‘We Have Committed the ’Sin’ of Showing That in Cuba There Are Also Women Who are Killed by Sexist Violence’
An editorial published this Wednesday in the independent magazine Alas Tensas denounces the sequence of attacks by State Security on members of its editorial team in recent months. Pressures that seek to make the “self-proclaimed feminist media disappear.”
We have been subjected to “systematic harassment and attacks over the last two months,” says the editorial, going on to quote a phrase from British feminist Mary Beard, “It’s not what you say that prompts [the abuse], it’s the fact you’re saying it.”
“We have experienced demonstrations of force from all sides. The most recent has been the prohibition on traveling outside the country,” the project’s creators tell us. “Not only is our freedom of movement violated, but also our right to self-realization.”
Ileana Álvarez, director of the publication was not allowed to travel to Panama in early April to attend a workshop organized by the Latin American Center for Journalism (CELAP).
Nor was she able to attend the last stage of a fellowship at the Simone de Beauvoir Leadership Institute, the Regional School of Feminist Training based in Mexico.
The designer Yaudel Estenoz was prevented from leaving the country when he tried to travel to Trinidad and Tobago to apply for a student visa for the United States
The writer and poet Francis Sánchez, had his laptop seized by the Customs General of the Republic last March, on his arrival at the airport in Santa Clara. He is also a journalist and appears on the list of “regulated” citizens not allowed to leave the country.
“Travel bans are just the tip of the iceberg,” says the editorial. During several interrogations by State Security they were also subject to “serious accusations and threats.”
In the context of this repression, the editorial notes that, “Within the concert of spontaneous, independent modes of expression – blogs, youtubers, the weekly packet, newspapers, producers of music, video and movies… – that have been emerging recently despite great obstacles, we are the only Cuban magazine that specifically defines itself as ‘feminist.’”
It goes on to say, “They tried to root out this ideology from Cuba for being ‘bourgeois,’ and labeled it as unnecessary in the first place, by a de facto decree that the Revolution abolished all discrimination.”
However, “beyond achievements such as the right to abortion, the law of motherhood, pay equity or access to study and work, serious problems remain in Cuba, which are not talked about and that get worse, while others continue to emerge.”
“In Cuba, statistics regarding femicide are not even collected. Nor is there a law against gender violence,” the editors of Alas Tensas denounced, adding, “We have committed the ‘sin’ of showing that in Cuba there are also women who are killed by sexist violence, at the hands of abusers, and for lack of preventive action.”
The editorial also warns of the lack of freedom of expression on the island. “They accuse us of being cyber-mercenaries. They violate our privacy. They seize our equipment. They block our pages. They bring legal charges against us. They threaten us. They involve our families.”
“We advocate for our legitimate right to express ourselves freely, to make journalism attached to the truth and to be a feminist medium, concludes the editorial, adding, “we thank the people of good will, from Cuba and the world, who join us in this demand.
Alas Tensas magazine was founded at the end of 2016 and, in addition to its website, it is distributed in PDF format within the Island. The publication offers a space “for the expression of women, to cover gender issues and the search for equity.”