The Ladies In White Face Another Sunday Of Repression In Havana / 14ymedio

Ladies in White during the pilgrimage this Sunday. (Angel Moya)

Ladies in White during the pilgrimage this Sunday. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 October, 2015 – Fifty-nine Ladies in White and 20 activists gathered this Sunday in Gandhi Park in Havana’s Playa district, despite the arrests previous to their traditional Sunday peregrination. After a summary of their weekly activities, the dissidents were detained, according to a report from witnesses at the scene.

From the early hours, the regime opponent Martha Beatriz Roque denounced the arrests of 12 human rights activists who had traveled to Santa Rita parish. Among those arrested with the mother and siblings of Zaqueo Baez Guerrero, one of the members of the of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who had approached Pope Francis in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

Others arrested on Sunday included the regime opponents Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles, Ailer Gonzalez and Felix Navarro. The latter lives in the town of Perico, Matanzas, and traveled to the capital to show his support to the human rights movement.

Blogger Agustín López Canino denounced his arrest and reported that he was handcuffed at the corner of 5th and 30th streets, in the Playa district, together with two other colleagues. The activists detailed that he was “taken to the outskirts of Havana” to prevent his accompanying the Ladies in White during their Sunday march.

Meanwhile, in Colón, Matanzas, independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported ten Ladies in White marched in Colón, Matanzas, for the release of the political prisoners.

The leader of the Ladies in White movement, Berta Soler said that Yaquelín Boni, an activist detained since Thursday during a protest outside Combinado del Este prison and accused of “disobedience,” has now been released.

Cuban Exiles Demand The Release Of Danilo Maldonado / EFE, 14ymedio

Danilo Maldonado, 'El Sexto' (The Sixth). (Artist's File)

Danilo Maldonado, ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth). (Artist’s File)

EFE, Miami, 29 September 2015 — The Assembly of Cuban Resistance in Miami on Tuesday demanded the release in Cuba of artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto (The Sixth), who has spent 22 days on a hunger strike to demand his freedom after nine months of detention.

According to the Cuban exile group, the graffiti artist is in “critical condition” in the Cuban prison of Valle Grande, in the province of Mayabeque, along with the activisits Zaqueo Báez, Ismael Bonet Reñé and María Josefa Acón, detained in Havana and also on hunger strike.

The organization explained that Maldonado was arrested in December 2014 for painting the names of the two Castro brothers on the backs of two pigs, before an artistic performance he was going to stage with the animals. 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.”

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.

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

Activists Will Help Users In Wifi Areas In Santiago de Cuba And Havana / 14ymedio

An Internect connection room in Santiago de Cuba. (Yosmani Mayeta / 14ymedio)

An Internect connection room in Santiago de Cuba. (Yosmani Mayeta / 14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Havana, 21 July 2015 — A few weeks since the opening of 35 wireless Internet access zones throughout the country, activists announced a project to help people connect to the web. The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) circulated a text on Monday in which it explains that the organization will provide services “to anyone interested in using the Internet for peaceful and ethical purposes.”

The project will begin in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Havana and the beneficiaries will receive navigating advice, help in creating social networking profiles and the opportunity to use a tablet or laptop belonging to UNPACU if they don’t have their own.

In statements to 14ymedio, UNPACU’s leader Jose Daniel Ferrer explained that among the objectives of this initiative is to “give Cubans access to different sources, but it is also a way to encourage them to seek another version of events.” According to the activist, “so many years of misinformation have caused apathy and an unwillingness to know when inquiring about any event.”

Among the objectives of this initiative is to “give Cubans access to different sources, but it is also a way to encourage them to seek another version of events.” 

The promoters of the initiative also say they are “aware of the great importance for society as a whole of an open, uncensored flow of information.” In promoting this freedom they will help the interested to find data and “to open accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Gmail.”

Contact phone numbers to request UNPACU’s help are + 53-537-40544 and + 53-45-21382 in Santiago de Cuba. In Havana you can seek help at + 53-525-28719 + 53-720-21574.

Eight UNPACU Activists Who Recorded A Video Remain Detained / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Santiago de Cuba, 24 June 2015 — Eight of the 15 Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) activists from the Altamira neighborhood in Santiago de Cuba who were arrested Monday while filming an independent video remain in jail, the leader of the organization, José Daniel Ferrer, said Wednesday/

In a telephone call with 14ymedio, Ferrer said that among those still detained include singer Omar Sayud Taquechel, Fernando Vazquez Guerra and Romualdo del Risco Martin, who continue to refuse food at the police station known as Micro 9. In another detention center in the city, commonly called “the motorized,” Héctor Velázquez Gómez, José Roberto Núñez, David Fernández Cardoso, Anibal Ribeaux Figueredo and Franklin Álvarez Fernández are in jail.

A video posted on UNPACU’s YouTube channel, with hundreds of visitors so far, caught the moment when security forces violently fell on young people who were involved in filming on a Santiago street while carrying a flag Cuban.

More Than a Hundred Activists Arrested in Santiago de Cuba / 14ymedio

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU (14ymedio)

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger

14ymedio, Santiago de Cuba, 15 March 2015 — On Sunday morning over one hundred activists, mostly belonging to the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and Citizens for Democracy (CxD), were arrested while trying to reach the Sanctuary of Cobre. Among those arrested was Jose Daniel Ferrer, executive secretary of the UNPACU and former prisoner of the Group of 75.

José Daniel Ferrer told 14ymedio that since last Friday organization members started moving towards the Sanctuary of Cobre, so the political police mobilized Continue reading

One name on the list / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

The above video is of Yojarne Arce’s protest that eventually led to his arrest.

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 14 January 2105 — Living in Caimanera is like living on an island within the island. On either side of the highway at the entrance can be read “This is the first anti-imperialist trench in Cuba.” The land is arid and three points of police control block any unauthorized person from accessing the town.

In the village adjoining the Guantanamo Naval Base, a young man has woken up in his own bed today after months in prison. Yojarne Arce dreams of being lawyer, although in the last year he has experienced the law from its most arbitrary side, the political prison.

This 35-year-old Guantanameran has been released as a part of the agreements between the Cuban government and the United States. His name is on the list of activists that Raul Castro ordered out of the prisons, in a political game as long-awaited as it is disappointing.

In the cold language of the court record, it says that Yojarne was condemned for the crime of assault, but those who knew his activism said that State Securirty spent time “hunting him down.” It was a matter of time before they trapped him.

In the middle of last year a video raced across social networks and mobile phones. In it the images of a man is seen standing on a telecommunications tower where he displays a sign with the phrase “Cuba violates human rights.” For long minutes he waves the cloth and shouts slogans.

At the foot of the metal structure people are gathered, half curious, half supportive. That day the police could not arrest him, because his neighbors surrounded him and accompanied hi, home. “You’re not going to take him,” shouted some of them at the law enforcement officers.

But the police have the time, all the time, to wait until an inconvenient individual is alone and helpless. That day came. They arrested this young man from Generation Y right in the street, between blows and screams, a few yards from the border than separates Cuban territory and the American naval base.

And what list are you on?

Yojarne spent days of interrogations and threats. Afterwards they took him to the Guantanamo Provincial Prison, a school-style construction in the country where the greatest lesson to be learned is survival. “I went to ‘The Gulf,’ which is what the prisoners call this encampment where I was, because it’s the last, the end of everything.” He spent most of the time among murderers, repeat offenders and rapists.

“From the beginning I behaved like a political prisoner because I helped to organize several protests and defend the rights of other prisoners,” Yojarne said, while his grandfather prepared a taste of coffee to be drunk in one sip, thinking about those days in prison with hardly any breakfast.

Yojarne Arce at home. (14ymedio)

Yojarne Arce at home. (14ymedio)

The life of this Patriotic Union of Cuba activist has gone from one list to another. To visit him in Caimanera it’s necessary to sign in on a form that every family has at the police station. “Relatives note the name of whoever wants to spend some days with them and then the person is investigated to see if they can enter the town.” For someone who was studying fifth year law when he was arrested, these restrictions remain intolerable.

He was in the prison yard with the common prisoners when they called him. “Yojarne, get your things, you’re going,” one of the guards told him. At first he thought it was a joke. Between those walls he had been on hunger strike and was in the punishment cell at least three times. The Guantanamo Provincial Prison was his home for six months, a cruel home where he won some small battles and left on parole.

“I started a protest which several inmates joined to demand that they display the prison rules,” he says in a lawyerly tone. He takes his time between one word and another, as if reliving those days and then continues, “I did it so the prisoners could know their rights and know what they had access to.”

The first visit after his release was to his captive village. “Caimanera remains the same, nothing has changed, the people are fed up.” Thus he explains his first impressions. His grandmother waited for him at home, running back and forth with joy. The neighbors also came to hug a man who was once a sports trainer and an improvised physiotherapist in the neighborhood.

“I lost the school year, because the university took advantage of my being in prison to kick me out,” he explained, sadly. He lacked just a few months to obtain the title of lawyer that he had planned to hang on the wall facing the door. “I am going to try again,” he says loudly, although it seems to be a promise he is making to himself.

The phone rings and it’s an activist from Santiago de Cuba who called to report that they wouldn’t let him enter Caimanera because he isn’t “on the list.” Yojarne is trapped in a Cold War bastion that the official discourse itself seems to be rejecting. He has exchanged Guantanamo provincial prison for the wide prison that is Caimanera.

The opposition hopes that a dialogue will open between the Government and civil society / 14ymedio

Poster on a Cuban street demanding the release of "The Cuban Five"

Poster on a Cuban street about the release of “The Cuban Five”

14ymedio, Santiago de Cuba, 18 December 2014 — The news of the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States has been embraced by opposition organizations in Cuba with optimism and hope that this agreement may facilitate the establishment of a dialogue between the Government and civil society on the island.

The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), in a statement issued on Thursday, stated that the Cuban government has lost its “great alibi” to justify repression and the lack of human rights in Cuba. “Any change, and especially the loss of an excuse for repression, can create a space for the people to reclaim their voice, lost for over half a century.” Continue reading

UNPACU Denounces A Plan For “Liquidating the Most Active Opposition” / 14ymedio

14YMEDIO, November 28, 2014 — UNPACU issued a statement Thursday night in which it accuses President Raul Castro of having ordered the “liquidation” of the opposition. The organization cites sources from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) according to which the elimination of the most diligent activists should be carried out in the next three months.

UNPACU believes that the latest attacks on the Ladies in White and Jose Daniel Ferrer fit within that supposed order, given that they involve violent attacks against key dissident figures in the last weeks and come from people tied, in their judgment, to State Security.

In the statement they review last Tuesday’s event in Santa Clara in which activist Guillermo Fariñas asserts he suffered an assassination attempt and in which several Ladies in White were injured, leaving one of them in serious condition. “A similar case occurred at two UNPACU sites in Santiago de Cuba and is now the source of a farce that the government is trying to fabricate against Jose Daniel Ferrer,” continues the statement.

Jose Daniel Ferrer has been called by State Security to give a statement, presumably as a defendant, for the crime of assault against the complainant Ernesto Jimenez Rodriguez. As the statement explains, last November 13th, at the UNPACU headquarters located in Reparto Mariana de la Torre, in Santiago de Cuba, this man, supposedly sent by the political police, provoked a violent altercation.

“Fortunately, with several activists and responsible individuals present at the headquarters, they managed to disable the aggressor, immobilizing him and removing from him the metal weapons that he carried,” the document highlights.

The same individual had sought membership in UNPACU weeks before, for which reason the organization made the usual investigations that “are performed before accepting any applicant.” The conclusion was that he was tied to the Ministry of the Interior.

“In view of such fact, and without telling the individual anything about it, he was allowed to enter the headquarters with the proper control and knowledge by those present of his status as a political police infiltrator and only for events of no significance for activism,” they explain.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, who has denounced the situation, said that “in no case can an individual who has been seen by more than 15 witnesses attacking numerous people cause a peace activist for Human Rights to be taken into police custody with the objective of creating a false accusation and maybe holding him there without a possible defense. We at UNPACU are not going to submit ourselves to this farce in any way.”

Translated by MLK

Declaration of Cuban Civil Society Activists Joining Forces in Madrid


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.


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

El Critico Stops Hunger and Thirst Strike / UNPACU

Free Critico poster created by his supporters during his hunger strike.

Free Critico poster created by his supporters during his hunger strike.

The political prisoner Ángel Yunier Remón Arzuaga, the rapper known as El Critico (The Critic), decided to abandon his hunger and thirst strike after authorities committed to “do justice” in the case, according to the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) the opposition organization to which he belongs.

Remón Arzuaga began the protest nearly a month ago in Las Mangas Prison in Granma province. At the end of October he was admitted to the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Hospital in Bayamo, due to a serious health condition.

In a press release, UNPACU explained that agents of the regime agents traveled from Havana to Granma to “negotiate” with Remón Arzuaga.

“The commitment of the authorities is to do justice which in his case had not been done, and  in his case had not been made and Ángel Yunier has taken the word of the authorities, who under heavy pressure from the international reaction and acceleration of the popular uprising in Cuba,” said the organization.

Remón Arzuaga’s wife, Yudisvel Roselló Mojena, was able to visit him in the hospital after he ended the strike.

“He will live to keep fighting for the rights ( … ) There is much still to do and he will do it with his life,” she said.

The UNPACU warned, however, that two other activist prisoners Roilán Álvarez Rensoler and Marcelino Abreu Bonora, are still on hunger strike and their situation worsens.

Álvarez Rensoler is in “critical condition” and hospitalized, said the organization.

Source: DiariodeCuba, 12 November 2013

More than 200 UNPACU dissidents visit the Virgin of Charity / UNPACU

More than 200 Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) activists joined 57 Ladies in White on 8 September 2013 on a visit to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre in Santiago de Cuba, on the 401st anniversary of her appearance. They asked her for freedom and democracy for Cuba.

Translator’s note: This un-subtitled video of human rights activists, openly demonstrating with their fingers making L’s for Liberty, refutes the idea (among some) that there are only a few, mostly Havana-based, Cubans willing to publicly stand up for their rights.

8 September 2013