Jose Daniel Ferrer Arrested And Beaten In Santiago De Cuba / 14ymedio

Ladies in White outside of the parish of Santa Rita in Havana. (Angel Moya)

Ladies in White outside of the parish of Santa Rita in Havana. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 January 2016 — Cuban activists have again experienced a repressive Sunday with the arrest of more than a hundred opponents throughout the island. The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, was violently arrested in Santiago Cuba, according to sources in his organization.

About 130 members of the UNPACU and the Ladies in White movement were arrested in the eastern province while trying to reach the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre. Police and special forces intercepted them at various points along the busy road to the church, said the national coordinator of the organization, Yriade Hernández Aguilera. Continue reading

Police Warn Eliecer Avila That Somos+ Convention Will Not be Allowed / 14ymedio

The police enter the home of Eliecer Avila to arrest him.

The police enter the home of Eliecer Avila to arrest him.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 January 2016 – The repressive actions against the Cuban opposition were repeated this Sunday across the country. It is estimated that more than 200 activists were arrested, according to independent reports. The police also arrested Eliecer Avila, the leader of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement, and warned him that they would not allow the annual convention of his organization, planned for 14 January, to be held.

In Havana, the Ladies in White marched as they do every Sunday on Fifth Avenue, in the west of the capital city, accompanied on this occasion by two dozen activists. At the end of the pilgrimage they were violently arrested, according to testimony from witnesses at the scene. Continue reading

Jose Daniel Ferrer Barred from Havana and Warned He Could Return to Prison / 14ymedio

Jose Daniel Ferrer, executive secretary of UNPACU.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, executive secretary of UNPACU.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 December 2015 — The leader of the National Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, was deported to Santiago de Cuba by order of a Havana judge who warned him that he could return to prison to serve his sentence (25 years) if tried to leave his province again. The opponent has been on parole since 2011, the year he was released, after being convicted during the Black Spring of 2003.

Ferrer was arrested Thursday morning, the 17th, at the headquarters of the organization in the capital and taken to the police station on Acosta street.  Continue reading

Jose Daniel Ferrer Arrested at UNPACU Headquarters in Havana / 14ymedio

Jose Daniel Ferrer, UNPACU leader

Jose Daniel Ferrer, UNPACU leader

14ymedio bigger14medio, Havana, 17 December 2015 – Early this morning State Security arrested Jose Daniel Ferrer at the national headquarters of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), in Havana, according to sources of the opposition organization.

Several UNPACU activists denounced through the social networks that the assault was carried out violently early in the morning after military and police forces were seen around the building late at night. The headquarters of the organization in the capital is the home of Arcelio Rafael Molina Leyva, an activist in Havana, located at 2103 Calle 30, Apartment 5, between 21st and 23rd Streets.

This is the third assault on the headquarters of the organization in Havana in less than a month. The previous one took place on the eve of Human Rights Day and the police seized a laptop, organizational documents and several CDs with audiovisual material. Activists believe that the UNPACU’s growing strength in the capital is the reason it is being subjected to so much police harassment.

More Than 100 arrested in Havana and Oriente / 14ymedio

The Ladies in White marching down 5th Avenue. (Angel Juan Moya)

The Ladies in White marching down 5th Avenue. (Angel Juan Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 1 November 2015 – This Sunday was marked throughout the country by dozens of arrests, particularly against members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and the Ladies in White. The arrests began in the early hours in the Oriente (in eastern Cuba), where 91 activists were intercepted trying to reach the sanctuary of El Cobre.

The leader of the UNPACU, Jose Daniel Ferrer, was arrested along with 36 other dissidents of his organization at the checkpoint known as the Pajuin, on the outskirts of the Santiago capital to prevent them from reaching the church dedicated to the patron saint of Cuba. Hours later this newspaper was able to confirm that all those arrested had been released.

We have gone “without hiding ourselves,” said Ferrar to 14ymedio. The former prisoner of the 2003 Black Spring said that “in the five eastern provinces a total of 91 people were detained, all members UNPACU.”

In Havana, about 51 Ladies in White and 29 other activists managed to gather outside Santa Rita parish, before undertaking their traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue. Then, opponents gathered at Gandhi park to take stock of the week.

After the meeting and as they headed toward Third Street, a police operation was waiting for the activists who were arrested and taken to detention centers outside the capital. They were then being released.

Another Sunday of Repression of Activists Throughout the Country / 14ymedio

The Ladies in White on their walk this Sunday in Havana (photo Juan Angel Moya)

The Ladies in White on their walk this Sunday in Havana (photo Juan Angel Moya)

14ymedio, Havana, 12 October 2015 – A new round of repression against activists was experienced in Cuba this Sunday. The arrests began in the early morning hours in order to prevent dissidents from participating in the march on Fifth Avenue in Havana, which on this occasion included a tribute to the late leader of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan.

The march through this downtown street was joined by 57 Ladies in White and 21 human rights activists, in addition to the mother and grandmother of artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto. The walk began in Gandhi Park, next to the Santa Rita Parish in the Miramar neighborhood. Later several dissidents were arrested, among them the blogger Lia Villares and dissident Antonio G. Rodiles.

Activist Arcelio Molina Leyva reported to 14ymedio that “the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) was raided, and they stole everything they could,” besides detaining “those who were there.” The dissident detailed that among those arrested were Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Ovidio Martin Castellanos and Yriade Hernandez Aguilera. Continue reading

Activists Arrested for Approaching the Pope on Hunger Strike / 14ymedio

Activists detained during the Mass of Pope Francisco in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana. (Still from a video)

Activists detained during the Mass of Pope Francisco in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana. (Still from a video)

14ymedio, 24 September 2015 — The three activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) arrested on Sunday during Pope Francis’s Mass Francisco in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana remain on hunger strike, according to a Thursday statement from UNPACU.
The regime opponents, who were arrested as they approached the Pope to denounce the situation of human rights in Cuba, are being held at the police station known as 100 y Aldabó in the capital.

“From the day of their arrest, Zacchaeus Baez, Maria Josefa Acón and Ismael Bonet have been on a hunger strike,” the statement says, adding: “As of yesterday the decided that it would also be a thirst strike.” The activists, according to the statement, “belong to the UNPACU Felix Varela Cell in Calabazar” and Ancon is also a member of the Ladies in White.

The opposition group has begun “a campaign in support of the three detainees,” according to its leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer. The first actions are aimed at “informing the public through disks and printed matter about the action in the Square.” The former political prisoner says that the organization is posting notices “on poles, walls and other sites with photos of the three and explanations of what they did.”

Under the theme of “The three who reached the Pope” UNPACU has also organized marches in the east of the country, in Camagüey, Havana and Pinar del Río. The statement warns that, “if they are not released, the next step in solidarity with the three could be a mass hunger strike in public places.”

Opponents Denounce Arrests And “Social Cleansing” Before The Pope’s Visit / 14ymedio

March of the Ladies in White.

March of the Ladies in White.

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.”

The Ladies in White Live through Another Day of Repression / 14ymedio

The Ladies in White march through the streets of Havana Sunday (14ymedio)

The Ladies in White march through the streets of Havana Sunday (14ymedio)

14ymedio, 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.”

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

More Than A Hundred Activists Arrested, According UNPACU / 14ymedio

Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU. (14ymedio)

Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 8 September 2015 — The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) denounced on Tuesday the arrest of at least 140 activists in the east of the country between members of the organization and the women’s group Citizens for Democracy. Among those arrested was Ovidio Martin Castellanos, member of the board of UNPACU, said Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the opposition group.

The arrests occurred when the activists tried to reach the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity, on the day of the celebrations for the patroness of Cuba. Localities with high numbers of detainees are Mella and Palmarito del Cauto. Some opponents had left their homes at night or Monday at dawn to reach the Mass in the church.

Several of the detainees, according to Ferrer, “were left in remote locations without transport at night.” Among them are the activists Belkis Castillo, Moralina Díaz, Maidolis Oribe, Keila Ramos and Belkis Marta Beatriz Ferrer. The women also reported violence during the arrests and the retention of their mobile phones.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Can Not Leave The Country For Reasons Of “Public Interest” / 14ymedio

Jose Daniel Ferrer, UNPACU leader. (14ymedio)

Jose Daniel Ferrer, UNPACU leader. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 August 2015 — The activist José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) has been informed this week by the Office of Immigration and Nationality that he can not leave the country. The authorities said that the travel restrictions are being imposed because he is not “in compliance with the criminal sanction” and there are “reasons of public interest” to prevent him from crossing the national borders.

The official response was communicated Wednesday, when Ferrer attempted to being the paperwork for a new passport at the identity card office in the Playa municipality in Havana. Continue reading

UNPACU Reports More Than A Hundred Activists Arrested / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 August 2015 — From the early hours of Sunday the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) denounced the arrest of more than 130 of its activists. Several sources within the organization told this newspaper that the detainees were going to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity, in Santiago de Cuba, when they were intercepted.

Repression in the east of the country coincided with a major operation in Havana, around Fifth Avenue, a place where traditionally the Ladies in White march. The human rights activist movement reported an intense act of repudiation at the end of its weekly pilgrimage, along with arrests and police violence.

The march of the Ladies in White ended with about 40 women and 25 other activists detained and taken to police stations or detention centers. Mobs staged action against activists, markedly larger this Sunday, which was denounced by the leader of this movement, Berta Soler. Continue reading

The Other Flag / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, in his Friday meeting with dissidents in Havana

Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, in his Friday meeting with dissidents in Havana

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 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

“Paya Was An Example Of Dedication And Persistence” / 14ymedio

Oswaldo Payá holding the Transitional Program for political change in Cuba. (EFE)

Oswaldo Payá holding the Transitional Program for political change in Cuba. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 July 2015 — Three years after the death of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, 14ymedio has collected the opinions of some Cuban activists who knew the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement. They is people who shared with him projects and risks, who admired or were inspired by his civic labor. Let these seven testimonies serve to approach the legacy of a man who devoted his best years to achieving greater rights and freedoms for the citizenry.

Father José Conrado

He has left us a testimony of life, a consistent life in service to his people, a courageous life that knew how to respond to the difficulties and the circumstances of the times. A life true to his convictions of faith and his love for his country until his last moment. It is a testimony that we will never forget and at the same time something to be deeply grateful for, because men like him are the ones who are needed, men like him are those who build a people from within.

Martha Beatriz Roque

It is very difficult to summarize in a few lines his life and the legacy he left us. First of all we have to note his actions as a father, a husband and a member of the Catholic Church. He knew how to pass on an excellent education for his children and to sow love in his family. Now we have Rosa María [his daughter], who is continuing his struggle and also persevering in seeing that justice is done for those who murdered him. His life’s companion, Ofelita, is doing the same thing.

Payá witnessed in favor of democracy and his legacy is reflected in the continuity of his work. These men who have acted with dignity in life, in times as difficult as those we Cubans have had to live through, one can say they have not died, they continue with us.

Jose Daniel Ferrer

I always had great respect and great affection for him, and joined in with the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) for many years, especially on Project Varela. I would like to highlight one way he is remembered in the eastern region, especially in the province of Santiago de Cuba. The term that we are referred to by, whether we are members of UNPACU, of CID, of the Republican Party, the Citizens for Democracy, or any other organization, is “Varelistas” [“supporters of Project Varela”], and not because of a direct relation to Felix Verala, who well deserves it for his contribution to Cuban nationality, but precisely because of Project Varela, which not only collected thousands of signatures at that time, but also left a lasting impact.

So that is what people call us there and, on occasion, even our worst enemies do. So every time they call us Varelistas, they are remembering Payá.

Dagoberto Valdes

The first thing I want to point out about the legacy Oswaldo left us is the integrity of one person who throughout his life remained consistent with what he thought and believed. Secondly, he left us what in my view is the most important civic exercise of the last decades: the Varela Project. Third, he left us the perseverance of a man who believed in the cause of freedom and democracy for Cuba and who dedicated his entire life to it.

Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart

His legacy goes far beyond even the Christian Liberation Movement he founded. His precious heritage belongs to Cuba and is found in the shared yearning for democracy and respect for human rights, for all individuals who think as he thought. For this he will always be respected. When Cuba can enjoy democracy, he will not be with is, but his teachings will be.

Felix Navarro Rodriguez

He was a great leader in the peaceful Cuban opposition because he accomplished what no one had been able to accomplish, which was to collect those thousands of signatures supporting Project Varela and doing it within the very laws of Cuba.

Still today I feel I see him, with the enthusiasm that characterized him, seeking unity among Cubans so that we can manage the change in a peaceful way, so that the people would be the owners of their own opinions and be able to put their rights into practice. It fills us with great satisfaction to have been able to be at the side of a man like him at those moments before the Black Spring of 2003, and to continue working with his daughter Rosa María today.

Miriam Leyva

He was a very self-sacrificing person who was characterized by believing in what he was doing. He was convinced that he could fight for a better life for Cubans to achieve progress and democracy for Cuba. He was a practicing Catholic and also a tireless worker. In his specialty, medical equipment repair, he was acknowledged and respected, not only in his workplace but in all public health facilities where he went to provide services.

Payá was an example of self-sacrifice and above all persistence, so his legacy extends beyond the MCL and Project Varela; an example as a human being, as a Cuban. That is what remains in my memory and I appreciate all the years I knew him in the midst of such difficult situations.