ADO-Press: Another Important Crack in the Censorship Wall

In an island where its rulers try to control the flow information with an iron grip, another important step towards freedom was taken on Tuesday October 4th, in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba, when activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance launched ADO-Press, an independent news agency of this opposition group.  This agency, with its headquarter in Eastern Cuba, joins the group of various independent news agencies that report what truly occurs in the country.

Independent journalist and blogger and also member of this new agency, Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal was present and reported that there were 18 activists in the home of Isael Poveda Silva, where the event was held.

According to Rojas, who in addition serves as a correspondent for ADO-Press, “the first objective of the organization is to let everyday Cubans know the reality of what occurs in Cuba, without ideological inclinations, considering that the state-run media responds only to one political party and does not respectfully represent the people“.  The activist added that in order to be that voice the agency will report news about social problems that directly affect ‘everyday’ Cubans, such as issues of housing, jobs, health, education, along with the human rights crisis on the island which also affects all inhabitants.

Various participants in the launch of ADO-Press. Photo: Luis Felipe Rojas

In the important meeting they also announced the executive members of ADO-Press.  The director is Rodolfo Barthelemy Cobas and the Sub-Director is Caridad Caballero Batista, well known dissident and independent journalist from Holguin.

Caballero Batista emphasized that the goal of ADO-Press is “to continue denouncing the crimes committed against Cubans and so that the world knows of the critical situation occurring on the island“.  According to the activist, one of the most serious problems affecting the island is the situation of political prisoners who are punished and tortured for their political ideas and peaceful demonstrations.

In addition, ADO-Press will consist of journalistic work carried out by other correspondents such as Emilio Leyva, Randy Caballero Suárez, Isael Poveda Silva, Raudel Ávila Losada, and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina.

Previously, we carried out our journalism in a more independent way, each of us on our own“, explains Batista, “now we do it in a more organized form through this agency“, explaining that in addition to the denouncements which ADO-Press will publish, they will also announce dissident activities so that everyday Cubans, that are perhaps not involved directly with the Resistance, know about the latest events, who the peaceful dissidents are, and for what reasons they are fighting.

In order to reach this objective, the Eastern Democratic Alliance, according to Luis Felipe Rojas, will use new technologies “like Twitter and blogs- such as ‘Palenque Cubano’ (the Alliance’s blog), or mine, ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire’, and others- as a platform” in order to send out news from Eastern Cuba to the rest of the country and the world.

In addition to correspondent, Rojas will also be adviser of new technology usage, teaching courses on how to use such technologies in an efficient manner while applying journalistic techniques.  He already began teaching some of these classes during the launching of ADO-Press, helping various dissidents to open their own Twitter accounts and sending their first messages, such as Yanet Mosquera (@yanetmosquera), Yoandri Montoya (@yoandrimon) , Julio Mone (@monebor), and Caridad Caballero (@caricaballero).

Despite all the fear the regime has and all the censorship it applies, we will continue publishing this news and sharing it with the world.  It is something very necessary“, affirms Caridad Caballero Batista.

After the ceremony celebrating the creation of ADO-Press, the activists premiered a documentary, produced and filmed by Palenque Vision- the Eastern Democratic Alliance audio visual group- titled “Cuban Prisons: A Sequence of Terror”.  The film explores the horrors of Cuban prisons, and according to the spectators, it was a success.  Copies of the movie were burned onto CDs and handed out among those present as well as to neighbors and other Cubans on the street.

News agencies such as ADO-Press in Eastern Cuba, and Hablemos Press with its headquarters in Havana, represent a new generation of citizens who are tired of the rhetoric and censorship of the state-controlled media.  These journalists/activists have been able to surpass the wall of censorship imposed on information by the government, sending messages to the exterior and informing those outside of the country, but they still face large obstacles in order to form their fellow citizens within Cuba.  The oppressive apparatus of the political police frequently interrupts and disables phone signals, prohibits the free us of internet, and censors any news on important events such as massive protests or cases of human rights violations on the national media.  It is difficult for a Cuban without links to the Resistance (and in many cases even dissidents themselves) to inform themselves, free of propaganda, in a rapid and efficient manner.  Though they are forbidden to partake in any television, radio, or written media spaces in their own country, the professional and extensive work carried out by these activists will continue to be spread throughout the island in whichever way possible, whether it be through handing out pamphlets and CDs or by carrying out public conferences.  Agencies such as ADO-Press are willing to confront the obstacles, working towards dismantling the state-monopoly over information, an essential step for achieving the ultimate freedom of a country.

ADO-Press: Another Important Crack in the Censorship Wall

Crackdown Attempts to Deter an Unstoppable March (Pt. I- Palma Soriano)

Orlando Zapata Tamayo (right) and Pedro Luis Boitel (left)

In response to the ‘Boitel and Zapata Live’ National March for Cuban Freedom, the Cuban authorities have taken every possible measure in their attempt to deter a people who demand rights and freedom for an entire nation.

One of these waves of repression occurred Friday, September 9th in Eastern Cuba- specifically in Palma Soriano, a region which, according to former prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, has been “totally militarized” as product of a rising level of activism, which increased after the home of dissident Marino Antomarchi, full of dissidents, was attacked with tear gas.

In the midst of this strict vigilance, Angel Moya Acosta, also former prisoner of conscience and coordinator for the National Boitel Zapata March, was able to find a way to get to Palma Soriano.  Along with Jose Daniel Ferrer and other dissidents like Tania Montoya, Raudel Avila, Francisco Macias, and Raumel Vinajera, they all noticed that political police agents were surrounding homes of dissidents in order to impede free movement and the March.  Jose Daniel Ferrer recounts that, “the agents wanted to force us to stay in our homes, but one of the agreements we reached for the march was to refuse our houses as prison cells“, continuing, “so we stepped out, and an agent dressed in civilian clothes told us it was not permitted.  Upon us not accepting this, the agent grew very nervous, as their were no uniformed officers nearby to detain us.  However, they quickly arrived and grabbed us by the arms and shoved us in police cars“.

This “hunt for dissidents“, as Jose Daniel describes it, was headed by Major Dorkis.  “Dorkis led this hunt throughout the entire city, arresting various dissidents like Francisco Castellano, Tania Montoya, and many others“, explains the former prisoner.

The participants of the march were taken arrested to diverse police units, while some were dropped off 70-90 kilometers from Palma Soriano, leaving them in desolate roads and therefore making it impossible for them to return in time to participate in the march.  Ferrer Garcia narrates his experience in the dungeons for 3 days:

In the detainment unit we suffered physical abuses at the hands of police officers and agents of the Ministry“.  First came the violent search of the dissident’s belongings and bodies.  “One of the agents stomped on my feet, I still have the marks to prove it.  Angel Moya was thrown on the concrete floor and pushed down, searching him by force“.  Tania Montoya was not only searched but also was victim of a form of sexual abuse.  “More than 7 female police officers forcibly stripped her clothes off and searched her so thoroughly that they even stuck one of their fingers in her vagina“, denounced Ferrer.

Afterward, Ferrer was thrown in a “pestilent dungeon, which was 4 squared meters and which already had 6 men inside.  It was terribly hot“.  In addition, “there was very little water and we were given horrible nutrition“.  Ferrer was able to firsthand witness the abuses committed against the common prisoners being held in that center, although it was not something alien to him, considering that he had just been released from serving 7 years behind the bars since the Black Spring of 2003.  One of the worst abuses against the prisoners, according to Garcia, is medical negligence, as well as the conditions in which they have to live (sealed off cells) and sleep (on the concrete floor).  In his own case, he also had to sleep on the cement floor for 3 days, with the same clothes he had on the day of his arrest and without access to hygiene products.

In some sort of way, I had lots of space in comparison with other brothers in cause and common prisoners who had to share a small cell with 12 others, amid all that heat, filth, and poor diet“, he explains.

Jose Daniel Ferrer and Angel Moya Acosta were released on the third day of their arrest.  In Moya’s case, he has already been intercepted after that detainment.  As of now, the exact details are not yet available but it was reported on September 15th that Moya, along with other dissidents, had been arrested again in Santa Clara, as he tried to coordinate the same march.  Some other names of those arrested alongside him are Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Idania Yanez, Damaris Moya, and Guillermo Farinas.

Crackdown Attempts to Deter an Unstoppable March (Pt. I- Palma Soriano)