No News of Man Violently Arrested After Shouting ‘Libertad!’ at Official Rally in Cuba

So far, it is only known that Sánchez resides in Centro Habana but there is no information on whether he belongs to any dissident or human rights group. (Asiel Babastro/Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 July 2021 — A man, identified as Ernesto Frank Sánchez Aguilar, shouted “libertad!” this Saturday shortly before the start of the official ceremony on Havana’s Malecon. The demonstrator was beaten and taken away from the place by several members of the State Security, as seen in a video released by the foreign press.

So far, it is only known that Sánchez resides in Centro Habana, but there is no information as to whether he belongs to any dissident or human rights group. His whereabouts are unknown after he was violently arrested in front of the cameras of the international media accredited at the event.

In a brief video that has been broadcast by several news agencies, you can see the moment in which Sánchez begins to shout and is surrounded by a mob of burly men who beat him and throw him to the ground. Seconds later, the man reappears before the cameras subdued by two individuals and with his shirt visibly torn in the neck area.

Sánchez’s shouts occurred at a time when the rally, which began at the stroke of 7:00 a.m., had not yet begun and the sun had not yet risen. The man managed to circumvent the access controls to the rally area, which was surrounded by metal detectors and a strict operation. The students and workers summoned had to wear certain clothing in order to be identified as supporters of the government.

This is the brave anonymous person who shouted “Libertad” (Freedom) right in the middle of the theater they staged this morning on the Malecón…appreciate how peaceful these “revolutionaries” are.

Sanchez’s arrest adds to the hundreds of reports that have been coming out in recent days of arrests following the popular protests of last July 11. Authorities have raided the homes of numerous citizens throughout the country, especially in the areas where the demonstrations were most intense, such as Cárdenas, Havana, San Antonio de los Baños, Alquízar, Bayamo and Santiago de Cuba.

In all the rallies, shouts of “down with the dictatorship” and “freedom” were heard. The government cut the internet connection in the country to prevent Cubans from uploading to social networks videos of what was happening in the demonstrations and that also showed the repression of the participants.

On Monday and Tuesday protests were reported in different parts of the island, but the political police increased repression against demonstrators. Reports of violent house-to-house detentions multiplied on social networks.

On May 1, 2017, the international press accredited on the Island, also recorded in Havana’s Revolution Square, the moment when Daniel Llorente, later known as The Man With The Flag, stood out for his activism after the diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States. A few meters from the rostrum where then President Raúl Castro was standing, Llorente raised the U.S. flag and shouted for freedom for Cuba. His run was interrupted by seven security agents who pounced on him and forcibly subdued him.

The opponent spent a few weeks in detention at the 100 y Aldabó prison but was quickly transferred to the Psychiatric Hospital popularly known as Mazorra. After a year he was released and emigrated to Guyana, from where he undertook the journey through several countries until he reached the USA and requested asylum.

Translated by: Hombre De Paz


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.