Saturday, November 7, 2009

Brutal Arrest and Detention of Cuban Bloggers in Havana on Friday (Translation)

Friday afternoon a number of Cuban bloggers, including the well-known Yoani Sanchez, were briefly detained and brutally assaulted by state security personnel in Havana when they were intercepted on their way to attend a "performance march," that was billed as a peaceful gathering to support non-violence.

I ran across the news of this when I visited the Babalu Blog this evening and I have decided that, since almost all of the "primary source" news is in Spanish, maybe I ought to help out and post a full translation of what is known so that the story can be circulated among English-language readers. The Spanish-language blog Penultimos Dias has done an excellent job of keeping as much of the evidence in the first person as is possible, so props go out there.

I am going to post a full translation of the entry put up at Penultimos Dias:


State Security detains Yoani Sanchez and other bloggers on their way to participate in a demonstration-performance on 23rd Street (Updated)
November 6th, 2009

The plan was [that] today at 5:30 in the afternoon: a group of youths should make a peaceful (not a protest nor a demanding political) performance-march from 23 and G up to 23 and L, crossing the corner of the Yara cinema and returning by the other sidwalk back to 23 and G. The idea was to add joyful people, without belligerent, only festive spirit. The performance-march was coordinated by Luis Eligio, of the Zona Franca OMNI group, and Amaury and Aldo, the rapper from Los Aldeanos. Also invited were the musician Ciro Diaz of the band Porno Para Ricardo and the photographer Claudio Fuentes, who formed part of the plan. The "demonstrators" were carrying cardboard placards with the words: Join us, No more violence, For the future of our children, etc. (some of the participants even thought about bringing their children to the march).

There was a prior rehearsal in the Dimitrov Park at Paseo and 23, which included fraternization excercises (several of the participants calling each other brothers) and group theater. They are very new and astonishingly naive faces.

A few minutes ago, when they were preparing to participate in the march, a group of bloggers (Yoani Sanchez, Orlando Luis Pardo, among others) were arrested by State Security and right now their whereabouts are unknown.

Yoani's arrest was at the entrance to the Calixto García hospital: they put her by force into a State Security car, with a private license plate.

Claudia Cadelo, with whom I spoke a few minutes ago, was also arrested, put into a patrol car and released somewhere near Nuevo Vedado, far from the scene of the march, of which I am unaware as to whether it finally took place.

Penultimos Dias Update: From Claudia Cadelo's Twitter a few minutes ago:

They took me by force in a patrol car and released me in Nuevo Vedado.
2 minutes ago from txt

Yoani was arrested with olpl and put in a security car
5 minutes ago from txt

I don't know where Yoani, olpl, nor Ciro are
9 minutes ago from txt

They have now released me
15 minutes ago from txt

[unintelligible shorthand]kicks me[?], Yoani, olpl, ci
30 minutes ago from txt

I am detained
36 minutes ago from txt

Penultimos Dias Update 2: From Claudia Cadelo's Twitter a few minutes ago:

Apparently Orlando, Silvia and Yoani are somewhere near the Vedado, after being victims of a [State] Security ambush. They let Claudia go somewhere in Nuevo Vedado, but I couldn't say much more because I had no mobile phone credit, the same with Yoani. Orlando called me about five minutes ago: they applied arm locks to him and he was dizzy with neck pain. This was happening in the line at the P-11 stop at 29th and G, in sight of several acquaintances, including the young narrator Ketty Blanco. Orlando managed to drop the phone out the window and I do not know if anyone was able to pick it up. The girls also seem to have been abused. They split up in two cars: Yoani and Orlando on one side and Silvia and Claudia on the other. They wanted to go to a performance of the OMNI in Mariana Grajales park, 23 and C. I do not know much more. Orlando was so dazed, I could not speak with Yoani. They released her over by Loma and Paseo, somewhere near the Plaza.

Penultimos Dias Update 3: The performance-march against violence and for freedom took place in the park at 23 and G. Some 200 people participated. Ciro Diaz and Claudio Fuentes began to arrive and they took photos of what happened. Now they are trying to go to the house of Yoani, whose mobile phone has been disconnected.

Penultimos Dias Update 4: Acknowledgment of the message received from Veronica Cervera

Ernesto, I just spoke with Yoani. She is at home now. She has a bruise on one eye. They physically and verbally assaulted her. Orlando too. They shouted at them [i.e. Yoani and Orlando] in the patrol car until they arrived there, they put her head down and feet up and they applied karate chops. She was very nervous. Me too.

Penultimos Dias Update 5: A detailed account of the beatings in Yoani's statements to El Nuevo Herald (Miami)

There is no blood. [There are] bruises, bumps, pulled hair, punches to the head, kidneys, knee and chest. In the end, professional violence. "I, who am a person of spoken pacifism, I am shaken by the violence, because violence mutes anyone," Sanchez said by telephone after the incident which lasted about 20 minutes.

"We were almost there when we were intercepted by three men in a car with private plates who ordered us to get in," Sanchez said. "We refused. I did not know if they were kidnappers or what. And it raised the tone of violence on their part."

Sanchez said they were near the Calixto Garcia hospital, in Vedado, when she was "dragged into the vehicle and pulled inside by the head."

"They applied judo or karate chops and continued raining blows and punches," she said.

During the attack, Sanchez added, she managed to take a piece of paper one of the men had in his pocket, and put it in her mouth.

"I don't know, it was as if to say: 'I have something of yours,'" she said. "The paper contained a name of a person and a telephone number."

"It made him even more furious, and [he threw] more blows" she said.
After about 20 minutes en route, the vehicle stopped in an area far from where they had been intercepted.

"And we were thrown violently into the street" she said.

I encourage everyone to circulate this news. Forget copyrights, etc. Take the translation and run with it.



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