Persecution against independent musicians on the island has increased, specifically against rappers who make protest music.
Right now in the Eastern city of Bayamo, rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga ‘El Critico’, member of The Unwanted Children, has been imprisoned for more than 4 months, while in Havana State Security agents offend and beat members of El Primario y Julito. All these dissident musicians – from the world of rap, rock or of any genre – are censured on all State media outlets.
In this second edition of #PassItOn, audio-visual series which captures the story of Cubans with free minds, we echo the situation of dissident rapper Rodolfo Ramirez “El Primario”, of Havana. El Primario is a member of the hip-hop duo El Primario y Julito. Both have been censured and harassed by the Cuban dictatorship and on July 21st 2013 Rodolfo was brutally beat at El Malecon under the orders of State Security. El Primario’s crime? His free and uncensored rap. In Cuba, there is a movement of young people who make protest music:
The young Rodolfo Ramirez, best known as rapper El Primario, member of the dissident hip-hop duo El Primario y Julito, has been victim of a brutal beating which has left him with memory loss and serious scars on his face and head. The attack occurred on Sunday, July 21st, at the Malecon of Havana.
Julio Leon Fonseca “Julito”, offered declarations to the station ‘Radio Republica’ in regards to the situation, explaining that the repression was part of a series of hostile actions against both rappers that week. Fonseca had been verbally threatened in his neighborhood of Boyeros, in Havana, by a person at the service of State Security on July 16th. But the presence of various friends that came out in his defense forced the repressor to flee.
The ruthless violence, however, was reserved for El Primario while he was sitting along the Malecon of Havana alongside his girlfriend on Sunday morning.
“His girlfriend says that when they were sitting there he told her that there were two men following them and they looked like members of State Security. He told her they should leave that place“, explains Julito in the audio, “but in a little while, when Rodolfo and his girlfriend were already leaving, they see the two men again. One of them starts being rude to his girlfriend and El Primario responds, saying that it is a lack of respect. Quickly, one of the men throws Rodolfo to the floor and they both begin to kick his head“.
The musician has been left in a state where he forgets certain things and with worrying injuries.
“It’s a very difficult case”, expresses Julito, “Because El Primario is suffering from memory loss, he is repeating things and his face is completely disfigured“.
Fonseca says that it’s highly probable that the aggressors were sent by State Security, or that they are officials of some other vigilante organism of the regime. His reasoning is because both attacks – verbal and physical – occurred the same week, and mainly, because when the police arrived on the scene, they did not handcuff the attackers.
On her part, renown opposition leader and mother of Julito, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, seconded this opinion in some declarations she made to this blog.
“I have more details about this case. I was able to sneak in through the backdoor of the police unit because they left it open. I could perfectly see Rodolfo. He was in a jail cell with both aggressors. He couldn’t even remember that they were the ones who attacked him. His girlfriend was the one who identified them“, recounts the activist, “both men were very confident and trusting with the political police agents. And it’s obvious that both of them had been trained with the way they beat Rodolfo. In addition, the family of one of them was there in the unit, chatting with the police with much confidence“.
“We do not think this is something casual, that in the same week both members of El Primario y Julito were assaulted. We hold the regime responsible for what has happened“.
El Primario is currently with his family, trying to receive medical attention for the damages on his head. This Monday, July 22nd, the young rapper was still suffering from memory loss. The duo is popular amongst everyday Cubans, mainly the young ones, for their hip-hop music with dissident lyrics. Both have described their sound as protest music and have been arrested and beat in the past by political police agents. Their music is completely censured on all mediums on the island.
–UPDATE– July 23rd, 2013: Independent news agency “Hablemos Press” has published a video-report showing the aftermath of the beating against El Primario. Check it out:
The Lady in White and spokesperson for the National Resistance Front, Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, was arrested at around 8 AM this past Monday, July 9th, in Havana, along with a group of other pro-human rights activists who had plans to carry out a tribute to the victims of the 13th of March Tugboat Massacre, which occurred on July 13th 1994, where the Cuban regime gunned down a group of Cubans- among them children and women- who were trying to flee the country in search of freedom aboard a tugboat.
In the case of Fonseca Quevedo, she remained behind bars until approximately 9 PM. She was first kept in the police unit of Cojimar and later in the 4th Unit of El Cerro. Another detainee was Yanelis Cabrera Bouza, also a Lady in White, who was released after an interrogation session during the afternoon.
Bouza told “Radio Republica” that, in her case, she was arrested separate from Fonseca Quevedo, when she was about to arrive to the spot where they had plans to carry out the peaceful activity, where they were to throw flowers into the ocean in memory of each victim of the massacre. When she was taken to the police unit of Alamar, uniformed agents accused her of trying to plan an illegal exit from the country, an accusation which is completely false, according to the dissident.
Upon being released, Cabrera Bouza head to the home of Fonseca Quevedo, where a number of dissidents were congregated, among them the independent rapper Rodolfo “El Primario” Ramirez, who also shared declarations with “Radio Republica”, explaining that the demonstrators were carrying out a vigil and a peaceful protest, demanding the immediate release of Sara Marta Fonseca, who suffers from numerous medical ailments.
During night hours, Fonseca was released, which was proven by a Twitter message she managed to publish on her account (@SaraMartaCuba). “From the PNR Unit in Cojimar, transferred to the 4th of El Cerro”, explained the message of the Lady in White, “liberated at 9:20 PM, they took away my sign with messages paying tribute to victims of Tugboat Massacre. My home is surrounded”.
Julio Leon Fonseca, son of Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Ignacio Leon, best known by his rapper name of ‘Julito’ from the hip-hop duo ‘Julito & El Primario’, has informed that he has not yet received news of his parents after they were severely beaten and arrested this past Saturday, September 24th. 96 hours later, on Wednesday, September 28th, the young dissident has declared, “My parents’ situation continues the same, they are still detained, and have been on a hunger and thirst strike for 96 hours so far“, in protest for their arbitrary arrest on behalf of the Cuban government.
“My mother (Sara Marta) has severe pains from a violent physical blow given to her on her spinal chord, carried out by State Security officials“, Fonseca explains. “As for my father (Julio Ignacio) he is also in lots of pain and is also carrying out a hunger and thirst strike“. On Monday, September 26th, ‘Julito’ and a group of dissidents attempted to head to the police unit of Santiago de Las Vegas to obtain information about his parents, but government politial police officials quickly surrounded the home of Fonseca and impeded the dissidents from walking. “We were savagely beaten and then detained. I have bruises on my eye and pain all over my elbows“, explains ‘Julito’, adding that the other dissidents who accompanied him were Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Donaida Perez Paceiro, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and his friend and musical partner Rodolfo Ramirez (who is best known as ‘El Primario’). The women mentioned are still detained, while Jultio and Rodolfo were both released on Tuesday, September 27th.
The independent dissident news agency, ‘Hablemos Press’, has published photos of the hip-hop duo after their release, and the marks left behind by State Security agents. The blogger Joan Antoni Guerrero also published the photos in his blog, ‘Punt De Vista‘.
‘Juilto’ Leon Fonseca
Rodolfo Ramirez, ‘El Primario’
Julio Leon Fonseca denounces that “as of now there is no other news” about his mother Sara Marta, his father Julio Leon Ignacio, and the women from Placetas- Yris Tamara Perez, Donaida Perez, and Yaimara Reyes- and that, together with other dissidents, he would again try to make it to the police unit of Santiago de Las Vegas, where it is assumed the arrested resistance members are being kept. “They have to show me my parents“, demands the young activist.
(UPDATE- 09/28/11): According to the ‘Cuban Resistance‘ Twitter, on the afternoon of Wednesday September 28th, Julito Leon Fonseca and prominent dissident Eriberto Liranza Romero walked to the Havana police station of Santiago de Las Vegas where it was supposed that Sara Marta and Julio Leon were being held. There, the activists demanded to know the real situation of the arrested dissidents, but, ironically, only more repression occurred. Eriberto Liranza was detained. Liranza was present at the September 24th beat down and was also detained until the 25th. According to his testimonies, while detained the first time he was continuously threatened by State Security agents who told him if he continued his peaceful anti-Castro activities he would be arrested. It seems that the oppressors are keeping their word.