Sex Abuse Victims Collect Signatures, Demand Action in Cuba

“It’s called machista violence, Fernando, what you did. You didn’t care that we were somebody’s sister, a cancer patient, a teenager, an anxious woman, a friend…,” reads the open letter at the beginning of the petition being sent via email. Photo: Taken from social media


HAVANA TIMES – “Enough, Fernando Becquer! We are sick of you still being violent towards us! This is how the viral statement on social media begins, since Saturday April 23rd, several months after five women came forward and reported systematic acts of sex abuse by the Cuban folk singer.

Over 140 people, organizations and projects, have signed this petition up until now which, in the form of a letter addressed to Becquer, comes with the email available for signing ([email protected]) and the message “feel free to read, not pressured to sign.”

“Today, we are complaining that you are revictimizing survivors you abused. While you continue to flaunt your impunity and the power you have as a man, a pious man and with the protection and legitimacy you get from a stage,” the document reads, which is opting for a “social sentence” without giving up on reparations and justice down the legal route.

“When you attack an abused sister, you are attacking all of us all over again. When you spit out a machista phrase, you add to the pain you caused us, which we still have to live with. We can’t take it anymore, Fernando. We are sick of your impunity,” it adds.

The list of signatures is headed by Paula Andrea Ramirez Ramirez, “abused by Fernando Becquer in Colombia, 2006” and another eight women who say they were also his victims in Cuba. Alongside them are the signatures of six organizations from different countries and over 130 people, mostly women.

From the media to the Attorney-General’s Office

The story spread like wildfire after the article “Five sex abuse complaints against Fernando Becquer” was published in El Estornudo magazine, on December 8th. The first plaintiffs were joined by other women who shared their stories, on social media, with common details about how he used religion in abusive acts.

Three days later, Cuban writer Elaine Vilar became the first survivor to file a complaint with the National Revolutionary Police (PNR).  Others followed suit, a number that hasn’t been publicly disclosed, as well as at least one complaint made in another Latin American country.

The National Center for Sex Education and Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) issued public statements, while the digital media platform Cubadebate and Alma Mater magazine published lengthy reports on the case. However, official news about the status of the legal process hasn’t been announced after the initial complaint was made.

According to sources close to the case, the file was almost ready to go to the Attorney-General’s Office by late February. “Legal process in investigation and, as a result, open. Confirmed by the PNR and FMC… No testimony has been rejected up until now for lacking congruency,” Vilar wrote on Facebook.

The writer turned to the women’s organization and the police to respond to folk singer Ray Fernandez, Becquer’s friend and defender, who said on his social media pages that the sex abuse case had been thrown out “for incongruency in plaintiffs’ testimonies.”

Growing unease

Feminist Laura Vargas joined the warning. “He’s walking down the streets of Havana and nothing can touch him, plus Cuban TV doesn’t even have the decency of not giving him a space,” she wrote on March 24th after sharing a photo of a TV with the folk singer’s video clip on the screen and Cubavision TV channel’s logo.

Lastly, outrage grew after posts went viral about the legacy of Cuban musician Jose Luis Cortes “El Tosco”, who passed away on April 18th at 70 years old. Cortes had been reported by singer Dianelys Alfonso, the “Cuban Goddess”, in 2019, for verbal, physical and sexual abuse.

Alfonso coming forward at the time sparked criticism from “El Tosco’s” fans, but there was also a strong movement of support that collected hundreds of signatures and led to the creation of the independent platform #YoSiTeCreo, (Yes, I believe you) one of the driving forces behind the Becquer case.

While the ElbecquerdeCuba page asked for respect for “El Tosco” in a clear sign of solidarity, writer Norge Espinosa reminded people of his “complicated” history in how he treated women. I hope that a “clear picture of his personality [is imposed], that paints him for who he really was and without painting him as a saint,” he added.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.