Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

15 de Marzo del 2000


Palma Soriano.- President Berta Antúnez Pernet of the Pedro Luis Boitel Civic Resistance Movement and sister of political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez today spoke from the Shrine of El Cobre where she is began a fast. Better known as Antúnez, she urged unity in support of all Cuban political prisoners and especially those on a hunger strike at the Kilo 8 prison.

She said, "My name is Berta Antúnez Pernet and we are here today at the Shrine of El Cobre on a two-day fast in support of the relatives of prisoners who are in Kilo 8 in Camagüey on a hunger strike: They are Leoncio Rodríguez Ponce, striking since February 16, Ernesto Durán, Angel Frómeta Cuenca and Carlos Ruiz Díaz who joined the strike on February 24.

She said it must be noted that support has been announced of persons who are not relatives of prisoners but who have gotten to know about the situation. Some visited the site yesterday and today.

She said, "The spirit of all of us who are here is full of life; moreover we feel very good as we carry out these activities. We believe that this is one of the forms we have as a path to reach solidarity and the only one we have for unity, so that the authorities must give us affirmative answers. We are carrying out these tasks and these activities in different religious and public centers. We have now done it and we ask the world and the relatives of the prisoners to listen to us and unite, because there is no need to have fear since we are not doing anything illegal. Everything we are doing is just and all the demands and petitions are very fair. We are in favor of amnesty and we are asking and fighting for it. Our sons are not thieves or delinquents! Our sons are men who have taken a step to the front in the defense of this nation which is ours. We as their relatives are supporting them and we will continue backing them with much love. I give thanks to all the people who are here at this time, such as Vivian and Alexis who came from Palma Soriano to be here in solidarity with us and sister Elaine Ibarra Saumell who in spite of having injured her leg is here with her cane. Thank you all very much. Thanks to everyone."

Antúnez and her husband Alejandro traveled to El Cobre to carry out the fast. The people at this ceremony asked for "blessings at the feet of the Holy Mother and patron saint, the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre."

They urged the government to free all who are imprisoned for political reasons and that the common prisoners who are crippled because of missing hands, feet, arms or legs be "freed from the cruel conditions In the Cuban prisons where they survive like animals without the help needed for people in their condition.

Among those fasting were Elaine Ibarra Saumell, mother of Francisco Herodes Díaz Echemendía; Miladys Silot Sabot, sister of Leonardo Suárez Sabot, a prisoner in Holguín province; Próspero Gaínza, brother of Abelardo Guzmán Gaínza who is also in Holguín; Berta Antúnez and her husband Alejandro, sister and brother-in-law of Antúnez; Angel Miguel Beses Beyríes, Vivian de los Angeles Acosta Suárez and Alexis Rodríguez Fernández, activists representing the political prisoners Jorge Pelegrín Ruiz of Santiago de Cuba and Alejandro Mustafá Reyes and Juan Ramírez, prisoners at Boniato. Also present were the mother and wife of "Andrich from Guantánamo" who is also on a hunger strike.

The fast ended March 14, at six p.m. in the hostelry of El Cobre, several meters from the shrine and the image of the patron saint whose blessing was asked for the cause that gathered them together. Many prayers were said, each person expressing his or her feelings. The people who work at the shrine and hostelry offered their support to those who had been fasting.

Vivian de los Angeles Acosta, Cuba Free Press

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