An 11J Protester is Released in Cardenas After Serving His Sentence

Samuel Pupo Martínez was initially sentenced to seven years in prison, but a cassation appeal reduced the term to three / Courtesy

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 April 2024 — Samuel Pupo Martínez, sentenced to three years in Agüica prison for demonstrating on 11 July 2021 (11J) in Cárdenas, Matanzas, was released on Monday. Known for his photo of the protests, taken while mounted on an overturned vehicle, his sentence was reduced to two years, eight months and 21 days by a “report”.

“I will continue to fight for my Cuba to be really free, because I left the small prison and entered the big one. I don’t feel free,” Pupo, age 49, told Martí Noticias on Monday.

On July 11, in front of the headquarters of the Communist Party of Cárdenas, Pupo mounted an overturned car, shouted “Homeland and life! Down with communism!”, which the authorities did not forgive. Arrested and transported in a police van to La Bellotex prison, Pupo was missing for several days and suffered mistreatment at the hands of the police.

“I am free because I have fulfilled my sentence, which was for three years. I don’t owe them anything,” said the former political prisoner, after being released from prison this Monday.

“I will continue to fight for my Cuba to be really free, because I left the little prison and entered the big one. I don’t feel free”

In April 2022, almost a year after his confinement, the court of Matanzas conducted a three-day trial in which Pupo was charged with public disorder and contempt, and the Prosecutor’s Office requested a sentence of seven years. “His lawyer made a brilliant defense, but the prosecutor asked for the maximum penalty for each crime he had allegedly committed,” his wife told 14ymedio.

The sentence was pending for a month, and both Pupo and his wife felt hopeful because the lawyer had requested that the charge be reduced to a precautionary measure, explaining that “Pupo has scleroderma, a degenerative disease, which is not compatible with staying in a prison.” However, the court dismissed the request. The family then requested an appeal of cassation,* which was granted, and Pupo’s sentence was reduced to three years.

“I have many brothers who have had to suffer disproportionate sentences, which were unjustified, unjust,” he told Martí Noticias, referring to those prosecuted for demonstrating on 11J. “It was a warning for people to suck it up and stay silent. Since the Castro revolution triumphed, something like this had never happened, and I was proud to have been there.”

Despite the regime’s repression, Pupo feels hopeful about the new protests that happened on the Island after 11J: “People are going out to claim their rights. It’s time for the Cuban people to realize that their rights have been trampled on, that we have to defend them ourselves.”

During his time in prison, Pupo was with other 11J political prisoners, such as Félix Navarro, also a former prisoner of the Black Spring, who is completing his prison sentence in Agüica; and Francisco Rangel Manzano, sentenced to six years for demonstrating in the Matanzas municipality of Colón.

*Translator’s note: Courts of cassation are upper-level courts of “extraordinary” remedy that interpret the law rather than re-examining the facts. They can abrogate or annul a lower court decision.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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