|Sirley Ávila León, age 56, mother of two brutally attacked|
Sirley Ávila León, age 56, was gravely wounded in a machete attack on May 24, 2015 at 3:00pm by Osmany Carrión who had been "sent by state security thugs" and that she is sure that the aggression "was politically motivated." The attack was severe enough that she suffered deep cuts to her neck and knees, lost her left hand and could still lose her right arm. Although Carrión was the principle assailant, his wife threw her into the mud after he cut off her hand compounding the injury with infection. It was a coordinated attack. Sirley has not recovered from her injuries, her life hangs in the balance but she has been sent home in this critical state without the proper medication.
|"She has still not recovered and could lose her right arm." - Hablemos Press|
Sirley Ávila León, an ex-delegate of the People’s Assembly (Poder Popular) of Majibacoa, a relatively sparse area of Cuba did something highly unusual in Cuba that got her in trouble. She had represented her community not the dictatorship and been re-elected for three terms. She had gotten the government to establish an elementary school for the few students who lived there. Otherwise they would have had to travel several kilometers daily to get to a school. At the same time transportation in Cuba is also a complicated affair to get around. When in 2012 the regime wanted the school shut down and Sirley began a protracted struggle to keep the school open she was confronted initially by the refusal of anyone to meet with her or the state controlled press to report on what was happening. She broke a taboo when she appealed to the international media and then tried to run in the rubber stamp elections which she then lost after maneuvers by the regime.
Joining the opposition
Sirley crossed another line when she joined the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU in Spanish) which is part of the democratic opposition. In 2013 reports emerged that her son (an ex-official of the counterintelligence) was told by state security to tie her down, declare her insane for dissenting from the system, and have her shipped of to an psychiatric institution. He refused. Sirley denounced this in an UNPACU video on April 14, 2013. The Castro regime has a long track record of using psychiatry as a political weapon and these institutions have also had a record of neglect in which patients have died from exposure. The Politics of Psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba published in 1992 documented the interrelationship between Cuban psychiatry and the Cuban State Security apparatus to target dissidents.
In August of 2013 Sirley was able to document on video harassment from the national revolutionary police when she tried to sell mangoes. She has a small farm and was producing food. A neighbor appeared on camera to defend Sirley and denounce the heavy handedness of the regime while it ignored far more serious crimes. She denounced further harassment and threats on November 8, 2013. At the same time her activism, distributing literature and advocating a democratic transition made her a priority target of the political police who placed eight common prisoners around her home to spy on her while they are supposedly cutting invader species of plants.
Rising repression and violence
Other activists have been the victims of politically motivated machete attacks and women have been targeted with extreme violence by state security. This latest attack is an escalation in the level of violence and points to an ominous trend.
|"Sending her home endangers her life further." - Hablemos Press|
Sirley Ávila León is a courageous woman who despite being in great distress continues to demand justice and is asking the international community to help. First, the medical attention has been deficient and she reports that the doctor prescribed medicines that are unavailable on the island and she is asking for help from abroad to get them and food. The principle aggressor has been detained due to the attention brought to the attack, but his wife who also participated in the attack is still free. She believes that the political nature of the attack will make it impossible to obtain judicial defense for the case. "Here they do not want to do anything, that is why I am asking for international help from some lawyer who can advise me "