Hundreds of protesters and activists remain in jail a month after the historic July 11 protests in Cuba, while their families and human rights organizations denounce mistreatment, false accusations and procedural irregularities.
At least 805 people were arrested during or after protests against the communist regime. Of these, 249 were released, 516 remain in prison and 40 unaccounted for, according to the Cubalex legal advice center.
The Florida-based Foundation for Pan-American Democracy (FDP) has similar figures. The Cuban government did not publish data.
“The verification process is slow. There is fear within Cuba and the families fear that certain information will be made public,” lawyer Laritza Diversent, director and founder of Cubalex, explains to the EFE agency, which provides legal advice to those arrested on November 11. July and those close to him.
Some, however, lost their fear and denounced the situation of their loved ones in Cuban prisons.
One of those arrested during the August 12 demonstrations in Havana. Hundreds are still in prison, according to organizations. Photo: AFP
Jennifer has not seen her husband, Aníbal, a 25-year-old auto mechanic who was arrested during a protest in Güines, 50 km east of Havana, for a month. He is accused of “attack” – a crime that carries between one and three years in prison – and incarcerated with no option to receive visits.
For 31 days, he was only able to communicate with his family in two phone calls to his wife, to whom he related the moment of his arrest.
“He told me that he was already retiring towards the house, he was talking on the phone. Police officers dressed in civilian clothes and black berets came up to him. They began to beat him. They gave him electric shocks with a cane, he fell to the floor and they followed him on the floor. giving, “says his wife, a 21-year-old laboratory technician.
Layda, Aníbal’s mother, hired a lawyer but she was also unable to visit the detainee, something common in Cuba, according to Cubalex.
“In Cuban law, a lawyer is not guaranteed during interrogations, which is a violation of the guarantee of due process according to international law,” says the director of the legal NGO.
A Cuban-American protest against the island’s communist government near the White House in Washington in late July. Photo: AP
Most of the hundreds of protesters arrested are charged with crimes such as contempt, incitement to crime, spread of epidemic, public disorder, attack and resistance, punishable by between several months and years in prison in the Penal Code.
The government of Miguel Díaz-Canel confirmed that 60 people were prosecuted for minor crimes related to the protests of July 11 and 12.
Human rights organizations denounce that most of the accusations are false or lacking evidence, which has not prevented dozens of people from receiving prison sentences in summary trials.
“Many people were tried without the presence of a lawyer and the sentence was handed down orally, which constitutes a violation of the guarantees of due process,” says the lawyer for Cubalex.
Juan Carlos Vargas, representative of the Complaints Center of the Pan-American Democracy Foundation (FDP), claims that “there are complaints of detained minors, all of them without due process or judicial guarantees “.
Police from a special brigade patrol the streets of Havana, days after the July 11 protests in Cuba. Photo: EFE
The president of the People’s Supreme Court, Rubén Remigio Ferro, denied the existence of summary trials, assured that they are “abbreviated procedures for minor crimes” and affirmed that the Cuban Justice “strictly complies with the main international instruments.”
However, this does not convince the activists, organizations or relatives of the detainees, who do not trust the impartiality and independence of the judicial system in Cuba.
The president of Cuba. Miguel Díaz-Canel, called a demonstration in “defense of the revolution” and in support of the government, on July 17 in Havana. Photo: AFP
“The objective of the government is the exemplary effect: that the rest of society see what happens to those who want to demonstrate and are inhibited from exercising this right,” says Diversent.
However, it is worth highlighting the apparent arbitrariness with which the authorities decide to keep the July 11 protesters arrested or to release them, as in the cases of the director Anyelo Troya, the youtuber Dina Stars and the chess player Arián González.
According to the director of Cubalex, the authorities “have been releasing the most visible people, while the less well-known whose relatives have not made the information public have been kept in jail.”
“The pressure on social networks has worked for the State to react and the application of justice is selective,” he says.
Those who remain behind bars
But nevertheless, Known opposition activists remain behind bars. The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the opposition Movement San Isidro (MSI), and José Daniel Ferrer, president of the dissident organization Unión Patriótica de Cuba (Unpacu), have been in prison for a month despite the intense campaigns for their liberation in networks social.
Rapper Maykel Osorbo, co-interpreter of the famous song “Patria y Vida”, and artist Hamlet Lavastida, who were arrested weeks before the protests, also remain in prison.
The July 11 demonstrations, unprecedented in more than six decades of communism in Cuba, occurred as a reaction to the extreme crisis that the country is experiencing. where food, hygiene items and medicines are scarce and queues proliferate.
At the same time, the covid-19 pandemic is out of control and more and more stores sell products in international currencies, inaccessible to part of the population.
The government, which points to the US as the culprit of its economic crisis and instigator of the protests, announced as of July 11 some concessions for the population, from the elimination of tariffs on the private import of medicines to the increase of the rice quota at a subsidized price in the ration book.