Cuba Sentences Woman to 15 Years in Prison For Filming Protests

Cuba sentenced 22-year-old Mayelín Rodríguez Prado to 15 years in prison this week for filming peaceful protests in the town of Nuevitas in August 2022.

Rodríguez Prado, in additions to a group of more than a dozen Cubans who had also participated in the protests, received a combined 15-year sentence for the alleged crimes of “continued enemy propaganda” and “sedition.”

The young woman was arrested hours after the Nuevitas protests, when crowds of Cubans peacefully protested against the Castro regime and demanded an end to months of inhumane conditions.

Rodríguez Prado filmed the Nuevitas protests and published the footage on her social media accounts. 

One of the videos revealed Cuban police officers beating Cuban citizen José Armando Torrente and three 11-year-old girls.

“I was holding on to my dad, and she was holding on to my dad, and then, to arrest my dad, the police had to hit us,” one of the girls said. “I also hit them because they hit me.”

Among the other Cuban citizens who received sentences was José Armando Torrente Muñoz, sentenced to 14 years in prison for charges including “sedition,” “attacks,” “resistance,” and “sabotage.”

“We need to make visible the situation we are living in, and what we are facing,” Torrente Muñoz said.

Earlier this year, the Communist Party of Cuba reportedly banned Christians from participating in Catholic Holy Week activities across several regions.

The prohibitions likely come in response to the protests against the communist government, many of which have been led by Catholics.

According to ACI Prensa, processions were banned “due to the regime’s fear that new protests would be unleashed.”

Fray Lester Zayas, a priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish located in Havana’s El Vedado area, wrote on Facebook that the ban on religious processions for Easter is a “violation of religious freedom.”

“I understand that the content of some of my homilies may be uncomfortable, the truth usually is, the Gospel has a force that, like it challenges us all, makes us all uncomfortable, but the pulpit has never been used to engage in politics, in the style of political parties, or how they understand politics because it is not the preacher’s responsibility to do that,” he wrote.