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The Cuban regime is viciously attacking the 11J political prisoners

March 24, 2022
At the end of January, Cuba’s Attorney General’s Office reported that 790 people were facing criminal proceedings for having participated in the protests of July 11, 2021, including 115 defendants between the ages of 16 and 20. Of these defendants, 68% had been in pre-trial detention since July.
By: Daniel Sagusti
On February 14, the first sentences for sedition were handed down to 20 demonstrators in Holguín (in the east of the island), including five minors. Two were sentenced to 20 years in prison, three to 18 years, two to 17, one to 15, two to 14, two to 12 and two to seven. One 18-year-old was sentenced to five years of “correctional labor without internment”.  The five minors (four 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old) were sentenced to “five years of limitation of liberty”, when the Cuban prosecution was requesting between 15 and 18 years in prison.
On March 16, the Cuban regime announced more sentences: 128 people were sentenced to between six and 30 years in prison. Specifically, the sentences correspond to the defendants involved in the events at the Toyo corner and in the Güinera neighborhood, Arroyo Naranjo. In other words, the total sentence amounts to 1,916 years of imprisonment. According to the NGO Prisoners Defenders, seven adolescents aged 16 and 17 were sentenced to between seven and 19 years in prison. According to the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights, “…77% of those sentenced had no criminal record…”[1].
The proceedings of the People’s Provincial Court of Havana, held between December 14 and February 3, included 130 defendants. That is to say, only one was acquitted. Another defendant received a sentence of four years of “correctional work without internment”.
The sentences were mainly for sedition and theft, presented as “…serious disturbances and acts of vandalism, with the purpose of destabilizing public order, collective security and public tranquility”[2].
A sign of the repressive political character of the sentences issued is that the “evidence” presented by the accusers were, precisely, the slogans raised by the demonstrations to which the defendants belonged. According to the logic used by the judges, the commission of the crime of “sedition” took place because the alleged intention of the protesters was to “…undermine the popularly supported constitutional order, since those were the slogans they were raising”[3]. In other words, slogans such as “patria y vida”, “libertad”, “Díaz-Canel, singao”, “policía, pinga”, “policías singaos, váyanse de aquí”, “asesinos”, “esbirros”, “abajo Díaz-Canel”, “abajo Raúl” and “abajo la dictadura” were the “proof” that justified the conviction for the crime of sedition and not for any other.
It should be recalled that as of December 2021 more than 1,300 people had been detained as a result of 11J, according to the Justice 11J initiative[4].
The justifications of the February 14 sentences offer more elements to understand the persecution of the regime, in the same sense as those of March 16. The defendants were condemned simply because they had gone out to protest “urged by the maneuvers from the United States of America to destabilize the revolutionary process in Cuba, to disrupt the order and tranquility of the citizenry, to try to discourage and confuse” the people. In addition, they would have committed the crime of insistently inviting “…citizens who were on the road for other reasons”, with the purpose of spreading “the idea of a state of generalized nonconformity among the people”. To make matters worse, the Cuban State accused them of the crime of “insulting” Díaz-Canel: “a multitude of people (…), following the models of action taught by the enemies of the socialist system, hurled insults against the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, undermining the climate of calm that has characterized the Cuban society”[5].
What evidence did the regime present? Mere testimonies of State employees, of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) itself and agents of the Ministry of the Interior. In other cases, information obtained without the permission of the accused from their cell phones or content posted on social networks.
Both the accusation, the justification and the trial itself, completely flawed, show the complete absence of legal guarantees and elementary democratic freedoms. The arguments of the Cuban prosecutors are worthy of the nefarious Moscow Trials, the legal farce undertaken by Stalinism in the 1930s.
The accusation of attacking “the constitutional order and the stability of our socialist state”, or the supposed intention of “destroying the Revolution”, as we have explained on other occasions, is unfounded.
You cannot attack something that does not exist. And the reality is that 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) in partnership with imperialist powers and interests, especially European and Canadian. What exists in Cuba is an authoritarian, police and repressive regime, controlled by the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and the high command of the Armed Forces, which guarantees 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 outbreak, with the characteristics of the 11J. For that reason, in Cuba there is no right to independent unionization, to assembly, to strike.
The regime’s intention in imposing “exemplary” sentences against the 11J demonstrators is to intimidate, to demoralize those who dared to mobilize against the high prices, the health crisis, the political repression, the absence of the most elementary democratic freedoms more than eight months ago.
From the beginning, the IWL-FI 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. The advance of criminalization makes it imperative to redouble our efforts, to broaden 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 world left, influenced by Castroism and Stalinism, keeps a complicit and criminal silence in the face of the Cuban State’s repression of social fighters. It is imperative to abandon this position and join the campaign against the imprisonments, summary trials, exemplary sentences, against the attempt to stifle protest in Cuba.
In this regard, among other issues, we agree with those who signed a Manifesto published by La Joven Cuba, when they say that: “The sentences handed down are public scorn against the entire Cuban society – beyond ideological sympathies or political militancy – to prevent any attempt of active involvement of the people in the destiny of their country. Most of the young people prosecuted come from vulnerable neighborhoods, affected by the acute economic crisis and government mismanagement. There are disproportionate sentences, violations of the current procedural standards -according to Cuban and international legislation- and an exemplary exhibition of the trials by the national state press”[6].
The persecution in Cuba is not an isolated case. In reality, defamation, criminalization and repression are the response to which every bourgeois state resorts in the face of any process of popular struggle that gets out of hand. This is the case of the hundreds of political prisoners following the revolution in Chile, or the persecution of workers’ leaders like Sebastian Romero and Daniel Ruiz in Argentina. Repression, on the other hand, is particularly blatant in authoritarian regimes, supported more directly by the leadership of the Armed Forces, as is the case in Cuba, but also in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Syria, China and Russia. The Castro-Chavist and Stalinist left, when it unconditionally supports these regimes, does nothing but tarnish the name of socialism before the peoples who courageously confront these governments.
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, that recovers the conquests of 1959, now with profound workers’ democracy, permanent combat against oppressions, with respect for diversity and that initiates the road towards socialism.
Free the political prisoners in Cuba! Enough repression!
No imperialist interference!
Down with the authoritarian and capitalist regime of Díaz-Canel!
[1] See: <   >.
[2] See: <>.
[3] See: <>.

[4] See: <>.

[5] See: <>.

[6] See: < >.

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