Repression in Cuba: Roundup of violence against opposition for the week of January 16, 2012

A roundup of the violent and brutal repression of Cuba’s opposition by the Castro dictatorship for the week of January 16, 2012 by the Coalition of Cuban-American Women:




International support is urgently needed for the widow and two children of Wilman Villar Mendoza who is being subjected to acts of repression

January 22, 2012

The wake and burial of human rights activist, Wilman Villar Mendoza was held under the strict control of the Cuban repressive forces on Friday, January 20, 2012, in the eastern city of Contramaestre. The 31 year old Cuban political prisoner demanded his freedom during a two month hunger strike and died as a result of a generalized sepsis in the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital of Santiago de Cuba where he had been transferred with pneumonia. In the prison of Aguadores, Wilman was confined nude in a punishment cell where he was denied medical assistance and water. The last time his widow, Maritza Pelegrino, saw her husband alive was on December 29, 2011, when she saw him very thin and dehydrated.

The same day of Wilman’s burial, the Cuban regime publicly declared that he was a “common prisoner”; and that it has ample proof and testimonies showing that he was neither a dissident, nor that he were on a hunger strike. Maritza Pelegrino accuses the Cuban government of letting her husband die and has demanded to be interviewed on Cuban T.V. so that she is able to come forward publicly to defend the truth about her dead husband’s reputation. She vows to continue demanding justice for the people of Cuba as a Lady in White. It is important to highlight the fact that Wilman was brought up by his paternal grandmother and his mother, who is calling her son’s death a suicide, is married to a Cuban government official.

Jorge Cervantes, member of the human rights group, UMPACU, reported from Contramaestre that on January 20, the town was “totally militarized… there are more military personnel than citizens in the streets and more patrol cars than public transportation vehicles”. All with the objective of preventing members of human rights groups express their solidarity to the family of Wilman Villar. Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of UMPACU denounced that around 80 activists were subjected to short term arrests since Thursday in the eastern cities of Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, Caimanera, Holguin, Moa, Banes, Antillas, Puerto Padre, etc. Many were violently beaten and their houses were surrounded by paramilitary groups. Prudencio Villalon required stitches and lost a tooth as a result of the brutal beating he was subjected to, once inside a patrol car. Members of UMPACU, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria, Milagros Leiva Ramirez and Maritza Cardoza Romero (the last two also Ladies in White), are still under arrest. Also arrested: Hector Felix Labrada, Raumel Tinajera, Rudisan Ramirez.

Human rights defenders reported from Contramaestre that only 8 members of the Ladies in White and 6 activists were allowed inside the wake of Wilman Villar. Six activists waiting outside were arrested and only the family was allowed to go on to the cemetery for the burial.

In Havana, State Security prevented Ladies in White and activists from going to the headquarters of the Ladies in White, the home where Laura Pollan lived (Neptuno #963 entre Aramburen y Hospital) to sign a book of condolence dedicated to their deceased compatriot.

Ivonne Malleza Galano, her husband Ignacio Martinez and Isabel H. Alvarez Mosquera were all released on January 20, 2012, after being arbitrarily confined for almost two months and subjected to ill treatment in maximum security prisons. All three were violently arrested on November 30, 2011, following a peaceful protest in the Fraternidad Park in central Havana.

The ex-political prisoner of conscience, Librado Linares reported on January 19, 2012, that Yasmin Conyedo, the representative of the Ladies in White in Villa Clara, central Cuba, and her husband, Rafael Yusmani Esmoris were transferred to maximum security prisons. Yasmin Conyedo is presently confined at the “Women’s Prison in Guamajal” and her husband was transferred to the Prison of “La Pendiente”. The couple remains in jail since Sunday, January 8, 2012 when their house was attacked by a pro-government mob and when they were both severely beaten and arrested.

Additional reports of human rights violations for the week of January 16-22, 2012:

January 17, 2012 – On Tuesday, January 17, Lady in White, Tania Montoya reported that her husband, Raumel Tinajera, was still missing since Sunday, January 15, 2012, when he was brutally beaten and arrested in the eastern city of Holguin where they reside. The present status of Raumel is unknown. Further information will be disclosed about this activist’s situation.

Paramilitary mobs brought in two buses surrounded the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital in Santiago de Cuba where Wilman Villar Mendoza was agonizing in the intensive care unit and, with great violence, arrested at least 14 activists.

Angel Moya, Jorge L. Artiles and Guillermo Fariñas were arrested in the central city of Santa Clara when they tried to carry out a peaceful march.

January 18, 2012 – The Ladies in White hold a Literary Tea on the 18th day of every month in the house where Laura Pollan lived to discuss human rights issues. State Security agents were posted around the streets where the house is located in Havana and around 12 women who tried to leave their houses to attend the activity were harassed and arrested. The independent journalist, Roberto de Jesus Guerra reported the names of many Ladies in White unable to reach their destination: Sandra Guerra of Mayabeque was punched and kicked when she was forced down from a bus and taken to a police unit. Yaneris Perez, Ana Iris Cabrera de la Riva, Maria Teresa Castellano and Leticia Ramos Herreria of the municipalities of Colon and Cardenas in the province of Matanzas were arrested in their homes. Mercedes Fresneda, Lourdes Esquivel, Zulema lay, Lilia Castañer, Lazara Mitjans, Maria Cristina Labrada, and Sara Marta Fonseca, were all taken to different police units in Havana. Berta Soler, leader of the feminine movement, reported that the following women were also prevented from reaching their headquarters: Raquel Castillo, Petra Serafina Diaz, Julia Estrella Aramburu, Ana Rosa Ladea, Katia Sonia Martin, Aimee Cabrales, Mirta Gomez , Xiomara Cristina Duquerne, Maria Julia Villate, and Cristina Rodriguez.

In central and eastern Cuba the following women were subjected to short term detentions and mistreatment; Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera (Placetas), Isabel Peña, Caridad Caballero Batista.

Two activists that were arrested: Franklin Pelegrino del Toro (Municipio Cacocun), and the independent journalist, Héctor Julio Cedeño Negrín

January 19, 2012 – Tania Montoya reported that, with the purpose of intimidating them, Nelsa Fernandez Fonseca and Mercedes Fernandez Fonseca were summoned to appear before State Security headquarters in the eastern town of Palma Soriano.

January 20, 2012 – UMPACU activist, Osmani Cespedes Napoles reported that the political police in Palma Soriano arrested, without reports of their whereabout, the following women who were on their way to Wilman Villar’s funeral: Aimee Garces Leiva and Yelena Garces Napoles.

Human rights defender, Abel Lopez is beaten and detained for publicly protesting Wilman Villar’s death at the hands of Cuban authorities.

The activist, Yoan David Napoles is arrested arbitrarily in Santa Cruz del Sur and taken to a police unit when he was on his way to Camaguey to solve personal matters related to his handicap son’s special diet

Guillermo Fariñas was released.

January 22, 2012 – Ladies in White were harassed and detained to prevent them from attending Mass at the Basilica of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba. Maria Cecilia Ramos Morejon, representative of the Ladies in White in the western city of Pinar del Rio was detained and taken to an undisclosed location. Osmelis Jimenez and Liudmila Cedeño of El Caney in Santiago de Cuba were subjected to short term detention. The homes of Caridad Caballero Batista, and Anislidia Cruz Segrero, were surrounded by the political police.

The independent journalist, Jose Ramon Pupo Nieves of Holguin Press, reported from the eastern city of Holguin that a Catholic Church in that city was surrounded by the political police whose agents were waiting outside for the activists to exit the temple in order to beat and arrest them. The priest, Father Aldama and the Bishop Javier Martinez Reyes, intervened on behalf of the human rights defenders who were spared by the agents.

The Coalition of Cuban-American Women alerts the international community that the lives of those members of Cuban civil society who are actively and publicly struggling on behalf of fundamental freedoms are in danger. We are particularly concerned in the cases of Maritza Pelegrino and her two daughters, of Yasmin Conyedo and her husband, Rafael Yusmani Esmori, International recognition of the peaceful resistance and solidarity for those human rights defenders is crucial. We make an urgent call on religious, civic, political, and cultural entities and its leaders, as well as to non-governmental human rights organizations worldwide.

Coalition of Cuban-American Women / / Laida A.Carro

FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA: Maritza Pelegrino Cabrales + 5353842338 / Berta Soler +5352906820 /

José Daniel Ferrer – + 53 53631267 / Jorge Cervantes – +53 53791610 / Tania Montoya + 5-3146329 /