Thousands of Cubans took to the streets on July 11, 2021 to demonstrate against the socialist government. Many of them have now been sentenced to long prison terms.

According to the government, around eleven months after mass protests in Cuba, 381 people have been sentenced in court – some of them serving decades in prison. 297 of them had received prison sentences, said the Attorney General of the Caribbean state.

36 defendants alone were sentenced to between 5 and 25 years in prison for rioting. The other allegations included sabotage, robbery, assault, disrespect for authority and public disorder. According to the information, 16 young people between the ages of 16 and 18 were among those convicted, 15 of whom were to serve alternative sentences to imprisonment, such as detention.

During the spontaneous mass protests on July 11 – the largest against the socialist government in decades – demonstrations were held in several cities for freedom and against repression and mismanagement. Videos mostly showed peaceful demonstrations, which the security forces violently dispersed. The authoritarian government portrays the demonstrations as a US-led attack on the constitutional order and stability of the state. According to activists, there were more than 1,400 arrests.

In January, the Attorney General’s Office announced trials against 710 defendants, including 55 between the ages of 16 and 18. In March, the Supreme Court said 127 people had been sentenced to between 6 and 30 years in prison for rioting and theft. According to activists, the trials are taking place behind closed doors.

The EU urged the Cuban authorities in March to “release all political prisoners and those detained solely for exercising their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.” In recent months, many Cubans have left the country for the United States.