The US Criticizes the ‘Outrageous’ Sentences Imposed on the Nuevitas Protesters in Cuba

Undersecretary Brian A. Nichols pointed out that the incident is evidence of the “continued repression of the Cuban Government.”

The trial of those who took to the streets in Nuevitas has once again put the severity of the Island’s courts in focus / X

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 April 2024 — The Undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the United States, Brian A. Nichols, described this Monday as “outrageous” the sentences imposed by the Cuban courts on those who demonstrated in Nuevitas, Camagüey, in August 2022. In his account on X, the senior official denounces the ’inconceivable’ and ’continued repression by the Cuban government” against those who “struggle for their rights and basic needs.”

This week, the Provincial Court of Camagüey sentenced 13 Cubans to prison sentences between 4 and 15 years for going out to peacefully protest in the streets of Nuevitas. At that time, the Island was going through one of the peak moments of its energy crisis, fueled by shortages, heat and long blackouts.

Nichols, who published his post on the matter in English and Spanish, alluded to the severity of the sentence, which he described as “harsh.” The Cuban Government has not yet responded to the high official nor has it summoned the US diplomatic staff in Havana to “ call their attention,” as happened last March, after the protests in the east of the country. Then, the Cuban Foreign Ministry blamed the United States for instigating the demonstrations in Santiago de Cuba and other cities.

Exemplary sentences against those who take to the streets are a common practice of the regime, but they intensified after 11 July 2021, when massive protests broke out to which Havana responded with police repression, arbitrary arrests and judicial punishments.

 Fray Pascual Claro Valladares “tried to hang herself” in the Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey

The trial of those who took to the streets in Nuevitas has once again brought into focus the severity of the Island’s courts and the serious consequences, on a personal and family level, that they have brought for those involved. A dramatic example is that of Fray Pascual Claro Valladares, who “tried to hang herself” in the Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey, after learning of her sentence. Her mother, Yanelis Valladares Jaime, also prosecuted for sedition, was acquitted “due to insufficient evidence.”

Mayelín Rodríguez, the young woman who broadcast the protests on Facebook, received the highest sentence, 15 years. The charges: “continued enemy propaganda” and “sedition.” For his part, José Armando Torrente, accused of the crimes of sedition, attack and resistance, was sentenced to 14 years. Jimmy Jhonson Agosto and Ediolvis Marin Mora, both found guilty of sedition and sabotage, will spend 13 years in prison.

The majority of those prosecuted were sentenced to 10 years in prison for sedition, the crime par excellence that was also used in the convictions of the protesters of 11 July 2021 (’11J’). Along with Fray Claro Valladares, this is the case of Davier Leyva Vélez, Keiler Velázquez Medina, Menkel de Jesús Menéndez Vargas, Frank Alberto Carreón Suárez and Lázaro Alejandro Pérez Agosto.

For his part, Yennis Artola del Sol received a sentence of 8 years in prison for “continued enemy propaganda,” and Wilker Álvarez Ramírez, a sentence of 4 years for concealment.

The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) issued a statement this Saturday in which it condemns “in the strongest terms” the resolution of this trial, which took place during two days in January.


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