14ymedio, Havana, 18 December 2020 — The young man who was arrested on December 4 for protesting with a handmade sign on San Rafael Boulevard in Havana has been charged with “acts against state security.” According to Diario de Cuba the charge was filed by First-Lieutenant Roberto Batista, who issued an order for “temporary detention.”
The same news site also identified the young man as 28-year-old Luis Robles Elizastigui, originally from Guantanamo, who is the father of one son. Bystanders rushed to his defense when police tried to arrest him for holding up a cardboard sign that read, “Freedom, no more repression.” The sign also included the hashtag “#FreeDenis,” a reference to the rapper Denis Solis, who was sentenced to eight months in jail for alleged contempt.
A family member who spoke to Diario de Cuba on condition of anonymity said that Robles’ whereabouts were unknown for three days after his arrest but stated that he is now being held at Villa Marista, a prison in Havana.
En el Boulevard de La Habana. pic.twitter.com/d0HSlUo2id
— Yoani Sánchez 🇨🇺 (@yoanisanchez) December 4, 2020
Videos of Robles protesting in front of a store on the popular pedestrian thoroughfare went viral. In them he can be heard shouting, “Freedom, down with the dictatorship,” to which some bystanders reply, “Down.” In less than a minute several uniformed police arrived and arrested the protester, who began shouting, “Freedom!”
In the video a chorus of voices can be heard shouting the same word as well as, “Thugs. You’re all thugs,” “Let him go,” “Down with the dictatorship” and “Oppressors.”
Several women attacked the police officers while the young man was being arrested. In at least one video they can be seen hitting and struggling with the police for a few seconds.
On the day of his arrest he was fined 1,000 pesos under Decree 272, Article 11 of the Penal Code which, according to attorney Santiago Alpízar, prohibits “creating a public eyesore” with billboards. Authorities have also charged him with “disorderly conduct and contempt.”
In statements to the press the attorney also noted that Robles’ actions do not fit the definition of “other acts against state security,” for which he is also charged.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.