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Cuba Punishes Protesters Via Summary Trials and Imprisonment

Cuba Punishes Protesters Via Summary Trials and Imprisonment

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Cuba Punishes Protesters Via Summary Trials and Imprisonment

Following the landmark protests begun July 11 in the streets of Havana, the Cuban government has begun cracking down on freedom-seeking demonstrators by subjecting them to summary trials and imprisonment, with the result that human rights groups are on high alert. Following the arrest of more than six hundred protesters, whose detention local activists are tracking via a spreadsheet, Human Rights Watch decried the government’s response to the unprecedented demonstrations as an act of “brutal repression,” while PEN America called out Cuban authorities for “muzzling independent thought, action, and ideas.”Among those targeted by the government of President Miguel Díaz-Canel are young people and even minors, according to the Miami Herald, which cited as an example the arrest, hasty trial, and one-year sentence on charges of “public disorder” of twenty-five-year-old photographer Anyelo Troya. Troya had worked in the production of the video for the song “Patria y vida” (Homeland and life) a takeoff on the phrase “Patria o muerte” (Homeland or death) popularized by Cuban Communist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara in the 1950s that has become the rallying cry of the protesters. The video featured members of the artist-activist San Isidro movement (MSI), whose constituents have been subject to harassment by the government for months. MSI member Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who this spring was forcibly hospitalized during a hunger strike, is reported to have been moved to a maximum-security prison in Guanajay, while rapper Maykel Obsorbo, who joined the movement earlier this year, remains in jail, where he has been since May.Artist-activist group 27N has also seen its members subjected to state harassment, among them most recently artist Hamlet Lavastida, who was arrested last month as he returned from a residency at Berlin’s Künstlerhaus Bethanien, and Tania Bruguera, whom The Art Newspaper reports was interrogated for eleven hours on July 20. Speaking to Politico, Bruguera described seeing a youth beaten by ten policemen in the street, and the jailing of protesters who were not allowed outside contact. Human Rights Watch additionally named CubaNet journalist Camila Acosta, who also works for Spanish outlet ABC, as having been detained and held incommunicado.“The government has created a very sophisticated disinformation process,” said Bruguera. “They start by saying the people who protested were revolutionaries who were confused. Later, they said [the protesters] were delinquents. Now, they say [the protesters] are people who want the US government to invade Cuba.”“Thousands of Cubans are overcoming their fear of the government, noted Human Rights Watch. “Governments committed to human rights and democracy in the Americas and Europe should make it clear to Díaz-Canel that the Cuban government will no longer get away with brutal crackdowns and trying to hide abuses with censorship.”

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