Just one week after Obama’s Hope and Change visit to Cuba where the president solidified U.S. support for the island’s apartheid dictatorship, State Security forces of the Castro regime launched a massive island-wide crackdown of dissidents, brutally attacking and arresting hundreds of peaceful protestors. As the #TodosMarchamos (We all march) human rights campaign celebrated the pro-democracy movement’s one-year anniversary this Easter Sunday, the Castro dictatorship unleashed a wave of violence against the protestors making their 47th peaceful march as bloody and violent as the 46 previous marches.
Massive crackdown by regime marks ‘one year of repression against #TodosMarchamos’
During a massive island-wide crackdown this weekend, regime forces surrounded and arrested hundreds of activists. Arrests took place in the Eastern part of the island on Saturday and the Western part on Sunday. This weekend marked the first anniversary of #TodosMarchamos, a campaign carried out by the Forum for Rights and Liberties demanding the release of political prisoners.
Ladies in White and opposition members who were able to escape the first wave of arrests and join the 47th peaceful march were all later arrested. According to human rights activist Liu Santiesteban, the women were taken to the Tarara police station in Eastern Havana. The whereabouts of the men, however, were still unknown.
Santiesteban reported that dozens of people were recruited for the repressive operation and celebrated its extreme violence with “song and dance” and t-shirts with slogans against #TodosMarchamos.
Before Mass was celebrated at the Santa Rita church and the subsequent march to Gandhi park took place, Angel Moya reported via his Twitter feed that several vehicles from State Security (DSE) had stationed themselves early that morning in various locations in Havana where the Ladies in White were located.
The repressive forces of State Security arrested 17 women:”Nine of them were able to escape the crackdown,” said Moya. Along with 13 other activists, they were able to reach their usual meeting point. At the end of the day, 30 Ladies in White had been violently arrested.
Via Twitter, Santiesteban reported that during the day’s activities, “more than 100 were arrested just in Havana.”
In Matanzas, independent journalist Ivan Hernandez-Carrillo reported that “using the name ‘Operation Fortress,’ the totalitarian Castro regime has arrested and beaten, and even more, Ladies in White and opposition members.”
In Carlos Rojas, Jovellanos, political police units and government-organized mobs called brigades of rapid response beat and arrested eight women. “They tore their clothes in the middle of the street leaving several of them naked in front of everyone,” said Hernandez Carrillo. They were “thrown to the ground and beaten with belts from washing machines and flagpoles.”
“They arrested a minor, Lissi Abascal, the sister of Lady in White Sissy Abascal,” added Hernandez Carrillo. He also reported that State Security had cut off the cellphone service of several Ladies in White.
The spokesperson for the Cuban Coalition of Independent Unions reported that opposition members from the PL Boitel party, Lazaro Diaz Sanchez and Francisco Rangel Manzano were arrested and jailed. In that same Matanzas city, three Ladies in White were able to march for the liberty of political prisoners.
In the Eastern part of the island, Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), reported that more than 150 members of his organization were arrested on Saturday when they took to the streets to demand liberty and respect for human rights.
According to Twitter posts by opposition activists, among them the UNPACU coordinator in Guantanamo Yoanny Beltran, the majority of arrests took place in Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, and Las Tunas.
More coverage at Uncommon Sense.