Cuba sentences four dissidents to prison for government protests

Cuba sentences four dissidents to prison for government protests

Havana, Cuba, Jun 2, 2011 / 02:02 pm (CNA).- A provincial court in
Havana, Cuba has sentenced four dissidents to three to five years in
prison for distributing pamphlets containing anti-government

Family members and supporters gathered outside the courthouse where
the trial took place, including Vidiet Martinez, whose brother was
among the four dissidents. "They didn't consider anything (in the
trial). (The dissidents) didn't commit any crime, they didn't set off
any bombs, they didn't attack anyone. They simply protested because
of their ideals," Martinez told Reuters.

Relatives of the four men said Luis Enrique Labrador, 33, David
Piloto, 40, and Walfrido Rodriguez, 42, were sentenced to five years
in prison, while Yordani Martinez, 23, was sentenced to three. The
men were declared guilty of "disrespect" and "public disorder."

Government sympathizers stood nearby, shouting that the four men were
"counter-revolutionaries" who "attacked a policeman."

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an
organization that is tolerated by the government, reported that the
four dissidents were detained in January for distributing pamphlets
containing slogans against the Castro regime. The government dubbed
them "mercenaries" of the United States.

Human rights groups on the island have warned that in recent years the
Cuban government has opted to substitute long prison sentences for
dissidents with brief detentions.

"Frankly five years in prison is way too much for something that in
any other country is part of daily life," the spokesman for the
commission, Elizardo Sanchez said.

In mid-2010 the Cuban government released over 100 political
prisoners, including 52 dissidents rounded up in the Black Spring of
2003 who were given sentences from six to 28 years. The decision to
release them came after an historic agreement between the Catholic
Church and the Cuban government, in which Spain participated as a