Dissidents in Cuba and Twitter users around the world unite for new Tweet-Protest: #FreeMarcelino

Marcelino Abreu holds up his bloody shorts after police beating

On Wednesday, November 20th, renown dissident Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, from Havana, sent out a message through “Radio Republica” so that members from all opposition organizations in and out of Cuba raise their voices and carry out activities to demand the liberation of political prisoner Marcelino Abreu Bonora who is currently suffering in the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital of Santa Clara, Villa Clara, in a hunger strike which has already lasted more than 60 days.

Fonseca, who serves as the spokesperson of the OZT National Resistance Front and one of the leaders of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba, as well as a member of the Ladies in White, highlighted in the audio that no person should be taken behind bars because of their ideas, explaining that this is precisely what has happened with Abreu who was jailed after handing out pro-freedom pamphlets in the Cuban capital (Havana).  Afterwards, State Security fabricated a crime of “attempt, resistance and damages to a door lock” against the dissident.  His time in prison has been in the central province of Villa Clara but due to his severe health situation during his prolonged hunger strike he has been taken to the hospital.

Sara Marta also sent out a message on her Twitter account (@SaraMartaCuba) calling on Cubans from around the world and from all social networks to join the call of solidarity with Marcelino Abreu, asking them to use the hashtag #FreeMarcelino on Twitter.

tweet

Almost immediately, a number of Twitter users, bloggers and activists began to Re-Tweet and share Fonseca’s message and convoked a Tweet-Protest for this Friday, November 22nd starting at 9 AM using #FreeMarcelino to raise awareness on the situation of this dissident who is in very “grave” condition, according to relatives and fellow opposition members.  Similar protests have successfully taken place and have garnered massive participation in days past with the cases of dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon ‘El Critico’ (#FreeElCritico), the Lady in White Sonia Garro (#FreeSonia) and the case of Cuba’s election into the UN’s Human Rights Council (#DontVoteCuba).

liutweet

Other dissidents currently in and out of Cuba have also been rallying support for the liberation of Marcelino, including José Daniel Ferrer García, Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’, Carlos Michael Morales Rodríguez, Ricardo Lázaro Fiallo López, Damaris Moya Portieles and Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodríguez, among many others.  All of the previously mentioned have described Abreu’s case as “urgent”.  The young activist is a member of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Hard Line and Boycott Front.

Dissidents in Cuba and Twitter users around the world unite for new Tweet-Protest: #FreeMarcelino

Dissident speaks about the importance of unity against the dictatorship

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’.

Dissident speaks about the importance of unity against the dictatorship

Attempt against life of dissident leader and her son in Havana

Sara Marta Fonseca and her son, Ignacio Leon Fonseca, during a pots and pans protest at their home in Havana

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.

Sara Marta in front of her house, sign reads ‘Down with Communism’, ‘Down with Fidel’

For more information from Cuba:

Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +53-379-011 / Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba

Attempt against life of dissident leader and her son in Havana

Severe beating leaves dissident rapper “El Primario” with memory loss and serious scars (Images included)

El Primario. Before and after beating.

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:

Severe beating leaves dissident rapper “El Primario” with memory loss and serious scars (Images included)

Hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos in “critical” state

Cuban dissident Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, who has been on hunger strike since May 24th demanding a home after he was evicted by the regime, is in an extremely delicate state of health, according to various reports coming from the island this week.

Members of the opposition such as Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and Felix Reyes Gutierrez wrote on their Twitter accounts (@SaraMartaCuba and @FelixReyesGutie, respectively) that Santos Caballero “is suffering from a hypoglycemia crisis with much frequency, he runs the risk of dying at any moment” and that in dawn hours of July 16th, he “lost consciousness on three occasions”, classifying his state as “critical”.

Carlos Michael Morales Rodriguez, an independent blogger and a member of the Central Opposition Coalition, a pro-freedom group which Santos also belongs to, has been echoing the severity of the situation, offering a detailed report to ‘Radio Republica’ in regards to the health of the striker.

“The hunger striker is suffering a hepatic paralysis and his liver is starting to stop working or possibly could have already stopped”, detailed Morales Rodriguez in the audio, pointing out that the striker only has one kidney.  He lost the other vital organ during a severe beating by jailers while he was in prison.

In addition, Morales highlighted that Luis Enrique Santos has been on hunger strike for 54 days as of this 17th of July.  During these nearly 3 months of protest, Santos has been beat and threatened by members of the political police, and has also been lied to and manipulated by these same forces.  However, he has said that he will keep up his protest to the final consequences, demanding what belongs to any Cuban citizen: a place to reside and establish one’s life.

Hunger striker Luis Enrique Santos in “critical” state

“My Crime”, Making pro-freedom music under a dictatorship

This blog recently had a chance to catch up with Julito, independent and dissident rapper from the duo El Primario y Julito, who spoke to us about the group’s new record, an opposition rap agency, the difficulties independent artists face in Cuba and more. 

The dissident hip-hop group El Primario y Julito, based in Havana, recently launched their new album titled “My Crime” [‘Mi Delito’], a production which contains 14 songs, among them the first single “Lambon”, which has been accompanied by a music video.

Julio Leon Fonseca, better known as Julito, explains that “My Crime” is one of his favorite projects to date.  It consists of a number of “protest songs” and others which are more “commercial and reaggaeton-based“.

Among the protest anthems are “Este año si se Cae” [‘This year the dictatorship falls‘], a collaboration with the punk-rockers Porno Para Ricardo, while other invited artists on the disc are Rapper Issac and Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso [‘The Unwanted Children’].  The latter also form part of a new rap agency, along with Primario y Julito, dedicated to making protest music.

This agency consists of 5 rappers who are not allied with any government organization and we work completely independent because we are members of the opposition“, says Julito, “The agency is made up by us – Primario y Julito – and also Rapper Issac, from Santiago de Cuba, and The Unwanted Children, from Bayamo“.

The young musician highlighted the situation of Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico”, a member of The Unwanted Children, who has been arbitrarily detained for more than 2 months, being held in Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo, for making protest music and carrying out civic activities as a human rights defender.

Some artists affiliate themselves with certain musical or cultural groups belonging to the government, but we don’t buy that“, expresses Julito, “we make protest music and we have absolutely nothing to do with government agencies.  If we are going to protest, we will do so with our means, not with theirs“.

He adds, “in reality, this is not a government… it’s a family dynasty which took over the country and has not wanted to let go. This country, this government, has to change…or better said, this government has to cease existence“.

Some of the other 14 new songs are “Gobierno Tirano” [‘Tyrannical Government’], “Triste” [‘Sad’], “Malo” [‘Bad’], and “My Crime“, which is the title track and recounts how the regime classifies these musicians as being dangerous because they write lyrics critical of the system and publicly manifest their opinions without censorship.

This free attitude has cost independent artists on the island quite some reprisals.  Julito says that in the case of his group, “we have been beat, we have been arrested and we’ve been completely censured“.  In fact, Primario y Julito also go by the name “Los Censurados”, (‘The Censored Ones’).

When we started making music as a duo and we launched our first disc, we were summoned various times by the political police.  While in the police units, agents told us we would not have access to any stage and that we would not be allowed to perform live“, recounts the Havana-based musician, “In fact, I still haven’t been able to perform live because of this.  And it’s something I have always wanted to do as an artist, to see how the crowd reacts to my music.  But these things happen under dictatorships“.

Despite the censorship and the prohibition of not being able to present themselves publicly, Primario y Julito still have lots of followers.

“There are many people who listen to us, who know who we are out on the street, especially young people“, assures Julito, who also explains that in order to spread their art, they have to do so through their own means, “burning CDs and handing them out to the population“, while “opposition groups also help us spread our work throughout the country“.  In addition, they have to do record in “home studios” which other musician friends lend them.

He points out that an efficient way to assist artists like them in Cuba is to facilitate their access to blank CDs and USBs.

Our discs are not on sale in Cuba“, says Julito, son of well known dissident and Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo.  However, anyone can buy the new album on their website, www.elprimarioyjulito.com.

Roberto de Jesús Guerra, director of the Havana-based independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press’, recently published a video-clip of one of the new singles of the rap group, “Este año si se Cae” [‘This year the dictatorship falls’].

Here we are“, expressed Julito, “My message to other young musicians like us in Cuba is that they join us to keep taking the sentiment of freedom to the people.  Here I am…and we have to keep fighting without fear and taking this protest music against the dictatorship“.


To contact directly with Julito:
Cell Phone: +53-246-070

“My Crime”, Making pro-freedom music under a dictatorship

Cuba: SOS for 3 hunger strikers on the verge of death

The debate about whether dissidents working for a democratic Cuba should turn to hunger strikes or not always rises in and out of the island whenever these protests are undertaken.  Whichever the opinions may be, the reality is that, right now, in Cuba there are 3 human rights activists on hunger strike, all of them on the verge of losing their lives due to the serious deterioration of their health.  And while their lives extinguish slowly, the dictatorship ignores their demands.

They are:

Luis Enrique Santos Caballero

A member of the Central Opposition Coalition (CCO) and of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, from the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara.  Has been carrying out his hunger strike since May 24th, demanding a home after he was forcefully evicted alongside his wife Ramona Maday García, an activist of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.  Santos Caballero spent more than 15 years behind bars and upon being released his father had passed away and he had nowhere to live.  He spent some time living at the homes of friends and fellow dissidents until he finally decided to occupy an abandoned establishment.  Police forces violently evicted Santos from this establishment.  He has been under constant persecution since then.

The dissident began to protest with his wife in the Vidal Park of Santa Clara for a number of days, demanding a home.  He was arrested, beaten and repudiated by government mobs on various occasions.  Santos decided to start a hunger strike, moving his protest to the city of Placetas, specifically in the home of dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez’.

Santos Caballero has only one kidney.  He lost the other organ after a brutal beating by his jailers while he was still in prison.  It is precisely because the lack of one kidney that his health has deteriorated so quickly and why his health is critical.  Authorities have ignored his demands but Santos has said that he will take his protest to the final consequences.  #SOS

For more information from Cuba:
Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’ – Cell Phone: +52-731-656 / Twitter: @antunezcuba

Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta

Osvaldo after house raid and beating in September 2012

The home of dissident  Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta and his family in the town of Bejucal was raided by police forces on September 2012 after he had announced the formation of a new pro-freedom group, the Patriotic Alliance, and that his oldest son, 24 year old Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo, refused to participate in military service.  Father and son were beaten until the point that their heads were broken.  Juana Castillo, wife of Osvaldo Rodriguez, was also physically assaulted while her youngest son (12 years old at the time) witnessed everything.  The minor is severely traumatized.

The 3 activists were rapidly detained and sent to an arbitrary trial in 2013.  Osvaldo Rodriguez was sentenced to 9 years of prison, his son to 7 years and Juana was sentenced to 5 years of correctional labor.  Osvaldo (father) is jailed in the Combinado del Este Prison, where he began his hunger strike on May 10th, protesting all the abuses against his family and the authorities’ refusal to allow family visits.  His son is being held in Valle Grande Prison of Havana.  On June 8th, dissident and Lady in White Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, from Boyeros, Havana, reported that Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta had been transferred to the National Hospital’s penal ward, already with more than 30 days on hunger strike and in a “critical” state.

Fonseca has informed on her Twitter account that Rosa Acosta, mother of Osvaldo Rodriguez, suffered a pulmonary effusion and was interned in the National Hospital, where her son resides.  Authorities have not allowed them to see each other.  #SOS

For more information from Cuba:
Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo – Cell Phone: +53-379-01 1/ Twitter: @SaraMartaCuba

Wilbert Parada Milán

Wilbert Parada Milán is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).  He was violently detained along with Roberto Hernandez on March 30th in Habana Vieja.  He began his hunger strike on May 13th in the Valle Grande Prison, also in Havana.

In a recent interview with this blog,  José Daniel Ferrer García, leader of UNPACU, explained that Parada’s arrest was due to the constant activism he had been carrying out throughout the capital, carrying out civic protests and handing out pro-freedom literature.

In another recent interview to ABC,  Yudisnelis Rodríguez Reina, wife of the dissident, explained that the hunger striker is in “critical state” in a cell of the Cominbado del Este’s hospital.

Jailers have not allowed Wilbert to have family visits and he has reportedly lost consciousness on a number of occasions.  Relatives and fellow dissidents fear for the worst with this activist, who finds himself in a struggle between life and death.  #SOS

For more information from Cuba:
José Daniel Ferrer García – Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer

Luis Enrique Santos Caballero, Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta, Wilbert Parada Milán.  Three names we shouldn’t forget.  No more repression, no more dictatorship.

Cuba: SOS for 3 hunger strikers on the verge of death