Courts in Cuba are issuing sentences of between three and ten years in prison against citizens arrested for demonstrating in the peaceful protests that shook the island in July 2021, local media Diario de Cuba reported.
Among those convicted is a minor girl who was sentenced to six years in prison after being arrested during the July protests. Her mother, Nuvia Espinosa, told Diario de Cuba that the Prosecutor’s Office “did not reduce her daughter’s sentence by a single day,” nor did they take into account that she was a minor.
“I knew they were going to go to extremes with these boys, one of the many crimes the government has committed: the imprisonment of these young people who the only thing they did was to go out on the streets to demand their rights,” Espinosa said. “They did not know that this was a crime for which they were going to be serving years of imprisonment, but I am proud of my daughter.”
According to the local media, the regime of Miguel Díaz-Canel initiated a “persecution process” against thousands of demonstrators after the anti-government protests of July 11, including dozens of minors.
The Prosecutor’s Office reported that 790 people are being prosecuted for their participation in the protests. Among them, 115 are young people between 16 and 20 years of age.
Organizations in favor of Cuba
The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights condemned on Wednesday the “scandalous sentences” against peaceful demonstrators, and detailed that 77% of the detainees had no criminal record.
“The information gathered in these five sentences disproves the Cuban government’s defamation campaign that the protesters are, in their great majority, common criminals,” said OCDH executive director Alejandro González Raga. “Although, even in cases with criminal records, the right to free demonstration and during judicial proceedings, the presumption of innocence must be respected. Likewise, we would like to highlight that the vast majority of those imprisoned in these specific processes – 61 % – are people between 16 and 30 years of age.”
González Raga pointed out that 26% are under 21 years of age, 35% are between 21 and 30, 21% are between 31 and 40, 10% are between 41 and 50, 6% are between 51 and 60, and just under 2% are over 61 years of age.
His organization recorded at least 416 instances of repression between July 2021 and February 2022, of which 149 were some form of detention and 267 cases of abuse related to home invasions, harassment, fines, citations, and threats.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell expressed “great concern” Wednesday over the severity of the sentences and called on the regime to allow the diplomatic community to participate in the trials.
“The European Union urges the Cuban authorities to respect the civil and political rights of Cubans, including freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression,” read the EU statement.
For its part, the human rights organization Amnesty International asked Cuban authorities for access to the island to monitor trials against imprisoned citizens.
“Through a series of unfair and opaque proceedings and trials against protesters in recent weeks, Cuban authorities have continued to carry out a campaign of criminalization with the sole objective of reestablishing the culture of fear that was broken last year when people took to the streets to express themselves,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director.