Dianelys Alfonso has become the pioneer of the #MeToo movement - GulfToday

Dianelys Alfonso has become the pioneer of the #MeToo movement

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Dianelys Alfonso, whose voice won her the label "Goddess of Cuba" sits during an interview.

Dianelys Alfonso has a brassy presence - brightly colored tattoos, spandex bodysuits, Technicolor hair - and a clarion voice that won her the label "Goddess of Cuba" for her turns on songs ranging from ballads to reggaeton.

Now she's also the center of a new phenomenon in Cuba after publicly accusing another renowned musician, flutist and bandleader José Luis Cortés, of repeatedly assaulting and raping her during their yearslong relationship while she was a vocalist for NG La Banda, one of the best-known Cuban bands of the last three decades.

Since Alfonso's accusations against Cortés on an internet video program last month, many Cubans have declared their support for her online, calling her the pioneer of the #MeToo movement in a country where open discussion of violence against women is rare.

Cortés has not publicly responded to the allegations or to messages seeking comment left by The Associated Press on his band's social media accounts or with his promoters.

Some 500 Cuban artists and intellectuals have signed an open letter of support for Alfonso that condemns violence against women on a Facebook page titled, "I Believe You."

Actress and producer Violeta Rodríguez, daughter of Cuban singer Silvio Rodríguez, wrote on her Facebook page last month that she had been abused by a "famous and powerful" Cuban man but had remained silent for years. The post was later deleted, without explanation.

She said Cortés repeatedly hit her, raped her and verbally abused her, in private and in public, during their relationship and after it ended. She said the abuse finally stopped after she left the group in the middle of an Italian tour in 2009 and did not return to Cuba until 2014.

Alfonso's lawyer, Deyni Terry, said Cortés sent the singer a threatening text message after she went public with the accusations. Alfonso reported the threat to police, Terry said, adding that she and her client were investigating whether they can bring charges of abuse and sexual assault against Cortés so many years after the alleged crimes took place.

"Many victims wait years to say what happened and that complicates judicial action, especially in Cuba where many laws are outdated," the lawyer said.

Cuban authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

Associated Press