The CubanAmerican Voice

UNICEF in complicit silence in the face of Cuba's 11J teenage victims

unicef in complicit silence in the face of cuba s 11j teenage victimsUNICEF in complicit silence in the face of Cuba's 11J teenage victims.  More than a month has passed since the protests and Cubans are still struggling to cope with the pandemic and the unequal struggle against a legal system subordinated to the Communist Party (PCC). There are still hundreds of prisoners condemned in summary proceedings, or waiting in preventive prison for the verdict of judges more predisposed to punishment than to reason. Behind every one of those prisoners serving or at risk of serving an excessive sentence for having come out to demonstrate peacefully, there is a family that has been forced to restructure its way of life, if such a thing exists under a regime that keeps millions subsisting on the bare necessities, without food, medicine, decent housing or hope. 


A month has passed and Cubans are still waiting for a statement from UNICEF for the 33 citizens 18 years old or younger who, according to Cubalex reports, were arrested during the protests, imprisoned and held incommunicado without their grieving parents hearing from them until several days later. Some have been released -almost all of them with charges-, but only after a wave of denunciations driven by civil society inside and outside the island, who have been aware of the abuses and arbitrariness committed by the regime in collusion with foreign entities that assume that Cuban teenagers do not suffer the same violence as their peers in other countries.

Despite the published testimonies, UNICEF representatives for Latin America and the Caribbean have had nothing to say about the "hose" and the "mandarria" that a policeman promised Gabriela Zequeira (17 years old); language that contains a full-fledged threat of rape. Nor have they taken any interest in 14-year-old Christopher Lleonart Santana, a psychiatric patient arrested on July 17 and whom his mother was not allowed to see until August 9, when she was finally allowed to take his medication.

The tolerance of certain international organizations for the benefit of the Castro dictatorship is not news; but so much indifference in the face of the outrages suffered by Cubans in the last month gives reason to those who accuse the UN and its dependencies of maintaining a shameful collusion with totalitarian governments. In its budgets, UNICEF defines itself as the agency in charge of "protecting the rights of all children everywhere, especially the most disadvantaged". A beating at the hands of the police does not seem to fit the concept of "underprivileged", nor does being locked up and held incommunicado for days or weeks, at the mercy of a State that places bars between a minor and the parental authority that should be inviolable in all circumstances.

For UNICEF, it is not torture for a henchman to mistreat a mentally disturbed child and deny him his medicines. The same organization that has dedicated time and resources to study the impact on children and adolescents of the imprisonment of one or both parents, has not wanted to review the conditions in which hundreds of Cuban homes have been left after July 11.

A little more than a month after the social outbreak, there are fathers and mothers in prison for having exercised their right to peaceful protest. Exposed to the contagion of COVID-19, unable to embrace, comfort and provide for the needs of their loved ones, they await the date of a trial where the last word will be that of the political police and not that of the judge.

Cuban families have also had to restructure the domestic dynamics, because many minors have been left under the care of their grandparents, who in most cases do not have the health, the economy or the stamina to take on full-time parenting duties in addition to the torment of the queues, the fear of contracting the virus and the stress of a legal battle to prove the innocence of the imprisoned child.

UNICEF's protection is not for Carolina, a 23-month-old baby who was left in the arms of a neighbor when her mother, Rocio Brito Torres, was arrested and taken to the Police Investigation Center of Matanzas, where she remains to this day without a proven cause while her little daughter, still a baby, cries out for her mother. Nor is it for Brandon David Becerra (17 years old), imprisoned for a month in the Guatao prison without his mother being able to see him; nor for the five children of Lizandra G贸ngora, also imprisoned for having participated in the protests, wounded in one leg and infected with COVID-19. While international organizations look away from what is happening in the paradise of the world's left, the rights of Emiyosl谩n Rom谩n, Glenda Marrero, Katherine Mart铆n, Rub茅n Alejandro Parra and Yanquier Sardi帽as, all teenagers between 15 and 17 years old, have been trampled for having shouted "Freedom" or "Homeland and Life".

Those who know the socioeconomic panorama of the island can imagine the vulnerability of households with a member in prison after the social outbreak of July 11. The worst thing is that no crime was committed that day that deserved the disproportionate response of the dictatorship against the citizens; an onslaught that has filled the prisons with innocent people with the sole purpose of instilling terror to regain control. The children and adolescents who now feel fear and insecurity, who see their hardships redoubled by the absence of the provider of the home, who cannot sleep thinking of their imprisoned mother, are only collateral damage.

Ana Le贸nAuthor: Ana Le贸n. Anay Rem贸n Garc铆a. Havana, 1983. Graduated in Art History at the University of Havana. For four years she was a professor at the Faculty of Arts and Letters. She worked as cultural manager in two consecutive editions of the Casa Victor Hugo Award of the Office of the Historian of Havana. She has published essays in the specialized magazines Temas, Clave and Arte Cubano. Since 2015 she has been writing for CubaNet under the pseudonym Ana Le贸n. Since 2018 the Cuban regime does not allow her to travel outside the country, in retaliation for her journalistic work. Her Facebook page is
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