Thursday, January 20

Denis Solís, the “arbitrary” detention that ignited the protests in Cuba



«I am a Christian and I love Justice. I fight for the freedom of my Cuban people and I will not rest ». This is how the Cuban rapper presents himself on his Facebook page Denis Solis, an artist who for years has been critical of the Cuban regime, and therefore has suffered their repression, with constant arrests. The last one was at the beginning of November 2020. At that time he was accused of an alleged crime of ‘contempt’ for responding to several State Security agents who entered his home without a court order. The artist broadcast the raid live through his social networks.

That arrest was not like the previous ones, neither for Solís nor for

its environment. It unleashed a series of actions that led to the largest mobilizations that have taken place in Cuba in recent decades. Some members of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), to which Solís belongs and which was born in 2018 in response to decree 349 that regulates and censors artistic creation on the island, they went on a hunger strike in protest at his arrest and calling for his release; That act led to the raid on the MSI headquarters by State Security agents, who used the violation of the anti-Covid protocol as an excuse. One day after the raid, hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Culture to demand more freedom for artists. That night the 27-N group was born.

In parallel, the song that has become the anthem of these protests saw the light, ‘Homeland and Life‘, which was born as a tribute to MSI and 27-N. The issue invaded the island, which was filled with posters alluding to this phrase that faced the Fidelista slogan of ‘Homeland or death’. The song, nominated for two Latin Grammy Awards, was sung by Cubans from inside and outside the island, becoming a cry of rebellion and a call for change.

No fair defense

Meanwhile, Solís was the victim of incommunicado detention for more than a week, which prevented him from having a fair defense, suffered an oral trial, held behind closed doors, and finally he was sentenced to eight months in prison, a penalty that he fulfilled in its entirety. Added to this was a campaign of criminalization and discredit against the rapper by the official media, a common practice, even using a manipulated video with which he was intended to accuse him of being a terrorist.

This week an opinion prepared by
a UN working group that has described the detention of Denis Solís as “arbitrary”
, following a complaint filed by the NGO Prisoners Defenders. The text, in addition to qualifying the crime as ‘contempt’, of which he was accused, as ‘vague’, considers that the rapper didn’t get a fair trial by violating several of the articles contemplated in the Universal Declaration, which guarantees equality before the law, the right to legal assistance and the right to adequate time and means for their defense.

Solís was released from prison on July 12, a day after the historic protests that brought thousands of Cubans to the streets across the island. After thanking all the samples of support, the rapper, in statements to Radio Televisión Martí, affirmed: «The only thing I can say is ‘Patria y Vida’, down communism and down the dictatorship of the Castros, soon change and freedom for all political prisoners.

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