“We Will Never Give up on Justice”, an Undaunted Search for Truth


Her father – Oswaldo Paya – was a leading figure of Cuba’s underground opposition movement. After being persecuted all his life by the political police, he was killed in 2012 in a mysterious traffic incident on the island, which survivors, witnesses, and fellow dissidents assure was no accident. Four years later, 27-year-old Rosa Maria Paya remains undaunted in her journey to show the world the truth about her father’s death, seeking an open and independent investigation of the incidents, so that for once and for all, she says, the Cuban government can be held accountable for taking his life, as well as the life of Harold Cepero – a family friend who was also killed on that July afternoon.

This past 24th of of February, Rosa addressed the 2016 edition of the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, demanding the international investigation, dismissing the image of a more open Cuban government as false, assuring that Cubans have the right to be free and to vote, and making it clear that, although international forums are important venues through which human rights can be defended worldwide, that Cubans do not want international organizations or governments to solve their problems, but that solidarity and coherence with those who struggle for freedom is important.

Rosa Maria has been harassed and interrupted on international stages by representatives of the Cuban government, while her family has continued to be persecuted. Yet, she has refused to take the route of silence.  Below is the transcription of her Geneva Summit 2016 address:


“Thank you for this opportunity to spread the voice of the Cuban people.

Cubans have lived for nearly 60 years without the freedom to express our own voice. The revolution of 1959 immediately suppressed freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, as the authoritarian tools to remain in power forever. These suppressions came with repression and violence, as illustrated by the long list of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Cuban authorities. At this moment, I would like to take a second to remember and honor the memory of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, political prisoner who died exactly 5 years ago during a hunger strike in a Cuban prison. My prayers are also for the 4 innocent pilots from the organization Brothers to the Rescue, shot down over international waters by the Cuban military on February 24th – 20 years ago.

Now, on February 2016, the same violators of human rights are still ruling on the island. Even more dangerous, this corporative and military elite is involved in a fake transition – not to democracy, but to legitimize their total control upon the Cuban society with a renewed image for the international public opinion, in order to attract foreign investors and financial credits. This combination of the worst of communism and the worst of consumerism is leading my country into a dynastic state capitalism – a Castro capitalism, like my father, Oswaldo Paya, warned in a book that will be published very soon.

It is a system where the historical generation and their descendants have monopolized all the economic resources of Cuba, while they keep sequestered the political sovereignty of our citizenry, condemning an entire people to economic and social scarcity, because the absence of human rights prevents Cubans from managing themselves. Is this the Cuba where the European Union and the United States expect to make profits? Maybe with the justification that, at some point, there will be an empowerment of the civil society? This empowerment hasn’t happened, not because of foreign policy, but because of a totalitarian state that does not recognize legal personality to any Cuban citizen, and therefore no one can belong to or own a business, or belong to a civil association, or to a political party, other than the Communist Party. We do not believe that what has not happened in China or in Uzbekistan during decades is now magically going to happen in a dictatorial Cuba.

My father, Oswaldo Paya, founding leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, and winner of the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament, denounced this operation of the regime as the “fraudulent change”. He paid with his life for his peaceful activism to achieve the real rights that belong to the Cuban people. On July 22nd 2012, my father and my dear friend Harold Cepero where extrajudicially executed by agents of the political police, staging a car crash that never took place in a location of Cuba that is still to be determined.

[The Cuban government], not satisfied with this double crime, my family was threatened with death and forced into exile, in order to safely carry on our lives and struggle for a free Cuba. But we do not belong in exile, and I refuse to remain in exile, treated as a stranger by the Cuban government and their despotic bureaucracy, including their new embassy in Washington DC, where they didn’t even open the door for me.

Next February 29, my father would have been 64 years old. Our friends and I, in person, will be there back in Havana in a thanks-giving Mass for his life. Death is not more powerful than love, and the legacy of my father Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero is full of love for life in a free Cuba.

Many Cuban lives are still at risk. This is why we are now trying to open an independent investigation to stop the impunity, to find out how my father Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero were murdered in Cuba. A special report was released by Human Rights Foundation where all evidence indicates that this was a crime against humanity, with the involvement of the Cuban authorities.

We will never give up on justice. Because we deserve justice. And because there cannot be reconciliation without the recognition of the whole truth. And a nation that intends to forget the violence against its innocent people will remain a captive nation. And it will be a nation condemned to suffer such violence over and over again.

Sadly, Cuba is now the country that many Cubans do not want to experience. My people are selling their houses to escape to Central America, or boarding a raft to reach the United States. But I’m not here just to tell you about our tragic history – I’m here to ask you to support the Cuban people in our struggle to change our history.

Today, it is my honor to be a part of the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy. We coordinate efforts in 20 countries to preserve and rescue the democratic values that have been compromised in many parts of our continent, because of corruption, because of authoritarianism, but also because of the interference of the Havana regime, as in the case of Venezuela. It is time for Cubans to decide our own destinies and to stop being the subjects of official agendas and secret pacts between governments. It is time to put an end to the impunity of the Cuban government, which has never been chosen by Cubans in free, fair and pluralistic elections. This is why more and more Cubans are now saying “yes” to a citizen initiative that claims for a plebiscite in Cuba, through a national and international campaign called Cuba Decide. Totalitarian and post-totalitarian systems cannot coexist with the idea of the people deciding by themselves, and this is precisely what Cuba Decide stands for.

In order to initiate a true transition on the island, Cuba must open to our own citizens who have the right to decide the system we want to live in, after almost 60 years of uncontested  government. In this, we need all your support, to spread the liberation message of Cuba Decide and for all Cubans, finally, to decide our own future.

But by democratizing our country, we do not become another failed corrupt nation. This fatalism is another fallacy of the regime – a lie repeated by many academics of the free world. Let me tell you that, as a young Cuban woman, me, and many like me – we are now struggling to live and love in a decent, inclusive, and prosperous 21st century society. Please join us in this effort to return sovereignty to the citizenry. To give power to the people, and not to the powerful.

The last iron curtain must fall, and it must fall now.

“Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all men are not free”, said President John F. Kennedy in his speech at the Berlin Wall. “Dictatorships do not have political colors, they are just dictatorships”, said my father. Until his life was taken, from him and from all Cubans.

Dear friends, the Cuban people are not a monolith to the image and likeness of the Communist Party, the only one [that is] legal according to the current Constitution. In this new era of normalizations with Cuba, the table of negotiation should contribute to a true transition and not to the interest of a General in power.

We Cubans do not need the European Union or the United States to solve our problems. But we need them to be coherent and support the right to decide of the Cuban people through a plebiscite, using all the channels available.

We are Latin Americans, but we believe in the best principles of North America, too. We are [from the] Caribbean, but we stand for the best values of Europe, too. We are Cubans, but we are with Asians and Africans struggling for a better life. Despite the rhetoric of a reactionary regime, let us not forget that we Cubans are not less than human. And each and every one of the Universal Human Rights applies to us as much as it does to anyone in the world.

No man is an island, and no nation is an island. As my father used to say, help us to globalize solidarity, or human rights will always be in danger.

God bless you all, thank you so much”.


Cuban rapper, ‘El Critico’, has a message for the world after prison release

After nearly two years in prison, Cuban rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, best known as “El Critico” from the underground hip-hop duo “The Unwanted Children”, has been released, along with several other political prisoners across the island.  Remon was sent to prison in March 2013 after a violent government organized mob attacked his home in the Eastern town of Bayamo.  The reasons for his incarceration were his protest lyrics, his public demonstrations against the Cuban system and for painting signs outside his home reading “Freedom” and “Down with Fidel”.

Yudisbel Roseyo, the young wife of El Critico, endured just as much as the difficulties as her husband during his time in jail.  She was frequently followed, spied on, detained and even physically assaulted by Cuban secret police agents on countless occasions. Meanwhile, Angel Yunier suffered beatings and other forms of torture behind bars, and nearly lost his life in late 2013 when he underwent a lengthy hunger strike to protest his arrest.  Upon arriving home on Thursday, January 8th 2015, the musician explained his bittersweet sentiments – happy for being home next to his wife and child, but aware that his release does not mean that neither he, or the rest of the Cuban population, are truly free. (Marti News published an article detailing how the majority of the released prisoners are under ‘conditional freedom’ or ‘extra-penal licenses’)

“…I’m not really free yet, because our country is not yet free, but I am now alongside my children and my wife. I am here again, confronting the situation that all us Cubans have to face”, he said in a brief interview he offered this blog a few hours after his release.


During the rapper’s time in prison, a strong solidarity campaign surged outside of Cuba, where many Cuban artists joined the call for his liberation.  Some of these names included Gloria Estefan, Willy Chirino, Albita Rodriguez, Marisela Verena, and others.  Meanwhile, local Miami rappers such as The Problem Kids also echoed his situation.  Twitter saw the creation of the hashtag #FreeElCritico which received many hits, and several videos were produced detailing his story.  Through his wife, Angel Yunier was kept informed of all this solidarity and, while clearly moved, he wished to share a message of appreciation to his fans, fellow artists in exile and other individuals who demanded his release.

“To all those people, to all those artists, who have deposited their faith in me, and have in one way or another recognized my work and have demanded my freedom, I will not let you down.  I will keep enriching and making Cuban music, and I thank all of you for all your support and effort.  I hope to one day be able to share words with you all in person, and thank you everything”, he stated.

Also while El Critico was in prison, two internationally known hip hop artists – Jay Z and Beyonce – visited Cuba for leisure.  Some thought that, having the media power the two have, they would mention the rapper’s situation, or at least give a shout out to struggling Cuban artists who face censorship in state media, but that did not happen.  El Critico had a few thoughts to share about them, as well:

“For once and for all, I’d tell them to get down from that cloud of fantasy and respond to reality.  They can see this reality through us, those of us who have given everything, with all the limitations and repression we have.  We do this so the world can see the truth.  And they have access to this information, and the Cuba they saw here was the Cuba that the government let them see.  They don’t know what it’s like to live like an everyday Cuban, they do not know what it’s like to live with food rationing cards, they don’t know what the Committee for the Defense of the Revolutions* are”, the musician declared.

*Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, or CDRs, are watchdog groups set in most neighborhoods of Cuba to keep an eye on any opposition activities and to spy to the government.  Through their ‘work’, state police can arrest people who are suspected of ‘counter-revolutionary’ activities.

As for future musical projects, El Critico came out of prison with an itch to keep mixing sounds and creating new art.  It seems that during his time in prison he let his creativity take over and, as soon as he returned home, went back at writing and coming up with new ideas. He wanted to make sure that his fans know that his underground project, The Unwanted Children, was not going to stop existing, but also hinted at some new and different material.

“I am going to keep writing songs for you [fans]. I’m going to keep writing so that you all know my reality, and the reality of all Cubans.  I am working on re-mixing my first album, and I am adapting some songs to the guitar and changing things around.  For this project, I’m taking the more underground sound and moving it to something with live instruments.  I’m going to fuse rap with Cuban *son”.

*Son is a traditional Cuban music genre, driven mostly by acoustic guitar, bongos, keyboard, violin and other instruments.  It was born in the Cuban fields, mostly played by farmers.

El Critico even let fans preview his newest song, titled “The Accent”, which he is still working on. You can definitely hear the mix between rap and a more acoustic sound.

The dissident rapper assured that although the Cuban government has upped the repression and violence, he will continue “doing opposition”, through his music and through protests.  He seemed excited to share his music with the outside world again, and though he does not discard that he can be victim of another arbitrary arrest, he continues to speak his mind.  Before finishing the interview, El Critico explained one of his most popular lyrics, from the song titled “My Crime”, where he raps, “Long live Cubans with everything they deserve”.  What Cubans deserve, he said, is freedom.

“We Cubans deserve the best in the world, because we’ve been living in a prison.  We have been raised in a fallacy, where we involuntarily are indoctrinated since we are children.  And this fallacy has left Cubans with nothing, and has compromised many with this system, selling a false image, even while they know that the common desire is that we want change. For having suffered so much, and for having been victims of this system, Cubans deserve all the best”.

June 20: Virtual protest during trial of Cuban rapper #FreeElCritico


Users of Twitter have planned a ‘virtual protest’ on the social network for this Friday, June 20th, starting at 9 AM, in solidarity with jailed Cuban rapper Angel Yunier Remon (“El Critico”) who will stand trial that same morning in the Eastern town of Bayamo, Cuba.

The protest is open to all users of Twitter who’d like to participate and will consist of messages using the hashtag #FreeElCritico, created to raise awareness of the musician’s situation. Remon, a member of the censured rap group “The Unwanted Children”, was jailed in March 2013 for producing anti-government music and for publicly voicing his pro-freedom ideas. Cuban authorities accused the rapper of “attempt” and “public disruption”, though they have failed to provide any proof (a common practice against those who dissent with the regime on the island). Now, Angel Yunier may be sentenced to 8 years behind bars, despite already having been kept for over a year in several prisons without having had a trial and subjected to several beatings at the hands of guards.

El Critico’s wife, Yudisbel Roseyo, recently explained that the authorities haven’t informed her of a specific time in which the trial against her husband will take place, except that it will occur sometime on Friday morning.

Join the call and Break the Silence!

What it means to be a university student and a dissident in Cuba (A Chronicle)

Ever wondered what it must be like to be a young university student in Cuba who has decided to publicly oppose the dictatorship?  I recommend reading the following chronicle, published in ‘Diario de Cuba’, written by the young dissident Rafael Alejandro Hernández Real, one of the students who publicly questioned the communist functionary Ricardo Alarcon in 2008.  Find out what it means to young and a dissident under a totalitarian system in the very own words and exepriences of 24 year old Hernandez Real:

(My translation)

A month and a day in the opposition

It’s ten thirty at night. My wife sleeps on a bench in the terminal. A book-bag serves as her pillow and one of my t-shirts covers her face, forcing me to think that with just 17 years of age she’d rather not see, or perhaps not wake up.

As an excuse to not fall asleep I cling onto a phrase by Jose Marti: “Sleep is something we do when we have nothing else to do“. But we are exhausted. Barely 8 hours have passed since our last arrest, and it’s been one month and a day since we started as activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance.

As a youth in love who wishes to remember the important dates he has lived with his significant other, I use a notebook to jot down some notes, and in that fashion, I keep chronological order of what has happened since I began as an activist, with the help of Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, whom I know since 2009.

A couple of interviews on the radio programs “Barrio Adentro” (Radio Republica) and “Contacto Cuba” (Radio Marti) were my official baptism. They wanted to interview me because I was one of the students who, in 2008, publicly questioned the president of the Parliament, Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, in the University of Information Technology when he finished a conference about the importance of the unified vote. In a country with a single-party political system, where the State has historically carried out an oppressive mechanism against those who wish to materialize the concept of revolution, nothing could surprise me.

Barely just a month after the radio interviews I was definitively expelled from the Ministry of Public Health, as I worked in the Octavio de la Concepcion y Pedraja GeneralHospital, in the municipality of Baracoa. During a period of three years and seven months I worked as Chief of the Information Department, without ever being questioned or punished for any indiscipline. The reason for the expulsion? Two unjustified absences to work which appeared just three days after my interviews on the radio.

On the path to Guantanamo and Santiago

A few days later, a friend, my wife and I carried out a march from HatueyPark, in the city of Baracoa, to Guantanamo. Our motivation was to demand freedom of expression.

We head out at 2:30 in the morning, with no money or food. We walked more than 153 kilometers, eating just fruits like guava, green mangos, and drinking water from natural springs. We carried a piece of carton hanging from our necks by a string which read: “We want freedom of expression”.

Very near Imias, at around 10:30 in the morning, we were intercepted by a First Lieutenant and Captain of State Security in a community known as La Chivera. Along with other officials they detained us and took us on a police vehicle all the way to the Municipal Police Unit where they snatched our signs. They read a warning to each of us for altering public order and at 9:00 PM they released us very near the park where we initiated the march, but not before interrogating us.

We were once again in Baracoa. At least we didn’t have to worry about the money for the return ticket.

But on the following day we set out again, this time on bus. Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, among other human rights activists, awaited us in Guantanamo. We spent a couple of days traveling the city with the fear of being deported and under the pressure of certain neighbors who have been hired by State Security to keep vigilance over us and inform about our activities. On some occasions we played a couple of games of dominoes and exchanged ideas about our struggle and some obstacles of democracy. Time passed, and we enjoyed a privilege which they cannot snatch from us- being able to chose our friends.

After a few weeks we head out to Santiago de Cuba, but our Jeep was detained by State Security while exiting Guantanamo, in the police control point known as Rio Frio. Without a single explanation, we were taken to the Operations Unit and we were refused the possibility of knowing what would happen with us.

I came to know, firsthand, the Operations Unit just like they had described it to me, a perfect center of torture. I was kept there until the following day, locked in a sealed-off cell from which I was only taken out when they wanted to subject me to interrogations, as they do to all detainees.

They would take me to a freezing room, to try and crack my spirit, and a graduate of the school of Counter-Intellgience (G2) who was covered in the dialectic materialism of Marx and Engels (if you ask me, Fidel-ism more than anything else), was in charge of questioning me to find out up to what point I was willing to fight and if I would accept being recruited as a spy. On the following day we were deported back to our city of Baracoa.


A few days after these incidents, my wife fell sick and had to go to the hospital where I used to work before I was expelled. The security guards did not allow me to go in because that was what was established by the direction of the center. I kept asking but there was no way that they would let me in.

On this occasion I was not arrested, though I was a few days after when I participated in a march in honor of the first anniversary of the Cuban Resistance. Guided by the General Coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, we started our march from the town known as La Laguna along with another eight members of the opposition, shouting anti-government slogans and demanding total freedom for all Cubans. We were able to walk various blocks until we were intercepted by various forces of the National Police and State Security. They took us to the police unit located on La Punta, in the same city. I remained there with other activists until the next afternoon. I later found out that the others were sent to Guantanamo.

In addition to these repressive actions, I have had to live the most cruel form of repression, that of my own family. I am the son of people who are integrated to the Castro-ite process. My parents are members of the Communist Party, my sister belongs to the Union of Young Communists. My inclinations in favor of democratic change in Cuba have created strong contradictions within my family, to the point that I have had to sleep over at the homes of friends, transportation stations, or even out on the street.

The same has happened to my wife. Her parents quickly kicked her out because they did not want any problems with the government. Her mother is a doctor and she doesn’t want them to suspend her foreign missions. With those same missions, she could fix and sustain some things in the house.

I’m not sure if I am going too fast in this process of forming part of the peaceful resistance, but what I have lived during this month provides an idea of the countless things faced by those who get up every morning, like me, to fix the mess in which they have forced us to live.

For more testimonies of young Cubans who have decided to publicly oppose the dictatorship, I recommend watching ‘A pesar de todo: Jovenes de Baracoa’ (“Despite everything: The Youth of Baracoa”), a documentary produced by “PalenqueVision”:

A Tribute to the Cuban Woman on Mother’s Day

“The Cuban Woman: Mother, wife, daughter, friend, Resistance”

This is a simple video made by the authors of this blog and is dedicated to the Cuban woman on this Mother’s Day:

Meanwhile today, on Mother’s Day 2012, a number of Cuban mothers- most of them members of the Ladies in White- have been arrested and beaten by the Cuban political police, and yet they continue carrying out their activities and RESISTING against the repression.

We wish all Cuban mothers to have a Happy Mother’s Day today, especially those who fight for the freedom of Cuba.  These face harassment, acts of repudiation, beatings, and arrests for demanding the rights of an entire nation.  Regardless, they still find time to protect and educate their children and families.  They are examples of courage and inspiration.

(October 24th, 2011)- Day of Resistance Marked by Repression

“We are all Resistance

As has been established during the past few months, activists of the Cuban Resistance have designated each 24th of the month as the “Day of Resistance”, marked by the carrying out of non-violent activities against the dictatorship.  Each time this date has been celebrated, the regime has responded with violence- arrests, beatings, deportations, etc.  This past October 24th was no exception, as dissidents throughout the island took part in acts of resistance while also paying tribute to the recently deceased Laura Pollan, leader of the Ladies in White.

In the town of Banes, located in the province of Holguin, the Vice-President of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and also a member of the Ladies in White support group, Marta Diaz Rondon, met with various dissidents in the home of (also Lady of Support) Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, located in Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Street in the same city of Banes, at around 8 in the morning.  There, they hung signs with phrases such as ‘Laura Pollan, you will always be with us’ and ‘We are all Resistance‘.  The group of demonstrators were planning to take to the street but from the moment the activities began they were strictly under vigilance by State Security, the National Revolutionary Police, and the Rapid Responde Brigades.  Diaz Rondon tells that, “due to that massive operation against us, we were not able to go to the street“, but regardless, the dissidents continued to carry out their demonstration from the home of Suarez.

The previous day, Sunday October 23rd, 11 dissidents also form Banes, Diaz Rondon among them, head out to the Our Lady of Charity Church where they prayed for the soul of Laura Pollan and also for Orlando Zapata Tamayo (the 23rd marked the 20th month of his assassination).  The activists deposited flowers before the statue of the Virgin and decided to carry out a peaceful march all the way back.  “We were constantly watched by political police agents who were dressed in civilian clothing“, narrates Rondon, “They were looking at us with threatening stares, and there was an also an official present whom, at this moment I forget his name, but he has physically attacked me on various occasions, including one time when Reina Luisa Tamayo (mother of Orlando Zapata) was still in Cuba“.  Despite the vigilance, there was not a beating or arrest this time, but Marta Diaz Rondon warns and denounces that “these people are capable of anything” though this does not intimidate her or any other group of dissidents who “will not cease assisting mass and taking to the streets in all the municipalities.  If they continue impeding us from traveling to Havana to march alongside the Ladies in White, then we Ladies in Support will do so from other places“.

In the city of Holguin, during the Day of Resistance, activists Caridad Caballero Batista, Esteban Sande Suarez, Denis Pino Basulto, and Isabel Pena Torres had planned to carry out a peaceful march and protest through the streets of that city (toward a local park where they would deposit flowers in the name of Laura Pollan), but such a plan was interrupted by the arrest of these 4 opposition members.  “It happened at around 9 in the morning, when we decided to take to the street.  We had just walked 5 blocks down the centric ‘Mirador’ street when we were violently intercepted and arrested by State Security and Ministry of the Interior agents” who were accompanied by motorcycles and police vehicles, according to Caridad Caballero.  In her case, when she was detained she was also hit on her arm and mouth in an attempt to keep her from screaming anti-government phrases, but this did not stop her.  All these activists were taken to the detention center of Pedernales, as usually occurs.

Caballero continues, “they kept us for more than an hour in the backseat of the police vehicle, under the hot sun, before taking us into Pedernales and throwing us in dark and humid cells“.  During the arrest, none of the dissidents accepted water or food as a sign of protest for their arbitrary arrests.  Batista adds that they were constantly threatened, “a functionary by the last name of Marma cynically told me: ‘buy yourself a gun so we can square off through a gun fight’ to which I responded that I was not like him, that I was a peaceful dissident and I did not need a gun.  I am demanding the rights of all Cubans, including yours and your families‘”.

Meanwhile, in the central town of Placetas the home of Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ and wife Yris Tamara Perez was host to an activity similar to that in Banes, and various activists were present, but political police officials arrived unexpectedly and went straight towards the dissidents with violence.  Some of the agents broke into the front porch of the house and began to rip down signs and break other objects.  Yris Tamara denounces that “they ripped a sign which read ‘Boitel and Zapata Live On’, ‘Zapata is with Us’, and others.  They also shattered a Orlando Zapata monument we had- every Thursday we held a vigil around it in memory of the fallen prisoner of conscience.  They broke everything“.  It was at that moment that they forcefully arrested Antunez, along with dissidents Rene Fernandez Quiroga and Ciro Alexis Casanova.  But the aggression did not stop there.   “Because I was filming what was happening“, explains Yris Tamara, “the officials were trying to snatch my camera.  They were attempting to break through my window and reaching out to me to get it from me“.  They were not able to.

Antunez was released on Wednesday, October 26th, along with Ciro Casanova but Rene Fernandez remained detained and in critical condition in a Placetas Hospital, due to the fact that he had been severely beaten.

In Havana, Sara Marta Fonseca and Rodolfo Ramirez Cardozo head out towards the ironically named Martin Luther King Park where other activists were congregated (but so too were members of State Security and the political police, watching the dissidents’ every moves).  Fonseca declared to Radio Marti that both her and Ramirez were arrested before arriving to the park while others who were already there, such as Odalys Caridad Rodríguez, René Ramón González, and Francés Miranda Camejo, were also arbitrarily arrested.  Fonseca and Cardozo were taken to Unit 4 of El Cerro where they were kept until 9 pm, amid interrogations and constant threats.

The Cuban Democratic Directorate reported that in Cienfuegos various resistance members met up to publicly pray for Laura Pollan, also marking the Day of Resistance.  The report also mentions that, similarly, in Bayamo the young dissident Yoandri Montoya convoked a gathering of youths which denounced the dictatorial regime about the death of Laura Pollan, while back in Havana again other activities were being presided over by Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy president Eriberto Liranza Romero.

The Cuban resistance members have kept their word in regards to demonstrating throughout the island on each 24th of the month, despite the aggressive repression against them, proving once more that their convictions are much stronger than any weapon the regime could ever employ.

Dissidents will continue demonstrating throughout the island, because as Caridad Caballero said, “the streets do not belong to Castro, they do not belong to State Security- they belong to the people and we are going to continue taking to them to demand human rights, the freedom of all political prisoners, and so that the true culprits and responsible ones for such violence face justice- those who kill and oppress the people“.

The Virgin of Charity, and One Year for Pedazos

I would like to transmit my best wishes to all those readers who are Cuban,on the day of the Virgin of Charity, patron of all Cubans.  For many years, “Cachita” (as we Cubans refer to her) has been the guiding light for a people who suffer under repression and desperation.  For those outside of the island, she gives us hope, assuring us that one day soon we will return (and in the case of the younger generations, that one day soon we will be able to physically see our homeland).  For those inside the island she is a symbol of a better future, of changes, and a symbol which strengthens the resistance.

In addition to this important date, it is also the 1 year anniversary of this blog.  To all those who have read it, who have contributed, left comments, have agreed to interviews, or shared the link with others, thank you very much.

As you all know, this blog is dedicated to those who fight from inside, as well as those who had to leave.  It is a tribute to those who are still in the struggle, as well as to those who are no longer with us.  It is for those who,with white hairs of old age, keep fighting for a free Cuba, and for the youth inside the island which risk it all to achieve a better future, not only for them, but for their entire country.  This blog is also a tribute to my family, my parents, and especially my grandmother, who taught me nearly everything I know about Cuba.

For them, and for all the other “pieces” of our island, this blog will continue in full swing, publishing Cuban stories and denouncing what happens to our brothers in Cuba.

Our day is very near.

-Raul Garcia

September 8th, 2011

(I also want to point out that we should pay very close attention to our brothers inside the island today.  It has been reported that various Ladies in White in Eastern Cuba will assist the sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity to pay tribute to our patron saint.  We will be watching.)

Jose Daniel Ferrer: Beatings, Arrests, Vandalism in Palma Soriano Impede Ladies in White from Marching

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia explains that the peaceful march planned by the Ladies in White, which would begin from the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a mass, could not be carried out on Sunday July 24th because since the day before “there were arrests and houses surrounded.  Members of the repressive political police, together with members from the National Police and members of the so-called Rapid Response Brigade had surrounded various homes here in Palma Soriano“.  In addition, these repressive forces also set up various checkpoints throughout the region.  In those ‘security’ points, Jose Daniel explains that “they were stopping cars and asking for ID cards.  They did not let those who are known as dissidents pass“.

This strategy was implemented in order to arrest dissidents, Ladies in White in their majority, who had planned to take part in march in Palma Soriano where they demand rights, respect, and freedom for jailed dissidents and all of the Cuban people in a peaceful manner.  “This led to approximately 20 arrests“, points out Ferrer Garcia, adding that “the women from Bayamo who decided to go out notified us via phone that they were on their way but then we did not hear from them again, their cell phones give no answer, so logic indicates that they are detained“.  Similar cases sprouted up in Santiago de Cuba.  Though some of these cases were not possible to confirm, considering that many phone lines being inactive or blocked.  The number of arrests, however, is estimated to have been over 20.  Jose Daniel Ferrer’s phone was also blocked for a period of time during the crackdown.

The sinister habit of physical aggression was not excluded.  “Various women were beaten“, narrates Ferrer Garcia, citing names such as Belkis Castillo (his wife), Noami Infante, Ana Celia Rodriguez, and others.  Also, “Hector Felix Labrada Munoz received some physical blows.  He then went out to seek medical assistance at a clinic while presenting a certificate which listed the injuries he had just suffered which were all over his body, including on one of his eyes.  Despite this, the doctor at the center denied him assistance, and soon thereafter one of the guards in the clinic kicked him out“.  The list of some of the other names of dissidents who suffered the violence include Lazaro Alonso Parada, Pedro Manuel Guerrero, Ruben Torres Saiz, Manuel Martinez Cabrera, and Vivian Pena Hernandez.  Ferrer adds that two neighbors- Yaritza Echevarria and Noeliber Cors- joined in solidarity with the dissidents being oppressed.  These neighbors stood between the oppressors and the victims being beaten in an attempt to stop the kicks and punches.  Because of this, the neighbors were also strongly beaten.  As for Ferrer, he was also a victim of the violence, stating that he received “various punches“.

The dictatorship’s forces also turned to vandalism in their attempt to demoralize and attack the opposition.  In the home of the dissident couple Aime Garces Leiva and Julio Ballester, the mobs “used black paint to write phrases on the walls of the house in favor of the regime; phrases such as ‘Long Live Fidel’ and ‘Long Live Raul‘,” explains the former political prisoner of conscience, who classified the paintings as “extremely low, and not to mention sloppy“.  As if this was not enough, some of the attackers hurled eggs at the house.  “Also the home of Agustin Parades“, a family which Ferrer described as “very brave and one which has various members in the opposition” suffered similar attacks.

These photos, demonstrating some of the slogans painted on by the robotic Castro-commanded mobs as well as the remainders of eggs hurled at the home, were published on Facebook by Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, brother of Jose Daniel, who is exiled in Spain.

Although the march could not be carried out, and although a number of beatings and arrests occurred, on this 24th of July one could notice the important refusal on behalf of various neighbors to participate and be accomplices of the supposed spontaneous mob attacks and of so much violence, as was demonstrated by the fact that various neighbors tried to protect the dissidents.  “Many of these brave people are already in the opposition, while others are not“, affirms Ferrer Garcia.  One can also note what Jose Daniel Ferrer describes as the regime’s “nervousness” of soon losing control.  Because of these worries on behalf of the dictatorship, one can note the increase of attacks, aggressions, and offenses.  Regardless, tired but not defeated, these dissidents will not give up in the face of such absurd and repressive actions.  Marching peacefully, dissenting from a dictatorship, and demanding inalienable human rights is not a crime, and because of this, these activists will continue marching, and they will continue demanding what belongs to them and to everyone- freedom.


The following day, July 25th, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia published these Twitter messages (my translation):

jdanielferrer jose daniel ferrer:

#cuba.Mildrei Noemi, Lady in White from Antillas, is still detained.  We do not know where she is being kept.  She was violently arrested yesterday in Palma Soriano.

jdanielferrer jose daniel ferrer:

After the arrests, beatings, and mob attacks against dissidents, a few posters with anti-Castro slogans propped up in Palma Soriano

jdanielferrer jose daniel ferrer:

“Down with Fidel”, read one of the posters placed in soda factory, just two streets down from the home of Aimee Garces.

Free Voices from Cuba Share their Opinions (Part I)

Following the celebration of the ignominious 6th Communist Party Congress in Cuba this past Saturday April 16th, various international media outlets have baptized the event as a “step towards reform and changes”.  The regime of Havana, content with such a reception, continues trying to promote its image of benevolent “reformist” through their propaganda tactics.  Interesting enough, many of those news reports done by international reporters do not make much mention about the massive military parade which was held just a few hours before the Congress.  Ironically, they rapidly point out the promises and the supposed achievements of the revolution, but ignore to also point out that the Cuban government continues promoting (and using) violence within Cuban society.

The reality within the island continues to be the same, if not worse, as always.  The political police, responding to direct orders from those who reside in power, continue to mistreat, beat, incarcerate, and threaten peaceful dissidents.

Since the Cuban state does not allow dissenting or opposing voices to be heard through the national media, I decided to dedicated this space to some voices which represent that dignified resistance movement within Cuba, as well as civil society.  We have already been able to read the commentaries made by the Cuban press and by the international press, but now I invite you all to hear some reports straight from the island.  Listen to their opinions about the massive military march and the 6th Communist Party Congress.  I had the immense luck to chat with each one of these brave Cubans and closely listen to their reactions.  I refer to these voices as “free voices” because, despite the fact that they are living under a totalitarian state which prohibits democracy and free expression, they are brave individuals who have chosen to live like free human beings, choosing to face any risks or repressions for saying and doing what they think, as opposed to remaining quiet and letting themselves be swallowed by apathy and desperation. 

Laritza Diversent

 “The military march, which was made up of all those military machines which, I must confess, I do not even know what they are called, was simply a message on behalf of the Cuban government which said ‘look at the arsenal of weapons we have’. In other words, it was a way of saying that they are prepared for any kind of attempt against them. Many people inside of Cuba, mainly the men who have gone through military service, know that all those equipments and tanks are Russian technologies that cannot be compared to modern military technology currently in use throughout the world. All the equipments displayed in the march are practically obsolete. What people were really complaining about were extensive expenses attached to the display, meanwhile the country is going through a difficult economic time, when each day the prices of basic goods goes up, mainly the price of food.

From my point of view, the Congress was totally insignificant, because they say one thing there but what they do in reality is something else. One of the characteristics of Cuban politics is that it is very fickle. At one moment, they decide one thing and next thing you know they change their decision completely. Taking these processes into account, they celebrate their Congress, they take their measures, and they reach agreements upon themselves. There is no restructuring of the Party and there is no democratic restructuring either. But none of this has any importance for the citizens of Cuba. It has no importance in comparison to the importance it has outside of Cuba. And this is precisely because very few Cubans are interested in politics, or simply they do not understand it. And they feel this way because of the “back and forth” of the government, while one day it says one thing, tomorrow it’ll say another, and so on. Because of this insecurity, we do not pay any attention to this Congress.

All those civilians present in the march do not go voluntarily. At stake are their salaries, compromised primarily of foreign currency, their jobs, etc. Most of the time, the government does not say that it is mandatory to assist such events but those who were born here in Cuba know very well that what they say is ‘those who wish to go, may go’, but they also know that there exist political guarantees which follow you wherever you go (primarily in work or school), and that there are consequences waiting in store. Bonuses are given to “the best”, not to those who do not carry out the chores assigned to them by the revolution”.

Luis Felipe Rojas

“The military march was a pure display of muscles; a demonstration of force in a country where the sale of arms is prohibited and where the possession of any sort of weapon is highly penalized. This country has not received a single attack since 1961, and even then, it was not carried out by foreign forces but instead by a group of non-conformed Cubans. The weapons we saw displayed in the march were obsolete in comparison to the modern weapons displayed elsewhere in the world. The purpose of the march was not to prevent any invasion, but to instead to prevent any sort of uprising against the commandments of the Cuban revolution.

The Communist Party Congress, presided over by General Raul Castro, leaves the Cuban people with more doubts. I also must point out that none of the previous agreements of the 5 other Communist Congresses have ever been fulfilled. More than 40 years have passed since the first Party Conference and they have not fulfilled a single one of the accords. So then, the question is, what are the party members really doing? The low quality and degree of inefficiency of the Communist party is really tiresome.

No concrete measures which could improve the life of the people have been established. And I say this in regards to those who were actually hopeful about this Congress. I was one of those who wasn’t expecting any changes”.

Marta Diaz Rondon

“The military march held in Havana was only done with the purpose of intimidating the people, so that they would not protest. It was a way for the government to show that they have special troops ready to confront any person who would decide to take to the streets at any moment. That’s why the march was strategically held before the Congress. But despite that, the people are still protesting because it has been 52 years of suffering for us Cubans. We have been the ones that have had to live through all of this.

Those who are most corrupt are those who govern the country, starting with the Castro brothers and all the way down to the Central Committee, including all those who govern in the provincial levels.

This past Tuesday, April 12th, I met with a group of rural opposition members in Los Pinos, Banes. There we started conversations and debates regarding the famous 6th Communist Party Conference. The Congress, of course, is a facade because it is only the rulers who are allowed to take part. No other Cuban is allowed. Every person there is chosen by the government.

During Thursday of last week they were organizing a mob act against me in Banes. At that moment I wasn’t in Banes, though, as I had left early that morning to Holguin to meet with the activists. Ever since Wednesday, Banes has been under tight surveillance of the political police. The entrance of Reina Luisa Tamayo’s home is completely surrounded by police and they are not allowing anyone to go in. I believe that the government is fearful that the people will take to the streets, seeing as Cubans are suffering more each passing day.

I think the Communist Party Congress is very unfavorable for us Cubans, the everyday Cubans. And we are already protesting on the streets”.

Caridad Caballero Batista

“First of all, this government has always used things like this military march to its advantage. They’ve always had their people threatened and harassed. Those are the characteristics of the rulers of our country. It’s a way of symbolically saying ‘this is what we have for you’. Raul Castro said he was going to continue in power and also spoke of some other measures, but none of which are good news for Cubans. There is a total state of abandonment towards the people. Any benefits are reserved for those in power, leaving the rest of the country with no options.

During all of this, Ulisses Ramon Llanes, a prisoner, died in the Granma provincial prison because of  scarce, or no, medical attention. The countries’ rulers have never paid attention to any of this. The jails are full of men who are practically innocent and they are left to die because of scarce medical assistance, physical abuses, etc.

The Congress was simply a list of restrictions for the country.

Castro also mentioned that the government could not keep the “people” from defending their streets. But those who carry out mob acts are not spontaneous people; it is their people who oppress the opposition.

Every passing day we continue to be dissatisfied and we are constantly expecting the worse on the government’s behalf, because they will never facilitate anything for us”.

Pedro Arguelles Moran


The military march was an awful waste which consisted of far too much wasteful economic spending, which instead could have been invested in Cuban society- in the production of food, goods, and services. But it was definitely not worth it to spend that extraordinary amount on something that is not important, something that is violent and against humanity instead of investing on medicine or education. I consider it to have been unnecessary, absurd, and ironic, especially in a time where we are demanding peace, solidarity, and national reconciliation. To me, it’s simply absurd. This has all taken place in a country where the economy does not exist and that is in a total crisis.

The march is just a form of intimidating the population because the government is aware of the fact that the people are paying attention to what is happening in Northern Africa- in Egypt, Libya, etc. They are sending out a warning to the citizens that they have military powers.

As for the Congress, it was just another form of demagoguery. It’s another act of populism, and none of the problems which Cuba faces will be solved through that Congress. It’s simply the continuation of the same. And in addition, they also justified the despicable mob attacks against dissidents.

The people know that it is all a lie. They do not believe in the Congress, because they have lived through more than 50 years of lies. The Communist Party Congress was a psychological tactic to give off the illusion of openings and changes.

More to come…

Hector Maseda and Angel Moya Released From Prison

The Cuban regime “freed” two more political prisoners from the Black Spring Group: Héctor Maseda, husband of the Lady in White Laura Pollan, and Ángel Moya, husband of Berta Soler, also a Lady in White.

All this has been made possible by the efforts of the Ladies in White, the sacrifice of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the long hunger strike of Guillermo Fariñas, all the efforts of the internal Cuban opposition, and also international solidarity (from exiled Cubans and also non-Cuban friends).

But it’s important to note that despite this good news there are still 7 prisoners of conscience from the Group of 75 behind bars:

Pedro Arguelles Moran
José Ferrer García
Oscar Elías Biscet
Librado Linares García
Diosdado González Marrero
Iván Hernández Carrillo
Félix Navarro Rodríguez

Also we should note that in addition to these 7 courageous prisoners, there are other political prisoners who are not part of the Group of 75, and Cuban prisons. Freedom for all the political prisoners in Cuba, without conditions!!