Solidarity with the protesters of July 2021
To: Miguel Mario Díaz Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba;
To: Esteban Lazo Hernández, President of the National Assembly of People’s Power of the Republic of Cuba;
To Rubén Remigio Ferro, President of the People’s Supreme Court of the Republic of Cuba;
To the Cuban people and the international left
In Cuba there is a deep structural crisis. This crisis, in the midst of a notable intensification of the precariousness of living conditions, led a part of the population onto the streets, on 11 and 12 July 2021. The hostile US sanctions, within the framework of a policy of aggression and blockade that has continued for more than 60 years, the inability of the country’s administration to meet the most basic needs of the people, and the neglect of the social, political and economic demands of civil society, all contributed to the worsening of this situation and led to a growing loss of confidence in the government’s narrative.
The decision that essential goods for the domestic market be sold in foreign currency, out of the reach of the majority, and the effects of the pandemic, worsened and with reason the discontent of the sectors afflicted by poverty and marginalisation, related to place of residence, skin colour, gender and other categories of exclusion. The economic and political crisis that the country is suffering is also expressed in the gradual deterioration of social indicators of health, education, sports and culture. This decadence is precipitating the massive exodus of young people, with the consequences that this leads to in Cuban families and in the economy in general.
Within the social protests in July 2021, the largest since 1959, there were examples of violent behaviour and physical confrontation on both sides, both by the police forces and pro-government groups and by some groups of protesters. While the latter have been subjected to criminalisation and punitive practices, evidenced in the official narrative and in disproportionate sentences, which are clearly exemplary measures aimed at preventing similar scenarios in the future, the pro-government sectors, the security forces and the officials responsible for the repression and the excesses of state violence continue to enjoy impunity.
During March 2022, two trials were held over the protests. The first was for the protests carried out by the poor sectors of Esquina de Toyo and La Güinera in Havana. In a mass trial, 127 people were condemned to up to 30 years’ imprisonment; the sentences added up to 1,916 years in all. Eight of the condemned were between 16 and 17 years old. The second trial was for the protests in San Antonio de los Baños, against 17 demonstrators, with sentences of up to 10 years.
Among the latter, we must highlight the sentence of six years’ imprisonment for Yoan de la Cruz, one of the first young people to livestream the protests on social networks. The sentence states that he “transmitted live on social networks what was happening, which caused such acts to be visualised inside and outside the country and that the harmful actions were imitated in different municipalities and provinces.”
According to the Attorney General’s Office, a total of 790 people were prosecuted, including 55 of between 16 and 17 years old.
At the same time, various civil society sectors and activists are being constantly harassed by the authorities. This persecution and surveillance is carried out by the police security apparatus, which is characterised by acting outside constitutional legality and attacking people’s dignity. All this occurs in a scenario of absolute impunity, in the absence of legal guarantees for the exercise of free association, among people and civil society groups that have concerns about participation in the public space. The cycle of repression is completed with the use of the media to destroy reputations, label all dissent as mercenary, and delegitimise any person or organisation that puts into question the current reality. A right wing backed by the United States and that supports its attacks does exist, but here we are not talking about that right wing.
Faced with this context, the people, groups and organisations that sign this document, both from Cuba and internationally:
- Call for international solidarity with the unjustly convicted protesters.
- Call for an Amnesty Law for the persons who have been unjustly convicted, as a necessary step that opens the door to a truly democratic socialism of equals.