The Beirut family had the worst Christmas of their life. Angered by the arrest of their first-born Exeynt during the demonstrations last July in Cuba, his father and sister began to protest, not thinking that they would end up sentenced in December to 20 years in prison.
Fredy Beirut, 64, and his daughter Katia, 36, are part of the group of at least 158 protesters accused of the crime of sedition in Cuba, according to the human rights NGO Cubalex. This week 57 of them have been tried in the provinces of Havana, Holguín and Santa Clara.
The nightmare for the Beiruts began when Exeynt, 41, was arrested on July 11, 2021 in Guantanamo (east) on charges of public disorder and sentenced to four years in prison.
Upon learning, the rest of the family, who live in the populous neighborhood of La Güinera, on the outskirts of Havana, were furious. A day later, Fredy and Katia went out to march near their house, says Zoila Rodríguez, 59, the mother of this clan.
The Güinera protest turned into the most violent of the days of July 11 and 12. There, the only deceased was killed in the historical demonstrations that broke out in about 50 Cuban cities shouting “Freedom” and “We are hungry.”
According to Cubalex, there were also dozens of injuries and 1,355 detainees, of which 719 are still in prison.
“They started my daughter and my husband (to judge them) for a crime of public disorder, which ended with a crime of sedition,” says Zoila, frightened by them, despite being separated from Fredy for years.
Fredy was arrested on July 12, when he was returning home on a motorcycle. Seven days later security agents called Katia, who came forward believing that she had nothing to fear.
The prosecution says that Katia recorded with her phone to “publish everything that was happening and thus get more people to join them,” broadcasting live, indicates the file that AFP had access to.
They both walked with other defendants, “Shouting counterrevolutionary slogans” and “indistinctly more people joined them”, indicates the prosecution. “They expressed denigrating phrases against the leadership of the country” in such a way “that a climate of unease and violence was shown,” he adds.
But the prosecution also recognizes that they did not participate in violent acts. “Conformable, satisfied and having achieved their goal of making all this mob become aggressive, they withdrew to their respective buildings”, holds the document.
After three days of trial with 15 more defendants, on December 23 both were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
“It makes me very angry, the whole family, all the people who are going through this, it is not conceivable that in a town, in a country where people take to the streets and demonstrate peacefully they have spent 20 years,” says Zoila, who divides her time caring for Katia’s nine-year-old son and visiting prisons.
“They have finished my life”
More serious is the case of Dayron Martín Rodríguez, who was also detained in La Güinera and sentenced to 30 years.
Dayron, 36, was out that afternoon to buy food for his pigeons when he ran into concentration. “He started recording to send the video to his father” and when he felt the stones on him, he fell and lost his phone, says his mother Esmeralda Rodríguez, 63, who says she suffered a pre-infarction when she found out in Ecuador, where she emigrated eight years ago.
The prosecution notes that Dayron and more people “They were armed with stones and bottles taken from the ground”, advancing “with a crowd and at the same time they threw them against the public order agents” to try to reach the police station in the area, in a brawl that lasted four hours.
Esmeralda says that when her son calls her, she says: “They have finished my life, I am 36 years old and they threw me 30, they can do nothing more to me.”
For Laritza Diversent, director of Cubalex, “the sanctions have been exemplary”, considering that more and more people want to organize to protest.
The cases have been plagued with due process violations, without independent defense attorneys and with closed-door trials, he denounces.
“Most of the evidence they have is testimonies from the State agents themselves who exercised violence against the protesters,” it alleges by specifying that the test videos never show aggressions by the police officers.
All of this had a strong impact on the families of the detainees who have started to act. This is the case of the family of Andy Dunier García Lorenzo, 34-year-old dedicated to modeling, arrested on July 11 in the central city of Santa Clara.
His family launched a campaign to collect food in support of prisoners and sent a letter to accredited embassies in Cuba, asking for observers at Andy’s trial this week, for whom they request seven years for public disorder and contempt, says his sister Roxana, a manicurist. 20-year-old, waiting outside the court where he was being tried.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.