The Case of Damaris Moya: The Violence Against Women in Cuba Continues

Dissident Idania Yanez Contreras describes the beating she, Damaris Moya, and other female dissidents suffered at the hands of the political police recently.

Idania Yanez Contreras

On June 25th in Santa Clara, forces of the political police and the G2 unleashed a violent police operation against various dissidents.  These pro-democracy activists did not rob anything, they did not break laws, did not present some sort of danger to the life of anyone, and were not behaving disrespectfully towards anyone.  The reason for their detainment, their arrests, and their beatings was only because they were displaying solidarity with the Methodist pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collado who was receiving threats due to his tolerant posture, sharing much friendship with many dissidents.  According to the testimony of Idania Yanez Contreras, who was one of the many present at the peaceful demonstration, there were “more than 50 dissidents, all of who were arrested“.  Among those demonstrators was Damaris Moya, 37 year old dissident who was savagely beaten to the point where she lost consciousness  and had to be urgently rushed to the hospital.

Idania Yanez recounts that after Damaris was arrested and taken to the police unit of Santa Clara (along with her), there “she received two blows on her head- the first one made her stagger, while the second one was the one which made her lose consciousness.  This occurred inside the Santa Clara police unit, and the blows were delivered by 3 Special Brigade officers under orders of the State Security Major Pablo Echemendia“.  Although Moya lost her consciousness- something which requires urgent and special attention- the prison authorities kept her without medical treatment.  “She spent the entire night on a chair until her consciousness came back“, explains Yanez.  Afterward, Damaris Moya was taken to the same detention center where Idania Yanez was being kept.  It was at that moment that Yanez could see the deplorable state in which her sister-in-struggle was in.  “I noticed that she was vomiting.  I started screaming out to the other brothers in struggle which were jailed there as well, I started yelling that she was in bad shape, that she had lost consciousness, etc.”, the dissident describes.  Due to the incessant protests by Idania and other dissidents, the authorities had no other option but to transfer Damaris to a clinic where various X-rays were done on her, all the while State Security agents were in the room with her, keeping a tight watch over her.

Later on that day, the majority of the jailed dissidents were released.  When Idania made it back to her house she was able to see Damaris once again.  She was in the same exact deplorable condition as before.  “We decided to take her to the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital and she was checked-in there“, affirms Yanez, “at this very moment her headaches have not gone away.  The neurologists have said that she does not have anything serious.  Damaris could not urinate for more than 20 hours, they had to put monitors and serums on her, and this really worries us“.  And in reality, it is justly a worrying case, considering that on June 29th Damaris was given medical leave from the hospital despite the fact that she was treated adequately and that her pains were still as strong as when she was checked in.  On the same day of her release from the hospital, so too was the hunger striking dissident Guillermo del Sol Perez who has maintained his strike since June 17th demanding that the “banished evangelical pastors be put back in their clerical positions in Santa Clara“.  Just as occurs with Damaris Moya, del Sol Perez is not in conditions to be out of the hospital, with blood clots and other ailments.  “It seems that they do not even want to let dissidents into churches or hospitals“, declares Yanez Contreras.

Idania Yanez was also victim of a beating.  “I was beaten at the moment of the arrest, and they filmed everything.  I have a bruise on my left arm which occurred right after the arrest“, she explains.  Beatings against peaceful and defenseless (but very brave) Cuban women has increased under the Castro dictatorship (although they have always done this).  Luis Felipe Rojas, activist and blogger, has also been reporting through his Twitter account and blog of the beating given to Jacquelin Garcia just for standing by her jailed dissident husband Ariel Arzuaga.  On June 29th, Rojas used his Twitter to report that “Jacquelin said that various male police officers beat her while they arrested her, and she still has bruises all over her arms and body” and that her “telephone was taken from her“.

Meanwhile, the Methodist pastor Yordi Toranzo Collado, which Idania Yanez, Damaris Moya, and others rallied in support for, was expelled from his position at the Methodist Church of Santa Clara by the Methodist Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz who was accompanied by G2 agents and members of the Communist Party at the time of the expulsion.  Diaz made it clear that Collado’s expulsion was because of his relationship with various opposition members.  On one hand, a completely peaceful woman languishes outside a hospital without medical care and a pastor faces the harsh reality of not being able to freely practice his faith just because his friends oppose the dictatorship.

That is how life goes in Cuba.


Babalu Blog has posted various photos of Damaris Moya, taken recently after she was beat.

The Case of Damaris Moya: The Violence Against Women in Cuba Continues

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