14ymedio, Havana, 26 January 2023 — On Tuesday, the Municipal Court of Habana del Este signed sentences of up to eight years of imprisonment for ten demonstrators from the protests of July 11, 2021, commonly referred to as ’11J’. To the defendants, among whom was Professor Pedro Albert Sánchez, the Prosecutor’s Office attributed the crimes of public disorder, attack, resistance and contempt.
Although in most cases the defense lawyers requested the acquittal of the defendants, the Prosecutor’s Office insisted that all the facts had been proven by the competent authorities and prepared a version that appears in the court ruling, to which 14ymedio had access.
On 11J, at two in the afternoon, the minutes refer, the defendants “felt motivated by the various calls promulgated on social networks” and challenged the “social isolation measures” during the coronavirus pandemic, with the “evident purpose” of provoking a public disturbance from the Havana municipalities of Regla to Guanabacoa.
Without skimping on adjectives, the Prosecutor’s Office states that the defendants used the “discomfort caused in the people by shortages of food products and medicines” to “alarm the residents, passers-by, and business managers.” In the midst of the tumult, it affirms, the defendant Marlon Paz Bravo – sentenced to six years in prison for attack and public disorder – came into contact with a police patrol in the vicinity of La Cotorra park.
There, they point out, Paz Bravo and other unidentified people stoned the police vehicle and caused damage: a stone hit the windshield and made a dent in the right door, for which the Court will force him to pay 295 pesos. Hiding behind the bodywork, the agents — the sentencing documents states with regret — failed to “establish order.”
Jandys González Mujica was also accused of insulting and “hitting an official of the Communist Party, Yosbel Escalona, with his hands on the head,” until a police officer intervened and applied “the spray technique,” that is, he tear gassed him and his companions. The officer himself, Yoandris Rodríguez, was the one who identified and facilitated the arrest of González Mujica.
Other defendants, including Yerandy Acosta and Armando Aguilar Nevot, are accused by the authorities of driving an electric motorcycle from which they shouted “Follow me, join me!” “Rise up people!” and “Castro’s government is over!” The inhabitants of Guanabacoa, they continue, responded to the call, an act that for the Prosecutor’s Office “intensified the noise” and caused an annoying noise from “cauldrons [beating on pots and pans] and instruments.”
The remaining defendants – Yamilka Pérez, Roxana Perdomo, Maikel González Mura, Gabriel de la Concepción Portal, Osvaldo Canto, Jorge Carbonell and Pedro Albert Sánchez – are accused of “tarnishing the image” of Díaz-Canel, in addition to “shouting derogatory phrases against him” and “denigrating his masculinity*” and that of other leaders. De la Concepción Portal, the text refers to with indignation, once he was detained insisted on “vilifying and insulting the president” and once again doubting “his masculinity and his public image,” to the scandal of Police officer Henry Sánchez.
Despite admitting that the defendants, in most cases, “maintain normal relations with the neighbors,” have “calm behavior,” are not “problematic or guaposos [a word that can mean both ‘dashing’ and ‘quarrelsome’] (sic),” the Prosecutor’s Office does not hesitate to accept the allegations as true testimonies from multiple “eyewitnesses,” police officers, informants, state transport drivers, and Party and government officials.
Everyone, the sentence affirms, agreed in this account “categorically,” of which the Court did not doubt at any time, which used the videos published on social networks during 11J and the days that followed. “The facts declared proven are constitutive of the crime of public disorder,” the Court settled, to which it later added the charges of resistance, contempt, attack and insults to senior political officials.
A long section of the sentence is dedicated to justifying how the defendants contributed to destabilize the “achievements of the Revolution and the tranquility of the citizens,” responding to the call of “counterrevolutionary groups,” which demonstrates, according to the text, that all the accused are people who “do not have clear principles,” in addition to being “lacking in character and scruples and especially without common sense.”
The court’s decision was to sentence Paz Bravo and González Mura to six years in prison, Pérez Naranjo and Perdomo Quesada to four years (replaced by correctional work without internment), Canto Piedra to five years in correctional work without internment, Aguilar Nevot and Acosta Jiménez to two years, under the same conditions, and Professor Albert Sánchez – in consideration of his advanced age – to five years of correctional work without internment.
The greatest sentence fell on Jandys González Mujica, with a combined sentence of eight years – six for attack and three for public disorder – in a prison chosen by the Ministry of the Interior.
None of those who must comply with correctional work will have the right to promotions, salary raises and will always have to work in the “lowest paid or qualified position,” in “different working conditions,” and away from the functions of “management, administration and teaching.”
This Wednesday the sentence of the Provincial Court of Havana on another 15 protesters whose joint sentence totaled 75 years was made public. The arguments of the Prosecutor’s Office were similar and were even attributed to minors such as Jonathan Torres, who was 17 years old at the time of the events.
The 11J trials, which from the beginning have been intended to set an example, were discussed last week by the Cuban Minister of Justice, Óscar Silvera, in a meeting with ambassadors of the European Union. During the meeting, Silvera reminded diplomats that any pardon or amnesty for the 9/11 protesters was out of the question.
*Translator’s note: A phrase commonly shouted by the demonstrators and appearing in graffiti is the rhymed “Díaz-Canel singao.” The final word is commonly translated as ‘motherfucker’.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.