Yamilet Garro Alfonso, sister of Sonia Garro Alfonso, who has been unjustly imprisoned since March 18th 2012 simply for being a human rights activist and member of the Ladies in White in Cuba, said this Sunday August 5th 2012, through a communication made possible by independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, that her sister was recently harassed, violently beaten and confined to a punishment cell for 11 days in the Manto Negro Prison (Havana) where she resides.
The violence occurred when the penal guards transferred Sonia to the Combinado del Este Prison, as they had allowed her a brief visit with one of her brothers who is imprisoned in that center. According to Yamilet, at the moment when a guard from the Combinado Prison told Sonia that the visit time was up and that she had to be transferred back to Manto Negro, it began to rain and the activist explained that she could not be transferred at that moment because she could not get wet, due to the fact that she was sick and suffers from other medical conditions. The guard simply repeated that she had to be taken back and said that he did not care “because all worms should be underground“.
Sonia Garro was finally taken back to Manto Negro despite the rain. Once there, the authorities took ‘disciplinary measures’ against her. “Sonia said that she had nothing else to say and sat on the floor in the form of protest“, explained Yamilet, “they told her she would be taken to a punishment cell… they carried her, they beat her, they ripped all her clothes off of her and she was kept for 11 days in the punishment cell, without any medical attention”
However, Sonia Garro is not the only one under harassment by the forces of the Cuban regime. Her sister, Yamilet, narrates that “they did not inform me that she was in a punishment cell, knowing that I am the one who goes to visit her. I went twice to the prison during that period and they did not let me see her“, explaining that, for her, the process to make it to the prison is not easy, considering that she has to take care of her underage children. “I spent 15 days without any information about her state of health. Last Sunday [July 29th] was the day in which she was taken out of the punishment cell“.
In addition, Yamilet has suffered threats on behalf of the political police due to the activism of her sister. “I am receiving threats from the military police, saying that I cannot assist gatherings of the Ladies in White. They have prohibited my son from continuing his studies after graduating from the ninth grade. They have threatened my neighbors and, in reality, I am afraid, not for me but for my children“.
Ramón Muñoz González, husband of Sonia Garro, is also imprisoned since the same date of March 18th 2012. He is in the Combinado del Este Prison. He was arrested as he defended his wife from the aggressions of the police agents. In fact, both were shot with rubber bullets by the police. Munoz Gonzalez also suffers tortures in prison. His jailers have ripped all of his clothes and demand him to wear the common prisoners uniform, something which he has completely refused to do. He is currently in a cell without a shirt.
Sonia Garro Alfonso y Ramón Muñoz González are two of the many who were detained during a repressive crackdown by the Cuban regime in March, just days prior to Pope Benedict’s visit to the island, though most other detainees were released eventually. Also imprisoned from around that time are Niurka Luque Álvarez (also a Lady in White), Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Dany López de Moya, Bismark Mustelier Galán, among others.
Listen to the testimony of Yamilet Garro Alfonso, narrating the arbitrary actions against Sonia and Ramon (in Spanish):
Audio courtesy of former political prisoner and independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo and the activist @mspianoteacher.