Ivan Garcia, 17 September 2015 — For Nicolás Sarmientos, 73, making his usual rounds between the farm market, the bodega and the carters who sell fruits and vegetables in Havana is almost an extreme sport.
Although in theory we are knocking on the door of autumn, in Cuba the thermometers are soaring. The Meteorological Institute announced that the temperature in the capital exceeded 100 degrees, a height never reached.
Under a blazing sun and a numbing humidity, Nicolas searches the stands at the farm market for meat and beans to take home.
14ymedio, Havana, 18 September 2015 — The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) expressed Friday in a statement its “deep indignation and concern about the operation of ‘social cleansing’ that the government has developed in recent days” in Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba. The spokesman for the organization, Elizardo Sanchez, stressed that thousands of paupers, beggars, bums, mentally ill and other wandering homeless people, in their great majority elderly people who have no place to live, have been interned before the Pope’s visit, that begins tomorrow.
The communication argues that the objective of “social cleansing” undertaken by the secret political police is to put these people out of sight of pilgrims, foreign journalists and other visitors. The organization stresses that the internments have been executed without judicial order and without disclosing the whereabouts of the victims. The CCDHRN asks the Pope to intervene for their immediate release.
The executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, has also circulated a message to publicize the arbitrary arrests of peaceful opposition within hours of the arrival of Pope Francisc.
Thousands of beggars have been detained in Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba
Ferrer says at least two members of his organization, Alberto Valle Perez and Walter Reinosa Morales, were arrested yesterday in Havana, as well as Roberto Ferrer, a member of Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) arrested with violence on La Palma, Arroyo Naranjo.
According to the UNPACU leader, in Santiago de Cuba and Holguin there is strong vigilance and mobilization of Interior Ministry troops, “ready to act against peaceful activists, defenders of human rights.”
The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, has reported the detentions of some 17 members of the organization in Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo, Santa Clara and Pinar del Rio “to avoid” their attending the Masses that will be celebrated by the Pope on the island.
Among the detainees are the activist Leticia Ramos and her husband. Antonio Rodiles, director of Estado de SATS opposition group, has contacted their family and has said through his Twitter account that they are “confined in a room riddled with cockroaches.”
14ymedio.com, Havana, 13 September 2015 – This Sunday, 42 Ladies in White, accompanied by 21 activists from different political groups, walked down Havana’s Fifth Avenue, in the Miramar neighborhood. Finishing their usual route and subsequent meeting in Gandhi Park, next to Santa Rita Parish, the group was arrested by police and other plain-clothes forces, according to reports to 14ymedio by several eyewitnesses.
Together with the women from the human rights movement were other opposition figures such as Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles from the opposition group Estado de Sats. The current whereabouts of those arrested is unknown, and their cell phones give the message “turned off or out of area.” However, the leader of UNPACU, Jose Daniel Ferrer, has been set free.
The Ladies in White had carried several banners demanding amnesty for political prisoners. A demand that has been the focus of attention for several opposition groups and that has gained strength before the upcoming visit by Pope Francis to the Island.
This week the Cuban government announced the pardon of 3,522 prisoners on the occasion of the Pontiff’s arrival in Cuba. Nevertheless, the opposition has criticized the fact that the list of pardoned prisoners does not include activists jailed for political reasons.
Elizardo Sanchez, who heads the National Human Rights and Reconciliation Commission, said in an interview with EFE that there are at least 60 people imprisoned “for political reasons or through politically conditioned proceedings.”
14ymedio, Havana, 6 September 2015 – This Sunday 49 Ladies in White and 15 activists marched along Fifth Avenue in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood, surrounded by a strong police operation. At the end of the pilgrimage they were arrested and sent in a bus to whereabouts unknown.
Among those detained was the Chilean member of congress Felipe Kast, from the EVOPOLI party, who accompanied the march. The incident happened hours after the Chilean Foreign Minister, Heraldo Muñoz, ended his official visit to Cuba along with a Chilean delegation made up of officials of the Chilean government, and representatives from 35 businesses and trade associations.
According to what a source close the Chilean congressman told 14ymedio, Kast was detained for several hours before being released, around 4:00 in the afternoon local time. One released he was taken to Jose Marti International Airport where he left for Santiago de Chile that same afternoon.
Beginning early in the morning, the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque warned of “a police deployment around Santa Rita Church.” The activist detailed that the “repressive forces” were positioned on 3rd, 7th and 31st streets, to block regme opponents from accessing the place.
Meanwhile, the regime opponent Angel Moya denounced that there had been 20 arrests of the Ladies and White and other activists, hours before the beginning of the Sunday march.
In the town of Colón, Matanzas, independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported that 10 Ladies in White marched “for the release of political prisoners, followed by plainclothes police,” with no arrests reported.
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 15 August 2015 — Six hours after the hoisting of the Stars and Stripes at the US embassy along the Malecon, a similar ceremony occurred on 150th Street in the Cubanacan neighborhood where the official residence of Jeffrey DeLaurentis, charge d’affaires of that country, is located.
All of the heads of the United States Interest Section have lived in this mansion in recent years, and there is a flagpole in its garden. Across from it, congregated hundreds of guests who did not physically fit in the small space where hours earlier American and Cuban officials had witnessed the symbolic act that opened the US embassy in Havana. Continue reading “The Other Flag / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”
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.
Cubanet, Alexis Jardines Chacon, Miami, 7 August 2015 – The First National Cuban Conference will be held August 13-15 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is an event that Cubans United of Puerto Rico have been preparing for a year, inviting organizations from both shores. The meeting hopes to focus on the unity of diversity. What follows explores the nature of the differences and the bases on which unity might rest.
The danger of reformism
When Raul Castro took over the nation after the desmerengamiento* of his brother Fidel in 2008, the opposition, to some extent, had to reinvent itself. A series of measures – outstanding among them being the new law regarding travel and emigration – temporarily left the dissidents without an anchor, because they could now leave the country and return without consequences. But the explosive side of the new law was something else: the dissidents soon were more engaged abroad than toward the interior of Cuba. And, naturally, we didn’t have to wait for a media reaction against this kind of tourist-dissent. Continue reading “Redefining the Cuban Opposition After 17 December / Cubanet, Alexis Jardines Chacon”
14ymedio, 4 August 2015 – The director of the alternative project Estado de Sats, Antonio Rodiles, arrived in Miami this Monday after 8 months during which the Government prevented his leaving the island. Hours earlier he had learned that the authorities would finally allow him to renew his passport, along with the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Solar, and Jorge Luis Garcia Perez known as Antunez. The three traveled to the United States to attend a meeting with Cuban exiles.
“We came to talk with friends, with the exile, to try to create the greatest possible solidarity at this time. I believe there is a lot of concern for the reality we are living in and we have to speak with everyone and coordinate with each other inside and outside the country,” Rodiles told MartiNoticias on his arrival in Miami.
The opponent, who has been unable to leave Cuba for months, has experienced acts of repudiation and episodes of violence that required him to have emergency surgery after suffering a fracture of the nasal septum and a perforated ear drum in an act of violence.
“There has been a great increase in repression and especially in the violence,” he stated in front of the cameras. A statement that was affirmed by Antunez. “It’s noteworthy that around the corner from the new US embassy in Cuba they are savagely repressing the Ladies in White movement and the opposition. They are emboldened, bringing in mobs on buses, trucks full of military repressors, which shows they have a radical and open opposition to us.”
Berta Soler said that the group does not oppose negotiations between the United States and Cuba but they want them to be “conditioned” on decreasing the repression against those who peacefully defend human rights.
Antunez added that their trip to the Miami comes at a time when Cuba’s destiny is in play “with Kerry’s visit to Havana, the preparations for the Pope’s visit, and the regime trying to manage its fraud change.” According to Rodiles, there is no such change, given nothing has changed with regards to human rights, nor are there any changes economically.
The activists will return to Cuba before John Kerry visits the island on Friday, August 14.
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. ”
14ymedio, 19 July 2015 — This Sunday has led to the arrest of forty Ladies in White and thirty activists, at the conclusion of their usual march on 5th Avenue in the Havana neighborhood of Miramar.
After Mass in the church of Santa Rita, the Ladies in White gathered together with several activists in Gandhi park. There, from the speakers of a car, was heard a composition by the rocker Gorki Aguila, that pays tribute to these women and their human rights movement.
Gorki Aguila told 14ymedio the song that just premiered, was produced in the studios of La Paja Records, managed by the group Porno for Ricardo. In addition to the melody of a cello, the musical theme includes strings, guitar, bass, drums and a solo by Aguila himself.
According to the artist “the intention was to give to the Ladies another song, to encourage other artists to make artworks to them, they deserve it.”
The renowned musician was taken to the so-called Vivac de Calabazar prison with Jorge Moya, Jorge Luis Antunez, Claudio Fuentes, Egberto Escobedo and Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles, among others. The women may have been transferred to a detention center in Tarara, east of Havana, where they are routinely detained.
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”
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”