Four Years of Forced Prison Labor for Cuban Protestor

On October 25, Reyna Yacnara Barreto Batista was convicted of the supposed crimes of public disorder and assault.

Reyna Yacnara Barreto Batista

On October 25, 2021 Reyna Yacnara Barreto Batista was sentenced to 4 years of forced prison labor for the supposed crimes of public disorder and assault.

On July 11 Reyna joined the protest peacefully like thousands of citizens in Camaguey. Days later, as she waited in a hospital to receive her second dose of the Cuban vaccine against covid, she was arrested for her participation in the demonstration.

In a video posted on his profile, Yancara’s brother said that on July 19, the day of the arrest, their mother remembers seeing about 15 police officers there, just to arrest one single young woman — her daughter.

According to information from La Hora de Cuba, Yacnara’s sentence reads that on the day of the demonstration, officer Emmanuel Vega kicked Reyna, “fearing bodily harm because of the large number of very angry people.”

The kick can be seen in a video that went viral on social media. However, instead of expediating Yacnara’s innocence, it has been used by the government as evidence against her.

In a recent conversation with the above-mentioned independent media outlet La Hora de Cuba, Barreto Batista describes what happened on July 11, and during the time his sister spent in prison.

Yacnara said that while she was in jail after her arrest, she was infected with Covid, and it wasn’t until the second day of her complaining that a doctor came to test her. She had all the symptoms. She lost her sense of smell, had a fever, and was very weak. However, she was treated with contempt and apathy by the guards.

“On the third day I felt very bad, and I even laid down on the floor and said that if they didn’t take me to the hospital I wouldn’t testify,” said Yacnara in the video interview.

During those three days, despite her condition, Yacnara was taken from her cell for interrogation 7 times, all at different times of the day, including the early hours of the morning.

An extremely threatening moment occurred during one of these “meetings” when she was asked if there were another demonstration, would she go, and was told that if she did, she should be aware beforehand that she would get beaten.

After this stay in the station, Yacnara spent three days in the Amalia hospital, detained in room I, until she was taken home and put under house arrest to await her trial.

Regarding Yacnara’s case, beyond the unjust sentence she must now serve, what stands out is the impunity enjoyed by the police forces in Cuba.

Although videos of police violence during the social outbreak of the #11J can be found in sufficient quantities on Facebook, no information has come to light about the prosecution of National Police or State Security agents for abuse of power, mistreatment, or murder.

Along with Yacnara, Yusan Machado Tellez, 23, was sentenced to 2 years in prison. According to Reyna’s brother, Machado had climbed on the roof of a bus and shouted “Patria y Vida”  (Homeland and Life).

Video from the Facebook profile of Yacnara Barrero’s brother. Edition: Alas Tensas

Traducción de Havana Times

Alas Tensas

Revista feminista independiente fundada en Cuba el 16 de octubre de 2016. Desde el editorial inaugural, autodefinida como “un espacio para la expresión de las mujeres, para cubrir las problemáticas de género y las búsquedas de equidad”.

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