US Embassy says trial of Cuban activist artists ‘neither free nor fair’

HAVANA, June 1 (Reuters) – The U.S. Embassy in Havana on Wednesday slammed the trial of two Cuban dissident artists as neither “free nor fair” on social media, fueling a growing standoff over human rights just weeks after Washington decided to ease the sanctions. on the island nation.

Activists Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo were awaiting the announcement of a verdict after being tried in Havana on Monday and Tuesday. They face seven and 10 years in prison, respectively, for alleged crimes ranging from contempt to assault.

The US Embassy said on Twitter that the trial violated the human rights of Otero Alcantara and Castillo and called for their immediate release.

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“Unsurprisingly, the trial was neither free nor fair. The regime used false accusations. They are persecuted for their art and their opinions,” the US Embassy said.

Neither a group of European diplomats nor foreign journalists were allowed to attend this week’s trial. Reuters asked the Cuban government to enter the courthouse but did not receive a response. Read more

A Cuban public radio broadcast on Tuesday accused the US Embassy of “politicizing” a normal judicial process, saying the alleged crimes at issue in the trial were clearly described in Cuba’s criminal code.

“No profession exempts anyone from being brought to justice for a crime. If you are an artist and you commit a crime, you must answer to the law,” the radio report said.

Otero Alcantara and Castillo are members of a Havana-based artists’ collective that led an unusual wave of small protests before most left Cuba, alleging the crackdown. The pair also appeared in the music video for the Latin Grammy-winning song Patria y Vida, the unofficial anthem of widespread anti-government protests on the island on July 11.

Cuban state media have called the San Isidro de Castillo and Otero Alcantara movement part of a US-led “soft coup” attempt, charges they deny.

The U.S. Embassy continued to criticize Cuba’s handling of the lawsuits – and moved to limit Cuba’s participation in the upcoming Regional Summit of the Americas – even as President Joe Biden’s administration moved to ease restrictions. sanctions against the island in May.

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Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Nelson Acosta; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Elna M. Lemons