“They went looking for him. When the police approached him, they handcuffed him, threw him on the floor and put him in the car,” says Mario Luis Garcia Marrero, Dayron Yarisbel’s father. “There were more than 1,500 people marching but he and another girl were the only ones arrested.” He insists his son’s arrest was very violent and happened in front of the young man’s mother, who recounted what happened.
As his son was being detained, Garcia Marrero was careful to remain inside his home, which was very close to the demonstrations. Both he and Dayron Yarisbel, a brother and some close friends had received warning letters from the police for having participated in the July 11 protests.
Dayron Yarisbel’s arrest took place after 1:00 AM, after which he was transferred to the Caibarién police station. Garcia Marrero reports a young woman was also arrested that night but was later released after paying a fine. His son, however, is still in prison and may face prosecution.
After learning of his son’s arrest, Garcia Marrero went to the police station and was told the case was being turned over to the public prosecutor’s office, which will be in charge of filing a formal complaint. Depending on the charges against him, such as “public disorder,” his son could be fined or spend up to three years in jail.
With regard to Friday’s protests, Garcia Marrero says, “Things are tense in Cuba because of all the blackouts. Here in Caibarién everything had been quiet but that night, when they turned off the power at midnight, the town started gathering at Güira Park.”
Protestors began banging pots. “It was like a carnival,” he says. They later joined another group who were doing the same thing at the town’s seawall.
No sooner had Dayron Yarisbel heard the sound of clanging pots than he left for the demonstrations. Garcia Marrero later followed and was told that his son had been taken into custody. “They didn’t arrest him at the seawall. They arrested him at his mother’s house,” some distance from the site of the protests. Power was restored in the town shortly the start of the demonstration.
“I didn’t think the protest was going to take place but it began in different areas and everyone came together and ended up at the seawall,” he says. In addition to banging pots and pans, they could also be heard shouting, “Turn on the power. . . Díaz-Canel is an asshole. . . Freedom!” and “Homeland and Life!” as can be heard on videos posted on social media
Though many people took part in the widespread July 11 protests last year, it was women who particularly stood out during Friday’s demonstration, calling on others to join them in defending their children against the country’s precarious economic situation. According to some residents, a teacher at a local school received a police summons for participating in the protest.
Garcia Marrero fears his son will be imprisoned though he insists, “He didn’t do anything.” He believes there will be further reprisals if the young man ends up in prison because, he says, “I myself am not going to stay here.”
Garcia Marrero describes Caibarién, a fishing port, as a town in bankrupcy — like the rest of the country — that has been hit with both covid and dengue fever.
On several occasions Dayron Yarisbel has tried to leave the country illegally. His father says that, on one of those occasions, he was detained for five months in the Bahamas after being intercepted on a raft.
He is currently working in construction with his uncle but believes, according to his father, that he has no future in Cuba. “He’s always hoping for a chance to leave. In one attempt the boat hit a reef and they all almost drowned. There were six of them,” says Garcia Marrero.
Dayron Yarisbel’s hope is shared by many young people in Caibarién. “Two or three days ago, one of his friends, who was always here at my house, arrived in the United States. Him and four others. They set off on a boat they made themselves out of sheet metal. They were met by Cuban border guards but fortunately they were allowed to continue and arrived safely,” he says. “A lot of young people are leaving or are thinking of leaving.”
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