Reports from Cuba: High-profile domestic violence case in Cuba

Irina Echarry in Havana Times:

High-Profile Domestic Violence Case in Cuba

Gender-based violence has many forms, it has become so naturalized that nobody can escape it and we all become victims to a greater or lesser extent. That is why it is necessary to deconstruct it when we see it happen and analyze it so we can understand it better.

Dianelis Alfonso, a.k.a. La Diosa de Cuba, has made headlines over the past few days. The order these words appear in is very important. She has made headlines because she denounced musician Jose Luis Rodriguez, El Tosco (her former partner and director of the orchestra she used to work in), for abusing her for many years.

She began to make headlines when she was hounded, questioned in public about her private life during a video-interview, without any warning in advance. We don’t know if La Diosa was ready to talk about all of this, but, she decided not to keep quiet at that moment and she let her emotions loose: she cried, she spoke about what had happened, she gave names of witnesses, she let everything she had bottled up out, all of her suffering. When you lose your fear, you set yourself free.

However, Dianelis has continued to make headlines because she was then criticized, insulted, revictimized, people gave their opinions and also came to the aggressor’s defense (which is a common and deep-rooted practice). I, at least, am waiting for the Ministry of Culture to release a statement any time now about El Tosco’s selfless work, or give him an award for his music, which is great there’s no doubt about it, but that has nothing to do with what happened.

The abuse should be making headlines, the formal complaint Dianelis filed on June 21st.  The news should be talking about what measures will be taken against El Tosco, for the many aggressors to be exposed across the country, regardless of their position, responsibility or how much of a celebrity they are. It does not matter whether it is an ordinary man no one knows, or a celebrity or a state or private institution.

Dianelis will now learn how to live a free life, to rethink her priorities, recognize her self-worth… in short, to make peace with herself.

It is time to put the famous artist to one side and take a look at the man; recognizing what he did or didn’t do; without his professional success clouding the situation. We have to listen to La Diosa de Cuba, whether she is famous or not, because we do not want our society to carry on naturalizing machismo and gender inequality. The Cuban Constitution stipulates in Article 43. that “the State protects them from gender-based violence in all of its forms and in all spaces, and creates the institutional and legal mechanisms for this end.” What good is it if it is never applied?

There are many Dianelis’ who are afraid to speak out, there are many people who think it is “reasonable” for a man to take the lead in a relationship and do anything they need to in order to lead. There are many Toscos out there doing bad things and messing up. I don’t know anyone who knows Diosa or Tosco personally, but nobody has refuted these accusations up until now.  Let’s hope that this complaint runs its full course in our legal system and that Diosa’s bravery catches on because this isn’t only about one woman who spoke out, but a problem that is affecting our entire society.


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