Sixth Sunday of Brtuality: Dissidents “Are Not Going to Stop”
Marta Díaz Rondon y Caridad Caballero Batista
Despite the fact that various headlines have attempted to distract international attention from what is occurring in Cuba, this Sunday August 28th was the 6th consecutive Sunday in which dozens of dissidents- mainly women- have been violently attacked by the regime’s forces. And, each passing day, the methods of repression are more ‘sophisticated’.
This time, the acts of hate began on Saturday when dissidents attempted to get to Palma Soriano in order to assist mass at the Cathedral of Santiago and to march with the Ladies in White on Sunday. Early that morning at around 8 am Caridad Caballero Batista and Marta Diaz Rondon were aboard a car on their way to Palma Soriano, arriving at Bayamo. Upon arriving to this city, the women noticed that there were already motorcycles and police cars belonging to State Security and the Revolutionary Police stationed around the area. It was at that moment that the agents forced the vehicle to pull over. Around 15 uniformed officers walked towards the car.
“After forcing the car to abruptly pull over“, narrates Diaz Rondon, “they dragged us out all the way into a police car. They put me in one and Caridad in another“. Inside the car both women were beat and insulted. Caridad Caballero points out that she suffered various violent blows, including a punch which broke her lips. “The person who hit me in the mouth was a man, a very tall and corpulent police officer. After hitting me in the mouth he told me he was going to break my neck“, she explains. The dissident was also choked and suffered a fracture in a finger of her hand.
They were then taken to a police center in Bayamo where they were “once again dragged throughout the floor into an office” just to be threatened and interrogated. “They were also performing locks on our necks“, explains Marta Diaz Rondon, in reference to a martial arts technique in which the attackers wrap their arms around the victims neck in a choke hold. While applying those same “locks” they dragged the women various times up and down steps to be taken into different offices, all the while suffering injuries in their backs, legs, arms, and necks.
After being held in that detainment center for a few hours, the functionaries decided that they would have to check them to see if they carried any important objects with them. The objects commonly snatched were cameras, voice recorders, pens, cell phones, or laptops. Although the women had none of this, the men ordered the other women functionaries to take off the clothes of Diaz and Caballero. “They wanted to strip us naked in front of the men while they screamed some very ugly words to us, words so ugly that I am ashamed of repeating“, explains Rondon. Caballero adds, “The men were making some sexual gestures with their fingers as they told the women to lower our pants. They were telling us that they were going to do things to us with their fingers, they were grabbing their testicles, and they used very strong and ugly words“.
Caballero Batista and Diaz Rondon were then taken to an instructions center in Holguin where they were kept in a dungeon which Rondon classified as “inhumane”. “It was a cell where all the windows were completely covered by concrete, it was very dark, we couldn’t tell if it was time or nighttime outside and it smelt very strong of urine“, she recounts. In Holguin, the women were handed a warning letter which stated that they had committed acts of public disorder. “But we didn’t cause disorder,” declares Diaz Rondon, “the disorder was on behalf of those who beat and mistreated us. We are just peaceful women armed with our white flowers and our words, demanding freedom for all Cuban political prisoners“.
They were kept in that detention center until the morning of Sunday, August 28th, 24 hours later.
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