Cubalex’s Assessment of the Sentences Imposed Upon Luis Manuel Otero and Maykel Castillo / Cubalex

Maykel ‘Osorbo’ Castillo Pérez and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (Cubalex)

Cubalex, Giselle Camila Morfi, 24 June 2022 — The crimes of disrespecting national symbols, contempt, defamation of institutions and organizations, and heroes and martyrs, are not compatible with international human rights standards. These crimes are an assault on the freedom of expression recognized in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (PIDCP in Spanish), as well as [Article] 13 of the Pact of San José.

The crimes of contempt, resistance, and public disorder are used in Cuba with the goal of censoring and criminalizing the right to protest, based on an ideological imposition that supersedes the right to citizen participation. These crimes are used for social control, rather than for the defense and guarantee of human rights; they are discretionary, lacking clarity and concreteness in the criminal norms. Public order, assessed by judges, has nothing to do with public order within a democratic society.

What is the motivation of judges to destroy these people’s presumption of innocence?

Where are the “sentiments of nationality and pride professed by the Cuban people to the national flag” defined, unquestionably?

The State’s motivation was political punishment to create a deterrent effect, to prevent the rest of society from freely expressing themselves out of fear. We see a great danger in that sentence, with an evidently exemplary effect. The assessment was completely subjective, discretionary, and with a finality that is entirely illegitimate and which promotes a culture of self-censorship.

The result of this and all the sentences against the July 11, 2021 (11J) protesters create an effect not only on the accused but all of society. It is in the public interest to understand everything that happened during the trial and access the sentencing document.

What judges refer to as “disrespecting, dishonoring and affecting the dignity of the highest authorities of the country, using false, digitally manipulated images of them, which were published on social media,” is nothing more than exercising freedom of expression and legitimate criticism of authorities. In this case, only a meme was shared. Government officials must be accountable to us and are held to a higher degree of public scrutiny, they must be tolerant of criticism because they must respond to the interests of their citizens.

We have very little data with respect to this since the content of the sentencing document is not known, not even the document number, but we can conclude from the information that has been released that none of the limits they refer to are recognized by international human rights standards, rather, it is a punitive abuse of power by the State. None of these reasons comply with the legitimate legality, finality, need, and proportionality required by the Interamerican system’s tripartite test [CHECK: not sure if they mean “test”; I couldn’t find a translation for “tes”. I’m assuming it is something where if three conditions are met, states are allowed to limit this freedom.] allowing states to limit freedom of expression.

Note: Sentences handed down to artists of the San Isidro Movement

5 years in prison for Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, as author of the crimes of disrespecting national symbols, contempt and public disorder.

9 years in prison for Maikel Castillo Pérez, for the crimes of contempt, assault, public disorder, and defamation of institutions and organizations, heroes and martyrs.

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Translated by: Silvia Suárez