Press Advisory: Relatives of a political prisoner in Cuba launch a call for help. Trials announced against opponents of Matanzas begin today.

Press Advisory

Relatives of a political prisoner in Cuba launch a call for help. Trials announced against opponents of Matanzas begin today.

CFC calls for release of all political prisoners and an end to sham trials

Washington, DC, January 24, 2022


John Suarez and Janisset Rivero (612)-367-6845

Center for a Free Cuba (CFC). The sister of José Ángel Cedeño Ávila, a political prisoner confined since July 11 in the Boniato Prison in Santiago de Cuba, denounced from Cuba on January 20, 2022 the situation of her brother and other political prisoners who are awaiting their sentence after undergoing a trial without procedural guarantees at the end of December 2021 in the City of Santiago de Cuba. The Center shared the enclosed information with democratic governments and international human rights organizations.

“My name is Iliana Cedeño Ávila, human rights defender, sister of political prisoner José Ángel Cedeño Ávila, detained in the citizen protest of July 11th. Since that date, he has been in the Boniato Maximum Security Prison, in the province of Santiago de Cuba. The charges for which he is accused are the crimes of Contempt, Public Disorder, Instigation to Delinquency and Assault. The trial was held from December 20 to 22 from 8 in the morning until 11 at night. We awaited the prison sentence on January 5th, which would give answers to the detainees. Families are desperate because this was the date and we have not been given a reason for it. They justify themselves [saying] that the supreme is evaluating the evidence of each of the accused,” affirmed Iliana Cedeño Ávila in a voice message on January 20, 2022. This is included in a human rights report released by the Center for a Free Cuba today (and attached in Word format in this e-mail).

One of the main elements of the complaint is the medical condition of José Ángel, who was brutally beaten during the arrest, and has marks from those beatings as well as a bacterium on his skin, which is why he is in the Boniato prison hospital.

“My brother has been hospitalized since December 18th in the prison hospital with a severe skin lesion, he has bacteria on his skin. On July 11, my brother was violently attacked by many PNR officers and even persons prepared by them to beat them, to repress them, to abuse so many youth who only demanded a right that corresponds to them. They affected my brother’s trachea, they fractured four ribs, they gave him forceful blows to the brain, where he still has the soft mass there. My brother has been oozing pus from his ears, nose, and even his mouth since July 11th. He has horrible injuries, his skin is chapped from his own injuries, his nerves are totally unbalanced. My brother suffers from high blood pressure, he has possible diabetes, and he suffers from a bleeding ulcer for which he has been hospitalized several times, that has bled from his pathology. He has so many ailments and yet they are not willing to free him, despite him not committing a crime. In the trial, none of the crimes for which he was accused were proven. His lawyer requested his immediate release,” affirmed Iliana Cedeño Ávila, who urged the international community to support the prisoners and their families.

At the time of these denunciations, it was learned that trials would be held on January 24th and 25th against well-known opposition activist Félix Navarro Rodríguez, his daughter (activist Sayli Navarro Álvarez) and other opposition activists detained during and in the aftermath of the July 11th protests in the Perico Municipality in Matanzas.

Félix Navarro and Sayli Navarro were both detained on July 12th, but Sayli was freed shortly after, but her father remains detained, caught COVID-19 behind bars, and is suffering from other ailments. Prosecutor Idania Miranda wants to sentence Félix Navarro to 15 years in prison and his daughter Sayli Navarro Álvarez to 11 years in prison. On Sunday January 23, 2022 regime agents grabbed Sayli to prevent her attending Mass.

“These are not just trials, but part of a campaign of terror by the Cuban government to silence dissent in Cuba. I call for the immediate and unconditional release of all Cuban political prisoners, and an end to these sham proceedings,” said John Suarez, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.

The Center joined together with over 200 human rights advocates, religious leaders, writers, artists, intellectuals, journalists, businessmen, former diplomats, academicians, and activists in an appeal to both the Cuban dictatorship and the world’s democracies, and civic, religious and political leaders to call for an end to repression in Cuba, elimination of restrictions on the distribution of humanitarian aid, allow the Red Cross to enter Cuban prisons, and the release of all Cuban political prisoners. (Names are included in Excel format in this e-mail.)

The appeal also calls on the international community to establish a global arms embargo on Cuba, suspend economic and military cooperation agreements with the Cuban dictatorship, and apply Global Magnitsky Sanctions against regime repressors.