A Young Cuban Woman Spent Nine Months in Jail for Yelling on July 11th and No One Apologizes for her Abusive Arrest

Lázara Karenia González is sentenced to three years of “correctional labor without internment”. (Facebook/Kirenia Wilhelm Benitez)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 9, 2022–Lázara Karenia González, arrested for participating in the peaceful protests on July 11th (11J) in Cárdenas, Matanzas, was released on Friday after receiving her sentence of three years of “correctional labor without internment.” Thus, she will be able to remain outside of prison while serving her term of labor.

During the trial against protesters in that city, which took place on March 15th, the Prosecutor sought eight years in jail for the 28-year old, the only woman among the defendants.

As stated by activist Salomé García Bacallao of Justicia 11J, which compiles all the information about those arrested around that time and provides family support, González’s sisters, Kenia Chirino and Kirenia Wilhelm Benítez, “have not stopped denouncing, despite fear of reprisals.”

García Bacallao expressed her desire to “have contributed to her release” through her work, which included editing an article written by Orelvys Cabrera about González’s arrest “for a series published in Hypermedia Magazine, which includes videos collected by Inventario.”

Following his 37-day detention, the journalist fled to Russia and recently arrived in the U.S. He stated that he was “by Lázara Karenia’s side the entire time, without knowing it” and that he saw “how they arrested her… I recorded the arrest, her participation in the protest. She always remained peaceful, shouting the slogans we all did, ’Díaz-Canel motherfucker’, ’homeland and life’, ’freedom’, ’we are not afraid’, ’get out of power’.”

Those videos are proof of the violent arrest she suffered. Kenia Chirino has explained that on July 11th, her sister, Lázara Karenia was insulted by a woman from the other side of the street, “You are a ’gusana’ [worm]*, you are a ’gusana’ [worm], because look, with those clothes!”

On several social media publications, Chirino has stated that her sister is innocent and she was only defending herself, “But why do you speak to me like that? I don’t even know you. I haven’t done anything to you,” she said to the woman who was yelling at her. And at no time was there any physical aggression between them.

Activists and those close to González assure, in contrast, that the young woman was beaten by police and by a young woman named Nayelis Corrio, who used “a prohibited martial arts technique.”

Thus, García Bacallao concludes “Lázara Karenia is innocent and deserves absolution” and states that “the Cuban dictatorship has not offered any reparation for the damages they caused her, nor for the mistreatment she suffered. None of the state agents who participated in her arrest have been held accountable for the serious abuses they committed, despite having been identified.” On the contrary, she denounces, “they are presented as victims.”

*Translator’s note: The term gusano/gusana — meaning worm or maggot — is a derogatory first applied by Fidel Castro to ‘counter-revolutionaries’ and those who wanted to leave Cuba.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.