Talitá, cum, is a phrase in Aramaic, a language spoken in Palestine in Jesus’ time, meaning “I speak to you”, and it belongs to the gospel of Mark 5, 21-43, and the church has set it has aside for us to meditate this week.
This gospel tells us the story of a woman, who, for twelve years, had been suffering from hemorrhages caused by some anomaly in her menstrual cycle, and in the middle of a crowd, she came up to Jesus from behind and touched his hand seeking health. She had already used up of all her resources going to different doctors, and none of them had been able to find out about her condition, especially since in those times women were excluded in society.
Coincidentally, since 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 30, Zuleydi Lizbeth Pérez Velázquez, a well-known activist of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID) and of the Laura Pollán Ladies in White Movement, in Holguín, had been facing harassment from the political police and its repressive agents, who seek to ingratiate themselves and to gain perks, so that they can act as deliberately as they please, protected by the shield of the insecurity of the State, spent 20 hours monitoring Lizbeth to stop her from participating in her demand for freedom for all the political prisoners, along with the Ladies in White. A group of activists from CID did not hesitate in offering their support and converged on her modest dwelling showing their support. During the act of coercion from the political police and the state security agents, Lizbeth and her family were not alone; Hoguín’s CID supported them.
Jesus’ answer was: “Daughter, your faith has cured you. Go now in peace and health“. There was no scolding from his side as the poor woman may have thought, as she walked fearfully towards him. Jesus asked: “Who has touched my cloak?” The story tells that at that precise moment Jairus, the chief of the synagogue, arrived to ask for a prayer for his very ill daughter, who had been reported dead. “Don’t be afraid; it’s enough to have faith,” was Jesus’ answer.
After Jesus said Talitá, cum, the girl began to talk and walk, and became healthy.
San Pedro, summarizes the healings and resurrections carried out by Christ throughout his life, saying: “He went doing good“. This is, then, a call for health and faith, to which we are all invited to continue healing and removing prejudices toward political and social affiliations, and creeds.
We have to keep in mind that the Creator saw good in everything, as he spread encouragement for life in the universe; the man (his image), second to God in the Creation, has the responsibility to continue filling the world with good and life. We cannot stop making this call, as long as men and women remain imprisoned for claiming their rights. Rights also for those have bags full of food, and the people next to them suffer from hunger and needs.
We are the ones who have to keep the balance, and the harmony among all.
Pope Paul VI said in his homilies:Christ is the center of history and of all things; he got to know us and he loves us; he is companion and friend of our lives, a man of pain and hopes, and eventually our judge; and according to our level of trust, He is also our fulfillment and our bliss.
Christ is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the king of the new world, the hidden and supreme reason of human history and of our future fate.
Jesus would say today, Talitá, cum – I speak to you Cuba; You, man, women, elderly, Cuban, wherever you are, must assume your Christian responsibility, acquired by you or by your parents on the day of your baptism; do not stain with blood or hatred your soul for those who erroneously have imposed on you a rule of life, for more than half a century, which the world already recognizes does not work, and its imposer publicly recognized it as wrong.
The well-known Bélico River in Santa Clara is showing, in these rainy days, the pollution in the city of Marta, causing astonishment among the people passing by and the rest of the population.
Santa Clara, capital of the Villa Clara province, was founded on July 15, 1689, under the shade of a tamarind tree, by 14 families from the village of San Juan de Los Remedios who declared its foundation after a public mass. This took place in what is now Parque del Carmen, named after the church that stood there, and where a tamarind tree was kept in place to honor the historical fact.
It was the capital city of Las Villas (Santa Clara, Cienfuegos and Santi Espíritus) before the last political-administrative border division* given by the so-called revolutionary process; the splendor of this city was always contagious to its visitors, and it distinguished itself by its hospitality, and the cleanliness of its streets and residents.
The Bélico River, cuts through the city; it was a navigable river, where Mrs. Marta Abreu Esteves, benefactor of the city, created public laundry sinks for the poor women. The sinks were later tarnished with the building of the Minerva and Ochoa dam, another Castro invention that ruined my beloved hometown.
The images published on this post denounce by themselves the health authorities of Santa Clara and of the province of Villa Clara, the waste management services, and the office of the monuments; in the background of the images, you can see the monument to The Armored Train, and there it says “triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution” and there, a question comes to my mind: “Aren’t the monuments also interested in the hygiene of the city?”
I share this enormous pain with people from this place. In my Free Cuba,I want Santa Clara and the city of Marta free of pollution and dirt, and for that I will work.
According to custom immemorial the Church has highlighted the personality John the Baptist in the life of Jesus, to these ends it marked his celebration on June 24th, for being the precursor of the Messiah and he who baptized Him at the shores of the river Jordan, the condemnation against Herod Antipas Tetrarch of Galilee for marrying Herodias, wife of his half-brother, provoked the ire of Herodes and he was incarcerated (Luke 3, 1-20), and later was decapitated by request of Salome, daughter of Herod and Herodias (Matthew 14, 3-11).
Saint John the Baptist appears represented in the religious imagery dressed in a lamb skin, carrying a staff and a parchment with the words Ecce Agnus Dei “This is the Lamb of God”.
Many are the traditions, I recall my great-grandparents and my grandparents would save old junk pieces that would break during the year and on that day they would make a bonfire in the yard and would burn them, whilst someone in the family would recite or pray El Pregon del Bautista (Proclamation of the Baptist), as a sign of a new beginning; this day also marks for others, the beginning of bathing in the beach, alluding to the fact that the jellyfish retire from the Caribbean, since they provoke skin irritations in bathers.
Many Catholic Christians, practicing and confessing, and the populace itself, don’t know that the 24th of June is the Day of the Godparents, a feast established by His Holiness Pius XII, who in the founding ceremony said: “Make certain that the godmother and the godfather be fervent Catholics so they be completely conscious of the duties they acquire of perpetually having entrusted (the spiritual child) the Godchild, and to care diligently for however much refers to the formation of the Christian faith, so that this be demonstrated throughout all their existence just as they promised in the solemn ceremony that should have been endeavoring also their religious education”.
This feast, aside from promoting the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, is created in order to seek in society the respect, the personality and the veneration toward the godparents, who through these Sacraments can fulfill the functions of Father and Mother in absence of one’s own and tries to tighten the bonds of union between families each day more through the spiritual kinship between Godparents and Godchildren.
The symbol of this feast is the White Dove, having descended the Holy Spirit in this form over the head of Christ in the moment He was baptized by John in the river Jordan.
Let us have on this date a remembrance for our Godfathers and Godmothers who through the sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation assumed the responsibility of being our second parents before God.
Abdel Rodriguez Arteaga, Vice Presidentof the Cuba Independent and Democratic Party, gave to the Attorney General’s Office, at noon, July 11th, a document in support of the request for investigation to the death of Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia. The original request was made by two priests on June 8th.
Copies of the document, presented by Rodriguez Arteaga, were delivered to the State Council, Ministry of Interior and Justice, and were accompanied by a hundred signatures in support of the request for investigation to the death of Soto Garcia, presented by the priests: Ricardo Santiago Medina Lleonart Salabarria and Mario Felix Barroso,on June 8th.
The letter dated July 8, states that the signatories ask the Attorney General to exercise his powers to:
1) Give a public explanation from the Cuban government of this lamentable event.
2) Restore the Methodist Pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collado to his pastoral ministry and to his rectory in the Methodist Church: “The Trinity” of Santa Clara. Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz, (Bishop of the Methodist Church in Cuba) removed him under pressure from the Department Religious Affairs, Ministry of Justice, after the minister attended the funeral of Soto Garcia.
Copies of this document were given, in addition to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, to His Eminence Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, and Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Cuba.
… I should introduce to you the nation that lives here and lives in the diaspora; Cubans suffer, live and hope here and also suffer, live, and hope out there. We are a single people that, navigating the seas on logs, continues to look for unity…
Mons. ++ Pedro Claro Meurice Estíu 24/1/98 (Words of welcome to His Holiness Pope John Paul II)
In my life there have been three great moments that I consider historical: kissing the hands and personally meeting three people that live in the presence of God today. Two of them already decorate the Altar.
The first was Mother Teresa of Calcutta, at the consecration of the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Regla; she has been beatified by the Church.
The second was His Holiness Pope John Paul II, at the mass in Santa Clara on 22 January 1998, when Mons. +Fernando Prego (blessed memory) asked him to bless an image of Saint Joseph, after which all the monks, nuns, priests, seminarians, and bishops present kissed the episcopal ring, he gave his apostolic blessing to each of us and presented us with a blessed rosary.
The third was Mons. ++Meurice Estíu (Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba). Accompanied by another saint, Mons. Modesto Peña Paz, I served him as master of ceremonies during mass. He had already been asked to end mass with the Salve in Latin to the Patron of Cuba and he generously accepted. When we finished service and arrived to the sacristy, we saluted each other. He thanked me for serving at the altar; he congratulated me and we hugged. I cried with emotion because I knew I was in the presence of a holy man who did not know fear. During my prison time I remembered a phrase that whispered in my ear while he hugged me and patted my back: Forward, forward!
For your example of life, your bravery to publicly claim and report the needs of your people and for that wonderful opportunity that I will never forget, in which I assisted you at God’s altar. Thank you Mons. Meurice.
Today, 21 July, I cannot explain what I feel in this moment. It is a mix of pain at his parting, intertwined with happiness for the freedom that he already experimented with; but I make my pleas before the altar of God for his soul’s eternal rest, while I hope that the Church will surprise me by lifting him to the glory of the Altar.
Thank you for your example of life
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share the Eucharist together with you
Thank you for the eloquence of your word and your example of humility
Rest in peace
Your faithful servant, Fr. Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarria+
In Cuba we have all very carefully followed, in one way or another, the 2011 Panamerican Games in Guadalajara, not so much for the love of sport, but because there are no other entertainment options. But it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Cuban commentators politicise them heavily, which is bordering on indecency.
The government and the broadcasters have glorified the standing of our athletes in the medal count and categorised this ‘as an achievement of the revolution’. Fidel Castro issued ‘thoughts’ which have been read to the nation several times in all the radio and TV media operating on the island. In it, he makes unbalanced comparisons in terms of population, size of the territory and the number of medals won.
That’s when I remember the case of the silver medalist from the Special Olympics that took place in Beijing, China, in 2007. I’m talking about Rauler Castellanos Moreno, a black youth from Pinar del Rio who, despite his victory in this competition, now lives in inhuman conditions.
His house, with dirt floors, has a rudimentary table with very few utensils and no food to cook whatsoever. He has a small hotplate for an “electric stove”, his closet is an egg crate. His mattress is made of jute sack stuffed with dried banana leaves. His windows are improvised from a badly constructed palisade as protection from wind and rain.
This is the reward for bringing the HOMELAND a silver jewel which was – like those of the Cuban team that travelled to Guadalajara on this occasion – loudly celebrated. Meanwhile, Rauler Castellanos and his life were forgotten by everyone.
Rauler Castellanos got to know other places, made new friends, and upon his return was greeted with a certificate of recognition given by The Cuban Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER). Today, he shows in dismay the photos of that event to his friends, and shrouds himself with the country’s insignia recalling his efforts and success. However, he went, like so many others – from glory to misery.
“Life is worth nothing if I ignore that the assassin took a different path and is preparing another ambush.”
– Pablo Milanes
When I retrospectively analyze my pastoral relationship with Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, I discover that neither international forces or media campaigns were interested in him. Instead, God, who is never neutral before the situations which humans face, was the one who was very interested in this man. And he was preparing me so that I could be the Samaritan, seeing as they had already tossed him alongside the path.
I met THE STUDENT (the nickname by which he was introduced to me) in March of 2010. Orlando Zapata Tamayo had just died on February 23rd as consequence of the authorities ignoring his rights as a striker. Moved by events such as these, which are nothing new in Cuba as seen by antecedent and appalling deaths like that of Pedro Luis Boitel, I found out about the Hunger and Thirst Strike which Guillermo Farinas decided to undergo. Understanding that God does not let actions such as these go by unnoticed, and while spiritually burning my desire to present myself at the epicenter of all these happenings with the Gospel in order to liberate, and using the divinities left by Jesus on the Sermon of the Mount, I made myself present, equipped with two very powerful weapons–the Bible and prayer.
Juan Wilfredo was a good friend from the intimate circle of Guillermo Farinas. I can’t recall visiting the hospital and not seeing THE STUDENT there. During the days in which the survival of Guillermo constituted an authentic miracle, Juan Wilfredo did not move at all from the hospital-neither day nor night.
From the very first moment in which THE STUDENT heard me read the Bible and pray to God so that He may bring salvation onto all the souls involved in the issue as well as reconciliation among all Cubans, (Juan Wilfredo) approached me with his very Cuban spontaneity which he always had when he would give me a hug and when he would express his most profound admiration. Since then, he treated me with the same fidelity he treated Coco (Farinas), despite the fact that, as opposed to me, he had known Coco for a very long time–ever since childhood in fact–when they would play basketball together in the Palace of the Pioneers and having been his neighbor for nearly 17 years.
“Thank you, Pastor, for accompanying us and bring us God. Not everyone does that,” he would flatter me during each of my visits. I would explain to him that what I was doing did not surge from my own kindness nor from my limited bravery, but instead that it came straight from God, who is the one that puts the desire of wanting and doing into each of his children.
“I am the one who admires you, for your fidelity towards your friend, and because of the fact that, despite your legs being so swollen, you have not moved from this hospital”, I would respond to him, impressed by his authentic friendship, and that human valor which is pointed out in the Bible. “At all times, love your friend. And he will be like a brother in times of anguish.” (Proverbs 17.1)
Wilfredo was not the only one. Evidently, that man who languished in the Intensive Care Unit had known how to cultivate true friends who were willing to give their lives for him if it would have been necessary, for this, in fact, was what he was doing for more than fifty prisoners, some of who he did not even know personally. But God wanted it so that, from his circle of friends, Wilfredo would be the one that I would befriend the most. I quickly learned about his health ailments: hypertension, gout, diabetes, and dilated myocardium. It was difficult to believe that a man so corpulent and with such a strong spirit actually suffered from all these things. The majority of his ailments were scars left from mistreatment he suffered during periods of imprisonment, which (under three different causes) summed up to 3 times, adding up to 12 difficult years in total, which began in 1984 when he was only 18 years old and was barely even a high school student (Which is where he gets the nickname THE STUDENT from). He was then sentenced to 4 years for the first time under the accusation of “Enemy Propaganda”- a sentence which he served in the section for minors of the Manacas prison.
I was so moved by his ailments that in addition to my spiritual priority over his life–during this year I was simply his pastor–I did all that I could to get him the medicines he needed. For this reason he handed me a Clinical History Report which I sent out to fellow pastors abroad so that they could help me. Despite the fact that Juan Wilfredo was from Santa Clara and that I am from Taguayabon, he visited me a couple of times as a display of profound admiration. He always told me about his desire to assist the church which I am a pastor of, despite the distance. But I recommended that he assist other excellent organizations which reside in Santa Clara, which he did every once in a while. THE STUDENT also established relationships with other Cuban pastors, and even foreign ones. I am omitting their names because I do not have their permission to mention them, but I do know that they feel just as shocked as me because of this arbitrary death.
On Thursday, July 8th 2010, when the Cuban government had not other option but to publish an article in Granma about the liberation of all the prisoners from the group of the 75, which led to the conclusion of Guillermo Farina’s strike; Wilfredo abandoned that battlefield of peaceful struggle which the hospital had been converted into, and returned to that other place which, with his small town spirit, he felt was his: the Leoncio Vidal Park of Santa Clara.
His status of former political prisoner on the one hand, and as a sick person on the other, forced him to survive in this place, immersed in the black market. As a part of my job as a professor at theological institutions, I travel weekly to Santa Clara. God allowed Wilfredo and I to meet weekly, each Wednesday, which strengthened our personal friendship and facilitated my pastoral relationship with him. But neither of us imagined the situation for which God was preparing us.
The day before the beating, Wednesday May 4, Juan Wilfredo and I had our usual meeting in the park where, as always, he made me aware of his health. Despite his chronic illnesses he was feeling quite well and was eager to fight for survival in the sense that we Cubans understand. His biggest concern was his mother who had recently had surgery for a hip fracture. We prayed for her. Little did we imagine our last meeting the following day and under embarrassing circumstances I will never forget.
Like every Thursday in recent months, I was accompanying a patient to outpatient treatment at Oncology Hospital of Santa Clara. This hospital facility is located halfway between the center of the city, where the park and the Hospital “Arnaldo Milian” Hospital are, where Wilfredo went shortly after eleven in the morning.
He wanted the Divine providence that I, Juan Wilfredo’s pastor, with whom he had maintained a relationship that significantly affected the last year of his life; I had spoken with him just the day before, and seen that he felt fine; I had a fully activated Twitter account, @maritovoz, with the ability to publish one hundred forty characters from my phone, without direct access to the internet; one day earlier he had put money on my phone which, for more than twenty days had remained at virtually zero, coinciding in time and place with my beaten friend, I felt the need to denounce the abuse in that tweet published at 11:55 AM on that sad May 5.
It was John Wilfred, from the bicycle taxi in which he was traveling, I first made out. As if to confirm that, despite the violence and disorder that yet reign in this world, there is a God interested in our suffering, whether physical or spiritual, he stopped the bicycle taxi to approach me as one who found the very same doors to the sky open.
“These people killed me, Pastor. They beat me with billy clubs. I’m going to the hospital because I can not stand the pain,” Juan Wilfredo said, obviously physically and spiritually broken. It wasn’t the same as the previous day, the difference was a result of that beating. I harbor no doubt about that and am willing to testify before any court willing to offer justice to Juan Wilfredo and recognize my right as an eye-witness; otherwise, what was I doing posting a tweet of that nature the morning of the crime, when I couldn’t anticipate such fateful consequences from the impiety.
The patient I was accompanying heard the difficult words of THE STUDENT. Despite his own ailments he could sense the urgency and seriousness of what he was telling us and was extremely affected. We had come out into the street at that precise moment but we hadn’t finished our business. I was caught between two human beings who needed me.
“What a situation you’ve put me in, STUDENT! I can’t let you go alone like this, but I can’t abandon this person I’m with who is depending on me,” I told him anxiously.
“Do not worry, Pastor, I didn’t call you to accompany me. I would be grateful if you would alert someone who can go with me, if you can let Coco know,” he reassured me.
“You can count on that Wilfredo, hurry to the hospital and I’ll get Coco know to let your family know right away,” I told him.
The last thing I remember is that bicycle taxi and John Wilfredo moving away from us forever. Then I found in my inquiries that the bicycle taxi driver that was taking him is a member of one of the churches of the city, but so far he hasn’t been able to overcome his fear and is not disposed to offer declarations, like the other witnesses. I have hopes that this terrified brother, and many more, will set aside their fear because, as it says in the scripture, “In love there is not fear, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear exists in peril, and he that fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4.18).”
After this unforgettable encounter with THE STUDENT I turned back to helping the patient I was accompanying, and once re-situated I sent a text message to Guillermos Farinas mobile phone to complete the last favor Wilfredo asked of me. No satisfied with my inevitable decision to leave him to continue alone, I felt a deep need to at least send a tweet broadcasting his complaint. It would not be the first time I had sent a tweet to denounce some abuse. Sadly, many of these tweets have fallen into oblivion without being given the importance due to them. We are so used to this kind of news, that the beatings have come to seem as normal in Cuba as its royal palms. Sadly, someone has to die for the world to react, and this time it was our unforgettable John Wilfredo.
After sending the messages and confident that doctors, many friends and family would look after him, I continued in my duties and routines until eventually I fully confirmed what Juan Wilfredo told me was not a boast or a fake victim. I understood when he told me, “These people have killed me, my Pastor …” John Wilfredo was not speaking metaphorically but horribly literally, but many people did believe or want to help him. The further confirmation that what he said was the truth was his painful death.
Little did I imagine that this trip Juan Wilfredo took to the “Arnaldo Milian” Hospital had been unsuccessful, and on the orders of State Security, when he first arrived at the hospital, attending physician staff quickly dispatched him after just measuring your blood pressure. Hector Bermudez Duniesky Santana, who was stoned on Tuesday, March 10, received a head injury, was one of those who was a witness to the scene and after exchanging after receiving a 10 head injury, was who had to witness the scene, and after confronting the police with a few words he took Juan Wilfredo home in his car. Others also affirm having seen troops of Cuban intelligence in the park at the time of the terrible events, supporting the hypothesis that we are in the presence of a kind of execution.
Perhaps even more criminal that the beating itself is the fact that those who should have fulfilled their medical oath preferred to abide by other orders and did not provide the care Wilfredo urgently needed, he wasn’t even given an ultrasound. When, the following day, THE STUDENT was taken back to the hospital by his family, it was already too late. His belly was full of liquid, the acid from his pancreas, injured by the beating, had leaked out and was eating away at the pancreas itself the liver, and perhaps even his kidneys and bladder.
The assessment made by Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet (+535-276-9405) may be helpful in this regard; he has made a very scientific assessment about what usually happens when the pancreas is damages by some external effect, as in this case. The efforts of the ICU were useless, the damage was irreversible, and he ended up–like Orlando Zapata Tamayo at the end–first at the Canaguey Hospital and then at the Military Hospital at Combinado del Este, from where he was finally taken to die at the Almeijeira Hospital.
The death of John Wilfredo had begun in countdown when people in uniform, as Gen. Raul Castro called the police, clubbed him with their billy clubs. And it was accelerated when, desperately knocking on the doors of an institution of public health, he was sent home to die.
Roughly speaking, this is all I have to say about the dramatic death of Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, whom divine providence has wanted to surround with witnesses like myself. Another issue related to this would be the suicide, that same Mother’s Day Sunday at the tomb where we buried Wilfredo, of the patrol officer Alexis whom the people of Santa Clara associated with the beating of THE STUDENT. According to rumors in the neighborhood, after two suspected visits of State Security to the officer, he ended up shooting himself.
If the widespread rumors were true this is a telling example that the government encourages its people to violence: the family of a peaceful opponent, and that of a policeman, both mourning forever, and I don’t even want to think about these mothers just breathing in the tragedy on a day that should be celebrated.
I will not again, I did in previous post, relate the vileness with which the regime followed the crime with its three desperate declarations in the newspaper Granma, manipulating declarations, masking facts, questioning my words and those of the other thirty witnesses willing to testify, although the government has not publicly mentioned our names. I personally feel disrepected as a citizen.
In rebutting my testimony, I consider they are also questioning me and the religious institutions I represent. If I am a liar I should be judged as such and expelled from the ministries that I would then be unworthy to participate in. I feel aggrieved by the regime and continue to affirm it is responsible for the beating of Juan Wilfredo and I demand an investigation by impartial institutions of international character. I challenge the Cuban regime once again in the name of God and demand they rove which of us is lying.
Local congregations and communities in which I am a pastor, the Association of Western Cuba Baptist Convention that officially recognized me as a pastor, and seminaries where I teach need to know who is the liar here. If I am, then I should be barred from continuing; but if it is the government, as I assert, then they are invalidated to continue governing.
I see protection in believing in a God who gave his blood to every victim, from the ancient story of Cain and Abel, none has gone unnoticed. He greatly loves justice and truth. He promises: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5.6).” On their behalf I am raising my voice for Juan Wilfredo, this death will not go unpunished.
My brother and friend, Priest Pastor Bautista Mario Félix Lleonart Barroso, told me “the beast grows angry when it is reminded of its dead” in a text message that reflected his worry because of the arbitrary arrest of my wife Katia Sonia Martín Véliz and Aimé Cabrales Aguilar, on the morning of July 13.
Unfortunately, while many Cubans paid tribute to the victims of the tugboat “13 de Marzo” (March the 13th) that, by order of the Cuban government, was sunk in the waters of the Bay of Havana to the sound of pressurized water jets and sandbags, the world shuddered because of the death by freezing of a young Cuban who was trying to escape the same regime that massacred a group of people seventeen years ago.
This time, Adonis put himself at the risk in search of freedom like any human being, he tried to make it in the rear landing gear of an Iberia aircraft that served the Havana-Madrid Flight 6620. His body was found with wounds in the chest and the head, as reported by the Anatomical Forensic Institute of Madrid. Cubans submerged in complete misinformation had no knowledge about another victim of the Castro regime intolerance. I do not think Adonis was escaping repression, but he was in search of opportunities that Cuban people are deprived of.
The Priest Bautista was right; the beast grows angry when it is reminded of its dead, but the firm stand of the internal opposition movement, day after day, continues to remember and pay tribute to the dead of the dictatorship, until it is time for the murderers to present themselves before the court of life and assume the consequences of their actions.
Mr. Freddy Perez Cabrera Granma Newspaper
Editor and Administrator
General Suarez and Territorial
Plaza of the Revolution, Havana
Greetings to you.
Moved by the painful events which led to death of my fellow citizen, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, during the early morning hours of Sunday May 8th and by its publication in Granma — the Official Organ of the Communist Party and its Central Committee — on Thursday May 12th on page 3 under the title “Cuba Despises Lies”, I am responding spontaneously and on my own behalf with my personal testimony.
It is just as the former Minister of Exterior Relations, Felipe Perez Roque, once did on March 22, 2005 at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva when he used that same exact phrase which he is now repeating in the form of a question in the last paragraph of his report.
I quote: “Is it not enough, perhaps, that the experience of the Revolution throughout more than five decades is without one single torture, disappearance, or assassination?”
Perez Roque never responded to me. The one who responded in his name was Ambassador Giraldo Mazola on August 22nd with No.699 in the exit registry of that minister.
Freddy, I am asking you:
– Are there not any memories in Granma of the thousands of executions carried out by the revolutionary government in the 60’s?
– Are there no memories in Granma of all those years in which thousands of Cubans were jailed and forced to work in the agricultural fields of the UMAP concentration camps?
– Does that newspaper not recall the deaths which took place in the sinking of the March 13th Tugboat massacre which took place in the Bay of Havana?
– Are there no memories of the execution, under the orders of Commander Fidel Castro and after an unfair trial, of three young men on April of 2003 just because they wished to leave Cuba?”
I tell you that on August 1, 1994 my family and I suffered the unfortunate loss of my uncle Osvaldo Medina Dulzaide, an industrial engineer who was 33 years of age. He was a very tall man who was full of life and was kept from enjoying the company of his two daughters — the eldest who was 6 years of age and the youngest who was 5 — because he had been a victim of a beating given to him in the Santa Clara Provincial Instruction Department of the Ministry of the Interior.
They declared that the cause of the death was “mechanical asphyxiation”. The body, which had obvious marks of physical blows (bruises) on his thoracic cavities and on his right kneecap, was brought to me.
Because I denounced this they expelled me from the infirmary services of the Commander Manuel Fajardo Military Hospital of that city, despite the opinion of the infirmary doctors and directors who defended my professionalism.
In my attempt to exercise my profession, I reincorporated myself as a nurse in the Dialysis and Hemodialysis Unit of the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital. There I was also expelled and they voided my title as Nurse under orders and pressures from State Security, alleging that I was “not trustworthy enough to exercise my profession due to my direct links with certain people who depended on my reactions”.
Just like that, my grandmother, Maria Julia Dulzaide Infantes — a joyful woman who was the mother of Osvaldo Medina — was threatened by State Security in her own house. They reached the point where they terrorized her so that she would not denounce anything that would make reference to her son’s death. This caused her a syndrome of paranoia.
To bring all these truths to light before the world, I took it upon myself to scream them out loud. I persisted on my desire for justice for those who assassinated my uncle. And for that, I suffered 15 months and 3 days in prison (from July 22, 2005 to October 25, 2006).
At the moment when I was detained I was also beaten, along with my wife Katia Sonia Martin Veliz who at that very moment was carrying our twin daughters in her arms (who were only 2 years old at that moment). Due to the impact of the blows both our daughters fell down the stairs without our being able to stop it.
I was detained for 5 months in a police station. This constitutes a violation of my freedoms in itself. Afterwards, I was moved to cell No. 21 on the 3rd floor of the Investigations Department located at 100 and Aldabo. On January 17th I was then moved to the Provincial Prison of Pinar del Rio (Kilo 5 1/2).
While there I continued to state that IN CUBA THEY DO TORTURE, THEY DO MISTREAT, HARASS, AND ASSASSINATE.
On February 24, 2006 I witnessed the beating of the prisoner Ariel Hernandez Paula carried out by more than 20 armed soldiers who used rubber batons. Ariel was then tossed down the stairs. This caused him the detachment of his kidneys.
Later on, Ariel was checked into the Provincial Abel Santamaria Hospital of Pinar del Rio, where they had to insert a probe directly into his urethra in order to pull out urine.
Throughout his whole stay at the hospital center the authorities did not allow any priests from the Catholic Church Diocese to attend the Penitentiary Pastoral services of the province.
In May of 2006 I was moved to the Taco-Taco prison located in the municipality of San Cristobal, Pinar del Rio. There, I met with my personal friend and brother in struggle, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who was yet another victim of the government which you have chosen to defend and which DOES manipulate information.
In that place I was a witness to two of the beatings carried out on Zapata Tamayo, ordered and done by Major Juan Ramon Castillo (Chief of the Prison) and by the Chief of Jails and Prisons of the province who has the last name of Santovenia.
On February 24, 2010, while I was in the process of signing the book of condolences after the avoidable death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a group of friends and I were detained by State Security at the intersection of Hospital and Neptuno streets.
Afterwards, they moved us to the 4th Police Unit of the PNR, located in Infanta and Amenidad in the municipality of Cerro. There, while they snatched all my belongings, I was able to witness how they beat Yoani Sanchez Cordero, author of the blog Generation Y, on the floor. This is a woman who is barely 110 pounds. Seeing this was very painful for me.
My questions continue.
If Soto was not beaten, then why does Dr. Ricardo Rodriguez Jorge certify in the autopsy specific sources of hemorrhagic activity to the level of pancreatis?
Freddy, with my own experiences and testimonies — which I have actually lived through and not just simply heard about — which I have arbitrarily exposed about State Security, I responsibly disagree with the testimonies made by Rosa, the sister of Soto Garcia. Her words, just like the words of his niece and her husband, Yasmil Perez, who both also denied signs of beatings on Wiflredo Soto, remind me of the case of my grandma Julia.
However, in a contradicting fashion Rosa states that Soto had a stone in his kidney and that a bici-taxi driver offered him menthol to put it on his inflamed area. You must understand that when there are stones, there are no reasons to have inflammation.
In addition, I don’t think it to be true that Guillermo Farinas Hernandez (Sajarov Award 2010) ignored the pain of the relatives of the deceased at the moment of saying his final goodbye. Or that he did so without their consent for that matter.
But besides, to finish refuting you, on Twitter there appeared the messages sent by the Baptist Pastor Mario Lleonar who notified that Soto had told him: “they killed me”. These same messages even show the time they were written, which is the same time they were uploaded on the web. No one manipulated that information.
On the internet we can also listen to the declaration — in the voice of Wilfredo Soto Garcia himself — where he says that he feared for his life and that he was blaming the Cuban government and State Security for whatever could happen to him.
You know well that your reports for Granma need to be revised and approved by an Editing Council which only publishes articles which pass through its filters. To the point that — and with all respect Mr. Freddy Perez Cabrera — I have to tell you that in Cuba THEY DO manipulate information.
Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarria
Former Political Prisoner
Secretariat of Attention for Political Prisoners
Independent and Democratic Cuban Party
St. Tomas #359, between Arbol Seco and Retiro.
Municipality of Central Havana
The just will remain in memory, and will not fear the onslaughts of evil…
On Monday, August 30, I received a heartbreaking text message from the author of Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez: “Now Chavez has his Zapata,” referring to the death while on hunger strike of the Venezuelan farmer Franklin Brito. The government of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías had confiscated, through rigged constitutional amendments, the lands that he owned.
So, in six months, was repeated the death of a man on hunger strike, demanding what was denied to them by their countries (Cuba and Venezuela), Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Havana, Cuba, February 23. and Franklin Brito, in a Military Encampment, Venezuela, August 30. Both deaths have shocked the democratic world, especially those who have suffered for a long time the most cruel dictatorship of America (the Castro regime) and a political imprisonment.
I, who witnessed and lived the abuses suffered by political prisoners in Cuban jails for fifteen months and three days, who suffered particularly because of the abuses and beatings that were borne by the martyrdom of the Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo. Therefore, before this news, after a moment of meditation I raised to God, with tears in my eyes, a fervent prayer for the souls of these two men.
From my priestly vocation I could not support the hunger strike, although I recognize it as a means of struggle and complaint. I also believe that the integrity of the person making it can not be questioned by anyone, let alone a doctrine.
The church teaches us to look after our bodies at all costs, as the abode of God. The scriptures tell us all sins against God the Father will be forgiven, all sins against God the Son will be forgiven, but not sins against the Holy Spirit, whose temple and refuge is your body.
In my prayers I said to my God: “Lord, and those rulers who are NOT capable of acceding to the just demands of these children of yours, who proclaim convenience and Christian times and children of the church, how much of the blame for these martyrs is their share?” At the same time, I dared to gave answers to my Father, saying in this conversation: “I think, Lord, that these dignitaries must atone for their proper three-quarters of those failures.”
Accept, Lord, into your holy bosom, the souls of your servants, Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Franklin Brito and grant them eternal light and peace.