14ymedio, Madrid, 25 January 2022 — The Cuban authorities know that they are being observed and, for once, have felt the need to offer explanations “to the people and to international public opinion” about the trials that are taking place as a result of the 11 July (11J) protests. In a note published in the official press, the Attorney General’s Office justifies the serious accusations of sedition – and the sentences of up to 30 years in prison – with which is has charged a large group of demonstrators for “attacking the constitutional order and the stability of the Socialist state.”
After a preamble in which the Prosecutor’s Office levies the accusation of manipulation against those who say that the State violates human rights, and insists on attributing the 11J demonstrations to discontent generated by the context of the world crisis and “re-intensification of the blockade [i.e. the US embargo]” to “destroy the Revolution,” the data and justifications begin.
The Prosecutor’s Office places the files for the most serious cases at 117 and counts 790 people involved in “acts of vandalism” and attacking authorities, people and property, in addition to disturbing order. According to their data, 21% of the defendants already had a criminal record, although what type is not specified.
Of all these investigations, 110 have been brought to court, covering a total of 710 accused, of which 490 are in pretrial detention (69%). In addition, 115 are between 16 and 20 years old. In this group are the adults, numbering 60, of whom 41 await trial in prison, while another 55 are minors.
The criminal age of majority in Cuba is established at 16 years and the Prosecutor’s Office considers that 55 of the people between that age and 18 should be tried for the “serious acts” committed. Of these, half are in pretrial detention (28) and there are 18 who, “as a result of taking evidence in the oral proceedings, acknowledgment of the facts, the repentance shown and their position as students,” have seen how the Public Ministry lowered its request for a sanction for a minor.
To date, the note continues, 84 trials have been carried out, in 44 of which the courts have already sentenced 172 people.
The Prosecutor’s Office admits that the penalties it has requested are high and serious, but considers that the protests took place with a high “level of violence” that endangered the safety and physical integrity of citizens, officials and members of the security forces. In addition, it considers that in parallel there was vandalism against commercial establishments, fuel depots, means of transport or exchange houses, among others, and in this allegedly violent climate there was looting, causing considerable damage.
For all this, the Prosecutor’s Office considers that there was “serious disturbance of public order and deliberate purpose of subverting the constitutional order” that justify the accusation of sedition.
Although there have been many cases in which irregularities and manipulated witnesses or lack of evidence have been reported, the Prosecutor’s Office alleges that “compliance with constitutional rights and guarantees” has been verified. The Office insists that the accusations are verified and the videos have been examined, which allowed identifying those accused of “public disorder, instigation to commit a crime, damage, robbery with force and violence, attack and sabotage,” in addition to the aforementioned serious crime of sedition.
The Public Ministry also maintains that the defendants had the right to a defense in which the lawyers provided evidence and had access to the proceedings. However, several lawyers have alleged in these months there have been difficulties in being able to consult the files and obstacles when presenting appeals. The Prosecutor’s Office, despite this, claims to have processed 238 complaints and covering 508 citizens.
Aware that international organizations have placed special emphasis on minors who were prosecuted, the Prosecutor’s Office recalls that minors under 16 are not subject to Criminal Law and that of the 27 young detainees who were in this situation, 10 were interned in comprehensive and behavioral training schools and 17 received “individualized attention” in their own schools.
The Prosecutor’s Office again insists on closing the note stating the correctness of its actions and adherence to legality and insists that it ensures “the protection of the interests of the State and respect for the rights of all citizens.”
In addition to Cubalex and Justicia 11J, international organizations such as the UN and its UNICEF division for children, as well as human rights associations such as Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have warned of the irregularities that occurred around to the 11J demonstrations which were repressed “brutally” by the Cuban authorities, according to a HRW report.
Amnesty International, which also investigated the protests and subsequent arrests, asked Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel and the Prosecutor’s Office in August for a detailed report on the number of people detained on July 11, their place of detention, and the charges filed against them. The NGO, based on some sixty videos, documented several “crimes under international law and serious human rights violations” and named several prisoners of conscience.
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