Yolanda Pérez Díaz

* 1977

  • “It was such a narrow space. Two little beds, made of stone, without pillows. If there was any sheet at all, they gave it to you at night. A little bit… you couldn’t bathe because you only had a tiny hole in the floor. Some had something… like a little cup attached to the floor, but others didn’t. It was a dirty little hole, all urine-soaked. You couldn’t bathe there. You couldn’t go barefoot, and you weren’t going to wet the only shoes you had. You couldn’t bathe. You couldn’t do anything… You couldn’t even urinate because of the bad smell and the bugs. You couldn’t do anything there. It was terrible, horrifying.”

  • “My mother suffered greatly, maybe because she wasn’t expecting it… maybe she was thinking something else. She suffered so, so, so, much… She begged me. She even said she was going to end her life and things like that. My mother… who ultimately does not wish harm upon her child. But, well, little by little, she began to understand me. She supported me and even understood that just because I was different or because my sexual orientation wasn’t what she expected, I wasn’t a bad person or a criminal. I feel like I am a normal person. // When my dad found out that I was a lesbian, he was horrified. He watched over me. Once, I was walking home through the park… I studied in the city center… he approached me with one of my uncles and insulted me, beat me. He and his brother humiliated me, made me feel like I was practically a cockroach for being who I was. They made me feel like a monster. They said harsh words to me that I will never forget in my life. My paternal family cut off every kind of relationship with me. // The society… it’s as if we were a bug or had a contagious disease. People always talk, push you aside, criticize, and insult you, and when you are both a member of the opposition and a lesbian, even more so.”

  • “One early morning… it must have been around one in the morning, and that day we had nothing to eat. I remember that morning my mom was sitting on the bed, trembling with hunger. I felt so much anger and rage that I went out into the night and found a chicken. I caught the chicken, took it with me, killed it, boiled it with water and salt, and gave it to my mom to eat. It was sad. Only people who had their little hidden extra businesses could live a little longer. But people with few resources had it tough. At that time, I remember there being many people who ground the peel of plantains to make croquettes or frying batter. He who could buy a pound of corn flour to eat… that was a millionaire’s meal back then.”

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    Cuba, 01.01.2023

    duration: 01:21:48
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I don’t expect anything good from the regime

Yolanda Pérez Díaz, 2023
Yolanda Pérez Díaz, 2023
photo: Post Bellum

Yolanda Pérez Díaz was born on September 9th, 1977 in Holguín. Her family lived in the countryside of the province bearing the same name and her household’s functioning was strongly affected by the dictatorial behavior of her maternal grandfather, who did not hesitate to strike other family members whenever something was not just as he had ordered. Her relationship with her grandfather was not her only dysfunctional relationship – her father horribly and permanently marked Yolanda’s childhood and adolescence. When her father found out that Yolanda was homosexual, he began to abuse her, later severing his ties with her completely. Yolanda kept living with her mother, and the two went through very difficult times together. After finishing secondary school, Yolanda ceased her studies and started looking for ways to earn money to improve the family’s economic situation and avoid starvation during the hardships of the “Special Period”. She would go to a pig farm, buy feed, and resell it at a higher price. On one occasion, she had to leave home at night so that she could steal a chicken to feed her mother, who was in very poor health. Yolanda never worked for the state and instead always dedicated herself to selling various products on the street. Among other things, she sold cream, eggs, wire, and baking soda. Her way of living, which reflects her sexual orientation with her independence, eventually led her to the opposition movement. She is a part of several dissident organizations and participated in demonstrations. This has resulted in repeated detentions, during which she was witness to the terrible conditions in prisons. Yolanda is raising a boy who is not her biological son.