in Santiago de Cuba
“The violence was on the part of the authorities because the whole time we were being beaten, even with sticks and pepper spray.”
HAVANA TIMES – Five protesters from the same family have been sentenced to prison for the protests in El Caney, Santiago de Cuba, on July 11. Along with them, there are three others convicted in the same case, with sentences of between 5 and 12 years in prison. Only one is released from jail and must pay a fine of 4,000 pesos, Radio Televisión Martí reported, after speaking with Dairon Yunior Labrada Linares, one of those involved, now on provisional release.
“Currently in prison are my uncle Iván Arocha Arocha, my cousin Iván Arocha Quiala, and like them are Eduardo Reinaldo Machado Arocha and Enrique Ferrer Echeverría,” said the young man, who has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
The latter, Enrique Ferrer Hechavarría, received the harshest sentence, 12 years in prison. He is followed by Iván Mauricio Arocha Arocha (10 years), Iván Arocha Quiala (10 years), Eduardo Reynaldo Machado Arocha (9 years), Dairon Yunior Labrada Linares (7 years), Abdiel Cedeño Martínez (6 years), Yusnaira González Pérez (5 years) and Luis Ibarra Hernández (fine of 4,000 pesos).
The group came out on July 11 to protest and has been convicted of the crimes of public disorder, attack, contempt, aggravated contempt for the figure of the president and the spread of epidemics. Those who have received the most years in prison are also considered guilty of prison escape, resistance and instigation to commit a crime.
“This process has been illegal, because they attribute non-existent crimes to me, and it was manipulated by the prosecutor, the instructor and the false testimonies of the police officers and witnesses of the Prosecutor’s Office. Like the other relatives and friends of mine to whom they impute crimes that they did not commit. When we protested, we didn’t think they were so serious, because we only asked for freedom, medicine, food, because of the scarcity that is affecting us,” Labrada Linares, 23, told the Miami-based television station.
At the end of January, Dairon had accused the police of having “violently” detained him along with Iván and Eduardo Reinaldo, “young people of 26, 23, 24 years, all useful to society because we have steady jobs,” in El Caney park while a peaceful demonstration was taking place due to “disagreements” with the social system.
“The violence was on the part of the authorities because the whole time we were being beaten, even with sticks and pepper spray. Only we know what we suffered so much abuse,” the young man lamented on Facebook. He also accused the courts of delay, since some of his friends and relatives had been deprived of liberty for more than 200 days.
The sentences with higher penalties for the events that occurred on July 11 have been coming out bit by bit since the beginning of the year. That day and the following, at least 1,500 people were arrested, although the figures are difficult to verify. The first summary trials were held at the time, and were mostly settled with fines and small prison sentences, but the cases considered more serious by the authorities, of people who are accused of generating violent altercations, have taken months of investigation.
According to data from the Prosecutor’s Office, 790 people will be prosecuted for the protests, 55 of whom are between 16 (criminal age of majority in Cuba) and 18 (legal age of majority).
In mid-March, the highest sentences to date came out, 1,916 years in total for 128 people who received between 6 and 30 years in prison for the demonstrations on the corner of Toyo and La Güinera, in Havana. Many of those accused in these files were exposed to penalties for sedition, the most serious charge faced by those prosecuted for 11J.