Dissident Testimonies: Hospital Break-In, Savage Beating, and Arrest

Yris Tamara Aguilera, Antunez, Idania Yanez

The last group of Cuban dissidents who were brutally attacked and arrested by the political police this past 31st of October in the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital of Santa Clara were released this 3rd of November.

Activist Jorge Luis Antunez explains that the purpose of such a congregation of more than 15 dissidents in the hospital was to demonstrate solidarity with hunger strikers Alcides Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer who had been urgently rushed to the hospital after 29 days of their ongoing protest.  Also, the dissidents wanted to accompany Idania Yanez, wife of Alcides Rodriguez.

It was a completely peaceful atmosphere among the dissidents, we were there in solidarity“, recounts Antunez, continuing, “After a while, my wife Yris and I head upstairs to the B-Medical Room, Bed 11 to keep Alcides some company.  It was then that we received a call from Idania from the lobby.  She was telling us that government agents were entering the building- they were political police and Rapid Response Brigade agents, sent to arrest dissidents“.  The dissident from Placetas shares that he did not think that the officials would go to the point of breaking into the intensive care center where there were many gravely-ill patients- men, women, old and young.  However, the agents paid no attention to this.

The police officers broke into the room and “brutally arrested us without telling us a thing, savagely beating us at the same time”.  The couple was then dragged throughout all of the hospital to the outside and shoved inside police vehicles.  “While they were dragging us“, narrates Antunez, “we could hear screams of patients and those accompanying them, protesting against the situation“.

Both Yris and Antunez were taken, while being beat, to the Police Unit of Caibarien.

Idania Yanez, Damaris Moya, Yanisbel Valido, Rene Quiroga, and others were also victims of physical aggression and an arbitrary arrest.  The Assembly of the Resistance, an umbrella group of dissident organizations in and out of Cuba, published a testimony, through the Cuban Democratic Directorate’s website, of the horrors Damaris Moya went through.  In the testimony, Moya denounced that both she and Idania Yanez were dragged from a police vehicle to the police center known as “UPOC”.  Moya explains that in the case of Yanez, she was taken into the Unit by various agents who were “punching her on her abdomen, on her head, and all over her body“.

The report continues, “I was able to break free from a female agent who held a tight grip on me and I ran towards Idania and Yanisbel.  Yanisbel was being choked, she had turned very red.  They were continuously punching Idania.  It was then that a guard from Guamajal- a very tall and corpulent woman- hit me on my head.  I fell hard against the prison bars.  At that moment, my hands and feet began to grow numb.  My feet were swollen and I couldn’t move.  They left me on the floor and they once again pounded Idania, punching her and dragging her into a jail cell“.

The officials then turned to Damaris and began to kick her while on the floor.  She couldn’t get up.  They sat her on a chair and were screaming at her to get up.  “A doctor came and opened my eyes and then told me I didn’t have anything.  They continued the same thing.  They screamed at me to get up.  They grabbed my hair and hurled me to the floor, chair and all.  I was once again dragged, by the hair as usual, but only one of them was grabbing my hair, the other two were kicking me at the same time.  They threw me into a cell where there was a red ant pile and I was just left there after they tore off my clothes and left me in my underwear“.

According to Moya, the functionary who ordered so much violence against these women was Yuniel Monteagudo Reina, a State Security agent.  The dissident also recounts that Idania was savagely beaten on the face and on her eyes, which caused her to swell up.  Yanez was also bleeding from her back.  She had a long scratch which Moya speculates could have not been done with a hand or nails, but instead with some sort of object.

Idania Yanez was taken to the State Security Barracks of Santa Clara while Damaris was taken to the Unit of Encrucijadas, where she carried out a protest, refusing to eat any food or drink any liquids, despite the constant threats and insults.  She was released Wednesday night.

While all these dissidents were being tortured and arrested, the hunger striker Rolando Ferrer was kicked out of the hospital while Alcides Rodriguez remained alone.  For that reason, on Tuesday November 1st Guillermo Farinas, a veteran in his own right with hunger strikes, head out to visit his brother in struggle at the hospital.  The political police did not allow Farinas to enter the hospital and they also beat him aggressively.  He remained detained until the morning hours of November 3rd.

During that same afternoon of the 3rd, all the dissidents who were still arrested during this operation were released, except for Idania.  Information about her whereabouts and condition was very scarce which led to various activists- Damaris Moya and Antunez among others- to declare that if by 5 PM Idania had not arrived to her house, they would carry out a protest in the streets of Santa Clara all the way to the detention center in which she was being held.  Shortly thereafter it was reported that Yanez was released but her family took her directly to the hospital due to the fact that she had suffered countless severe physical blows and was in a very bad state of health.  According to her mother, who denounced the violations her daughter suffered, the last few times Idania has been detained she has ended up in the hospital afterward because of all the blows she has suffered.

“I am very concerned about our beloved sister in struggle, Idania Yanez, because she has been severely injured“, declared Antunez- a worry he shares with all his other brothers and sisters in struggle, “We are all holding the Castro dictatorship accountable in regards to what may happen to Idania“.

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