Three cases that are the real face of the resistance against the reactionary and ultraconservative Cuban regime

December 24, 2021

Yanilys Sariego, Luis Robles and Daniela Rojo

The protests of July 11 (11J) in Cuba left a trail of arbitrariness committed by the Cuban regime. According to the latest records of the organization for the defense of human rights Cubalex, of a total of 1,314 people detained in connection with the 11J protests, at least 696 remain in jail. Of the 570 people who were released from prison, many are awaiting their trials on bail or house arrest.

After 11J, the independent civil society of Cuba called for a new peaceful protest for November 20 in the main cities throughout the country. The slogans of the convocation were non-violence, respect for the rights of the entire population, the release of political prisoners and the solution of differences with the government through peaceful and democratic means.

The authorities declared the convocation illegal under the justification that it contradicts the Political Constitution of Cuba that defines the “socialist system as irrevocable” and arguing that it is a strategy supported by “foreign governments seeking a change of regime in the country.” The negative answer has also been accompanied by acts of harassment and persecution against those who signed documents requesting permission to demonstrate and against those who expressed their intention to participate in the convocation.

As part of this intimidation strategy, the Cuban authorities decided to carry out a series of mobilizations and military exercises, called “Moncada Exercise” which would culminate on November 20, the same day as the civic march declared illegal. Despite this announcement, broad sectors of independent civil society maintained their intention of demonstrating and decided to advance the date of the protest to November 15 (15N).

Given this, the Cuban government deployed its repressive apparatus intimidating, persecuting and imprisoning the organizers, and taking control of the public space, particularly by surrounding with security forces the homes of the most recognized organizers. In this regard, Cubalex also reported that Of the 91 people arrested in relation to the call for 15N, 9 are still detained in prison.

The referred figures of persecuted, imprisoned and arbitrarily tried has an impact. However, behind these figures there are people of flesh and blood.

For this It is valuable to refer to just three of these individual cases, with first and last names, to become more aware of the drama that such arbitrariness represents. against citizens who only seek to exercise the human right to freely and peacefully express themselves and demonstrate in favor of democratic change.

A very emblematic case, which is even prior to 11J, is that of the young man Luis Robles, 29 years old. On December 4, 2020, more than a year ago, Luis decided to express himself in a central Havana street with a poster that demanded the release of rapper Denis Solís, who was imprisoned for his songs, and today he is in exile with his family.

The sign simply read “Freedom. No + Repression. Free Denis ”. That alone meant that Luis was immediately detained by the National Revolutionary Police without offering resistance. Today he lives an ordeal. He has been in prison for more than a year. He has denounced torture and ill-treatment.

The regime accuses him of the crimes of “Enemy Propaganda” and “Contempt”. His trial has been postponed until last December 16 and is awaiting sentencing. The Prosecutor asked that he be given 6 years in prison.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention described his detention as arbitrary. The Cuban regime, an almost permanent member of the UN Human Rights Council, completely ignores the opinion of this Group.

Another case is that of the young woman Daniela Rojo, 25, and mother of two young children. Daniela manifested on 11J and then actively participated in the calls for 15N as a member of the group “Archipelago” led by the playwright Yunior Garcia (now exiled in Spain). Before 15N, Daniela was detained, disappeared for a few days and then released. For manifesting on 11J, the regime accuses her of public disorder, contempt and instigation to commit a crime. The Prosecutor has requested that he be sentenced to 5 years in prison.

detained in Cuba Yanilys Sariego
Daniela Rojo Facebook)

Finally, another case that has hardly taken almost public notoriety is that of the young woman Yanilys Sariego, 35, mother of a celiac child, and resident of Cárdenas, Matanzas Province. Yanilys is an active person in social networks, where she expresses her positions against the regime and particularly expresses her claims there for the improper access to the special foods that her son requires. He has also expressed himself in favor of the call to 15N.

In the context of a permanent siege and harassment at the door of his house by uniformed and non-uniformed agents, he had filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office questioning irregular “summons” to appear to testify before State Security.

On November 10, a few days after the filing of this complaint (which, in addition, the Prosecutor’s Office staff tried by all means not to receive it), she was approached at her home by police officers who expressed that they should take her to notify her of the resolution of her complaint (which was totally illegal and implausible). Faced with Yanilys’ resistance, she was forcibly arrested and illegally detained for 8 days in the State Security Unit of the city of Matanzas. There was illegally interrogated and threatened several times during that time.

At no time during his detention was he informed of the charges against him, nor was he allowed access to an official defender. He is currently under home confinement, in a process where he is charged with the crimes of disobedience and resistance, both with maximum prison terms of one year. All for having done nothing but express himself.

Arrested in Cuba Daniela Rojo
Yanilys Sariego (Facebook)

The three cases exposed –which represent hundreds and thousands of others- are the living and individual image, the concrete history of young people who suffer an authoritarian one-party regime that will turn 63 on January 1, 2022 (to which we could add the sufferings of another 7 of the previous Batista dictatorship) and has systematically prevented any expression or manifestation that questions it. These three faces are the faces of a new generation that rebels demanding freedom and progress. Paradoxically, for many, they are young people who, from art and pro-democratic activism, with a fresh and healthy rebellious commitment, question by putting their bodies into an ancient, ultra-conservative, cocky and reactionary regime.

These young people deserve all the admiration and solidarity.

* Brian Schapira is Director of Institutional Relations at CADAL

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