EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 21 March 2016 – At least a dozen government opponents were arrested this Monday in Cuba, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), which also identifies nearly 90 political prisoners on the island.
Among those arrested for the second day are the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, and some members of that women’s group, along with her husband, former political prisoner Angel Moya, according to Elizardo Sanchez, spokesman for the CCDHRN, the only group regularly documenting such incidents in Cuba.
Elizardo Sanchez said his group is trying to specify the number of arrests on the island since Sunday, when US president, Barack Obama arrived in Cuba.
That same day, some 60 dissidents were arrested several hours after the Ladies in White’s habitual Sunday march.
With regards to the number of political prisoners in Cuba, Sanchez said he currently has in his record to 77 prisoners convicted for political reasons plus one who is serving a sentence of house arrest.
He explained that that group adds the 11 released under a “furlough,” a legal concept that does not annul the sentences imposed during the crackdown of the “Black Spring” of 2003 that led to the jailing 75 dissidents on the island.
Cuban President Raul Castro denied on Monday that there are political prisoners in the country, in the press conference he gave in Havana with President Obama.
Castro challenged a journalist to present a list of political prisoners and assured him that if they really existed they would be freed that very night.
“Give me the list of political prisoners to release them now,” Castro said in answering the reporter’s question.
Forum for Rights and Freedoms, 23 November 2015 — In recent weeks we have observed, with deep concern, the development of a new migration crisis. The human drama that thousands of Cubans are experiencing already affects the entire Central American region, the Caribbean, and especially Costa Rica, a nation that has received migrants with great solidarity, in contrast to the complicity of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
The Castro regime has decided, once again – we recall the Camarioca exodus in 1965, the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s, the Rafter Crisis in 1994 – to use Cubans as pieces in their political game, putting at risk their lives and safety. Denunciations of abuse, assaults and every kind of crime against Cuban emigrants has elicited the solidarity of all people of goodwill.
In this case, the regime is pressuring the United States, and involving third parties, in the midst of a process of normalization between the Obama administration and the dictatorship, to win additional concessions from president Obama, without having to take steps to improve the appalling situation of human rights in Cuba.
We condemn the profound contempt, and the indolent and inhumane attitude of the dictatorship towards Cubans. Only a transition to democracy and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms can reverse the misery that exists on the island.
We appeal to international organizations and those involved to be in solidarity with the Cuban people and their right to be free, in the face of his scenario that becomes more complex every day.
Foro por los Derechos y Libertades / Forum for Rights and Freedoms
Ailer González, Estado de Sats
Ángel Moya, Movimiento Libertad Democrática por Cuba
Ángel Santiesteban, Estado de Sats
Antonio G. Rodiles, Estado de Sats
Berta Soler, Dama de Blanco
Claudio Fuentes, Estado de Sats
Egberto Escobedo, Asociación de presos y expresos políticos en Cuba
María Cristina Labrada, Dama de Blanco
Raul Borges, Partido por la Unidad Democrática Cristiana
Arsenio Rodríguez Quintana, Barcelona — On Sunday, October 4, after visiting the Cuban Art Factory in Havana, the Rolling Stones singer was walking with the rocker and Cuban government critic Gorki Aguila Carrasco along 5th Avenue, where the Ladies in White meet every Sunday and march in support of human rights in Cuba. Cuban State Security blocks Gorki from going to meet them, but last Sunday, the day of Orula, an orisha venerated in Cuba, the miracle happened. Gorki was wearing an El Sexto T-shirt that interested Jagger, who asked about El Sexto’s state of health after his hunger strike, and offered to buy some of his artworks to support him.
They also spoke about the possibility of Gorki opening for the Rolling Stones should the conversations with the Ministry of Culture for the Stones to play in the Karl Marx Theater bear fruit.
Now that so many American rock, pop and jazz musicians are coming to Havana, it is worth remembering that this city where I was born had home grown impresarios (from 1910 to 1959) that brought the best American or European musicians of their times to Cuba: Enrico Caruso, Nat King Cole or Lola Flores, for example.
The person who cut this ebb and flow between Havana and the world was Fidel Castro. For more than 50 years – except in 1978, another USA-Cuba political rapprochement, and in 1999. The Castro regime not only censored jazz and rock so that it would not come into Cuba, but also censored and imprisoned those who played it.
Jagger, regrettably was in Havana but he didn’t meet with Gorki, the news is false, but my dear friends Ailer and Lia Villares will perhaps smile at my autumn dreams from Barcelona.
14ymedio, Havana, 4 October, 2015 – Fifty-nine Ladies in White and 20 activists gathered this Sunday in Gandhi Park in Havana’s Playa district, despite the arrests previous to their traditional Sunday peregrination. After a summary of their weekly activities, the dissidents were detained, according to a report from witnesses at the scene.
From the early hours, the regime opponent Martha Beatriz Roque denounced the arrests of 12 human rights activists who had traveled to Santa Rita parish. Among those arrested with the mother and siblings of Zaqueo Baez Guerrero, one of the members of the of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who had approached Pope Francis in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.
Others arrested on Sunday included the regime opponents Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles, Ailer Gonzalez and Felix Navarro. The latter lives in the town of Perico, Matanzas, and traveled to the capital to show his support to the human rights movement.
Blogger Agustín López Canino denounced his arrest and reported that he was handcuffed at the corner of 5th and 30th streets, in the Playa district, together with two other colleagues. The activists detailed that he was “taken to the outskirts of Havana” to prevent his accompanying the Ladies in White during their Sunday march.
Meanwhile, in Colón, Matanzas, independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported ten Ladies in White marched in Colón, Matanzas, for the release of the political prisoners.
The leader of the Ladies in White movement, Berta Soler said that Yaquelín Boni, an activist detained since Thursday during a protest outside Combinado del Este prison and accused of “disobedience,” has now been released.
Diario de Cuba, 20 September 2015, Havana–The government opponent Martha Beatriz Roque was arrested this Saturday in Havana, activist Ailer González reported via Twitter. Sources from the Ladies in White informed Diario de Cuba that Roque was invited to the Apostolic Nunciature to greet Pope Francis upon his arrival.
Also invited to welcome the Holy Father before the Nunciature was the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler. Dissident sources fear that she has been arrested along with her husband, the ex-political prisoner Ángel Moya, said Ailer González.
The activist also denounced “power outages” that opponents’ telephone services are undergoing. Attempts to communicate by telephone with various opponents were unsuccessful.
For his part, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), José Daniel Ferrer, sent word via a communiqué of the arrest of 26 activists in Santa Clara who were intending to travel to Havana to attend the Pope’s mass on Sunday. In the capital, Ferrer said, five members of his organization have been arrested.
EFE, Washington 10 August 2015 — The US government on Monday expressed “deep concern” about the detention for some hours of about 90 dissidents in Cuba, including a group of members of the Ladies in White, and insisted that it will continue to work to ensure respect for the right to demonstrate in Cuba.
“We have seen the reports, and our staff at the embassy in Havana confirmed these arrests,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the State Department, in his daily briefing.
“We are going to continue to pressure for the rights of peaceful assembly, associate and freedom of expression, and we are going to continue expressing our support for an improvement in the conditions of human rights and democratic reforms,” he added.
Those arrests come just days before the US Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Havana this Friday for the formalization of the raising the flag over the embassy in Cuba, opened last month, and within the process of normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries which remained suspended for more than half a century.
The spokesman referred to the arrests Sunday, several hours after a demonstration in a Havana park, with some carrying photos of political prisoners and others wearing masks with images of the US president, Barack Obama.
The opponents Antonio González-Rodiles, his partner, Ailer Gonzalez and Angel Santiesteban told EFE that they were arrested and taken into a police car to a detention center after meeting with the Ladies in White, after the usual walk that this women’s movement undertakes on Sundays after Mass in a church in the neighborhood of Miramar.
The three said they were detained for a few hours and they knew of other dissidents in the same situation as in the case of Aliuska Gomez of the Ladies in White, who was already released.
Gonzalez Rodiles, who leads the independent project Estado de Sats, explained that they carried the photos to “signal that repression has intensified against opposition activists” as part of the campaign “We All March” which they have undertaken to advocate for the release of political prisoners.
According to the latest report released by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), during July there were at least 674 temporary political arrests on the island, the highest level since June 2014, and 21 cases of physical attacks during the arrests.
Cubanet, Ernesto Garcia Diaz, Havana, 2 August 2015 — The Cuban government has renewed the passport of political activist and coordinator of the project State of Sats, Antonio Rodiles. In contrast, Ailer Mena Gonzalez, artistic director of this project, remains under immigration regulations, that is, is not allowed to travel.
Rodiles told Cubanet, ” State Security lifted the restriction they had on me, I was about to renew my passport a few hours ago, I can leave the country. In fact I will in the coming hours. But I’ll be back soon to continue, at the side of the Ladies in White, the peaceful struggle for the liberation of political prisoners. The government is afraid of the public space we have conquered. It is no wonder they repress us. We want to rebuild the nation and will not allow them to dehumaize us, even when the call in repressive mobs.”
The activist also said: “I’ll be back before August 14 when John Kerry will Cuba and hoist the flag of the United States embassy. Hopefully he will demand that the Cuban government end the repression against the Ladies in White and we will have a different mentality. ”
Diario de Cuba, Angel Moya, Havana, 26 July 2015 – Some 60 activists were arrested this past Sunday in Havana following the customary Sunday march of the Ladies in White, reported government opponents on social media. The arrests took place within the context of an act of repudiation described by the opponents as “violent,” and were carried out by “civilian mobs,” tweeted Ailer María González Mena.
The women, as usual, attended mass at St. Rita’s Church, and later met at Mahatma Gandhi Park, from where they began their march along Fifth Avenue.
During the meeting they paid homage to the deceased opponents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, who died under mysterious circumstances three years ago last week.
Former political prisoner Ángel Moya posted on his Twitter account that the Ladies Oilyn Hernández and María R. Rodríguez were arrested, as well as blogger Agustín López. Other activists had their residences surrounded by State Security agents.
Activists had predicted there would be a major police presence in the area.*
14ymedio, Havana, 6 July 2015 — The project director of the independent Estado of Sats project, Antonio Rodiles, underwent emergency surgery Sunday for a nasal bone fracture after being detained and beaten by security forces in Havana while participating in the weekly march of the Ladies in White. Opposition sources reported that about 80 members of that organization and human rights activists were arrested, sometimes violently.
The regime opponent Martha Beatriz Roque reported through her Twitter account of the arrest of Rodiles on 42nd street and 3rd Avenue in Miramar, adding that he was, “Beaten until his nasal septum, forehead, finger and foot were all broken,” and taken to the hospital Calixto García for emergency surgery. He was then transferred to the prison known as Vivac, where he remained until 6.30 pm. Continue reading “Another Sunday of Beatings for the Ladies in White /14ymedio”
At least 20 people were arrested before reaching Santa Rita Church, including Rodiles, photographer Claudio Fuentes and dissident Jose Diaz Silva.
About 60 Ladies in White managed to reach the church and march down Fifth Avenue, before being arrested with their leader, Berta Soler. A reporter for this paper, Boris Gonzalez Arenas, was also arrested later, as were former political prisoners Egberto Escobedo and Angel Moya, according to activist Ailer González’s Twitter account.
Security agents also conducted operations in Aguada de Pasajeros in Cienfuegos, where the pastor restricted the Ladies in White from attending Sunday Mass.
14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 6 July 2015 — Ailer González, artistic director of the Estado de SATS project, called me on Sunday afternoon. Knowing it was her, I opened the communication with the festive and very pertinent question of whether she was a grandmother. Sounding crushed and full of indignation she let me know that Antonio Rodiles, her partner and director general of Estado de Sats had just arrived home. He had been savagely beaten in the morning by several individuals dressed in plainclothes while trying to get to the Sunday March of the Ladies in White; he was then arrested, and because of his injuries, taken to the hospital. Continue reading “Don’t Look Away / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”
According to Ailer, the doctors were shocked by his condition when he arrived at the emergency room. I do not believe that the doctors’ outrage goes far beyond the horror on display yesterday; there is an invisible but powerful barrier that many Cubans don’t dare to cross.
These kinds of incidents are neither spontaneous nor improvised; they are the result of operational plans and decisions by the political police. Antonio Gonzalez may be a figure who is detested by the Cuban government; but he was not armed, he was not heading out to assault a barracks, or to commit an attack.
Twelve weeks of sustained repression have been directed against the peaceful Sunday marches of the Ladies in White, and the dissidents and journalists who accompany them. Is this brutality and escalation? Are they using the dissidents that have come out against the normalization of relations with the United States to poison the normalization of those same relations? Or are they sending a message to the population? Or both combined?
The government should be more decent. The world is carefully watching Cuba at this time, and actions by their own henchmen only confirm the lack of freedoms. Once again I recall the words of Rosa Luxembourg – an uncomfortable Communist – “Freedom always has been and is the freedom of those who think differently.”
Diario de Cuba, Havana, 7 June 2015 – Over 40 Ladies in White and some 27 activists were arrested this Sunday, the ninth of repressive operations in Havana, according to dissidents.
Among those arrested were the musician Gorki Aguila, the director of Estado de Sats, Antonio Rodiles, photographer Claudio Fuentes and artist Tania Bruguera, who has already been released, according to the activist Ailer Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, artistic director of State of Sats, said she was able to talk with Antonio Rodiles when he was led into a State Security “paddy wagon,”, along with nine other men, and taken to the criminal prosecution center known as “Vivac.”
“He told me that his arrest had been violent and that they had put him in a chokehold,” she told Diario de Cuba.
Given the continued repression against the Ladies in White and the activists who support them when they attend Sunday Mass at Havana’s Santa Rita Church and undertake their walks down Quinta Avenue, supporters inside and outside the island carried out a campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #TodosMarchamos (We All March).
The initiative seeks to break the silence on the current repression in Cuba despite the regime’s negotiations with the United States and the European Union.
“This is a resistance,” said Ailer Gonzalez about the activities of the Ladies in White and dissidents every Sunday. “Many believe it is exhausting, but it seems to me that it is about the right to demonstrate, not only for the release of political prisoners,” she added.
“With this resistance every Sunday we are demanding the right to peaceful demonstration in Cuba, which is something that they (the government) are terrified of. Therefore they are engaged in this sustained repression, because the day they let us walk more than 10 blocks, they know how many people are going to join in,” she said.