signs throughout the locale which read ‘Zapata Lives and Laura Pollan Lives”, along with a note of admiration on behalf of Vals to Pollan which was placed at the entrance of the constantly busy restaurant. And as soon as the news came out, Miami Dade College announced that it would offer a scholarship which would carry the name of Laura Pollan.
Also in Miami, a number of exiled Cuban women have called on the community to carry out a vigil in memory of Laura Pollan, as well as to denounce the atrocities committed by the regime which lead to her death. The activity will take place on Friday, October 21st and will include the presence of a diverse range of exiled pro-freedom organizations such as MAR por Cuba, the Coalition of Cuban American Women, the Cuban Democratic Directorate, Exile United, Young Cubans in Action, and the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights (in exile). Meanwhile, Cuban musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan have announced that they are planning a massive event in honor of Pollan and in solidarity with the Ladies in White and Cuban resistance in general. After the assassination of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on February of 2010 and after the brutal beat down of the Ladies in White on March of 2010, the Estefans carried out a march in Miami which was attended by more than 100,000 people marching down 8th street, dressed in white, and flowers at hand.
Another Cuban figure has joined the list of heroes and patriots which have lost their lives for dedicating their efforts for achieving Cuba’s freedom, and although deeply pained, we can now say, with certainty (among many others) that Pedro Luis Boitel Lives! Orlando Zapata Tamayo Lives! Juan Wilfredo Soto Lives! and yes, Laura Pollan Lives!
UNPACU carries out protest, faces both repression and solidarity
A patriotic date for Cubans- the 10th of October, when independence fighter Carlos Cespedes granted freedom to black slaves and initiated the Ten Years’ War for independence, in an act known as ‘the Cry of Yara’- was celebrated 143 years later by dissidents on the island carrying out non-violent protests, and also with repression on behalf governmental forces.
According to former political prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), an organization headed by him and other dissidents, carried out a peaceful protest through the streets of Palmarito de Cauto in correlation with the historic date and in demand for the respect of the inalienable rights of all Cubans. “A number of activists took to the street with signs which read ‘Down with Fidel’, ‘Fix our streets’, ‘Milk for our children’, and ‘Internet for all’, and shouted these same slogans along with others and also sang the national anthem“, explained the distinguished dissident. The protesters were able to see that the majority of the neighbors stared from their windows or doors in a sign of support, while the only ones who tried to stop them were 7 members of the government’s Rapid Response Brigade and a lady who is an active Popular Power delegate and Communist Party member, who hurled rocks at the dissidents from her house.
Upon noticing the absence of excessive violence towards the demonstrators on behalf of the locals, officials from the Political Police, Revolutionary Police, and State Security began to arrive to the city. “Those agents began to surround the entire town, and one could clearly hear how they felt rage upon not seeing a massive display of aggression against the activists. The officials were asking themselves and everyone around how this had been possible“, while the superiors scolded the local militants, declaring that such behavior was “not acceptable“.
According to Ferrer Garcia, this position assumed by everyday citizens is becoming more and more common every time, with less or no neighbors participating in acts of mob repudiation or other forms of violence. “It is true that many people still feel fear and therefore do not protest publicly, but we are also witnessing that more and more show sympathy to us and even tell us we are doing a very brave thing“. A recent example of this occurred minutes after the march, when “various youths began to shout the same slogans which they had heard dissidents shout during the peaceful march, and these people are not even openly opposition members, yet they confronted the Rapid Response Brigade. This has been frequently happening, despite the fact that the authorities try to make it seem otherwise, using the tactic of blackmailing and utilizing workers of certain sectors such as commerce or food, telling them to pretend to be upset and to shout offensive slogans at us. If they fail to do so, they lose their jobs“, denounces Ferrer.
Although initially there was no excessive violence, just a few moments after the officials showed up armed with sticks and rods. Various agents used these weapons of repression against two female dissidents who had participated in the march- Oria Casanova and Tania Banderas, both who are mute. Casanova and Banderas were victims of a severe beat down.
In order to try and impede such reports to be brought quickly to light, Cuban authorities blocked the phone lines of Jose Daniel and his wife, Belkis Cantillo since the prior day, Sunday October 9th, when other brutal acts had occurred against dissidents on the island. In one case, 13 Ladies in White were beaten while they attempted to assist mass at church. The uniformed government soldiers persecuted those activists which were reporting the events and capturing the aggressions on film. They were trying to confiscate their cameras. One of the victims of the physical violence was also Belkis Cantillo, who suffered various kicks to the stomach.
Other acts of repression in the island
In the Eastern city of Las Tunas there was also repression while activists attempted to celebrate the historic date. From her Twitter account, the exiled daughter of activist Ramon Velazquez Toranzo, Rufina Velazquez, denounced that her father had been arrested along with other opposition members. He was detained when he tried to step out of his house. Political police officials stopped him and shoved him in a police vehicle, keeping him there for a few hours. Other dissidents belonging to the Christian Liberation Movement suffered the same fate.
In Placetas, Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’, recounted that he was on his way home after visiting recently released activist Sara Marta Fonseca when he noticed that countless government officials were following him. Antunez lives knowing that these watchdogs are keeping a close vigilance on him, as they have set up a circle around his neighborhood, taking note of his activities as well as those of his wife and other dissident friends. The 10th of October was no exception. “The uniformed officials were keeping a close vigilance in their attempt to impede anyone from going in our out of my house“, denounced the dissident.
Meanwhile, in Santa Clara Guillermo Farinas and the independent journalist Carlos Baluerdy Oregon were detained while they tried to get to the local Leoncio Vidal Park to carry out an act of solidarity with activists of the Central Opposition Coalition who have maintained a hunger strike in demand for the immediate end to violence against resistance members. Both were released during afternoon hours. In the province of Matanzas, State Security carried out a brutal beating against members of the Independent Alternative Option Movement , according to a note published on Babalu Blog which was written by former political prisoner Miguel Sigler Amaya, now exiled in Miami. The activists were planning to march all the way to the local cemetery, paying tribute to deceased martyrs on that patriotic day.