The pro-freedom groups Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID), Claridad, the Pedro Luis Boitel Movement, the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO), the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and the LGBTA Observatory (an organization which champions rights for Cuban homosexuals) joined forces this Friday, 15th of February, and marched in the Eastern city of Holguin to protest the countless abuses against the Ladies in White this week and to honor the memory of Laura Pollan Toledo, fallen leader of that women’s group.
Since morning hours of that Friday, dissident Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, general coordinator of ADO, informed about the activities on his Twitter account (@LobainaCuba). Meanwhile, former political prisoner and general coordinator of UNPACU, Jose Daniel Ferrer, published a link on his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) with an audio-testimony of some of the participants in the demonstration.
Javier Eduardo Martínez Reyes, president of the LGBTA group, provided details in the UNPACU YouTube channel, explaining that the political police unleashed a repressive operation against all participants, interrupting the activity. Martinez Reyes detailed that the activists set out from his home, marching, but were quickly arrested. There were a number of police vehicles waiting for the dissidents outside.
Martinez Reyes was detained alongside Franklin Peregrino de Toro (UNPACU) and Yunier Jimenez de la Cruz (ADO and CID) in a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of the Interior with license plate #021114. They were taken to the police unit known as El Anillo, where they remained detained for various hours. Other members of the LGBTA, ADO, CID and Claridad were also being held there, while other activists were taken to other police units. The police threatened all of them, saying that they would confiscate all of their materials- cameras, cell phones, laptops, etc.
The dictatorship’s State Security apparatus has made it very clear with this arrest that they deeply fear the union of diverse dissident groups on the island. Generally, groups which act completely independent from one another manage to march at least a few blocks before they are violently arrested, but when various organizations come together to carry out a public activity, the objective of the regime is to impede the everyday people from seeing this unity in action. The regime spends countless resources on its propaganda machine to try and create divisions among pro-freedom groups, both in and out of Cuba.
Yunier Jimenez, photo-reporter from ADO and also a member of CID, held a conversation with “Radio Republica”, where he detailed what happened from his point of view.
“We were psychologically tortured (in the Anillo police unit)”, said Jimenez, “Captain Juan Ramon Chapman told me that he would do all in his power to cause me harm, and he tried to intimidate me, saying that that he was going to kill me. He told me my days were counted and that they were going to find me one day with my mouth full of ants. He said that if the same thing that happened to Oswaldo Paya didn’t happen to me, then something very similar would”.
The dissidents were released after 1 PM, after more threats from their oppressors.
“However, in the end we achieved our objective, which was to have the different movements here in Holguin work together and to demonstrate to the regime that we are all Resistance and that we do not fear them, because this year is the year of the opposition in Cuba”, declared Yunier in the recording.