14ymedio, Havana, April 12, 2022–The University Council of the Universidad de las Artes (ISA) has branded an open letter shared by a group called #FreeAbelLescay as “campaigns that intend to discredit the Revolution.” The group seeks to revoke the sentence of musician Abel González Lescay, a musical composition student at ISA who was sentenced to six years in prison for his participation in the July 11th protests in San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque.
The state institution believes the campaigns intend to “appeal to the empathies of students and professors, simplifying the events for which Lescay was penalized,” and, in addition, they insist that the “existing judicial system in the country is unknown, since his case is under review by the People’s Supreme Court.”
ISA confirmed that, “promoted by the press and political operatives,” these campaigns intend to “manipulate the transparency of the trials that resulted from the events of July 11, 2021,” in which, they said, there were representatives of the institution who “attended the oral trial” and “can vouch for adherence to consitutional guarantees.”
The musician has thanked the institution for the support it provided and for not being “the most repressive part of the dictatorship”, but invites ISA as well as the University of Havana to take interest in what the sanction documents say. Those who attended the trial “may discover lies like those of a detective game. The others will read a literary text so absurd as to cause us to be, as we say, empingue*.
Lescay adds that he does not know of a single campaign that intends to discredit “what they call the Revolution, disrespecting Castillian” and classifies the authors of the institution’s statement “shameless” and “ass kissers,” even though they may have done so with “good intentions.”
Abel Lescay was arrested at home–from where he was removed naked–on July 12th and was tortured and threatened with death for six days, according to his testimony. After being released on July 18th, “complex” days followed, he recalls. “What occurs in jail is ugly, and then in the street you remain poisoned for some time.”
On various occasions the musician has said that he had never had problems at ISA and that prior to beginning the current school year he went to speak to the dean, who referred to him as “a talented student” and offered psychological support to recover from the impact of the days he spent in jail.
For Lescay, who was tried on January 26th, the Prosecutor sought seven years in jail for public disorder, aggravated contempt of a continuous nature and contempt of a basic figure of a continuous nature; he was free while he awaited his sentencing. Finally, the total sentence was six years, four for “aggravated contempt,” two for “public disorder” and one for “contempt of a basic figure.”
The ISA’s University Student Federation (FEU) had published on April 8th a declaration to “alert” on the use of several students’ names in the letter which, according to them, was modified after it had been circulating at the instutition, “saying that the convicted student had been tried for ’simply rapping on a public street’.”
“This will not affect the public integrity of our students, but rather, it manipulates and unscrupulously uses their name and image to further the interests of feeding a political campaign around the judicial proceedings related to July 11th,” said FEU, who also alleged that the use of several names “were obtained to speak to the sensibilities” of young people.
After the sentence was published, dozens of citizens came to the musician’s defense on social media and some of them created a movement #FreeAbelLescay, which on April 6th published a letter addressed to Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel and other Cuban leaders, in which they request the revocation of the penalty.
On Monday, the movement issued a statement in which it denounced the pressure exerted on several student signatories of the letter. “We know there have been secret meetings with faculty members of the Superior Art Institute, in addition to pressures and threats of expulsion.” The note adds that any student or individual who “voluntarily decided to support this civic initiative,” is free to support it or request that their data be removed from it.
*Translator’s note: An obscenity, without a clear counterpart in English, that suggests ’enraged.’
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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