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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Yusmany Rafael Alvarez
Despite the Sexual Harassment and the Physical Aggressions, the Women of the Rosa Parks Movement Will Continue Marching
March 5, 2012Posted by on
Every first day of the month has already started to become synonymous with acts of Resistance by the activists from the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. This past March 1st, these Cubans once again took to the streets, but this time in different areas of the island.
In Banes, the Lady in White and Vice-President of the Rosa Parks Movement, Marta Diaz Rondon, led a group of other women to the Northern Cemetery in that same town where the remains of activist Marta Cecilia Perez Duconger lay. The dissidents decided to pay tribute to this Cuban on this specific date because she was one of the founders of the Rosa Parks Movement. Although they were able to carry out their tribute, a constant surveillance by the political police surrounded the women. In Matanzas, dissident Leticia Ramos, along with other activists, also took to the street and carried out a protest march.
However, without a doubt the worst violence occurred in Placetas, where a group of women from the Rosa Parks Movement, among them their president Yris Tamara Aguilera, surprised the regime functionaries in that area and stood outside the headquarters of the Municipal Headquarters of the Communist Party demanding freedom for the political prisoners Yazmin Conyedo and Yusmany Alvarez, an end to forced evictions, and, in sum, freedom for Cuba. Other women who participated were Donaida Pérez Paseiro, Yaite Cruz Sosa and Dora Pérez Correa. According to testimonies of these same women, many everyday Cubans displayed support and solidarity with them.
In just instants, a mob made up of State Security agents surrounded the women and quickly and violently arrested Blas Fortun Martinez, a dissident from the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front who was reporting from the scene of the protest. This arrest was carried out by agent Idel Gonzalez Morfi, best known as ‘Railroad Nail’. Meanwhile, and despite the aggressions, the women kept firm and shouted “freedom” and “the streets belong to the people“.
The communist mobs did not take long to physically assault the demonstrators. In this case, the activists denounce that the women from State Security who work in the Communist Headquarters began to scratch them and even bite them. In addition, the functionaries began to take off their shoes and use them to beat the female dissidents. According to Donaida Perez, numerous passer-bys defended the dissidents, standing in between them and their aggressors.
After this display of violence, the women from the Rosa Parks Movement decided to head back to one of their homes- that of Dora Perez, which is located literally across the street from the Communist Headquarters. But State Security was not satisfied with beating them and harassing them for just a short while. Considering that the march was completely spontaneous, the agents could only manage to gather a small group of women from State Security during the initial violence. When some time had passed, the functionaries organized a larger repressive operation against the women. A number of agents surrounded the home of Dora Perez and started to hurl rocks and shout offensive slogans. Various soldiers broke into the home and beat all those inside, taking them detained, even those who did not participate in the protest, like Yaimara Reyes Mesa and Xiomara Martin Jiménez. Also, the daughter of Dora Perez, who is not even a public dissident, was beaten and arrested.
In the following audio, recorded and provided by the Cuban Democratic Directorate (in Spanish), one can hear the moment when the arrests occurred, as the dissidents are bravely confronting their oppressors and shouting “No more Castros“, “Long live Democracy“, and “freedom for the Cuban people“, among other slogans:
All the women inside the house were arrested and the soldiers even left the door of the house wide open. Yris Aguilera, Dora Perez, and Yaimara Reyes were taken to the Instructional Police Headquarters (UPOC) in Santa Clara. When news of this spread, on the next day members of the Central Opposition Coalition directed themselves to that unit, demanding the immediate liberation of the activists.
The women of the Rosa Parks Movement were released during the afternoon hours of March 3rd. But the violence did not stop there. In the case of Yris Tamara Aguilera, she was beat inside the police vehicle which was headed to leave her back at her house in Placetas. The official known as Yuniel Monteagudo Reina was the aggressor, and he is also forcefully lowered Yris’s pants, sexually harassing her. Yris protested and did not let him get any closer to her, despite his physical strength. In declarations made just minutes after this abuse, Yris denounced that agent Yuniel told her “I’m gonna tear off the pants of this nigger and I am going to get on top of her”. This was also strongly denounced by her husband, the well-known activist for human rights and opposition leader, Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’.
These women have affirmed that despite the increased violence against them every first day of the month (and any other day they voice their opinions), they will continue demonstrating in defense of human rights, against government impunity, state violence, and, in sum, the Castro dictatorship.
This information was based on Twitter messages published by the Cuban Democratic Directorate. For more information follow @DirectorioCuba.
And from Cuba: Yris Tamara Aguilera – Cell: 011-5352- 417-749, Twitter: @YrisCuba / Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez – Cell: 011-5352- 731-656, Twitter: @AntunezCuba
November 23, 2011Posted by on
On the morning of November 20th, Idania Yanez Contreras received a peculiar phone call from Yulema Benitez Sigler. Yanez, along with various other dissidents, had been helping Benitez Sigler as she was going through a forced eviction at the hands of the Cuban regime. In the phone call, Sigler told Idania (and the rest of the dissidents) to not show up in her house as they had planned to do so on that Monday, the day in which the authorities had declared they would demolish the house, saying that the regime had already given her a free plot of land and had already constructed her a new home. But dissident Yanez Contreras noticed that Yulema was crying and something was wrong. This led her to call another opposition member who lives nearer to Yulema and she asked him to please investigate what was really happening. As it turns out, according to Benitez herself, a State Security official by the last name of Gil along with a political police official, had threatened her with prison time and with taking away her three children if she did not make that phone call. It was a plan to keep activists away and to impede any sort of public protest.
Upon hearing this, Idania Yanez decided to go on with the original plans and she and a group of dissidents head out towards the humble and improvised home of Yulema, located by the Sagua Highway, Kilometer 1 1/2 in Santa Clara. With very little help, “Yulema constructed that house on a dump site“, explains Yanez, “along with her small children- the eldest who is 11, and the younger two who are 7 and 8- they cleaned out the site and managed to get rid of some animals living there. She had to sell the only television set she had in order to purchase the wood to make the house“. The family had no running electricity and the only light they had emanated from candles.
The first group of dissidents arrived to the house at around 6 AM on that Monday- they were three activists from the United Anti-Totalitarian Council: Yasmin Riveron, Yusmany Rafael Alvarez, and Jose Luis Lopez. They were also the first to be removed from the premises by force and then aggressively detained by State Security and political police agents. Just a few minutes after, another group of three (Damaris Moya Portieles, Enrique Martinez Marin, and Idania Yanez) was approaching the area. However, Yanez explains, they were also all violently arrested, detained, and sent off to different police units.
“Damaris was taken to the Encrucijadas Unit, Enrique deported back to the municipality of Manicaragua, and I was kept in a Police Unit of Santa Clara“, narrates Yanez, “Yasmin, Yusmany, and Jose were also detained in a police unit of that region“.
It was at that moment that the forces of the regime began to demolish Yulema’s house. When this news reached other members of the Resistance, some began to protest publicly. Yanez tells that “the fellow dissidents Guillermo del Sol Pérez, Alcides Rivera Rodríguez, Víctor Castillo Ortega, Ana Rosa Alfonso, Jose Luis Lopez, María del Carmen López, Ramón Abreu, Mayra García, Rolando Ferrer Espinosa and Omar Núñez Espinosa all showed up and began to protest outside the Police Unit where some of us were being kept“. All these activists who joined in solidarity were also arrested and taken into detention cells of the same Unit.
Other dissidents- Alberto Reyes Morales, Michel Oliva Lopez, Yanisbel Valido Perez, and Rodolfo Perez Benitez- decided to also protest outside that Unit. Though these were not detained, they remained there the entire day until 8:30 PM when the last of the activists was released.
“As of now, we do not know the whereabouts or situation of Yulema Benitez Sigler and her young children“, declared Idania Yanez to this blog during the afternoon hours of Tuesday, November 22nd. “What we do know is that her smallest son- 7 year old Reiko- fainted” during the violent arrests and the demolishing of the house.
Idania Yanez was savagely beaten and arrested a mere two weeks ago and suffered serious health complications along with her husband Alcides Rivera Rodriguez and dissident Rolando Ferrer Espinosa who were both on hunger strike at the time. Despite the fact that they were still recuperating they decided to try and assist a victim of the abuses of the Cuban dictatorship, someone who has not committed a single crime.