Saturday, September 24, 2011

Women of Courage: Bertha Antunez

In the midst of the assault on the Ladies in White today in Havana by State Security agents and the mobs they bussed in the testimony below of Bertha Antunez seems appropriate to post. In addition her biographical information reproduced below highlights what Cuban women face in the island under this dictatorship.

Berta Antunez, Women's rights activist in Cuba speaks at the Global Summit against Discrimination and Persecution

Text below taken from We Have a Dream: Global Summit against Discrimination and Persecution

Ms Antúnez Pernet was born in 1959 to a family of limited means. Her political awareness was triggered by the arrest and incarceration of her brother, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez. After asking for political change in a public square, he was sentenced to six years in prison on the charge of oral and written enemy propaganda.

Jose Luis’s sentence was extended during his confinement. During this time, Ms Antúnez Pernet visited her brother and other unjustly convicted prisoners and became increasingly aware of the human rights situation in Cuba. In January 1997, she founded with other family members of political prisoners the organisation National Movement of Civic Resistance “Pedro Luis Boitel”, to fight harassment in prisons. They declared they would no longer be denied visitation rights nor be blocked from telling the truth about the prison abuses against their love ones. The group also supported the Pedro Luis Boitel Political Prisoner’s Organization founded in 1995 by Jorge Luis and other political prisoners at Kilo 8 Prison in Camagüey. By 1999, the National Movement had collected over 5,000 signatures in support of the general amnesty of political prisoners in Cuba, carried out mutliples protests and held sit ins in front of various prisons throughout the island. In 2004 Bertha Antúnez was recognized with the Pedro Luis Boitel Freedom Award for her civic activism.

Ms Antúnez Pernet’s brother was released on April 22, 2007, making him one of the longest serving political prisoners in Cuba.

Since February 2008, Ms. Antúnez Pernet has been living in Miami as part of the exile community.

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