Cuba protesters jailed for up to 25 years

Cuba protests 11 July 2021
Protesters in Cuba

Cuba has sentenced 381 people for taking part in rare anti-government protests last summer – with some jailed for up to 25 years.

The attorney general’s office said 297 had received prison terms, for crimes of sedition, public disorder, assault or robbery.

A minority were given the option to complete community service instead.

Thousands of Cubans took part in the demonstrations across the Communist-run island, chanting for “freedom”.

The protests, the largest in decades, came amid a severe economic crisis with protesters voicing anger over price increases, and shortages of food and medicine.

Unauthorized public gatherings are illegal in Cuba, and more than 1,000 people were arrested. Images on social media showed what appeared to be security forces detaining, beating and pepper-spraying some of the protesters.

Those sentenced included “16 young people aged 16 to 18”, according to the country’s public prosecutor on Monday.

In 2021, Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the US – which has a decades-long history of tensions with Cuba – for the turmoil. He claimed the protesters were mercenaries hired to destabilize the country, and called on supporters to go out and defend the revolution – referring to the 1959 uprising which ushered in Communist rule.

This round of jail terms isn’t the first linked to the protests. In March, more than 100 people who took part were sentenced to between six and 30 years’ imprisonment.

The US and EU have criticized the trials for lacking transparency, and called for the release of those affected.

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