Cuba Sees Prosecution of Lone Protester

Luis Robles Elizastigui was arrested on December 4 for protesting with a cardboard sign on San Rafael Boulevard in Havana. (Screenshot)

HAVANA TIMES – In most countries with even a semblance of observing civil rights what Luis Robles did would be part of everyday life. Not in Cuba.

When a government feels threatened by a sign demanding greater freedom and the release of a prisoner something is askew.

The following is the report by the Havana based daily 14ymedio on the events and criminal case against the protester. Interestingly while the police surrounded and repressed Robles, passersby defended him.

Young Man with Sign Accused of Acts against State Security

By 14ymedio

The young man who was arrested on December 4 for protesting with a handmade sign on San Rafael Boulevard in Havana. He is charged with “acts against state security.” According to Diario de Cuba the charge was filed by First-Lieutenant Roberto Batista, who issued an order for “temporary detention.”

The same news site also identified the young man as 28-year-old Luis Robles Elizastigui, originally from Guantanamo. Bystanders rushed to his defense when police tried to arrest him for holding up a cardboard sign that read, “Freedom, no more repression.” The sign also included the hashtag “#FreeDenis,” a reference to the rapper Denis Solis. The singer was sentenced to eight months in jail in an express trial for “contempt”.

A family member who spoke to Diario de Cuba on condition of anonymity said that Robles’ whereabouts were unknown for three days after his arrest. However, they stated that he is now being held at Villa Marista, the main State Security prison in Havana.

Videos of Robles protesting in front of a store on the popular pedestrian thoroughfare went viral. In them he can be heard shouting, “Freedom, down with the dictatorship,” to which some bystanders reply, “Down.” In less than a minute several uniformed police arrived and arrested the protester, who began shouting, “Freedom!”

Passersby come to Robles’ defense

In the video a chorus of voices can be heard shouting the same word as well as, “Thugs. You’re all thugs,” “Let him go,” “Down with the dictatorship” and “Oppressors.”

Several women reproached the police officers while the young man was being arrested. In at least one video they can be seen struggling with the police for a few seconds.

On the day of his arrest, he was fined 1,000 pesos under Decree 272, Article 11 of the Penal Code. According to attorney Santiago Alpízar, the law prohibits “creating a public eyesore” with signs. Authorities have also charged him with “disorderly conduct and contempt.”

In statements to the press the attorney also noted that Robles’ actions do not fit the definition of “other acts against state security,” for which he is also charged. He could face months or years in prison for his lone protest.

Read more news and features from Cuba on Havana Times.

15 thoughts on “Cuba Sees Prosecution of Lone Protester

  • December 29, 2020 at 6:43 am

    The U S treatment of protesters is better than Cuba. In Ontario Canada people can protest at Queen’s Park like I did last winter from January 24 to March 17 protesting against the cuts to medical care and homeless shelters and nursing homes. I have been homeless for 7 years after my house was condemned after a wind storm but am free to protest in front of the insurance company head office in Goderich Ont and having been there for the last few months. The police bring me hot chocolate most mornings and a local church lets me sleep in the basement with other homeless people at night. We are expected to help out the staff and the other homeless who have mental health issues.

  • December 27, 2020 at 3:39 am

    You fail to understand neutrality.
    I don’t support the Cuban Government any more than I support the U.S. Government.
    Both countries have good points and bad points.
    There are many things in Cuba that I disagree with (as there are in the USA).
    But I don’t go to someone’s country and get treated well and then start telling them what to do.
    I have been made to feel welcome in both the USA and Cuba. Although I would disagree with much of what goes on in these two places, I don’t start telling people how to run their country.
    The article is about a protester. The article states that he was treated unfairly. If that’s the case, I disagree with it.
    In Washington DC the trump regime treated many more protesters far worse.
    Yet despite this you, Olgasintamales, support trump. Never mind the fact that he actively promotes right wing extremism, you support him simply due to your hatred of the Cuban Government.
    Maybe one day you’ll get over it.
    Maybe one day you will comprehend neutrality and having respect for other countries.

  • December 23, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Cuba is a dictatorship plain and simple and has been for generations.
    Common sense tells you it’s wrong. Amnesty International among others make it clear.

    Some will never see the light.

  • December 23, 2020 at 2:23 am

    Nick, with a very selective perspective on common sense. A lot critical comments for Trump or for Ortega, Maduro, the Castro, or anyone on the Left. I’m not big fan of Trump but anyone with power that make harder for the Cuban dictatorship to stay in power I would support. Obama yield ined so many ways to the Castros and return for nothing the repression against the Ladies in White increased, with independent journalists, free thinkers artists, opposition intelectual, increased and on. So. Nick tell me exactly what you support at this point in a horrible obsolete dictatorship?!? Why the Cuban ppl should never become a democratic republic like others in Latin America? What exactly you are defending?

  • December 22, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    It’s not a technique Brad.
    It’s just plain old common sense and neutrality.

  • December 22, 2020 at 1:38 am

    Just like Olgasintamales said.

    No condemning the 1 party communist dictatorship for Nick.
    Standard deflection technique.

  • December 21, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    The Cuban Revolution was very different to the U.S. Revolution. But history shows us that those two Revolutions are similar in the sense that they have resulted in some good stuff and some bad stuff. As have a bunch of other revolutions.
    The USA and Cuba are two of my favourite countries in the world and I hope that they will both change for the better.
    I’ll stick with my neutral and balanced viewpoint.
    You stick with your beloved trump.

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