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

The Ladies In White Denounce A New Act Of Repudiation Against The Headquarters Of The Movement / 14ymedio

Act of repudiation in front of the headquarters of the Ladies in White in Havana, Thursday. (Angel Moya)

Act of repudiation in front of the headquarters of the Ladies in White in Havana, Thursday. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 January 2016 — A new act of repudiation against the Ladies in White is developing right now outside the headquarters of the movement in the Havana neighborhood of Lawton. Since this morning the activists reported civilian groups with flags, loudspeakers and a projection screen that had been summoned to the street that leads to the house, according to the government opponent Martha Beatriz Roque.

At least five Ladies in White were arrested before reaching the site, where there are 43 women celebrating their traditional literary tea. On a “big screen” in front of the house, are projected “words of Berta Soler and images of activities” undertaken by the leader of the movement in travel to other countries.

A witness at the scene told 14ymedio by telephone that repudiation groups were burning “leaflets and books” in garbage cans. According to nearby residents, who requested anonymity, the pamphlets were the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, information that could not be confirmed by another source.

From the site of the group’s headquarters the activists threw leaflets and balloons with messages.

Opposition Marchers Should Change Their Strategy / Ivan Garcia

Ladies in White and dissidents in Gandhi Park on Sunday November 22, 2015. Snapshot Arturo Rojas, taken from CubaNet.

Ivan Garcia, 13 January 2016 — There were more than seven thousand arrests of dissidents in 2015, with most detentions lasting several hours. Beatings, harassment, acts of repudiation and degrading treatment by police are common in Cuba. Political reforms are not part of General Raúl Castro’s agenda.

Despite the repression in Havana there is one city block where democracy is respected. It was not a gift from the regime. It was a victory achieved by the Ladies in White in the spring of 2010. In this area you can protest and march without being brutally assaulted. 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

Number Of Political Arrests In Cuba Doubles From Dec. 2014 / 14ymedio

A member of the Ladies in White is arrested by police on Thursday, 10 December 10, in Havana. (Photo EFE)

A member of the Ladies in White is arrested by police on Thursday, 10 December 10, in Havana. (Photo EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 January 2015 — The number of political arrests in the month of December in Cuba was almost twice that of December 2014, from 489 increasing to 930, according to the monthly report issued by the Cuban the National Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN).

The number represents a significant decrease from November, when there were at least 1,447 arrests. However, that figure was the highest in years, according to information from the CCDHRN, which reported December was the third worst month of the year, after the two months preceding it (there were 1,093 political arrests in October).

The CCDHRN is particularly concerned because five former political prisoners – released as a part of the negotiations between the Cuban and United States governments that led to the reestablishment of relations – were newly arrested and being held in high security prisons. These prisoners are

Wilfredo Parada Milian, Jorge Ramirez Calderon, Carlos Manuel Figueroa, Aracelio Ribeaux Noa and Vladimir Morera Bacallao, who was on a hunger strike between 9 October and the end of the year. The five have been imprisoned in “rigged processes without due process,” according to the organization led by Elizardo Sanchez.

Once again, the groups most affected by repression, the report denounced, are the Ladies in White and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), who “apart from physical violence and all kinds of humiliations” suffered “acts of vandalism and the extrajudicial confiscation of toys intended to be distributed to poor children, computers, cellphones and other work tools acquired legally, as well as cash taken from many of the opponents who were arrested.”

The CCDHRN expressed despair because despite the expectations created by the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US, “political repression increased steadily throughout 2015.” In addition, the report denounced that poverty has continued to grow, which has motivated, in the opinion of the organization, the migratory crisis of those “trying to escape Cuba by any means, including illegal emigration at the price of human suffering.”

Ladies in White Headquarters Surrounded by State Security / 14ymedio, Orlando Palma

Kiosks selling food and drink in front of the headquarters of the Ladies in White. (bertasolerf)

Kiosks selling food and drink in front of the headquarters of the Ladies in White. (bertasolerf)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Orlando Palma, Havana, 18 December 2015 — On Friday morning, the political police surrounded the headquarters of the Ladies in White in the Havana’s Lawton district, blocking entrance to several activists who arrived for the traditional literary tea held every Friday, as confirmed to 14ymedio by Juan Angel Moya, former prisoner of the Black Spring and husband of the movement’s leader, Berta Soler.

The opposition also reported that as of last Wednesday several kiosks selling food and drink to the public were placed around the site. State Security in Cuba frequently uses this practice to close access to the homes of activists. Continue reading

Yamilé Garro Alfonso: ‘Being a Lady in White has taught me to appreciate the desire for freedom’

Yamilé Garro Alfonso

Yamilé Garro Alfonso

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Havana, 10 December 2015 — Yamilé Garro Alfonso was just a housewife, the mother of a baby and a teenager, when regime forces arrested her sister Sonia and her brother-in-law Ramón Alejandro Muñoz in a violent operation on March 18, 2012.

“At the time I knew almost nothing of the opposition,” she said. Two months later, she began to march with the Ladies in White movement her sister belonged to.

“I went to the Ladies in White (…) after I went to government institutions seeking an answer for the injustice they had done to Sonia,” she says. Continue reading

State Security is Outside 14ymedio’s Newsroom / 14ymedio

A member of the Ladies in White is arrested in 10 December 2015 by the Political Police in Havana (EFE)

A member of the Ladies in White is arrested in 10 December 2015 by the Political Police in Havana (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 December 2015 – State Security agents who introduced themselves as members of counterintelligence are outside 14ymedio’s newsroom right now to keep our reporters from covering the events of Human Rights Day, celebrated this Thursday.

Several neighbors sounded the alert when, from the early hours of the morning, they saw two men sitting on the stairs that lead to the 14th floor, where the newsroom is located. The subjects, dressed in civilian clothes with earpieces in their right ears, have stayed there since dawn, controlling everyone who ascends or descends the last floor of the building. Continue reading

Searches And Arrests On The Eve Of Human Rights Day / 14ymedio

Ladies in White arrested in Havana on Human Rights Day 2014.

Ladies in White arrested in Havana on Human Rights Day 2014.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 December 2015 – In the morning hours on Wednesday, the political police undertook a thorough search of the Patriot Union of Cuba (UNPACU) headquarters in the Playa district of Havana. A portable computer and other belongings were seized, a few hours before the start of activities for Human Rights Day.

The owner of the home and activist of the organization, Arcelio Rafael Molina, told 14ymedio that “at approximately 7 in the morning the police started knocking” on his door and showed him a search warrant. After taking the laptop, “a piece of equipment to improve the wifi signal, that we use to send email,” and printed documents, “they did not leave a list of the seized items,” the homeowner said.

Molina is sure they took the signed copies of “the complaints that had been filed with the national leadership of the Police and other authorities, regarding a similar search,” last October. Continue reading

Opposition Will Gather at 23 and L on Thursday, Human Rights Day / 14ymedio

Gathering in Havana for Human Rights Day 2014 (14ymedio)

Gathering in Havana for Human Rights Day 2014 (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 December 2015 – December 10, Human Rights Day, in Cuba has become a framework for various opposition activities and countless arrests. This year, several independent civil society groups have planned public activities, despite the possible repression. The Ladies in White have issued a call for a peaceful demonstration at the centrally located corner of 23rd and L, in Havana, at one in the afternoon.

Last Sunday, after ending their usual march along Fifth Avenue, Berta Soler told 14ymedio that the activity will promote “the exercise of freedom of association, of expression and of peaceful protest… If we don’t get there, it will be because we have been arrested or because when trying to leave our homes or on our way there they have blocked us from reaching the site,” she said. Continue reading

Cuban Human Rights Group Denounces Record Number Of Political Arrests In November / EFE (Via 14ymedio)

Ladies in White and activists gathered at Gandhi Park. (Angel Moya)

Ladies in White and activists gathered at Gandhi Park. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 3 December 2015 — The dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) reported Thursday that there were at least 1,447 political arrests in Cuba in November, the highest figure this year says opposition group says.

The monthly report issued by this organization, led by activist Elizardo Sanchez said that the repressive activity has been “remarkable,” especially against the women’s opposition group The Ladies in White, and those who “dare to accompany them” every Sunday on their usual walk. Continue reading

More Than 250 Activists Arrested Sunday / 14ymedio

Ladies in White during their traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue in Havana. The banner shows Laura Pollán, a co-founder of the organization whose death has never been adequately explained (Angel Moya)

Ladies in White during their traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue in Havana. The banner shows Laura Pollán, a co-founder of the organization whose death has never been adequately explained (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 29 November 2015 — The number of activists arrested this Sunday exceeded 250 people across the island, as several sources from the Cuban opposition confirmed to this newspaper. The largest number of arrests occurred in the east of the country, where dozens of members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) tried to reach the Sanctuary of Cobre and were intercepted on the way.

In Havana, before the traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue, 38 Ladies in White and 45 activists from various movements gathered at Gandhi Park, along with at least a score of foreign visitors, according to several witnesses at the scene and as later confirmed to this newspaper by the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque.

At the conclusion of the walk, the activists were surrounded by police and shock troops in civilian dress who forced them onto several buses. UNPACU member Zaqueo Baez also denounced an arrest with violence by the police. As usual every Sunday, opponents were taken to detention centers. In the afternoon they began to be released.

In the town of Colón, Matanzas, freelance reporter Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported a strong police operation around the parish where eight Ladies in White attended the Mass, but said no arrests were made.

Declaration on the Cuban Migrant Crisis / Forum for Rights and Freedoms

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Forum for Rights and Freedoms, 23 November 2015 — In recent weeks we have observed, with deep concern, the development of a new migration crisis. The human drama that thousands of Cubans are experiencing already affects the entire Central American region, the Caribbean, and especially Costa Rica, a nation that has received migrants with great solidarity, in contrast to the complicity of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

The Castro regime has decided, once again – we recall the Camarioca exodus in 1965, the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s, the Rafter Crisis in 1994 – to use Cubans as pieces in their political game, putting at risk their lives and safety. Denunciations of abuse, assaults and every kind of crime against Cuban emigrants has elicited the solidarity of all people of goodwill.

Since coming the Castro dictatorship’s coming to power, the regime has used migratory crises to win concessions from the United States. Continue reading

Cuban State Security Warns Berta Soler “The End Of Opposition” Has Arrived / 14ymedio

Berta-Soler-Damas-Blanco-CC_CYMIMA20141021_0001_13

Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White (CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 20 November 2015 — The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, was arrested Friday outside Havana’s Fifth Police Station and held for several hours. The regime opponent was there to show her solidarity with the the activist Hugo Damian Prieto, detained since October 25 and charged with the alleged crime of disorderly conduct for participating in a demonstration.

During the arrest, at a police unit in Alamar, east of the capital, Soler was warned by State Security official who called himself Francisco, that “the end of the opposition has already been reached.” The agent added that it was also time for “the end” of the Sunday marches in the area of Santa Rita Church.

Among those also detained during the day were Ladies in White Lismery Quintana, Maria Ancon and Maria Cristina Labrada, as well as the activists Zaqueo Baez, Egberto Escobedo and Angel Moya. All were released hours after their arrest, as was confirmed by this newspaper.