EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 8 July 2023 — A Cuban military court sentenced eight people to up to nine years in prison for a protest against the blackouts in July 2022, which ended in the looting of a state hard currency store in the town of Covadonga.
According to sentence number 13 of 2023, of the Criminal Chamber of the Central Territorial Military Court, to which EFE has access, the convicts — between 19 and 63 years old — were mostly found guilty of the crimes of public disorder and contempt, although there were also cases of sabotage and robbery with force.
Of the eight convicted, seven were sentenced to between two and nine years in prison, while the remaining defendant was sentenced to “two years of correctional work with internment as an alternative to imprisonment, to be served in a penitentiary establishment.”
The prisoners must also pay restitution for the damage that they caused.
The court decided in addition to impose on them an “ancillary sanction of “deprivation of rights.” Until they fulfill their sentences and pay the “civil liability” imposed, they will not be able to apply for a passport or leave the national territory.
The ruling indicates that Lieutenant Colonel Wuilder Pérez Gamboa was the judge, and Lieutenant Colonel José Antonio Comas Llanes acted as the prosecutor in this case.
The sentence considers it proven that several of the condemned started a protest in Covadonga following a blackout on the night of July 30, 2022, during weeks of prolonged and frequent blackouts throughout Cuba, lasting at times for more than twelve hours a day.
It also claims that the protest, in which insults were shouted against Miguel Díaz-Canel and the slogan “Homeland and Life” was chanted, brought together between 600 and 700 people. The march culminated in the launch of several blunt objects against a state foreign-currency store, and the windows and entrance door were broken during the looting of the establishment.
The robbery from the state company CIMEX — part of the Gaesa business conglomerate of the Revolutionary Armed Forces — involved 80,128.91 Cuban pesos (667 dollars in the official commercial exchange, 385 in the informal market).
In addition to the material damage, the ruling details a long list of stolen goods, from a toaster oven worth 5,160 pesos to two packages of chewing gum worth 22.5 pesos.
The blackouts between July and October 2022 generated several dozen minor protests in Cuba, highlighting the importance of this issue for the population.
In fact, blackouts were also among the economic and political causes behind the demonstrations of July 11, 2021, the country’s largest anti-government protests in decades.
Cuba is going through a profound economic crisis with a shortage of basic products (food, medicine and fuel), rising inflation, dollarization of the economy, frequent blackouts and an unprecedented mass exodus.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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