Cuba admits 700 charged over anti-gov protests
Cuba’s public prosecutor’s office on Tuesday admitted for the first time that more than 700 people have been charged over unprecedented anti-government protests last year, with 172 already convicted.
Spontaneous rallies throughout Cuba in July, fueled by anger over economic hardships and featured cries for “freedom” left one person dead, dozens injured and more than 1,300 arrested in a country where public displays of discontent are rare and risky.
“The public prosecutor’s office has received… 117 preparatory files relating to the most serious acts, with 790 people indited for acts of vandalism against authorities, people and assets, as well as serious disturbances of order,” the office said in a statement published in official newspaper Granma.
Charges were dropped against some of those but 710 people are awaiting trial, including 55 aged between 16 and 18, most of whom are being held in pre-trial detention.
In the 84 trials already completed, 172 people have been convicted, although the public prosecutor’s office gave no details of their sentences.
Although the legal age for adulthood in Cuba is 18, penal responsiblity is applied from the age of 16.
The prosecutor’s office said 27 children under 16 took part in the protests, with 10 sent to “comprehensive training and behavioral schools” and the other 17 given “personalized attention in their school.”
Of those arrested following the July protests, 727 remain in detention, according to the Cubalex NGO.
The government accused the United States of orchestrating the protests.
At least 39 protesters will face trial this week and could be sentenced to up to 26 years in prison, the Justicia 11J group that is following every case said on Monday.
On Twitter, the US embassy in Havana hit out at the government for “disproportionate sentences against peaceful and innocent youth.”
“They cannot crush the people’s demands for a better future.”
The public prosecutor’s office issued a statement decrying those that “want to accuse Cuba of human rights violations,” insisting that the charges of sedition “correspond to the level of violence carried out.”