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Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day in Cuba: Breaking the Silence

Women in Cuba are being badly beaten, mutilated, threatened with rape and extra-judicially executed by a government that some claim is pro-women. How can this be going on? 

Today, International Women's Day is a chance to speak truth to power and in the same manner that a candle can illuminate a dark room. Hopefully, people of good will can bring light to this sad reality.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are five that deserve your attention:

Yris Perez Aguilera
 Yris Perez , Damarys Moya ,Yanisbel Valido, Natividad Blanco and Ramona Garcia were beaten and arrested in Santa Clara for marching on March 7, 2013.  Yris Perez Aguilera had been beaten so badly that she lost consciousness and had to be admitted to a hospital. When she regained consciousness despite still being in a bad state she was discharged on orders of State Security. Due to the multiple beatings she has received from government agents Yris Perez Aguilera has developed a cyst on the top of the spine where it meets her head.  She frequently suffers migraines, dizziness spells and other sharp pains due to the repeated attacks which she has not been able to tend to medically. The man who assaulted Yris on March 7, 2013 is Eric Francis Aquino Yera, the same official who, in 2012, threatened to rape the 5 year old daughter of Damaris Moya- Lazara Contreras.

Marina Montes Piñón
 Marina Montes Piñón, a 60 year old woman and long time opposition activist, was beaten with a blunt object by regime agents on December 15, 2012 in Cuba. The end result was three deep wounds in the skull and a hematoma in the right eye. She needed nearly thirty stitches to patch up the wounds.

Berenice Héctor González
 Berenice Héctor González, a 15-year old young woman, suffered a knife attack on November 4, 2012 for supporting the women's human rights movement, The Ladies in White. News of the attack only emerged a month later because State Security had threatened the mother that her daughter would suffer the consequences if she made the assault public.

Damaris Moya Portieles and her daughter
Human rights activist and member of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, Damaris Moya Portieles, denounced on  May 3rd 2012 that in addition to having been the victim of a violent arrest along with other dissidents the previous night, State Security and political police agents threatened to rape her 5 year old daughter. According to Portieles, the main culprit of this threat was the State Security agent Eric Francis Aquino Yera.

Laura Inés Pollán Toledo
 Laura Inés Pollán Toledo, one of the founders of the Ladies in White in March of 2003 and its chief spokeswoman was widely admired inside of Cuba and internationally. She fell suddenly ill and died within a week on October 14, 2011 in a manner that a Cuban medical doctor described as "painful, tragic and unnecessary." This was just days after the Ladies in White declared themselves a human rights organization dedicated to the freedom of all political prisoners, not just their loved ones.

Women are dying in Cuba for defending their fundamental human rights using nonviolent means.  Will you speak out for them?

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