‘I Feel Destroyed Because My Son Has to Spend Ten Years in Prison’

Migdalia Gutiérrez Padrón and her son Brusnelvis Cabrera Gutiérrez. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 27 May 2022 — Migdalia Gutiérrez Padrón can’t stand it anymore. The nightmare that she has lived through for more than ten months has become very difficult to bear. On May 11, her hopes were pinned on the appeal trial of her son Brusnelvis Cabrera Gutiérrez, sentenced to 15 years for the La Güinera protests in Havana. But in that oral hearing they only reduced his sentence by five years. The young man has a decade left behind bars.

“The defense attorneys behaved very well,” the mother tells 14ymedio, “but the prosecutors blamed the boys and tried to make them look like criminals.” The appeals trial took place in the Diez de Octubre Popular Municipal Court, and for the relatives of the accused it was a bitter pill to swallow: “I had a lot of tightness in my chest because of so much injustice that was being committed there against them and especially against my son,” 21 years old.

Gutiérrez had the hope that the error of the first trial, which was held in March, would be corrected and that her son would be released. On that occasion, the image of a young man on a motorcycle who, with the movement of his arm, summoned the protesters, was enough for the Court to sentence him to 15 years in prison, an alleged evidence that the mother insistently refutes. “The boy in the photo has no tattoos on his arm and my son has it full of tattoos.”

However, the appeal process did not conclude as expected. “There was a big police operation around the Court,” she recalls. After the trial, more than two agonizing weeks passed and this Wednesday she had to tell her son by phone the result of the appeal. “He felt so bad when he heard the 10-year sentence that I asked him to get someone close to him to talk to, to help him process the information.”

Cabrera is being held in the Combinado del Este prison, the largest on the island, and was sentenced for the crime of sedition that has been widely used in the trials against the protesters on July 11 and 12, 2021. “I told him I was going to do the impossible to fight for their freedom but I couldn’t. But now I don’t have much hope left, I am really discouraged.”

After hearing the sentence of ten years in prison, the mother went to see the defense attorney to review the case. “As his mother I am not going to stop fighting. I am his mother and I am his voice. Right here in La Güinera several of those convicted of the protests, and who are under 21 years of age, have received, after the appeal, the possibility of going to open-regime camps, but they left my son with ten years in prison.”

Despite multiple witnesses who placed Cabrera in another location on that day of popular demonstrations, the Court dismissed this evidence and argued that “it was clear that those who testified” in favor of the accused “were not credible,” although the only action described by the youth during that day is to “drive a red moped” and with “gestures with his hands and movements with his body” summon people to join the march.

The conviction against Cabrera has shaken the entire family that lives on 2nd Street, in the Rosario neighborhood, a very poor area. For months they have had to focus on the judicial process and looking for food to take to the young man to prison. The mother’s strength is diminished: “I feel destroyed by that decision that the Court has made, because my son has to spend ten years in prison.”

In La Güinera, in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, dozens of mothers are in the same situation as Migdalia.


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