Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Cuba: Residents of town to be visited by the Pope are being evicted
RESIDENTS OF THE EASTERN TOWN OF EL COBRE, A DESTINATION OF POPE BENEDICT XVI IN MARCH, ARE BEING EVICTED FROM THEIR HOMES
Video cameras, police surveillance, and road blocks are being reported
February 12, 2012
Video testimonies that were taped and sent from Eastern Cuba by the human rights organization UMPACU, give evidence that there’s a government curfew in force in El Cobre, home of the Basilica of the Patron Saint of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity, and a destination of Pope Benedict XVI in Cuba next month. The activists are obtaining reports of police surveillance whereby residents are stopped and searched; of the unusual presence of numerous buses and vans and; of the installation of video cameras, as well as of road blocks to control those who come and go to El Cobre. According to the testimony of Rodolfo Naranjo, an activist and a resident of El Cobre for more than 30 years who denounced being harassed by the political police, the Cuban regime is intent in covering up the prevailing misery that the Cuban people are suffering in the island. Inhabitants who live down by the road where the Pope will be passing are being evicted and many of the roofs of these shacks are being replaced.
Links to the interviews in Spanish are below. The names and the phone numbers of the human rights defenders of UMPACU who carried out the interviews are: Prudencio Villalon Rades + 53790984 and Jorge Cervantes + 53 53791610
RODOLFO NARANJO FIGUEIRAS - Activist being harassed by Cuban authorities http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdSxYcmCSKA&feature=player_embedded
LIDIA LASTRA LOPEZ - Threatened with eviction and living in miserable conditions without a roof with three small children 3-11 years of age http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3fQ9B12IDAg
ALBERTO ROSARIO VAZQUEZ - A humble farmer who is being threatened with eviction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md-vsVUYg18&feature=player_embedded
ENI GILAR RIVERA - Authorities are suddenly accusing him of living in "illegal conditions". He was fined and is being threatened with eviction from his humble home http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=G5WtoFRsD8c#!
Every week, in spite of the Cuban regime’s violence carried out by way of threats, arbitrary arrests, beatings and sexual harassment, the Ladies in White travel days ahead, sometimes through mountainous terrains full of thorny bushes, to attend Sunday Mass at the Basilica of El Cobre in Eastern Cuba. Many leave their children with trusted family members or friends and must sleep nights on the floor when they reach the town of El Cobre. This Sunday, forty two Ladies were able to reach the Basilica to hear Mass but many women throughout the island are denouncing terrible forms of systematic harassment. The Lady in White Arelis Rodríguez Chacón refused a proposition made to her by State Security officials who offered her to work for them as an undercover informant. Another Lady in White, Ana Celia Rodriguez Torres, denounced that ar State Security official threatened to burn all their white clothes. Marilyn de la O Montero’s house in the Eastern town of Contramaestre was surrounded by the political police and the head of the communist party because 17 UMPACU activists had convened at Marilyn’s house with the intention of visiting the tomb of Wilman Villar Mendoza.
This is the sixth consecutive week that the home of the independent journalist Felipe Rojas has been under surveillance by uniformed officials, jeeps, etc. in the Eastern city of San German. It was vandalized on January 26, 2012 with blue paint and windows were broken while his family was inside, including two young children.
Yasmin Conyedo and her husband, Yusmani Alvarez both remain under arrest since January 8, 2012 in the central city of Santa Clara. Yasmin Conyedo is an independent journalist of the group, United Antitotalitarian Front and a Lady in White. Her husband, Yusmani Alvarez is an activist of the Young Democratic League of Las Villas. They are both falsely accused of attacking the home of a communist party official in their hometown of Villaclara who had initially subjected the couple’s home to a pro government mob attack the same day of the arrest. Yasmin was transferred to the Prison of Guamajal and Yusmani to the Prison of La Pendiente on January 16, 2012.
On February 8, 2012, Laima Andrikiene, a member of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee made public her argument of the human rights situation in Cuba in: ‘Cuban Spring ‘Unavoidable Amid Repression’ pointing to the present responsibility of the international community to “act against the undemocratic Cuban regime as it increases its repression of dissidents” : http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/1472/cuban-spring-unavoidable-amid-repression
On February 9, 2012, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation issued a report that documented at least 631 arbitrary detentions carried out by the Cuban regime for political reasons in the month of January 2012. The group led by Elizardo Sanchez and considered “illegal” in the island, revealed a clear increment in the violence applied by the police against peaceful activists in 2011. It also pointed to the fact that the regime has taken no visible steps to investigate and establish the facts on the circumstances related to the agony, death, funeral and burial of the peaceful human rights defender, William Villar Mendoza who died under the custody of the Cuban state following more than 50 days on hunger strike.
Carlos Lauria, the Americas Senior Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) denounced that Yoani Sanchez’s, a Cuban blogger whom the Cuban state media has described as a ‘cybermercenary’ at the service of a foreign government, was denied once again, for the 19th time, her right to travel abroad in the article: Rousseff quiet as Cuban blogger denied travel to Brazil: http://www.cpj.org/blog/2012/02/rousseff-quiet-as-cuban-blogger-denied-travel-to-b.php.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1981 that promotes press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.
Below are some of the human rights violations reported during the week of February 6 – 12, 2012.
FEBRUARY 6, 2012 - The home of the Lady in White, Aini Sarrion Romero and her husband, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria, who is the coordinator of the UMPACU in the Eastern city of Moa, was violently attacked by the political police who forced their entry and searched the home, tearing down posters that said: “Down with Hunger”, “Long Live Human Rights”,”Freedom for Cuban Political Prisoners”, “Freedom to Travel”. The couple, their son and several other activists were dragged outside and beaten. Ainis Sarrion lost to two teeth due to the punches she received by two men they identified as Víctor Laurencio Blanco and Neuris Basulto. Other activists present were: Maritza Cardoso Romero, Mario Antonio Brocal Borges and Solemnis Abad Alfajo.
Guillermo Fariñas was released after being arrested on February 4, 2012 in the central city of Santa Clara for the fifth time this year. A group called the United Antitotalitarian Front ‘Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia’ denounced that two State Security officials ( Ayorbis Gil Alvarez and Francisco Darias Gonzalez) are planning to eliminate Fariñas by weaking him physically with multiple detentions, aware that every time he is arrested he protests by refusing to eat and to take his medication.
FEBRUARY 7, 2012 – The home of the Lady in White, Aini Sarrion Romero and her husband, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria, who is the coordinator of the UMPACU in the Eastern city of Moa, was violently attacked by the political police who forced their entry and searched the home, tearing down posters that said: “Down with Hunger”, “Long Live Human Rights”,”Freedom for Cuban Political Prisoners”, “Freedom to Travel”. The couple, their son and several other activists were dragged outside and beaten. Ainis Sarrion lost to two teeth due to the punches she received by two men they identified as Víctor Laurencio Blanco and Neuris Basulto. Other activists present were: Maritza Cardoso Romero, Mario Antonio Brocal Borges and Solemnis Abad Alfajo.
In Havana, the Lady in White, Mercedes Fresneda and husband, Julio Regatillo, were threatened and harassed in the street by paramilitary forces when they were on their way to deal with matters related to a document. Fresneda was once injected with an unknown substance and almost fainted in the street when the Ladies in White were surrounded and attacked by a pro government mob.
Several activists, among them Neldo Ivan Echevarria, spokesperson of the Opposition Movement for a New Republic, were subjected to short term detentions in Havana by the political police and members of Cuban State Security and taken to the police unit of Santiago de las Vegas without informing them of the reason they were being detained.
Members of the Femenine Movement for Civil Liberties Rosa Parks were arrested after delivering a letter to government institutions in the municipality of Placetas, in central Cuba, to denounce the situation of a resident of Placetas who is homeless. The following women were taken away by the police as they were going out of the Church San Atanasio: Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, Xiomara Martin Jimenez, Yaite Diosnellis Cruz Sosa, plus a friend of the feminine movement
FEBRUARY 8, 2012 – The house of Caridad Caballero Batista was surrounded and blocked to activists in Holguin.
FEBRUARY 9, 2012 – In Havana, of the more than twenty Ladies in White who were invited, only six were able to attend a workshop offered by the blogger Yoani Sanchez in her home. Lazara Mitjans and the independent journalist, Magaly Norvis Otero were arrested early in the morning. Most of the rest of the women were prevented from leaving their homes that were blocked by the political police and pro government mobs. Aimee Cabrales denounced that her home was surrounded and that she was pushed around and beaten in a corridor that leads to her home by at least three women and several police officers.
FEBRUARY 10, 2012 – Detained in Moa, city in the Eastern province of Holguin, the Lady in White, Ainis Sarrion Romero (beaten on Tuesday, February 7) and her husband Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria, UMPACU coordinator in Moa.
FEBRUARY 11, 2012 – Osvaldo Paya, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement was intimidated by Cuban authorities upon his arrival at the airport in Holguin who accused him with the fact that he had come to Eastern Cuba to march with the Ladies in White. Paya denied this and told them that they should not intimidate him, that he was a Cuban citizen who was traveling to Holguin to meet with friends.
Rolando Humberto Gonzalez Rodriguez of the organization UMPACU in Palma Soriano was arrested and accused of being responsible for the antigovernment placards that appeared throughout the city. Arnaldo de la Cruz Bañobre was detained by a State Security official that wanted to “discuss” with him the intentions that the coordinator of UMPACU Jose Daniel Ferrer had of establishing independent clinics that would offer free health care to the residents of Palma Soriano. Roberto Gonzalez Feria (UMPACU) was summoned to a police unit in the municipality of San Luis.
Several activists were subjected to short term detentions in the Eastern cities of Songo La Maya and Santiago de Cuba. Some of those arrested were: the independent journalist, Yusmila Reyna, Hergues Frandin, who is the Director of the Center for the Studies of Proactive Democracy, Antonio Alonso, promoter of the Municipalities in Opposition in the Eastern region of Cuba as well as the director of the Cuban Rural Civic Development Project. Roberto Serrano, Health and Environmental Commissioner for the Songo-La Maya Municipality in Opposition and other activists, Sergio Chavan and members of the 30th of November Party (Partido 30 de Noviembre).
FEBRUARY 12, 2012 - Violently arrested and taken away in a patrol car in Holguin, the Lady in White, Caridad Caballero Batista and her husband Esteban Sander by the police office, Major Douglas Torres. In Cacocun, Berta Guerrero Segura and Franklin Pellegrino del Toro were taken away by the police. The UMPACU activists who were going to protest any arrests or harassment against the Ladies in White and were consequently detained in Palmarito de Cauto were: Ruben Torres, Julio Cesar Salazar, and Yuselin Ferrer Espinosa.
Four Ladies in White were arrested in the central city of Placetas as they tried to attend Mass.
From Havana, the ex-political prisoner of conscience, Hector Maseda, reported that the homes of several Ladies in White in the Western province of Pinar del Rio were blocked by the police to prevent their assistance to Mass.
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 cases of the activist couple Yasmin Conyedo and Yusmani Alvarez, with the continued physical and mental harassment against members of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan throughout Cuba. International recognition of the peaceful resistance and solidarity for these 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 / LaidaA.Carro
Blog: www.coalitionofcubanamericanwomen.blogspot.com /
Facebook Page: Coalition of Cuban American Women / Twitter: @COCAW1
FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia +5353631267 / Juan Pelegrino + 53139855 / Caridad Caballero Batista +52629749 / Aini Sarrion Romero +53673185 / Mercedes Fresneda +53869948