The “War of Wearing Out”: Increase Violence, Destroy Symbols to Martyrs

This will be a war with the aim to wear you out“, that’s what the new political police chief in Placetas- Raul Acare Martinez- told Antunez while the latter resided in a jail cell during his most recent detention.  Martinez signaled that “every time you all (dissidents) go out to the streets, you will all continue to be arrested“.

Antunez has confirmed this, as he has been victim of 3 arrests (of 72 hours in length) in just one month.  The most recent one was on Tuesday, November 8th, when 14 dissidents from the Central Opposition Coalition and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front met up in a public location in order to carry out a peaceful sit-in in solidarity with Alcides Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer, both of who were in hunger strike at the time.  In addition, it was also a demonstration of solidarity with the savagely beaten Idania Yanez and various other dissidents who remain imprisoned for political reasons in Santiago de Cuba.

As soon as we concluded that activity and we started to walk back to my house, we were violently repressed and taken to the police unit“, explains Antunez, emphasizing the cases of various of his brothers and sisters in struggle who suffered health complications, such as Xiomara Martin Jimenez who suffered “a serious hypertension crisis” and the blind activist Jose Angel Vazquez who was treated just as ruthless as the others.  In the case of Antunez, relatives were informed that he was also experiencing various complications during his second day behind bars.  “I regularly suffer from hypoglycemic problems, and I grew very dizzy, had tachycardia, and strong pains in my chest“, he narrates.

Political Police agents 'hunting for dissidents' in Placetas. Taken from Antunez's blog "Im not leaving, im not shutting up"

The dissident from Placetas adds that his sister, Caridad Garcia Perez Antunez, who is not even a dissident, was “beaten and arrested along with her 15 year old daughter” as they walked in front of his home, trying to find out what was happening to her brother.

After 72 hours, all the non-violent demonstrators were released but the ‘war to wear out’ was clearly underway.

Since the weekend and Monday the 14th, the home of Antunez “has been target of a massive police operation, where no one is allowed to walk in front of the house, passing cars are diverted and they are asking all neighbors for identification“.  Despite this, numerous activists were able to surpass the police circle and met up to re-inaugurate a monument to the fallen Orlando Zapata Tamayo (which was debuted a few months ago during the ‘Zapata with Us’ campaign) which was destroyed by the political police last October 24th, during the Day of the Resistance.

Though some dissidents were present, many were detained, deported, or impeded from traveling.  Among those arrested were María del Carmen Martínez López and Yanisbel Valido Pérez (Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, Central Opposition Coalition) and among those deported were Yaimara Reyes Mesa, Lorenzo Hernández García, and Blas Agusto Fortun Martínez. Many other activists, from other provinces, were not able to make it due to the strong police operation in their towns which would not let them mobilize, as was the case of Ricardo Pupo Sierra from Cienfuegos.

Regardless, among those present were “from Camaguey, Santo Fernandez Sanchez and Leonardo Garcia Tomas from the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID), and coming from Banes, Rene Quiroga, Aurelio Antonio Morales, and Vivian Tamayo Ramayo from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, and from Ciego de Avila Julio Columbie Batista“, informed Antunez.

The vigilance, the threats, and the repression on behalf of government agents has not ceased, but regardless, the activists carried out the planned activities.  “Though many could not be there with us, there was still a significant number of people present,” affirms Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’, “and, in addition, Zapata was there with us in heart and in spirit“.

Antunez and other members of the Cuban resistance throughout the island have proved that even if the war unleashed against them by the dictatorship is trying to wear them out, they will not tire.

The “War of Wearing Out”: Increase Violence, Destroy Symbols to Martyrs

Antunez and 12 other Dissidents “Under Investigation” for Peaceul Sit-In

The following audio was recorded by Bertha Antunez, in conversation with Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, wife of Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’.  Aguilera reports that a government official from the Placetas Police Unit told her that her husband, along with the 12 other detained activists, will continue under custody for an “indefinite period of time because they are under a process of investigation”.

The audio is in Spanish but is followed by an English transcription:

” I have just been told by a guard from the Police Unit of Placetas that my husband Jorge Luis Garcia “Antunez” and the other activists arrested alongside him will remain detained for an indefinite period of time because they are under a process of investigation.  This was communicated to the guard by a State Security official who did not want to come out and speak to me”.

Antunez and the 12 other peaceful anti-government activists (Pastor Alexei Gómez, Rene Quiroga, José Ángel Abreu, Oscar Veranes Martínez, María del Carmen Martínez, Donaida Pérez Paseiro, Xiomara Martin Jiménez, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Orlando Alfonso Martínez, Enrique Martínez Marín, Mayra Conlledo García and Víctor Castillo Ortega) were arrested violently yesterday (November 8th) during a public sit-in.  With the protest, they demanded freedom for all Cuban political prisoners and the immediate and unconditional end to government sponsored violence against opposition members and the country as a whole.

We must remember that in the 1960’s in the United States, this civic resistance method of protesting- specifically the sit ins- was a very popular tactic among the African-Americans who peacefully fought for their rights.  Just as the Cuban Resistance has, the African-Americans suffered countless violations for their demands.  But we must also point out and remember that, in the end, they did achieve their goals.  The Cuban Resistance will also be victorious.

Antunez and 12 other Dissidents “Under Investigation” for Peaceul Sit-In

Santa Clara Dissidents End Hunger Strike, but “the Struggle Continues”

A special thanks to Bertha Antunez who recorded and shared these declarations made by Damaris Moya Portieles on Tuesday, November 8th.

(Left to Right) Rolando Ferrer & Alcides Rodriguez

On Tuesday morning the dissidents from Santa Clara- Alcides Rivera Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer Espinosa- decided to end their hunger strike which lasted exactly 41 days and left them with serious health ailments.

Damaris Moya Portieles, provincial delegate of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement and Co-President of the Central Opposition Coalition, expressed her relief and satisfaction that both dissidents- which carried out the protest from her home- had ceased their hunger strikes after “Dissidents Marta Beatriz Roque and Arnaldo Ramos Lazarique visited them at home just a few days ago and asked them to please stop, considering that Raul Castro’s dictatorship already gave them an answer, which is that they will not stop the violent beatings” against dissidents.  Many other members of the Cuban resistance asked them to do the same, declaring that these brave men are needed alive.

Rodriguez and Espinosa decided that, just as Moya Portieles expressed, the dissident’s struggle belongs “out on the streets, our stage“.

And it is in that same stage, or sector, where members of the Central Opposition Coalition and the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front have planned to “work more directly and together with the everyday people, so that they step out of the lies hurled upon them by the dictatorship, and see just how they are being oppressed“, affirms Damaris.

Nevertheless, the human rights activist warns that Rodriguez and Espinosa still run serious health risks, considering that their lengthy hunger strike left them in a “very poor state of physical health“.  Alcides is suffering from broncho-pneumonia, pain in his kindeys, and other complications, while Rolando is reeling from pains on his arm, “the tightening of his chest“, and has a “green-ish” color to him on his hands and feet.  “A doctor which visited him told us that it is very probable that he may be suffering from a heart or blood circulation condition“, adds Portieles.

Strikers Alcides Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer have seen, through this protest, how the Castro dictatorship pays no attention to their demands.  They’ve comprehended, according to declarations made by themselves and fellow dissidents, that before losing their lives while demanding their rights before a nomenclature which simply ignores such demands, it is better to confront the oppressors directly, face to face, despite repercussions this could have.  “They may kill us on the way but we must put an end to this dictatorship“, affirms a confident Moya Portieles, “We are letting the dictator- and the world- know: this has not been a defeat.  We are going to continue out on the streets, our scene, our stage.  The dictator will know very well know who we- the Central Opposition Coalition and the National Resistance Front- are“.

Shortly after putting and end to the hunger strike, a group of 13 dissidents were violently arrested and beaten in Placetas during a peaceful sit-in protest in which they demanded the unconditional release of all political prisoners and an immediate end to government-sponsored violence against the resistance and the people of Cuba as a whole.  Those detained were Jorge Luis García “Antúnez”, Pastor Alexei Gómez, Rene Quiroga, José Ángel Abreu, Oscar Veranes Martínez, María del Carmen Martínez, Donaida Pérez Paseiro, Xiomara Martin Jiménez, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Orlando Alfonso Martínez, Enrique Martínez Marín, Mayra Conlledo García y Víctor Castillo Ortega. (As of Wednesday afternoon, the activists remain imprisoned)

The struggle continues“, assures Damaris Moya Portieles.

Members of the Central Opposition Coalition
Santa Clara Dissidents End Hunger Strike, but “the Struggle Continues”

Dissident Testimonies: Hospital Break-In, Savage Beating, and Arrest

Yris Tamara Aguilera, Antunez, Idania Yanez

The last group of Cuban dissidents who were brutally attacked and arrested by the political police this past 31st of October in the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital of Santa Clara were released this 3rd of November.

Activist Jorge Luis Antunez explains that the purpose of such a congregation of more than 15 dissidents in the hospital was to demonstrate solidarity with hunger strikers Alcides Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer who had been urgently rushed to the hospital after 29 days of their ongoing protest.  Also, the dissidents wanted to accompany Idania Yanez, wife of Alcides Rodriguez.

It was a completely peaceful atmosphere among the dissidents, we were there in solidarity“, recounts Antunez, continuing, “After a while, my wife Yris and I head upstairs to the B-Medical Room, Bed 11 to keep Alcides some company.  It was then that we received a call from Idania from the lobby.  She was telling us that government agents were entering the building- they were political police and Rapid Response Brigade agents, sent to arrest dissidents“.  The dissident from Placetas shares that he did not think that the officials would go to the point of breaking into the intensive care center where there were many gravely-ill patients- men, women, old and young.  However, the agents paid no attention to this.

The police officers broke into the room and “brutally arrested us without telling us a thing, savagely beating us at the same time”.  The couple was then dragged throughout all of the hospital to the outside and shoved inside police vehicles.  “While they were dragging us“, narrates Antunez, “we could hear screams of patients and those accompanying them, protesting against the situation“.

Both Yris and Antunez were taken, while being beat, to the Police Unit of Caibarien.

Idania Yanez, Damaris Moya, Yanisbel Valido, Rene Quiroga, and others were also victims of physical aggression and an arbitrary arrest.  The Assembly of the Resistance, an umbrella group of dissident organizations in and out of Cuba, published a testimony, through the Cuban Democratic Directorate’s website, of the horrors Damaris Moya went through.  In the testimony, Moya denounced that both she and Idania Yanez were dragged from a police vehicle to the police center known as “UPOC”.  Moya explains that in the case of Yanez, she was taken into the Unit by various agents who were “punching her on her abdomen, on her head, and all over her body“.

The report continues, “I was able to break free from a female agent who held a tight grip on me and I ran towards Idania and Yanisbel.  Yanisbel was being choked, she had turned very red.  They were continuously punching Idania.  It was then that a guard from Guamajal- a very tall and corpulent woman- hit me on my head.  I fell hard against the prison bars.  At that moment, my hands and feet began to grow numb.  My feet were swollen and I couldn’t move.  They left me on the floor and they once again pounded Idania, punching her and dragging her into a jail cell“.

The officials then turned to Damaris and began to kick her while on the floor.  She couldn’t get up.  They sat her on a chair and were screaming at her to get up.  “A doctor came and opened my eyes and then told me I didn’t have anything.  They continued the same thing.  They screamed at me to get up.  They grabbed my hair and hurled me to the floor, chair and all.  I was once again dragged, by the hair as usual, but only one of them was grabbing my hair, the other two were kicking me at the same time.  They threw me into a cell where there was a red ant pile and I was just left there after they tore off my clothes and left me in my underwear“.

According to Moya, the functionary who ordered so much violence against these women was Yuniel Monteagudo Reina, a State Security agent.  The dissident also recounts that Idania was savagely beaten on the face and on her eyes, which caused her to swell up.  Yanez was also bleeding from her back.  She had a long scratch which Moya speculates could have not been done with a hand or nails, but instead with some sort of object.

Idania Yanez was taken to the State Security Barracks of Santa Clara while Damaris was taken to the Unit of Encrucijadas, where she carried out a protest, refusing to eat any food or drink any liquids, despite the constant threats and insults.  She was released Wednesday night.

While all these dissidents were being tortured and arrested, the hunger striker Rolando Ferrer was kicked out of the hospital while Alcides Rodriguez remained alone.  For that reason, on Tuesday November 1st Guillermo Farinas, a veteran in his own right with hunger strikes, head out to visit his brother in struggle at the hospital.  The political police did not allow Farinas to enter the hospital and they also beat him aggressively.  He remained detained until the morning hours of November 3rd.

During that same afternoon of the 3rd, all the dissidents who were still arrested during this operation were released, except for Idania.  Information about her whereabouts and condition was very scarce which led to various activists- Damaris Moya and Antunez among others- to declare that if by 5 PM Idania had not arrived to her house, they would carry out a protest in the streets of Santa Clara all the way to the detention center in which she was being held.  Shortly thereafter it was reported that Yanez was released but her family took her directly to the hospital due to the fact that she had suffered countless severe physical blows and was in a very bad state of health.  According to her mother, who denounced the violations her daughter suffered, the last few times Idania has been detained she has ended up in the hospital afterward because of all the blows she has suffered.

“I am very concerned about our beloved sister in struggle, Idania Yanez, because she has been severely injured“, declared Antunez- a worry he shares with all his other brothers and sisters in struggle, “We are all holding the Castro dictatorship accountable in regards to what may happen to Idania“.

Dissident Testimonies: Hospital Break-In, Savage Beating, and Arrest