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Violent crackdown in Cuba: Soldiers leave ‘pool of blood’ during arrest in Cárdenas, activist says

MIAMI – Amid the unprecedented SOS Cuba protests, fear reigned in Cárdenas, a city in the Cuban province of Matanzas, just south of the popular beach resort town of Varadero. An activist there said soldiers raided a home and beat up a protester so badly his family thinks he is dead.

Leticia Ramos Herrería is an established voice of dissent in the area. She said there have been violent raids and beatings. Officers have been rushing into homes to make arrests. She is waiting for her turn.

“At any moment they will come to knock my door down and take me ... They are going to disappear me and they are also going to end my family,” she said in Spanish Tuesday adding officials’ heavy-handed response is targeting the opposition in Cárdenas.

The outspoken member of the Damas De Blanco doesn’t scare easily. She leads a chapter of the organization, which a teacher founded in Havana to engage in persistent peaceful protests after her husband became a political prisoner. For years, she has been the victim of judicial harassment. Authorities have beaten her, arrested her, and denied her medical treatment while in detention.

Ramos Herrería said members of a special forces unit known as the Black Wasps invaded the home of her daughter’s longtime friend in Cárdenas. She said the armed black-clad men hunted the young woman’s husband who had been involved in the protests.

“The husband was beaten to the ground ... There is a huge pool of blood in the room,” Ramos Herrería said adding the victim’s relatives believe he is dead and the couple has children ages 2 and 12.

She said “murderers” are attacking unarmed Cubans. The violence comes amid shortages of food and medicine and a lack of access to healthcare for COVID patients who are dying at home. She said they are out of fuel, gas, and now electricity. The crackdown also included disrupting internet connectivity.

“We are in a chaotic situation,” Ramos Herrería said adding there is a desperate need for humanitarian intervention.

She also said it is important for the international community and “all people of goodwill” to be aware of the ongoing human rights violations in Cárdenas. And with the courage that has turned her into an internationally well-known human rights advocate, she said the new campaign of terror won’t silence her.

Related social media: Reports from Cardenas

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Cuban-American protesters stop traffic on the Palmetto Expressway Tuesday in Miami-Dade County. They are asking President Joe Biden's administration to intervene in Cuba.

Coverage on July 12

Cuban exiles rally at Versailles Restaurant in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood in support of protesters in Cuba, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Coverage on July 11

Police detain an anti-government demonstrator during a protest in Havana, Cuba, Sunday July 11, 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators went out to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs, amid the new coronavirus crisis. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

For more about the situation in Cuba, visit the Local 10 News’ “en español” page.


About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.