Until When … / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

El Cobre Basilica in the tropical forests outside Santiago, Cuba. Photo © Klaus Schäfer.

 By Ignacio Estrada Cepero

Havana, Cuba: Once again human rights activists denounce the repression in the Eastern provinces, against a group of women who belong to the organization Ladies in White.

Such an embarrassing event was characterized by a group of elderly and paramilitary people armed with many different types of sticks, some people say, to impede the activists from going down the steps of the sanctuary of El Cobre. Last Sunday the 19th history repeated itself at feet of the Mother of all Cubans.

La Virgen de la Caridad, some time before the event, would welcome each of the fervent prayers made by these women who were demanding the release from jail of all Cuban prisoners and the end of violence. While these women were listening to the Sunday mass, a few meters away from them, the Ministry of the Interior police was preparing a crowd to repress them.

The event is repeated every Sunday in each provincial capital of the country.  Repudiation rallies, temporary detentions, withdrawal of identity cards, the presence of police agents around the temples. These are some of the actions taken by the Ministry of the Interior police to stop these brave women, recognized by different international awards, from attending the churches.

These events are are not unknown to the Cuban ecclesiastic authorities, institutions that become accomplices of such provocative acts, carried out in their own headquarters by the Cuban authorities and their ambassadors of terror.

Maybe this is only the advance of what it will be like for these women when the Holy Pope visits the island next March. Just to think of the fact that Pope Benedicto XVI will be in the same place where Sunday after Sunday these women are repressed and besieged by persons without scruples before faith, makes me feel scared.

It can be imagined the Holy Pope accompanied by his followers all dressed in white going up and down in the presence of the Virgin. They would be surprised by the fact that wearing white clothing, they would be considered mercenaries or receive the repudiation of such orchestras prepared to repress unprotected women as well as human right activists.

Such a fact can only be thought in our minds, we know it is not going to happen, but we will continue asking ourselves how a government which proclaims women’s rights, social equity, equality and freedom like that of speech just to mention an example, why it does not let women today walk along the streets claiming freedom for their loved ones?

Is it something that other women in a different time did not do?

It is a regrettable situation under which Ladies in White live. We must trust in that God who provides their strength, that soon there will be no tears in their eyes. We trust in God that soon their husbands, relatives and friends in prison return home.

As we can see, before the rage of those shaking on the throne before the encouragement of this group of women throughout the country, others like me will keep on asking themselves, until when will things like this happen.

Note the Increase of Violence Against Prisoners with HIV/AIDS.

The Cuban Alliance Against AIDS before the increasing number of beatings in the Cuban jails of prisoners with HIV/AIDS, is calling on international organizations of Human Rights to demand Havana to stop these violations to which prisoners with such disease are submitted.

The violence against prisoners of both sexes is known, the incorrect use of punishment in the isolation cells and the increase of self aggressions as a protest to a whole string of violations on the side of the penal authorities.

To all this, we can add the extremely bad medical assistance, the lack of medicines, malnutrition and humiliating treatment.

The Cuban Alliance Against AIDS alerts the world and asks to stop these violations which put in danger the physical integrity of Cuban prisoners affected by HIV/AIDS in the six penitentiaries in the island.

Ignacio Estrada Cepero
Executive Director
Cuban Alliance Against AIDS
estradacepero@yahoo.es Twitter: @desidahoy

Translated by AnonyGY

February 20 2012