García Labrada is a human rights activist and member of the Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (MCL – Christian Liberation Movement) since 2015. As part of the MCL, he leads a group of activists in Manatí, Las Tunas, his hometown. He has been permanently harassed and threatened by official forces ever since he joined MCL and has been detained multiple times before.
The ISHR stands in solidarity with Yandier García Labrada, his family and the Christian Liberation Movement. From the ISHR, we condemn the arbitrariness committed against García Labrada and demand that the Cuban state ensures his fundamental rights and order his immediate release.
About Yandier García Labrada
Prior to his detention, he worked taking care of the American crocodiles that live in the Ecological Reserve “Bahía de Nuevas Grandes”. He is a family man and as such, took care of his mom whenever she got sick. García Labrada was standing in line to obtain food and basic supplies for himself and his mother when he was violently detained by police officers.
Yandier has been detained multiple times before. In February 2017, he was detained while on his way to work for several hours and was threatened to be incarcerated in the prison of El Tipico (where he has been illegally detained for the last seven months) if he continued his activism.
This threat became reality on October 6th, 2020 around 15:00 when García Labrada was detained while standing in line to obtain food and basic supplies for himself and his mother outside a food supply site in Manatí. While in line, a security guard of the supermarket pushed him, and he publicly complained about the disorganization and irregularities in the supply of goods. More people joined him in the protest and local officials called the police. García Labrada was detained “in a rough manner between five police officers who threw him headfirst into the patrol car to arrest him”.
All the information that Yandier’s family hasabout the judicial proceedings against him were obtained on October 27th, when his brother Irán Almaguer Lambrada (also a member of MCL) went to Las Tunas Police Unit to inquire about García Labrada’s whereabouts. An officer who refused to identify himself but assured to be in charge of the case told Irán that Yandier was detained in the prison of El Tipico on charges of “contempt and public disorder”.
On November 3rd, Irán was allowed to visit Yandier García in prison for a short time of twenty minutes, during which time he was able to corroborate that García Labrada had several bruises on his ribs, shoulders and arms. One day after, on November 4th, Irán was detained for five hours by a State Security officer who demanded him to “abandon his opposition” in exchange for the release of García Labrada.
Persecution and harassment
García Labrada has been hounded by the Cuban authorities for years and has been detained multiple times before based on his activism, which evidences that the current detention of Yandier is founded on the hostile and repressive attitude that the Cuban regime holds against its opposition. As it has happened to hundreds of others, García Labrada is illegally detained by the Cuban regime with the aim of obstructing and paralyzing his work in defense and promotion of human rights.
The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (autonomous organ of the Organization of American States and part of the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights) has granted García Labrada precautionary measures in January, 2021 in sight of the imminent risk he is under and has requested the state of Cuba to guarantee that his detention conditions are in conformity with applicable international standards. Cuba has not responded.
The family members of Yandier have not been able to file complaints or request legal measures with the national authorities because of insufficient economic resources, neither has the state of Cuba provided free legal defense. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme People’s Court has ordered through Instruction 248 the “immediate temporary suspension of proceedings in progress”, which has slowed down the processing of criminal cases without time limits, leaving people like Yandier García deprived of their liberty, defenseless.
There is no current investigation against García and the Prosecution has not presented an initial file of preparatory enquiring, violating the national criminal proceeding norms.
Mistreatment while in detention
Yandier was beaten and physically mistreated by the authorities of El Tipico prison. The severity of the beatings did not allow him to move his left arm, he never received medical assistance. Also, during the first month of his detention, Yandier was not allowed to receive visits nor make calls and was held incommunicado.
García Labrada is at risk while detained. Yandier is asthmatic and suffers frequent respiratory crises. Given that the communication between him and his family is prevented and controlled by the prison authorities, they have only been able to provide him with salbutamol spray for his bronchial asthma.