Cuba punishes protesters with summary trials and jail terms
Following the historic protests that began on July 11 in the streets of Havana, the Cuban government began cracking down on freedom-seeking protesters by subjecting them to summary trials and jail terms, resulting in that human rights groups are on high alert. Following the arrest of more than six hundred demonstrators, whose local activists track the detention via a spreadsheetHuman Rights Watch denounced the government’s response to the unprecedented protests as an act of “brutal repression”, while PEN America called on Cuban authorities to “muzzle independent thought, action and ideas.”
Among those targeted by the government of President Miguel Díaz-Canel are young people and even minors, according to the Miami Herald, who cited as an example the arrest, rushed trial and a one-year prison sentence for “public disorder” of photographer Anyelo Troya, 25. Troya had worked in the production of the video for the song “Patria y vida” (The homeland and life) a takeoff on the phrase “Patria o muerte” (The homeland or death) popularized by the Cuban communist revolutionary Ernesto “Che Guevara in the 1950s which became the rallying cry of the demonstrators. The video featured members of the artist-activist movement San Isidro (MSI), whose voters have been harassed by the government for months. MSI member Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who was forcibly hospitalized this spring during a hunger strike, was reportedly moved to a maximum security prison in Guanajay, while rapper Maykel Obsorbo, who joined the movement more early this year, is still in prison, where he was Since May.
The artist and activist group 27N has also seen its members face harassment by the state, most recently including artist Hamlet Lavastida, who was arrested last month on his way back from a residence at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, and Tania Bruguera, that The arts journal reports was questioned for eleven hours on July 20. Politics, Bruguera described seeing a youth beaten by ten police officers on the street and the imprisonment of protesters who were not allowed to have outside contact. Human Rights Watch further named CubaNet journalist Camila Acosta, who also works for Spanish media ABC, as having been detained and held incommunicado.
“The government has created a very sophisticated disinformation process,” Bruguera said. “They start by saying that the people who protested were revolutionaries who were confused. Later they said [the protesters] were delinquents. Now they say [the protesters] are people who want the US government to invade Cuba.
“Thousands of Cubans are overcoming their fear of the government,” Human Rights Watch noted. “Governments committed to human rights and democracy in the Americas and Europe should make it clear to Díaz-Canel that the Cuban government will no longer get away with brutal crackdowns and trying to cover up the abuses by censorship. “