Marching Against the Government in Havana, Cuba. / Iván García
Iván García, Translator: Adrian Rodriguez
According to opponent Sonia Garro, intelligence officers let her know
that they may open a court case against her and six more women who
several times organized peaceful marches of protest on the streets of
Garro commented that in one of the interrogations, agents of the State
Security told her that "President Raul Castro himself wants to know who
is the woman organizing protests on the streets. It may be possible that
we won't put all seven in prison, but for sure the leader or leaders
will end up in a prison".
Like the rest of the group, Sonia belongs to the Ladies supporting the
Ladies in White. She, also, is a member of an Afrocuban independent
association Led by Mercedes Fresneda, who is another of the ladies
threatened with prosecution if they insist on engaging in
Garro is one of the few opponents who is dedicated to do communitarian
work in the island. Since 2007 she has led a project to help poor
children, without taking into consideration the political affiliation of
their parents. The project is operating where she lives, in the Los
Quemados neighborhood, in the Marianao municipality in Havana,Cuba
Graduated as a nurse, in 2008 she was terminated from her job because of
her political activities against the regime. She is the mother of a
14-year-old daughter and she is married to another dissident, Ramon
Alejandro Munoz, who as an answer to the beatings given to Sonia by the
police, in May of this year, chained himself on the roof of his home,
machete in hand, yelling anti Castro slogans. Still today he goes out to
the street with one arm chained, as a protest against police brutality.
"I feel harassed by the State Political Police. In front of my window
there are constant repudiation rallies of mobs egged by the authorities.
I received severe beatings and I suffer from a right knee contusion. On
Thursday June 9, 2011, at a protest at the Anti-Imperialist Stage paying
respect to Orlando Zapata, we were battered. They arrested me and kept
me for two days in the police precinct of Aguilera, in the municipality
of 10 de Octubre. The other six ladies were also arrested in different
precincts. They opened a case against us for insult to patriotic
symbols, disrespect and disorderly conduct", Garro points out sitting on
a ramshackle sofa.
The seven Cuban women who monthly go out to the street asking for
democratic changes are Mercedes Fresneda, Ivonne Malleza, Niurka Luke,
Yaquelin Bonne, Rosario Morales, Leidi Coca and Sonia Garro. Recently
and separately, they have been taken to Cuban Intelligence's "visiting
house," in order to intimidate and scare them.
"They offer you everything. From improving your way of life to becoming
one of their agents. Officers of Cuban Intelligence with ranks of
Lieutenant Colonel and Major talk with us. In charge of this harassment
is a man called Tamayo, second chief of Section 21, the department
dedicated to watch and to repress the opponents", explain Mercedes Fresneda.
Garro adds that she has been threatened by the political police that if
she continues with the street marches, her daughter will not longer
These women promised to keep on in a public way expressing their
grievance about the ways of the Cuban government. They believe it is
their right. All of them have in common that they are poor, almost all
are black or mestizo, and they were born with the revolution.
They are longing for profound and serious changes in the policies of
their country. They are rooting for a democracy. And they shout for it.
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Translated by Adrian Rodriguez
June 22 2011