The Cuban Prosecutor’s Office Asks for 15 Years in Prison for the Young Woman Who Broadcast the Nuevitas Protest

Image of the first demonstration in Nuevitas, Camagüey, in August 2022. (Capture/Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 25 September 2023 — The Prosecutor’s Office has asked for up to 15 years in prison for two citizens who took to the streets in Nuevitas, Camagüey in August of last year, in protest against the prolonged blackouts. They are José Armando Torrente Muñoz and Mayelín Rodríguez Prado, the 21-year-old young woman who posted a video of the protests on Facebook. The Cuban Human Rights Observatory reported on Monday on its social networks that a total of 14 protesters received the prosecutor’s petition on Friday, requesting for most of those charged 10 years of deprivation of liberty for the crime of sedition.

According to the organization, in addition to Torrente Muñoz and Rodríguez Prado – accused of sedition and “enemy propaganda of a continuous nature” – the list is made up of Yennis Artola del Sol, Daiver Leyva Vélez, Keyler Velázquez Medina, Menkel de Jesús Menéndez Vargas, Frank Alberto Carrión Suárez, Fray Pascual Claro Valladares, Lisdan Cabrera Batista, Jimmy Jhonson Agosto, Ediolvis Marín Mora, Yanelis Valladares Jaime, Lázaro Alejandro Pérez Agosto and, finally, Wilker Álvarez Ramírez, the only one sentenced to less time in prison, four years for cover-up of the crime of sabotage.

The organization Justicia 11J, which compiles the list of demonstrators arrested since that day in 2021, reported at the time, after two consecutive days of peaceful demonstrations in Nuevistas, the “violent” arrest of José Armando Torrente, who took to the streets in the neighborhood of Pastelillo. The organization then warned that there was “audiovisual evidence of the assault on her 11-year-old daughter, Gerlin Torrente Echeverría” and another girl who accompanied her, when the police repressed the protesters.

Gerlin’s mother was also violently arrested but released on Saturday night. Similarly, the NGOs indicated that the police questioned Fray Claro Valladares, 21, and the young Mayelín Rodríguez Prado, of the same age and known as La Chamaca [the {female} kid], for transmitting the protests through Facebook.

The organization then warned that there was “audiovisual evidence of the assault on her 11-year-old daughter, Gerlin Torrente Echeverría” and another girl who accompanied her

Rodríguez’s case was specifically mentioned by Justicia 11J on September 7, when she denounced that at least 17 people who participated in the Nuevitas protests were still in prison waiting to be tried, accused of “public disorder, attacks, damage, contempt, resistance and incitement to commit crimes.”

“In Nuevitas it was possible to observe a repressive strategy that would be applied in subsequent protests: arrest demonstrators or alleged leaders of the marches both during the events and after them, as part of operations and raids, or after attending summons for interrogations,” the organization reported. These demonstrations have been most massive since July 11, 2021, after which State Security employed similar repression.

Months after the protests, the regime was still looking for those “guilty” of the demonstrations in Nuevitas because, despite the fact that it “understood the inconvenience and difficulties of the people due to the frequent blackouts,” nothing “justifies” the protests.

Justicia 11J added that “from the beginning of 2022 to date, at least 254 public protests of different types and scale have been held,” and they indicated that they have recorded “the detention of 241 people in connection with protests, even if the victim had not participated in protest events in the public space.”

The demonstrations in Nuevitas began on the night of August 18 with the cry of “the people are tired.” Hundreds of residents took to the streets to shout slogans of freedom and demands for electricity. That day they also threatened to return to the streets if the authorities cut off the power again.

The next day, the neighbors of Nuevitas reported the militarization of the place.

The protests, as observed in numerous videos shared on social networks, were multitudinous, illuminated by the flashlight of cell phones and motorcycle headlights and accompanied by pots and pans, honking, clapping and shouted slogans.

Along with the screams calling for an end to the blackouts – “put on the power, dickhead” – those of “freedom” and “patria y vida” [homeland and life] also resounded. Some citizens cried out that irreverent slogan repeated on 11J – “hey, police fucker” – and others sang the national anthem at the top of their lungs and in unison.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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