Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo from Havana, and Marta Diaz Rondon from Banes, Holguin, are two other Ladies in White who were repressed by the Cuban tyranny during International Human Rights Day and the days that followed. Both women were beaten, detained, and threatened after assisting Sunday Mass in the Santa Rita Church, where they prayed for the liberation of all political prisoners as well as for the release of dissident Ivonne Malleza and her husband, both of which have been detained since last November 30th. Both Ladies in White shared their testimonies with this blog.
Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo explains that “not a single one of us women were spared from being beat. We were all dragged, scratched, cursed at, and shoved unto buses which took us all to different sections of the Alamar Police Unit“. In her own case, Fonseca suffered some very brutal blows, which left her with severe pains that forced her to remain in bed for various days. Although now better, she is still suffering serious pains.
“When they arrested me and took me to the 4th Unit of el Cerro“, narrates the Lady in White, “they put me in a cell and as they dragged me by my hair they started to beat me on the floor. There were 4 women who were hitting me with their hands open, they were pulling my hair, they hit me on my head, on my breasts, on my arms and really just all over my body“. Fonseca explains that one of those women was caught on film while she participated in a mob repudiation attack against the dissident’s home in Rio Verde a few months back. “This same woman twisted my arm in a martial arts lock- which are only taught to people like her, soldiers. She told me she was going to break my arm and I replied that she could do as she wishes, but that she will have to respond to it one day because she is filmed. So she let go of my arm”.
The activist added that there were about 10 to 12 other State Security agents watching everything from nearby her cell. One of these agents gave the order to another to kick Sara Marta (this person’s name has not been confirmed). “He was a very strong and tall man“, recalls Fonseca Quevedo, “and he just started kicking me while I was on the floor. All the while, an official who claims to be called Arcel was just staring. Arcel told the four women: ‘four women and you still can’t get the handcuffs on one woman‘”. The kicking continued, specifically on Fonseca’s kidney area, the lower stomach, and her lower back.
Fonseca suffers from two back hernias, which, according to her, is known by the regime”s police authorities. “I am convinced that these kicks and all these blows were directed to my hernias on purpose. I cannot forget that on the 4th of September (my birthday) I was arrested in Matanzas and deported back to Havana. On my way back, an official who goes by the name Perez told me that he was aware I possessed hernias and that I could ‘end up handicapped’. I took this as a threat, therefore the kicks were directed to that spot“. After the beating, she was transferred to the 10th of October Unit where she was sent to a dungeon.
In that Unit, an official from Villa Marista interrogated Fonseca, in addition to threatening her, telling her that she was not allowed to continue protesting publicly. The Cuban dissident paid no attention to this. Another G2 official, named Yoan, told Fonseca that as she increases her dissident activities and takes to the street, then the more the repression against her would grow as well. “This officer- Yoan- regularly harasses and keeps vigilance over certain homes in Rio Verde“, explains Sara Marta, also denouncing that “another official by the name of Camilo was directly threatening me during both mob repudiation acts which took place on the 9th and 10th of December, outside the home of our fallen leader Laura Pollan. Camilo was pointing at me, he was telling me to get ready because I was about to receive a brutal beat down“.
In the case of Marta Diaz Rondon, another active Lady in White, she also suffered similar beatings and threats. Rondon narrates that while the Ladies were sitting on the floor as a form of Resistance against an arbitrary detention, a mix of “revolutionary police guards, paramilitary troops, and women of low conduct” verbally offended them all and began to beat them.
“When they were dragging me towards the bus“, Rondon recalls, “they grabbed me by the neck and scratched me all over“. Just like Fonseca, Diaz Rondon spent various days with severe pains and bruises, especially on her neck.
Marta Diaz Rondon also denounced, “I was savagely hit on my breasts, as well as on my legs and on my back“. The opposition activist, who is also a member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, added that the official known as Sanper was present in the Alamar Police Unit. Sanper is responsible for countless beatings and other aggressions against Rondon and so many others who oppose the dictatorship. In this case, Sanper hurled insults and threats at the women. “He was telling us that we were very hated, and many other insults“.
All of the women who had traveled from outside of Havana were deported to their homes, under the strict vigilance of the police. In the case of Diaz Rondon, she was left out in an unknown area, where she later had to take numerous buses to reach her Eastern town of Banes, Holguin. She finally arrived during late hours of Monday, December 12th. Despite all of this, the activist refused to accept that the dictatorship tell her where and when to travel to, so she once again set off for Havana and was able to arrive on the 16th of December.
As she has declared before in many statements, even before the face of her very oppressors, Marta Diaz Rondon affirmed that the “streets belong to the people” and therefore, she could move freely throughout her country because it is her inalienable right. “The Ladies in White are not going to disappear. We are not afraid, even though we know that the henchmen are fully capable of killing us, but we will not fear them. There is much more of Marianas* here for a long time“.
Sara Marta Fonseca made it clear that “the Ladies in White and the opposition in general are holding Raul and Fidel Castro responsible for ordering so much violence. We hold them accountable for the lives of all men and women who raise their voice in defense of freedom and human rights in Cuba“.
*Mariana- A reference to Mariana Grajales, mother of Cuban independence and freedom fighter Antonio Maceo. In Cuba, when a woman is referred to as a “Mariana” it means she is very patriotic, brave, and a lover of freedom.