Murder of a Young Woman Shock’s Rio Cauto Community in Cuba’s Granma Province

Yaite Balmaceda Cano, murdered in Río Cauto, province of Granma. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2022 — Yaite Balmaceda Cano, a young woman of 27, was murdered by a man whom she had reported to the police in Río Cauto, province of Granma, where she lived. The events were made public by Alexander Verdecia Rodríguez, coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba in that town and former political prisoner, on his Facebook wall.

The woman, the mother of two children — a boy and a girl — told Verdecia days before she died that she had just accused “the man with whom she was having problems, that is, the man who [later] murdered her,” and that the police told her that “they were going to give her a restraining order agaisnt him.”

“Yaite lived near where I live,” Verdecia wrote. “A few months and days before being murdered, she had been the victim of beatings and threats by the young man who murdered her.” The activist denounces that the local police “had knowledge” not only of this but of the attempted rape by the same aggressor of a young woman from his neighborhood.

“The police of the Río Cauto municipality and the Prosecutor’s Office are also responsible to a certain extent for Yaite’s death, for not having taken some timely and drastic measure against her aggressor,” Verdecia claimed. “In other words, they were negligent in carrying out their work.”

The alleged murderer still has not yet been arrested by the police, a relative of the victim confirmed to 14ymedio.

This would be the third known femicide in Cuba so far this year, after the murders of Misladis Carmenates Hidalgo  in Camagüey on January 6, and Mailén Guerra García in Villa Clara on January 2.

Jorge Del Rio Balmaceda posted an image of Yaite on his networks with the message: “The light in your eyes went out, you are with your dear Mother.” Relatives reacted to the publication and sent condolences to the young mother’s parents, known as Rodolfo and Ana. One of the comments confirmed that she was “violently murdered.”

Héctor Salermo de la Cruz expressed his annoyance at the lack of security. “It is very sad to lose a loved one, but when this loss is due to violence, it hurts much more,” he added: “Rest in peace and your loved ones will never forget you.”

The Cuban State recognizes gender violence in the new Constitution (2019), but does not classify femicide as a crime in the Penal Code. Cuban law establishes that the crimes of injury, coercion or threat are not investigated by the authorities if there is no complaint from the victim or, in case of disability, a guardian.

The closest allusion to femicide appears in article 264.1, which recognizes as murder “the homicide produced between relatives or spouses of marriages formalized or not.”

The most recent official statistics on gender-based violence date from 2016 and show that 26.7% of women between the ages of 15 and 74 suffered some type of violence in their partner relationship in the 12 months prior to the study.


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