Reports from Cuba: Social media rallies for release of Cuban who shared first live video of July 11 protests

14yMedio reports from Havana via Translating Cuba:

Social Media Rallies for the Release of Cuban Who Shared First Live Video Of July 11th Protests

Yoan de la Cruz shared the first live video of the July 11th protests.

Yoan de la Cruz, who shared the live broadcast of the first protests in San Antonio de los Baños that sparked the demonstrations all over the island, was arrested last Friday, according to reports from his family and friends on social media.

“He is my nephew, a really good kid, whose only crime to record from his house the protest that took place July 11th in San Antonio de los Baños. He has been in prison for two days. My sister and we all are having a really hard time jut thinking in what they must be doing to him,” wrote Ivis Cruz, the aunt of the Cuban young man, on Twitter this past Sunday.

Several friends had already started to share the same message, barely a few hours after the arrest, demanding his release on social media, and vindicating his role in the unprecedented protests that have shaken the island in the past two weeks.

“Yoan de la Cruz, Cuban from Ariguanabo, but even more, the courageous young man whom with a cell phone and a few megas, showed the entire world that San Antonio de los Baños might be a small town, but it is full of brave people like him, that are fed up with living imprisoned and took on the streets screaming for ’FREEDOM’. Release him now, cowards! You think you’re all so powerful and a young man with a phone on his hands shakes the house of cards where you live.”

Another friend, a transgender known as Vida Bohemia, has also demanded De la Cruz’s release, and considers it a great injustice that a peaceful individual that has not committed any violent crime is in prison. “He didn’t throw a stone, he didn’t break glass, he didn’t assault anyone, he didn’t yelled ’Down with anything’. Please, release him now. He has a mother, a grandmother, a family and thousands of friends that are suffering.”

Jhans Oscar, a youtuber from the LGBTI+ community, echoed the demands of Yoan de la Cruz friends and family, and this past Sunday what was a mere whisper on social media became breaking news in a matter of hours. “The guy who shared the first live video from the protests in San Anthonio de los Baños that went viral has been arrested. Right now he is wrongfully imprisoned by the dictatorship,” denounced Oscar on Twitter.

“We can’t allow anything to happen to him,” added the content creator.

Alejandro Díaz Jerez, a member of the San Antonio de los Baños Facebook group, also posted about De la Cruz non-violent behavior last Sunday, when the wave of protests started in Cuba. “He is not a criminal, he is not a terrorist, let alone a mercenary paid by another country or organization, as the Cuban dictatorship has labeled him. We demand the immediate release of Yoan de la Cruz, and all those unjustly arrested.”

“The thousands of Cubans who marched on the streets last July 11th, and those who continue to protest in Cuba and in more than 45 cities all over the world, are demanding freedom despite the repression unleashed by the cowards in the armed forces. (De la Cruz) is not a discontented homosexual coming from a broken family nor a problematic traitor as the authorities on this island are trying to make you believe. (People protesting) are good people, with families and trying to make a living, tired of the archaic and obsolete, illogical and utterly failed communist system that has only brought us famine, misery, backwardness and major shortcomings. Its been the maximum expression of indoctrination for more than 60 years. Thank God the theater crashed down, and today the entire world knows the true reality of Cuban communism,” he added.

Fifteen days after the protests erupted, the government has not yet released an official list of the people arrested. The news about arrests or people released are just trickling down informally thanks to the amplifying power of social media.

Up until July 26th, the most updated list compiled from Cubalex included 689 people reported involved as detained or missing: 263 with confirmed arrests, 238 under verification process, 152 were detained and released and 36 reported as still forcibly missing.

Translated by: Mailyn Salabarria