14ymedio, Havana, February 10, 2022–Since July 11th (11J), tranquility does not exist in the life of Luisa María Milanés Valdés. Her son, Alexander Fábregas Milanés, was arrested at his home at 7 pm that day. His crime: live streaming on social media a passionate call for the people of Sancti Spiritus to take to the streets and join the protests that were occurring in other Cuban provinces.
Only nine days after his arrest, on July 20th, 32-year-old Fábregas was sentenced to nine months in prison for the crime of “inciting a crime.” Initially he was also charged with “propagating the epidemic,” a charge which ultimately was not included in the sentence handed down by the city’s Municipal Tribunal.
“He was only able to obtain a defense attorney one day prior to the trial and to date, we have not received any documentation, we don’t have the prosecutor’s charging documents or even the sentence,” bemoans the 58-year-old woman during a conversation with 14ymedio. “The attorney hit hard but there was little he could do and although he did not take to the streets, he was convicted.”
It was a summary trial, according to Justicia 11J, which collects data on the imprisoned protesters throughout the country.
At the time of his arrest, Fábregas was an “opponent acting on his own*,” his mother clarified because although he had previously formed part of the United Antitotalitarian Front (Fantu), he decided to continue his dissent independently. The Facebook streams became his primary tool for denunciation.
He had previously been arrested in December 2020, for sharing on social media a photo of a sign which read, “No More Misery.” On that occasion, police searched his home in the early hours of the morning and kept him under arrest for three days. “He has been doing a lot of activism for over two years,” said his mother.
Fábregas “worked at a private company selling accessories for birthday parties but when the pandemic arrived they were forced to close,” she explained. Now he is serving his sentence at Battle of Ideas prison, although he was initially detained in the Center for Penal Instruction in Sancti Spiritus, also known as The Vivac, and later was held for one day in the Nieves Morejón jail.
“On April 6 he is supposed to get out of jail, but we don’t know if that date will be honored,” she said, “because previously his conditional release had been scheduled for November 30, it was approved, and suddenly they said they had to await confirmation from Havana and they did not grant his release.”
Fábregas’s brother, Néstor Estévez, who manages the Facebook group Siudadanos of Sancti Spiritus, denounced that the prisoner is “under constant psychological pressure” and that State Security “shows up at the prison to harass him, as well as bullying my mother who has been threatened with being fired from her job.”
Luisa María Milanés Valdés works at a hospital for children with developmental disabilities. “They have threatened, but he is my child and I need to defend him. State Security told me I couldn’t continue writing on social media and they also summoned me on November 15th so that I would not join the Civic March that day.”
“He is destroyed, that has me very worried,” laments his mother. “He’s lost a lot of weight and also feels very stressed. He says he has to tell us about so many things that have happened to him in prison that he’ll need to talk for days on end to tell us everything they’ve done to him in jail.”
Thursday, Fábregas was involved in an altercation with a prison guard when he refused to give the nearest prisoner his bread at breakfast. “The conditions in the prison are terrible and the food is very bad, he complains a lot about the food not being in good condition.”
“I have little support here because people in this city are very scared,” she states. Nonetheless, the woman does not remain with her arms crossed, “I dress in white, I go out to the street to protest, I go to church and pray for my son’s freedom and for the other Cubans tried for 11J.”
The prisoner’s brother added that the arrest occurred after “an act of repudiation they organized and in which some neighbors participated.” For 72 hours we did not have news of his whereabouts and finally, Fábregas was the first person convicted for the cause of 11J in the center region of the Island.
The prisoner’s mother also pointed to the case of Leodán Pérez Colón, who was sentenced to five years in prison, and that of Luis Mario Niedas, who received a three-year sentence, also for protesting in Sancti Spriritus. “For that reason, here in this province there has not been a movement of family members united to demand the release of prisoners,” she complained.
That is not the case with Alexander Fábregas’s family. “With him, they should not count on him to regret what he did. He remains firm in his ideas,” said his mother. “I’m convinced that neither threats nor fear will shake his position.” Milanés does not mince words, “When you have a child like that, you must support them, and I support him completely.”
*Translator’s note: The term in the original Spanish is por cuenta propia — on one’s own account — which is the term the government uses to refer to people who have licenses to work as self-employed.
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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