Paramilitary Units and Organized Mobs Lay Siege to Meeting of Cuban Dissidents in San Juan y Martinez / Leon Padron Azcuy

HAVANA, Cuba, November 11, 2013, León Padrón Azcuy/ The home of opposition activist Sandra Ace Rramos in the town of San Juan y Maritnez was the scene this Saturday morning of a seige by pro-government “Rapid Response Brigades” and paramilitary forces, organized by provincial State Security officials in Pinar del Rio Province. The government-organized mobs were mobilized to disrupt a meeting of provincial opposition leaders scheduled for that day.

According to a report by phone by local activist Maiker Alexander Hernández of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), who attempted to participate in the dissident meeting, the mobs began surrounding the home in the early morning hours, and were organized by State Security officers José Manuel Crespo and Captain Orestes Ayala. The furious mob shouted obscenities and threats against the opposition activists gathering inside, with the intention of intimidating them into not proceeding with the event. “It as a classically fascist tactic, something never seen in this town before”, said Hernández.

Despite the intense repression and physical aggression, thirteen of the eighteen planned participants were able to enter the house located at 145 Leopoldo Pérez Street, in the town of San Juan Y Martinez. The structure is the site of the independent library Amor Paz y Libertad, run by Ace Ramos.

Five of the activists attempting to participate in the meeting were arrested and taken to the local station of the National Revolutionary Police and released later in the day, around 5pm.

Among the participants in the opposition gathering were Raúl Risco, President of the Pinareña Democratic Alliance, and Eduardo Díaz Freitas, former political prisoner belonging to the famous “Group of 75” (from the Black Spring of 2003) recently released from prison for health reasons. Mr. Díaz declared by phone link: “We organized this gathering because we have resolved to bring together all of the opposition groups in Pinar del Rio Province, something we’ve been wanting to do for some years now”.

Independent librarian Sandra Ace, who hosted the gathering, stated: “We’re really moved, because despite the intense repression and aggression that surrounded us all day, many neighbors helped the participants make it into the house”.

The fascist-style event this Saturday in the town of San Juan y Martinez against peaceful opposition activists is not an isolated event. Pinar del Rio has seen a wave of repressive activity this year against dissidents, similar to that seen in all other parts of the country — a level of repression which is expected to only get worse with time.

It’s no secret that the disproportionate repression on the part of the government of Raul Castro reflects a fear of loss of control. According to the Cuban Reconciliation and Human Rights Commission (CCDHRN), led by Dr. Elizardo Sánchez, in the month of October alone there were 909 politically motivated detentions in the country, one of the highest rates for a single month in over 20 years. This is in addition to incidents of violence by police and para-police units (Rapid Response Brigades), as well as acts of physical aggression against opposition activists.

At the time this report was release, the opposition activists who had gathered for this meeting expressed their gratefulness to media outlets abroad that attempt to generate international awareness of the true state of affairs inside Cuba.

León Padrón Azcuy,

Cubanet, 11 Nov 2013