Report on the violation of human rights in Cuba July-December 2021
Center for Free Cuba Open Letter to the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights on the eve of his arrival in Cuba

REPORT ON THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CUBA

JULY-DECEMBER 2021

CENTER FOR A FREE CUBA (JANUARY 2022)

Center for Free Cuba Open Letter to the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights on the eve of his arrival in Cuba
Between the months of July and December 2021, repression in Cuba has increased due to the rebellion of the Cuban people that was evident during the protests against the Castro communist regime that began en masse on July 11, 2021. The same July, in the middle of the demonstrations, Miguel Diaz Canel, current representative of the Castro dictatorship, called for repression based on Article 4 of the current Constitution. Article 4 states:

“The defense of the socialist homeland is the greatest honor and supreme duty of every Cuban.

Treason is the most serious of crimes, whoever commits it is subject to the most severe penalties.

The socialist system that this Constitution endorses is irrevocable.

Citizens have the right to fight by all means, including armed struggle, when no other recourse is possible, against anyone who attempts to overthrow the political, social and economic order established by this Constitution.”.[1]

The protests initiated spontaneously by the Cuban people were the result of popular discontent over the repressive measures against free expression, economic management and the search for solutions to the terrible conditions in which the people of Cuba live, and the inequality that exists between the ruling elite and the rest of the population.

Arbitrary arrests and massive repression

The Center for a Free Cuba issued a statement on July 12, 2021 denouncing the attack against the Catholic priest Father José Castor Alvarez Devesa, who was violently attacked with a bat and had his head broken by the military in the city of Camagüey for trying to defend a person who was walking peacefully during the massive protests of July 11 . The priest was detained and interrogated for several hours, and was released the next day.

The Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs of Cuba (CRDH) denounced on July 16, 2021 that a hundred citizens residing in Ciego de Ávila were imprisoned and facing judicial proceedings: “The Cuban government will take more than a hundred participants in the massive protests on July 12, according to what the Council of Rapporteurs was able to learn from sources

officials and by some of the relatives of those arrested, all of whom requested anonymity, for fear of reprisals. Among those charged are: Xavier Álvarez García, of 18 years; Yoel David Ochoa Álvarez, 21 and Fernando Eloy González, of 33. They are all held incommunicado in the instruction unit known as Everybody Sings, accused of Public Disorder and reside in the Corea neighborhood, in the Lugones neighborhood, in Ciego de Ávila. From the Canaleta and Corea neighborhoods of the city of Avila alone, it is estimated that around twenty young people are prosecuted and imprisoned,” the document stated.

The Center for a Free Cuba held a press conference in Miami on July 21 with Katiuska Mustelier, sister of one of those arrested in Guantánamo Enrique Mustelier, whose whereabouts were unknown at that time. The sister reported the brutal beating that Enrique received. “We know that they repress, they do hit and they do murder.” (https://www.cubaenmiami.com/cubana-de-miami-denuncia-desaparicion-de-su-hermano-en-cuba-tras-participar-en-las-protestas-mientras-el-regimen-inicia-juicios-sumarios/)

According to numerous independent organizations within the Island, arrests related to the massive protests of July 11 and 12 continued for many days, as the political police began to identify each of the participants through videos published on social networks or sent from the Island to be published abroad. Hundreds of citizens were imprisoned across the country in the days following the protests, including numerous human rights activists, including Demis Valdés Sarduy, Javier Delgado Torna, Yeknier Gutiérrez Orozco, Carlos Michael Morales Rodríguez, Humberto Paz Gutiérrez[1], Alexander Mario Fábregas Milanés, Norberto Dairon González León, Ciro Alexis Casanovas Pérez all from the central provinces.[2]

At the end of July 2021, the Cuban Reflection Movement denounced from the Island that several political prisoners held in the Nieves Morejón Prison in Sancti Spiritus were taken for interrogations, suffered searches and punishment cells in order for them to say who they were. the organizers of the protests. Among the victims of this are the political prisoner Aurelio Cabrera González and the inmate Orlando Paz Garriga. “It is noteworthy that they want to imprison for long sentences some opponents who remain detained because they are considered the organizers, financiers and leaders of the 11 J demonstrations. It would be necessary to reason what links all this may have. The truth is, no opposition organization or coalition has remotely the capacity to successfully organize demonstrations like the one that occurred recently.”

The arrests and repressive measures, orchestrated by the Ministry of the Interior throughout Cuba, are not only the response to the massive protests in July, but also to protests in neighborhoods and municipalities by citizens dissatisfied with electricity cuts, police harassment and the injustices committed by the police against the population. In numerous towns, civic protests were held and anonymous posters appeared against the government or with the phrase “Patria y Vida.” Numerous citizens were fined 3,000 Cuban pesos for being part of the protests, according to internal sources. “A group of people also protested 11J in Encrucijada, Camajuaní, Villa Clara, some of whom are named: Alejandro Javier Morales Pérez, Dairon Cuellar González, Yohan Carlos López y Yailé Consuegra. The first held up a banner that said: “Down with communism.” The three at the top of the list were detained for about 7 days in the cells of the PNR station in that town, their cell phones were confiscated and fines of 3000.00 CUP were imposed. The fourth was detained for about 10 hours in the same police center and a warning was issued.”[1]

During the month of August, repressive measures and citizen protests continued due to the long hours without electricity, as occurred in the City of Placetas on the 31st of that month, where numerous citizens were arrested for joining a popular protest against the blackouts. The repressive measures also included people who are seen with their phones connected to Wi-Fi or watching outdoor videos, who are arrested, taken to police units, and accused of crimes against State Security. In the case of citizen Diego Manuel Abreu Zabala, from the city of Camajuaní, who was detained and taken to the Psychiatric Hospital, but the doctors demanded that the police remain with the detainee and the gendarmes took him back to the police unit. (the events occurred on September 12, 2021).

On September 14, the Center for a Free Cuba announced the serious situation of the activist and political prisoner Virgilio Mantilla Arango, who, while being held in isolation in the Red Ceramic Prison, was again accused and brought to trial for the alleged crime of contempt. The cruelty against Virgilio Mantilla has been increasing, since when he is about to serve his unjust prison sentences he is prosecuted again. On March 3, the Center had reported that Mantilla was transferred to the maximum severity prison Kilo 8 and that he had been put in a cell with common prisoners infected with COVID 19, at that time Virgilio was serving a 7-month prison sentence since December 2020 for posting letters in support of the artists of the San Isidro Movement. On March 18, it was confirmed that Mantilla had contracted COVID 19 and was under unknown circumstances.

The 23th of September It was reported that the regime revoked the sentence of 4 years and 8 months of limitation of freedom to the opponent José Daniel Ferrer, for a permanent prison sentence. Ferrer was arrested on July 11 during mass demonstrations.

After the call for a peaceful march was launched on November 15, 2021, repressive measures intensified throughout the country. The activist Aurora Sancho reported that the November 13 the brothers were arrested Rubén y Yoel Fernández Carnesuña In the city of Santiago de Cuba, other activists from the same town were visited by State Security agents and threatened with going to prison if they participated in the protest on November 15. The same type of repressive measures were reported from Havana, Camagüey, Ciego de Avila and Matanzas according to the Council of Rapporteurs. On the eve of November 15, hundreds of telephone lines were cut and internet access limited or absent. An example of this are the complaints of opponents Fernando Vázquez Guerra, Coordinator of the Patriotic Union in Camaguey and the opposition leader José Díaz Silva, in Boyeros, Havana.

In addition to the massive repression, the regime denied the 8 requests presented by the activists to carry out the peaceful march, thus violating what is established by the current Constitution itself and using Article 4 and also Article 45 as justification again; established a curfew, and finally mobilized the paramilitary mobs to carry out acts of repudiation in front of the homes of the organizers and activists, at the same time that he called for an activity with the regime’s supporters who were the only ones on the streets of the Cuban capital, visibly empty.

On November 15, 2021, The Center for a Free Cuba issued a statement stating that “The main cities of Cuba woke up militarized with a strong presence of the special brigades, the MININT and the PNR to prevent a nonviolent march called by artists and activists of the civic movement. “Several days before, the repressive forces of the military regime that prevails in Cuba threatened and arrested activists and citizens who expressed their desire to participate in the demonstration.” On November 12, the Center had called on the international community for help in demanding the immediate release of those detained in the days leading up to November and starting on July 11. Also that international human rights organizations, such as the International Red Cross, especially their visits to Cuban prisons, be allowed to enter, and that the restriction imposed by the regime be lifted so that Cuban exile organizations could send and distribute humanitarian aid.

Trials without procedural guarantees

Trials without procedural guarantees July 25, 2021, The authorities of the regime themselves acknowledged having celebrated 19 trials against 59 protesters, In many cases, trials for which the accused could not appoint defense attorneys, and whose relatives could not attend the trial rooms because they did not have the information. The regime does not want to be called summary trials but they lack procedural guarantees, and in Cuba, there is no private practice of law, defense lawyers work for the government. (https://elpais.com/internacional/2021-07-26/los-juicios-por-las-protestas-del-11j-polarizan-cuba.html

On July 22, 2021, the minor was sentenced Gabriela Zequeira Hernández a 8 meses de prisión en el Tribunal del Municipio Diez de Octubre en La Habana. Luego de apelar le condenaron a trabajo correccional sin internamiento, la joven Katherine Martin, de 17 años, fue condenada el 21 de julio de 2021 a un año de prisión y fue trasladada a la Prisión El Guatao, pero le fue cambiada la medida para correccional sin internamiento según fuentes internas. Zequeira Hernandez denunció que fue víctima de abuso sexual en la prisión. . (https://www.cibercuba.com/noticias/2021-11-21-u199955-e199955-s27061-al-menos-14-ninos-cubanos-continuan-prision-motivos)

On Tuesday November 23 They held the trial of five participants in the protest staged by a crowd of citizens on June 11, at the Provincial Court of Santa Clara. The tax request is as follows: 4 and a half years; Carlos Michael Rodríguez Morales, petition for 4 years and sentenced to 2 years and 10 months; José Rodríguez Herrada, petition for 4 and a half years was sentenced to 3 and a half years; Javier Delgado Torna, petition for 4 and a half years was sentenced to 3 and a half years; Magdiel Rodríguez García, petition for 8 years and was sentenced to 4 and a half years; and Isel Fumero Pérez, petition for 6 years and was sentenced to 2 years and six months.(https://www.radiotelevisionmarti.com/a/sentenciados-cinco-manifestantes-pac%C3%ADficos-del-11j-en-caibari%C3%A9n/310979.html)

On December 14, 2021, the trial began in the City of Camagüey, against two of the participants in the protests of July 11 and 12.. Ramón Enrique Montero Meriño y Jorge Alexis Agüero Gómez. More information about the case is awaited.

On December 15, 2021, the trial against the young man was held in the Marianao Court, Havana. Luis Robles Elizastigui, who remained detained in the Combinado del Este Prison for having left with a sign asking for the freedom of Denis Solis, on San Rafael Boulevard and was arrested on December 4, 2020. He remained imprisoned without trial for more than a year. The accusations are Enemy Propaganda and Disobedience and the request for 6 years in prison.

On December 20, 2021, 17 people accused of the protests of July 12 in La Güinera were tried in the Havana prosecutor’s office, under the accusation of Sedition, which implies treason to the country, even though they are not military personnel. The sentences were: Wilmer Moreno Suárez, 25 years; Roberto Pérez Ortega, 24 years; Odet Hernández Cruzata, 23 years; Reynier Reinosa Cabrera, 20 years; Fredy Beirut Matos (64), 20 years; Katia Beirut Rodríguez, 23 years; Luis Frómeta Compte, 24 years; Denis Ojeda Álvarez, 22 years; Walnier Luis Aguilar Rivera, 22 years; Yoandry Reinier Sayu Silva, 19 years; Robert Orlando Cairo Diaz, 22 years; Rolando Vázquez Fleita, 20 years; Ángel Serrano Hernández, 22 years; Yerandis Rillo Pao, 22 years; Oscar Luis Ortiz, 22 years; Carlos Paul Michelena Valdés, 20 years; Felipe Almirall (61), 19 years.

The Center for a Free Cuba issued a statement on December 28 after these sentences were handed down where it presented the statements of Zoila Rodríguez Marzo, mother of Katia Beirut Rodríguez and another young man, tried in the City of Guantánamo, Exeynt Beirut Rodríguez[1], quien fue detenido durante las protestas en esa ciudad el 11 de julio. Además de denunciar la condena contra su ex esposo y padre de sus hijos Fredy Beirut Matos. Aquí hay un enlace a las declaraciones de Zoila: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE91ArgqeiA)

Los días 20 y 21 de diciembre fueron juzgados y condenados los acusados por participar en las protestas del 11 de julio en la Ciudad de Colón, Matanzas, las siguientes personas, algunos de ellos reconocidos activistas de derechos humanos: Francisco Rangel Manzano, 7 años; Leilandys Puentes Vargas, 8 años; César Adriam Delgado Correa, 7 años; Raúl Santana López, 10 años; y  Tania Echavarría Menéndez, 7 años.

On December 23, 2021, The trial was held in the Municipal Court of the City of Guantánamo against Exeyint Beirut Rodríguez, Yordis García Fournier, Yobel Sevilla Martínez, Eriberto Teyes Reynosa, Roger Humberto Sánchez George, Enrique Mustelier Sosa, Ana Luisa Ávila Morales, Jesús David Rodríguez Prevost, Enrique Mustelier Sosa y Leidis Eva García Fuentes who since July 11 remain in provisional prison and Geiser González Michel, in house arrest. In this case we are waiting for information on the ratified sentences.

In conclusion

According to numerous reports and lists, all partial and with incomplete information, the mass arrests in the month of July and August 2021, and then at the beginning of November 2021, are estimated at around 1,300, of which around Of 800 remain incarcerated or awaiting trial. This is a much lower number than the real one if we take into account the hundreds of people who took to the streets in more than 12 cities in the country. An approximate number of arrests indicates the figure is close to 5,000 arrests. Until the moment of concluding this report, the conditions of many detained due to the repression against their relatives, which prevents them from speaking and providing information, are unknown. On the other hand, there are still trials to be held, and convictions to be confirmed.

What can be stated is that during and after the massive demonstrations, repression in Cuba has reached levels that could only be compared to the mass arrests during the Missile Crisis in 1962, at the beginning of the totalitarian system that still prevails in Cuba. , and the nearly 15 thousand political prisoners who swelled the lists at the end of the sixties.

We include in this report the link to the testimony of Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, director of the Palenque Visión Audiovisual Press Agency, with his analysis of the Cuban reality issued on January 5, 2021.

The international community that once raised its voice in favor of the Cuban people at the time of communist imposition on the Island, has the obligation to do so now.

[2] According to the Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs of Cuba, the activist was detained on July 22 and his whereabouts remained unknown until July 28, where he was taken to the Ciego de Avila Instruction Unit. At the end of this month he was already facing judicial proceedings against him for the alleged crimes of Public disturbances; Disrespect; Endurance; Disobedience and Spread of epidemics, with sanctions ranging from fines to 10 years in prison, depending on who it is, or the interest that the police have in removing the accused from circulation or not. All this in retaliation for his activism in favor of respect for human rights.
[3] Report from July 20 to 27, 2021 of the Cuban Reflection Movement. https://www.mcrcuba.org/publicaciones/informes/pdf/20-27_7_21.pdf
[4] Report from August 3 to 10, 2021 from the MCR.https://www.mcrcuba.org/publicaciones/informes/pdf/3-10_8_21.pdf
[5] The prosecutor’s petition for Case #330 of the Guantánamo Municipal Court is attached.