NONVIOLENT ACTIVISTS THROUGHOUT CUBA CONTINUE TO BE SYSTEMATICALLY ATTACKED BY RAPID RESPONSE BRIGADES
Children are recruited by the regime to scream insults and slogans at human rights defenders
January 29, 2012
The week of January 23-29, 2012 saw the pro democracy movement increase their acts of civic resistance in the island as the regime incremented its acts of repression against the peaceful activists. Rapid Response Brigades or Rapid Action Groups made up of organized government mobs that intimidate and instill fear in the population by screaming slogans, carrying metal tubes, sticks, stones, etc. surrounded and attacked during hours and even days, dozens of homes of human rights defenders in numerous provinces from eastern to western Cuba. State Security forces were stationed at check points that controlled the free access to towns and cities as patrol cars guarded main avenues in the cities. Two independent journalists suffered violent attacks to their homes: in the eastern city of San German, gallons of blue paint were thrown against the front of the house of Luis Felipe Rojas while his family was inside. In Havana, the house of Dania Virgen suffered a mob attack that included children as well as adults.
On the 24th day of every month, the National Front of Civic Resistance and Disobedience Orlando Zapata Tamayo has called on all activists and the Cuban population in general to honor “Resistance Day” with acts of peaceful protests such as vigils, workshops, street rallies, civic remembrances, etc. On January 24 pots and pans were banged in the streets protesting the death of human rights defender Wilman Villar Mendoza, as the regime beat and arbitrarily arrested the participants.
On January 28, the 159th anniversary of the birth of the Cuban patriot Jose Marti the prodemocracy activists tried to publicly honor their compatriot but Cuban authorities: threatened them, physically mistreated and arbitrarily arrested them, and blocked their homes. Numerous activists also reported that their cell phone connections were blocked to prevent communication amongst themselves and with the international community.
The peaceful movement of the Ladies in White Laura Pollan continues to be subjected to violent acts by State Security agents who prevent their attendance to Mass through arbitrary arrests and by blocking their homes. This Sunday, paramilitary mobs screamed obscenities at them as they were going to honor the Patriot Jose Marti. They were pushed and taken away to police units in Havana. The Lady in White, Belkis Cantillo reported from Santiago de Cuba that authorities were following and filming them as they came out in unison of the Basilica of the Virgin of Charity in El Cobre.
Among the reports received from Cuba are the following:
January 23, 2012 – In Havana, the home of Eriberto Liranza, which is the headquarters of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, was surrounded by State Security agents who foiled the regular Monday meeting of this group from taking place. Yunior Ramirez Roca, Santiago Diaz Soto, Antionio Perez Romero, Jennifer Suarez Varela and others were threatened and prevented from reaching Liranza’s home and the following activists were subjected to short term arrests: Raul Parada Ramirez, Carlos Alexander Borrego Galardi and his wife, Ariadna Bernal Rosales as well as Eriberto Liranza.
January 24, 2012 – The National Front of Civic Resistance and Disobedience Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a coalition of pro-democracy groups throughout Cuba, took to the streets with a “Pots and Pans” protest to commemorate “Resistance Day” and honor the memory of their compatriot Wilman Villar Mendoza. Many of the activists who participated were brutally beaten and arrested and many of their homes were surrounded by screaming pro government paramilitary mobs. “We want the world to know what these henchmen are doing to us; we are peaceful activists who only cry out on behalf of freedom and democracy for the Cuban people,” declared Hermogenes Guerrero from Havana. Among the cities where this protest took place were: Havana, Banes, Holguin, San German, Guantanamo, Cardenas, and Velazco.
January 25, 2012 – Numerous acts of repudiation were carried out against homes of human rights defenders throughout Cuba: for a second day in a row, the house of activist Sara Marta Fonseca in Havana was surrounded during several hours by a paramilitary mob screaming government slogans; attacks were reported to the homes of activists in the eastern city of Palma Soriano such as was the case of Misael Valdes Diaz and his wife, Vivian Peña Hernandez.
January 26, 2012 – The Cuban political prisoner, Luis Enrique Labrador Diaz, was confined to a punishment cell in the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana for refusing to wear the common prisoner’s uniform and for demanding the 20 minute phone call allotted to all prisoners.
At 3 in the morning in the eastern city of San German, the home of the blogger and independent journalist, Luis Felipe Rojas was vandalized with “paint bombs.” Up to eleven eggs with blue oil paint were thrown against the front of the home, smearing up to the living room furniture and floor. Rojas was not home but his wife, Exilda Arjona and their two children, 8 and 3 witnessed the aggression. The couple eldest son, Malcom Rojas, is under psychiatric treatment for the continuous repressive acts he’s been subjected to. The activist Eliecer Palma Pupo was arrested before he got to Felipe Rojas’s home.
January 27, 2012 – On the eve of the 159th anniversary of the birth of the Cuban patriot Jose Marti, police officers and State Security forces carried out arrests throughout the following eastern cities in Cuba to prevent activists from carrying out any public commemorative acts: in Palma Soriano, Velasco, Gibara, Antilla, Baracoa, in Guantanamo, where the Ladies in White, Elisa Milagros Reinier, and Maria Alonso Cordoba, were mistreated and arrested; in Moa, the Lady in White, Maritza Cardoza Romero was arrested and taken to the Mayari Police Unit as she was on her way to attend Sunday mass at the Basilica of El Cobre; in Caimanera, Eliesei Aranda Matos of the human rights movement “Resistance and Democracy” was arrested; in Palmarito de Cauto, UMPACU activists Abraham Cabrera, Ruben Torres, and Maximilano Sanchez were denied permission by province officials to carry out any acts of homage to Jose Marti.
January 28, 2012 – On the 159th anniversary of the birth of Cuban patriot any acts of homage to honor the Cuban patriot Jose Marti across the island were blocked through repressive tactics. The Ladies in White, Elisa Reiner and Maria Alonso and the human rights defender Eleixei Aranda Matos were arrested. Patrol cars surrounded the home of human rights defender, Antonio Gonzalez Bordonado, member of UMPACU, in the neighborhood of Vista Hermosa, Santiago de Cuba and, in Placetas (central Cuba), the home of Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera and Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez was obstructed by agents. In Villa Clara, Guillermo del Sol Perez was arrested on his way to the home of the actvist Damaris Moya Portieles who was inaugurating the “Casa del Preso” to honor Cuban political prisoners.
From the eastern city of Moa Holguin, the human rights defender and member of UMPACU, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria reported that the home of Lady in White, Annis Sarrion Romero is under house surveillance to prevent her assistance to Mass this coming Sunday to the Basilica of the Virgin of Charity in El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba. Rafael Meneses Pupo, Ariel Cruz Meneses, and Delvin Martinez were arrested before they were able to arrive at the home of Marta Diaz Rondon in Banes, Holguin where a workshop on Jose Marti was taking place.
In Havana, Manuel Cuesta Morua, director of the independent Cuban group, Arco Progresista and coordinator of a citizen’s project called “Nuevo Pais” (New Country), was detained around 9:30 a.m. to prevent his participation in a meeting of artists and activists that was planned to convene that afternoon at 6:00 p.m. Also in Havana, the home of independent journalist and blogger, Dania Virgen Garcia, was subjected to an act of repudiation in which around 50 children participated, screaming slogans alongside adults.
January 29, 2012 – Police operations were carried out in the eastern cities of Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, and Santiago de Cuba to prevent the Ladies in White from attending Mass at the Basilica of El Cobre. Peaceful human rights defender, Yoandi Beltran Gamboa and his wife, the Lady in White, Yusmari Chacon were arrested on their way to the Cathedral of Guantanamo.
Ladies in White arrested in Santiago de Cuba: Ana Celia Rodriguez, Teresa Roman, Doraisa Correoso,Annia Alegre, Maria Elena Matos, Kenia Alegrin and the activist Abel Martin.
Caridad Caballero Batista was aggressively arrested alongside Isabel Peña and Berta Guerrero ( all Ladies in White) as she was leaving her home in the eastern city of Holguin. Her husband Esteban Sande Suarez and her son Eric Sande were also arrested.
In Havana, human rights defender Sarah Marta Fonseca who is executive Secretary of the Human Rights Committee of the Andrei Sajarov Foundation and a spokesperson of the National Front of Civic Resistance and Desobedience Orlando Zapata Tamayo, as well as a Lady in White, was participating in a civic remembrance placing a wreath at a bust of Jose Marti in a park in El Vedado neighborhood when about 40 Ladies in White were attacked by Rapid Reponse Brigades screaming pro government slogans. (Audio of Berta Soler denouncing attack) http://www.martinoticias.com/templates/ocb-mediaDisplay.html?mediaPath=http://av.martinoticias.com/MartiMedia/audio/2012/1/D-015.mp3&mediaContentID=138291434. Around 46 women were mistreated, forced onto a bus, and arrested. Berta Soler and the daughter of the deceased Lady in White Laura Pollan (Laurita Pollan), were taken away in a separate car to a police unit were they were held for two hours. Berta’s husband, human rights defender Angel Moya and eleven more activists who were accompanying the women, were violently arrested and taken in patrol cars to different police units in Havana.
The Coalition of Cuban-American Women alerts the international community that the lives of those members of Cuban civil society who are actively and publicly struggling on behalf of fundamental freedoms are in danger. We are particularly concerned with the systematic repression against members of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan across Cuba. International recognition of the peaceful resistance and solidarity for those human rights defenders is crucial. We make an urgent call on religious, civic, political, and cultural entities and its leaders, as well as to non-governmental human rights organizations worldwide.
Coalition of Cuban-American Women / Joseito76@aol.com / Laida A.Carro Blog: http://www.coalitionofcubanamericanwomen.blogspot.com/
Facebook Page: Coalition of Cuban-American Women
FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA: Berta Soler +5352906820 / José Daniel Ferrer + 53 53631267 / Caridad Caballero Batista + 5-2629749 / Belkis Cantillo + 5353790867 /