14ymedio, Havana, 28 May 2023 — Since May 6th, Victoria Martínez Valdivia has had no life. On that day, two of her sons were arrested for the street protests in Caimanera, Guantánamo, where a crowd congregated at the yell of “Freedom!”, “Homeland and Life!” and “Down with the communist system!” Since then, the brothers have been under arrest “in terrible conditions,” their mother told 14ymedio.
Felipe Octavio Correa Martínez, 26 years old, and Luis Miguel Alarcón Martínez, age 32, have spent three weeks in the Provincial Unit for Criminal Investigations and Operations in the city of Guantánamo. The family has visited them on several occasions and “they are in very bad shape,” described Victoria Martínez.
“My sons are down to pure bones, the younger one was shaking,” she added. “The first times I went to visit them I noticed that my son Luis Miguel would hide his face and then I knew it was because, with the beatings, they knocked two of his teeth out, I could barely recognize him, he was in such bad shape.”
“The place for the visits is in such a condition that it is evident they are filming everything we do,” describes the mother. “There is a table, two chairs and everything is prepared in such a way that you can tell there is a camera somewhere to record what we talk about and do while we are there.”
Martínez warns that her sons have not had all the procedural guarantees, “I’ve had to hire two lawyers already, I paid 4,200 pesos for each one and that was very difficult for my family because we have a low income. But the attorneys have not been able to even speak with my sons.”
“At first I hired a lawyer who I later had to remove from the case because in the first week, he did nothing for my sons,” she says. “Later, when I went to see him to show him the videos of the protest which show that Felipe Octavio and Luis Miguel had not committed any violent acts, he said they were “already doomed.”
The lawyer, “had already penalized them and I decided to cancel his contract. How is it possible that he had already assumed they were guilty,” she explained to us. “When I went to see the police inspector in charge of the case, First Lieutenant Dailovis Torres, he gave me a paper which states they are being charged with public disorder and Felipe Octavio is also charged with resistance.”
“I asked for how long they would be detained. But they said their files are with the Military Prosecutor. I don’t know why, because they are civilians, why do they do this to them?” she reproached. “They won’t give us a trial date nor details of what will happen to them, they don’t tell us anything, they give us the runaround, trying to distract us.”
Martínez believes that such a long detention is not in line with what Luis Miguel and Felipe Octavio did, “My sons have had enough, because here in Caimanera we are dying of hunger. The last batch of split peas they sold us as part of the rationed basic food basket were full of weevils,” she denounced. “They went out into the street saying the truth and the people, who supported them, began to join them. They complained about the poor food supplies, that there is no fuel for the ambulances. They protested peacefully, without weapons.”
“That was in the afternoon, but at night the trucks full of Black Berets arrived and they beat them like animals,” remembers their mother. “My son was dragged for three blocks. His brother approached to see what they were doing to his brother and they beat him too. Since that day, they have been under arrest.”
“Luis Miguel is married, he is responsible for his wife’s son and two nephews, one of whom had a cerebral stroke,” she added. “We have lived our whole lives in Caimanera, I am 51 years old and I was born here; my parents are also from here. I care for my bed-ridden sister who is disabled and my sons’ arrest has made daily life worse.”
“For example, here in my house there is no water, my sons have to carry it from far away for us to bathe and care for the people in the house who are bedridden,” she explained. “I don’t even want to eat, I can’t sleep, I have no life since that day they took them.”
As to the situation of the Guantánamo town, Martínez describes it clearly, “Now they’ve tried to calm the situation in Caimanera by stocking the stores.” They brought oil and ground beef. They have us going from one line to another so we don’t complain, so we can’t think of anything else.
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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