Manuel Díaz has been in prison for 12 days and needs three witnesses to attest that he peacefully protested and did not incite violence in the unprecedented anti-government demonstrations of July 11 in Cuba, to at least be able to await his trial in freedom.
This 59-year-old employee of a candy store is one of the hundreds of Cubans arrested during the recent social outbreak who have faced legal proceedings for crimes such as contempt, public disorder, acts of vandalism or the spread of an epidemic, for having left without a mask in the worst moment of the covid-19 pandemic on the island.
“Until now no one has wanted to testify and Manuel is still in preventive prison, accused of public disorder. He is in the Caimito prison (in the province of Artemisa) and we are desperate,” his brother Roberto, who lives in Miami.
Manuel participated on Sunday, July 11, in the protests in rejection of the communist government and President Miguel Díaz-Canel that shook the town of Bauta, 25 kilometers southwest of Havana, where he lives and is known for his love of football.
Policemen patrol the streets of Havana during the July 11 protests. Photo: REUTERS
No official figures
Twelve days after thousands of Cubans took to the streets of the country shouting “Homeland and Life”, “We are hungry” and “Freedom”, the government has not reported the number of detainees during and after the outbreak.
According to a list published on Twitter by Cuban groups such as 27N and independent media such as Periodismo de Barrio, more than 600 people were arrested.
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said Thursday that most of those arrested were released, “having been fined or under domiciliary precautionary measures.” He ruled out that there are minors in prison.
The unpublished demonstration against the government of Cuba, on July 11 in Havana. Photo: AFP
It also affirmed that “there are no trials without the guarantees of due process” and rejected that there are missing.
In the Facebook group “Disappeared #SOSCuba”, Roberto, who also has his 92-year-old mother in Cuba, explains that in order for Manuel to await his trial in freedom, he needs, according to his lawyer, “two or three witnesses” who prove that he “protested peacefully and demonstrated that people did not resort to violence.”
“This would make it much easier to get him released on bail or given home jail or released,” he says.
“There should be a good person to help us please, to be able to see Manolo again in his madness” and his soccer hobby, he adds.
Demands for the freedom of family and friends multiply on Facebook and Twitter. Claudia Salazar calls for the release of her husband, Yarian Sierra, who “is being unfairly judged for thinking differently.”
Condemnation and controversy
The 25-year-old photographer and audiovisual producer Ányelo Troya, detained in the Capitol area of Havana while carrying his camera, was sentenced to one year in prison for the crime of “public disorder”.
Riot police patrol the Arroyo Naranjo municipality, in Cuba, on Monday, July 12. Photo: AFP
Troya, one of the makers of the video for the controversial rap “Patria y Vida”, the motto of the protests, was tried on Wednesday in a Havana court under the “direct attestation” procedure (expedited trial), along with 12 other participants. in the demonstrations, according to his family.
“They never told us about the trial,” says his 32-year-old brother Yuri. His parents “are destroyed.” They learned that their son was being tried when “they went to visit him at 100 and Aldabó (headquarters of the Technical Directorate of the National Police),” where he was being held.
“We ran to court with a lawyer we had hired, but when we arrived the trial was over,” Yuri says.
The Trojan family began a process of appeal of a sentence that it considers “unjust”. On Facebook, his mother Raisa González asked “where is the right” of her son “to have a trial with transparency.”
Among the detainees who have not yet been released are known dissidents such as former political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer and artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, one of the leaders of the oppositional Movimiento San Isidro (MSI), a group of intellectuals and university students who demand freedom of expression. and creation.
The MSI denounced on Twitter Tuesday that Otero Alcántara was “transferred to the maximum security prison of Guanajay” in Artemisa.
Five days after the protests, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that “all people detained for exercising their rights must be released urgently.”
On the island, voices such as those of the singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez and the leader of the Buena Fe duo, Israel Rojas, also called for freedom for those detained who have not been involved in violent acts.