CubaBrief: Political show trials are underway in Cuba. Family members speak out for jailed loved ones

Political show trials are underway in Cuba. The Castro regime does not release information on how many have been arrested, but other sources provide estimates and concrete data.

14ymedio, the press outfit founded by independent journalist Yoani Sanchez, estimates more than 5,000 detained.

The human rights group Cubalex has identified 596 detained or missing Cubans, related to the protests that began on July 11th, in their database as of 9:36pm on July 21, 2021, but the list will most likely continue to grow.

The Center for a Free Cuba at the request of family members of two different detainees has hosted two press conferences at the offices of the Cuban Studies Institute in Miami, Florida over the past 10 days.

Today CFC invited media to listen to and ask questions of Katiuska Mustelier, sister of detained Cuban protester Enrique Mustelier.  Her brothers was brutally beaten and arrested in the city of Guantanamo and remains jailed in isolation.

On July 16th, Maria Ferreiro expressed concern that “her son, Henry Constantin Ferreiro, was among those taken into custody. ‘They are journalists, not criminals,’ she said. Ferreiro said her son has been charged with public disorder and incitement, and she hasn’t been able to speak to him,” reported WSVN .

Henry Constantin Ferreiro

Henry Constantin Ferreiro

We learned tonight that Henry Constantin Ferreiro was released from his arbitrary detention, and are awaiting additional details.

Cuba’s legal system is not independent, and political considerations of the dictatorship determine the outcome. Family members speaking out for their loved ones right now is the best defense to provide them a measure of protection, and perhaps their freedom when facing a political show trial where the decision is made before the trial starts.

The Art Newspaper, July 22, 2021

Cuba cracks down on protestors with summary trials and prison sentences

Artists and writers are among those targeted by the government, causing human rights groups to raise an alarm about abuses

Helen Stoilas

22nd July 2021 00:33 BST

Raisa Gonzalez shows a picture of her son Anyelo Troya Gonzalez, an artist arrested after protests in Havana REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Raisa Gonzalez shows a picture of her son Anyelo Troya Gonzalez, an artist arrested after protests in Havana REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Artists and writers who have long pushed for more freedoms in Cuba are among those who have been harassed, interrogated, summarily tried and imprisoned following a sweeping wave of protests on the island on 11 July. Around 500 people have been arrested, according to local activists who have been keeping a spreadsheet of those reported missing, prompting Human Rights Watch to raise an alarm about the government’s “brutal repression” and Pen International to condemn the Cuban state “for muzzling independent thought, action, and ideas”.

The government has targeted several artists who have been vocal critics of the Cuban government through their work. They include many of the creators involved in the influential music video Patria y Vida, including the photographer and video artist Anyelo Troya, who was arrested and sentenced today to a year in prison, the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, of the San Isidro Movement, who has been accused of crimes including “public disorder” and “resistance” and was recently transferred to a maximum security prison in Guanajay, and the rapper Maykel Osorbo, who has been jailed for more than two months.

In June, the artist Hamlet Lavastida was arrested after returning to Cuba from an artist residency in Germany, and remains in a maximum security prison in Villa Marista. And the artist Tania Bruguera was interrogated by police for more than 11 hours yesterday, and then charged with plotting to overthrow the government, collaborating with Lavastida on anti-government performances, and organising a meeting with the National Democratic Institute. She was released under house arrest, with officers routinely stationed outside her home.

“There are mothers that don’t know where their children are,” Bruguera told Politico in an interview this week. “I heard from a friend that saw one of our friends being held in a jail. His nose was broken and his ribs were bruised. His mother went and they wouldn’t let her see him.” Bruguera adds that the government has been pressuring family members to remove any videos or photos from the protests from social media, so as not to contradict the official stance that the protests were spearheaded by US-backed agitators, rather than ordinary Cuban citizens fed up with poor living conditions. “The government doesn’t want to take responsibility … for the consequences of the decisions it has made,” Bruguera says. “So, they’re trying to find an external enemy.”

Calling for an end to the harassment by police and the release of artists and writer, Pen International says: “The Cuban government insists on its decades-old repression, but Cuba is changing. Thousands of Cubans are overcoming their fear of the government. Governments committed to human rights and democracy in the Americas and Europe should make it clear to [President] Díaz-Canel that the Cuban government will no longer get away with brutal crackdowns and trying to hide abuses with censorship.”

WSVN, July 16, 2021

Local families struggle to reach loved ones in Cuba as protesters march in Little Havana

By Jessica Holly, Raphael Pires

July 16, 2021


MIAMI (WSVN) – Cuban American families living in South Florida said they are trying to get in touch with loved ones in Cuba as protests and violent confrontations continue on the island nation.

Cellphone video captured a man as police officers hit him repeatedly before they took him away.

Jennifer Acosta said the man in the video is her brother, 24-year-old Franco Alvero, and the footage was recorded by a neighbor in the middle of Sunday’s uprising.

“We have no access to see him, to make sure he’s even alive,” she said.

Meanwhile, local protesters voiced their opposition to the Cuban government for a sixth consecutive day.

Friday night, 7News captured a crowd of demonstrators who gathered in front of Little Havana’s iconic Versailles Restaurant.

Protesters waved Cuban flags, held up signs and banged on pots and pans.

“Down with communism!” a demonstrator screamed in Spanish.

“I came over here when I was a kid, and I still have family over there, and we have to support the people back home and let them know that we’re here for them,” said another protester.

The group marched more than two miles to Domino Park in a show of support and solidarity for their family and friends in Cuba.

“We’re hoping that this makes a change. We’re hoping that this support does something and brings about change because it’s about time,” said organizer Marvin Tapia.

Others jogged for justice. The Brickell Run Club held a three-mile run along Calle Ocho.

The local demonstrations unfold as Cubans continue to take to the streets to call for freedom and protest food shortages and other issues.

“In his case, [my brother] didn’t get to scream for freedom, because as soon as he went out, he got his phone and was trying to take a video [when] many, many people from the military that were dressing up like regular people, they beat him up,” said Acosta.

Acosta and her family has not heard from Alvero since. She said his mother has tried to see him but was turned away.

“They don’t want us to see him, they don’t want us to see the [medical] condition he’s in,” said Acosta.

In the city of Camagüey, cellphone video showed a woman being carried away on Sunday.

The woman, who was reportedly a journalist, was detained along with her co-workers while covering the protests.

Speaking in Spanish at a news conference held at the Center for a Free Cuba on Friday, Maria Ferreiro said her son, Henry Constantin Ferreiro, was among those taken into custody.

“They are journalists, not criminals,” she said.

Ferreiro said her son has been charged with public disorder and incitement, and she hasn’t been able to speak to him.

“The summary trial, I fear very long sentences, and I fear for their lives,” she said. “I ask all journalist associations in the world to help me and to help in achieving the freedom of these youth.”

At Miami International Airport, a candlelight vigil was held Friday night for those who have lost their lives and all the others who continue to suffer under the Cuban government.

Those with direct connections to Cuba said their family and neighbors are living in fear that they or someone they love will be next.

“The whole country right now is kidnapped. They’re like slaves to the government, and they’re tired of it,” said Acosta.

As Acosta waits for word on the fate of her brother, she made a plea for the country she now calls home.

“You need to lead us, because America is the symbol of freedom. That’s why I came to America,” she said. “We’re talking about liberty of real people. You can’t let them do this.”

As of 10 p.m., the protest near Versailles showed no signs of slowing down.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WLRN, July 21, 2021


‘They Don’t Let Our Family See Him.’ Relatives Of Arrested Cuban Protesters Speaking Out

WLRN 91.3 FM | By Tim Padgett

Published July 21, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT

Cuban dissident Enrique Montelier, who was arrested and allegedly beaten by Cuban police in Guantanamo on July 11 during nationwide anti-government protests.

Cuban dissident Enrique Montelier, who was arrested and allegedly beaten by Cuban police in Guantanamo on July 11 during nationwide anti-government protests.

Hundreds of Cuban families on the island, and in Miami, say they need international leverage to help determine their arrested relatives’ whereabouts and status.

Human rights groups say Cuban authorities have arrested more than 500 people after last week’s unprecedented anti-government protests.

Now, many of their families can’t get information about them — including the relatives of Cuban dissident Enrique Mustelier.

He was arrested during protests — which were captured on video — in Guantánamo, Cuba, on July 11.

“Other protesters who were with him told me the police beat Enrique badly, and that may be a reason they don’t let our family see him,” said Mustelier’s sister, Katiuska Mustelier, in an interview with WLRN.

Since Enrique’s arrest, Katiuska Mustelier — a Miami Cuban exile — says her mother and other relatives on the island have not been able to see or talk to him. Nor are they certain where he’s being held. WLRN was not able to independently confirm Enrique Montelier’s arrest.

Hundreds of families like hers tell Cuban and international rights organizations they are also in the dark about detained relatives — about where they’re detained or the status of their legal cases (due process information that under Cuban law is supposed to be divulged in a few days after an arrest).

Katiuska Mustelier and Miami Cuban exile leaders say it’s why the international community should put more pressure on Cuba’s communist regime — which has never faced protests like those that erupted last week.

“The regime is afraid of the Cuban people right now, because they cannot stop this movement spontaneously growing in Cuba,” said Janisset Rivero, a Miami spokesperson for the Washington D.C.-based Center for a Free Cuba, who joined Katiuska Mustelier to speak on her brother’s case.

“So the regime’s repression is probably even worse than usual for the Cuban people at this moment.”

Katiuska Mustelier said Cuban authorities may be treating her 38-year-old brother, who has a private construction company in Guantánamo, more harshly because he’s been a vocal dissident since he was a teenager. He’d been imprisoned by the regime once before in 2010, for attempting to flee Cuba, for five years. Mustelier’s father was also once imprisoned in Cuba as a dissident.

Katiuska Mustelier insisted, though, that her brother has never taken part in violent acts against the regime, which she hears may be one of the accusations against him after he took part in the July 11 protests.

Groups like the Center for a Free Cuba are also asking the international community to help Cubans regain access to the internet after the regime all but shut it down last week.