Cuba: Increase in arbitrary robberies and arrests at the hands of the State

In the last couple of weeks in Cuba there has been an increase in the amount of arbitrary arrests and robberies of pro-democracy dissidents at the hands of the political police.

Various cases have been coming in from the Eastern region of the country.  The case of activist Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez and former political prisoner Dany Lopez de Moya, both member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, is one of them.

Yuniesky recounts that on Tuesday, July 23rd, as they both were leaving a meeting at the home of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UNPACU, when they were near the highway of Palma Soriano, members of the National Revolutionary Police and the political police intercepted them.  Agent Norberto was running the operation.

The agents intercepted the vehicle we were traveling in“, explained Dominguez to this blog, “then, the agents used forced to get us out, pulling our clothes and beating us.  They did the same thing with Dany’s son, 15 year old Frank Daniel Rodriguez“.

The first thing the agents did was to snatch all the belongings of the detainees.  “They took Frank Daniel’s phone and purposely spent the money he had on it as a form of blackmail.  They also robbed CDs, USBs and other things” which were never returned.  The discs were destroyed.

Yuniesky explains that the motive of breaking the CDs is to keep them from spreading throughout the population, considering that UNPACU members fill them with images of protests and activism not only of their movement, but of the opposition in general.

Similarly, on July 18th, the political police arrested youth activists Yoandri Montoya Aviles and Juannier Rodriguez in the city of Bayamo. Both dissidents are members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) and were arrested while they filmed a documentary for PalenqueVision, the audio-visual project of this group.  The equipment they were using were robbed.

Juannier, who has been victim of expulsions and blackmail at his university due to his ties with the opposition, recounts that they were just “chatting with other young people in Bayamo, working on a video about their day-to-day reality when police agents suddenly arrived and took our cameras, breaking one of them“.

The agents accused the activists of being “delinquents” and were detained by force, shoved inside a bus and taken to a police unit.  Afterward, Juannier Rodriguez was deported to Guantanamo, his province of residence, but he defied the authorities and returned to Bayamo.

On Monday, July 22nd, the Cuban regime carried out a violent operation against a number of members of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) in the province of Las Tunas as they paid tribute to Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero on the first anniversary of their death.

Ezequiel Morales Carmenate, leader of the MCL in that area, denounced that paramilitary mobs, made up by members of the Communist Party, the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution and the political police “assaulted the home of Roger Curbelo, the headquarters of the MCL in the municipality of Puerto Padre“.  The agents penetrated the house, beating activists and robbing a Cuban flag as well as signs honoring Paya and Cepero, also accusing the dictatorship of having to do with the events which occurred on July 22nd 2012.

In the municipality of Majibacoa the home of Elber Perez (another leader of the MCL) was also the scene of excessive violence when the mobs assaulted the house during night hours, robbing countless documents, CDs and other work instruments.

On his part, Yuniesky Dominguez said that the upcoming anniversary of the assault of the Moncada Barracks on July 26th by the movement led by the Castros, who assumed power through violence on 1959, “has the regime very worried“. Why?

Because the activism of the peaceful opposition has put the regime in danger.  We are not fighting with weapons, nor do we carry out acts of sabotage as the July 26th Movement did.  However, our weapon is still lethal, and it is our words, and we work so that the people know what we do against the dictatorship and in favor of human rights and the population“.

That’s why, the activist explains, that in its desperation the dictatorship turns to physical aggressions and robbery of materials used by dissident to work towards freedom.  Materials which are obtained by activists with much difficulty, considering that the majority of these things are sent from abroad by people who have joined in solidarity, or in some cases, bought by the dissidents themselves, at a very elevated price.

Cuba: Increase in arbitrary robberies and arrests at the hands of the State

Dissidents impart classes on civility and human rights out on the street

The Cuban political police impeded members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) from getting in to one of the headquarters of the pro-freedom group in the La Ceiba neighborhood of Palma Soriano (which is also the home of activist Victor Campa Almenares) this past Sunday, March 17th.  The dissidents had plans to hold a meeting inside the house to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Black Spring, but they instead decided to take their activity out to the street when they were continuously blocked from entering the house.

Yuniesky Domínguez González, one of the dissidents present, told this blog that they were surrounded by agents just a block away from the house.  “At that moment, we decided to impart a class about human rights, civility, and social awareness, to the neighbors who were passing by and the oppressors.  We started to explain the different Human Rights articles“.

In addition to Yuniesky, the other activists present were Ángel Luna, Rubén de Armas, Juan Carlos Figuerola Cala and Yanelis Espain, all from UNPACU. They were surrounded on Camilo Cienfuegos street, in La Ceiba neighborhood.
Little by little, our class caught the attention of more neighbors.  They kept getting closer to us“, says Dominguez, adding that it was something that really upset the authorities.  “One State Security agent who I could not identify tried to provoke me so that I would fight with him.  He was cursing at me and mocking me“, explained the dissident, but he assures that he maintained his peaceful posture and ignored the insults.  “These are the methods the political police uses under the orders of the Castro regime.  They are old methods, and very few times do they yield results for them“, expressed Yuniesky, referring to police officials who beat, offend and try to blackmail activists so that they respond in the same manner- with violence- and that way film them or snap a photo of them to accuse them of crimes like “attempt” and “disobedience”, thus being able to sentence them to prison.  However, the majority of times the police doesn’t even turn to these methods and simply jails whoever they desire.The surrounded activists continued their class, which was accepted by a number of neighbors. Though they were not detained, they were eventually turned back and returned to their homes.“We Cuban dissidents know that we cannot fall into the trap.  We are peaceful and we respectfully fight for freedom and democracy in our country“, concluded Dominguez Gonzalez.

For more information from Cuba, contact:

Yuniesky Domínguez González – Cell Phone: +52-997-961

Dissidents impart classes on civility and human rights out on the street

Dictatorship tries to impede celebrations of a date which belongs to all Cubans

Drawing of Marti on cover of famous Cuban magazine. 1955.

With all and for the good of all” – one of the most famous phrases by Jose Marti is, perhaps, also one of the ideas which the totalitarian system in Cuba fears the most, proven- year after year- every 28th of January when countless uniformed agents are sent out throughout the island to try and impede civic demonstrations to commemorate the anniversary of his birth.  2013, the 160th anniversary, was no exception.

The police operations began on Sunday the 27th.  In Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, the home of dissident Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez– member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)– was attacked with feces, staining the door and windows.  Dominguez directly blamed the political police for this, since he and his wife, Lady in White Taimi Vega Biscet, had plans to carry out a tribute to Marti.

These are methods employed by the political police, I hold them responsible as well as the Communist Party and all other instruments of the regime“, said the activist.

Meanwhile, despite police vigilance and direct threats by State Security, in Havana 41 Ladies In White managed to carry out their traditional march to Santa Rita Church and later to Mahatma Gandhi Park (See video, courtesy of ‘Hablemos Press’). These women deposited flowers in a statue of Marti in that park and commenced to read various phrases by the poet.

In Cardenas, Matanzas, Leticia Ramos Herreria and other Ladies in White marched for 26 blocks until they arrived to a local park to also deposit flowers in another Jose Marti statue.  This achievement bothered the authorities to the point that State Security officials summoned Ramos to a police unit for the following day.  The activist recounts that she was threatened and offended during the interrogation but that she refused to sign any sort of document and let them know very clear that she would continue going out to the streets of Cuba.

On Monday, the 28th, the repression increased but so did the peaceful and public demonstrations.  In the same province of Matanzas, but in the city of Colon, Juan Francisco Rangel was also summoned to the police station and later surrounded in his own home by agents to try and impede a march.  However, he managed to take to the streets along with other activists from the Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy, successfully carrying out the activity and depositing flowers for Marti, according to a Tweet published by Carlos Olivera (@COliveraCuba).

In Santa Clara, Villa Clara, a group of dissidents from the Central Opposition Coalition also took to the streets shouting slogans in favor of change and honoring Marti.  They were all violently arrested, according to a report by independent journalist and blogger Carlos Michael Morales Rodríguez.

Not too far from that city, in Placetas, members of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front carried out a protest against the regime, also screaming slogans such as “Jose Marti Lives“, as was captured in an audio published by ‘Radio Republica’ in the voice of dissident leader Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antúnez’.

A successful march with signs containing anti-regime messages and Jose Marti phrases took place on the streets of Quemado de Guines, Villa Clara, by various members of the Cuban Reflection Movement, among them Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida, who said the march “took place despite strong police vigilance“.

Activity in Quemado de Guines infront of Marti bust. January 28th, 2013

Despite acts of repudiation and some arrests, in Camaguey a public activity was carried out by activists of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, said Daniel Millet Jimenez.

In Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila, dissidents of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and from the Pedro Luis Boitel Resistance Movement congregated to honor Jose Marti.

Throughout the Eastern region of the country, members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance in Baracoa, according to Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz, and of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy (CYMD) in Velasco, according to  Yonart Rodríguez Avila, also carried out their own meetings, marches and demonstrations in honor of Marti.  Yoandri Montoya Aviles said that in Bayamo, members of the Youth Movement of Bayamo paid homage to the “Apostle of Cuba”.

CYMD also carried out other activities in the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, in Havana, publishing some photos of the events in their blog.  In the same province, Lady in White  Sara Marta Fonseca held a vigil and an encounter in her home located in Rio Verde, Boyeros.

UNPACU also published some testimonies on their YouTube channel detailing repressive actions against activists for trying to carry out their own tributes in Guantanamo.

Former political prisoner of conscience Ivan Hernandez Carrillo published a series of Twitter messages (@ivanlibre) denouncing that dissidents Pastor Alexis Huerta and Carlos Alberto Gómez, members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID), were violently arrested in the central city of Sancti Spiritus also for trying to carry out similar tributes as those occurring throughout the country.  Cases of repression, police cordons, and beatings were also confirmed in Pinar del Rio against other CID members and the Pinar del Rio Democratic Alliance.

These were only a few of the events which took place on the island between the 27th and 28th of January, when Cubans paid tribute to one of the figures most representative of their culture- a culture which does not belong just to one political group or dictator.

 “A just cause, from the bottom of a cave, is more powerful than any army”

-Jose Marti

Dictatorship tries to impede celebrations of a date which belongs to all Cubans

Worker of educational sector in Palma Soriano fired for being family of dissident

María Teresa Domínguez González, resident of Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, was officially fired from her work as an educator in a children’s center known as “Friends of Camilo” this past January 21st, all because her son, Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez, is a member of Cuba’s opposition movement.

Yuniesky, an active member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), explained that it all began recently when his mother had to miss 2 days at work for having a severe cold. The director of the center, along with other administrators, told Maria Teresa that her absences were not permissible, and that she had to sign a letter for her lay-off, which she refused.

On Friday, January 18th, the directors of the educational center already had a medical certificate from my mother“, explained Yuniesky, “the document proved that she was sick, and this was not something unknown or mysterious to the workers and directors there“.

On the following day, the activist’s sister- Danielis Consuegra Dominguez– showed up at the children’s center to offer more details about the health of her mother. That same night various administrators saw for themselves when they visited the home of Mrs. Dominguez who received the visitors while still with a cold and bedridden.

When my mothers fever was over, on Monday January 21st she visited the director in her house, trying to find an explanation for why she had to go to a labor trial on the following day“, detailed Yuniesky. It was at that moment that the real reasons for her being fired came out.

The center’s director told my mother and my sister that they were well aware of my political position as well as that of my wife and that they did not want any problems“, recounts the young dissident. His wife- Taimi Vega Biscet- is a Lady in White who, Sunday after Sunday, suffers arrests and deportations for trying to make it to Mass to pray for the freedom of the political prisoners in the country.

On countless occasions María Teresa Domínguez has told her bosses that the political ideology of her son is not an excuse for kicking her out of her job.

All of this is a manipulation which corresponds with the constant persecution of State Security“, assures Yuniesky, reiterating that it is a tactic put in place to affect him and that they “have opted for the last resource against my mother: to asphyxiate her economically“.

María Teresa also suffers from liver disease and now, without work, it will be much more difficult for her to purchase medication. Meanwhile, Yuniesky Dominguez affirms that he will not abandon his struggle in favor of human rights.

Tactics such as these are very common in Cuba. When one decides to publically oppose the totalitarian system not only do they run risks, but also their families. They are methods set in motion to try and ‘crack’ the dissident.

In another similar case, this 19th of January, dissidents Idael Pérez Díaz and Santa González Pedroso– residents of Grua Nueva, Ciego de Avila- reported that their 12 year old son Delvis Pérez González was expelled from his wrestling team when numerous State Security agents showed up to the gym and pressured his professors to take those measures.

Starting in 1959, families of any person who chose to oppose the regime were victims of abuse at the hands of the State, one of the more famous cases being the deportations to forced labor camps of hundreds of rural families in the 60’s.

For more details from Cuba, contact Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez at +5352-997-961

Worker of educational sector in Palma Soriano fired for being family of dissident

“What is Unjust Will Never be Just”: Dissident Family in Danger, Suffers Act of Repudiation

The home of the dissident couple made up by Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez (activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba) and Taimi Vega Biscet (Lady in White) was the target of acts of repudiation and vandalism at the hands of communist soldiers during the 25th and 26th of July in Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba.

According to Dominguez Gonzalez, the repressive acts took place because of two reasons.  Firstly because on the morning of the 25th, the neighborhood of “‘La Yuca” awoke to find numerous signs hung throughout military units which read “Raul [Castro],  you killed [Oswaldo] Paya“.   This is a neighborhood made up mostly by ministerial officers, soldiers, and members of the Communist Party.  As a response, and without any proof, the local authorities accused Yuniesky of having hung the signs, retaliating against him with an act of repudiation.  The activist narrates that the second reason why the violence occurred was because he had “put up a quote by Gandhi, various UNPACU logos, and the image of the recently deceased Laura Pollan” on the outside of his home during the night of the 25th.

The phrase by Gandhi which the dissident chose to hang on his house read: “What is Unjust Will Never be Just, Although Many Would Like it to Be“.

On the night of the 25th of July, mobs of soldiers and members of the Communist Party gathered around the house and began to shout offensive slogans like “Down with the worms” and “Down with imperialism”, common phrases which are required by the regime to be shouted during such acts.

On the morning of Thursday, July 26th, the activist adds that the oppressors “used children and sick elderly people as shields” to carry out another act of repudiation, and this time they threw asphalt to the front porch of the house, covering the phrases and other photos which were hung there.  Afterward, an unidentified lieutenant colonel arrived along with Captain Lazaro, “who threatened with beating us and demanded that we leave that neighborhood“, affirmed Gonzalez.  Forces of State Security and of the political police have been telling Yuniesky and Taimi to leave the neighborhood for a number of months now, saying that the neighborhood is “revolutionary” and does not accept any human rights defenders.

The activist couple has a 5 year old son who has also suffered constant threats to the point that he has psychological traumas.  “Just this week, we had to take him to a psychologist precisely because of all the persecution which we are subjected to“, said Gonzalez.  The minor had been extremely worried about his mother this past 18th of July when she was arrested and disappeared for more than 72 hours along with another Lady in White- Arianna Issac– when they were trying to get to the home of Belkis Cantillo.  Both women were kept in punishment cells.  During that time, the small child of Vega Biscet only cried and asked for his mother.

In regards to the arrest of his wife, Yuniesky says that the Lady in White affirms that during her time in a dungeon “she witnessed how the dictatorship is increasing their form of attacking the democratization process and of mistreating and beating women who simply want freedom of expression, freedom for all political prisoners, freedom for Cuba, and complete freedom for all its people.  Taimi says that during the interrogation process, State Security officials called a doctor so that he would deny that Taimi had been beaten.  Ironically, one of the agents asked the doctor how Taimi was feeling and told her that she was lying when she said that, because of all those repressive methods, she had suffered a miscarriage“, referring to events that happened during the beginning of 2012.  “The agents simply laughed at Taimi when she said this“.

She is very worried about the health of her son and his security, considering that he is totally unbalanced psychologically because of all the manipulations, arbitrary actions, and the persecution by the Cuban government“.

Despite that the military forces of the Cuban regime are demanding that these dissidents leave their home, both are affirming that they will not do it and that they will continue their civic activism.  “State Security is wrong if they think that they can make us give in“, affirms Dominguez Gonzalez, “we condemn State Security of what could happen to us, of our integrity.  We are in danger“.

For more information from Cuba:

Yuniesky Domínguez González – Cell Phone: +5352-997-961

“What is Unjust Will Never be Just”: Dissident Family in Danger, Suffers Act of Repudiation

Worry Over the Arrest and Disappearance of Ladies in White in Eastern Cuba

From the Eastern municipality of Palma Soriano, Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez, an activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba has alerted about the situation of his wife, Lady in White Taimi Vega Biscet, who was arrested on the morning of Wednesday, July 18th, along with another member of the feminine movement  when they were both on their way to the home of Belkis Cantillo in Palmarito de Cauto for a reunion.  As of July 20th, Vega Biscet had not returned to her home and Dominguez Gonzalez does not have any more information about her, and is therefore declaring her “disappeared”.  The same goes for the other missing Lady in White, Arianna Isaac.

I do not know if my wife has been beaten, nor where she is being held, or what State Security has done with her“, expressed the dissident, “I am very worried, she is also a mother of a 5 year old who is also very worried about his mother, he is crying and asking for her“.

Taimi Vega has been involved in Cuba’s Resistance movement for about 6 months, and although she has suffered other forms of repression at the hands of the regime, it is the first time she is detained in a cell and for such a long period of time, according to the human rights activist, assuming that she is in a police unit.

On February of 2012, Vega was one of the two Ladies in White who suffered a miscarriage because of a violent arrest and numerous aggressive threats at the hands of State Security after being pregnant for 6 weeks .  The oppressive operation forced the Lady in White to enter a stage of hypertension to the point that she suffered a miscarriage.  Since then, both Taimi and Yuniesky have been targets for vigilance and blackmail by political police forces.

Now they have once again detained Taimi“, said Yuniesky, “I consider that it is because of the valor and honor which she has been demonstrating as a Lady in White“.

Meanwhile, the general coordinator for the UNPACU, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia sent out a series of Twitter messages this 19th of July denouncing the case of Vega Biscet and the other Lady in White which was detained alongside her, Arianna Isaac.  Ferrer Garcia tweeted that  Isaac’s family also does not know where she is being held, and are also declaring her missing.

Ferrer, as well as relatives of the missing women and other activists, are worried that they may have suffered beatings or other forms of repercussions.

Regardless of the repression, Yuniesky Dominguez assured that his wife, Taimi Vega Biscet, “will not cease her brave character as a Lady in White

For more information from Cuba:

Yuniesky Domínguez González – Cell Phone: +5352-997-961

Worry Over the Arrest and Disappearance of Ladies in White in Eastern Cuba

Cuban Dissident Sentenced to Two Years in Prison (News Summary)

This Tuesday, June 19th, the Cuban regime sentenced Bismark Mustelier Galan, an active dissident and member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) with two years in prison, according to the coordinator of the mentioned organization, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.  Galan was being held in the Aguadores Prison since April 1st 2012 for civically protesting in a hospital when he learned that a minor who was sick was not receiving medical attention.  Because of this, the communist authorities on the island accused him and, ultimately sentenced him, for “resistance” and “disrespect”.

Only Bismark’s wife, Alina Fonseca Guevara, and a handful of relatives were able to assist the trial, said Ferrer Garcia, explaining that “more than 30 activists who were trying to show solidarity with Galan were arrested and taken to different police units throughout the province of Santiago- the majority to the Third Unit, and others to Micro 9 and a police unit in Mella“.  The police operations began during the morning hours of that same Tuesday.

Some cases of repression which the former political prisoner outlined were that of activist Ovidio Martin Castellano, “who was beaten by police agents” during his arrest, as well as that of Sergio Lezcay– also an activist- who was detained in the Third Unit and attacked by tear gas by the prison guards.  “Sergio passed out because of these gases, and it is something very serious, the use of tear gas against peaceful dissidents who are being held in narrow cells with very little ventilation.  It is a criminal and abusive behavior on behalf of the jailers, the police officers of the unit, and the political police which allows such actions“.

In addition to activists from UNPACU, various members of the Ladies in White also faced reprisals, as did “two activists from the Republican Party of Cuba“.  Many were impeded from leaving their homes by police officers, while others were held in security check points alongs the way to Bismark’s trial.

On June 14th, more than 20 dissidents had also mobilized towards the tribunal where the trial was supposed to be held, but it was suspended for the 19th.  In total, the trial was postponed three times.  Jose Daniel Ferrer explains that the authorities gave Bismark’s wife very little information and that State Security was very fearful of such mobilization of so many dissidents, so much so that a couple of agents visited his home in Palmarito de Cauto to tell him to dissuade the activists.  “They came to my home to try and convince me to talk with the dissidents of UNPACU, they told me that it was not necessary for them to go near the court, and they told me they moved the trial to the 19th.  They also said that if we failed to comply they would have to act…but it is us who act, and who set the initiative, carry out peaceful protests whenever necessary“.

On the same 14th, another activist of UNPACU- Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez– informed that the home of Alina Fonseca had been surrounded by State Security officials, among them agent Alejandro.  The wife of Gonzalez, Lady in White Taimi Vega Biscet (who lost her unborn child in the beginning of 2012 due to the aggressions of the political police), was also “surrounded and later threatened by agent Rodolfo“.

Although it all indicates that the state repression will continue increasing against human rights activists in the Eastern region of the country, Ferrer Garcia signals that the activities of the Resistance in favor of freedom and democracy will also increase, something proven by the constant apparition of signs with anti-government messages, according the dissident.

Signs appear on police units, on the headquarters of the Communist Party, at the homes of Rapid Response Brigade members, etc“, he explained, “the messages on the signs demand change“, in addition to including slogans such as “Down with the Dictatorship”, “Down with Hunger”, and “Down with the Castro brothers”.

Signs and stickers are also appearing on buses and trucks“, adds Ferrer, sharing a story of one case where the police chief of Palmarito de Cauto found a sticker upon entering his unit.  The sticker read: “Join us“.  According to some witnesses (dissidents among them), the agent was infuriated and started to rip the stickers from the wall.  Signs also propped up in front of the home of the Aguadores Prison Chief, Luis Enrique Lopez Diaz, in the city of Santiago de Cuba.  These signs read: “Down with Luis Enrique, assassin”, and “Down with Fidel and Raul“.

To inform everyday Cubans about situations such as that of Bismark Mustelier and other activists, members of UNPACU have also been handing out leaflets which explain the work they do and which demand the rights of the people for a just salary and access to the internet, among other rights.

This mechanism is yielding very good results“, said Ferrer, “One thing that paralyzes the majority of Cubans is misinformation.  So we talk to them and tell them to tear off the oppressive methods around them in order to live in honesty, with freedom and human rights“.  And, according to the dissident, the everyday Cubans are listening to the message and often have public chats about these issues.

On his part, Ferrer Garcia said that the prison sentence of Bismark Mustelier Galan was not because of any crime, but instead it was simply “vengeance of the political police because of his successful activism in favor of freedom“.

The leader of UNPACU affirms that this organization will keep carrying out activities demanding freedom for Galan and all of the Cuban population in general, a struggle which “is difficult, but not impossible“.

Cuban Dissident Sentenced to Two Years in Prison (News Summary)