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Human Rights

Over 9,000 repressive actions in Cuba during 2021

2021 was the worst year in two decades for human rights in the island

Una mujer sale al balcón y expone una bandera de Cuba, en medio de las protestas contra el gobierno.
Una mujer sale al balcón y expone una bandera de Cuba, en medio de las protestas contra el gobierno. | Archivo/EFE

January 6, 2022 3:25pm

Updated: January 7, 2022 7:31am

The Cuban regime carried out around 9,700 repressive actions against the civilian population, making 2021 the worst year in the last two decades for human rights on the island.

Out of the 9,705 repression acts, 2,717 were arbitrary detentions and 3743 were illegal detentions in homes, according to a report by the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) released on January 5.

"As its decline deepens, the regime intensifies its repression. Thousands of repressive actions, hundreds of political prisoners, and a worsening of the living conditions for Cubans have marked the reality of the island in 2021. Unfortunately, we do not observe elements that indicate that this situation will change in the new year", claimed OCDH.

In December alone, at least 498 repressive actions were registered, 56 of which were some kind of detention. Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Villa Clara are the hot spots of this wave of repression, according to the OCDH count.

Repression acts intensified around July 11, the day of the largest popular uprising in the history of Cuban socialism. In the days that followed, thousands of people were arrested. The OCDH identified 1,001 political prisoners resulting from the event.

"The Cuban government behaves like a man who fights with his shadow and strikes in all directions, while the international community, especially Spain, European diplomacy and Latin America, look the other way,” said OCDH.

In early October, municipal and provincial courts carried out trials against July 11 demonstrators, mostly ordinary citizens with no political affiliation. The sentences given out ranged from a few months to more than 20 years in prison.

"Prosecutorial petitions against peaceful demonstrators in Cuba virtually equal protests with homicide crimes. If carried out, these would be the highest prison sentences since the politically motivated Black Spring of 2003," said Alejandro Gonzalez Raga, executive director of OCDH.

Out of the arrested protesters, 91 have been released with fines, 314 were sentenced to anywhere between one and 30 years in prison, 122 were charged with sedition, and 24 were prosecuted in ordinary trials, according to Cubalex.

In November, 712 people imprisoned for political reasons in Cuba, 562 of which are related to the wave of repression unleashed by the regime after the anti-government demonstrations of July 11 and 12, according to the human rights organization Prisoners Defenders (PD).