It was not because the death was expected that the news affected me less. Wilman Villlar was a political activist accused of murder, contempt and who knows what other charges. I heard the news via text message last night. Now we can expect our press to report it, belatedly and badly. Belatedly, because the death took place yesterday and nothing has appeared in the media accessible to the people; badly, because either between the lines or explicitly, we will be given a rewritten version of the life of this man, who was a member of a peace movement, in which we disinformed citizens will be told that he was a mercenary in the pay of the Empire, and other insults of the kind which are now becoming a cliche. Yet, while they remain effective in influencing national public opinion, these methods won’t be scorned by the government’s propaganda machine.
In a modern and open society, political suicide does not exist. This is a blemish that will be hard to conceal, with the Pope’s visit in the offing. Many questions will have to be answered and many explanations given, all as a result of the pressure exerted by Benedict’s visit, since even the most credulous are starting to become suspicious at the deaths of various members of opposition groups in the last two years.
If anyone still places any hopes in a move towards transparency, this is a demonstration of how the “guidelines” are being followed.
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
“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.
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.
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’.