Posted on Thursday, 02.02.12
Cuban women on a protest march say police harassed and detained them
They say they were trying to stage a march in the central Cuba city of
Santa Clara when police searched them for cellphones
By Juan O. Tamayo
Cuban dissidents say police beat, groped and detained seven women who
tried to stage a march in the central city of Santa Clara to demand the
release of an opposition couple jailed since early January.
In an audio recording provided by the dissidents, women were heard
screaming and repeatedly shouting "Don't stick your hands on my breasts,
murderer" — allegedly as police searched for the cellphones recording
"He put his hands inside my blouse, then they lifted my blouse in the
middle of the street looking for my phone," said Idania Yánes Contreras,
who led the march and recorded a narration of the Wednesday
confrontation on her phone.
"We were all punched and had our hair pulled" as police carried the
women to waiting patrol cars, Yánes added. Police also seized a frying
pan the women had been banging on to attract attention.
Six of the women were freed Thursday and the seventh was sent home late
Wednesday, Yánes told El Nuevo Herald by telephone from her home in
Yánes said the seven members of the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for
Civil Rights, all dressed in black as a sign of mourning "for the
victims of the dictatorship," launched the protest carrying a sign that
said, "For Freedom, Against Impunity."
The march was intended to protest the continued detention of independent
journalist Yazmín Conlledo Riverón and her husband, Rafael Álvarez
Esmoris, who were arrested Jan. 8 on what Yánes described as fraudulent
The women had gone only about half a block, shouting "Freedom" and "Down
with Repression," Yánes said, when uniformed police and State Security
agents in civilian clothes swooped down on them and began searching for
One security official told another, "that person has a cellular there,"
according to a transcript provided by the dissidents. The actual
recording, posted on the blog of Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as
Antúnez, is sometimes difficult to understand.
Antúnez, whose wife Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera was one of the seven
women detained, writes the blog Ni Me Callo Ni Me Voy — I will not shut
up or leave.
The other women were identified as Yaité Diosnelly Cruz Sosa, Yanisbel
Valido, Xiomara Martín Jiménez, María del Carmen Martínez López and
Damaris Moya Portieles.
The Rosa Parks movement is named after the Afro-American civil rights
activist woman who sparked the bus boycott in Montgomery, Al.
Antúnez said police have subjected dissident women to sexual harassment
in the past, and that his wife was once threatened with rape if she
continued her activism against the government.
Dissident Miguel Rafael Cabrera Montoya, meanwhile, has started a hunger
strike in a police station in the eastern town of Palma Soriano to
protest his detention, his wife told Radio Martí. Yelena Garcés Nápoles
said Cabrera is under investigation for a robbery in Havana last year.
But he's not been in Havana in two years, she told Radio Martí.
In Washington, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution
condemning the Cuban government for the death of Wilman Villar, 31, a
political prisoner who died earlier this month after a long hunger
strike to protest a four-year-sentence.
The resolution also asks all governments to push Cuba to halt human
rights abuses and calls on the United Nations to suspend Cuba's
membership in its Human Rights Council.