14ymedio, Havana, 14 January 2022 –The initial results of the clamor, both within and outside of Cuba, against the long sentences sought for the July 11th protesters were seen on Friday. The prosecutor’s office in Holguín, Cuba, dropped sedition charges against minors.
One of the defendant’s sisters, who prefers not to give her name, confirmed it to 14ymedio. “My brother is not a minor and attorneys requested that the sedition charges against all of those accused be dropped.”
The four minors, younger than 18 years of age, who were facing sentences of 15 years in prison in Holguín are: Yeral Michel Palacios Román, Ernesto Abelardo Martínez Pérez and Ayan Idalberto Jover Cardosa — all 17 years old — and 16-year-Keyla Roxana Mulet Calderón. Sentences for them would be reduced, they said, without specifying their sources, to five years in some cases and seven years in others.
The Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directory (DDC) had demanded that democratic governments and foreign investors take “decisive steps” in response to the trials of minors for 11J.
Similarly, in a statement published on Friday, it had demanded that human rights organizations denounce, “the serious violations occurring in Cuba against children.”
The DDC reported, using data from Justicia 11J, that “at least 45 minors were arrested in July when the people led a civic uprising which resulted in more than 1,355 arrests.” Of the minors who were detained, 29 were freed, some on bond, and “14 are in political prison.”
In contrast to the reduced charges for minors, harsh penalties may await the adults. In Holguín, prosecutor Fernando Valentín Sera Planas, who along with another colleague was recently added to the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba’s list of oppressors, sought 30 years in jail for Miguel Cabrera Rojas, Yosvany Rosell García Caso, José Ramón Solano Randiche and Iván Colón Suárez for the crime of sedition.
This crime, with which 121 protesters are being charged, according to data collected by Justicia 11J, is described in Article 100 of the Cuban Penal Code for those who “tumultuously and in concert, expressed or tactical, use violence, disturb the social order, elections or referendums, or impede the execution of any sentence, legal order or other measure dictated by the Government, or by a civil or military authority exercising their respective functions, or refuse to follow them, or make demands, or resist fulfilling their duties.”
The severity of the sentences contrasts with those received in the past for others who “disturb the order” and “use violence.” For example, the brothers, Fidel and Raúl Castro, who for their 1953 assault on the Moncada barracks, were sentenced to 15 and 13 years in prison, respectively but only served 22 months, after which they were absolved by dictator Fulgencio Batista, or Frank País, who was absolved in 1957.
Another difference: contrary to those revolutionaries whose actions resulted in deaths, 11J protestors did not produce any victims, so the “violence” they used remains to be seen during the trials, which various organizations have denounced for their lack of due process.
In addition, not only in other countries but within the Island itself, penalties this harsh are reserved for serious crimes such as murder, aggravated rape or terrorism.
Meanwhile, the official press is completely silent with regard to these trials. Justicia 11J denounced that “none of the Cuban authorities’ propaganda channels have reported until now on the ordinary trials of at least 223 protesters.”
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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