Leandro Cesar Mastrapa Igarza and Alexis Zayas Guillen were Ordained as Deacons/ Katia Sonia

The first two deacons of the Old Mission Church, Our Lady of Joy, in Cuba, were ordained by Monsignor Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarría, Primate Bishop of this church in Cuba, at eight o’clock on the night of the Wednesday nineteenth of June of two thousand thirteen, in the Chapel (private) of “Immaculate Mary” of the priest Alexander Pedro Rodríguez, of the Episcopal Church of Cuba, in the city of Las Tunas.

In solemn Eucharist by the grace of God, there was conferred the order of the diaconate on Leandro Cesar Mastrapa Igarza and Alexis Zayas Gerardo Guillen, after swearing obedience to bishops, singing the Litany of the Saints, and invoking the Holy Spirit, Monsignor Medina laid hands on them, prayed the consecratory prayer, after which the assistant priests lay their hands on them hands, there was given to them the evangelistary, a book that contains gospel readings, and they were vested with the diaconal ornaments.

In a meeting of the clergy there an agreement was reached on the erection of the Saint Judas Thaddeus Mission in a neighborhood of the city, a mission that will be attended by the deacons and seminarians of the area, as part of their Pastoral Accompaniment Practicum.

1 July 2013

CID Appeals to All Cuban Women to Unite in Demanding Their Freedom / Katia Sonia

Reading of the CID appeal addressed to all Cuban women

The Executive Committee of the Party for an Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) has launched an appeal calling on all Cuban women to unite in demanding their rights and freedoms, in a statement read out by Santa Clara activist Gladys Beatriz Medina González and the Ladies in White, after attending the Sunday mass and march along 5th Avenue in the Miramar district of the capital. She also thanked all those who had paid tribute to Laura Pollán on 10 December.

In the statement, the CID national leader said: “Today we are calling on all Cuban women to unite in this endeavour which she and a group of brave women (referring to the Women in White) began with determination and constancy; all we need to do is to take the decision to safeguard our children from the poverty,abuse and lack of opportunities they face, because of an insensitive, abusive and despotic government. There are millions of us women who have a duty to defend our families and we intend to do so. We do not grant an illegitimate government the authority to carry on committing abuses and errors; economic changes are not enough, it’s not a question of feeding ourselves better in the prison in which we live. The time for political change in Cuba is NOW…

I want to thank all those in different parts of the world who have paid tribute on this 10 December to our founder Laura Inés Pollán Toledo, as by doing so they are paying tribute to all the Cuban women who have fought for freedom since the days of independence; they are paying tribute to all the political prisoners of the past who challenged Castroism and suffered prison and exile; they are paying tribute to the daughters, wives and mothers of the Cubans who were murdered by this regime…I should like, on behalf of the Party for an Independent and Democratic Cuba, to thank all those throughout the world who have shown solidarity with the family of Laura Pollan and the Ladies in White Movement which today bears her name and I wish them well on this International Day for Human Rights.”

Subsequently, the women were violently arrested by the political police and not released until hours later

Katia Sonia Martín Véliz

Translated by Paul Knopinski

December 13 2011

No Otoscope Available at Outpatients’ Department of Central Havana Children’s Hospital / Katia Sonia

“The Outpatients’ Department of the Central Havana Children’s Hospital has no otoscope for examining children suffering from ear pain,” said Lianay Palmero, a resident of Santo Tomás entre Árbol Seco y Retiro, after her daughter had been in pain for more than 24 hours without being diagnosed.

Eventually, the two-year-old was diagnosed the following day as having a middle ear infection, thanks to the presence at the hospital of an ear, nose and throat specialist who had an otoscope she had acquired during a medical mission abroad at her own expense.

The angry mother contacted this reporter to complain about the lack of such simple and essential equipment at the outpatients’ department of the hospital in question, particularly when the Cuban Government tells the world that Cuban medical care is completely free and that children are given top priority.

The source ended by saying that more than 30 children were waiting at the outpatients’ department to be examined by students from the Latin American School – all of them medicine residents – and that there was only one qualified pediatrician on duty.

Translated by Paul Knopinski

November 2 2011

CID Party Leader Arrested in Pinar del Rio for Listening to Music by Willy Chirino / Katia Sonia

Luis Alberto Hernández Marrero Archive Photo

Luis Alberto Hernández Marrero, delegate of the Party for an Independent and Democratic Cuba in the province of Pinar del Rio was violently arrested, together with his son, Luis Adrian Hernández Martínez, at around 1 a.m. on 4 November in Calle San Juan y Martínez between Virtudes y Sol and fined for causing a “Public Disorder”.

Luis Alberto Hernández Marrero told this reporter that he and his son were singing the popular song “Ya viene llegando” by Cuban singer Willy Chirino, when suddenly “my house was invaded by two Interior Ministry officials, wearing plain clothes – one of them a woman – accompanied by two uniformed officers from a police patrol car, who, on the orders of the officials, violently grabbed hold of my 19-year-old son and bundled him into the police car. We shouted that they were “lackeys” and “abusers” and cried “Down with the dictatorship”. We were taken down to the police station, where we were fined 30 pesos each, allegedly for creating a “public disorder”.

The source confirmed that they were released at 3.30 a.m.

Translated by Paul Knopinski

November 6 2011

Detention and House Arrest of Activists on the ’Maleconazo’ Anniversary / Katia Sonia

Frank Reyes López, Delegate of the Party for an Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) in Villa Clara, Víctor Castillo, Alcides Rivera and Félix Reyes, were all arrested by officials of the State Security Department at 9 a.m. on 5 August at the intermunicipal bus station and taken in patrol carrs to their homes, where they remained in police custody until 7 p.m.

Frank Reyes López – who is the source of this information – reported the arrests by telephone, describing how the officials of the State Secuirty Department remained outside the activists’ homes, preventing them from going out to celebrate the anniversary of 5 August, the day on which a group of Cubans went out into the streets of Havana to protest against the regime, an event known as the ‘Maleconazo’.

Translated by Paul Knopinski

August 5 2011

The Health of the Coordinator of the Cuban Independent and Democratic Party in the Western Province is Grave After His Detention on August 28th in Palma Soriano / Katia Sonia

Mr. Nivaldo Amedo Ramirez, Coordinator of the Cuban Independent and Democratic Party of the Western Province.

Nivaldo Amedo Ramirez, Coordinator of the Cuban Independent and Democratic Party, in the Western Province, who was detained on August 28th in Palma Soriano, was transported, in critical condition, to the Provincial Hospital of Santiago de Cuba “Saturnino Lora”, during a hunger strike, to demand his freedom.

Amedo Ramirez was detained by the troops in the Marino Antomachit housing project and was transported to the Micro-9 police station, in Santiago de Cuba. Upon his detention, he went on a hunger strike. This hunger strike further complicated his gastric ulcer and was the cause of his vomiting blood and having abdominal pain. On the morning of Sunday, September 4th, the authorities recognized his critical condition and transported Mr.Ramirez , to the central hospital where he remains under medical care in police custody.

Hi wife, Elvis Alvares Airas, was informed of his condition by the authorities on Thursday, September 1, 2011, that her husband, Amedo Ramirez, will be charged with Disorderly Conduct in the name of Cuba; and that the Cuban Independent and Democratic party is responsible for the health and well being of Mr. Ramirez, age 44.

Translated by Ya Viene Llegando
September 5 2011

History of a Kidnapping / Katia Sonia

At dawn on March 18 I was kidnapped along with Aimé Cabrales Aguilar at the corner of Calzada de Infanta and San Tomas a few meters from my house and on a public street, from a bus with a veneer of tourism in which women in the uniform of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) came, along with two Chinese-make Geely cars with private license plates with State Security agents who wore civilian clothes, easily identified by their cruel faces and well-fed bodies.

At four in the morning and after a struggle between these women and us, we were then attacked as if we were two highly dangerous women and taken in the Geely to the Cerro police station at Infanta and Amenidad, where they led us to the back and put us in separate rooms. Within seconds an individual appeared whose rank I couldn’t make out because we had a little altercation and he immediately took my cell phone and then took me from there, in a police car escorted by a policewoman in uniform, who had my phone and an arrest warrant that said “Counterrevolutionary,” although it wasn’t written in this way but as “Counter revolutionary,” an adjective they use every day and don’t even know how to write.

Then began a long journey until we reached the Santa Fe station where I was rejected by the officers on duty when they were shown the warrant, and in a matter of minutes they decided to take me to the station at 7th and 62nd station in the municipality of Playa, better known as the Fifth Station (La Quinta), where they searched me thoroughly taking my wallet and all my belongings including my clothes.

An official from police criminal investigation (CIM) tells me, from a distance, that I have to change clothes and approaches with a gray uniform with white numbers, my only words were, when the guy from CIM came I told him he should put it on, and then I saw how their faces started to change and his response was only, “No, relax,” and they showed me to cell 7 where I remained from 6:30 AM on March 18 to 10:00 PM on the 19th, without taking any food or water as a protest for the arbitrariness of the detention. The total was 42 hours.

In that same humid cell there were three women dressed in gray, with uncombed hair, gloomy faces, and smoking uncontrollably. Yenima was there for embezzlement and had been in that same place for 39 filthy days. They could not prove her embezzlement case, so they are now trying to get her through falsifying signatures, but once again have no proof. She works for CIMEX corporation and must be either 39 or 40 years old. She has two sons, one who is 16 and the younger one who is 3, both which she has not been able to see during this whole time.

Betty is another young woman, a hair-dresser with a 10-year-old daughter who kept a bag of medicine in her house for a friend. It turns out, the contents were actually prescribed medications which can be used as drugs. She turned it in to the police and now awaits preventive prison.

Yuvisnavi, the other young 30-year-old, was out partying with her husband when she had some drinks and began filling ill. They quickly went to the nearest clinic and had an argument with some police officials. The cops beat both of them savagely. She still had the scars on her body to prove it, as well as a missing tooth, the result of a punch. She threw a soda can at the cop’s back and the couple now awaits a fiscal petition which will accuse them of “attempt on someone’s life”.

Upon noticing that I was wearing different clothes than they were, they began to ask me thousands of questions at the same time. We entered a lengthy conversation. They already knew who the Ladies in White were, and I then explained to them a bit about the organization I belong to, the Cuban Democratic and Independent Party, in addition to our purpose and the activities we carry out.

During the afternoon hours they took me out of the cell so that doctor could examine me and fill out a brief clinical record for me. After a while, the prison guard took me to a small interrogation room where a State Security official, claiming to be called Vladimir, waited for me. I was there with that arrogant man with a harsh voice for 2 and a half hours. Throughout the entire time, however, I displayed a vibe of indifference, for I knew I was going to be kept there anyway. He then told me that I would be re-educated there, among other threats. He jotted down a few things about my life on various pages which made up my file.

Later, I was returned to my cell and entered into another room where they took various photos of me — one with a ruler measuring my height, one of the right side of my face, the left side, with my glasses, without them, barefoot, with my feet together, etc. They also took my digital fingerprints and filled out a sheet with my general physical details.

Since my cell was at the entrance of the waiting room, I could see that there was another woman dressed in White. It was Tania Maldonado, also a Lady in White detained under the same conditions as me, as she left her house with Sarah Marta Fonseca. They were separated in the same fashion I was separated from Aime, who I did not know where she was.

I felt a bit relieved that there was someone I knew there. She was also taken to cell # 7 and also chose to cease eating or drinking liquids. For this reason we were constantly being visited by the Chiefs and Officials of the Unit, as well as doctors and CIM agents. Going on strike, as they call it, is something which worries them deeply, in addition to the fact that we kept shouting that we were peaceful women who were being kept there against our will. We also told them that whatever happened to us from that moment on during our detention was completely the responsibility of the Cuban government and all the repressive organs of State Security. They would constantly take our blood pressure, and did the same to Hector Julio Negrin Cedeno who was also detained a few blocks from Laura’s house and who assumed the same rebellious posture.

Late that night, official Tamayo from section 21, and Tomas both entered my cell and I had yet another interrogation for a few hours. I kept my same posture, with the same indifference I displayed before, but this time I had a very bad headache due to the lack of food. They asked me why I did not eat then and I responded by saying that in addition to protesting, not even dogs would eat the food they offered. The menu was always white rice, boiled potato, and something else which I could not decipher. It was some sort of omelette which would cause heartburn in the women who ate it, and there was no medicine available afterwards to calm the sensation.

As was expected, both these agents touched upon the subject of the CID, that party which robs them from sleep. They mentioned Huber Matos and his organization inside the island. Among the threats I received was one that, after they finish off the Ladies in White, they were going to go after the CID to end it. They stated that they knew I had been in the province of Pinar del Rio and that everything was prepared so my arrest would take place in that area.

According to Tamayo, he told his friends from Pinar del Rio to leave me alone because he would easily catch me here. Did he think that for a moment I was going to hide? He talked to me about the CID in general — about when the elections were, etc. He gave off the impression that he was very misinformed and wanted to gather more information, but he failed. He then said that the CID was a lie and that Huber Matos was asking for money throughout all of the United States. I ask myself, if it’s all such a lie then why do they constantly oppress and harass each one of its members? This group is here to stay, I would repeat them over and over again. And they are scared of that.

They returned me to my cell and re-appeared shortly thereafter with some crackers, bread, soda bottles, and Dipirona tablets. To ease my headache, I got a pill out of the bottle after checking that it was sealed. A doctor then appeared to examine me again. They then took away all the other things they gave me to eat because I did not touch any of it. The agents asked the doctor if he had any injection they could put on my tongue or an electro-shock that would change my thoughts. I didn’t even pay attention, and I only responded by asking the doctor if he had two of each because the guard would need it as well.

Back in my cell, where I could not shower, I threw a a mat on the floor and both Tania and I laid down. We actually fell asleep quickly, thank God. I thought it would not be so easy to get some rest since the smell of urine was so strong, as was the presence of mosquitoes, the sound of officials slamming doors all night, and a constant ringing which would go off every time someone walked through the main gate, whether they were prisoners or police officials. There were also constant arguments between the authorities. They used very obscene and vulgar words against each other, and despite the fact that they speak the same language, they still cannot manage to understand each other.

They had an elderly lady in custody, but she was not being kept in a cell. Instead, she slept on a stone bench. She had been taken by the DTI (Department of Technical Investigation), together with her son who was also in a cell and carrying out a strike. She was a very corpulent woman who arrived to the jail at the same time as me. When I left, she was still there, and as I stepped out she came close to me and said, “Tomorrow, when you go to Church, pray to Saint Rita for me and my son”. I never knew why they were there. They didn’t give us time to talk.

During the next morning the parade of the authorities continued. They kept checking our state of health, and the food somewhat improved. However, they could not convince us to eat. An official later handed me a bucket of water (for showering) and some clothes which my husband had brought me, which reassured me that people did know about my kidnapping. I shared my water with Tania, who also had to brush her teeth with my tooth brush, which is something so personal. We also shared my towel. There was no other option. A penal instructor then took me out of my cell to once again write down declarations from me. This time, she wanted to know where I was headed when I was detained and why I was not eating.

During that same time another woman, who must have been around 40 years of age, was taken into my cell. At first glance anyone could tell, based on her face and her way of talking, that was someone who had some sort of mental instability. She was there because an employee from the Aedes Aegipty Campaign pushed her elderly mother inside her house, so she (the lady in the cell) got into a fight with the employee to defend her mother. During the fight, both women ended up hurt. Immediately, the police took her to the station and they want to prosecute her under “attempt at someone’s life”. The public health worker was free from any accusations.

Once again, that night I was taken out of my cell and taken to the interrogation room. An official from Villa Marista was waiting for me. He asked me various questions, among them about my hunger strike. Then agent Vladimir appeared, who also asked me about why I was not eating. It was all a matter of 15 minutes, and when I returned to my cell I would say that 2 minutes passed and the head guard approached me and said, “Get your stuff. You’re leaving.”

They handed me my belongings, I made sure I was not missing anything, and that I had left everything in order. I put on my earrings, other jewelry, and put my lip-stick on. Agent Vladimir gave us a release letter to sign and cop car # 716 was waiting for us with an escort police officer who was holding both Tania and my ID cards. The officer also had orders to drop us off at the door of our respective homes, and she only gave me my ID card when I stepped out of the car.

Half translated by Raul G.

March 24 2011

Media Silence About the Fire in the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital / Katia Sonia

The Hermanos Ameijeiras Surgical Hospital suffered the blow at 10:00 am, October 12, a fire following the explosion of a steam boiler, located in the basement, which blew up for lack of maintenance, without the regrettable loss of, while the media ignored the event.

According to hospital workers they had been having problems preparing of food because of defects in the unmaintained boilers. At 10:00 am there was a thunderous explosion in the basement which started a fire classified by specialists as Q-103 class. The fire stations 1, 5, and 15 from the Havana Fire Department responded along with the Search and Rescue Brigade. An aggravating circumstance was that in that same area there is a storeroom for oxygen and carbon dioxide nitrogen, the latter a highly explosive element.

Several burns were reported along with injuries from getting run over, there was no reported loss of life. On the 1:00 pm news and in prime time at 8:00 pm no mention was made of the events, nor was their coverage in other media.

As part of the rescue nuns of the Congregation of Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul were evacuated, from property owned by the local hospital, where the Havana Children’s Home is now located.

October 16, 2010

How Far Will They Go? / Katia Sonia

Photo published in the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth).

In the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) which was published on September 7th, there was a printed article titled “Party in September” which was written by Margarita Barrio Sanchez.  The photo used for the article was taken “casually” by Raul Pupo at the primary school known as Nguyen Van Troi.  In it, one can see my two twin daughters, Samantha de la Caridad Medina Martin and Samyra de la Caridad Medina Martin, who both started second grade.

In general, the article makes reference to the Pedagogical School of Fulgencio Oroz Gomez, located within the normal school of educators, and the photo was taken as a presentation note for the school next door.  It would be true to state that the expression made by Jose Ramon Fernandez, the vice-president of the ministry council of the foundation of the pedagogical school, where he states, “We are sure that our teachers will not fail to represent the revolution, nor to the ideals of Fidel, Raul, and all of the hopes of our people”, is contradictory to his previous assertion, for the pedagogical schools had been terminated with the so-called “correction of errors” process.

On August 11th, a State Security official known as Pavel, told me that they had a functionary of the Department of Minors that would attend to my daughters due to my rebellious attitude.  I told some of my friends about this and about my fear that such a threat towards my daughters would become concrete during school hours.  My mother’s intuition did not fail me, for in an act of initiation during the school year in a school where the enrollment surpasses 300 students, my daughters made it to the front page of this “maximum” newspaper, noting that the essay does not have anything to do with that specific photo.  Due to all of this and more, I am warning the democratic world about my situation and the situation of my family, and I am holding the Castro government accountable for what could happen to my young 7-year-old daughters.

Translated by Raul G.

September 8, 2010

Activists from the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party Founded the Committee of Free Peasants / Katia Sonia

Members of the Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) Party, founded the Committee of Free Peasants in the municipality of San Juan y Martinez of the Province Pinar del Rio at 2:00 pm, on the 20th day of August as an alternative method of fighting against the exploitation of the Cuban Peasant.

The Committee of Free Peasants (CCL) democratically elected Ronaldo Pupo Carralero, as President; who is supported by nine more members, all of which are landowners who in their opening statement ratified essential objectives of society:

  • Fight against the exploitation of the farmers by the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), with regards to what is paid for crops.
  • The coercion exercised by the Cuban government against the peasants, in collusion with ANAP and the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC)
  • The systematic violations of Human Rights in rural areas.

Ronaldo Pupo Carralero, is the neighbor of El Gacho, San Juan y Martinez, Pinar del Rio and he declared that he would not betray the confidence that the members placed in him to represent them and ended by thanking the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) in San Juan y Martínez for the presence of the CID support group.

Translated by: Antonio Trujillo

August 24, 2010

Fidel Castro Threatens with “The Strategic Victory” / Katia Sonia

Like a birthday present to himself, the Cuban ex-president Fidel Castro launched a book in which he narrates as episodes his experiences in the Sierra Maestra during the fight against Fulgencio Batista.

In this memoir narrated in epic tones, he deletes all those who then didn’t see clearly the destiny they’d been fighting for and separates them from the so-called Revolution Triumphant: we do not find anecdotes of Huber Matos, nor of Mario Chanes de Armas and many others whom, for more than fifty years, he has tried to silence with his twisted arguments.

After four years out of the game and his role in the leadership of the Revolution, a little more incoherent, Fidel Reappears to minimize once again the figure of his brother who, by his order, replaced him as dictatorial ruler; he called a special session of the “Cuban Parliament,” no, that is not a typo, it is how to recognize the Cubans of the National Assembly of People’s Power; everything’s OK, you have to keep fighting…

There will be twenty-five chapters numbered after the fashion of Castro, who will torture the nationals with the endless round tables, headlines and a great reduction in the insufficient production of books and school supplies for the school year 2010-2011, because all the printers are working overtime to guarantee the release of “Strategic Victory.”

These 84 threaten more of the same, fifty years of badly told stories that express the extreme will of the author; so come on down, here comes the cake.

August 12 2010