From the Highlands of Eastern Cuba

11 May

On May 6th I walked into Antonio Maceo Square in Santiago de Cuba.  I had been invited to cover the 5th meeting of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Democratic Alliance.

A group of government opponents, we were caught in a sting operation led by Major Diorkis of the Cuban political police, Department 21, to prevent us from gathering in one of the most sacred bastions of the Cuban high command.

Those of us who saw what was happening regrouped in the center of the market and walked towards the University of Oriente–there we yelled “Long Live Zapata” three times. It was a cry for freedom in Cuba.

We quickly climbed to the top of Quintero Hill, adjacent to the university headquarters. We walked across “El Hoyo” neighborhood where we visited with the residents and then retreated to a secluded place for the Board of Directors’ meeting.

Among the dozens of activists were members of the Liberal Cuban Party, MC Youth for Democracy, FLAMUR, Political Prisoners “Pedro Luis Boitel,” People’s Party (Progressive Branch), and others within the Eastern Democratic Alliance.

Alliance meetings are typically held publicly, and this time, as part of its analysis of the problems and issues raised by the Board of Directors, the Board expressed its support for the Damas de Blanco, Guillermo Fariñas, and Reina Luis Tamayo Danger, Orlando Zapata’s mother.

Fifteen activists were detained and released hours later that day, except for Rolando Rodrigues Lobaina, who was detained until the next day.

The situation at the Square, young men taken away in patrol cars and the persecution to which we were subjected afterwards, reminded me of what I have read regarding the underground struggle in this eastern city against Fulgencio Batista.

The same story retold, but with different actors, in special circumstances.

Translated by HEFA

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