December 3, 2021

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Protesters in Cuba sentenced to 10 years in prison on July 11

One protester, particularly one convicted of contempt and disturbing public order, was sentenced to ten years in prison, the most severe sentence handed down to a participant in the unprecedented protests in Cuba on July 11, the AFP learned from the Relatives and Human Rights Organization on Saturday.

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A San Jose de las Lazas court, 35 km from Havana, has sentenced Roberto Perez Fonseca, 38, to 10 years in prison for contempt, assault and disorderly conduct. The verdict was dated October 6 and was consulted by the AFP.

Three court judges declared the protester guilty based on the testimony of a local police officer. According to the latter, on July 11, Roberto Perez Fonseka “encouraged people to come together and throw stones and bottles”.

The protester, a father of two, was arrested by police five days later at his mother’s home.

Cuplex director AFP Laritza Diversent responded that the sentence was “excessive and violates all guarantees of due process”. According to these human rights NGOs, this is the largest sentence ever handed down against a July 11 protester.

Ms. Diverscent denounced a sentence “for example” to “cause fear and awe” in the community.

AFP

Condemned mother Liset Fonseca says the severity of the punishment is illustrated by her son breaking the portrait of Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban revolution.

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“Breaking the image is unforgivable,” he said, indicating that the family wants to appeal the decision.

On July 11, thousands of Cubans took to the streets chanting “End dictatorship” and “We are hungry.” These unprecedented protests resulted in one death, dozens of injuries and nearly a thousand arrests. About 500 people are still detained.

The government accuses the protesters of seeking to overthrow the government with US support.

Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization, recently accused the government of carrying out arbitrary detentions, abusing prisoners and conducting bogus investigations.

Cuba is facing a deepening economic crisis with rising inflation, the Govt-19 epidemic and the strengthening of the U.S. embargo that has exacerbated food and drug shortages.