Yunia Continues Living on the Edge of Suicide / Iván García and Laritza Diversent

Yunia Palacios, 30, is a potential suicide. You can tell by looking at her. She and her three children live poorly and eat worse. She is a mulata Indian with mild mental retardation and an almost animal life.

Her history is an ordeal. For the official media there are no people like Yunia. But there are. And the number is growing sharply.

She was born in the steep and hot city of Santiago de Cuba. She has always been unhappy. Typical. Daughter of alcoholic parents who abandoned her to her fate. At age 12 she embarked for Havana — the Miami of those living in eastern regions — and fell into the clutches of a guy who while she slept while poured his semen on her child’s body.

She escaped. Running away is her natural state. Wandering dirty and hungry along the National Highway she stumbled upon a bastard, three times her age and evil. He beat her at will and impregnated her three times.

The guy, a low-class thief, went to prison for killing cattle. Obediently Yunia visited him in jail. When he was released he threw her and their three children out of their home. Well, not exactly a home.

They lived in a hut of palm leaves with a dirt floor. They slept on a filthy mattress between cockroaches and mice. Yunia returned to spend the night, trapped. This time with an additional charge, their three children.

The girl has gone to different levels of government to seek a shelter or a room to live in. She always gets the same answer: wait. Desperate, she thought of jumping off a bridge 40 meters high.

If she died, she thought, state institutions would take care of the children. But her blood did not flow into the river. Lawyers and independent journalists visited her and reported her case in 2009.

As usually occurs in Cuba, the situation is aired outside the island. And on occasion they give an official response. But there is still an ordeal for Yunia: The authorities said they could stay at the home of the father of her children.

The ideal would have been to provide her with a modest apartment or room. “The economic situation,” replied the officials. And she had to return to the hut of her executioner.

When at night the children’s father violently beats her, Yunia runs to a small hill surrounded by marabou bushes. There, in silence, she thinks about the best way to die.

When the sun shines and shows the green of the countryside, among the songs of mockingbirds and morning dew, Yunia reverses her suicide plan. Hope is reborn in her.

She begins to daydream. One day she will live in a house with their children be able to eat enough to satisfy hunger. It’s all she asks.

Her dream end when she returns home. With each new beating, again her head is filled with the option of suicide. Yunia has never discarded it.

Iván García y Laritza Diversent

September 21, 2010