Testimony of activist Damaris Moya Portieles after State Security agents threatened to rape her 5 year old daughter recently.
The situation occurred in Santa Claraon Wednesday, May 2nd, when 18 peaceful dissidents- members of the Central Opposition Coalition, the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, and of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front- were congregated to carry out the accustomed weekly candlelight vigil to demand freedom for all political prisoners. After the vigil, we stepped outside to the street to take a picture of our group. We also shouted “freedom for the political prisoners” and “democracy for the Cuban people”.
More than 80 State Security agents and members of the Special Brigades from the Ministry of the Interior (who had been keeping an eye on the house during the entire vigil) ran at us and started to beat us.
They savagely beat me and they dragged me by my hair, then shoving me into the police vehicle, detaining me and taking me to the Instructional Unit. None of this is new. In fact, it occurs frequently. In addition, they took many other brothers-in-struggle who were also at the vigil with the same violence. If what I have said until now were the only thing that occurred, perhaps I wouldn’t even be sharing it, but the most painful part was what came next.
When I arrived at the Unit, the agents put me in a cell. It was here where the horrors began.
I recall that agent Eric Francis Aquino Yera was the officer on watch that night. Yera is highly dangerous because of his predatory instincts. This officer ordered two supposed common prisoners to shout from another cell that they were going to rape my 5 year old daughter. I cannot forget those obscene words which they used to describe everything they would do to my innocent child “by the back and by the front”. I protested, I told them they were pigs and abusers. They just screamed more at me.
I wish I had the sufficient valor to textually repeat the words they used, but I cannot. They terrify me. I can only say that one of those two people was most aggressive, and his voice could be heard over that of the other, and it was more cruel and threatening each time, while I could hear the satisfied cackle of Aquino Yera.
This torture lasted all night and I felt very bad and was worried for Lazarita. I was desperate for daytime to come; I wanted to be able to let my husband and my mother know so that they could keep an eye on her, so that they would not send her off to school.
Those screams and insults did not allow me to think straight. When they stopped, I could still hear them- those horrible words and descriptions of what they were going to do to my little girl sounded like thunder in my ears. I would tightly shut my eyes but I would then see the laughing and disgusting face of agent Eric Francis Aquino Yera, and on top of that, I imagined my beloved Lazarita screaming, amid fear and pain, among those evil uniformed men pretending to be prisoners.
I wanted to pray for my girl, but I could not even concentrate, though I knew it was the only thing which could help me. I needed a Rosary in my hands, but it was impossible. I looked at my shoes, but they always remove our shoe laces when they arrest us. I started to rip off some threads from my shirt. I started tying them together while I cried in silence, biting my lips and feeling very desperate. My heart was in pain and I felt helpless amid so much abuse and impunity.
My lips started to bleed. Later, my head began to hurt and I thought of the physical blows and the pulling of my hair. I felt like if I was going to go crazy. I even ripped some of my hairs off to add them to the Rosary I was putting together with the strings of my shirt.
Finally, without even noticing, I was praying. But it was odd, because I always pray for the health of my two children, my mother, and my husband. But now I was asking God: “Please help me, may Lazara feel some sort of stomachache or headache so that she is not taken to school until I can send out a message so that she won’t go to not be in danger”.
Amid that agony, daylight finally came and they released me half way through the morning. The first thing I did was to call my house and ask for my daughter. They told me she was fine and in school. I desperately ran to the school and took her home.
I sat down with my husband, my mother and my sister-in-struggle Idania Yanez Contreras. I told them everything that had happened to me and I decided to not take my daughter back to school until State Security officials could assure me that nothing was going to happen to her. I then went with my husband and daughter to the local military office to hand in our complaint, which, up to this moment, I have had no response.
Desperate and in search of help, I went to the local Del Carmen Church inSanta Claraand I told everything that had happened to Father Guillermo. I also told him of the fear I felt for my daughter, but instead of finding comfort I was shocked. He told me: “If the government has reached the point of extremes, what you must do is cease being in the opposition and dedicate yourself to take care of your daughter, especially fulfilling what must be done”.
I know very well that the duty of all mothers is to watch over their children, and I do that every single day. But in reality, I was excepting another message from the priest- a message of support, a piece of Christian advice.
I do not believe that I am doing anything wrong. On the contrary, my struggle is for the rights and happiness of an entire nation. And even if I were doing something wrong, my daughter is not at fault and no one has the right to threaten her like that. I have faith and know that God will make the final decision. Meanwhile, my family has decided that little Lazara cannot be far from us at any time until they can assure us that nothing will happen to her.
Amid so much silence, impunity, and abandonment on behalf of the Catholic hierarchy, a priest by the name of Juan Ivo (a French native and Father of the San Atanasio Church in the city of Placetas), did welcome me with Christian love and had the courage and human sensibility to at least hear me and pray for me and for my little daughter. God bless Father Juan Ivo, my brother and sisters from the Resistance, my brothers and sisters of the Cuban Democratic Directorate in Miami, and all those who have showed solidarity with my sad and desperate situation.
- Damaris Moya Portieles, activist of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights and vice-president of the Central Opposition Coalition.
12 May 2012