Yris Tamara Aguilera Peréz
“In Cuba, we’re living unfortunately the double morale. The ones who work in tourism, do not stop going when there is a political act, because if they would, they’d take away the foreign exchange. To the one who works in a factory happens the same. The freedom of Cuba comes from us, the Cubans. There may be I don’t know how many Cubans on the street, but until we join together and say ‘it was enough’, although you're from tourism or whatever you are, Cuba is not going to get its freedom. The freedom must come from us, the Cubans. We should not expect any foreign government to help us with our task. And if all Cubans do not participate, just a small group won’t be able to reach it, because we’re talking about a regime that is unfortunately very strong and has its years in power.”
“It is now so normal for an opponent to go out to the street to buy food, and to be told: ‘you are arrested’. And ask: ‘and why I'm arrested’ and do not receive any answer. Here we are in charge, we are the only ones who can do anything and nothing happens. It is so normal. It is normal that you are in the shower and suddenly, you have three or four people in front of you, in your own house. They do not show you any official order for inspection or arrest... They simply outrage you. They get inside your house, they break whatever they want to break, and get you out as you are at that right moment. That’s what I’ve been through. And not just me, but thousands of activists, thousands of opponents.”
“You know... A lot of people have told me: ‘I have to go,’ and it's not because they felt something less than I was, or because I could feel stronger than them. Because we are the same. But many people say: ‘I can’t do it anymore’. You live without work… I mean, life is difficult not only in Cuba, life is hard everywhere, but when you have a work, at least you say: ‘Well, this is my sacrifice, I’m going to get what I can to do,’ but not in Cuba. In Cuba, the universities are for revolutionaries. Good jobs are for revolutionaries. Even if you have your degree, even if you are an engineer, if you are not with the revolution, you have no right, neither to work, nor to the university.”
“For Cuban mothers who dare to challenge the regime, the life is very difficult. The children grow up and we do not realize it, since we have to leave them in our houses, while many times there is a police unit waiting. And you do not know if maybe even your son is inside the house, without even a bite of food, waiting to the neighbor to help him. Because in many moments we were taken out of the house and our children were left without any care. This exactly happened to my boy, Daniel Rodríguez Pérez, that I went out for food and a friend told him: ‘I saw your mother being taken by patrol.’ And my husband was in prison too. Which means that my son had to learn to cook already at the age of nine, because otherwise he would starve. The neighbor was giving him some rice and egg so he could eat something, because many times I went out, but didn’t come back until the next day, or maybe after 72 or 92 hours. That is the life of a Cuban mother who dares to challenge the regime.”
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“Cuba is no longer the one we knew yesterday. Yesterday, everyone was hiding, while today, they manifest themselves in public.”
Yris Tamara Aguilera Pérez was born on August 20, 1975 in the province of Tabasco in Cuba. Already since she was five years old, she was rebelling against the Communist regime, but her definitive connection to the opposition came in 1999, after having met the activist Berta Antúnez. At the same time, she also met her future husband, governmental opponent Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as “Antúnez”. Since then, she has lived numerous arrests, and several times she went on hunger strike in prison. Yris has a son, who does not belong to the Cuban opposition, however, he supports his mother’s counterrevolutionary activities. In spite of the oppression that Yris is suffering by the governmental regime, she still lives in Cuba, and works as director of the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights.