Six Years in Jail for Yoan de la Cruz for Streaming the July 11 Protests in Cuba

Yoan de la Cruz was nearly isolated in Melena del Sur prison, in Mayabeque, until the day of his trial. (Cubalex)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, March 22, 2022–Yoan de la Cruz, who last July 11th livestreamed the first protests in San Antonio de los Baños, which then spread throughout the country, has been sentenced to six years in prison by a tribunal, according to statements made on Tuesday by his mother, Maribel Cruz, on her Facebook profile.

“So that all my friends and family, who have always worried about Yoan, know. Today we learned his sentence: they gave him 6 years. As a mother, I feel like dying, it is very sad and difficult, the feelings for so much injustice, but God is great and one day such great injustice will be paid for,” she wrote. The Prosecutor asked for eight years.

Until the day of his trial, the young man remained nearly isolated in Melena del Sur prison, in Mayabeque province, where he will serve the rest of his sentence.

The sentencing for the 11J protesters in San Antonio de los Baños was delayed by three months. The trial began on December 15th and the sentences were expected last week.

The deployment of a broad operation in the city made some activists think that the sentences would be made public on Wednesday, March 16th, but ultimately it was due to the presence of Cuban Communist Party officials in different zones of Artemisa.

The case of Yoan de la Cruz led to a broad mobilization on social media of organizations, family and friends since he was arrested on July 23rd. The main argument in his defense was the strictly peaceful presence of the young man.

“They believe they are so big, yet a young man with a little phone in his hand has made the house of cards in which they live tremble,” said one of his friends a few days after his arrest.

“He did not throw a stone, he did not break a glass, he did not hit anyone, did not yell, ‘down with’ anyone. Please release him already,” said another one of the many colleagues who mobilized for his release. “You are making a mother, a grandmother, a family and thousands of friends, suffer.”

De la Cruz’s sentence, as well as those of the other 128 defendants in Havana, show how the regime is enraged with the protesters from the most symbolic places of 11J. These last sentences, made public last week, add up to 1,916 years in jail. The 128 were present in Toyo, where the protesters managed to overturn a patrol car and in La Güinera, where a policeman fatally shot Diubis Laurencio Tejada in the back.

According to estimates from Justicia 11J, which works with Cubalex, there are still 158 outstanding sentences, which should be handed down soon. They have documented 333 notifications affecting 518 people and at least 1,442 were arrested at some point. For all those who have yet to be tried, they demand immediate release.

In contrast, Yoel Sosa Gómez, who managed to escape the island before receiving his sentence, avoided a penalty of five years of correctional labor with internment. The young man from Vegas, Mayabeque, who granted an interview to América TeVé, is the father of a five-year-old girl and fled Cuba by sea. He is now in Miami waiting for his political asylum to be processed.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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