RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Cuban Ministry of the Interior (Minint) denied the existence of missing persons after the massive anti-government protests of July 11, about which the government has not given figures of detainees, state media reported Wednesday.
“Just like forced disappearances, torture is not a practice in Cuba,” assured Colonel Victor Alvarez, second chief of the Specialized Body of the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation of the Minint when appearing on state television.
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The official also dismissed the lists drawn up by independent activists circulating on social networks with the names of missing persons.
“These lists lose credibility due to the lack of data and because it has been proven that many of those registered there have never been detained or even interviewed by the authorities,” the colonel maintained in a version of the program published today in the official daily “Granma”.
For his part, prosecutor Jose Luis Reyes affirmed that all those detained after July 11 could appoint a lawyer.
A week ago, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel affirmed that the detainees will have “procedural guarantees” and “will receive the application of the laws in their fair measure, without abuses”.
In the absence of official data, activists have documented more than 500 detainees since the July 11 protests in Cuba, among them several minors, while religious organizations assist relatives of those arrested and harsh testimonies of people released in the past few days are coming to light.
On July 15, the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances requested Cuba to take urgent measures to investigate 187 cases of Cuban demonstrators’ alleged forced disappearances and identify those responsible.
These demonstrations took place with the country mired in a severe economic and health crisis, with the pandemic out of control and severe shortages of food, medicines, and other basic products, as well as long power cuts, which pushed Cubans to take to the streets to criticize their government.
The authorities, for their part, insist on blaming the US for both the protests and the extreme shortages in the country.