Reports from Cuba: Cuban prosecutor asks for 10 years in prison for two sisters who protested on July 11

14yMedio reports from Havana via Translating Cuba:

Cuban Prosecutor Asks for 10 Years in Prison for Two Sisters Who Protested on 11 July

Lisdiany and Lisdany Rodríguez Isaac have been in a Santa Clara prison awaiting trial since July.

In Cuba, the Placetas Prosecutor’s Office asks for 10 years in prison for two sisters who participated in the July 11 protests in the municipality, Lisdani and Lisdiany Rodríguez Isaac. It is the highest penalty of all those requested for the members of the group that marched with them and that, for the most part, is facing eight years of deprivation of liberty. According to the prosecution’s brief, the twins committed two crimes of assault, a distinctive fact that supports the high degree of the demanded sentence. However, the relatives of both defend that their participation in the protest was peaceful at all times.

The letter from the Prosecutor’s Office, to which 14ymedio had access, refers to the case which involved 16 people who were marching together that day in the town of Placetas, in the province of Villa Clara. According to the document, the group was led by an alleged leader (Loreto Hernández) who received money from abroad for “mobilizing disaffected and dissatisfied people with the unfavorable economic situation that the country presents as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the resurgence of the blockade*.”

The Public Ministry maintains that it managed to convince other people who, in turn, attracted others to the protest because “they shared similar purposes of destabilization in society,” among whom were the 22-year-old Rodríguez Isaac sisters. According to the official account, the defendants uttered degrading words such as “hijos de puta” (sons of bitches), “esbirros” (henchmen), “down with Díaz-Canel,” “down with communism” and “down with the dictatorship” in order to “raise spirits, challenge the authority and ignore official institutions with the aim of creating chaos and anarchy.”

The most serious events, according to the account, occurred when several of the defendants, among them Lisdani and Lisdiany, tried to stop the arrest of one of their companions and “in a defiant way, strongly grabbed Iván Brito Aragón [one of the agents] and they shoved him while they beat him with their hands on his back and head without injuring him, acts that they also carried out against Ricardo González Abreu [also an officer].”

The letter assures that at that time several people appeared to demonstrate in favor of the Government, among them a common citizen, Melissa Rodríguez González, and the general secretary of the Communist Party in the town, who carried a megaphone with which she shouted “Long live the Revolution” and “homeland or death.” This led to a struggle, the result of which two people fell, an unidentified elderly man and Rodríguez González, whom they allegedly tried to attack without finally causing injury.

All these events represent public disorder for the Cuban justice system, two crimes of contempt and two of attack. In the case of the Rodríguez Isaac twins, they add up to three years for the first crime, four for the second and twelve for the attack, although the request for a joint sanction is for a total of 10.

For the rest of the accused, for accumulating fewer alleged crimes, joint penalties of up to eight years are requested.

Since the young women entered the Santa Clara prison, their mother, Barbara Isaac, who was also present at the marches, has defended the peaceful attitude of her daughters.

“They are assistant teachers, they had never had a problem with the police. On the 18th (of July) they were sent to the Guamajal Women’s Prison. I have not seen my daughters anymore, and that causes me great pain; but the worst is I have a three-and-a-half-year-old little granddaughter who asks me all the time when her mother is coming,” she told Cubanet.

“On July 11 I went to demand my rights, we walked through Placetas peacefully, we passed through the Party. Not a stone was thrown there,” added Isaac, who in August wrote a letter to the Supreme Court and the National Assembly to intercede in the process, but got no response.

The list of people who have been detained in Cuba for demonstrating on July 11 currently stands at 1,079. Of these, some are already processed, others are awaiting trial and 533 remain in prison.

The Government, which still does not give an official number of arrests, insists on denying the ill-treatment that the detainees claim to have received or acknowledging that some of them have been disappeared or suffered some type of torture or violations of their rights.

The authorities affirm that all the processes against those detained after July 11th conform to the legality and criminal procedure of the country, but the testimonies of those who have been released along with their family members, as well as Cubalex, the legal office that follows up on the cases, totally contradict that version.

The president of the Supreme Court, Rubén Remigio Ferro, said last July that the amnesty for those sentenced for their participation in the protests is a decision that belongs to the Government and that it will only occur at the “moment.”

*Translator’s note: “Official” Cuba refers to the US Embargo as “the Blockade.” 

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