At Least 34 Activists Detained In Cuba on Human Rights Day / 14ymedio

Ladies in White put in police cars. (14ymedio)

Ladies in White put in police cars. (14ymedio)

14ymedio, 10 December 2014 — At least 34 activists have been detained so far in various locations of the country on the occasion of the celebration of Human Rights Day this Wednesday. In Havana are reported some 20 arrests of opponents who tried to reach the meetings opposite the Yara room, one of the headquarters for the Havana Film Festival, which started six days ago. Among those are at least 18 Ladies in White and members of the New Republic movement, intercepted when they headed towards Vedado in order to participate in the announcement by Berta Soler and driven to the Calabazar zone. Before the arrests, some activists yelled, “Down with the dictatorship and long live human rights!” After the first arrests, dozens of Government partisans approached the place, yelling, “Long live Fidel, long live Raul!”

A reporter from 14ymedio, present at the location of the incidents, could confirm the detention of several Ladies in White who began to arrive, separately, to the well-known corner. At first, only civilians were seen, the so-called enraged people, awaiting the activists. However, as the time of the announcement approached, there appeared several uniformed officers and police cars. One of the women from this human rights defense group who managed to get to the place was forced into one of the cars.

Security agent Carlos Serpa Maceira, present at the location, has threatened Luzbely Escobar, one of the reporters for this daily, who took photographs of the arrests. After a three-hour detention, the journalist has been set free. Security agents, especially bothered by her participation in the Havana Film Festival and her credentials for press conferences, have warned her that she cannot “present herself as 14ymedio at official sites.” Another 14ymedio reporter, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, was also arrested on this day and freed on Wednesday night.

The downtown Havana corner of 23rd and L has dawned between expectation and the most absolute vigilance. The announcement several days ago by the Ladies in White to meet at this point of the city to commemorate Human Rights Day made the government activate all its machinery to prevent it. Last night a children’s activity at the Coppelia ice cream stand was announced on national television, a frequent practice used by authorities to neutralize dissident gatherings.

In the Calixto Garcia township in Holguin, some 20 Security agents do not let pass anyone who wanted to enter an activity about human rights.

In Puerto Padre, Las Tunas, only a dozen activists have managed to get to the place they had given as the location for celebrating Human Rights Day, while at least ten others have been arrested.

In Tunas Park, two dissidents have been arrested and many others have not been allowed to get to the house of David Gonzalez, where an event was going to be held in commemoration of the date.

At this time in Guantanamo, there are 35 activists at the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and one detained. Some special troops from the Ministry of the Interior since last night have surrounded the Altamira neighborhood in Santiago de Cuba, where the headquarters of the organization is. Nevertheless, in the morning hours some activists have managed to get to the most important market of the city to share statements about human rights among attendees at the site and also were able to hold a brief ceremony in reference to the subject. In Altamira, barely five activists have been able to participate in an event by the organization because the police will not permit them to pass.

Gathering in Havana on Human Rights Day. (14ymedio)

Gathering in Havana on Human Rights Day. (14ymedio)

The foreign press was also present at the site, and several activists have loudly denounced surveillance around their homes. In Palmarito de Cauto, the meeting will be in the afternoon, but Security forces have been present since early in the day, since the Communist Party has organized a “people party” with beer provided, and no passage allowed, in order to occupy the dissident meeting places in the area. The officials have gathered several people across from the headquarters of UNPACU and threatened that if they do not remove posters alluding to the date, there will be reprisals like those of last Friday where there was much violence.

Several activities are planned for the next hours. On the Island of Juventud, in Nueva Gerona, an event will be held at 2 pm.

In Mella there is also found a strong police operation even though there are no activities scheduled.

Translated by MLK

Note: This is and updated and expanded version of information reported in a previous article published earlier in the police operation. 

Lady in White Sonia Garro and two other activists released / 14ymedio

Sonia Garro and her husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz (Archive photo)

Sonia Garro and her husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz (Archive photo)

14ymedio, Havana, 9 December 2014 — On the afternoon of Tuesday, 9 December, Sonia Garro, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz and Eugenio Hernández were released from prison and are now in their respective homes. In a clear political gesture, Raul Castro’s government has given way before national and international pressure demanding the immediate release of the Lady in White, her husband and others charged in the same case.

In a telephone conversation with 14ymedio, Sonia Garro referred to health problems she has on leaving prison, and sent her thanks “to everyone who has supported me.” The Lady in White commented that she still doesn’t know the conditions of her new situation and that in the coming days she must report to the Sixth Police Station, in the Marianao municipality to learn more details.

The news was received a few hours before the worldwide commemoration of Human Rights Day, a date that Cuban activists remember with pilgrimages, meetings and street demonstrations. Every year the government unleashes a repressive wave around this time, which concludes with hundreds of detentions throughout the country, cuts in mobile phone service to block communications between dissidents, and a high number of house arrests.

For her part, Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, said that Garro and the other two activists received a change of custody conditions and as of today will not have to await trial in prison. This does not mean that the charges against them have been dropped or that their trials have been cancelled, she said. Soler also said that the movement she leads will continue to defend all those people who are political prisoners or prisoners of conscience. “We will maintain our morning demonstration on the corner of L and 23rd at eleven in the morning,” she concluded.

The detention of these three people had occurred during a demonstration by a group of Government supporters outside the home of Sonia Garro Alfonso and Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González in March of 2012. The Government sympathizers, supported by State Security agents, tried to block the couple from participating in events to mark the anniversary of the crackdown on dissent (the Black Spring) that began on March 18, 2003 and resulted in the imprisonment of 75 peaceful activists.

The prosecutors accused Garro, Muñoz and Hernández of public disorder and attempted murder. Sonia Garro Alfonso also faces the additional charge of assault for alleged use of violence or intimidation against an agent of the State. Her trial had been postponed without explanation on three occasions, in November 2013, June 2014, and the latest delay in October 2014.

Amnesty International has long called for the trial to be held in accordance with international standards. This would include “ensuring the right of the accused to call witnesses and to challenge the evidence against them.”

Berta Soler: They Must Put An End To This / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez

Berta Coler, Leader of the Ladies in White

Berta Soler, Leader of the Ladies in White

14ymedio, Havana, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, 21 October 2014 — Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, has called for a vigil this October 21 in front of the Diez de Octubre Municipal Court in Havana. The reason is the new suspension of the trial of Sonia Garro.

Soler explained that there are “dubious things” in the way the authorities have handled this latest extension. “Sonia called to tell me that a captain had told her that the trial was suspended, but she did not believe it.” The activist also said that Sonia Garro’s defense lawyer “was unaware” of the decision. The new date for holding the criminal trial has been set for next November 7.

“We do not trust the Cuban Government, therefore the vigil goes on,” the leader of the Ladies in White told this newspaper. Soler does not rule out that “all this supposed suspension is for the purpose of demobilizing the people.” So, “we are going to be there anyway,” she announced.

There will also be a vigil in the interior of the country because it is expected that in front of the courts of Santiago de Cuba and other cities peaceful demonstrations similar to that in Havana will take place. The Diez de Octubre municipal court is at Juan Delgado and Patrocinio, and Berta Soler says that “the plan is to begin at 8:00 a.m. and last until noon. It depends on whether they let us or not.”

The activist also reported that “since this Saturday, State Security has reinforced vigilance over the Ladies in White.” This is the third time that they have suspended the trial of Sonia Garro. “They must to put an end to this,” she demands.

Translated by MLK

Declaration of Cuban Civil Society Activists Joining Forces in Madrid

ReunionenMadrid

Cuban activists meeting in Spain

Madrid, February 26, 2014

For recognition of the legitimacy of Cuba’s independent civil society

We, activists of independent civil society, have agreed to promote a representative group to act as a channel of dialogue with international institutions and other potential partners.

Since the ratification of our commitment to peaceful methods to achieve the Rule of Law, we demand from the government of Cuba and before the international community:

1.  The unconditional release of all political prisoners , including those under extra-penal license (on parole).
2.  The end of political repression, often violent, against the peaceful movement  for human rights and pro- democracy.
3.  Respect for the international commitments already entered into by the government of Cuba, the ratification – without reservations – of the International Covenants on Human Rights and compliance with ILO conventions on labor and trade union rights.
4.  Recognition of the legitimacy of independent Cuban civil society.

Subscribed:

Yoani Sánchez – Blogger

Berta Soler – Spokesperson of the Ladies in White

Elizardo Sanchez – President of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Cuban National Reconciliation

Juan Felipe Diaz Medina – Christian Liberation Movement (MCL )

Guillermo Fariñas – UNPACU

Manuel Cuesta Morúa – Progressive Arc

Reinaldo Escobar – Journalist

Antonio Guedes – President of Ibero American Association for Freedom (AIL)

Guillermo Gortázar – President of the Cuban Hispanic Foundation

Javier Larrondo – UNPACU Representative in Spain and EU

Virgilio Toledo – President of Coexistence Spain

Frisia Batista – President of Roots of Hope Spain

Elena Larrinaga – FECU

Alejandro González Raga – Cuban Observatory for Human Rights

Blanca Reyes – Ladies in White

Eduardo Pérez Bengoechea – Coordinator of International Human Rights Platform of Cuba

Tomás Muñoz and Oribe – Cuban Liberal Union

Ladies in White Want a Meeting with Insulza During the CELAC Summit / HemosOido

The Ladies in White will seek a meeting with Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), during the CELAC Summit in Havana, according to what their leader, Berta Soler, told the AFP press agency this Wednesday.

“We will request a meeting with Insulza, OAS Secretary; tomorrow we will submit the request,” Soler said.

The office of the OAS office in Washington reported Friday that Insulza “responded positively” to the invitation to the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), on the 28th and 29th of this month.

This will be the first visit by a Secretary General of the OAS to Cuba in half a century, since the island’s membership was suspended in 1962; Cuba refused to return in 2009, when the organization lifted its veto.

At the 1999 Ibero-American Summit in Havana, heads of state and government, foreign ministers and senior officials from Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, held meetings with dissidents in Havana.

The activist Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said the visiting statesmen’s agenda is “very limited” and his organization does not foresee any meetings.

“Other times we talked to dignitaries (who come to Havana)  but it was on their initiative,” said Sanchez, one of those most active at the summit in 1999.

He said that “there is some nervousness on the part of the government and there is a police presence on the homes of active opposition” to avoid demonstrations at the meeting.

For his part, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer, who from Santiago de Cuba leads the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)  told AFP: “I will participate on Tuesday the 28th in the second Democratic Forum on International Relations and Human Rights,”  which will be held in Havana, sponsored by Argentina foundation Center for Opening and Development of Latin America (Cadal)

He recalled that the first forum took place in Santiago de Chile, in January 2013 , prior to the CELAC-European Union Summit.

He said the venue of the meeting as het to be decided, but he expects the participation of other opponents .

Diario de Cuba, 23 January 2014

Spanish post
23 January 2014

Photos and Video of Human Rights Day Repression Against the Ladies in White and Estado de SATS

Schoolchildren being used in an act of repudiation against Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares

Schoolchildren being used in an act of repudiation against Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares


Police in front of Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares

Police in front of Estado de SATS. Photo: Lia Villares


Estado de Sats, before the violence. Photo: Lia Villares

Estado de Sats, before the violence. Photo: Lia Villares

The following video shows the violent arrests of Ladies in White and the scene in front of Estado de SATS, with a short interview of Antonio Rodiles inside the conference.

11 December 2013

Cuban State Security Agents Arrest Berta Soler at the Airport / Ladies in White

31-300x163This afternoon, on her return from the Netherlands, Lady in White Berta Soler was arrested in Terminal 3 of José Martí International Airport in Havana.

Her husband, Ángel Moya, a former prisoner from the Group of 75 from the 2003 Black Spring, was waiting for her at the airport along with other family members and Ladies in White, who were not able to see her, because Berta was taken out through a back door and put in a State Security car, where they kept her for close to half an hour, and then later took her to her house where she arrived around 6:00 in the evening.

Cubanet spoke with Soler via telephone, and she related the incident which started when State Security agents, dressed as Customs Agents, started to provoke her. Berta responded to the provocations with shouts of “Down with Fidel, Down with Raul,” in the presence of foreign tourists. The agents then violently dragged her from the area.

Berta told Cubanet that she wasn’t afraid to say the same things in Cuba that she says in Holland or any other place in the world.

Cubanet, 7 December 2013

Opponents Urge Obama Not to Negotiate with the Cuban government / Guillermo Farinas, BertaSoler

obamaThe U.S. president , Barack Obama, on a visit to Miami to raise money for the Democratic Party, met Friday for the first time with Guillermo Fariñas and the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, both winners of the Sakharov Prize, who asked him not to negotiate with the Cuban government “regardless of exile and the people of the island.”

At a press conference after concluding the meeting with Obama, Fariñas said the president assured him that in his next three years in office that was not going to happen. It is very important that “the world’s largest democracy recognize the Cuban dissidence,”  said Fariñas.

The opponent reiterated that the President was waiting, via email, for a series of proposals to change the Cuban reality.

Fariñas said his meeting with the president established that there is a commitment from the United States to recognize the peaceful struggle in Cuba.

The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, for her part, said that in less than ten days she had met with the President and the Vice President of the United States whom she called on for moral and spiritual support for freedom in Cuba.

“We want Cuba have the same freedom that the United States has,” Soler said adding that everything the Cuban government tells the United States “is a big lie.”

The Lady in White reiterated the lack of freedoms in Cuba, but despite this, “I am a free woman,” she said.

Cubanet, 9 November 2013

More Than 80 Ladies in White Arrested to Prevent Their Honoring Laura Pollan

This weekend the Police and State Security temporarily detained at least 81 Ladies in White to prevent them from honoring their founder, Laura Pollán, who died two years ago, Berta Soler. Leader of the organization, informed Diario de Cuba.

The women gathered for a “literary tea” in the group’s headquarters in Havana. According to Soler, more than 40 Ladies in White managed to reach the place, including residents from the interior of the Island, despite operatives in several provinces to detain — or restrict to their homes — the activists who were trying to travel to the capital.

The regime’s forces also deployed a four block ring around the organization’s headquarters in Neptune Street. Soler said that several women were intercepted and beaten while trying to get there.

Communication with the leader of the Ladies in White was difficult because of the sound of the loudspeakers places by the regime to disrupt the tribute to Pollán with Castro hymns and music.

“They do not respect other people’s pain,” said Soler. She explained that at three doors to the Ladies in White headquarters platforms were placed to “mount a show” against the women.

Some thousand people were brought by the regime to an act of repudiation in Neptune Street in Havana.

Arrests and beatings

The activist also detailed the violent arrests of members of her group. She said that Bárbara Moreira, of Ciego de Ávila, ended up in the hospital after being intercepted at the bus terminal.

In the same province, Tania Maceda Guerra and her husband, human rights activist Juan Carlos González Leiva, endured acts of repudiation all weekend and even a raid on their home, said Soler. The aim was to prevent them from traveling to the capital.

The arrests to hinder the honor of Laura Pollán was added to the usual weekend practice of the Police and State Security to prevent the Ladies in White from attending mass.

This Sunday 18 women were arrested in Matanzas and eight in Villa Clara. In that province 31 opponents were also arrested and beaten when they went to a police station to protest the abuse of the women.

Laura Pollan died on October 14, 2011, victim of a heart attack at the Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana, where she had been admitted for a week with severe respiratory failure.

Together with Soler and other mothers, wives and relatives of the 75 dissidents sentenced to long prison terms in 2003, Pollán founded the Ladies in White, a group dedicated to demanding the release of the political prisoners and denouncing their situation in being imprisoned on the island.

From Diario de Cuba

14 October 2013