Not One More

Poster against gender violence. Illustration:

By Javier Herrera

HAVANA TIMES – About to write this text I make myself a coffee and sit in front of the computer. Before opening the text editor, I browse the social networks and especially the news sections. I couldn’t help but be shocked by the latest murder of which there is news.

Nuevitas, Camagüey, Cuba, February 3, 2023. Leidi Bacallao, a frightened woman, barely 17, runs into a police station demanding help and protection. She is pursued by her ex-partner armed with a machete with the intention of killing her. There were four officers present.

The attacker, an almost 50-year-old pedophile, with a serious criminal record, with several accusations by Leidi’s parents for having sexual relations with the victim since she was 14, with only restraining orders that he regularly violates, chases her with lethal intentions.

The murderer enters the police station and the only thing he says is “Kill me, because I came to kill her” and he hits the girl twice with his machete, one on the arm and the other on the torso, in front of four police officers who did nothing for her and only hurt him to contain him. An hour later the girl died.

One life lost, one less.

Cruces Municipality, Cienfuegos, Cuba, January 29, 2023. Yoilen Acosta, 18, leaves her house on her bicycle at 8 pm to run some errand. She will not be heard from again until Wednesday, February 1st. The complaint of her disappearance appearing on social networks served as a catalyst for police action. The lifeless body was found abandoned in a cane field. Police investigations led to the discovery of the body, as well as the arrest of four people allegedly involved in the crime.

Another life that ends, one less.

Matanzas, Cuba, January 28, 2023. Yerlanis Lazara Perez Camacho, a resident on Calle Manzano in Matanzas, leaves her house at approximately 9:00 at night. She never comes back. Concerned relatives made the complaint of her disappearance on social networks. Nothing was heard from Yerlanis until Monday, January 30, when her lifeless body was found. Those close to the victim say it was a femicide, without giving more information. The family is silent and has not commented to the independent press.

A life taken, one less.

El Salvador Municipality, Guantanamo, Cuba, January 5, 2023. Dr. Damixi Rodriguez Dominguez, Head of the intensive care services of the polyclinic of the same municipality, was traveling aboard the ambulance driven by her current partner. Her ex-partner, a policeman from the motorized traffic forces, catches up with them and fires two shots at Damixi’s head with his service weapon. In the attack, the young paramedic Luis Miguel Bartolo , her current partner, is also wounded.

Damixi died minutes later despite the enormous efforts to revive her made by her colleagues at the Agostino Neto Hospital. Luis Miguel, seriously injured, is still between life and death, although he shows signs of improvement. The murderer, after the abominable act, escaped in an unknown direction aboard the police motorcycle. Later it was made public that he had been arrested after turning himself in at a police station.

Another life cut short. One less.

While the state dictates measures and enacts laws to contain social discontent, such as the so-called Communication Law, which more than a law constitutes an intimidating gag for those who dare to think, Cuban women continue to be vulnerable to gender violence.

In Cuba, femicide is not expressly classified as a crime in the current penal code. Feminist organizations and observatories have made the claim, but apparently their voices have fallen on deaf ears.

The acts of gender violence, after a complaint is made and if it is accepted by the police, generally results in a scolding of the aggressor, sometimes a small fine or a restraining order that nobody respects, nor do the authorities monitor compliance. Until there is a fatal outcome, the authorities do not intervene.

As for femicides, there are no official statistics in Cuba, like many things, fewer about crimes. There are also no shelters for abused women or those in a state of threat and defenselessness. It is striking that there is no means of early warning of the disappearance of people and generally the complaint is only accepted days after the disappearance and the searches are only accelerated if the complaint and scandal on social networks is too large.

The official press media never take notice of facts like these. There are no official awareness or education campaigns on the subject. There is no help line for these women to make an emergency call, there is no guarantee for their lives.

With the faith and conviction of those who believe in the social order, in civility and in the rule of law, I think that the state must be a guarantor of the safety of each one of its citizens, especially their life. I believe that to fulfill this task it is necessary to implement whatever mechanism is necessary, laws, alert systems, observatories, shelters or whatever is needed to stop the massacre.

In the year 2022, 34 femicides were verified in Cuba by independent platforms, which ironically the state persecutes with particular viciousness. It is incredible that a femicide that occurred in the most remote village in the universe makes headlines on the National TV Newscast, while one that occurred a few streets from my house would only become known by word of mouth or through social networks, which are the same.

Where are those uniformed officers who one day swore to serve and protect, and who should be in charge of enforcing the laws? Where are those judges and legislators who carry out the legislative order? Where are the deputies of Popular Power, the highest Cuban government body, who should express the aspirations of the people that one day elected them? Where is the Federation of Cuban Women who should advocate for women’s rights? Where are the honest journalists who know that with their opportune denunciation, they constitute an enormous power in any society?

Today I appropriate a short and lapidary phrase that we hear daily in the voice of feminist movements around the world:

Not one more that leaves her orphaned children.

Not one more that leaves his family heartbroken.

Not one more who loses their lives due to gender violence.



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One thought on “Not One More

  • The police forces in Cuba are not to protect the Cubans The police force us uses to protect the tourists to make sure nothing happens to anyone who brings the hard currency and to repress to people of Cuba and incarcerate anyone who ask for Freedom.

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