'Who judges them?'
Doraisa Correoso Pozo was born in Santiago de Cuba on 11 April, 1969. When she was five years old she and her siblings witnessed the murder of their mother, Ladis Luisa Pozo, stabbed by a man who claimed to be in love with her. She was raised, above all, by her father, Salvador Correoso Martínez, with whom she lived for three years in the truck he used for work.
At 16 Doraisa was the victim of a rape that resulted in the birth of her only son, Frank Odelvis Deroncelé Correoso, in 1985.
In 1994 she tried to leave the country with her son. Her younger brother, Andrés Noel Correoso Pozo, who also sought to emigrate, was taken to prison for two years, but ended up serving eight. All that time, Doraisa explains, she sought justice for him.
In 1996 she joined the organisation "Followers of Chivás," later dubbed the "Party of the People," and began a life of intense activity in support of the opposition and political mobilisation.
In 2000 she backed the Varela Project, and went to on become a "Lady of Support" to the "Ladies in White." She regularly attended in support of Laura Pollán in Havana, but on July 16, 2011 they decided to march towards El Cobre, headed by Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, then the representative of the women's group in Santiago de Cuba.
There State Security forces awaited them, with individuals mobilised to attack them. Belkis Cantillo was stabbed in an arm and a truck hit Doraisa and knocked her down. The incident left her laid up at the Saturnino Lora Provincial Hospital for several days.
On February 10, 2016, Doraisa Correoso was very close to her house, in front of the Third (Motorised) Unit, located on Fourth Street, between Aguilera and Enramada. She was there demanding freedom for Lisandra Rivera Rodríguez when a group of policemen - or members of the military dressed as police - emerged from the facilities and brutally attacked the 11 protestors there, among them Enrique Figuerola, who suffered a broken jaw.
"They told me that Lisandra had been taken away by the police and was being held at the Third Unit. I told another sister of mine, and Enrique, and we all went to the Third with Damarys Rodríguez Ramos, Lisandra's mother."
"In Santiago, when someone is arrested or in trouble, we all lend our support, regardless of the organisation to which he or she belongs. We asked for her release, peacefully, because that's what we are: peaceful fighters. Suddenly, and I don't know why, a group of political police officers came out and gave us a terrible beating. Agents "Julio" and "Richard" (false names) were in charge of the operation.
In plain clothes?
No, dressed as police, in blue.
That was outside the unit?
On the street, in front of the Third Unit.
It was men who hit you?
No women came out to give the beating. They were all men. And they were big and strong. And the way they hit us ... they had a technique. It wasn't just any beating. They really gave me a thrashing, and I know what it's like.
There was a moment when I lost track of time and space, but I didn't lose consciousness. Rather I wondered: "I was just out there. How can I be in this cell now?"
I still don´t understand it. One second I was on the street, and the next I was in the cell. I still don't understand how it happened.
That is, the blows to your head, you don´t know what happened?
I don't know how it happened. I can tell you that I knew my arm hurt. When I was in the cell with Damarys and Mercedes Hechavarría, Enrique Figuerola's wife, Mercedes says to me: "Hey Lalo (they call me Lalo) your shoulder is drooping." And I told her not to touch me, and not to say anything, so that they wouldn´t know I was in pain. I just put up with it until they decided to let us go, with a 500-peso fine for disturbing the peace... We were disturbing the peace? What about them? Who judges them?
I went to the Provincial Hospital and they were there too. I told them: "I want a certification of my injury, in order to be able to file charges." They didn't want to give it to me. I returned the next day. They saw me and gave me a cast.
Did they give you an X-ray?
An X-ray? In Cuba there are no X-rays for protestors.
So, the person decided that you had a fracture, and put a cast on your arm.
No, it's not a fracture. It's in the ligaments. I had bruises on my arms. I went to see a neurosurgeon because I had constant headaches. And because I felt like it. I went home.
Did they give you the documentation of the injuries you suffered?
On my arm, yes. I went to Orthopedics and the attending physician gave it to me. His surname was Carrión.
So, an orthopedic doctor diagnosed the injuries to your arm, but not those to your head. They didn´t give you an X-ray, or a CT? Nothing?
No. On February 24 I went with my husband to get my cast changed. I was trying to avoid the injury that I have now: friction burns from the cast itself.
Back to Saturnino Lora again.
Yes. I already had sores, and they put one back on. And when the “neuro” showed up, I knocked on the door and it was the same physician from my last visit: Yolanda, but I don't know her last name. She says: "This is the third time I'm going to see you. They still haven´t taken an X-ray?"
I told her that they hadn´t, and she phoned someone. I don't know if it was the director of the hospital or who it was. She gave my husband a paper to take to the basement level.
There in the basement level the X-ray technicians refused to treat me. I told them that if they didn´t give me an X-way I was going to talk to Administration. My husband said, "Wait a minute, Doraisa, stay there." He went up and talked to Dr. Yolanda. She called and asked what was going on. That was when they gave me the X-ray. My husband picked it up, and said to him: "Let me see the X-ray." When he gave it to me I saw that it had a dark tumor, with cracks, and I said: "This cannot be. This cannot be my head." I thought there had been some kind of mistake, and I went back to the waiting room.
Then they told me that I was the only person who had received an X-ray. When we showed it to the doctor, she started calling some doctors and told me: "You're not going anywhere."
"What do you mean?" I replied. "This isn´t my house." Then she told me I had to be admitted. I had not even gone there to be admitted, but for the cast. The doctor insisted that I had to stay. She called two policemen, and the director came down, and I was not permitted to leave.
I was not told what was going on, but something was wrong, and I couldn't leave. I was admitted to the fifth floor, bed 29, in Neurosurgery. The neurological doctor who treated me was Fernando Tasé. I was there for six days. I don’t drink water or eat anything from the hospital. Everything has to be from my house.
What did they do during those six days?
They give me a lot of fluids via IV. They put me through the SOMATOM, they tested my sight, they took another X-ray...
The X-ray they took the first day, were you able to keep it?
No, they never gave me the X-rays. I have asked Fernando Tasé for the X-ray two or three times, because I continue to see him. What he prescribes for me are vitamin serums, monthly or every two weeks. I tell him that I want my X-ray, and he says that he can´t give it to me, that they need to study it. I say that there Security is behind that, and that's why they don´t want to give me the X-ray.
And did they do a tomography and give you the results?
And they won´t tell you what you condition is? They just tell you what you have to do and prescribe a treatment?
"You cannot get too much sun, or be uncomfortable. You have to rest and avoid stress." When my life is one of constant stress!
So, you were there for six days, from late February to early March, admitted, with a diagnosis and a treatment that you don´t even understand.
Yes, and for those six days I couldn't even get out of bed. When I tried to go to the bathroom I ended up opening the closet door. I was not allowed to stand up alone or get out of bed. I had to just remain there, all the time. With the IVs. Yes, but I must say that the medical attention was very good. The doctors were around all the time.
The X-ray left no doubt. I knew that my head had suffered serious damage. I was there until I was discharged. I went home, and Dr. Fernando Tasé continues to treat me.
Does your head still bother you?
What medications are you taking? Those vitamin injections?
They give me an IV with a certain amount of vitamins, a red serum that looks like blood, until it´s all consumed.
And what is the situation with your arm?
I have an arm injury that prevents me from straightening it out. Here I have the certificate they gave me. And the cast gave me sores.
But your hand is all right?
Yes, my hand is fine. But my arm is not.
Don't move it, there's no need.
No, just for you to see. I can lower my arm this far, you see, but not any further. After that, there, my arm won´t move any more. The damage is to the ligaments.
Has your family supported you?
My father reveres me, and I him, because it is he who taught me to fight. He lives with me because he's 75 and I take care of him. My husband is with me at all times, and I don´t go out without him or my grandson, because I’m afraid that the older Castillo will grab me and give me another beating.