Pope Benedict XVI’S Visit: A Crackdown on Fundamental Freedoms of Religion, Movement, Association, Assembly, and Speech

A report from the Coalition of Cuban-American Women:



“The government filled its dungeons with Ladies in White and human rights defenders as it concentrated atheists in both plazas where the Holy Father celebrated Mass”

Berta Soler, leader, Ladies in White/ April 1, 2012

April 1, 2012

List below of some members of Cuban civil society arrested

More than 300 human rights defenders and members of Cuban civil society were threatened, arrested or held under house arrest before and during the 72 hour visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba. The whereabouts of a large number were unknown. Activists reported cities “militarized” and that members of the political police were posted outside their windows. Most arrests took place in Havana and the Eastern cities of Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and Guantanamo. Several dissidents, such as the former Cuban political prisoner of conscience, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, declared that the Cuban regime used the Pope’s visit as a “dress rehearsal” to try out its repressive strategy in the event of a future national crisis.

Andrew Johnston, advocacy Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide denounced in a press release on March 30, 2012 the violent repressive tactics carried by the Cuban regime against “men and women who are members of the Catholic Church and derive deep strength and inspiration from their faith.” http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=press&id=1341

The state control of the Pope’s visit began with the lists that were handed to the government of those who had to register their names in the parishes if they wanted to participate in the Masses. Public transportation all provided by the regime, to and from the Masses, was supervised by members of the Communist Youth and the Communist Party. The days of the Masses in Havana and Santiago de Cuba were “days off’ for Cubans who, in spite of their indifference or lack of interest in the Catholic Masses, had to sign in at their workplace and were transported to the Plazas in their respective cities.

The Cuban blogger and independent journalist Luis Felipe Rojas resident of the city of San German in Eastern Holguin, remained under arrest the entire time of the Pope’s visit (March 24-28), and his wife and son remained under house arrest in spite of the fact that he and his family had signed up in his parish to attend the Mass in Santiago de Cuba. Rojas denounced that the telephone and communication companies in Cuba: ETECSA and CUBACEL, lent themselves to cut-off the cell phone and landline communication of all those targeted by the communist regime during the Pope’s visit to Cuba.

Activists throughout the island also denounced that whenever they received a call, either from abroad or from others in the island, a Havana phone number would appear on their phones: +72041234, a number that connects to the Cuban Ministry of the Interior.

James Burke, the Cuba Campaigner at Amnesty International declared that: “As our efforts to communicate with government critics, human rights activists and independent journalists across Cuba are continually frustrated, it becomes clear that repression of dissent by the Cuban authorities during the Pope’s visit has become increasingly Orwellian. http://livewire.amnesty.org/2012/03/30/smoke-signals-to-cuba/langswitch_lang/es/#more-5368

The political police knocked on activists’ doors with summons that ordered them to appear at police units during the days of the Pope’s visit. Fines would be applied to those who did not show up. In attachment are copies of these official forms with the stamp of the Ministry of the Interior for: Margarita Aleman Mederos, Raul Caraballo Pereira, Antuan Clemente Hernandez and Armando Lorenzo Collado Batista.

Human rights defender, Niurka Luque, under arrest since March 18, 2012 for trying to attend the Ladies’ in White “Literary Tea” (held on the 18th of every month) was transferred on March 30 to the Maximum Security Women’s prison of Manto Negro.

Andres Carrion Alvarez, a 40 year old Cuban who cried out “down with communism” at the Pope’s Mass in Santiago de Cuba is still detained at the Special Police Unit of Versalles in Santiago de Cuba. Carrion was violently beaten by plain clothes government agents; including a man wearing the Red Cross emblem who used the stretcher to beat him brutally over the head. The International Red Cross is investigating this incident.

Amnesty International declared Yasmin Conyedo and her husband, Yusmani Alvarez prisoners of conscience. Both remain under arrest since January 8, 2012 in the central city of Santa Clara. Yasmin Conyedo is an independent journalist of the group, United Antitotalitarian Front and a Lady in White. Her husband, Yusmani Alvarez is an activist of the Young Democratic League of Las Villas. They are both falsely accused of attacking the home of a communist party official in their hometown of Villaclara who had initially subjected the couple’s home to a pro government mob attack the same day of the arrest. Yasmin was transferred to the Prison of Guamajal and Yusmani to the Prison of La Pendiente on January 16, 2012.

Amnesty Int’l also declared prisoners of conscience brothers Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Maiquel Lima Cruz who are serving a three year prison sentence since Christmas Day 2010 for singing a protest song in the street.

Amnesty Int’l Report on Cuba/ Yasmin Conyedo, Yusmani Alvarez, Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Maiquel Lima Cruz: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/007/2012/en/16f0c0fe-c76b-428e-9050-bc9eb2ea95f7/amr250072012en.pdf

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 peacefully on behalf of fundamental freedoms are in danger. We are particularly concerned with the cases of the activist couple Yasmin Conyedo and Yusmani Alvarez, the brothers Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Maiquel Lima Cruz, Andres Carrion Alvarez, Niurka Luque and with the continued physical and mental harassment against all members of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan throughout Cuba. International recognition of the peaceful resistance and solidarity for these 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 / Joseito76@aol.com / Laida A.Carro Blog: www.coalitionofcubanamericanwomen.blogspot.com
Facebook Page: Coalition of Cuban-American Women
Twitter: @COCAW1


PINAR DEL RIO: All phone lines were cut off

  1. Yaser Reinoso Ramos

LA HABANA: Most phone lines are cut off

  1. Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo (released 3/28/2012)
  2. Julio León Fonseca (released 3/28/2012)
  3. Julio Aleaga Pesant
  4. William ( musician )
  5. Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto
  6. Ismael de Diego (poet and actor)
  7. Claudio Fuentes (photographer)
  8. Francisco Chaviano González
  9. Enrique Losada
  10. Julio Vega Santiesteban
  11. Roberto Tapia Ferrer
  12. Rubén Sanchez Vega
  13. Leidi Coca Quesada
  14. Omaida Padrón Ascuit
  15. Jennifer Fonseca Padrón
  16. Karen de Jesús
  17. Belkis Felicia Jorrín Morfa
  18. Lázara Mitjans Cruz
  19. Blanca Hernández Moya
  20. Ciro Díaz (blogger and guitarist of the group”Porno para Ricardo”)
  21. Naiyibis Corrales Jiménez
  22. Laura Elena Capote Loret de Mola
  23. Katia Sonia Martín Veliz
  24. Ricardo Salabarría
  25. Odalis Caridad Valdés Suárez
  26. Raúl Ramírez Puig
  27. Gerardo Páez Díaz
  28. Ulises Cintra Suárez
  29. Jerry Curbelo Aguilera
  30. Manuel Cuesta Morúa
  31. Alberto Méndez
  32. Ivonne Mayeza Galano
  33. Mercedes Fresneda
  34. Julio Regatillo
  35. Berta Soler Fernández
  36. Alejandrina García de la Riva
  37. Laura Labrada Pollán
  38. Niurka Luque Alvarez (detained, beaten and on hunger strike from March 18, 2012. Taken to the máximum security Women’s Prison of Manto Negro on March 29, 2012.
  39. Lucy Castermau
  40. Yesica Castermau Jorrín
  41. Belkis Jorrín Morfa
  42. María de los Angeles Rojas Pereira
  43. Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez– (Under arrest from March 27- 28, 2012)
  44. Magalys Norbis Otero- (Under arrest from March 27-28, 2012)
  45. René Rouco Machín


  1. Leticia Ramos Herrería (arrested March 26 and relased March 29, 2012)
  2. Emilio Bringas Evora
  3. Mercedes de la Caridad De la Guardia
  4. José Morejón Morejón
  5. Lázaro Díaz Sánchez
  6. Francisco Rangel Manzano
  7. Ysabel Marrero Burunate (golpeada)
  8. Carlos Orlando Olivera Martínez (violently arrested)
  9. William Acevedo Roque
  10. Rubén Montes de Oca
  11. Nelson Ruiz Alonso
  12. Félix Navarro Rodríguez
  13. Edelvis Granda Pérez
  14. Raudel García
  15. Nelson Acosta Ríos
  16. Iván Hernández Carrillo


  1. Pablo González Villa (arrested March 27, still under arrest 3/30/2012)
  2. Justo Luis Alonso García ( arrested march 27, still under arrest 3/30/2012)
  3. Alexis Santana González (arrested March 27, still under arrest 3/30/2012)
  4. Yoel Morera Martínez (arrested March 25 Released March 28)
  5. Eduardo Cortés López, (arrested March 27 Released March 28)
  6. Ricardo Pupo Sierra, (arrested March 26 Released March 28)
  7. Juan de Dios Medina Vazquez (arrested March 26 Released March 28)


  1. Rolando Ferrer Espinosa,
  2. Maria del Carmen Martinez Lopez,
  3. Natividad Blanco Carrero,
  4. Leonardo Rodríguez Alonzo


  1. Virgilio Mantilla Arango,
  2. Elicardo Freire Jiménez
  3. Osmani Leonardo Fernández.
  4. Frank Adán de la Rosa
  5. Rudel Montes de Oca Quesada


78. Ramón Velázquez Toranzo

79. Ismelis Quiñones Ortega


  1. Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal,
  2. Delmides Fidalgo López,
  3. Mariblanca Ávila Esposito,
  4. Anni Sarrión Romero,
  5. Juan Carlos Vázquez Osorio,
  6. Jorge Luis Freeman Palermo,
  7. Jorge Luis Claro Velazquez,
  8. Juan Oriol Verdecia, (Under arrest from March 24-28 2 PM)
  9. Rafael Meneses Pupo, (Under arrest from March 24-28 2 PM)
  10. Alexander Rodríguez Santiesteban (Under arrest from March 24-28 2 PM)
  11. Maritza Cardoso,
  12. Caridad Caballero Batista,
  13. Marta Díaz Rondón,
  14. Milagros Leiva Ramírez.
  15. Anyer Antonio Blanco Rodríguez
  16. Eliécer Aranda Matos
  17. Yeri Curbelo Aguilera
  18. Eliécer Palma Pupo
  19. Antonio Caballero Pupo
  20. Bernardo Torres Roldán
  21. Maira Guerrero Silva
  22. Bertha Guerrero Segura
  23. Marco Antonio Lima Dalmao
  24. Adis Nidia Cruz Sebré
  25. Isabel Peña Torres
  26. Judith Ferrer Segura
  27. Yosvany Anzardo
  28. Yoandri Naoski Ricardo Mir (Under arrest from March 24-28 2 PM)
  29. Delvis Martínez Albides (Under arrest from March 24-28 2 PM)
  30. Niober Cansino Acosta (Under arrest from March 24-28 2 PM)
  31. Ariel Cruz Meneses (Under arrest from March 24-28 2 PM)


  1. Emiliano González Olivera
  2. Léster Lora Carbonell
  3. Alexis Rivero Rodríguez
  4. Antonio Santí Soto
  5. Félix Rivero Cordobí
  6. Armando Pacheco
  7. Yaquelin García Hans


  1. Misael Valdés Díaz, (under arrest from March 26-28).
  2. Jorge Cervantes García, (violently arrested, a hand required 8 stitches)
  3. Guillermo Cobas Reyes
  4. Liudmila Rodriguez Palomo,