The Trials For The July Protests In Cuba: “Many Young People Are Suffering”

Walnier Luis Aguilar Rivera is 21 years old, has a mental disability and they have requested 23 years in prison against him for protesting on July 12 against the Government in Havana. His trial took place between December 20 and 23 and he was accused of sedition, a crime against State Security for which some 158 protesters in the country have been charged.

Of all of them, about 95 have already reached the courts and, of these, 29 are between 16 and 20 years old.

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There are no official statistics on “the events” or “the riots” of July 11 in the country. It is difficult for the government to mention the word “protest,” which was not limited to July 11, because in the days that followed, people also took to the streets to shout “homeland and life” and “freedom.” There are also no possibilities of accessing the information that public institutions should have in this regard.

The only data that exists on arrests, detentions and prosecutions comes from independent organizations, especially from Justice 11J Y Cubalex. The first emerged the same day the demonstrations began and is made up of women with different professional profiles who work voluntarily, while the second, made up of lawyers, had been denouncing human rights violations and advising, in legal matters, to victims of political repression.

In accordance with your records, at least 1,379 people were arrested as a result of the social outbreak, 727 remain behind bars, 400 have been tried in summary and ordinary trials and only nine have cases that have been resolved with a dismissal.

The information is collected and verified with relatives of political prisoners, with whom they await trials in their homes, and with the few notes published by the state press. Their numbers grow almost daily, every time a new family appears that loses their fear and decides to publicize the case of a loved one.

This week, in the provinces of Havana and Mayabeque, another 45 people are being tried. In the previous week, 66 were tried. The processes take place behind closed doors and only one relative per defendant can enter, even in cases that have nothing to do with the charge of sedition.

No trial has received media coverage, something usual in Cuba, especially when it comes to opponents or dissidents, despite the fact that the Criminal Procedure Law it establishes that “the oral trial is public unless reasons of state security, morality, public order or the respect due to the person offended by the crime and their relatives advise holding it behind closed doors.”

Wilber Aguilar, Walnier’s father, in statements to elDiario.es, said that “that was never a trial, that was a prepared lie.” He assured that there was no criminal in the room, that the judge burst into tears when she finished handing down the sentences. “It was abuse, everyone knows it was abuse,” he added.

His son was tried along with 16 other people. All from the La Güinera neighborhood, an impoverished and marginalized area of ​​the Arroyo Naranjo municipality, which was the place where Diubis Laurencio, 36, died: the only deceased officially recognized by the Cuban authorities in the context of last year’s social unrest.

in the official note, they presented him as a common criminal, who had been imprisoned “for contempt, theft and disorderly conduct” as if he had deserved his death. Later, sources close to the victim they alleged that he had no criminal record.

Laurentius he died due to a firearm shot that he received in the back and pierced his lung. He was unarmed. There is a video showing the moment of his death. However, the authorities considered, at first, that the policeman who took his life, Second Lieutenant Yoennis Pelegrín, acted in self-defense.

A report from an independent media outlet earlier this year reports that the Military Prosecutor’s Office intends to try him for homicide and serious injuries, since he caused gunshot wounds to the leg of Yoel Misael Fuentes García, under 16, and that at least until December 2021 he was on freedom. The source is a lawyer close to the case.

Aguilar says that in the trial of her son and the other 16 protesters from La Güinera, the judge did not allow the defense attorneys to talk about Laurencio’s death. Testimonies very similar to yours also come from other areas of the country.

The same complaints are always repeated: courts under police and military fences, a single family member per prisoner in court, impediments for the defense to present evidence, witnesses from the Prosecutor’s Office with contradictory statements, and even harassment and detention of family members.

On January 14, for example, relatives of political prisoner Andy García Lorenzo, from the city of Santa Clara, They were arrested as they headed to court. His sister Roxana – 20 years old and a defender of political prisoners –, her partner Jonatan López and her in-laws were intercepted on the public transport in which they were traveling and taken to a police unit.

As if this were not enough, they imposed fines of 3,000 Cuban pesos on all of them, except for Roxana’s mother-in-law, under Decree-Law 370, which is used against citizens for posting on social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, reports of violations human rights or criticism of the government. In addition, they seized the mobile phones of Roxana and Jonatan.

To get an idea of ​​what this means: in Cuba, the average salary is 3,838 Cuban pesos, which would be equivalent to 42 euros, according to the informal market exchange rate, which is the only significant one, since the Government does not sell foreign currency to the population. A figure that is not even enough to start living.

Those who have relatives in prison, almost always low-income families, are also now going through a critical economic situation. Bringing “a sack” to an imprisoned family member – which is the name given to the shipments of food and hygiene that are delivered during visits at least once a month – can cost around 2,000 pesos, not counting the price of the transport.

The subhuman conditions of the prisons where political prisoners are held, which are common or maximum security prisons, leave no alternative.

Roxana García and Jonatan López, aware of this reality, created a project to raise funds from different types of donations for the families of political prisoners. They named it “aid to the brave of 11J”.

There are families that have several people incarcerated. Teresa Rodríguez has three imprisoned children: Emiyoslán Román (17 years old), Yosney Emilio Román (25 years old) and Mackyanis Román (24 years old); They ask for 15, 20 and 25 years in prison, respectively, for the alleged crime of sedition. The two young men Emiyoslán and Yosney are being tried this week in Havana. The girl is still waiting.

Barbara Isaac Rojas He has two of his triplets, 23 years old and residents of Villa Clara, imprisoned. They were tried in December and the Prosecutor’s Office requested 10 years in prison for public disorder and contempt. The sentence has not yet been issued. One of them, Lisdiani, is the mother of a girl who just turned four years old, and now it is the grandmother who takes care of her.

In some trials carried out between January 10 and 14, in Holguín and Havana, the Prosecutor’s Office lowered its petitions to 12 minors who were facing the crime of sedition. He reduced the sentences of eight to seven years in prison and four to five years of correctional work without internment. It is possible that the latter have had this position withdrawn. However, so far, relatives of political prisoners who have been tried for sedition have not been sentenced.

Walnier Luis Aguilar is also the father of two little girls. His father says that he worked in construction and in a bakery before he was arrested. It was the father himself who took him to the police on July 20 because a State Security agent from his neighborhood told him that they were looking for his son and that he should hand him over, which was the best thing to do. He never imagined that that same day his son would be deprived of liberty.

The father claims that Walnier demonstrated peacefully on July 12. She says that her son had gone to buy some malangas – a Cuban tuber – for his girls and that he found the demonstration in La Güinera and joined. Now he is in the prison known as Combinado del Este and he is not even taking his medicine.

He says that he has been without them for months due to the shortage of medicines, and of almost everything, that prevails in Cuba. At home they “controlled” him with infusions and family affection.

Walnier Luis has a lesion in the left frontal part of the brain, which was detected when he was 11 years old because his behavior was highly variable and easily altered. He had to study in a special education school until he finished ninth grade and was never admitted to the Compulsory Military Service. The father explains that “on the outside he is fine,” but that his mind “is not that of a person who is fine.”

That is his greatest concern, that in prison he will have a problem with another inmate and give him “a bad blow.”

On December 24, the day after the trial against his son concluded, Wilber Aguilar published a video of four minutes and 27 seconds on his Facebook profile that went viral. It has more than 100,000 views and was shared almost 4,000 times. There, for the first time, she publicly denounced the case of her son, her voice cracking with tears.

In the end, he said: “Why don’t you listen to the people? Someone has to listen to the people, what is happening in the real town. The voice of the people is this. Someone has to put their hand on their chest up there and stop with all this, because it is not mine alone. There are many young people who are suffering. And mothers. And old people. And women.

That I was in court for four days and I witnessed it and suffered it. And I am suffering it. What end of the year? What 24? Here there is nothing for anyone. This is to suffer. It is a town that is suffering from an injustice. ”

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