After historic protests, defiant Cubans face mass trials

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By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

Following the astir wide protests since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, Cubans are present bracing themselves for a caller aftershock poised to shingle the communist-run island: Mass trials of those who dared to take to the streets calling for change.

Fewer than 3 weeks since the opening of the unprecedented anti-government demonstrations, the trials are already underway. Not surprisingly, those proceedings are starring to swift convictions.

Photographer Anyelo Troya said helium was moving errands erstwhile thousands of Cubans streamed into the streets of Havana this month, galore chanting “liberty” and “homeland and life,” a notation to a viral anti-government song. Troya, who had already drawn the ire of Cuban officials for filming portion of the euphony video for that searing absorption anthem, rushed to the protests carrying his camera.

“He was arrested immediately,” his parent Raisa Gonzalez told CNN. “He didn’t adjacent get a accidental to instrumentality a photo.”

The pursuing week, Troya was enactment connected proceedings with a twelve different protesters and convicted of instigating unrest. At his sentencing, wherever helium was fixed a twelvemonth successful prison, Troya’s parent said helium asked to code the judges.

His parent said helium told the tribunal helium did thing wrong, asking, “How is this conscionable erstwhile I haven’t adjacent seen a lawyer and I americium innocent?” Raisa Gonzalez added, “Immediately 1 of the constabulary successful civilian clothes came and handcuffed him. I said, ‘My emotion beryllium calm, you are not alone.'”

Cuban officials person refused to accidental however galore radical were arrested pursuing the island-wide protests, which came arsenic the Cuban authorities struggles to woody with expanding shortages of basal goods and surging coronavirus cases.

According to the exile radical Cubalex which has tracked the arrests, arsenic of July 26, astir 700 Cubans person been detained since the protests started. Cuban officials person said immoderate protesters who were arrested are being released. Cubalex puts the fig of those released astatine 157.

The families of immoderate protesters, who did not privation to beryllium identified, told CNN their relatives were arrested simply for being successful the thoroughfare portion the protests took spot oregon simply for filming the demonstrations. Many young radical successful Cuba had not seen protests connected specified a standard successful their lifetime.

Stung by disapproval that its crackdown connected protesters shows a glaring disregard for basal civilian liberties, Cuban officials said owed process was being followed and that immoderate demonstrators had destroyed spot and attacked police.

“Having antithetic opinions, including governmental ones, doesn’t represent a crime,” said Rubén Remigio Ferro, the president of the Supreme People’s Court of Cuba, astatine a property conference. “Thinking differently, questioning what’s going on. To show is not a crime, it’s a close granted by the constitution…We are not troglodytes.”

But successful practice, officials dainty immoderate calls for alteration to the Communist monopoly connected powerfulness successful Cuba — wherever absorption parties are outlawed — as an existential threat.

The accelerated maturation of mobile net successful Cuba has opened the mode for Cubans to rapidly signifier and stock images of protests. Activists successful caller years person tried to clasp demonstrations protesting creator censorship; successful favour of LGBTQ rights; and demanding a instrumentality banning carnal cruelty. But Cuban police, plainclothes authorities information and baton-toting ‘rapid effect brigades’ person rapidly unopen down those uncommon displays of defiance.

Only erstwhile thousands took to the streets successful July did Cuba’s information apparatus look concisely overwhelmed.

Cuban officials justified the crackdown connected protesters by saying the demonstrations had been fomented by Cuba’s Cold War nemesis, the United States.

“When you effort to bash a question organized from overseas and purpose astatine trying to make the benignant of concern the United States authorities volition usage arsenic justification for greater aggression against Cuba, that people is not allowed,” Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, the caput of US affairs astatine the Cuban Foreign Ministry, told CNN. “That tin enactment successful jeopardy the nationalist information of our country.”

Cuban artists, writers and musicians person decried the arrests and called for an amnesty for non-violent protesters. Facing dense criticism, the government, successful astatine slightest a fewer cases, appears to beryllium backtracking.

Following his conviction, Anyelo Troya was released nether location apprehension portion helium pursues an appeal. “I should beryllium 100% free,” Troya wrote to CNN successful a message.

Others whitethorn not beryllium truthful lucky.

When protesters took to the streets connected July 11 successful the working-class vicinity of La Güinera, homemaker Odet Hernandez Cruzata and her hubby Reinier Reinosa Cabrera, who earlier the pandemic worked successful nightclubs, joined in, according to their relatives successful Cuba and abroad.

Odet streamed the protests unrecorded connected Facebook.

In her 22-minute-long video, the assemblage tin beryllium heard yelling “homeland and life” and “a radical agreed cannot beryllium defeated!”

But arsenic the assemblage approaches what they accidental is simply a constabulary station, radical outcry retired that shots are being fired astatine them and to instrumentality cover.

The Cuban authorities aboriginal said one protester was killed successful the neighborhood by officials, who assertion the demonstrator attempted to onslaught them.

According to their relatives, Odet and Reinier protested peacefully and returned home.

“They weren’t violent, they didn’t propulsion rocks astatine anyone,” said Odet’s relative Angelo Padron, who lives successful France but has kept successful adjacent interaction with relatives connected the island. “They didn’t perpetrate immoderate violence. Then peculiar troops came to get them astatine their home. A commando portion with galore police.”

Padron said the mates is present nether apprehension and facing superior charges including assault, disorderly conduct, harm to nationalist spot and instigation. CNN has not been capable to independently verify the charges.

Relatives are trying to find the mates a lawyer portion they instrumentality attraction of Odet’s five-year-old daughter, Padron said. Neither had immoderate anterior arrests, helium added.

While their household asseverate the mates bash not look to contiguous overmuch of a threat, the Cuban authorities appears progressively wary of recently tech-savvy and defiant Cubans.

Perhaps because, truthful far, the video of the protestation that Odet live-streamed to Facebook has received much than 124,000 views.

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