VIDEO: Once Again, the Women of the Rosa Parks Movement

March was yet another month which began with the accustomed peaceful protest carried out by the women of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.  This time, the activity took place in front of the Communist Party headquarters in the town of Santa Clara.  The video of the protest was published recently and you can see how Yris Tamara Aguilera, Yaite Cruz Sosa, Donaida Pérez Paseiros and Yaimara Reyes Mesa are rapidly harassed, dragged, and beaten by functionaries of the communist headquarters.  In the case of Yris Tamara Aguilera, it can be seen how she sits down on the floor as a sign of non-cooperation.  A functionary starts to yell at Yris, demanding that she get up from the street.  The women were simply demanding freedom and an end to the impunity excercised by the regime, as occurs every first day of each month.  The demonstration culminated in a violent arrest.  See the video:

On Sunday, March 11th, dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Antunez was arbitrarily arrested as he was leaving his home in Placetas.  He was kept in a dungeon until Wednesday the 14th despite the fact that he was suffering from serious chest pains.  His wife, Yris Tamara Aguilera, and the same activists which participated in the march on video, were also arrested during afternoon hours of Wednesday the 14th.  In the case of Yris Tamara, she was once again arrested on the morning of Thursday, March 15th, when she was on her way to a medical center to tend to the wounds she had received during her previous time in jail.  After a public call from various activists who declared that they would “take to the streets if Yris was not liberated”, the regime decided to release the activist.  The repression against these men and women is constant, but so too is their perseverance.

 

VIDEO: Once Again, the Women of the Rosa Parks Movement

Placetas: 5 Activists are Still Detained, Among them prominent dissident Antunez, with Health Complications

Antunez and Yris Tamara Aguilera

Jorge Luis Garcia Antunez,  opposition activist and national secretary of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, is still arrested in a police unit of Placetas (a town of central Cuba) since the night of Sunday, March 11th, when he was walking out of his house and towards the corner of his block.  The arrest was reported, almost instantly, by his wife Yris Tamara Aguilera who was not at the house at that moment.  Aguilera published a Twitter message where she explained that a witness of the arrest had informed her that when they were detaining Antunez they told him it was “under orders from the high command from Havana”.  Also arrested were dissidents Eriberto Liranza Romero and Rene Rouco Machin in Havana.

On the following day, Romero and Machin were released but Antunez remained arrested.  A detainee which was released hours after Antunez was taken to his cell told Yris that her husband was experiencing “many chest pains and was vomiting”, considering that he suffers from various health complications which he acquired from his 17 years in prison for his political activism.  A few minutes after receiving this news, Yris decided to head out towards the police unit along with activists Donaida Perez Paseiros, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and Yaite Sosa, all members of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.  There, the 4 women started to demand the liberation of Antunez.  The protest continued until an official stepped out of the unit and told the women that Antunez would be released on the following day, which did not happen.  For this reason, the women once again marched to the police unit at 9 AM on Tuesday.  In this occassion, Yaimara Reyes could not go, but instead, Xiomara Martin Jimenez was present.

When the 4 women arrived at the unit, they once again started their civic protest.  In just minutes, a number of officials started to harass them, and eventually started to beat them, drag them, and in the end, detain them.  According to Dora Lara, an elderly activists from the Rosa Parks Movement who lives across the street from the police unit, she heard shouts of “Down with Fidel” from her home.  In addition, Lara affirms that she was able to witness the violent beating carried out against the activists.

On the night of that same Tuesday, various activists from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front declared that if the dissidents were not released by Wednesday at 12 pm, they would take to the streets in protest against their arbitrary arrest.

Activists in diverse parts of the island have expressed concern for the fate of the detainees, especially Antunez who, according to various sources, continues to suffer from strong chest pains.  For this reason, we demand the immediate liberation of the 5 human rights activists.

For more information, follow the Twitter account of Yris Tamara Aguilera (@YrisCuba), which is currently being administered by the exiled sister of Antunez, Bertha Antunez.  There is also information available in the Twitter account of the Cuban Democratic Directorate (@DirectorioCuba).

Placetas: 5 Activists are Still Detained, Among them prominent dissident Antunez, with Health Complications

Despite the Sexual Harassment and the Physical Aggressions, the Women of the Rosa Parks Movement Will Continue Marching

Women of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights protest in Santa Clara on February 1st, 2012

Every first day of the month has already started to become synonymous with acts of Resistance by the activists from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.  This past March 1st, these Cubans once again took to the streets, but this time in different areas of the island.

In Banes, the Lady in White and Vice-President of the Rosa Parks Movement, Marta Diaz Rondon, led a group of other women to the Northern Cemetery in that same town where the remains of activist Marta Cecilia Perez Duconger lay.  The dissidents decided to pay tribute to this Cuban on this specific date because she was one of the founders of the Rosa Parks Movement.  Although they were able to carry out their tribute, a constant surveillance by the political police surrounded the women.  In Matanzas, dissident Leticia Ramos, along with other activists, also took to the street and carried out a protest march.

However, without a doubt the worst violence occurred in Placetas, where a group of women from the Rosa Parks Movement, among them their president Yris Tamara Aguilera, surprised the regime functionaries in that area and stood outside the headquarters of the Municipal Headquarters of the Communist Party demanding freedom for the political prisoners Yazmin Conyedo and Yusmany Alvarez, an end to forced evictions, and, in sum, freedom for Cuba.  Other women who participated were Donaida Pérez PaseiroYaite Cruz Sosa and Dora Pérez Correa. According to testimonies of these same women, many everyday Cubans displayed support and solidarity with them.

In just instants, a mob made up of State Security agents surrounded the women and quickly and violently arrested Blas Fortun Martinez, a dissident from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front who was reporting from the scene of the protest.  This arrest was carried out by agent Idel Gonzalez Morfi, best known as ‘Railroad Nail’.  Meanwhile, and despite the aggressions, the women kept firm and shouted “freedom” and “the streets belong to the people“.

The communist mobs did not take long to physically assault the demonstrators.  In this case, the activists denounce that the women from State Security who work in the Communist Headquarters began to scratch them and even bite them. In addition, the functionaries began to take off their shoes and use them to beat the female dissidents.  According to Donaida Perez, numerous passer-bys defended the dissidents, standing in between them and their aggressors.

After this display of violence, the women from the Rosa Parks Movement decided to head back to one of their homes- that of Dora Perez, which is located literally across the street from the Communist Headquarters.  But State Security was not satisfied with beating them and harassing them for just a short while.  Considering that the march was completely spontaneous, the agents could only manage to gather a small group of women from State Security during the initial violence.  When some time had passed, the functionaries organized a larger repressive operation against the women.  A number of agents surrounded the home of Dora Perez and started to hurl rocks and shout offensive slogans.  Various soldiers broke into the home and beat all those inside, taking them detained, even those who did not participate in the protest, like Yaimara Reyes Mesa and Xiomara Martin Jiménez.  Also, the daughter of Dora Perez, who is not even a public dissident, was beaten and arrested.

In the following audio, recorded and provided by the Cuban Democratic Directorate (in Spanish), one can hear the moment when the arrests occurred, as the dissidents are bravely confronting their oppressors and shouting “No more Castros“, “Long live Democracy“, and “freedom for the Cuban people“, among other slogans:

All the women inside the house were arrested and the soldiers even left the door of the house wide open.  Yris Aguilera, Dora Perez, and Yaimara Reyes were taken to the Instructional Police Headquarters (UPOC) in Santa Clara.  When news of this spread, on the next day members of the Central Opposition Coalition  directed themselves to that unit, demanding the immediate liberation of the activists.

The women of the Rosa Parks Movement were released during the afternoon hours of March 3rd.  But the violence did not stop there.  In the case of Yris Tamara Aguilera, she was beat inside the police vehicle which was headed to leave her back at her house in Placetas.  The official known as Yuniel Monteagudo Reina was the aggressor, and he is also forcefully lowered Yris’s pants, sexually harassing her.  Yris protested and did not let him get any closer to her, despite his physical strength.  In declarations made just minutes after this abuse, Yris denounced that agent Yuniel told her “I’m gonna tear off the pants of this nigger and I am going to get on top of her”.  This was also strongly denounced by her husband, the well-known activist for human rights and opposition leader, Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’.

These women have affirmed that despite the increased violence against them every first day of the month (and any other day they voice their opinions), they will continue demonstrating in defense of human rights, against government impunity, state violence, and, in sum, the Castro dictatorship.

–—

This information was based on Twitter messages published by the Cuban Democratic Directorate.  For more information follow @DirectorioCuba.

And from Cuba: Yris Tamara Aguilera – Cell: 011-5352- 417-749, Twitter: @YrisCuba / Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez – Cell: 011-5352- 731-656, Twitter: @AntunezCuba

Despite the Sexual Harassment and the Physical Aggressions, the Women of the Rosa Parks Movement Will Continue Marching

Video: Arrest of Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front Members in Placetas Caught on Film

In honor of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on the second anniversary of his assassination this past February 23rd, activists from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front in Placetas took to the street to carry out a civic march.  This march was rapidly repressed by political police agents.

As a display of civil disobedience, the demonstrators- among them Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez- sat on the floor when they saw their oppressors running towards them.  The agents handcuffed, pushed, and arrested the activists, later shoving them in a bus to take them detained.  The arrested dissidents were  Yaimara Reyes Mesa, Yaité Cruz Sosa, Fautino Calá, Santos Fernández, Dinel Millet Jiménez y Antúnez, all of which began to shout slogans such as “freedom for Cuba” and “long live human rights”.

Here is the video:

 

 

Video: Arrest of Orlando Zapata Tamayo Resistance Front Members in Placetas Caught on Film

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

10/05/11- Vigil for Sara Marta Fonseca, all Cuban Political Prisoners (Photos + Video)

(Wednesday, October 5th 2011)- Amid candles, signs, and prayers, a vigil was held in Miami’s famous Versailles Restaurant for the immediate and unconditional release of Sara Marta Fonseca, her husband Julio Leon Perez, and all Cuban political prisoners.  Every Wednesday, a vigil is held in Versailles by the group of former prisoners who help Cuba’s internal resistance directly, known as “Plantados” in demand for the freedom of Cuba’s constant victims of repression and imprisonment.  This time, the event also counted on the participation of other groups, as well as former prisoner from the group of the 75 and recently exiled Ladies in White.

The event officially began with a prayer as all the candles began to light up.  Then some of those who were present shared a few words- among them former political prisoners Angel de Fana, Huber Matos, and Fidel Suarez Cruz.  Many participants carried signs with photos not only of Sara Marta but also of other women who have suffered countless acts of repression and violence in recent days, women like Yris Tamara Aguilera, Marta Diaz Rondon, Caridad Caballero Batista, Laura Pollan, Belkis Cantillo, Aimee Garces and many others.

More than anything, the vigil proved (as it has been proven on many occasions) that Cubans can come together, despite various groups and ideologies, to demand freedom for all their sisters and brothers on the island.

The following is a video of the Vigil.  One can clearly see the solidarity displayed that night:

10/05/11- Vigil for Sara Marta Fonseca, all Cuban Political Prisoners (Photos + Video)

Yris Aguilera: A Testimony About Her Disappearance and Her Resistance

The three female dissidents from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights who had been disappeared by forces of the dictatorship this past 26th of September while they demanded freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon Perez have been released with clear marks of repression of which they were victim.  The three women were Donaida Perez Paceiro, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and Yris Tamara Aguilera.

Aguilera recounted that the violence began while the three women were on their way from the home of Fonseca to the G2 Unit of Havana along with ‘Julito’, the eldest son of Sara Marta and Julio Leon.  At that moment, “various agents intercepted us, among them agent Camilo and agent Veloria.  The latter is a very corpulent man“, according to the dissident.  Right away, Veloria told Yris that she was not allowed to take to the street, to which she replied that she does not follow orders from military officers.  “I added that at the entrance of Havana, there’s a huge billboard which reads ‘Welcome to the capital of Cubans‘ and that I am also one of those Cubans, so it was my right and I would continue despite the consequences”.

When the group of dissidents continued to walk, Veloria did not waste a second.  He went straight towards Yris and it was then that the physical aggression began.  “He grabbed me by my hair and dragged me for more than 50 meters.  I was able to see ‘Julito’, too, and he had about 7 State Security agents on top of him because they did not have enough time to prepare people to carry out repudiation attacks“, narrates Perez Aguilera.  They were all detained and taken to police units.  In the case of Yris, she was taken to the Aguilera Unit in Havana where she remained for two hours.  “After those two hours, they took me to a Criminal Investigation Center.  Once there, I began to protest and to ask why I was being held in a place like that, being punished, if I had not killed or attacked anyone at all.  I spent 72 hours there“.

Aguilera explains that on that Thursday, September 29th, “we were supposedly released, and I say ‘supposedly’ because I knew that it was just a form of manipulation set in motion to detain us once again, since they had warned us again that we were not allowed to go to the home of Sara Marta“.  Upon stepping out of their detention centers, the three women were able to meet up and start walking together.  However, they were lost in Havana, considering that they are not too familiar with the streets of the capital, coming from Placetas.  “Thanks to a man we bumped into along the way we were able to make it to Rio Verde, where Sara Marta lives, under his direction“.  But a few blocks right before getting to the house they were once again quickly intercepted by various State Security officials, among them agent Camilo again.  “They told me, ‘We already told you- you are not allowed near the house of Sara Marta’ and I responded that time and time again I would not follow orders and I would continue fighting for her“, declared Aguilera.  Upon seeing the determination of the dissidents, the officials called for police vehicles and arrested the three of them again.  “They took me to the Committee of the Defense of the Revolution Unit of La Lisa where I was kept in a cell.  I was very worried about my sisters considering that they had not eaten or drank anything for 72 hours, and I hadn’t either“, expressed Yris.

The three activists- Paceiro, Reyes, and Aguilera- remained in protest the entire time, refusing to accept water, food, or even to bathe.  “I was locked away in a cell with a huge fence and a lock.  I slept on a concrete slab”, remembers Yris, adding that “my worst day was on October 1st.  My kidneys were failing me, I had a lot of pain, and I had not been able to urinate for two entire days, something that was really worrying me“.

It was strictly prohibited for any of the activists to call relatives- access to phones was completely restricted.  This lack of information and lengthy detention led Antunez, husband of Yris, to declare that the women were all officially missing.  “I demanded to the chief of La Lisa Police Unit that I be allowed to make phone calls, for that was my right.  He simply replied by telling me that he had nothing to discuss with me“, explains Yris Tamara.  “Hours later, at around 6 pm, I was taken into a police vehicle to a ‘medical encampment’.  I once again refused medical attention because I knew it was yet another method of manipulation.  I told them that I preferred to die with dignity instead of living humiliated“.

I was kept there until 6 in the morning when a few officials came to tell me to go with them“, narrates the president of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement, who thought that at that moment she was going to be sentenced to actual prison terms but, as it turns out, she was going to be released.  “The officials called a Special Brigade bus to come pick me up.  It was rather ridiculous- there were 4 men and 3 women from the Special Brigades and one State Security Official.  In other words, 8 people for one woman.  At no point in time did they tell me where I was being taken but I figured I was going to be released once I saw that they also picked up Donaida and Yaimara.  They left me in Placetas, a few blocks before my house“.  Along the entire way Yris was vomiting after having spent such a long time in deplorable prison cells, suffering beatings, and carrying out a hunger strike- a combination of elements which led her to a deplorable state of health.

National and International Solidarity

When I got home, I was very happy to see so many brothers and sisters who had joined me in solidarity, letting me know that neither of us women were alone at any time“, Aguilera expresses.  The distinguished dissident also wished to thank the numerous organizations and individuals who demanded her unconditional freedom during her arrest which, in total, lasted 112 hours.

To my brothers and sisters from Santa Clara who declared themselves on hunger strike, I am forever grateful“, referring to the activists from the Central Opposition Coalition who had taken on this protest in demand for the release of the three female dissidents.  “To all those people in and out of the island who were concerned for us and our situation, thank you very much“.

Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ also added his gratitude for all the acts of international and national solidarity with his wife.   “Thanks to such important demands made by organizations such as the Assembly of the Resistance and various other news sources which covered the situation of the women, thanks to all of this my wife and the other two women were released“, declared Garcia, adding that he also felt a profound and sincere appreciation for the Ladies in White and their gesture to dedicate their Sunday march “not only to the political prisoners but also to Yris, Sara Marta, Donaida, Yaimara, along with Yelena Napoles“.

The struggle for Sara Marta’s freedom continues

The dissident couple made it clear that the struggle for freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Ignacio Leon is nowhere near over, “because it is possible that they may be sentenced under false charges, simply for excercising their free movement .  We are going to continue in the struggle, we will do everything possible to free our jailed brothers and sisters“.

Fonseca and Leon have been jailed since September 24th and have been on hunger strike since then.

Yris Aguilera: A Testimony About Her Disappearance and Her Resistance