EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 4 August 2021 — Institutional neglect and violence are two scourges that many Cuban women suffer, but not only this, they also cry out for democracy, freedom and human rights. It is something that is increasingly seen in citizen protests, as several organizations have accredited.
“When women in Cuba protest the social conditions they are suffering, they are also victims of institutional violence”, Elena Larrinaga, executive director of Red Femenina de Cuba [Cuban Women’s Network] points out to Efe in Madrid, which promotes the role of women as “agent of change” in the “peaceful” demonstrations in Cuba this past July 11th.
Cuba’s mentality continues to be “anchored in the past”, laments Larrinaga; suffering gender-based violence in the family is understood “as a scourge carried by all members, so it is not usually something that is discussed openly”.
According to legislative provisions, gender violence will be considered a crime starting in 2028, so Cuba is “the only country in the Western Hemisphere where it’s not criminalized,” she explains. Until then, the activist asserts, some 400 women will have died.
So far this year, at least 26 women have died violently at the hands of their partners, according to this network, and during 2020 there were about 30, according to the #YoSíTeCreoCuba [I do believe you, Cuba] platform and Alas Tensas [Tense Wings] magazine.
The last ones, Daniela Cintra Martín, 23, and her mother, Liena Martín, 42, died on July 25th in a rural community of Villa Clara at the hands of Daniela’s former partner.
The threats they tell young people are: “be careful what you do, remember that this is going to have an impact on your family”. They don’t realize that families no longer care about repression
“Women have been working in Cuba for a long time to empower females in a civic way, and this movement has grown and will continue to do so,” Marthadela Tamayo, vice president of the Council for the Transition in Cuba, tells Efe from Cuba.
Women “are the driving force behind the demonstrations, since they are victims of a totalitarian government that does not take into account the physical, psychological and mistreatment they suffer”, María Cristina Labrada, a member of the Ladies in White, a pioneer group in the peaceful struggle for freedom, also denounces from Cuba.
Women are now the “instigators” of this new wave for freedom. “It was demonstrated in San Antonio de los Baños, when they got up to shout “It’s over, we want freedom and democracy!'” Tania García, a human rights defender, told the Spanish agency from Havana.
After the protests that arose on the island there is an “irreversible” social change, she points out. “They are no longer a minority of women opposed to the Cuban government, there aren’t that many subjected to the current Cuban system, these demonstrations are helping many realize that rights have been taken away from us and we must recover them”, says García.
At a high price, that is: “With great pain, mothers are seeing how their children, who have come out peacefully to defend something legitimate, freedom, are jailed in prisons and their whereabouts are not known”, says Larrinaga.
Various independent organizations have documented more than 700 detainees since the July 11th protests, including minors and missing persons, with the country plunged into a serious economic and health crisis due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
One of the ways that the Cuban government has to exert “pressure” on women is through their children, these activists denounce.
“The threats they make against young people are: “be careful what you do, remember that this is going to have an impact on your family. They don’t realize that families no longer care about repression”, because in Cuba “fear has changed sides,” says Larrinaga.
In addition to threatening the young children of the women who come out to demonstrate, they also take them from their homes. “They knock on the door, take the children, mothers cry and scream and they carry them away”, she denounces.
María Cristina Labrada denounces the same: “In schools, children are forced to repeat regime-prepared slogans to indoctrinate them. Mothers who refuse to allow their children to repeat them are judged and threatened with taking their children from them.
Translated by Norma Whiting
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