14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2022 — More than two months after their trial, the protesters of 11 July in San Nicolás de Bari, in Mayabeque, have received their sentences, considered very soft by the Prosecutor’s Office, which has appealed them, according to what the artist Alberto García Scull told 14ymedio. García’s sentence amounts to one year and six months in prison for the crimes of “disrespect” and “public disorder.”
Yerandis Reyes Escobar, Leonardo Alfonso Sánchez, William Valera Suárez and Odelys Barceló Serrano are the others convicted in the same case, which accuses those sentenced of “crimes” similar to those others have been charged with in the same province, for example, “expressing denigrating slogans against the presiden”; slogans such as “Díaz-Canel singao [motherfucker].” The phrase, the document points out, was “spoken by the rest of the participants” putting “in disrepute the public figure of this authority.”
In the section on proven facts, the defendants are also accused of shouting “loudly” the slogan “policías singaos” that others shouted, which, the court alleges, “caused an undermining of the transcendental work of maintaining order and the tranquility of the population.”
García Scull, specifically, was accused of “insulting national symbols” for dancing “salsa casino” to the rhythm of the national anthem during the July 11 protests, something he categorically denied. “I don’t even know how to dance casino,” he declared in an interview with Hypermedia Magazine.
The artist told 14ymedio on Tuesday that the demonstration in his municipality took place peacefully and accuses the authorities of being the only violent ones on the day of massive demonstrations throughout the island. “They were people from the Party and the Government, who mistreated a girl,” he says.
García Scull insists that he was only at the demonstration as a spectator, to document what was happening in San Nicolás de Bari.
“Because I’m a videographer, I was doing some recording, so I found myself near the front of the group at times,” he explained to Hypermedia. “In fact, that is why they accuse me of being an organizer. But rather what I did was record with my phone. The slogans that people shouted were: ’we want medicine,’ ’freedom,’ ’homeland and life.’”
Arrested on July 13, he spent two weeks incarcerated in the so-called “AIDS prison” in San José de Las Lajas, Mayabeque, where he also denounced having suffered torture: “They beat us during interrogations, they put us against the wall, they stripped us If someone took their head off the wall, they put your head against the wall. Many people were beaten very badly.”
Fourteen days later, on July 27, he was released on bail pending trial.
“Our entire process is basically the same as what has happened throughout Cuba: trials with people lying, false witnesses,” García Scull tells this newspaper. “The investigation that they did to us was totally incorrect. In fact, what they say about me is not at all similar to the type of personality that I have. It has nothing to do with my way of being or with my way of acting or my attitude towards society”.
García Scull and his fellow protestors convicted are now awaiting the pending appeal of the Public Ministry. Although most of the sentences that the courts are issuing on the trials related to 11J are lower than those demanded by the Prosecutor’s Office, there are few occasions when it announces the filing of an appeal. There is a precedent in Isla de la Juventud, where the body appealed the acquittal of three protesters and the reduction of the sentence from five to three years to a fourth. The decision is still pending.
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