Archive | November, 2010

Pieces of an Assault

6 Nov


Photo/Luis Felipe Rojas

I

Martha Díaz Rondón tells me, “There were more than thirty of us. We took flowers to honor Orlando Zapata Tamayo and the word to pray for him and to say ‘Zapata Lives’ as we were leaving the cemetery as we have done in spite of acts of repudiation and other provocations on other Sundays, when there has been no accredited press.

“When we left the church the atmosphere was very tense but we followed the usual program and entered the cemetery. Leaving was the worst.

“We all were severely beaten, the men acted as a shield but it wasn’t enough. The men tried to protect us and put us in the middle. They made a human chain but the combined forces, trained to beat people, broke the chain and disabled us by force. They forced us onto buses with blows, including Reina Luisa who is an older woman with health problems. All of us were taken to the police station in Banes.

“There, the women suffered the worst humiliations. I was stripped naked, forced me to take off my panties and do squats in front of the guards. We saw the guards because they had the doors open. Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, Dulce María, Prado Portal Barbara, and another girl whose name I can’t remember, and Romero Maritza Cardoso, all went through the same humiliation.

“Those who forced us to do it were women they brought from the prison. We asked them to close the doors because the male uniformed police officers, and those not in uniform who were political police, were there outside the doors and they could see everything, but they wouldn’t. The men were looking at us as they did the search.

“Then they took us to Holguin to a place called Pedernales (the Ministry of the Interior Training Center) and as if the previous search wasn’t enough, they did the same thing all over again. They stripped me, made me take off my blouse and everything, and then made me do squats while pulling down my pants. In this place they put us in the cells and we were there until Monday night, when they returned us to our hometowns but not without giving us a warning letter. They said they were going to charge us with Law 88, which we all know as the Gag Law. None of us ever signed those papers and we told them that yes, we were going to follow up, and then they told us we had been warned and we could end up in prison.

“They were trying to intimidate us and keep us from accompanying Reina Luisa to the cemetery every Sunday, and from undertaking the ZAPATE VIVE marches.

“Today my arms and legs are all covered in bruises and I ache all over. They gave it to Gertrudis in her chin and it’s very inflamed, and Belkis Barbara Portal was also beaten very hard, Reina Luisa could not feel worse and her children can’t even talk.

“I couldn’t see the men from the other towns because they took them to Guantanamo and other provinces after holding them prisoner there in Pedernales, but those I’ve seen here in Banes and Antilla have a lot of bumps and bruises.”

II

Ditzán Saavedra Prats sent me a text message from his cell phone just as they were launching the attack against them outside the Banes cemetery. Then I lost communications and I believed they had been arrested.  A little later I called to get more information about what had happened. He said,

“What I saw left a big impression on me. I never imagined that they would attack a group of men and women and beat them in that way. The only thing we had to defend ourselves with was our voices singing the national anthem and saying ‘Long Live Human Rights,’ ‘Zapata Lives,’ and ‘Down with the Dictatorship.’ They used every martial arts technique there is, kicking us, dragging us, beating us. Some of them put choke holds on us and I thought I was drowning or that they had broken my neck. The men tried to protect the women, but it was impossible. There were many political police dressed in plain clothes; I don’t know where they came from but it wasn’t Banes because I know everyone here. Those dressed in police uniforms weren’t allowed to beat us but they were allowed to help them force us into the cars. They forced us onto the buses and if anyone threw himself to the ground he was dragged.

“Brother, I don’t want to overlook what they did to Reina Luisa Tamayo and the other women. She is a dignified human being and doesn’t deserve that. They beat them, dragged them, kicked them.

“Once they got everyone in the buses and the buses hadn’t started yet they came inside and beat everyone with even more fury. And what hurts most is that no one saw that. Those among us who had cameras had their bags quickly thrown out and they took away the cameras and the cell phones. There will be no record of that day because no journalists came even though we had announced so often that we were going to March; it seems strange.

“I denounce the political police and the Castro regime and say one more time that Reina Luisa and her family are in danger and that we, the members of the Democratic Alliance, will always stand by her and support her.”

This time I am limiting myself to only transcribing what my friends told me. But this is not everything. The testimony of other victims will unfold later. If the information mountain will not come here to Eastern Cuba, we will go the Mountain; through my blog we will cross the barbed wire so that everyone will know that we want Freedom but we are seeking it without weapons, without hate, without vengeance.

When a government mistreats and beats women it is a government of assholes.

 

Another Punishment… Another Report I Wish I Didn’t Have to Write

1 Nov


Photo:  Luis Felipe Rojas

Jose Antonio Triguero Mulet’s house, and my house, have both been watched since Thursday, the 28th of October, despite the fact that they are on the outskirts of town, as I previously reported on Twitter.  But it wasn’t until Sunday, the 31st, that the political police once again found their way onto my porch.

They shouted offensive comments to the owner of the house where I live, a man who is more than seventy-years-old.  They told me to accompany them to the police barracks.  Because I refused to walk with them through the streets and demanded that a car take me instead, Major Charles ordered an officer to bring handcuffs.  On the way to the police station, one could hear the screams of my wife, Exilda, shouting things like “dictators,” “assassins,” and that “one day they will pay for this.”  Such phrases, which I will not dwell on too much, alarmed many of our neighbors, who took to their windows and doors to witness how they jailed a writer, making him walk in front of everyone as if he were a criminal.

This time I spent 9 hours in a dark corner.  I was able to pray a bit, but all the while mobs of mosquitoes literally “ate” me.  Near where I was, there were some prisoners, charged with “aggressions which caused serious injuries to their victims,” and also two brothers who, earlier that day, had attacked someone with a machete.  Another four had been locked up for days because they had robbed a grocery store and taken all the food rations of an entire neighborhood. There was also a recluse who threatened to kill his wife.

And that’s where they put me.  That is the way I was able to see some of the details of how the “national revolutionary police” operates.

I continue being taken to those places without ever having my name written down on the list of those detained.  But every time someone calls my wife to ask about me, she reports me as “missing.”  I don’t want to think that the improper visit of the Municipal Prosecutor, Saili Aranda, and another young military prosecuting officer during the night had anything to do with this.  I leave it up to the reader to decide, but I must say that the guards did nothing about it.

From the early morning hours I had been reporting, through Twitter, about the “Zapata Lives” march which was occurring in Banes.  Later, I gave details about the beatings and arrests of the activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance, who once again accompanied Reina Luise Tamayo in Banes.  Right after my arrest, my cell phone was no longer able to receive calls or text messages, and I could not send out any either.  Outside friends told me that when they would call the number it would give a busy tone and then a message would come on saying that the number dialed did not exist.  And I must add that no one, from anywhere in the world, has been able to “re-charge” my phone because it simply “does not go through.”

In a little while, I will be on my way to the commercial offices of Cubacel.  I want to hear them, in their own voices, explain to me which part of the contract — which the Cuban government itself actually authorized between nationals and the cell phone company — I violated, and which of these clauses is the one that has allowed them to jail me, restrict me, and trample on my right to my rights.

Photo:  Luis Felipe Rojas

Translated by Raul G.

Reports I Would Prefer Not to Write

1 Nov


Photo: Luis Felipe Rojas

When I dictated this post this morning to a friend who has always been aware of my aspirations and having and maintaining my blog from Holguin, she told me, and here I want to record it in writing, “You never thought you were going to face, from your writing, a ‘reality’ that the Great Nobel Winner Mario Vargas Llosa would say, “sometimes is stranger than fiction.'”

In just a few months I have received, from the small town of Banes along the northern coast of my province, reports that fill me with sadness. Here is one of them:

The citizen Yosdani Pavón Espinosa was shot in the right thigh last October 1st of this year, by the police officer Vladimir Camejo, chief of the Cañadon in Banes sector of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR).

Mrs. Marta Díaz Rondón told me that the police abandoned to his fate the young man Pavón Espinosa, who was operated on without having the bullet removed, and who was admitted to the surgical clinic of the hospital in Banes under heavy police guard.

The account of the victim’s family complained that the criminologist reconstructed the facts of the case based on the testimony of the aggressor, Camejo’s, nephew, without conducting any alcohol testing (both the official and is relatives are well-known alcoholics).

Marta went on to say that the office Vladimir Camejo already has one shooting death on his record and three whom he has wounded in the same way. One of them is a young driver who didn’t want to pick him up in the truck he was driving and as a “punishment” he received a bullet.

“Despite these facts,” Díaz Rondón told me, “the military has never been warned by the police chief in Holguin. Six citizens were willing to speak on behalf of the victim, Pavón Espinosa, and to testify that he had been abandoned by the aggressor. Among them were Juan Carlos Cruz, Julio Gómez y Héctor Hidalgo.”

“These incidents include that of Mariblanca Avila, Cari Caballero Batista and Marta Díaz Rondón herself, when they tried to show support for Reina Luisa on Sundays, but neither the responsible agencies, nor the high priests, nor the Cuban police listened, as I have told you. There has been no punishment nor reprimands for the uniformed aggressors. Much less for the non-uniformed personnel who were see, allowed, and participated in the ‘tumultuous feast.'”

What will happen the day that a bullet “escapes” from one of these bestial crusades that is launched every Lord’s Day against the family of Orland Zapata Tamayo?

*Hours after Luis Felipe dictated this post he was arrested in his house in San Germán. The motives for the arrest are unknown at this time, and also a violent repression has been launched in Banes against the opponents who accompany Reina Luisa to offer tribute at her son Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s grave.