“They Assaulted the Block with Almost 200 Agents, Trucks and Water Trucks,” Denounces Jose Daniel Ferrer

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of Unpacu, at the door of his home, also the organization’s headquarters, in Santiago de Cuba. (Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 February 2021 — José Daniel Ferrer, the leader of Unpacu, denounced this Saturday that his house in Santiago de Cuba, headquarters of the opposition organization, continues to be besieged by State Security, which prevents the residents from circulating in the area.

“The communists, the henchmen, the instruments of tyranny remain here, from acts of repudiation,” the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba denounced in a video published on his social networks, after being detained for a few hours this Friday, after which his home was raided by several plainclothes officers.

Friday, according to Ferrer, was “historic.” “They invaded with more than 180, almost 200 agents,” in addition to trucks and water trucks with hoses, he said, with the excuse that they were going to “sanitize the block because there is Covid-19” and they were going to paint the facades of all the houses. “A lie!” the opponent cried: “It turns out that they just ended up painting, with a disgusting paint that we are going to erase as soon as possible, the facade of the Unpacu headquarters.” continue reading

On that wall, the activists had written in large letters the slogan “Homeland and Life”, which has gone viral from the song of the same name by Gente de Zona, Yotuel Romero, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Castillo Osorbo and El Funky. When it was being erased, says the leader of the Unpacu, the activists rewrote the phrase with charcoal.

“Here nobody is afraid, here nobody is intimidated, here nobody is scared,” emphasized Ferrer, who explained that the attack “was with the intention of seeing if they can put an end to what we do here for the elderly, for the sick, for alcoholics, for people living in extreme misery.”

“Not even by killing us can they stop our work,” said the opponent. “Not even by killing us  can they put an end to our fight for freedom, for democracy and for a better future.”

José Daniel Ferrer has been under house arrest since April 2020, after spending six months in preventive detention, for the crime of assault that several international organizations consider “prefabricated.”


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There are 19 UN Resolutions Against the Cuban Political Police in 15 Months

One of the UN resolutions against Cuba is the one referring to the case of the arrest of José Daniel Ferrer. (Courtesy)

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14ymedio, Havana, 22 July 2020 — The United Nations has dedicated a total of 19 resolutions in the last 15 months against Cuban State Security, according to a statement from Prisoners Defenders released on Wednesday.

The independent organization, based in Spain, recalls that on July 13, the UN published a resolution by several rapporteurs and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention accusing the Cuban Government of persecuting religious freedom, destroying churches and seriously affecting, for reasons of religious discrimination, the lives of more than 100 people.

According to Prisoners Defenders, Cuban officials have been ordered not to respond, even exceeding the maximum two month deadline to do so, as long as the rapporteurs’ resolution is not made public by any entity. “It is the modus operandi of State Security,” says the organization, to always evaluate mechanisms to silence these events. When they respond, on the other hand, they do so in a shameful way, changing the date of preparation of the letters (so that it is recorded as prior to the two-month period), and without entering the matter, because the officials who respond do not have the truthful information of the facts that are imputed nor can they even make independent investigative actions.” continue reading

In addition, Prisoners Defenders reports that “in the midst of the arbitration process” the United Nations has also sent the accusation of this organization to Cuba in the case of the arrest of José Daniel Ferrer. The Cuban Government responded to this, but the organization denounces its allegations as alien “to the procedural reality that has occurred and the proven facts.”

The communiqué compiles the 19 UN resolutions against Cuba, all of them, points out Prisoners Defenders, “related to actions where State Security has been ultimately responsible.” The statement adds, “many of [the G2 officials] have reluctantly been forced to play an unfortunate and shameful role.”

Among these resolutions, apart from the one that refers to the cases of José Daniel Ferrer and Fernando González Vaillant, those related to Pastor Alain ToledanoEliecer Barrera Bandera and Josiel Guía Piloto stand out. Also listed are resolutions on others, the human rights abuses suffered by more than 30,000 Cuban doctors who participate in missions, the harassment of human rights defenders, journalists and activists, or the filtering and blocking of messages that called for a negative vote in the  constitutional referendum of February 24, 2019.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

New EU Human Rights report, a Step Forward in Approach to Cuba

The European report refers, for example, to the six month imprisonment of José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 June 2020 —  The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) believes that the chapter dedicated to Cuba in the Annual Report on Human Rights of the European Union (EU), released this week, is a step forward in the European approach to the situation on the island.

In a statement released Thursday, the OCDH highlights that the EU text emphasizes that in 2019, in Cuba, “freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be subject to significant restrictions, with reports of numerous arbitrary arrests, as well as with the imprisonment of several prisoners of conscience designated by Amnesty International, including the prominent dissident leader José Daniel Ferrer.”

The European report, as the Madrid-based organization points out, also comments on the restrictions to travel both within the country and abroad suffered by independent activists and journalists, and on Decree-Law 370, the so-called “scourge law,” because “it could be used to restrict independent media.”

Furthermore, the report denounces that the defenders of voting no or abstaining from the new Constitution “were excluded from the public debate and discredited by the Government.” The new Constitution, which preserves the current one-party socialist system, is also criticized in the report.

The non-ratification by Cuba of the United Nations International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the concern of UN rapporteurs for the working and living conditions of Cuban doctors sent to missions abroad, are also addressed in the European report.

Another element that the OCDH highlights in the European document is that it does not classify Cuba as “a one-party democracy,” as was stated in the when Federica Mogherini was the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and although it refers to the “broadly positive record in terms of economic and social rights, particularly in health and education,” it acknowledges that currently “universal coverage is being eroded.”

With regards to this, it establishes at least three causes: “financial scarcity, economic inefficiencies, and the impact of the United States embargo.”

“We cannot subscribe to what is stated on that point, with respect to the supposed history, or that the current problem is only a coverage problem,” says Alejandro Rodríguez Raga, executive director of the Observatory. For him, “the causes are deeper, structural and not only temporary, and they have to do with the general failure of a system that has not placed the human being at its center and that is inefficient by nature.” However, he concludes: “We understand that the European document marks a turning point in the vision of social rights in Cuba, having previously found them totally idyllic and aligned with the official Cuban discourse.”

The OCDH presented last week the Second Report on the State of Social Rights in Cuba, whose data reveals that 80% of the Cuban population lives in a situation of serious economic crisis.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Police Surround Palace of Justice in Santiago de Cuba for Trial Against Jose Daniel Ferrer

Ferrer, 49, spent almost eight years in prison after his arrest, in 2003, as part of the 75 dissidents who were victims of the Black Spring. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, February 26, 2020 — The trial against José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), began this Wednesday morning in the city of Santiago de Cuba , without having been previously announced in the official press, which has launched a massive smear campaign against the opposition figure in recent months.

Ferrer, 49,  one of the Cuban dissidents with the greatest international renown at, has been imprisoned since October for an alleged attack on another man, a charge that his relatives deny while insisting that it is a crime “prefabricated” by the Government. The prosecution is asking for nine years in prison for the Unpacu leader, who spent almost eight years in prison after his arrest, in 2003, as part of the 75 dissidents who were victims of the Black Spring.

This Wednesday the telephones of several Unpacu coordinators as well as that of Nelva Ortega, Ferrer’s wife, are “out of coverage,” as 14ymedio was able to confirm. continue reading

Since Monday afternoon, activists from the opposition organization have denounced the Police and State Security siege on their headquarters in Santiago de Cuba and the arrest of their coordinator in Havana, Zaqueo Baéz.

The activist Joanna Columbié, who lives in Miami, denounced in the morning hours the detention of her brother Dariem Columbié, who is coordinator of the movement Somos+ (We Are More). According to her, the young man was arrested in the area around the Palace of Justice when he was trying to attend Ferrer’s trial.

At the time of his arrest, Joanna was communicating with her brother and published a screenshot of the conversation in which her brother said that the Palace of Justice was surrounded by Security and political police agence to prevent access.

The opposition leader had asked his family, during a visit to him in prison on February 14, to begin a campaign with the hashtag #YoSoyElQueAcusa (I am the one who accuses).

“It is José Daniel who accuses the Castro dictatorship of crimes against humanity, of violating his rights and liberties, as well as those of all Cubans, of raiding and looting his home on repeated occasions,” explained his sister, Ana Belkis Ferrer.

In the operations they have employed “even firearms,” she says on social media, where she also denounces “the terrifying acts of repudiation against him, his family, and other members of Unpacu, attempted murder on three occasions, threats, slander, savage beatings, defamation campaigns, physical and psychological torture, depriving him of his liberty and putting his life at risk.”

In October in an interview with 14ymedio, Nelva Ortega explained that the habeas corpus she presented to obtain information on Ferrer’s situation was rejected by authorities.

Along with José Daniel Ferrer, the activists Fernando González Vaillant, Roilán Zárraga Ferrer, and José Pupo Chaveco, members of Unpacu, were accused of damages, deprivation of liberty, and assault.

“I have few expectations that José Daniel Ferrer will have a fair trial,” the European Union’s vice president responsible for Latin America, Dita Charanzová, told the Spanish newspaper ABC.

“Since they arbitrarily arrested him, there have been all sorts of irregularities in the process, in addition to the abuse and torture that José Daniel was subjected to. Thus, the European Parliament will be closely following the case and will react accordingly,” added Charanzová, who is also the representative of the Czech Republic in the European Parliament.

Hours before the trial the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, urged in a letter to his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez, to “immediately” release the dissident José Daniel Ferrer, leader of Unpacu.

Groups like Amnesty International and institutions like the Organization of American States have also asked for his release on several occasions.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


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Cuban Prosecutor Asks for Nine Years in Prison for Jose Daniel Ferrer, His Wife Denounces

Family members and opposition groups have demanded the release of José Daniel Ferrer. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 January 2010 — The Office of the Prosecutor of the Republic of Cuba has asked for nine years in jail for José Daniel Ferrer, general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), for the alleged crime of injury, as reported by his wife, Dr. Nelva Ortega, in a video disseminated by the opposition organization.

Ortega visited Ferrer on Thursday and received a document from the Prosecutor’s Office detailing the petition. A penalty of seven years each is asked for the other detainees, also Unpacu activists, with the exception of José Pupo Chaveco, for whom eight years are requested.

“Once again they refused to give us medications that he (Ferrer) needs and they did not let us deliver that they had already allowed on previous occasions. We saw that he is very thin, more so than on the last visit, because he is refusing to eat. He is demanding that the food be improved for all general prisoners. He takes a a glass of milk, water and cookies daily,” Ortega added. continue reading

Ferrer, Pupo Chaveco, Fernando González Vaillán and Roilán Zárraga Ferrer were arrested on October 1 in Santiago de Cuba and accused of causing serious injuries to an individual whose wife has denied the charges.

A video broadcast by official television on the Star News sought to damage the image of Ferrer, but its manipulation and editing raise questions, as did as time jumps throughout the footage.

José Daniel Ferrer spent almost eight years in prison after his arrest in 2003, as one of the 75 dissidents who were victims of the Black Spring.

This Friday marks 108 days since Ferrer’s arrest and a campaign on social networks trying to secure his release.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

14ymedio’s 14 Faces of 2019: Jose Daniel Ferrer, Leader of Unpacu

José Daniel Ferrer, who was previously imprisoned during the Black Spring as one of the Group of 75, has become the most significant political prisoner internationally over the last 4 months. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 December 2019 — José Daniel Ferrer, the current leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), born in Palma Soriano in 1970, was one of the 75 prisoners of the Black Spring. Sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2003 for his prominent participation in Oswaldo Payá’s Varela Project, he left prison in 2011 following the mediation of the Catholic Church and the Spanish Government which facilitated the release of the Black Spring prisoners.

In 2018 Ferrer was detained for twelve days and charged with attempted murder for allegedly trying to run over a State Security officer with his car; an accident caused by the agent, according to the those involved with the activist. But 2019 has been the most difficult year for the opponent since he left prison.

On October 1, he was arrested after an operation in which the police raided several homes of Unpacu activists in Santiago de Cuba. Since then, he has been detained in several police stations and prisons, and during much of the time his whereabouts have been a mystery, as has been what he is accused of, thus preventing his family and his defense from having the ability to respond. Numerous local and international human rights institutions and organizations have cried out for his release without, so far, having any effect, since the Government is accusing him of a serious assault on a citizen.

This November, Cuban television broadcast a video that violated Ferrer’s privacy and the medical profession’s obligation to maintain secrecy, as a doctor openly commented on his state of health. The TV station also presented images of a family visit, without noting that he had been missing for more than a month by that time, and reported that his obvious injuries were self-inflicted. The intention was to discredit Ferrer one day before the European Parliament passed a resolution requesting his immediate release.

See also:  14ymedio’s 14 Faces of 2019


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

’Granma’ Highlights the Opposition Figure Jose Daniel Ferrer

The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, José Daniel Ferrer, has been detained for 50 days. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, November 20, 2019 — International pressure over the case of José Daniel Ferrer seems to have given a relevance to the opposition figure that has led the newspaper Granma to mention him, a milestone in the official press, determined to cover up the proper name of activists whom it depersonalizes and collectivizes by grouping them together with the epithet of counterrevolutionaries or mercenaries.

This Wednesday, the official organ of the Communist Party spoke of the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), identifying him specifically and offering the official version of his judicial situation.

According to Granma, Ferrer is a common prisoner arrested for a crime of aggression following the complaint of a man who accuses him, along with three other “individuals” — the activists Fernando González Vaillán, José Pupo Chaveco, and Roilán Zárraga — of having “kidnapped him for an entire night and given him a severe beating that left him hospitalized.” continue reading

The text emphasizes that the opposition figure does regular physical exercise, and is receiving the medical care he needs (Ferrer suffers from chronic gastritis), and even religious attention in response to a request.

The secretary of the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio García, assured 14ymedio that for his part there had not been any kind of religious attention for Ferrer, but that it is in process and is being discussed. “It’s going to be given to him, but we cannot say at this time that it already happened,” she said.

“Ferrer is awaiting trial. He has received a visit from his wife and his children, according to the norms of his legal situation. All references to his physical disappearance, to supposed physical mistreatment, to torture or that he is receiving insufficient food are pure lies deliberately conceived and guided by the government of the United States and its Embassy in Havana,” indicates the note.

The text, entitled New slander campaign by the US against Cuba, is nevertheless focused on claiming that the case of José Daniel Ferrer is part of a campaign of discredit and slander organized from Washington with the aim of justifying new sanctions and depriving the island of fuel.

“The United States Embassy in Cuba has been the main vehicle of attention, guidance, and financing of the conduct of José Daniel Ferrer, in a clear demonstration of interference in the internal affairs of Cuba and of an open instigation to violence, to public disturbance, and to the contempt for law enforcement of this citizen. The head of the diplomatic mission personally conducts this performance,” maintains the note.

The Unpacu leader was arrested on October 1 during an operation against several homes of activists of the organization in Santiago de Cuba. Since then he has been several times in police facilities with his relatives unaware of where he is, and thus deprived of visits and personal effects, as well as his medications. His family members were able to see him on Thursday, November 7, and corroborated his deteriorated state of health because of the conditions in which he is being held in prison.

Last Friday the District Attorney of Santiago de Cuba delivered an injunction to Nelva Ortega, the opposition figure’s wife, which details the measure of provisional imprisonment for the supposed crime of “injuries,” but his relatives believe that what is written in the document is a manipulation by the District Attorney and State Security that reflects a version that is “far from reality.”

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Wave of Repression Against Cuba’s Biggest Opposition Organization Continues

Photograph of the moment of the arrest of José Daniel Ferrer published by State Security and circulated on social media.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 29, 2019 — In the middle of an escalation in repression against the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), this Wednesday the police raided the home of José Antonio López Piña, director of that opposition organization in El Cristo, a town in the province of Santiago de Cuba.

According to Carlos Amel Oliva, coordinator for Unpacu, the police action was carried out with “extreme violence” and López Piña was detained by the police force of the Songo la Maya municipality.

“Among other threats they told him that by continuing with his activism there only remain two paths for him: a long time in Kilo 7 prison in Camaguey, one of the harshest in the country, or he would have to leave Cuba,” said Oliva. continue reading

The raid happened a few hours after Amnesty International published a report recognizing five new prisoners of conscience on the Island and that the Police detained José Daniel Ferrer, national leader of Unpacu. Ferrer was freed that very Tuesday, August 27, along with another five activists.

According to Oliva, during the raid of August 27 repressive forces with assault weapons entered “three houses located in the Altamira area of Santiago de Cuba which function as headquarters of Unpacu.”

During the assault three laptops, two televisions, several mobile phones, and some tables that were used to provide a social cafeteria area were confiscated.

“José Daniel Ferrer was driven, handcuffed, to the third police station of Santiago de Cuba, known as the motorized one, and was released around noon. The rest of the activists were subsequently released,” he added.

Oliva explains that Ferrer was warned that the operation was carried out in response to commentaries that the Unpacu director had published and for what he has said on social media about “irregularities incurred by Lázaro Expósito, first secretary of the Party in the province, and for what he said related to the birthday of Fidel Castro and his tweets on the day of the anniversary.”

Oliva also suspects that “the Government is very annoyed” by the inclusion of five Cubans on the list of prisoners of conscience that Amnesty International published.

“In response to the occupation of our media we do not rule out making the proper complaint once again. We know that going through these channels has never had success, it’s a long and fruitless process because it has never returned anything,” he added.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, demanded on his Twitter account “the immediate release” of Ferrer and that “the regime’s repressive forces stop the intimidation and abuses against dissidents.”

In February of this year, in response to the campaign of the opposition organization against the referendum on the new Constitution, José Daniel Ferrer was arrested for more than five hours along with several members of Unpacu. The detentions occurred during the police raid of the organization’s headquarters and of homes of activists in Santiago de Cuba.

In the last five years the members of Unpacu have reported more than 40 assaults on their headquarters and other facilities of the activists of the organization, considered the largest opposition group on the Island and the one with the highest number of political prisoners.

In its latest reports the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) calculated that there were some 120 political prisoners in Cuba.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Open Letter from a Doctor to a Dictator

Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo addressed the letter to Raúl Castro because she attributes to him the decisions of what happens in Cuba. (Facebook)

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14ymedio, Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, Santiago de Cuba | 4 March 2019

To: General Raúl Castro Ruz, Dictador of Cuba

General dictator Raúl Castro Ruz,

The objective of this open letter is to expose, to your regime and to the world, the fundamental reasons why I have decided to renounce my work as a doctor in the service of an inhuman system that violates the most elementary rights of the citizen, that beats children, the elderly and pregnant women, and that uses medicine for political purposes, and doctors and nurses as slave labor.

My decision has been maturing for some time now. There are too many injustices, excessive lies and justifications. Always blaming others for what is the total responsibility of a cruel system that only cares for the human being, hypocritically, to the extent that is necessary for the person to submit itself docilely to the dictates and whims of the dictator of the day. continue reading

Why do I write to you and not to the Minister of Public Health or Miguel Diaz-Canel? For one simple reason: one confronts the master, one speaks with the principal party responsible for the suffering of an entire nation.

Like millions of young Cubans I was indoctrinated and deceived, I am the daughter and granddaughter of people who were also indoctrinated and used by the tyranny that your brother Fidel Castro initiated.

I militated, unfortunately, in the ranks of the Union of Young Communists, UJC. I was pressured by your political police to, as a doctor, monitor and influence peaceful opponents who only seek respect for human rights. Your agents demanded that I should collaborate with them and give them information about the health of and everything I knew about the UNPACU leader, José Daniel Ferrer García.

Drawing me closer to the UNPACU and its leader was the worst mistake they made. While it is true that I had my doubts, disagreements and concerns, it is also true that, like many other professionals, I only thought about my career as a doctor and helping my humble and sacrificed family. In order to do so, I hoped to go abroad for a “mission.” That is, travel as a political instrument and slave labor. But with UNPACU, I learned about dignity, human rights, democracy, justice, and the true and perverse essence of the regime that you lead.

For breaking with the regime, for joining UNPACU and sharing my life with their leader, a very humane and courageous man who truly loves our country, the Directorate of Public Health in the Municipality of Santiago de Cuba has taken unfair measures and sanctions against me. My family has been pressured by your political police so that they, in turn, put pressure on me so I will return to the “fold.”

However, the straw that broke the camel’s back occurred on February 11 when dozens of agents of the Ministry of the Interior, mostly assault forces, broke into 8 homes of UNPACU members with such violence that, had I not lived it, I would not have believed it.

They beat many. They beat my grandmother, a prostrate old woman, and they beat me, five months pregnant. They stole and broke everything. Even the food and medicines, with which we cure sick people, were stolen by their agents.

They also stripped me of my means of work. All these serious actions and others like it in the following days, were in revenge because we campaigned peacefully and legally for the No vote to your Stalinist Constitution in the false referendum on February 24.

For 15 days your repressive forces completely surrounded our home and did not let me go to work. The few times I was able to go out to do personal tasks, I was the victim of violence and humiliation by your aggressive agents.

The siege continues today, and every night they pelt our home. In summary, I’ve lived and seen so much cruelty and nonsense…! I thought that this could only happen in regimes like those of Adolfo Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

I  will abandon continuing to work for the Ministry of Public Health of your tyrannical regime, they will not use me anymore, in the least, but I will never stop exercising my noble profession.

I will continue attending to the activists that are beaten, persecuted and marginalized; I will continue to care for every sick person who requests my services. I will continue to denounce the injustices of your regime against doctors and patients. I will continue to serve my people and fight for their freedom.

I am completely cured of the syndrome that has done the most damage to our people: the “helplessness syndrome” and I will be helping other doctors and health workers to free themselves from such a harmful pathology.

Your dictatorship will fall and we doctors will be able to exercise our sacred profession with dignity and freedom. We will have adequate working conditions and decent wages. Nobody will use us as political instruments. The people will have excellent health and will not have to pay for it with submission and misery.

We Cubans will live in freedom and prosperity. You can be sure of it.

Dr. Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, Specialist in Integral General Medicine, Professional Registry No.18667, Santiago de Cuba. March 4, 2019

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Police Raid Unpacu Headquarters in Response to Their No Campaign on the Constitutional Referendum

Image of a previous raid, in March of 2016, against the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba in Santiago de Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, February 11, 2019 — The opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer was detained for more than five hours this Monday along with several members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu). The detentions occurred during the police raid of the headquarters of the opposition organization and the homes of activists in Santiago de Cuba starting at 6:30 in the morning.

“They told me that what happened was in response to the campaign to vote No on the Constitution [referendum],” Ferrer told this newspaper a few minutes after being released around 11:30am. Unpacu is carrying out an intense promotion for a vote to reject the new constitution via social media, and also distributing documents on the subject among Cubans.

The opposition leader revealed that the police transferred him with his hands cuffed behind his back and that the forces entered the organization’s headquarters “with violence, breaking the door first with instruments and then with kicks.” continue reading

The search also included the house of the opposition figure Carlos Amel Oliva. “They’ve been at the headquarters and at Carlos Amel’s house since 6:30 in the morning,” declared the activist Ovidio Martín to 14ymedio. The forces of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and of State Security burst into both buildings that are still “totally besieged” and “it’s impossible to approach,” he added.

Initially the detentions were confirmed by Luis Enrique Ferrer, brother of the ex-political prisoner and representative of the opposition organization in the United States. On the list of detainees are the dissidents Fernando González Vaillant, Ernesto Oliva Torres, and Carlos Torres Romero, in addition to Nelva Ismarais Ortega (around 25 weeks pregnant) and her grandmother.

All the landlines and mobile phones of the activists from the opposition organization in Santiago de Cuba are still disconnected, confirmed this newspaper, which was only able to communicate with Martín via social media.

The activist Ebert Hidalgo reported on his Facebook account that there were minors at the home of Carlos Amel Oliva at the time of the raid. “The street is full of patrol cars,” he commented, adding that an official from State Security, named Julio Fonseca, warned him to stay in his house and not report the events.

So far eight homes have been raided and among the confiscated objects are “five laptops, four mobile phones, a printer, a wifi antenna, twelve USB memory sticks, three hard drives,” in addition to other personal belongings like bags and T-shirts, detailed Luis Enrique Ferrer.

The entire neighborhood of the national headquarters of Unpacu “is besieged” and “they aren’t letting anyone in or out,” he added.

In the last five years the members of Unpacu have reported more than 40 assaults on their headquarters and on other homes of the organization’s activists, which is considered the biggest opposition group on the island and has a higher number of political prisoners. In July of 2018 the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) calculated that there were some 120 political prisoners in Cuba.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

The "No" Campaign Gains Momentum Among the Opposition

Kiosks have begun to sell the text of the new Constitution. Here in Calle 23 in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 8, 2019 — Mobilization for the “No” vote in the referendum called for February 24 to approve the constitutional reform continues gaining momentum in the ranks of the opposition.

This Monday, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), José Daniel Ferrer, insisted that a “No” vote “is the option championed by a wide number of opposition organizations, defenders of Human Rights, and other members of Independent Civil Society both within and without domestic territory” via a message published on his personal Facebook account.

Ferrer recognizes that none of the voter’s options on the referendum — Yes, No, abstention or a null vote — is going to democratize Cuba on its own, but he believes that authorities “would prefer a broad abstention” over “a broad turnout at the polls that gives rise to a massive and conclusive No, which can be demonstrated.” continue reading

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu).

Ferrer counters those calling for boycotting the referendum via a massive abstention with the argument that in a dictatorship people don’t participate in elections and reminds his audience of five cases in which an electoral process derailed a regime, among them Augusto Pinochet’s Chile and communist Poland.

“For someone who is very knowledgeable about the Cuban — and international –reality, it’s not the most effective option [abstention],” believes Ferrer, “unless those who champion it as the only valid form have the ability to mobilize, and demonstrate that they did it, with more than 50% of Cubans with the right to vote.”

The opposition figure called on those supporting abstention to join forces and work together with those who promote voting No, although he also warned that “with those who hold paralyzed and sectarian positions, because of orders or malice, no understanding can exist” and he branded them “very good allies of tyranny.”

The Unpacu leader also calls in his message to “together defend the right of Cubans of the diaspora to participate” in the referendum and “in any question of interest for the country.”

Furthermore, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) has asked the European Parliament, United Nations, and the Organization of American States (OAS) to send observers to supervise and give guarantees of the process, according to a statement published this Monday by the organization.

OCDH, headquartered in Madrid, has recommended that the three international bodies “supervise the process and prevent fraud by Havana’s regime” so that “the regime doesn’t have a free hand to change popular will,” says the letter sent to Antonio Tajana, president of the European Parliament.

The petition was also sent to members of European Parliament Antonio López Istúriz, Beatriz Becerra, María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Javier Nart, Pavel Telicka, and Dita Charanzova, among others.

The letter to European Parliament asks that the behavior of Cuban authorities be taken into account “at the time of examining whether to maintain or suspend the Agreement for Political Dialogue and Cooperation with the Island.”

In December 2016 the European Union and Cuba signed their first bilateral agreement, for political dialogue and cooperation, that put an end to the European Union’s “Common Position,” which, as of 1996, imposed on the bloc a unilateral and restrictive relationship with the Island.

Although Cuba is not part of the OAS, OCDH sent a similar missive to Luis Almagro, secretary general of the body, seeking for “the region’s nations to send delegations of impartial observers” to the Island. “The drafting and review process of the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba has been exclusionary, conceived by and for the Communist Party of Cuba, which has written and imposed its version of the Law that will rule the destiny of the Cuban nation,” reminds the text.

In the petition directed to Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner ofor Human Rights, OCDH underlines the importance of what will happen on February 24 when “the Cuban people are called to approve, or not, a proposal that could jeopardize their future.”

The Observatory, which along with other organizations supports the #YoVotoNo (#ImVotingNo) campaign, warns that that will be “a day of mobilization, complicated and tense.”

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

UNPACU Activist Pressured by Police to Accuse Jose Daniel Ferrer

Ebert Hidalgo Cruz (right) says he was interrogated four times and threatened by the agents with keeping him in jail. (Video Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 August 2018 – Activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz has been released without any charges, according to a video released Sunday by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) shortly after the dissident was released from prison. Hidalgo was imprisoned on August 3 together with the leader of the organization, José Daniel Ferrer, who is still in prison accused of the attempted murder of a State Security agent.

“They were forcing me to say that José Daniel was guilty, that he had run over the officer with the car,” the activist explained before the camera. He says that he was interrogated four times and that he was threatened by the agents with keeping him prisoner.  “I told them not to pressure me anymore, that I was not going to say anything else,” he said about the agents’ insistence that he confirm that José Daniel’s aggression against the agent was deliberate. continue reading

Hidalgo and Ferrer were arrested after an incident involving the Interior Ministry official, Dainier Suárez Pagán, who was allegedly run over by Ferrer while driving without a driver’s license.

Agent Suárez Pagán is known by the dissidents of Palmarito de Cauto, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, for being violent and attacking the activists. According to the judicial version, Ferrer intended to run over the agent while he was crossing the street, a statement that was denied by the two dissidents shortly before they were arrested.

In the video, Hidalgo explained that he spent six days in the Penal Instruction and Criminal Operations Unit, in the Versalles district (Santiago de Cuba), unable to change clothes and in a cell in terrible conditions, which according to the activist, had hardly any light but had plenty of mosquitoes, rats and cockroaches. He received only a brief visit from his daughter during his prison stay.

Before Hidalgo was released from Micro 9, as the prison where he was held is also known, he was warned that he could not talk at all about the case with relatives.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Authorities Keep Opposition Leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Incommunicado

The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, José Daniel Ferrer. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 August 2018 — The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, completed 72 hours in detention Monday and his case “has passed to the prosecutor,” as the opposition organization’s coordinator, Carlos Amel Oliva, reported to this daily.

They accuse Ferrer of attacking an official from the Ministry of the Interior, according to what Captain Roberto said to his family members.  At this time he is under arrest in Unit One of the Santiago de Cuba National Revolutionary Police (PNR).  Authorities keep the activist incommunicado, and he has not even been able to receive visits from his relatives.

“Yesterday at ten at night he completed the first 72 hours of arrest.  The case has already passed to the prosecutor and now it is necessary to wait another 72 hours in order to get an answer about what is going to happen with him,” said Olive in a telephone conversation with this paper. continue reading

Also arrested with Ferrer was activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz, who is in the Operations Unit of the PNR (People’s Revolutionary Police).  Hidalgo Cruz is also incommunicado.

According to the criminal procedure law, the prosecutor could drop the arrest without consequence, impose a cautionary measure without detention, or revoke or modify the measure ordered by the police.  The prosecutor also may propose the imposition of a provisional prison sentence.

According to Oliva, coordinator of the organization founded by Jose Daniel Ferrer, Captain Roberto told the family members that there is an open “file” against the UNPACU leader.  In the case of Hidalgo Cruz, he is accused of permitting Ferrer to drive a car without a license.

Ferrer was arrested last Friday night after being implicated in a traffic accident in Palmarito de Cauto, where he supposedly injured the State Security agent, Daniel Suarez Pagan.

The dissident was in the town for family reasons and also planned to visit some of the activists who live in the area.  Oliva says that during the journey, the plainclothes agent stepped in front of the Mosovich car driven by Ferrer, indicating for him to stop.  Ferrer does not have a driver’s license or a learner’s permit.

After an abrupt maneuver to stop the car, the agent fell to the ground and after getting up went to a medical unit in order to seek a certificate of injury.  Several hours later the two activists were arrested.

Some UNPACU activists contacted by 14ymedio say that, “Pagan is not hurt and is working as usual in the town of Palmarito de Cauto.”

Maidolis Oribe, area resident, says that “State Security and the Police with their Criminal Unit specialists have reconstructed the events four times and have pressured people to testify against Ferrer.”

“They want the people to say that Jose Daniel ran over him,” says Oribe, who has witnessed the reconstruction of events by the experts.

“Pagan is the one who throws himself to the ground and plays ’murumacas’” says the woman, who questions the blows he received “if he is able to make those movements.”

Jose Daniel Ferrer is a former political prisoner from the black spring of 2003 who benefitted from an extra-penal license in 2011 after a negotiation between the government, the Catholic church and the Spanish presidency.  The extra-penal license, which allows the prisoner out of the penitentiary, can be revoked at the will of authorities.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel.


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Claudio Fuentes: "I Do Not Want to be an Opponent One More Day"

Claudio Fuentes (Photo: María Matienzo)

cubanet square logoCubanet, María Matienzo, Havana, 23 November 2017 — According to Claudio Fuentes, photographer and human rights activist, he’s started doing something like ten interviews and they haven’t published any of them. Maybe it has to do with that mania he has to be always behind the camera, pointing the lens at the Ladies in White, other activists and even his own friends.

“It’s a simple attraction to photography and nothing else,” he says, justifying himself. “I’ve always had a kind of leadership in the shadow of the people I’m interested in working with, where I know my opinions are heard, but I do not have the imperative need to be making decisions,” and he offers the example of his work with Estado de Sats together to Antonio Rodiles and Ailer Mena.

“I always say that the one who knows the most about something is the one who should have the last word. If I was in a group working on Biology, which was what I studied, or with art, maybe I would have a voice of the first rank. But here I have come last and I am always learning about civil and political rights.” continue reading

However, he does not always assume the role of student.”It’s whatever is needed,” he says. “In the video of the electoral farce in Cuba, Ailer did a test, I did another test, and Antonio said: ’No, man, no, that’s fine’. If it works, they choose me if I’m not behind the cameras.”

The combination of photography and political activism started in 2008, when they tried to imprison Gorky Águila, director of the punk rock band Porno for Ricardo.

“Suddenly and without thinking twice I was an activist for his cause. It was like a fury that I did not care about anything.All that time I had been against the system but without having expressed myself,” recalls the photographer. “I put aside my individual artistic tendencies and contributed everything I had as a tool available to the cause of democracy in Cuba.”

He confesses that he is “crazy for communism in Cuba to end because I do not want to be an opponent one more day. This field fills me with pride,” he says, referring to the time he has spent working with the opposition and the privileged position he has in the history of contemporary Cuba that allows him “to have an overview of what has happened in the opposition starting some years ago, or knowing who is who, who is really in this fight with authentic democratic goals and who are not so much.”

“But I want to make movies,” he adds.

His political position shows a Claudio Fuentes before 2008, a skilled photographer who jumps to the moving image or video in a self-taught way or in courses at the San Antonio de los Baños International Film School; and with that comes the second Claudio, punk and oppositional, who still engages with the fixed image, but who begins to radicalize towards the Civil and Political Rights movement and towards a minimalist documentary image, black background and interview style, with barely any traditional artistic values, supported only in the focus and the denunciations of the actions of the powers that be.

As a photographer and activist, he believes that his process has been organic. “In all the circles in which I have been I have belonged to those that are seen as the most radical. I see radicalism as a necessary thing. I am increasingly radical because in this totalitarianism there is no chance for the path of civic action and I do not enter into any moral questioning, the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] is there and the whole Western world recognizes it.”

He also talks about the image as passion. “The image impacts me. All the poetics that are behind it, even the crappiest, the most mediocre, I am always reading things there. But if I try now to be a successful artist with my work, I will have to put aside the activism,” and he enumerates what he would abandon and that it would cost him more than “the feeling that my work is still waiting.”

“It would leave many people unprotected, a lot of information would not reach them, or the documentaries that we do that contribute to the civic education of the people or inform exiles and others outside of Cuba of where this is going, and these are my priorities now.”

Although he does not believe that this is his work, he talks a little about the documentary by Olac Garmendia where he was the director of photography and one of the three scriptwriters, or of the shared experience in the documentary Gusano, where he worked as a photographer and editor.

In the latter, he says, “the discussions were exquisite, rude, strong, and I made important decisions in making that film, but with all this what I have learned is to work as a team and not be the artist locked in his ivory tower or the peacock. There are many I have deep differences with even though they are friends of mine, who do not engage in any work from their art to improve the situation in Cuba or have a separate work as activists.”

Gorki Águila (left) with Claudio Fuentes (Photo: María Matienzo)

He has a list of things that he could do with others without “immolating himself” because he does not want anyone to tell him, when “castroism falls” that, “I didn’t do anything, but you didn’t tell me what to do.”

In a list that ranges from recharging the phone cards of political prisoners so that they can make calls, to collecting universal literature to distribute among those same prisoners, to telling his local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), “I’m not participating in that,” to “things that have to do with kindness, with generosity,” because, like he told a friend who “didn’t want to get into the political game”: “Look, compadre, life gifted us with a dictator who is a tremendous son-of-a-bitch so we’d do things against that; they gave us a lack of freedom so that we could conquer it, it is very simple, you have to sign on.”

He analyzes a phenomenon that artists don’t escape: “What happens is that the majority here is alienated. You don’t participate because the street doesn’t belong to you, you don’t have property, or businesses, and people have a convulsive tendency to complain, and I am up to my eyeballs in complaints. They are people conquered by Castroism  long ago.”

As an artist who has dedicated himself to putting a face to politics, he describes what a Cuba without Castros will be like.

“The change I imagine is very similar to what has happened in Eastern European countries, that first there is a turnaround so big that millions of people are going to have to be literate,” dreams Claudio. “There has to be a revolution of learning, in addition to 18 months of transition where new political actors will appear, intelligent people who have prepared in the shadows for fear of repression, who will compete with others who have achieved their legitimacy in the opposition.”  He adds to his list of candidates the political exile: “Luckily we have an exile 90 miles away that demonstrated not only its economic capacity but its political capacity. We have Marco Rubio, Carlos (Díaz) Rosillo, Carlos Trujillo, the two Díaz-Balarts, Carlos Curbelo, Ted Cruz.”

His hope includes that, along with the changes, “there are measures of protection for all those who try to compete with this new thing that comes, because nobody is to blame for our being out of control. And the reality is that we are all in the ditch here. ”

Author: Maria Matienzo Puerto: I once dreamed that I was a butterfly coming from Africa and I discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From then on, I built my life while I slept: I was born in a magical city like Havana, I dedicated myself to journalism, I wrote and edited children’s books, I gathered around art with wonderful people, I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are points that coincide with the reality of the vigil and I prefer the silence of reading and the hullabaloo of a good movie.

José Daniel Ferrer: “This Type Of Assault Does Not Discourage Us” / 14ymedio

Police also raided six properties of UNPACU members on Wednesday. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2017 — The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, José Daniel Ferrer, was released Thursday after being detained for more than 24 hours. The opponent denounced an “increase in the repression” against the activists of his movement, in a phone call to 14ymedio a few minutes after his release.

“The search of the homes began at six in the morning,” explains Ferrer, who was taken out of his home at eight o’clock in the morning this Wednesday and taken to the First Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba, known as Micro 9.

The former prisoner of the Black Spring explains that the police raided six properties of UNPACU members. They seized “food, a hard disc, several USB memories, two laptops, five cellphones, seven wireless devices, a stereo, a large refrigerator, an electric typewriter and a camera.” continue reading

“I spent more than six hours in an office with a guard,” Ferrer recalls. “Then they put me in a cell where you could have filmed a horror movie for the amount of blood on the walls of someone who had been cut.”

On 18 December at least nine houses of members of the opposition movement were searched and numerous personal belongings seized by members of the Ministry of the Interior

The dissident was interrogated by an official who identified himself as Captain Quiñones, who threatened to send him to prison for “incitement to violence,” in a recent video posted on Twitter. Ferrer flatly denies the accusation.

During the operation they also confiscated medications such as aspirin, duralgine, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

“Most of our activists are in high spirits,” says Ferrer. “This type of assault does not discourage us,” he adds. He says that “from November 2015 to date, there have been more than 140” raids of houses of members of the organization.

On 18 December, at least nine houses of members of the opposition movement were searched and numerous personal belongings seized by members of the Ministry of Interior.

Among those who still have not been released are the activists Jorge Cervantes, coordinator of UNPACU in Las Tunas, and Juan Salgado, both of whom are being held in the third police unit in that eastern city. The whereabouts of opponent Esquizander Benítez remain unknown. In addition, about 50 of UNPACU’s militants are being held in several prisons in the country, which makes the it the opposition organization with the most political prisoners in the country.