14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 31 October 2023 — “Only today did I have faith in my son’s life,” Layda Yirkis Jacinto told 14ymedio, ref erring to her child Aníbal Yasiel Palau Jacinto, sentenced to five years in prison for participating in the popular protests of 11 July 2021 [’11J’. The political prisoner was transferred this weekend to a prison in Melena del Sur in the province of Mayabeque.
“It’s a Castro dungeon, you have to call things by their name,” the woman emphasizes. Palau, age 28, was transferred from the Quivicán prison along with fellow ’11J’ prisoner, Juan Enrique Pérez Sánchez. “We didn’t know that they had been transferred, I found out yesterday because another inmate called me, it was only when my son called me today that I found out that he was in Melena 2 prison.”
“Aníbal has been without shoes for a week, because he adopted this position as a form of protests against the repression they maintain against the 11th of July prisoners inside the prisons,” explains Jacinto. “The political prisoner Roberto Pérez Fonseca had adopted the same decision days before also due to the abuses of the guards.”
“Last Saturday they tried to force him to put on shoes so he could use his right to a phone call but he gave up the call and stayed barefoot.” In Melena 2 prison, Palau “maintains his protest and is very aware of what he is doing, he has a very firm character and he does not like injustice.”
Aníbal has been without shoes for a week, because he adopted this position as a form of protests against the repression they maintain against the 11 July prisoners
Of the other transferred prisoner, Juan Enrique Pérez Sánchez from the municipality of Vegas, in the same province, she reports: “he has not yet been able to communicate with his wife Dayana, she still does not know about his whereabouts, although my son told me that they were transferred together.”
From that day that changed their lives forever, Jacinto remembers that although the family is from San José de las Lajas, Palau was in Güines on Sunday, 11 July 2021, where he lived at that time. “He went out to demonstrate peacefully, like thousands of Cubans did in more than 300 points throughout the Island. On Monday the 12th he went out again to protest in the park.”
The young man’s arrest on that second day was brutal: “They beat him, gave him electric shocks and more than six black berets attacked him from behind, in addition to State Security officers dressed in civilian clothes with sticks. They hit him from the head down to his feet, they even sicced the dogs on him,” she remembers. “They disappeared for 17 days.”
“When I heard his voice for the first time, after that beating, he told me that he had received mistreatment, beatings and torture,” she details. “But during the trial against him, they never talked about the 12th of July, when they kidnapped him from the streets. In that rigged circus that the court set up, they invented a crime of attack that he never committed.”
“According to officer Yenislandi Medina Hernández, from State Security in Güines, my son attacked him, which is absolutely false. That man brought two police witnesses to trial but one said that he never saw Aníbal throw a stone and everything was “without evidence. Of the two years they asked him for, he ended up sentenced to five years in prison, although in the middle of the trial they had even asked for 12 more years for a robbery with force.”
“My son participated in the events at the Panorama store in Güines that same 11th of July, because he entered the store and came out through a broken window, although he did not break it, he did not throw stones. He came out with a bottle of oil and a kilogram of rice in his hand because, although he later told me that he didn’t need it, he felt that stores [that only take payment] in MLC [freely convertible currency] outrage the population, they don’t solve their problem.”
“When I heard his voice for the first time, after that beating, he told me that he had received mistreatment, beatings and torture”
“Since he has been in prison he has maintained his demand for freedom and considers that the ’11J ‘prisoners are innocent. In the Quivicán prison he was one of those who started a hunger strike by several political prisoners demanding their rights. We are anti-communists,” explains Jacinto. “After that they tried to separate them to silence them.”
“They have also put pressure on me, they besiege my house, they threaten me when I go to visit him in prison. In Melena a guard told me that he was going to call the police because I complained that he threatened my son with spraying him in the mouth because Hannibal shouted ‘Patria y vida!’ Because he behaves as if he were free even though he is in prison.”
“When he called me this morning he asked me to denounce his situation. When they were transferred they were put in handcuffs and chains on their wrists and ankles. They threatened to send him to a prison in Guantánamo, but he is going to remain firm because he is fighting for freedom.” The mother’s conclusion is forceful: “¡Basta ya de abuso!” Enough of the abuse!
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