It was the night of January 19th 2012- exactly a year ago- when the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza was confirmed. He was a young Cuban, a father of two small girls, a member of the opposition, who was unjustly jailed for participating in a public pro-freedom demonstration in November of 2011 and who carried out a hunger strike for more than 50 days demanding his freedom. His jailers ignored his claims and kept him in inhumane conditions, which eventually led him to contract pneumonia. His death was tragic but his example was full of bravery.
Now, in 2013, to commemorate the date and pay homage to him, a number of activists belonging to the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) carried out tributes to Villar Mendoza, but the response of the uniformed officials of the dictatorship was to utilize immeasurable levels of violence.
Since the morning of the 19th, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia published on his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) that the brutality began in Mafo, Contramaestre, at the home of Luis Enrique Lozada, a coordinator of UNPACU in that area, where the home was raided and activists were beaten with sharp objects:
The home of Luis Enrique Losada, coordinator of UNPACU in Contramaestre was raided and activists inside were beat.
Up to now, about a dozen activists from UNPACU have been injured with sharp objects and other weapons
Ricardo Guzman and Ramon Escalona have been severely beaten. Ramon ended up covered in his own blood
Roberto Gonzalez and Alexei Encina are full of bruises and wounds, Roberto has a wound on his head
Arnold Hernandez was beat with cables, whips, and hurt with a knife
To hear the testimony of Lozada and his wife click here (in Spanish). More photos of the violence and the victims can be seen by clicking this link. These have been posted onto the YouTube channel of UNPACU.
Ferrer Garcia later added that in Vistar Hermosa, Santiago de Cuba, there also occurred acts of repudiation, beatings, and arrests in the home of dissident Ovidio Martin. In fact, another tweet by Ferrer detailed that Vladimir Martin was “beat and left unconscious”.
During afternoon hours, there had already been 20 confirmed arrests of UNPACU activists. All these detentions were reportedly violent.
Despite the crackdown, Jose Daniel highlighted that in different Eastern towns, activists were able to successfully carry out their tributes to Wilman Villar Mendoza, as was the case in Palma Soriano, where a group of dissidents carried out a peaceful march on the streets after a brief encounter.
“In Mella, Palmarito de Cauto, Santiago de Cuba and other parts of Palma Soriano similar marches took place without any arrests”, added the dissident.
Ferrer and other activists called on public and international opinion to pay attention to what was occurring in Cuba, as the lives of all detainees and of all those under the vigilance of the political police run serious dangers. If they have already beat, stabbed and raided, the logic is that the repressive forces will only increase their violent actions.
“The assassins of the political police in Santiago de Cuba have been saying since December that their orders to beat and kill if necessary, all come from ‘the top’”, said another tweet by Jose Daniel Ferrer, “What is happening right now and what may happen soon is the direct responsibility of Raul Castro and his thugs”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, young activist Anyer Antonio Blanco used his own Twitter account (@anyerantoniobla) to reiterate that: “This is the first anniversary of the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza- he has not only been a martyr of UNPACU but also of the entire civic opposition. Wilman Lives!”