Pedazos de la Isla
March 15th, 2012
Noralys Martin Hernandez and Taimi Vega Biscet are two young Cuban women who live on opposite sides of the island (Hernandez lives in the town of San Juan & Martinez, Pinar del Rio, in the Western Cuba, and Biscet lives in the Eastern town of Palma Soriano), but they have many things in common, starting with their public and civic opposition to the Cuban regime. Both women are Ladies in White. Both are only 22 years old and their husbands, who are also dissidents, are 31. And recently in the month of February of 2012, both women suffered miscarriages due to the aggressions they were subjected to during violent operations carried out against them by the Cuban political police.
Despite having suffered the loss of their unborn children and the fact that they are still recuperating health-wise, Noralys and Taimi continue being victims, along with their families, of vigilance, threats, and acts of repudiation on behalf of State Security, the political police, and other Cuban functionaries.
Noralys Martin Hernandez
On the afternoon of February 27th, a number of Ladies in White and dissidents decided to hold an event in solidarity with various human rights activist who were on hunger strike at the time as a form of protest against the regime. The event took place in Noralys Martin Hernandez’s parent’s home. Because numerous dissidents were all in the same spot, an act of repudiation was organized outside the house, which was made up by State Security officials, police officers dressed in civilian clothing, some neighbors, and the delegate of the local Communist Party. These aggressors interrupted the meeting of dissidents and began to shout insults at them. It was at that moment that Noralys decided to step outside and peacefully confront the Communist delegate, asking her why she was carrying out such a hateful act. The response of the functionary was to continue insulting and threatening the activist. This hostile approach created “much stress” for Noralys who was 3 months pregnant at the time. This aggressive atmosphere lasted until 8:30 PM when Martin Hernandez started to “feel very strong pains in her lower abdomen“.
On the following morning, on Tuesday February 28th, the Lady in White urgently rushed to the nearest hospital because her pains had only increased and she also had a fever and was bleeding. The doctor who examined her told her she had to rest, and almost at that same moment, Hernandez explains that “I started to feel even stronger pains, to the point that I nearly lost conscience and then that’s when the miscarriage occurred“.
The dissident was released from the hospital hours after this grave situation, only to return on the following morning because she was still bleeding. In the hospital, she had to wait various hours to be tended to. When a doctor finally saw her, he informed her that she had suffered an incomplete miscarriage on the previous day and that she had just aborted again. An incomplete miscarriage occurs when the evacuation of the uterine contents is partial and ovular and/or membrane pieces are still in the interior of the uterus. Once again, after a few X-rays, the doctor sent the young activist back home with orders to rest. But her bleeding and fever continued. She returned to the hospital with her husband and another Lady in White at around 2 in the afternoon and she was not tended to until 4. “All the residents of the city of Pinar del Rio go to the Provincial Abel Santamaria Hospital with all their problems. And even then, only one doctor was there and he was not even a professional doctor, but instead a medicine student. He was also from another country, which meant he barely spoke Spanish and he really did not know the diagnosis too well“.
This time, the doctor ordered Noralys to check-in to the hospital, considering that there were still some remains left. After a lengthy process, she was administered with antibiotics and was taken to an isolated room. The activist noticed that despite her serious condition, she was under the surveillance of numerous State Security agents. “These agents would practically not even let me go to the bathroom“, the dissident said. These Cuban officials remained stationed in the hospital. In fact, when various Ladies in White and other dissidents suspended their Sundays activities to instead visit their sister-in-struggle, “the agents forcefully removed the Ladies from the room during visiting hours. They asked me why these people were visiting me and I told them that they were my family and, besides, that I am a dissident and Lady in White“, denounced Hernandez. The agents even took repressive measures against Noralys’ mother who was very worried about her daughter considering that she was taken to an even more isolated room where she would not have access to a phone or visits.
After various tests and very little information from the doctors, Noralys remained interned in the hospital until Tuesday when the nurses informed her that she was to leave. “They practically kicked me out of the hospital“, said Hernandez, adding that “I still have pains and a bit of bleeding. I think that what they really wanted to do was get me out of the hospital so that what they fear the most would not happen- that we dissidents come together and that the people start to know the truth“.
The aggressive measures against Noralys Hernandez had begun weeks before her miscarriage. Due to her human rights activism and her membership within the Ladies in White, mobs organized by State Security and the local Communist Party delegation have been insulting, harassing, and repudiating her in her workplace- a primary school where she teaches fine arts. In fact, Cuban agents have told the director of her school to expel the activist. According to her own testimonies, Noralys emphasizes that “I do not teach the slightest bit of politics, I respect my students. But my husband is an active dissident and they (the regime) do not want to allow that the wife of a dissident, who is also a Lady in White, to teach in a primary school“. For this reason, State Security has also ordered members of the Communist Youth to shout insults at Noralys while she is in the middle of class.
The pressure in Noraly’s workplace had reached the point that she could not even leave the building during lunchtime, seeing as “they had stationed a municipal education vehicle outside the main school door so that in case I step out of those perimeters they would arrest me“. State Security agents have frequently pressured her director to fire her and have threatened her friends to cease their relationships with her.
“It is possible that they will officially expel me from my job (after I recuperate from this situation)“, assures Noralys, “They have already been oppressing my family and I for a long time“.
Her husband, Jose Rolando Casares Soto, who was notably affected by the loss of his child, blamed the Cuban regime for the tragedy, pointing out that “the political police is nothing else but a tool used by the totalitarian regime of the Castro brothers. I hold them responsible for this horrible experience we are living through“.
For such reasons, Casares Soto, who has been living with various years of repression due to his involvement in the pro-human rights organizations “Republican Party” of Cuba and the Pinar el Rio Democratic Alliance, expressed that “all dissidents should continue uniting- not just those from Pinar del Rio, but throughout the entire island- so we can stand up against these people who choke and suffocate our freedoms in this country“.
Taimi Vega Biscet
When Taimi Vega Biscet, Lady in White from Palma Soriano, was on her way to the Cobre Sanctuary on Saturday February 18th so that she could arrive early to mass on the following morning, she was detained by one State Security official and three police agents. These arbitrary arrests are common throughout Cuba during the weekends and they constitute a repressive operation of the Cuban regime which tries to impede all Ladies in White from assisting mass on Sundays.
“They forced me down from the car I was on, they checked all the white clothes I was carrying in a bag and they seized all my belongings“, explained Vega Biscet, adding that the agents began to “interrogate me, asking me where I was going to and who I was“. This detention occurred at two in the afternoon and lasted until nine in the evening. “During this entire time they had me there under the scorching sun and later the wind“, explained Biscet, who was 6 months pregnant at the time. After some hours, the activist started feeling “strong lower abdomen pains, dizziness, and strong headaches“. She was not permitted to call her husband even for a second.
A police vehicle and Suzuki motorcycle (commonly used by State Security officials) arrived on the scene. Major Dorki threatened Biscet, even shining a flashlight on her face when the sun had already gone down. It was a moment of harassment which caused much worry and stress for the young dissident. “Then they put me up on a very tall truck“, says Biscet, “and I think that is one of the things which caused the most damage to me because I was suffering from many pains when they put me up there on that truck“. The truck drove to the Confrontation Unit of Palma Soriano, where the driver got off and delivered orders to the Lady in White to remain where she was.
Despite these orders, Biscet escaped the truck through the backdoor and managed to borrow a phone in order to call her husband. In addition, the young Cuban looked for and boarded an independently owned car which dropped her off right in front of her home. But during this time, Taimi noticed that a State Security motorcycle had been following her all the way back and even outside of her own house.
“When I arrived to my house, my pains continued so I decided to go to bed but it was futile. I was already bleeding. I always had the faith that I was going to be able to save my child but at around 1 AM a sharp pain awoke me and when I tried to get out of bed, the miscarriage occurred right there“, explained Taimi. She urgently rushed to the hospital with her husband and she was “cleansed” and was prescribed medication. “It can be said that the visit to the hospital was clandestine because the doctor did not want to give me any paper, he did not want to print a clinical history for me“.
A hostile atmosphere created by the political police has remained against Taimi Vega Biscet and her husband Yuniesky Dominguez Gonzalez. In fact, the mother of Biscet, who is not in agreement with her daughter’s activism and who is a functionary of the Ministry of Health, has had agents “show her videos of me assisting mass as a Lady in White” in a tactic to pressure her to tell her daughter to abandon her opposition to the regime because it could bring problems for her in her workplace. “This has hurt me very much, because my mother has chosen to defend this system instead of me. She is a victim of this regime and she has let herself be manipulated by them“. In addition to this, there has also been much harassment against Biscet’s 5 year old son considering that they live in a neighborhood located at the center of a military zone and that they are the only family in the area that are open dissidents. Taimi and Yuniesky (who is the step-father of the child) decided to send off the young one to the home of another relative because their own neighborhood has become too dangerous. “I already lost one and I do not want to lose the other“, said Biscet.
Yuniesky Dominguez, who is an active member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and of the Human Rights Observatory of Cuba declared that “the measures being taken against us as a married couple have been due to our constant and persistent struggle against the regime of the Castro brothers“, outlining that “what really does worry me a lot is the security of my wife and of our child“.
Yuniesky added “that I lost my unborn child, which I have always wanted to have, even more now that I am 31 years old“. The young dissident explains that he is originally from Havana, he graduated from a military academy and served in the Cuban Armed Forces but he soon became aware of the reality of the country and began to publicly oppose the communist system. Instantly, he was expelled from his ranks and deported from the province of Havana. Yuniesky ended up in the eastern town of Palma Soriano and found a home in a “neighborhood which is very hostile, because we are living in the midst of a military community. The head of the Ministry of the Interior for this area lives here and all the local military chiefs too. And they cannot conceive that there is a dissident living among them. But Cuba does not belong to them, Cuba belongs to all Cubans and I chose where I want to live“.
“I am asking all international organizations, those who are in favor of human rights, who are pro-life, pro-freedom, and all those who simply care, so that they show interest in us, the non-violent Cuban dissidents, and also in the case of my wife and I because we really do not know how this will finish. Every single day that I get up from bed the regime carries out new repressive methods against us“, declares Yuniesky, clearly affected by the loss of his child.
Under this repressive system, it is difficult to predict what will happen with people like Taimi and Yuniesky in Palma Soriano and Noralys and Jose in Pinar del Rio. For this reason, this blog joins the call to international organizations of good-will so that they denounce and intercede for these Cubans who simply put their human rights in practice and suffer reprisals for it.
“There have already been two of us suffering through this situation“, said Taimi Vega Biscet, in reference to the miscarriages she and Noralys suffered, “and there will be more“.
To contact Noralys Martin Hernández directly: +53-53-312-212 (Cell Phone) // Taimi Vega Biscet: +53-52-997-961 (Cell Phone)