Luis Robles, the ‘Young Man With the Placard’

Robles was arrested on December 4, 2020, for protesting in Havana. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 December 2021 — Luis Robles Elizastigui turned 29 on December 2 at Combinado del Este, a maximum security prison, two days before the first anniversary of his arrest. His crime: holding up a placard on the central Boulevard of San Rafael in Havana that read: “Freedom, no more repression, #FreeDenis” (referring to rapper Denis Solís, sentenced to eight months in prison in a summary trial and today exiled in Serbia).

The images of his solitary demonstration, disseminated on social networks, were immortalized, two months later, in the video clip for Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life). At the same time, the images are only incriminating evidence presented by the Prosecutor’s Office in the trial, held on December 16 in Marianao, Havana, in which he was prosecuted for enemy resistance and propaganda.

In the video, however, it is observed that he did not struggle with the agents who detained him, nor was there any reference to any enemy on his poster, and that the passers-by who surrounded him tried to defend him from the police.

A graduate in Computer Science and with a son, readers learned more about Luis Robles thanks to his brother, Landy Fernández Elizastigui, who became the communication channel of the “young man with the placard” with the outside world. Fernández has not stopped denouncing the mistreatment Robles has received in prison and, despite threats from State Security, he is not afraid to defend his brother publicly.

In an interview with 14ymedio, Fernández said that his brother “has always thought differently about the regime.” We were able to verify this in a video of Luis Robles recorded a few days before his protest and disseminated by the family last July, when the authorities, due to the 11J demonstrations, had already suspended the trial of the boy sine die.

In it, Robles called for “a change in the system,” since communism, “a destroyer of souls,” he said, had turned Cuba into “a true hell”…This generation is not willing to continue bearing it,” he said. “This is our time and we have to take advantage of it.”


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