Rapper ‘Pupito en Sy’ Sentenced to One Year in Prison for "Spreading Epidemic"

The rapper was in prison until last August, for more than nine months, after an incident with an officer. Text of sign: «Talking about me is easy, being like me is hard.» (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 November 2019 — Lázaro Rodríguez Betancourt, known as Pupito en Sy, was sentenced Tuesday by the Municipal Court of Centro Habana to a year of deprivation of liberty for not allowing an epidemiological inspection in his home. This was reported by the rapper to 14ymedio at the end of the trial.

In addition, he said that he will be a plantado — a political resister — as of tomorrow and that, although he had witnesses willing to testify in his favor, they were not allowed to participate in the trial.

According to the penal code, the crime of Propagation of Epidemics is punishable by imprisonment from 3 months to 1 year, with a fine of 100 to 300 ’shares’* or both.

Speaking to 14ymedio, he explained that in the middle of last week, a Public Health inspector arrived at his house who, in the face of the artist’s refusal for the man to enter his home, reacted disrespectfully. «I explained that for weeks here there has been no water service inside the house and that all our water tanks [which might harbor mosquito larvae] are outside so he had no reason to enter,» he added.

According to the artist’s version, after a while the inspector returned accompanied by an officer of the Ministry of Interior to press him and that the man entered his house but he closed the door and denied them entry.

Complying with a subpoena, he showed up at the Zanja police station unit and was arrested and handcuffed there, as he reported to this newspaper. It was at that time that he was told that he would be accused of «spreading epidemics» because he had refused the sanitary inspection.

He also explained that his family wanted to present some witnesses who witnessed everything that happened but Captain Rolando Abad refused «in very bad form» to listen to those people who say the rapper «never disrespected anyone.»

Pupito en Sy was transferred to El Vivac de Calabazar prison last weekend after being arrested last Thursday at the Zanja police station.

The rapper was in prison until last August, for more than nine months, after an incident with an officer a few days after participating in the concert at the Madriguera where he and other artists expressed their rejection of Decree 349, a measure that restricts artistic freedom in Cuba and that motivated criticism of artists inside and outside the island.

He also said that since he left prison three months ago, State Security has been following him to «neutralize» all his actions through permanent surveillance and repression.

*Translator’s note: In Cuba’s penal code fines are expressed as «shares» so that fines can be increased by a single edit redefining the value of one share, which then applies to the entire code.

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