Cuba Strengthened its ‘Machinery to Control Freedom’ After the July 11th Protests, According to Amnesty International

The Police continued with the arrests, days after the beginning of the protests in more than 40 cities throughout the Island. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), London, 29 March 2022 — Cuba intensified “its machinery to control freedom of expression and assembly” during 2021, a year marked by the July 11th (11J) anti-government protests, Amnesty International (AI) denounced in its annual report on human rights.

The London-based organization emphasized what it called “repression” during and after the demonstrations. AI noted that, according to the NGO Cubalex, 700 protesters remained in prison at the end of 2021.

The document reviewed the reactions of the Government during last July. It says that in those days “the authorities interrupted the Internet service and frequently blocked instant messaging applications.”

AI went further and criticized the crimes with which some detainees have been accused — such as public disorder, resistance, contempt, incitement to commit a crime and damage — which it described as “incompatible” with “human rights standards.”

According to the Cuban Attorney General’s Office, 790 people have been prosecuted for the July 11 protests, of which 55 are between 16 and 17 years old. The minimum criminal age in Cuba is 16.

Just a few days ago, AI asked to enter Cuba to follow the trials against the accused protesters. So far, no response has been received from the country’s authorities.

Cuba, as previously noted by AI, is the only country in the American continent in which it is not allowed to enter.

Since the end of 2021, different trials have been taking place for the anti-government protests of July 11 and hundreds of people have already been sentenced.

On March 16, one of the last sentences released, 127 people were sentenced to a total of 1,916 years in prison for acts related to the events of that date at the corner of Toyo and La Güinera, two humble areas of La Havana.

The defendants, investigated mainly for sedition and theft, were accused of “serious disturbances and acts of vandalism, with the purpose of destabilizing public order, collective security and citizen tranquility,” according to the Supreme Court.

In addition, AI denounced that the opponents were subjected to “physical surveillance” in front of their homes and, if they were arrested, they ended up in “incommunicado detention.” It also led to “widespread reports of ill-treatment.”

The organization paid special attention to cases such as that of Maykel Castillo, co-author of the song Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life], the anthem of the 11J protests, and that of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), both arrested last year. AI considers the two “prisoners of conscience.”

Finally, the chapter on Cuba in the NGO’s annual report covers the country’s economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, which has left behind “a shortage of food, basic medicines and other essential items.”

The NGO clarified that although the US “blockade” of the island violates “the economic, social and cultural rights” of Cuba, this did not “nullify the country’s obligation to guarantee” the basic rights of its population.


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