La Güinera, the neighborhood against which the accusations for 11J were vicious

La Güinera, the neighborhood against which the accusations for 11J were vicious

Last Tuesday, January 25, Emilio Román Matos went for the fourth time in two weeks to the Municipal Court of October 10, in Havana. He did not have the strength to enter, but from the outside he kept an eye on the trials of dozens of people who in July 2021 went out to demonstrate against the Cuban regime. Three of those people are his children.

The three –Emiyoslán, Mackyani and Yosney– protested in the streets of La Güinera, a Havana neighborhood with a reputation for being “marginal”, which concentrates 96 of the 790 people criminally prosecuted in Cuba for participating in the demonstrations of July 11 and 12, that is, 12 out of every 100 accused of the protests are residents of La Güinera.

Emiyoslán is the youngest of Emilio’s three children. The young man, now 18 years old, was arrested on July 13, without having reached the age of majority. Since that date he has been in prison, as has his sister Mackyani and his brother Yosney. The three are part of the 730 people who are still imprisoned after the protests, according to the citizen initiative Justicia 11J.

The 96 people prosecuted from La Güinera are accused of sedition, the most serious crime for which the protesters are being tried and which can carry sentences of more than 20 years in prison. In fact, in the Havana neighborhood there is the largest concentration of accused of sedition in the country. Six out of ten prosecuted for this crime protested there, according to the count of Justice 11J.

The 96 people prosecuted from La Güinera are accused of sedition, the most serious crime for which the protesters are being tried and which can carry sentences of more than 20 years in prison

However, the judicial files of the cases of La Güinera – where some 25,000 people live – reflect weak accusations, full of inconsistencies and arbitrary.

The Prosecutor’s Office affirms that the charges of sedition against the residents of La Güinera are due to the “level of violence demonstrated in the vandalism that in a tumultuous manner caused injuries and endangered the lives of citizens, officials and members of the security forces, by attacking them with the use of sharp, blunt and incendiary objects, with the serious disturbance of public order and the deliberate purpose of subverting the constitutional order”.

However, the same files mention that in La Güinera –unlike other areas of the country– police patrols were not attacked, the criticized dollarized stores were not attacked, there was no looting and no further destruction of property was carried out.

In addition, among those accused of sedition are people who only recorded and broadcast the events on Facebook, without participating in any type of confrontation with the police, as well as detainees that the Prosecutor’s Office accuses for considering that their mere presence in the crowd prevented the public order.

Among those accused of sedition are people who only recorded and broadcast the events on Facebook, without participating in any type of confrontation with the police.

For example, Odet Hernández Cruzata, 33, was prosecuted after a prosecutor requested 23 years in prison for the crime of sedition. For her partner, Reinier Reynosa Cabrera, 41, the Prosecutor’s Office proposed 20 years for the same crime, despite the fact that both claim that they limited themselves to transmitting live the protest without engaging in violent actions.

As alleged evidence, the Prosecutor’s Office used Hernández’s own direct transmission, as well as the records of occupation and inspection of his mobile phone, from which they extracted six videos taken on July 12 during the protest in La Güinera. Additionally, the judicial body has a “voice sampling record of the accused Odet Hernández Cruzata” that supposedly proves that she said “counterrevolutionary” slogans.

The accusations also try to link demonstrators with no connection to the opposition in exile. This was the case, for example, in the case of Wilmer Moreno Suárez, a singer, musical arranger and composer.

Moreno Suárez received from the Cuban citizen residing in the United States, Rolando Regata, the sum of 240 dollars a month through the Odisea Studios to promote his work. As Regata had written to Moreno Suárez in the days of the protests, the Prosecutor’s Office says that he became an instrument of the opposition abroad. Moreno Suárez’s trial is awaiting sentencing and 25 years in prison are requested.

In an interview, Regata said he didn’t even know he was mentioned in a court document in Cuba. He clarified that he is a musician and has “nothing to do” with politics.

In an interview, Regata said he didn’t even know he was mentioned in a court document in Cuba. He clarified that he is a musician and has “nothing to do” with politics. “I have lived in the US since I was 12 years old. The money I sent was to help him and for our musical collaborations. At no time did I pay him to go out and demonstrate. Also, if I were an opponent, would I only send $240? that doesn’t make sense,” he said from Fort Myers Florida, where he lives.

Only three of those accused of La Güinera previously recognized themselves as opponents or human rights activists: Ángel Serrano Hernández, Roberto Ferrer Gener and Delis Yoel Parsons Bones. The first two are awaiting sentencing after being tried with requests for 22 and 20 years in prison, respectively. Parsons, meanwhile, was fined.

Another recurring argument in the accusations is that the protesters were on their way to the Capri police station to “take over” it or “burn it down”. However, it is not clear on what elements the Prosecutor’s Office is based to deduce that the intention of those who protested was to destroy the police station, and the truth is that the protesters never reached it.

In order to reach the police station, the demonstrators had to cross streets D, C, B and A, in that order, to Calzada de Bejucal, but only a small group reached Calle B, while the majority did not go beyond C Street. There – as shown by videos taken that day, collated with statements from neighbors and documents from the Prosecutor’s Office – they were prevented from advancing.

The Prosecutor’s Office also justifies the crime of sedition by stating that the defendants disproportionately attacked and injured police officers and counter-demonstrators, but that assertion is also shaken

The Prosecutor’s Office also justifies the crime of sedition by stating that the defendants disproportionately attacked and injured police officers and counter-demonstrators, but that assertion is also shaky.

During the protests, stones and objects were thrown, but the same Prosecutor’s Office was unable to detect that police officers and counter-demonstrators suffered severe damage. In the files, it is only mentioned that three counter-protesters were injured and none of them required medical attention. In the case of the officers, there is data of 14 wounded, of which only one needed medical attention.

On the contrary, during the police response – in which firearms were used – the death of Diubis Laurentiusthe only fatality accepted by the Government, and several demonstrators were shot, including minors.

“They told me that my wife went to look for my stepson at the place of the demonstration. And she did not find him, shortly after they told her that he had been shot in the knee, just before they killed the other boy”, said by text message Janoi Ceballos, the stepfather of Cuban teenager Misael Yoel Fuentes García, 16, who was injured in La Güinera.

Six months later, Fuentes is physically well but with psychological consequences. After being fined 1.00 Cuban pesos (about 40 dollars) and after months of receiving visits from agents from the Ministry of the Interior, his case was closed in early February.

Six months later, Fuentes is physically well but with psychological consequences. After being fined 1.00 Cuban pesos (about 40 dollars) and after months of receiving visits from agents from the Ministry of the Interior, his case was closed in early February.

A fine was also given to Yorlandis Pérez Sánchez, another of those injured on Güinera Avenue, the most central in the neighborhood. Yorlandis said on January 16 by text message that he is still not recovering from the injury and that he paid a 2,000-peso (about $83) fine. His name appeared on the list of defendants in the initial trial.

After the demonstrations, the official media and the government have sought to market La Güinera as “a neighborhood of opportunities.” Less than a month after the protests: they paved the streets, improved the sidewalks and painted the facades of the buildings. In addition, high-ranking officials visited the neighborhood, including President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who in August toured the area where Diubis Laurencio was killed.

The neighborhood has not received a presidential visit since the last century in the 1980s, when Fidel Castro walked through its streets. In October 1989, Castro said about that area of ​​the capital that was “a famous neighborhood” because the poorest people in the capital lived there and he boasted that it was undergoing transformation, basically, thanks to the Cuban Revolution.

However, neither the new presidential visit nor the government actions for the “comprehensive transformation of the neighborhood” have managed to silence the popular outcry. In December, several mothers and wives got together and recorded a video under the claim of freedom for their own. So far they remain unheard.

More than seven months after the protests, in La Güinera the general feeling remains the same, the one expressed by Emilio Román when he speaks of his three detained children: “I have never felt as alone as I do right now. Give me back my family” .

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