Police Threaten Young People in Sancti Spíritus to Prevent a New 11J (July 11th Protests) in Cuba

Alexander Fábregas and his mother, Luisa María Milanés. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, June 17, 2022 — Alexander Fábregas Milanés has not had peace since he was released last April, after serving nine months in prison for convening a demonstration on July 11, 2021, through social networks.

The young man from Sancti Spíritus, 32, is being harassed by State Security and, on Tuesday, was threatened in an interrogation with a return to prison if he continued to publicly show his activism, which in any case he had announced that he would not renounce.

Cited to appear at the police station at one o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, Fábregas and his mother, Luisa María Milanés, who accompanied him, decided to leave because they were not being attended. They had not gone even three blocks, when a State Security car stopped them and took them back to the police station.

There, the young man explains, “They told me that if I continued to be an activist on social networks, I would be sentenced under the new Criminal Code to 20 years of deprivation of liberty.” The rule, approved by the National Assembly last May, will enter into force 90 days after being published in the Official Gazette.

According to Fábregas, in front of an investigator who was filling out the corresponding forms, a woman dressed as a nurse and “a new officer”  by the name of “Lusito” assigned to his case, “Lieutenant Colonel Wilfredo Pérez, with a lot of cynicism, told me that he was already doing the paperwork to send me back to prison, that he was going to do it well for me, just as he did on July 11, and this time it wasn’t going to be the same as the previous conviction.”

Fábregas was arrested at his home on the night of July 11 for transmitting on social networks a call to take to the streets of Sancti Spíritus, to join the protests that occurred during that day in other provinces of the island.

Nine days after his arrest and in a summary trial, Fábregas was sentenced to nine months in prison for the crime of incitement to commit a crime, although he didn’t set foot in the street on July 11. He only managed to have a lawyer one day before the trial, his family said at the time.

Although the young man belonged to the United Anti-Totalitarian Forum at the time of his call to take to the streets, he was a “self-employed opponent,” according to his mother. In December 2020, he had already spent three days under arrest, after he posted a photograph on social networks where he appeared with a sign that said: “No More Misery.”

Fábregas’ mother, who along with her son has suffered pressure from State Security all this time, was also interrogated on Tuesday, despite not being summoned.

“I think that they’re trying to prevent a new July 11 in Cuba and are beginning to threaten all those they believe have the courage to demonstrate,” is the spirited young man’s explanation for the harassment they are suffering. “Also because I have appeared on television in Miami, on América TeVé, and because since I got out of my unjust confinement I have continued my activism on social networks and have contributed to helping my brother prisoners.”

In this regard, he mentions Luis Mario Niedas, sentenced to three years in prison for continued contempt, who is serving his sentence in Nieves-Morejón prison. “We are not allowed to approach the family of Luis Mario Niedas,” says Fábregas. “They want us to stop supporting him and they are trying to isolate him and make him feel lonely and forgotten.”

Neither in prison nor outside it, has Alexander Fábregas ever renounced his dissent. “I will continue to be a human rights defender in Cuba and, especially, here in Sancti Spíritus,” Fábregas said in an interview with 14ymedio after being released, although he took into account that “I have to be cautious, because I already have a criminal record and for sure they will want to continue summoning me to the police and harassing me.”

This same Thursday, the Cuban Prosecutor’s Office reported four other final sentences, against 33 participants of July 11, in this case in Havana and Mayabeque. The defendants were convicted, “fundamentally,” according to a note in Granma, for crimes of sedition, sabotage and public disorder.

A total of 30 young people received prison sentences; 10 of the sentences are between 10 and 18 years, and 20 sentences are between 5 and 9 years, says the official report, without further details. It adds that two others were sentenced to “correctional work without internment” and a third to “limitation of freedom.”

Four days ago, the Prosecutor’s Office estimated the number of people convicted after the 11J demonstrations at 381. In an official notice, the Prosecutor’s Office indicated that 76 sentences are no longer subject to appeal and have resulted in sentences of deprivation of liberty for 297 people, of whom 36 committed a crime of sedition, according to Cuban judges. All those convicted of these acts received between 5 and 25 years in prison.

The NGO Prisoner Defenders (PD) then attacked the data of the Prosecutor’s Office, which they described as “biased” and “fake news.” “It’s suspicious that the Prosecutor’s Office in charge of prosecuting the 11J protesters doesn’t talk about those who have been processed and limits its report, as they explicitly say, to 76 sentences that have become final,” Javier Larrondo, President of PD, told this newspaper on Monday. He denounces the fact that they have stopped reporting about the “hundreds of defendants and even hundreds of those sentenced, who are already languishing in prison.”

The objective, according to Larrondo, is to “deceive the press and make it communicate that there are only 381 people sanctioned in Cuba.” And he affirms, “There are more than 1,000 defendants, 726 sentenced.” He says that the NGO has all the documentation.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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