The Mother of Luis Robles, the ‘Young Man With the Placard,’ Denounces the Mistreatment of Her Son in Prison

Yindra Elizastigui (left) and her son (right), the activist Luis Robles. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 June 2022 — Yindra Elizastigui, the mother of activist Luis Robles, imprisoned a year and six months ago after demonstrating peacefully on San Rafael Boulevard in Havana, denounced in a live broadcast on Facebook this Thursday that five years in prison for her son is unfair, and that in the Combinado del Este prison, where the young man remains incarcerated, he has received constant mistreatment such as being photographed without clothes and against his will.

“Recently, my son informed me that they took him out of the cell and took him to an office with more people, prison leaders and members of State Security and others, and forced him to take off his clothes,” Elizastigui said, and added that Robles refused. “He said that he was not going to take them off because that was not in any law, and they told him: ’If you don’t take them off, we’ll take them off.’ He had to take off his clothes and they photographed him with a cell phone from the front and from the back.”

The mother, after making the complaints at the Ministry of the Interior, received as a response from the regime that the photographs were taken for “an investigation into a publication made by a newspaper in which it was reported” that Luis Robles had been beaten.” They say they took those images “to show the world that my son had no traces of physical abuse on his body.”

Without specifying which media outlet the Ministry of the Interior referred to, she said that “physical abuse was reported and that he was put in a punishment cell for five days, something that I believe because before he spent seven to nine days in a cell of punishment that almost cost him his life and where he shed his skin,” Elizastigui detailed before adding: “I believe in my son because the one who is in there is him, and I have proof that they have gone to extremes with my son.”

She also took advantage of the moment to remember that it is not the first time that Robles has been mistreated “physically and psychologically.”

“My son informs me that whenever someone feels like it, abusing their position and power, they take them out of the cell at two or three in the morning until six in the morning.”

said alleged that in 2019 she voted for the approval of the Constitution of the Republic and even “motivated and encouraged” the population to vote in favor. “That Constitution that in Article 54 states that we have freedom of expression,” she said.

“I have dared to do this direct today because in reality I already feel outraged, I feel uncomfortable with what is happening with my son,” she explained to emphasize that it is the only way she has to be heard by “those who need to hear.”

“Perhaps many of the people who are seeing me and listening to me will say that it took me a long time because my son Luis Robles has been imprisoned for a year and six months, unjustly to me, and I know that for many as well.”

At the end of last March and after a year and three months in prison, Luis Robles, known as the “young man with the placard,” was sentenced to five years in prison for demonstrating peacefully with a sign in his hands calling for an end to of the repression and the freedom of the Cuban rapper Denis Solís. He was arrested on December 4, 2020 for protesting on San Rafael Boulevard in Havana and charged with the crimes of enemy propaganda, contempt and disobedience.

Elizastigui confessed that she did not know who Denis Solís was or why her son had gone out to demonstrate asking for the freedom of the protesting rapper. “I don’t know why Luis did it, but perhaps he identified with him and felt motivated to do it, each person is different and we have to respect that.”

According to the court ruling, to which 14ymedio had access, in Robles’ trial it was “proved” that the young man “responded to a summons” from the Cuban influencer “Alexander Otaola to speak out” against the arrest of Solís, “from the police authorities, of the leaders of the State and the Government,” and of “carrying out an act aimed at destabilizing internal order, demonstrating publicly in the streets against the Cuban economic and social system.”

The phrases “Freedom. No more repression. #free-Denis [Solís]”, which were on the poster carried by Robles, “opposed the decisions of the authorities” that determined the arrest of Solís, justified the Provincial Court of Havana, where the activist was prosecuted.

At the beginning of this March, the 29-year-old made public a letter in which he reiterated his fight and his objective: “freedom for the people of Cuba.” In the letter, Robles returns to the reasons that led him to carry out the peaceful protest that today has him in jail.

“I decided to break the silence because I got tired of seeing how my country is destroyed and the government does nothing to fix it,” he explains, “because I think that Cuba’s greatest enemy is not outside but sitting in the presidential chair.”


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