Ladies in White, Activists Seek Solidarity to Put an End to Repression Against Them

“The repression this past weekend increased”, denounced Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) from the town of Palma Soriano, “and this is due to the fact that the political police of the tyranny is very bothered that last weekend, on the day of the Virgin of Mercy, about 50 Ladies in White from the Eastern region of the country surpassed the police operations they had set up around the entire area and were able to arrive to the capital…even though the majority of the women were eventually detained in Havana”.

As part of this crackdown, numerous Ladies in White from Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, Banes, Guantanamo, Bayamo and Holguin were arrested or impeded from leaving their homes when they tried to assist Sunday Mass in their respective churches.

Ferrer García explained that 4 Ladies in White were reported detained in Guantanamo and 14 in Santiago de Cuba.  The former political prisoner of conscience added that in Santiago “Darmis Aguedo and Adriana Isaac were beaten by the political police and were thrown off a truck onto the asphalt”.

In Banes, Marta Diaz Rondon explained that a police cordon was set up around her home, which kept her from leaving, as was the case of Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez in that same Eastern municipality.

Meanwhile, in other areas of Holguin province, 8 detainees were documented, among them Berta Guerrero Segura, Zuleidis Lisbeth Pérez Velázquez, Adisnidia Cruz, Danay Mendiola, Barbará Bauza Driggs and Glisedis Piña González.  Some of these women were detained in the notorious Pedernales Unit (known for torture and threats) and others were kept in “El Anillo” until after 1 PM, when Catholic Mass in the local Jesus Christ the Redeemer had already come to an end.

My house was completely surrounded by political police and State Security agents from the very early morning hours of Sunday, the 30th”, said Berta Guerrero Segura, representative of the female group in the province of Holguin.  “A group of female agents dressed in red shirt and blue pants, along with male State Security agents, carried out an act of repudiation against us and screamed insults at us with obscene words before arresting us.  The officials leading the operation were Yordanys Martinez Leon (chief of Confrontation in Holguin), and agents Rafael Chapman and Adonys Charles”.

During the arrest, the women were accused of ‘public disorder’.  “In fact”, added Guerrero, “as a form of blackmail and mockery, they told me that if we wanted to go to Church we would have to get ourselves an airplane or a helicopter to drop us off on top of the Church because we were not going to be allowed inside”.

Despite the regime’s aggressive operations, in the provinces of Matanzas, Havana and Pinar del Rio a number of women were able to surpass the vigilance cordons and assist Mass, where they prayed for the freedom of all political prisoners and of Cuba.

But throughout Monday, October 1st, the political police once again lashed out against the Ladies in White in Holguin.

State Security and political police agents surrounded my house all over again”, said Berta Guerrero during the afternoon.  This time, the agents detained various women who were trying to make it into the house, among them Barbara Bauza and Adisnidia Cruz.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez detailed that the Ladies in White were giving out some small bags with food to their members “which were sent as gifts from our brothers in exile” and the regime agents robbed the humble products as they detained the women that day.

This has been just another form of robbery against us… mind you, those products were brought in legally to this country and they are all paid for”, denounced Perez, “and they don’t even give us an explanation nor have they, or will they, return them to us”.

Rosaida Gonzalez Escalona, an elderly Lady in White, was also arrested with violence, but without even participating in dissident activities that afternoon.  Her arrest occurred as she “was on her way to the train station of Holguin to say goodbye to one of her daughters…some agents came out of nowhere and detained her”, explained Perez Velazquez.

Meanwhile, the threats against others activists of Holguin also continued, like those against members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID).  “Police officials continue to threaten the CID members, telling them that they cannot meet anymore in my house, and that they can no longer carry out activities.  There are two activists- Ramon Zamora Rodriguez and Carlos Enrique Nunez Cutino- that were told that their homes would be demolished.  In addition, a group of young activists from the New Juvenile Impact organization are also under violent threats”, added Perez.

In reference to her own case and that of the majority of the other Ladies in White and dissidents, Berta Guerrero Segura alerted “the international community” that the oppressive situation throughout the island has become “unbearable”.

We, the Ladies in White, can’t even go to a store or a market because they always arrest us”, she said.  “Whatever may happen to any of us, or our husbands or children is the direct responsibility of the Castro regime”.  In fact, her husband- dissident Franklin Peregrino del Toro- is also frequently arrested when he accompanies his wife out on the streets and many times when he is trying to buy food for his family.

I have lost count of all our arrests, but I know that there have been more than 40 in 2012 alone.  We ask international organisms like Amnesty International to join us in solidarity, to pay attention to our situation.  Our children are also suffering in school, where they receive threats that they will be expelled due to our activism.  I want the world to know what is happening in Cuba”, expressed Berta Guerrero.

Ladies in White, Activists Seek Solidarity to Put an End to Repression Against Them

Activists and Their Families Receive Threats by Government Agents in Holguin

Zuleidis Lisbeth Pérez Velázquez

Zuleidis Lisbeth Pérez Velázquez, an active Lady in White and the delegate of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID) in Holguin, is denouncing that since this past 23rd of September, she and other activists from that group in the mentioned province have been receiving serious threats by State Security and political police officials.

“The threats have ranged from ridiculous things to more sublime things”, explains Perez Velazquez, “they are death threats, imprisonment threats, and threats that activists can no longer come to my house to carry out CID reunions”.

In addition, the agents have threatened local self-employed citizens, most of which are dissidents, with taking away their merchandise and removing their patents.

They have also threatened underage children with kicking them out of schools and also have told some of the wives of dissidents who have jobs that they’d be kicked out of their work centers”, adds the Lady in White.

In other specific cases, Zuleidis says that the agents told dissident Martha Barbara Zapata Tomas that her sister- who lives outside of Cuba- would no longer be allowed in the country to visit her family.  On Thursday, September 27th, various State Security officers arrived to the home of the activist Mauricio Martinez Diaz and told him that he would be taken to prison if he continued going to the house of Perez Velazquez and carrying activities which have to do with CID.

All the activists have told their oppressors that they will not stop carrying out CID activities and that they will continue their struggle for the freedom of Cuba”, assures Zuleidis, “they have all said that this is a just cause and that they will accept no more threats or blackmail”.

The agents who have been threatening the dissidents are Rafael Chapman (State Security agent; one of the main oppressors in the area of Holguin, dedicates his time to threaten and detain activists), the agent known as Pavel, agent Yordanys Martinez Leon (who organizes acts of repression against activists—in fact, he was the one who would always impede the now exiled Lady in White Caridad Caballero Batista from leaving her home to assist Mass in the city of Holguin), and the chief of Confrontation for State Security in Holguin, agent Douglas Torres Pupo.

Click here for a more detailed description of other repressive actions carried out by these same regime agents (photos included).

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Lisbeth Pérez Velázquez – Cell Phone: +5358-244-778

Activists and Their Families Receive Threats by Government Agents in Holguin

State Police Raid Home of Lady in White, Fire Water, Beat, and Arrest All Those Inside

In the Eastern city of Holguin, a group of approximately 14 Ladies in White were participating in a monthly encounter in the home of Glisedis Piña Gonzalez (member of the women’s activist group) this Saturday, August 18th, when the house was raided by combined forces of the political police and State Security and all those inside- mostly women and children- were beaten and arrested.

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez, a Lady in White from that same city of Holguin, could not assist the meeting (due to a personal illness) but shared details of the brutality.

Very horrible violations have occurred”, said Velazquez, “at around 4:30 PM, paramilitary mobs carried out an act of repudiation against the women, shouting insults and throwing rocks at them”.

In addition to throwing rocks to the activists, the mobs fired water at them, according to reports by Berta Soler and Yuri Miguel Carralero  to the “Háblalo sin Miedo” voice recording service.

It was during this repudiation that the police forces raided the home. “They violently searched the entire house, and all those women inside were beat all the way out and then arrested, and taken to police units.  Along with the women, they also detained about 5 or 6 men (…) and also arrested 5 under age children who were also taken to police units”, detailed Perez Velazquez.

Among the male detainees was independent journalist Alexei Jimenez who also managed to phone  ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (which translated into English literally means ‘Speak Without Fear’) where he explained that the agents attacked him with sticks on the head and ribs.  “It is obvious that the people who were there doing that to us were police officers dressed in civilian clothing, not enraged everyday people.  They were mobs organized by State Security agents“, assured Jimenez, referring to a common tactic applied by Cuba’s communist police apparatus to make it seem that everyday citizens are the ones attacking dissidents.  Jimenez is frequently beaten and arrested each Sunday when he tries to accompany the Ladies in White to church in Holguin.

In the case of the women, among the detainees were Romelia Piña González, Glisedis Piña González, Berta Guerrero Segura, Eleini Villamonte Cardozo, Danay Mendiola, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Lisbeth Peña Hernández, Nelda Molina Leyva, Barbara Bouza and Ana María Aguilera Paneque.

The children who were detained were released during night hours, along with Ana Maria Aguilera Paneque (the only Lady in White released as of August 18th 2012).  The children were sons and daughters of Ladies in White and activists.

Zuleidis Perez managed to establish communication with the 14 year old daughter of Romelia Piña Gonzalez once she arrived home.  The minor was very nervous and, amid her fear, was only able to share some details with Zuleidis about what had happened in that house (her aunt’s home).

Other arrests of Ladies in White took place on that same morning in the same province of Holguin in the municipalities of Banes and Cacocum, when various women tried to travel to the city of Holguin to participate in the meeting.  These detainees were Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez and Miladis Piñales Rosa in Banes, and Marlenis Abreu Almaguer in Cacocum.  These three were released at around 6 PM.

A wave of escalating violence has been occurring throughout the island against human rights activists, among them many Ladies in White.  These actions are being accompanied, in most cases, by home raids and brutal beatings.  One other recent example is that of Lady in White Mildred Noemi Sanchez, from the municipality of Antilla, who had her home raided by police forces, was beat violently in front of her family, and arrested for more than 96 hours this past 13th of August.  State police said they were searching for “enemy propaganda” in her house- a common term for any written or audio-visual materials which deal with the defense of human rights.

Meanwhile, the “Hablemos Press” independent news agency, with its headquarters in Havana, recently released a report in which they detailed that in the first 14 days of August more than 200 arrests of peaceful dissidents have occurred, while between the 10th and 14th, more than 20 home raids took place.

As for the detained women, Zuleidis Perez expressed: “[As of August 18th] we do not know of their whereabouts, so we are declaring them disappeared and we fear for their lives.  If the police was capable of breaking into the home, beating them, and breaking furniture and other objects, then we should not doubt for a second that they are very capable of killing or disappearing them”.

(Listen to Zuleidis’ audio- In Spanish):

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358-244-778

State Police Raid Home of Lady in White, Fire Water, Beat, and Arrest All Those Inside

Group of Ladies in White Defy their Oppressors in Holguin, Carry out Successful March

This past Sunday August 12th 2012, 9 Ladies in White in the city of Holguin did not let their violent arrests at the hands of political police and State Security agents keep them from carrying out their habitual Sunday march towards the local Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men Catholic Church.

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez, member of the women’s group and resident of Holguin, was one of the 14 detainees taken into custody in a “very violent” manner.  She adds that they were all “distributed throughout the province of Holguin, to different National Revolutionary Police Units, as if we were some sort of baggage.  It was not until 12 PM that we were taken out of the units in cop cars, State Security vehicles, and buses.  We were left in different points of Holguin, from 4 to 10 kilometers away from our homes“.

The rest of the detainees were Berta Guerrero Segura, Yoandra Garrido Silva, Mayra Silva, Mayra Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Romelia Pina González, Barbara Bauza, Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Nelda Molina Leyva, Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves, Danay Mendiola, Glisedis Pina González, Eleney Villamonte Cardozo and Noemi Hidalgo Gómez.

Their were reports of arrests of three other male dissidents, Alexei Jiménez, Rolando Sánchez Duran and Luis Miguel Carralero, who also try to assist Mass each Sunday “because they are Catholics and members of the Church, and also morally show their support for us, the Ladies in White.  Police agents have been arresting them each Sunday when they try to leave their homes, and they are usually taken to different and undisclosed locations“.

On the day before- Saturday August 11th- Perez Velazquez denounced that there were other arrests in Holguin:  Marcos Limas Dalmao (husband of Adisnidia Cruz Segreo), Luis Manuel Gonzalez and Antonio Pupo Caballero.

However, Zuleidis explained that two women-  Lisbeth Peña  Hernández and Liliana Campo- managed to make it inside the church in Holguin, where they participated in Mass and then marched with their white clothes and flowers.  As soon as the other 14 women were released, 9 of them were able to carry out their march successfully, defying the repressive forces.

Despite all these setbacks, 9 of us Ladies in White were able to meet up after they released us, at around 1 pm, and managed to carry out our peaceful march on the same street where the church is located“, said Perez Velazquez,  “this was something that our oppressors were not expecting, but we achieved it.  They must be infuriated, but so they and the rest of the world know: we are not going to stop.  Regardless of the detentions, the repression, and the beatings we are subjected to each and every Sunday, we are not going to stop.  We are not taking steps back in this peaceful struggle“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Group of Ladies in White Defy their Oppressors in Holguin, Carry out Successful March

Police Operations Underway to Impede Ladies in White from Assisting Sunday Mass (Holguin)

The Cuban regime’s police operations to impede Ladies in White in the province of Holguin from assisting Sunday Mass are underway, denounced Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez this Saturday, 28th of July.

According to the activist, there are 4 women who managed to make it to a house which is located only 4 houses from the local Catholic church in the city of Holguin, the Jesus Christ Redeemer of Men temple.  However, these 4 Ladies are completely “surrounded by 7 police agents with the intention of keeping them from attending Mass tomorrow.  They [the regime] do not even respect the fact that they are so close to the church“.

The four women who are practically under house arrest are  Romelia Piña González,  Marlenis Abreu Almaguer, Glisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz Segreo. The house in which they are in is located on 18th Street, number 131, between 23rd and 27th in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood, on the same street as the church.

The agent who is running the operation, which consists of 7 men, is Rafael Chapman, a well known “oppressor from State Security“, explained Perez Velazquez.  “These 7 men impede the women from stepping out of the house, they are prohibiting them from any sort of mobility, and they even have their cell phones blocked.  They are threatening them, telling them that they cannot go to church tomorrow“.

Despite operations such as these, Zuleidis Perez affirms that the Ladies in White will march to church, although the situation will most likely culminate with arrests, as usually occurs each Sunday.

The tactics of the political police normally consist in detaining the women during morning hours- usually around 8 AM- and later releasing them at around 12:30 PM, once Mass has ended.

The Ladies in White are victims of this kind of repression throughout the island, including other Eastern regions such as Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, where they frequently suffer arrests, beatings, and even sexual threats.

Regardless, they continue to resist.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Pérez Velázquez- Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Police Operations Underway to Impede Ladies in White from Assisting Sunday Mass (Holguin)

Ladies in White Denounce New Threats by Police in Holguin

In Cacocum, Holguín, the home of Lady in White Berta Guerrero Segura has been completely surrounded by State Security agents, agents of the Rapid Response Brigades, and paramilitary troops from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) for 6 days, in order to try and impede that she or her family assist Mass or step out of the house to meet with other local activists.

My home has been surrounded since Friday, July 20 th, and it is something which is happening week after week”,  denounced Guerrero Segura, signaling that the agents carrying out the operations are “Reymundo Rodríguez Pupo, agent Wilson from Holguín and also Joel Guerrero, among others”.

These same oppressors have been threatening Guerrero, her husband (activist Franklin Peregrino del Toro) as well as numerous other women from that area, saying that if they try to continue their activism or carry out public demonstrations, they will be detained until after the 26th, a date which the regime uses to celebrate and glorify the 26th of July Movement which was headed by dictator Fidel Castro.

The number of arrests of these Eastern Ladies in White have also increased, as was proven this past Sunday, July 22nd, when 8 of these women were violently arrested in the province of Holguin when they tried to make it to church.

The 8 were Ana María Aguilera Paneque, Adisnidia Cruz, Maydelin Guerrero Silva, Yoandra Garrido Silva, María Rosa Rodríguez Silva, Rosa María Naranjo Nieve, Danaime Diota and Rosaida González Escalona.

Meanwhile, another 7 women did manage to surpass police cordons and make it to Sunday Mass, among them Berta Guerrero.  Many may recall that now exiled Lady in White, Caridad Caballero Batista, would continuously be arrested weekend after weekend to keep her from going to church during the present year, but alongside her many other women would also be detained.  Guerrero Segura is one of these women, who during 2012 has not been able to make it to church on Sunday’s due to the fact that she is always arrested and kept in detention cells for a number of hours until Mass has concluded.

Zuleidis Pérez, another Lady in White from the municipality of Holguin denounced that “there is a horrible police operation underway” during these days against activists in the Eastern region of the country.  “Despite this, and under these circumstances, on the 23rd we were able to carry out a symbolic wake in honor of Oswaldo Paya in my home“.

Berta Guerrero adds that numerous activists were able to carry out a pots-and-pans protest at her home in Cacocum during the night of the 24th to celebrate the Day of the Resistance (each 24th of the month) and also to pay homage to Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero

Guerrero also sent out a message to the international community, in regards to the increased repression against the Ladies in White and the civic opposition: “The Castro regime is desperate, and they deny us our rights to freedom of movement, religion, as well as the rights of our families, because they also impede our relatives from coming to our homes.  They also arrest them“.

We are always under threat, and we were denouncing that this is a totalitarian regime which is based on repression, harassment, and vexation against dissidents and Ladies in White“.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778

Ladies in White Denounce New Threats by Police in Holguin

Holguin: Arrests, Vigilance, and Police Cordons Not Enough to Stop Weekly Vigil and Meetings

As occurs every Wednesday, this 18th of July 2012, the “Vigils for the Freedom of All Cuban Political Prisoners” were celebrated across the island, while many Ladies in White also celebrated their monthly literary meetings.

From the province of Holguin, Lady in White Zuleidis Perez Velazquez informed that the literary meeting in that zone was carried out in the home of Berta Guerrero Segura, in the municipality of Cacocum.  However, Perez Velaquez says that “from the very early morning hours- starting at around 3 or 4 AM- there was a large police operation set in motion in nearly all the surroundings of Holguin, as well as many other municipalities like Velasco, Cacocum, Banes, Gibara, Antilla, and right here in the city of Holguin” in order to try and impede the female activists from arriving to their destination.

Among the Ladies who were surrounded and were not able to make it to the meeting were  Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Marta Díaz Rondón, Miladis Piñales Rosa, Daylin Guerrero, Lissette González Rodríguez  and Odalmys Suarez (all from different municipalities).  Meanwhile, 7 other women suffered arrests at the hands of the political police, among them Lidia Hernández Pérez, Rosaida González Escalona, Rosa María Naranjo Nieves and Lisbeth Pena Hernández.

4 women were able to make it to the home of Berta Guerrero- Nelda Molina Leyva, Romelia Piña González, Lisedis Piña González and Adisnidia Cruz where they were able to carry out their literary meeting.

Zuleidis Perez explained that the weekly vigil was carried out in her home in the city of Holguin.  Previously, this vigil would be celebrated in the home of the now exiled Lady in White and independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista.  “Upon Caridad Caballero going into exile, here in the province of Holguin we decided to continue her hard work, through which she was able to achieve that many members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance w0uld meet.  Now, we will continue these meetings, and we will be doing it from my house every Wednesday“.

Just as Caballero Batista would do it (who suffered a constant repression due to her tireless activism for freedom), Perez Velazquez also “let the activists present know about the arbitrary situations occurring in all of Cuba, all the arrests and more“, as well as the increasing level of activism.

Four men (human rights activists) were also arrested upon trying to arrive to the house, among them José Mir Cruz and Heladio Pupo Nieves.  Regardless, the vigil was carried out with members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance and the Ladies in White.

These arbitrary actions and all these violations which are being committed in these provinces have been occurring every single Wednesday as well as every Sunday, where they prohibit us from making it to Mass at church“, affirmed Perez Velazquez, “they arrest us, beat us, threaten us, and mistreat us“.

Despite these crackdowns by the regime, the Lady in White assured that the Resistance in the province of Holguin will continue standing firm against the dictatorship.

For more information from Cuba:

Zuleidis Perez Velazquez – Cell Phone: +5358- 244- 778 // Marta Diaz Rondon – Cell Phone: +5352- 771- 630 // Twitter: @MartaDiazRondon

Holguin: Arrests, Vigilance, and Police Cordons Not Enough to Stop Weekly Vigil and Meetings