From Boyeros, Havana, dissident leader Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo spoke about activities carried out in different parts of the island on September 24th, the Day of the Virgin of Mercedes, patron saint of prisoners. She explains that members of groups such as the Orlando Zapata National Resistance Front, the Pro Human Rights Party and others set out to their respective local churches to pray for the liberation of all political prisoners. In Havana, more than 70 Ladies in White participated in Mass and, together with a large number of everyday people, created a moment of freedom inside the temple, despite the presence of the political police outside. Fonseca also explains that the regime fears when diverse opposition groups work closely with the everyday population:
“This 24th of September, it was once again proven that the Castro-communist dictatorship fears the unity of the opposition with the people. In that unity lies the beginning of the end of so many years of suffering. Very soon, God-willingly, Cuba will be free. There will be no more political prisoners, men and women jailed because of their ideas”.
To listen to the complete declaration by Sara Marta (in Spanish) click this link from ‘Radio Republica’.
A vehicle nearly ran over dissident leader Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and her son Ignacio Leon Fonseca twice in a matter of minutes in Boyeros, Habana, on the 31st of August.
It took place near 11 AM on the corner of 273rd and 160th street when Fonseca was taking care of some personal chores.
“The car, a modern model and blue in color, sped up towards us“, described the dissident, who also alerted about what had occurred through a Twitter message that morning (@SaraMartaCuba). Fonseca told this blog that she and her son quickly jumped back when they saw the car speeding towards them.
“When we jumped out of the way, the car stopped. Then, we tried to cross the street again but this time about 2 kilometers behind the car, but once again when we tried to cross the car charged against us but this time backing up. We were able to get out of the way on time again“.
Sara Marta managed to look inside the car but could not identify anyone, although she confirmed that there were 4 men and that one of them was carrying a Walkie-Talkie. This equipment is widely used by police agents on the island.
The attempt against Fonseca’s life took place in front of some neighbors who, according to the opposition member, began to publicly complain.
“One of the neighbors approached the car and yelled at the driver, ‘Do you not know how to drive?‘
Once seeing that the discontent amongst locals was increasing, the blue car sped up and drove away. But the mysterious and dangerous actions did not end there.
“We finished our personal chores that morning but when we were on 273rd Street and 2nd, I was talking to a neighbor precisely about what had happened when a motorcycle arrived. Interestingly enough, the bike was also blue, and it began to surround us. It went around about 3 times. The driver would break and stare at the person I was talking to, as if trying to identify him. After those 3 turns, the motorcycle drove away“.
Fonseca Quevedo does not in any way doubt that the State has to do with what happened to her and her son that morning. In fact, she is pretty sure it was sent by the authorities, considering that police violence has been on the rise during the last few months. Recently, when dissidents are detained, explains Sara, State Security agents threaten to assassinate them while they are being interrogated.
Fonseca, a renown activist and member of the Cuban Pro Human Rights Party, the Ladies in White and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front (all pro-freedom groups on the island), is no exception to the rule and has been threatened and arrested several times in the last month.
The increase of violence in Cuba also includes savage beatings at the hands of police officials, deportations and kidnappings which end in abandoning the dissidents in desolate fields far from their homes.
Sara Marta, who is known amongst the opposition for carrying out frequent vigils and public activities of civil disobedience in favor of freedom, points out that it is not only her life and her son’s life that are in danger, but also the lives of all dissidents in the country. However, she assures that the dramatic rise in violence is also proof of the fear that the dictatorship is feeling.
For more information from Cuba:
Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +53-379-011 / Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba
Recently, we saw the results of a machete attack against Werlando Leyva Batista, a member of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), at the hands of a State Security collaborator in the province of Holguin. Leyva Batista suffered injuries on one of his hands and legs. Thanks to the solidarity of a number of Holguin activists, images came out straight from Cuba confirming the news.
Just days later, another 2 dissidents were victims of similar machete attacks, all of which have been orchestrated in one way or another by State Security.
Goart Cruz Zamora was one of the victims.
Zamora is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and is the secretary of the group for the “Harold Cepero” cell in Altamira, Santiago de Cuba. On June 19th, he was attacked with a machete by Julio Cesar Limonta Nunez, who had been acting as a dissident but apparently had lent himself to the manipulations of State Security, according to declarations by Goart in a video published on the YouTube channel of UNPACU:
Goart assures that the aim of the attack, which occurred in his home, was to cut off his head. The dissident managed to dodge the initial swing of the machete but the blade sliced parts of his shoulder and a hand.
“I told Julio Cesar that ideas can’t be destroyed that way, and that he was not going to triumph being manipulated by the political police“, said the victim in the video, who adds that the aggressor quickly fled after the assault. Goart signals an agent named Frank as the main culprit of the manipulation.
Another dissident who was attacked by a machete is Orlando Lazaro Gomez Hernandez, a member of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba and of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front in Camaguey.
Gomez Hernandez provided a testimony to the station “Radio Republica”, where he recounts how on the week of June 21st when he stepped out of his house with a sign with messages in solidarity with hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, he was intercepted by the local president of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). This functionary, named Julio, was wielding a machete.
“The president of the CDR ran out of his home with a machete and started to attack me with it. He cut part of my right hand and also struck me on my back…other collaborators of his came out and as I fell to the ground they began to kick me”, recounts Gomez.
Luckily, the 3 activists mentioned in this post are alive to tell the story, but given the rise in violence against dissidents on the island, the next victim may not be so fortunate.
Whether it be in the Eastern region, in the center or in West of the country, the lives of freedom defenders are more at risk each day, all the while the dictatorship project an image of changes and reforms to the rest of the world.
On the night of Wednesday, April 17th, Cubans in diverse parts of the country rang their pots and pans as a display of support and solidarity with the Venezuelan opposition, a movement which also uses these methods of civil disobedience.
The protest was convoked by the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, a coalition which groups numerous internal opposition organizations. Other groups, as well as members of Cuba’s civil society, participated.
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, secretary general of the Front, said in an audio published on his YouTube account that “a group of members of the Cuban resistance in different provinces shook neighborhoods and towns with the pots and pans protest” despite the fact that “the political police had a violent reaction against these activists”.
In the city where Antunez lives- Placetas, Villa Clara (right in the center of Cuba) – dissidents rang their pots and pans despite being surrounded by political police agents which threw rocks and shouted profanity. One of the rocks hit a 6 year old as well as the leading dissident Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, president of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, who is still suffering from a brutal beat-down at the hands of State Security agents in March.
Santa Clara (another city in the province of Villa Clara) was the scene of another demonstration, where member of the Central Opposition Coalition met at the home of Damaris Moya Portieles to carry out the protest. There, the political police arrested various dissidents, while they organized a violent act of repudiation. Regardless, independent blogger Carlos Michael Morales said that those present began to shout “Down with Nicolas Maduro, Down with Communism” and “Long Live Capriles“.
Other pots and pans protests were reported in the province of Camaguey, according to activist Santos Fernandez Sanchez, member of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba. Former political prisoner of conscience Librado Linares Garcia reported on his Twitter account (@LibradoLinares) that in Cienfuegos there were also protests, which provoked a violent reaction by the State police.
In Havana, numerous demonstrations were reported in more than 6 different municipalities, according to dissident Jose Diaz Silva. Among the municipalities was Boyeros, where Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo carried out a significant pots and pans protest along with her family and other activists. Agents of the Rapid Response Brigades and the political police surrounded the house and began to throw rocks, dirty water, eggs, tar and even used condoms. Julio Leon Fonseca, husband of Sara Marta, received a death threat from one of the agents in the mob.
“We have done this in support of the Venezuelan opposition, who are out on the streets demanding their rights”, said Sara Marta Fonseca in an audio published on ‘Radio Republica’, “they [the political police] have broken our windows…they came in to our porch and tore down signs. These are the things dictatorships do when they are about to topple…they are very bothered because the pots and pans rang in many parts of Cuba in support of the opposition and people of Venezuela”, said the dissident.
Alternative blogger Yusnaby Perez said on his Twitter account (@Yusnaby) that pots could be heard in parts of Central Havana.
“Not only in Central Havana”, read another message by Perez, “the pots and pans could also be heard in the town of Santa Fe…there are people on the street with signs”.
He managed to publish a video of the demonstration on YouTube minutes later:
Other pots and pans protests were confirmed in places like Mayabeque, Granma, Holguin and Guantanamo.
“We paid tribute and showed our support with our brothers in Venezuela, a country which was victim of a grotesque electoral fraud at the hands of Nicolas Maduro’s regime which is trying to perpetuate itself in power”, reiterated Antunez, “may these words serve to send all of Venezuela our respect, our admiration, our affection, and so that they know that the Cuban Resistance stands with them”.
Members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba Affiliated to the Andrei Sajarov Foundation, and the Miguel Valdes Tamayo Popular Movement for Human Rights marched together in Boyeros, Havana, this past Thursday 21st of February, demanding a free Cuba and paying tribute to Orlando Zapata Tamayo, political prisoner who died after a hunger strike and torture in prison 3 years ago this 23rd of February, and also in honor of the victims of the Brothers to the Rescue, Cuban-Americans who were shot down by the dictatorship over international waters for flying small planes trying to help rafters out at sea.
Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, Lady in White and member of the Pro Human Rights Party and the National Resistance Front, who is also a resident of Boyeros, could not participate in the demonstration but explained that the dissidents “marched peacefully down the centric Boyeros avenue, walking at least 300 meters while shouting anti-government slogans and slogans in honor of Orlando Zapata for the third anniversary of his death, a death which only has one culprit: the Cuban government“.
Zapata’s jailers beat him on various occasions during his hunger strike and refused him water. His strike, as well as his death, awoke a wave of solidarity amongst Cubans in and out of the island as well as non-Cubans around the world, eventually creating pressure against the Cuban dictatorship, managing the release of the rest of the political prisoners jailed during the Black Spring of 2003.
The march on Thursday culminated, without any arrests or acts of repudiation from the everyday people, at the home of Rene Ramon Gonzalez Bonelly, which is also the sub-headquarters of the Pro Human Rights Party, located in the Baluarte neighborhood of Boyeros.
However, minutes after, Sara Marta denounced that mobs organized by the regime had surrounded the house, starting an act of repudiation. Her own home was also under strict police vigilance.
Rene Ramon Gonzalez, member of the Pro Human Rights Party and of UNPACU, told this blog that mobs, made up by some airport employees and other figures of governmental organisms, surrounded his home and shouted verbal offenses at the 7 dissidents congregated there.
“There are 5 Suzuki motorcycles (of State Security), various police vehicles, and lots of police agents and State Security agents“, said Gonzalez at the moment of the repudiation. The dissident also denounced that “State Security is using underage children to participate in this act of repudiation. They told these kids to shout offenses at us. The mobs are even banging on our windows“.
The activist could not give an exact number of how many communist functionaries were in the mob attack, but said that there was around 100 or more. Actions like these are organized by the regime to try and make it seem as if it is the ‘everyday people’ who are attacking the dissidents, when in reality the victims of the repudiation affirm that the majority of times no neighbor participates in these acts of violence, only people who form part of the repressive units of the dictatorship.
González Bonelly later denounced that one police official, who he was not able to identify by name, “stood in front of one of the windows and made a gesture as if he was going to pull out his gun“, to threaten the dissidents inside.
The names of the other dissidents inside were Roberto Hernández, Mario Rafael Cala, Idania García Martínez, Bartolo Márquez Alcevo, Humberto Parada Miran and Henry González.
UNPACU’s YouTube channel posted an audio in the voice of Rene Ramon Gonzalez with further details of the happenings, which could be heard here.
On the following day, February 22nd, Sara Marta Fonseca denounced that the repressive operations continued around the entire Baluarte neighborhood. Among the surrounded homes were hers and also that of Gonzalez Bonelly. “Agent Camilo, of State Security, is leading this operation“, added Fonseca.
Once again, the regime responds with fear and violence upon witnessing civic actions out on the street, carried out by diverse dissident groups.
For more information:
Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo- Cell Phone: +5353-379-011 // Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba
“With all and for the good of all” – one of the most famous phrases by Jose Marti is, perhaps, also one of the ideas which the totalitarian system in Cuba fears the most, proven- year after year- every 28th of January when countless uniformed agents are sent out throughout the island to try and impede civic demonstrations to commemorate the anniversary of his birth. 2013, the 160th anniversary, was no exception.
The police operations began on Sunday the 27th. In Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, the home of dissident Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez– member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)– was attacked with feces, staining the door and windows. Dominguez directly blamed the political police for this, since he and his wife, Lady in White Taimi Vega Biscet, had plans to carry out a tribute to Marti.
“These are methods employed by the political police, I hold them responsible as well as the Communist Party and all other instruments of the regime“, said the activist.
Meanwhile, despite police vigilance and direct threats by State Security, in Havana 41 Ladies In White managed to carry out their traditional march to Santa Rita Church and later to Mahatma Gandhi Park (See video, courtesy of ‘Hablemos Press’). These women deposited flowers in a statue of Marti in that park and commenced to read various phrases by the poet.
In Cardenas, Matanzas, Leticia Ramos Herreria and other Ladies in White marched for 26 blocks until they arrived to a local park to also deposit flowers in another Jose Marti statue. This achievement bothered the authorities to the point that State Security officials summoned Ramos to a police unit for the following day. The activist recounts that she was threatened and offended during the interrogation but that she refused to sign any sort of document and let them know very clear that she would continue going out to the streets of Cuba.
On Monday, the 28th, the repression increased but so did the peaceful and public demonstrations. In the same province of Matanzas, but in the city of Colon, Juan Francisco Rangel was also summoned to the police station and later surrounded in his own home by agents to try and impede a march. However, he managed to take to the streets along with other activists from the Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy, successfully carrying out the activity and depositing flowers for Marti, according to a Tweet published by Carlos Olivera (@COliveraCuba).
In Santa Clara, Villa Clara, a group of dissidents from the Central Opposition Coalition also took to the streets shouting slogans in favor of change and honoring Marti. They were all violently arrested, according to a report by independent journalist and blogger Carlos Michael Morales Rodríguez.
Not too far from that city, in Placetas, members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front carried out a protest against the regime, also screaming slogans such as “Jose Marti Lives“, as was captured in an audio published by ‘Radio Republica’ in the voice of dissident leader Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’.
A successful march with signs containing anti-regime messages and Jose Marti phrases took place on the streets of Quemado de Guines, Villa Clara, by various members of the Cuban Reflection Movement, among them Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida, who said the march “took place despite strong police vigilance“.
Despite acts of repudiation and some arrests, in Camaguey a public activity was carried out by activists of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, said Daniel Millet Jimenez.
In Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, dissidents of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and from the Pedro Luis Boitel Resistance Movement congregated to honor Jose Marti.
Throughout the Eastern region of the country, members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in Baracoa, according to Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz, and of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy (CYMD) in Velasco, according to Yonart Rodríguez Avila, also carried out their own meetings, marches and demonstrations in honor of Marti. Yoandri Montoya Aviles said that in Bayamo, members of the Youth Movement of Bayamo paid homage to the “Apostle of Cuba”.
CYMD also carried out other activities in the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, in Havana, publishing some photos of the events in their blog. In the same province, Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca held a vigil and an encounter in her home located in Rio Verde, Boyeros.
UNPACU also published some testimonies on their YouTube channel detailing repressive actions against activists for trying to carry out their own tributes in Guantanamo.
Former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo published a series of Twitter messages (@ivanlibre) denouncing that dissidents Pastor Alexis Huerta and Carlos Alberto Gómez, members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID), were violently arrested in the central city of Sancti Spiritus also for trying to carry out similar tributes as those occurring throughout the country. Cases of repression, police cordons, and beatings were also confirmed in Pinar del Rio against other CID members and the Pinar del Rio Democratic Alliance.
These were only a few of the events which took place on the island between the 27th and 28th of January, when Cubans paid tribute to one of the figures most representative of their culture- a culture which does not belong just to one political group or dictator.
“A just cause, from the bottom of a cave, is more powerful than any army”
18 years ago, forces of the Cuban regime assassinated 41 people who were trying to flee the country in search of freedom in the United States aboard an old tugboat (“13th of March”). The crime occurred on July 13th, 1994, when a couple of other state vessels persecuted the tugboat (which had 69 people on board), blocked its path, and used a cannon to fire water at the Cubans. 41 of those people died, drowned or from the impact, and among them were 11 minors.
In 2012, during the anniversary of this massacre, the repression of the regime (the same one which committed the crime) was not able to impede Cubans throughout the island from honoring the victims.
On the eve of the anniversary, about 18 activists in Santa Cruz del Sur, Camaguey, met at the home of dissident Yoan David Gonzalez Milanes to carry out a candlelight vigil followed by a pots and pan protest in memory of the vicitms. On the following day, July 13th, this same group had plans to march out of the home up to a local river, where they would deposit flowers in honor of those assassinated. However, government mobs surrounded the home, shouted violent slogans, kicked down the door, and impeded the dissidents from stepping out. Regardless, on the morning of Saturday July 14th, the dissidents once again tried to step out of the house, and this time they did, although they were arrested by forces of the political police.
Another successful pots and pan protest took place on July 12th in the city of Placetas, in Santa Clara, where dissidents like Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”,Marta Díaz Rondonand Leticia Ramos Herrería participated. They were carrying out a meeting there, debating a new opposition campaign dubbed “Towards the National Strike”.
July 13th began with the news that 6 activists from the Central Opposition Coalition in Santa Clara also carried out a peaceful march to a local river to also deposit flowers, but all of these members were violently arrested. Among them was Idania Yánez Contreras, Rolando Ferrer Espinosa, Alcides Rivera and Damaris Moya Portieles. However, Alcides Rivera managed to throw the flowers into the river right before being arrested. In the case of Yanez Contreras, she was shoved into a police vehicle and kept in there for nearly an hour before being taken into custody in a police unit, with the engine off, the windows up and under the scorching sun.
The Free Yorubas Association of Cuba, a religious organization independent from state control, carried out a religious ceremony a couple of days before the anniversary, in which they prayed for the victims and prayed for the freedom of Cuba.
In Havana, the home of Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo had already been completely surrounded by the political police for 5 days, keeping her family and other dissidents from going out to the street. Fonseca explained that, although they could not make it out, she managed to hang a large sign on her porch with messages condemning the Castro regime for the tugboat massacre and honoring the victims, highlighting that there were minors among the murdered. The activist added that other members of the group which she presides over- the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba– did manage to surpass police cordons and pay tribute to the victims publicly in the same province of Havana.
Meanwhile, also in Havana but in the neighborhood of Arroyo Naranjo, Eriberto Liranza Romero said that various activists from the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy shocked the police, despite having been under threats and vigilance for 2 weeks, managing to throw flowers into a local river. On the morning of Saturday the 14th, Liranza explained on Twitter that other activities were being carried out by other members of the same youth group.
In Banes, Holguin, a group of dissidents from the Eastern Democratic Alliance marched to a river as well, successfully throwing flowers. These same dissidents managed to surpass a police cordon which had been set up by State Security Major Roilan Cruz, one of the main culprits of Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s assassination in 2010.
Other similar activities were reported in other provinces and cities, although telephone interruptions made it difficult to confirm further details.
Meanwhile, various Cubans across the island sent out messages through Twitter, using the hashtag #Remolcador13M (#Tugboat13M). One of these Twitter users was former political prisoners Pedro Arguelles Moran who mentioned the anniversary and emphasized that the crime was executed under “orders of the Castro tyranny“.
The Pastor and blogger Mario Felix Barroso tweeted, “The assassins are still out on the street, but God will do justice“. Meanwhile, Yoani Sanchez recalled that she was 17 years old when the massacre occurred and mentioned that many people, including her friends, would also risk their lives at sea in search of freedom. She explained that she did not know of the crime until “a couple of months after“, but affirmed that “ignorance does not free us of responsibility“.
“Help us to not forget them“, continued another Tweet by Sanchez, “to denounce the injustice“. The blogger also published a link to a harrowing testimony by one of the survivors.