Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yris Perez Aguilera and the profound disconnect between Cuba's reality and the propaganda image

Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera showing cyst product of beatings
 Just five days before the United Nations Human Rights Council subjects the state of Cuba to its quadrennial Universal Periodic Review there is a profound disconnect between the reality suffered by Cubans on the island and the propaganda offensive underway internationally. There has been an effort to portray the Cuban government as engaging in reforms and doing something different that it has done over the past 54 years. Cuban dissident leaders have called it cosmetic and fraudulent. Some observers point to a handful of dissidents finally being able to travel outside of Cuba after having been denied their right to travel on numerous occasions.

Three who are regularly cited are Rosa Maria Payá, Berta Soler, and Yoani Sanchez. All had their right to travel systematically denied in recent years, but in the case of Rosa Maria Paya and Yoani Sanchez both had traveled outside of Cuba and returned home years ago. Opposition leader Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Rosa Maria's father - who died under suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012 - traveled outside of Cuba in December of 2002 to accept the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Union. Other Cuban dissidents in prior years had been allowed to travel at specific moments were it served the dictatorship's interests. The same holds true now. This is part of an international charm offensive, but the brutal nature of the dictatorship remains intact. Witness the plight of Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera.

Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera in April of 2013
Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera has been the target of a slow motion assassination attempt by Cuban State Security. She has been the target of several brutal attacks by state security agents who time and time again have hit her in the head repeatedly to the point of unconsciousness then blocked her from receiving adequate medical care. She has a large cyst in the back of her head, a product of the beatings, and other symptoms that are the result of years of abuse at the hands of the regime's agents. The latest attack took place on April 26, 2013:

Placetas, Cuba, April 26, 2013.

The following text was taken and translated from the Cuban Democratic Directorate of the April 25, 2013 statement made by the human rights defender:

Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, president of the Rosa Parks Women's Movement for Civil Rights was again beaten and arrested twice on April 25, 2013 when she left to find medicines on her way to the pharmacy in Placetas, Villa Clara.

"My name is Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, activist for the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement. This April 25, 2013 I was arrested for the second time while trying to get to the pharmacy here, "Rafael", to buy the medicines that the doctor on call had prescribed for me, as I was with the pressure at 150/90. I was arrested and taken to the police station, by the police officer "Acaena" who on the first occasion I was arrested hit me hard on the head. --I am wearing a brace--; She beat me through the brace and on the head. They kept me there in front of the cell for fifteen to twenty minutes,” reported Yris.

The activist continued her statement alerting that Cuban State Security prevents her from leaving home and that she does not accept her home "as a dungeon" and indicated that she would leave again. “I told the head of the police station, Raul Asari, that I would go out again, and that they should leave me in the police station because I was going to head back out to get my medicines. I am not going to let them try to blackmail me because I feel that I am a free citizen and there is no court order that says that I cannot leave my house," she concluded.
Below is the recording from April 25, 2013 from which the above transcription was taken.



Furthermore, the violence visited on Yris is not unique there have been other women who have suffered physical brutality at the hands of Cuban government agents over the past four years and especially over the past few months. Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo has returned to Cuba with death threats against her and her family and official publications threatening her with prison for demanding an investigation into her father's death. Nonviolent activists have died under suspicious circumstances while others have been savagely beaten. To ignore this reality is to invite more and worse violence against Cuba's nonviolent civic movement.

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