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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Yris Aguilera: A Testimony About Her Disappearance and Her Resistance
October 4, 2011Posted by on
The three female dissidents from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights who had been disappeared by forces of the dictatorship this past 26th of September while they demanded freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon Perez have been released with clear marks of repression of which they were victim. The three women were Donaida Perez Paceiro, Yaimara Reyes Mesa, and Yris Tamara Aguilera.
Aguilera recounted that the violence began while the three women were on their way from the home of Fonseca to the G2 Unit of Havana along with ‘Julito’, the eldest son of Sara Marta and Julio Leon. At that moment, “various agents intercepted us, among them agent Camilo and agent Veloria. The latter is a very corpulent man“, according to the dissident. Right away, Veloria told Yris that she was not allowed to take to the street, to which she replied that she does not follow orders from military officers. “I added that at the entrance of Havana, there’s a huge billboard which reads ‘Welcome to the capital of Cubans‘ and that I am also one of those Cubans, so it was my right and I would continue despite the consequences”.
When the group of dissidents continued to walk, Veloria did not waste a second. He went straight towards Yris and it was then that the physical aggression began. “He grabbed me by my hair and dragged me for more than 50 meters. I was able to see ‘Julito’, too, and he had about 7 State Security agents on top of him because they did not have enough time to prepare people to carry out repudiation attacks“, narrates Perez Aguilera. They were all detained and taken to police units. In the case of Yris, she was taken to the Aguilera Unit in Havana where she remained for two hours. “After those two hours, they took me to a Criminal Investigation Center. Once there, I began to protest and to ask why I was being held in a place like that, being punished, if I had not killed or attacked anyone at all. I spent 72 hours there“.
Aguilera explains that on that Thursday, September 29th, “we were supposedly released, and I say ‘supposedly’ because I knew that it was just a form of manipulation set in motion to detain us once again, since they had warned us again that we were not allowed to go to the home of Sara Marta“. Upon stepping out of their detention centers, the three women were able to meet up and start walking together. However, they were lost in Havana, considering that they are not too familiar with the streets of the capital, coming from Placetas. “Thanks to a man we bumped into along the way we were able to make it to Rio Verde, where Sara Marta lives, under his direction“. But a few blocks right before getting to the house they were once again quickly intercepted by various State Security officials, among them agent Camilo again. “They told me, ‘We already told you- you are not allowed near the house of Sara Marta’ and I responded that time and time again I would not follow orders and I would continue fighting for her“, declared Aguilera. Upon seeing the determination of the dissidents, the officials called for police vehicles and arrested the three of them again. “They took me to the Committee of the Defense of the Revolution Unit of La Lisa where I was kept in a cell. I was very worried about my sisters considering that they had not eaten or drank anything for 72 hours, and I hadn’t either“, expressed Yris.
The three activists- Paceiro, Reyes, and Aguilera- remained in protest the entire time, refusing to accept water, food, or even to bathe. “I was locked away in a cell with a huge fence and a lock. I slept on a concrete slab”, remembers Yris, adding that “my worst day was on October 1st. My kidneys were failing me, I had a lot of pain, and I had not been able to urinate for two entire days, something that was really worrying me“.
It was strictly prohibited for any of the activists to call relatives- access to phones was completely restricted. This lack of information and lengthy detention led Antunez, husband of Yris, to declare that the women were all officially missing. “I demanded to the chief of La Lisa Police Unit that I be allowed to make phone calls, for that was my right. He simply replied by telling me that he had nothing to discuss with me“, explains Yris Tamara. “Hours later, at around 6 pm, I was taken into a police vehicle to a ‘medical encampment’. I once again refused medical attention because I knew it was yet another method of manipulation. I told them that I preferred to die with dignity instead of living humiliated“.
“I was kept there until 6 in the morning when a few officials came to tell me to go with them“, narrates the president of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement, who thought that at that moment she was going to be sentenced to actual prison terms but, as it turns out, she was going to be released. “The officials called a Special Brigade bus to come pick me up. It was rather ridiculous- there were 4 men and 3 women from the Special Brigades and one State Security Official. In other words, 8 people for one woman. At no point in time did they tell me where I was being taken but I figured I was going to be released once I saw that they also picked up Donaida and Yaimara. They left me in Placetas, a few blocks before my house“. Along the entire way Yris was vomiting after having spent such a long time in deplorable prison cells, suffering beatings, and carrying out a hunger strike- a combination of elements which led her to a deplorable state of health.
National and International Solidarity
“When I got home, I was very happy to see so many brothers and sisters who had joined me in solidarity, letting me know that neither of us women were alone at any time“, Aguilera expresses. The distinguished dissident also wished to thank the numerous organizations and individuals who demanded her unconditional freedom during her arrest which, in total, lasted 112 hours.
“To my brothers and sisters from Santa Clara who declared themselves on hunger strike, I am forever grateful“, referring to the activists from the Central Opposition Coalition who had taken on this protest in demand for the release of the three female dissidents. “To all those people in and out of the island who were concerned for us and our situation, thank you very much“.
Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ also added his gratitude for all the acts of international and national solidarity with his wife. “Thanks to such important demands made by organizations such as the Assembly of the Resistance and various other news sources which covered the situation of the women, thanks to all of this my wife and the other two women were released“, declared Garcia, adding that he also felt a profound and sincere appreciation for the Ladies in White and their gesture to dedicate their Sunday march “not only to the political prisoners but also to Yris, Sara Marta, Donaida, Yaimara, along with Yelena Napoles“.
The struggle for Sara Marta’s freedom continues
The dissident couple made it clear that the struggle for freedom for Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Ignacio Leon is nowhere near over, “because it is possible that they may be sentenced under false charges, simply for excercising their free movement . We are going to continue in the struggle, we will do everything possible to free our jailed brothers and sisters“.
Fonseca and Leon have been jailed since September 24th and have been on hunger strike since then.