HAVANA TIMES – A total of 14 people put on trial for going on the streets on 11 July 2021 in San Miguel del Padrón, in Havana, have been sentenced to almost 10 years in prison for crimes of public disorder, criminal contempt, violent affront and incitement to crime. According to news agency EFE, who claim to have had access to the sentencing (pronounced by the municipal tribunal of Arroyo Naranjo on 30 September) two were given five years ’correctional labour’ instead of a custodial sentence.
The judges decided that amongst the proven facts, those who were sentenced (not named by the Spanish agency) had protested in a “violent and aggressive” manner, had thrown stones at police and had called on others to join them, “principally through social media”, in order to “destabilize the rule of law and social justice”. In addition, reads the text, they “shouted disrespectful and offensive phrases and slogans” against the president, Miguel Díaz-Canel.
The public prosecutor had originally called for sentences of up to 14 years in prison, but, as in other judgements on the peaceful 11 July protests which have been carried out on the island since the end of 2021, and which have been denounced as “farcical” by a number of international organisations, the tribunal slightly reduced their demand for higher sentences.
Immediately following that Sunday last year, the official media attempted to discredit the country-wide demonstrations, calling them “riots”, and accusing the demonstrators themselves of being “criminals”. As far as the protest in San Miguel del Padrón itself is concerned, a state television broadcast showed an interview with a supposed victim of the stone-throwing, who reported having “suffered all manner of shouting and counter-revolutionary chants”.
In videos posted on social media, a number of youths can indeed be seen throwing stones, but with their targets well out of reach.
Prisoners Defenders, in their most recent report, published on 10 October, put the number of prisoners sentenced at 739, some of them with up to 30 years in prison. In total, the NGO, based in Madrid, had verified 1,026 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Cuba. For their part, the independent Proyecto Inventario has registered around a hundred detentions since 29 September.
Despite the repression, the protests have continued on the island, the main driving force and motivation over most recent weeks being the scheduled power cuts.
Translated by Derekk Ross for Translating Cuba