Domingo, 23 de Octubre de 2016
04:17 CEST.

Eight hours with State Security

On Friday morning the Human Rights activist and member of the Citizens for Racial Integration (CIR) committee, Marthadela Tamayo, was seized by State Security forces. Her family and friends knew nothing of her whereabouts for the eight hours she was detained. DIARIO DE CUBA received the report of her abduction and spoke with her.

What happened?

I went down to pick up a friend's laptop that a colleague had repaired. I saw a man with a butcher's apron, but I realized that the butcher there was a woman. On my way back to my apartment at Soledad and Peregrino a man called me over, by name, and told me he wanted to talk to me. I asked what about, and he said it would just be a moment. I said I wanted to go up to put away the laptop, but he wouldn´t let me. I saw a car several meters away back up to where we were, and I realized that it was not going to just be a moment; I took off running, and I yelled at [Juan Antonio] Madrazo that they wanted to take me away.

When Madrazo came and looked out they were already forcing me into the car. One of those who grabbed me was the “butcher,” now without his apron.

They caused this whole scene in front of my neighbors who peered out when they heard me screaming, as if I were a criminal. There were two cars, one on Salud and another on Peregrino. And there were two motorcycles. We later learned from the neighbors that the cars had been there since 6 am.

By running, and resisting arrest, couldn't you have justified them using violence? (She has a small bruise near her wrist from when they forced her into the patrol car)

I wanted for them to at least let me go up to my apartment and leave the laptop and to explain what was going on. And I told them: I had just gotten up and was having my period. Besides, he wasn't a police officer, who have the authority to arrest you. He was a State Security agent, who cannot summon or arrest you.

They normally give you a citation signed by a State Security agent, ordering you to show up. But the summons must be signed by an officer of the Court. As people are ignorant of these things, he just shows up like that. We have informed ourselves about these things. One can even refuse to talk to him. In the case of a police officer it’s another story; you cannot resist or run.

In the car they said they were taking me to Santiago. I thought they would deport me to Santiago de Cuba, but in reality I'm from Holguin. Then I realized that they were taking me to the police station in Santiago de las Vegas. There they took me to an interrogation room, without going through the entrance area. They do not register you as arrested.

What happened during the interrogation?

A lot of coercion. They told me: "You're not from Havana. Now, if we feel like it, we'll take you, handcuffed, off to Antilla, Holguín. We know you have a romantic relationship with Madrazo Luna; if he tries to pick you up, we won't let him anywhere near the terminal, and we won´t let you come either."

They brought up the work I do with the platform # Otro18. Another point was the research work I do with colleagues in Colombia at the Institute of Race and Equality. They said a lot of work was being done from the outside to empower civil society, about women of African descent, who are under-represented in the State and self-employed labor markets; that they knew what Madrazo was doing; that we were mercenaries who were receiving money from the Human Rights Observatory in Madrid directed by Alejandro González Raga, one of the 75 former political prisoners expelled from the country by this Government. The said they were not going to allow #Otro 18 to carry on, and if they had to take measures they were going to do so, like not letting us travel, seizing our passports at the airport. And if they had to subject us to house arrest, or confine us elsewhere, they would do that too.

They also talked about the question of culture; as you know, there are a lot of people unhappy with what happened to Juan Carlos Cremata. Look at what Abel Prieto said, that they were sabotaging them through the empowerment of civil society, which they could not allow.

They talked about my personal life. They claimed to have evidence that I had betrayed the father of my child with a woman. I told them to go ahead and publish it. I do not know whether it was to discredit me, or my partner, by claiming that I like women or that I am bisexual. According to them, that is why I fight for LGBT rights. I’d like to see what they have to say about our president's daughter, Mariela Castro...

That bit about how I was with a woman, they published it on a blog, Esperanzas Holguineras. According to them I was a State Security agent, a prostitute and a lesbian. They also threatened me, mentioning my son. They told me to think of him, that he was all I had. He was also calling me all day, worried, not knowing where I was.

You say you were menstruating. How did you manage all that time?

I asked for a sanitary pad and they brought me one ... after four hours, but they brought it, and I was able to use the bathroom. They also offered me water. I declined food, not to be obstinate, but because in such cases I'd rather not eat.

Marthadela was transferred to the station at Zapata and C, at night. At nine they allowed her to call her family to let them know where she was. They seized her laptop, and made her complete and sign a form that allows her to recover claim it, but she was not given a copy. When I talked with her she seemed very collected.

One is always calm ... after everything is over. But while it's happening you’re scared. You don’t know what might happen, how far they might go.