Thu Jul 11, 2024
July 11, 2024

Cuba | Protesters Brutally Persecuted by the Cuban Government After 11J Mobilizations

Seven months after the July 11, 2021 protests in Cuba, repression against demonstrators is intensifying. On January 25, after more than half a year of silence, the Cuban Attorney General’s Office provided information about the criminal proceedings of those accused of having participated in the demonstrations.
By Daniel Sugasti
The official report reveals 117 files opened against 790 people, including 115 defendants between the ages of 16 and 20 [1]. The number of files indicates that several persons were or will be tried simultaneously. The Cuban authorities, on the other hand, acknowledged that 68% of the accused have been in pre-trial detention since July.
However, the information from the Prosecutor’s Office is incomplete, since it only includes cases in which investigations have been completed, leaving aside those that are in the initial phase of the criminal process. Nor do they mention the exact number of people who have been detained during and after 11J. According to Justicia 11J, which, with family members, the imprisoned themselves and other activists carry out a count of the prisons, the state imprisoned 1,393 people for the July 11th protests. Since the authorities only recognize 489 prisoners, it is clear that there are dozens of cases undocumented and therefore unaccounted for by the state [2]. According to this data, at least 730 Cubans are still in prison, including “135 between 12 and 20 years of age, 7 under 16, 72 between 16 and 18, and 56 between 19 and 20” [3]. However, in the face of such persecution and legal aberrations, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel declared that in Cuba “there are no political prisoners” [4].
The accused face sentences of up to 30 years in prison. The intention is to impose exemplary punishments to frighten a people and a working and precarious youth who are awakening to the political struggle and rising up against decades of hardship and repression. The student of the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), Abel Lescay, for example, could be sentenced to seven years in prison for the “public disorder” of having insulted a policeman during the protests [5].
Various activist groups and family members have denounced these unjust and disproportionate sentences. As of the end of January, 84 trials had taken place, sentencing 172 people, without the Attorney General’s Office having reported the sentences imposed. But activists and human rights organizations count many more sentences. There is no transparency. In all the trials, requests to televise them or to allow the press to enter to cover them have been denied.
According to Granma, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, the charges are multiple: “…public disorder, instigation to commit crimes, damages, robbery with force and violence, attack, sabotage and sedition,” but the Prosecutor’s Office makes it clear that their legal response occurs within the framework of the accusation of attack “against the constitutional order and the stability of our socialist state”, since, for them, July 11 was a conspiracy to “destroy the Revolution” [6]. First of all, this is a lie the size of the island itself. As we have explained in other materials, there is no “socialism” in Cuba, since the Castro leadership itself headed the process of capitalist restoration (liquidating what, at the time, was a bureaucratized workers’ state) associated with imperialist capital and interests, especially European and Canadian.
What exists in Cuba is an authoritarian, police state and repressive regime, controlled by the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and the high command of the Armed Forces. Together, they guarantee with an iron fist the smooth running of lucrative businesses for foreign capital, assuming for itself the role of “junior partner” in the surrender of the country to imperialism. For that regime, any independent organization and action by the Cuban working class and people is intolerable. Its worst nightmare is a social explosion with the characteristics of 11J. For that reason, in Cuba there is no right to independent unionization, to assembly, to strike. The brutal characteristics of the Castro regime explain the viciousness of the persecution of everything that the 11J meant; its intention is to intimidate, to demoralize those who dared to mobilize against the increasing cost of living, the health crisis, the political asphyxia, and the absence of the most elementary democratic freedoms.
Between January 31 and February 7, the trial of some 33 “Toyo protesters”, accused of “sedition,” among them six minors, took place. The outcome is not known, but the Prosecutor’s Office is asking for prison sentences of up to 25 years. On January 31 there was a protest of more than 30 people in front of the court of the Havana municipality of 10 de Octubre, in which at least 14 activists were assaulted and arrested, including many relatives of those imprisoned who were simply protesting with shouts of “justice” and “freedom”. Also arrested were activists Daniela Rojo, Tata Poet, Leonardo Romero Negrín, Alexander Hall, Carolina Barrero and Camila Rodríguez [7]. Carolina Barrero, after strong pressure and threats from the State Security (the body in charge of monitoring and interrogating anyone in the country) left for Madrid: “The State Security gave me 48 hours to leave,” she posted on Facebook, since, if she did not leave, the detained mothers and other activists “would be instructed for the crime of public disorder” [8].  On February 10, the coordinator of Justicia 11J, Camila Rodríguez, denounced on the organization’s networks that the punishments for the protest in the trial reached the imprisoned themselves, who were prevented from receiving the “jaba” (bag with groceries, toiletries and clothing) and visits for six months [9].
Although subjected to constant interrogation, as can often be seen in their testimonies on social networks, harassed in their work environments or places of study, or even extending this harassment to their families, there are many activists who, despite the defamation campaigns, acts of repudiation (escraches) and the climate of terror imposed by the Castro political police, are standing firm, resisting, and organizing.
From the LIT-CI we stand in solidarity with all the prisoners, their families, friends, with the Cuban activists who fight against the government and authoritarian regime on the island.
From the beginning, we have joined the campaign demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners in Cuba and an end to the repression of the regime led by Díaz-Canel. It is imperative to redouble our efforts, to expand this democratic and internationalist campaign. To this end, we call on all workers’, peasants’ and students’ organizations, artists’ collectives, intellectuals; in short, all those who defend human rights and democratic guarantees, to collaborate with this democratic initiative.
Most of the global left, influenced by Castroism, keeps a complicit and criminal silence in the face of the Cuban state’s repression against social fighters. There is still time to abandon this position and join the campaign against prisons, summary trials, exemplary sentences, and against the attempt to stifle protest in Cuba.
For our part, to the extent of our strength, we will continue to uphold the banner of democratic freedoms in Cuba against the authoritarian regime of the PCC and the Armed Forces which, far from what socialism represents, sows and harvests terror, social inequality, hunger and forced migrations. We consider this task an essential starting point for a strategic struggle: a new revolution on the island, which recovers the conquests of 1959, now with profound workers’ democracy, permanent combat against oppressions, with respect for diversity and on the road to socialism.
Free the political prisoners in Cuba! Enough repression!
No imperialist interference!
Down with the authoritarian and capitalist regime of Díaz-Canel!
Originally published in Spanish here
Translated to English by Dolores Underwood
[1] Justicia11J announced that of the 520 people on trial, 67 are between the ages of 16 and 20, and of them 52 remain under provisional detention.
[2] See
[3] See
[4] See
[5] See
[9] See

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