A Summary of State Violence Against Minors in Matanzas, Cuba

In the province of Matanzas, an 18 year old Cuban girl is beaten, arrested, and injected.  In the same province, a 17 year old Cuban boy is arrested at gunpoint

Among the constant violent arrests, arbitrary detentions, and police harassment against Cuban human rights activists in the central province of Matanzas, two cases of abuse against minor-age relatives of dissidents occurred recently.  These happened on Tuesday, March 27th, as Pope Benedict XVI was traveling from the Eastern province of Santiago to Havana where he would give his final Mass on the island:

Yisabel Marrero Burunate, the eldest daughter of Caridad Burunate, a Lady in White from Matanzas and member of the pro-human rights group known as the Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy.  Just a few months ago, Yisabel turned 18 years old.  While Pope Benedict XVI was on his way to Havana, the arrests in the area of Colon, Matanzas intensified.  Just 300 meters away from the home of Burunate, a dissident was being violently arrested when Yisabel decided to step out of her house in his defense, screaming at his oppressors so that they cease beating him.  She thought they were going to kill him.

The paramilitary brigades detained the dissident amid kicks and they then turned to assault Yisabel.  Out in the street before the view of the public, the soldiers ruthlessly beat her.  William Acevedo Roque, a friend of Yisabel who is 17 years old, tried to protect Yisabel, covering her with his arms.  William was also violently attacked and ended up arrested, confined to a pestilent dungeon during that entire night and during the entire following day.

As this all occurred, Caridad Burunate was surrounded in her own house by a cordon of more than 50 political police officials, Rapid Response Brigade members, and various government ‘snitches’.  These functionaries started to scream obscenities and offenses at the Lady in White.  They threatened her, telling her that if she stepped out of her house she would be arrested.  As a form of protest, Burunate hung a sign on her porch which read “give me my daughter back, she was kidnapped“.  She also had another sign which said “the Castro tyranny is not letting me travel to Havana to assist the Pope’s Mass“.

Felipe Marrero, Caridad’s husband and the father of Yisabel, managed to head out to the State Security Unit of Colon along with Regla Burunate, Caridad’s sister.  They started to protest in front of the unit, demanding the liberation of the young Yisabel.  After 2 am, she was released.

The young Cuban was full of bruises and she said that she had suffered an asthma attack which was ignored by her oppressors, who shoved her into a dungeon.  Without parental consent or authorization, Yisabel was injected with two drgus-  Diazepam and Benadrilina, both of which are used in Cuba to treat patients who suffer from mental disorders.  For the rest of the world, Diazepam was discontinued, but such is not the case for Cuba.  Before returning the girl to her father, regime agents took her to a doctor so that he would write a medical report which stated that Yisabel had not been beaten.  However, the doctor chose to stay true to his conscience and declared that he would not write up a false report, according to Yisabel herself.

Meanwhile, another similar case of repression in the same province was that of Ernesto Martinez Gonzalez, a 17 year old Cuban who was arrested at gunpoint.  This arrest was carried out by a political police official.  The agent threatened the youth by putting a gun to his head, only because Ernesto had defended his uncle, the dissident Carlos Olivera who is also an activist from the Pedro Luis Boitel Democracy Party and who was being violently arrested by the Cuban police at that moment.  Olivera was victim of a beating before being introduced into a police vehicle, while his brother-in-law Richer Martinez Rodriguez, and another relative Leslier Morales Torres were also arrested.  These dissidents were only trying to leave their homes and travel to Havana in order to participate in the papal Mass which would take place on March 28th.  According to their own testimonies, the activists assured that it was thanks to international solidarity that they were released two days later, but each dissident received fines of 30 pesos.

According to relatives and his own testimony, Ernesto Martinez is still suffering from “panic” and “trauma” after being arrested under such violent conditions.

For more information from Cuba:

Caridad Burunate – Cell Phone:  +5352 – 563 – 003       // Twitter: @CaridadBurunate

Also follow the Twitter account of this Cuban exiled activist: @Mspianoteacher

A Summary of State Violence Against Minors in Matanzas, Cuba

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