Throughout its six decades of terror, the communist Castro dictatorship has been an equal opportunity oppressor, imprisoning women just as easily as men. The film Plantadas tells the story of these brave and defiant women.
Via the Center for a FREE Cuba:
Reflection on the film Plantadas, and the Defiant ones still in Cuba’s prisons today
Over the past sixty four years the Castro dictatorship has systematically violated the human rights of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners in Cuba. Between 1959 and 1988 no international organizations were allowed to visit prisons in Cuba. This included the International Committee of the Red Cross. Lilo Vilaplana’s film Plantadas, screened on Sunday at the Miami Film Festival, highlights this chapter of Cuban history, and offers viewers the opportunity to revisit some important works to accompany this important movie.
In 1995 Ana Rodriguez with the assistance of Glenn Garvin wrote her memoir DIARY OF A SURVIVOR: Nineteen Years in a Cuban Women’s Prison. Ana Rodriguez, a medical student who first conspired against the Batista dictatorship, first welcoming the arrival of Fidel Castro to power she soon became disillusioned and turned against the emerging communist dictatorship. Captured, Ana was sentenced to a 30 year prison sentence for her non-violent dissent in the anti-Castro underground. Over the 19 years she spent in prison, Ana “consistently defied the authorities’ brutal and at times comically inept efforts to break her will.” She is an example of a plantada, and she was not alone.
Sadly, there were many others like Ana Rodriguez, Gloria Argudín and Luisa Pérez.
The testimony of Luisa Pérez, another former plantada ( defiant) political prisoner about Cuban prisons in “Nobody listened” (1987), a documentary by Néstor Almendros and Jorge Ulla, is consistent with the testimony of Dora Delgado “Japón” on pages. 175-176 of the 2007 book Todo Lo Dieron Por Cuba (They Gave Everything For Cuba) by Mignon Medrano:
… Mother’s Day falls on the 14th again. It was a month full of fights with the militia, of beatings, it was a terrible month. On the 6th they came to galley 1 with a list and called Caridad Roque, me and others. As they called, the others said, “Hey, save me a good bed, and if there are mangoes, pick one for me,” because we thought we were going to the farm. But when they noticed that they were taking five from here, two from there and four from another place, and they heard the names, they said, “This smells rotten to us… that the first transfer to the farm is with these people? … listen, girls, whatever happens, shout!” …
Indeed, at the end of the long and dark corridor, Ramiro Valdés himself was waiting for us in front of about 600 men. I could not shout and alert because the galleys were open and they would have launched into a certain massacre. I kept walking, behind me came Pola and noticing my reaction she also hid it. That helped the others do the same. But when those who stayed behind found out that we had been taken to Guanajay with the general prison population, they began to break everything that was within their reach and clang metal objects against the iron bars of the cells that was so loud that it became famous in the history of the prison…
… I would like to add to the story of the escape from Guanabacoa that when the verdeolivos caught us and they dragged us to the galley, they had some long weapons that looked like old muskets, which we began to make fun of. We didn’t know they were gas launchers. They fired them at point-blank range and with the flashes they burned her face, shattered the face of Luisa Pérez… It was a tremendous fight, blows come and go… They burned all of us with flashes.
Without giving us medical attention, they threw us into the cells like pigs and several days later they separated us in different places…”
In 1987 the documentary “Nobody Listened” captured Cuba’s human rights reality combining interviews with former political prisoners, including some Plantadas, archival footage of firing squads and other instances of repression. Former prisoners described show trials, extajudicial executions, and cruel and unusual punishment that rose to the level of torture. This is the perfect documentary to accompany the new film, Plantadas and provides historical context to the new movie, and is available online and for purchase on Amazon.