The Spanish Government Cannot Help Mario Josué Prieto Because He Also Holds Cuban Nationality

On 23 August 2021 Mario Josué Prieto was arrested again and sentenced to 12 years in prison for sedition. (Cortesía)

EUROPA PRESS/14ymedio, Madrid, 28 November 2022 — The Spanish government has clarified that it is not able to help Mario Josué Prieto — the young Spaniard imprisoned in Cuba for taking part in the 2021 demonstrations on the Island and condemned to 12 years for sedition — because he is still a Cuban national.

This was communicated in a parliamentary reply to which Europa Press has had access, after Spain’s Popular Party took an interest in the case and because of the support that the government has been providing him since his parents asked for help via a letter sent in September to José Manuel Albares, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The Ministry explained that both the Embassy and the Consulate General in Havana “have been following the case” and have approached the Cuban authorities “to try and ease his prison situation”.

Nevertheless, they clarified that as Prieto also holds Cuban citizenship “it isn’t possible to give the usual assistance to the prisoner”, which normally they can give in cases of Spaniards imprisoned abroad.

In his case, the Ministry explained, the reason is none other than Article 36 of the Cuban constitution, which states: “While Cuban citizens are on Cuban territory (…) they may not make use of a foreign [dual] nationality”.

Even so, they affirmed that the Embassy in Havana “is in contact with Prieto’s family”. The young man, resident in the U.S, was trapped on the Island in March 2020 by the pandemic outbreak, while visiting his family.

There is an ongoing arrest warrant in force for Prieto in Suffolk County Virginia, U.S.A, dating from 2019, and confirmed with 14ymedio by local police, which remains in force for crimes of: robbery, inappropriate conduct, avoiding arrest, aggression towards a family member and littering a public space.

During his stay in Cuba he took part in an anti-government demonstration in Holguín on 11 July 2021 and was arrested though released two days later, only to be arrested again on 23 July. Later, he was condemned to 12 years jail for sedition.

In September, Cuban Human Rights Observervatory sent the government a judicial report on Prieto’s situation, whom they define as a “political prisoner”.

According to this organisation, which has analized the case against him, at no time was the alleged crime of sedition tested in court nor was there any respect for the principles or guarantees that a defendant should be tried by a local judge and not by an emergency tribunal or courtroom; similarly, they did not take into consideration the personal circumstances or state of health of the defendant.

In their opinion, “the fact that the Cuban authorities are applying the effective principle of citizenship doesn’t stop the Spanish authorities from intervening” in this case, given that “they have committed obvious judicial errors and the situation is a grave and humanitarian one, with danger to the life of the Spanish citizen”. In this way, they maintain that “pressure from Spain could be decisive in obtaining his freedom”.

The observatory also pointed out that Prieto is a psychiatric patient and had already twice attempted suicide. Allegedly, according to his mother, speaking to Spanish outlet Libertad Digital, he had made a further attempt last week, at the hospital in Holguín where he is being held for the health problems that he has been showing since his first arrival in prison.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso


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