Report on the Violation of Human Rights in Cuba (Updated)
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 (Updated)

JULY-DECEMBER 2021

CENTER FOR A FREE CUBA (ENERO 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 defending a person who was walking peacefully during the massive protests on 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 government of Cuba 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 official sources and from some of the relatives of those arrested, all of whom requested anonymity, for fear of reprisals. Among those charged are:   Xavier Álvarez García , 18 years old;  Yoel David Ochoa Álvarez , 21, and  Fernando Eloy González , 33. All are 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 de ella-de ella en-cuba-tras-participar-en-las-protestas-mientras-el-regimen -initiates-summary-trials / )

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 throughout the country in the days following the protests, and among them numerous human rights activists, including Demis Valdés Sarduy , Javier Delgado Torna , Yeknier Gutiérrez Orozco , Carlos Michael Morales Rodríguez, Humberto Paz Gutiérrez [2] , Alexander Mario Fábregas Milanés , Norberto Dairon González León , Ciro Alexis Casanovas Pérez all from the central provinces. [3]

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 and 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.” [4]

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 Cerámica Roja 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 that he was under unknown circumstances.

On September 23, it was reported that the regime revoked the sentence of 4 years and 8 months of limitation of freedom of 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 on November 13, the brothers Rubén and Yoel Fernández Carnesuña were arrested in the city of Santiago de Cuba, and other activists from the same town were visited by State Security agents and threatened with going to prison if they 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 the 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 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

As early as July 25, 2021 , the regime’s own authorities acknowledged having held 19 trials against 59 protesters , in many cases trials for which the accused could not appoint defense lawyers, and whose relatives could not attend the courtrooms. lawsuits for not having had 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 Gabriela Zequeira Hernández was sentenced to 8 months in prison in the Diez de Octubre Municipal Court in Havana. After appealing, she was sentenced to correctional work without confinement, the young Katherine Martin , 17 years old, was sentenced on July 21, 2021 to one year in prison and was transferred to El Guatao Prison, but the measure was changed to correctional work. without internment according to internal sources. Zequeira Hernandez reported that she was a victim of sexual abuse in prison. . ( https://www.cibercuba.com/noticias/2021-11-21-u199955-e199955-s27061-al-menos-14-ninos-cubanos-continuan-prision-motivos )

On Tuesday , November 23, the trial of five participants in the protest staged by a crowd of citizens on June 11 was held 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 and Jorge Alexis Agüero Gómez. More information about the case is awaited.

On December 15, 2021 , the trial was held in the Marianao Court, Havana, against the young Luis Robles Elizastigui , who remained detained in the Combinado del Este Prison for having left with a poster asking for the freedom of Denis Solis, in the Boulevard de San Rafael 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 old; Odet Hernández Cruzata , 23 years old; Reynier Reinosa Cabrera , 20 years old; Fredy Beirut Matos (64), 20 years old; Katia Beirut Rodríguez , 23 years old; Luis Frómeta Compte , 24 years old; Denis Ojeda Álvarez , 22 years old; Walnier Luis Aguilar Rivera , 22 years old; Yoandry Reinier Sayu Silva , 19 years old; Robert Orlando Cairo Diaz , 22 years old; Rolando Vázquez Fleita , 20 years old; Ángel Serrano Hernández , 22 years old; Yerandis Rillo Pao , 22 years old; Oscar Luis Ortiz , 22 years old; Carlos Paul Michelena Valdés , 20 years old; Felipe Almirall (61), 19 years old.

Between December 20 and 22, 2021 , the trial was held in the Municipal Court of the city of Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba. The defendants and their tax requests are: Yurisnel Rodríguez , 15 years in prison; Enrique La O Martínez , 12 years old; Andrés Lugo Pérez , 12 years old; Reynaldo Dell Arias , 12 years old; Jorge Luis García García , 12 years old; Jorge Reinier Arias García , 12 years old; Pastor, Lorenzo Rosales , 10 years old; Daniel Fernández Álvarez , 10 years old; José Angel Cedeño Avila , 10 years in prison; Andrés Quinta Torres , 10 years old; Rodennís Ávila Corujo , 9 years old; José Manuel Arias Campo , 9 years old; Francisco Candiot García , 9 years old; Elizabeth Arias García , 7 years old; Daineris Moya García , 6 years old; and Ángel Bismaury Herrera , 6 years old. Since January 5, relatives have been waiting for the sentences to be handed down, but until January 24 they are unknown. The trial, held from 8AM to 10PM on three days, lacked procedural guarantees according to the complaint by Iliana Cedeño Avila, sister of José Angel and issued from Cuba to the Center for a Free Cuba:

“My name is Iliana Cedeño Ávila, human rights defender, sister of the political prisoner José Ángel Cedeño Ávila, detained in the citizen protest on July 11.

Since this date, he has been in the Boniato Maximum Security Prison, in the province of Santiago de Cuba. The causes for which he is accused are the crimes of Contempt, Public Disorder, Instigation to Crime and Attack. The trial took place on December 20 to 22 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. We await sentencing in the prison on January 5, which would give answers to the detainees. The families are desperate because this is the date and we have not been given a reason for it. They justify themselves [by saying] that the supreme court is evaluating the evidence of each of the accused.

My brother has been hospitalized since December 18 in the prison hospital with a severe skin lesion, he has a bacteria on his skin. On July 11, my brother was violently attacked [5] by many PNR officers and even people prepared by them to beat them, to repress them, to abuse so many young people who were only demanding a right that corresponds to them. My brother’s trachea was affected, four ribs were fractured, and he received some forceful blows to the brain, where he still has the soft mass there. My brother from July 11 until today is oozing humor from his ears, nose and even mouth. He has horrible injuries, his skin is cracked from the injuries themselves, he is completely unbalanced nervously. My brother suffers from pressure, he has possible diabetes, and he suffers from a bleeding ulcer that has been hospitalized several times, which has bled from his pathology. With so many sufferings and yet they are not able to release him without having a crime. At the trial he was not proven any of the crimes for which he was accused. His lawyer requested his immediate release.

Here we are, your family, every day with more anxiety, more suffering, with more pain. And I say my family and I say every family member of every Cuban who today is tortured, abused, repressed in the dungeons and in the cold cells of that prison.

I want to send a message to the international community, to free governments, and to international human rights organizations on behalf of every suffering family in this country. As a result of the demonstration on July 11, I even want to thank you for continuing to advocate for this cause, for continuing to support us, for continuing to defend us and for not lacking your support, for not lacking your brotherhood, for your solidarity and for please “Stay strong so you can continue with the conviction of one day being free.”

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 [6 ] , who was arrested during the protests in that city on July 11. In addition to denouncing the conviction against her ex-husband and father of her children, Fredy Beirut Matos . Here is a link to Zoila’s statements: ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE91ArgqeiA )

 On December 20 and 21, the following people were tried and convicted for participating in the protests of July 11 in the City of Colón, Matanzas, some of them recognized human rights activists: Francisco Rangel Manzano , 7 years old; Leilandys Puentes Vargas , 8 years old; César Adriam Delgado Correa , 7 years old; Raúl Santana López , 10 years old; and  Tania Echavarría Menéndez , 7 years old.

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 and Leidis Eva García Fuentes who have remained in provisional prison since July 11, and Geiser González Michel , in house arrest. In this case we are waiting for information on the ratified sentences.

Forced banishments

During 2021, the Havana regime implemented a method that is not new in the repressive practices that it has carried out for 63 years. The forced exile of opponents who, while on the street or under arbitrary arrest, have been put on a plane and taken off the Island.

On September 25, 2021,  the artist Hamlet Lavastida was released from prison and sent to Poland, after being detained for more than three months at the State Security Headquarters known as Villa Maristas. Lavastida was taken out with his girlfriend, the poet Katherine Bisquet . The latter reported on her Facebook page that Hamlet had been freed in exchange for exile, as soon as they arrived in European territory. ( https://www.facebook.com/katherine.bisquetrodriguez/posts/2157642644379036 )

“Hamlet Lavastida has been taken by State Security directly to the José Martí airport in the afternoon of this Saturday, September 25, from a protocol house in which he had been isolated since September 20 and of which he is unaware. his location, as he was transported to that location with his head between his legs. Likewise, I have also been transferred by State Security to the José Martí airport from my rental in Central Havana, without having the possibility for my father and family to take me and say goodbye.”

On January 4, 2022 , it was learned that independent journalists Esteban Rodríguez and Héctor Valdés were forced to leave the Island. Esteban Rodríguez had been detained since April 30, 2021 and was transferred from the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana to José Martí international airport. The journalists left Cuba bound for Nicaragua, but the Ortega regime denied them entry, leaving them stranded in El Salvador until that country granted them asylum.

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.

[1] Article 4 of the Communist Constitution of Cuba https://www.granma.cu/file/pdf/gaceta/Nueva%20Constituci%C3%B3n%20240%20KB-1.pdf

[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 Disorder ; contempt ; 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] https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1923291031178938 Images of the attack against José Angel Cedeño Avila published on a Facebook page.

[6] The prosecutor’s petition for Case #330 of the Guantánamo Municipal Court is attached.