EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 12 October 2021 — A group of relatives of people detained and accused by the Cuban authorities after participating in the anti-government protests on July 11 on the island have asked the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba (COCC) to intercede for their release.
“We are addressing the ecclesiastical authorities to ask for their immediate and formal intervention in order to achieve the liberation of all Cubans who exercised the fundamental right to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration,” says the text of the letter, released by the opposition forum Estado de Sats on their website.
The letter, which has so far collected a hundred signatures, urges the hierarchy of the Cuban Catholic Church to accompany them “in this urgent need to do justice, to do good, to defend that good is done as stated in the Social Doctrine of the Church.”
Three months after the peaceful protests of 11J in Cuba, “mothers, wives, daughters and relatives of those detained and persecuted, we express our deep complaints and concerns about the situation and state of our loved ones,” the signatories state.
In their petition, they allege that their relatives are imprisoned “for exercising the elementary right to peaceful demonstration” caused by “a long and acute general crisis facing our country” and which threw thousands of Cubans into the streets “to demand respect for their rights and freedom.”
Estado de Sats accompanied the publication of the letter with an invitation “to all the relatives of those arrested and accused of participating in the July 11 demonstrations to join their signatures and support for this necessary and legitimate request to the Church.”
It is worth recalling the role of the Catholic Church in the Black Spring of 2003, when 75 Cuban activists were sentenced to between 15 and 27 years under the Law for the Protection of National Independence and the Cuban Economy (known as the Gag Law).
Years later, the Church achieved the release of the prisoners who agreed to leave Cuba and an extra-criminal license for the 12 who refused to do so, as was the case of Marta Beatriz Roque and José Daniel Ferrer.
The unprecedented protests that broke out on June 11 resulted in a dead protester and a wave of arrests of hundreds of participants and the main leaders of activism on the island, such as José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro Movement.
Various organizations have documented more than a thousand detainees and as reported by the authorities, 62 people have been tried, mostly for the crime of public disorder — 53 of the defendants charged — although there are also accusations of “contempt,” “resistance” or “instigation to commit a crime.” In San Antonio de los Baños, where the peaceful protests began, the Prosecutor’s Office asks between 6 and 12 years in prison for the 17 people who are being tried.
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.