Cuba jails protester for 'enemy propaganda'

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 31 2022 04:38 PM

A Cuban man who staged a rare protest over the detention of a dissident rapper has been slapped with a five-year prison term for disobedience and "enemy propaganda," according to a sentencing document seen by AFP on Wednesday night. 

In December 2020, Luis Robles took to a central street in Havana with a handwritten sign reading: "Freedom, no more repression / free Denis" -- referring to the jailing of Cuban rapper and activist Denis Solis over a music video about repression on the island. 

Robles, 29, was arrested and has been in prison since. 

"The accused Luis Robles Elizástegui is sentenced to five years' imprisonment for the crimes of enemy propaganda and disobedience committed intentionally," the court document dated March 28 states.

On Twitter, the Madrid-based Cuban Human Rights Observatory denounced the verdict as another example of Cuba's communist government "unjustly punish(ing) a young Cuban for exercising his rights to free demonstration and expression."

Solis was reportedly given an eight-month sentence for contempt and released on July 21 2021, the day after unprecedented anti-government demonstrations erupted over price increases and food shortages as Cuba reeled from its worst economic crisis in almost 30 years.

Capturing international attention and defying a ban on unauthorized gatherings, thousands of people across the Caribbean island joined the summer protests, many chanting "we are hungry."

The ensuing police crackdown left one dead and led to more than 1,300 arrests, with 728 people still behind bars, according to the Miami-based human rights organization Cubalex. Some face 30-year sentences on charges such as sedition and public disorder.

Cuba has denied holding political prisoners, and claims the protests were a Washington-backed conspiracy.