Cuba’s communist government, fearing a repeat of street protests next month, have jailed a protestor from the recent unrest for 10 years in what is seen as a warning to others not to cause civil disobedience.
Roberto Perez Fonseca, who took part in unprecedented nationwide street protests three months ago, received the stiffest punishment yet of anyone who defied the government in those rallies, his family and a human rights group said.
The sentence was handed down by a court in San Jose de las Lajas, a town 20 miles from Havana. On July 11 and 12 thousands of Cubans screaming "freedom" and "we are hungry" took to the streets in some 50 cities and towns to protest harsh living conditions and government repression.
The rallies, which had no precedent since the Cuban revolution of 1959, left at least one person dead and dozens injured as security forces cracked down. Around 1,130 people were arrested, and more than half of them remain in jail.
The court, on Oct. 6, said Perez Fonseca, 38, was guilty of contempt, public disorder and instigation to commit a crime, even though it was his word against a sole policeman’s and no witnesses were allowed in his defence.
Human Rights Watch said there is overwhelming evidence of abuses by the Cuban authorities and suppressing demonstrations.
Meanwhile, Cuba is set to reopen for its vital tourism trade next week. There will be an elimination of the mandatory quarantine from Nov. 7, when overseas tourists will be welcome, providing they adhere to all Covid-19 protocols.