Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Political Police Deploy Toxic Substance against Activists

A Press Release from The Cuban Democratic Directorate

Fasting Activists Condemn Violence; Support Spreads among Cubans

Placetas. March 25, 2009. Cuban Democratic Directorate. The home of former political prisoner and leading opposition activist Jorge Luis García Pérez, better known as “Antúnez,” was attacked in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday March 25th by State Security agents. Antúnez and several other activists staying with him have been engaged in a protest involving weeks-long hunger strikes and fasts since February 17th.

“At around 2:30 in the morning, we were awoken by fasting activists Carlos Michael Morales, Diosiris Santana Pérez and Ernesto Mederos Arrozarena who alerted us that State Security officers were releasing gas inside the home. Iris and I were in a room in the back of the home. When we went to the living room, I smelled a strong odor of gas and felt myself become short of breath. When Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera tried to communicate with Santa Claran activist Idania Yánez Contreras, we spotted the Chief of the Confrontation Unit Idel, better known as “Railroad Spike,” training a flashlight on Iris through the blinds and carrying a strange device in his other hand shaped like a spray bottle. Activist Ernesto Mederos Arrozarena relates that he felt how they sprayed through the window to release the gas,” stated Antúnez in a telephone statement to the Cuban Democratic Directorate.

According to Antúnez, this is not the only repressive measure being taken against the protestors. Later the same morning, the exterior surfaces of the home were defaced with obscene phrases painted on in tar and on signs.

“We hold the high command of State Security here in Villa Clara responsible for these attempts on our lives and physical wellbeing. Remember that here among us activists there are people who suffer from heart conditions, as in my case, people who suffer from serious respiratory problems, and they are making attempts on our lives,” stated Antúnez.

The activist also pointed out that Héctor de la Fe Freire, Chief of Confrontation for State Security in Villa Clara province is in charge of the operation against his home, and that he was sent from Havana to repress the opposition movement in Central Cuba.

On February 25th, the hunger strikers decided to shift to a liquid fast and to continue their protest. During the past week, State Security has maintained a perimeter around the home, blocking any attempt by supporters to visit and offer solidarity.

Numerous opposition activists and Cubans not associated with the opposition movement have been detained as a result, including Ciro Díaz, who plays guitar in the underground punk rock band Porno para Ricardo, and photographer Claudio Fuentes on March 23.

The strike, begun on February 17 2009, demands of the Havana government that inhumane treatment end against prisoner Mario Pérez Aguilera, held at Santa Clara Provincial Prison; that Cuban citizen Caridad García Pérez be permitted to repair her home using her own means; and that the texts of the international human rights agreements signed by the Cuban government in February 2008, which the Cuban people do not know about, be published in Cuba. Joining Antúnez in this protest are fellow activists Iris Pérez Aguilera and Diosiris Santana Pérez.

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