PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Esmeralda Rodriguez is waiting in anguish for news of her 37-year-old son. He was among the young Cubans who are facing tough prison sentences for daring to protest against the government.
Rodriguez, who lives in Ecuador, said officers detained her son Dayron Rodriguez after the historic July 11 protests and he hasn’t been freed since.
“They accuse him of rioting because he threw a rock because he filmed,” she said in Spanish.
After a trial for sedition that didn’t allow him to defend himself with his own witnesses, a judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison. His distraught mother said her son had mental health issues before he was arrested and she is concerned that his condition will worsen in prison.
Esmeralda Rodriguez said she is not the only Cuban mother suffering. She said they were just exercising their basic human right to freedom of thought, opinion, and expression.
“We have to stand together because it is an injustice,” she said in Spanish.
Last week, Cuban officials reported 800 people were charged for their participation in the protest and more than 700 will be tried in court — including 115 who are 16 to 20 years old.
Gloria Estefan is doing her part to raise awareness. Miami’s most prominent Cuban-American singer and businesswoman used Instagram to talk about Cubans’ plight.
“The citizenry of Cuba went into the streets begging the government for freedom and food,” she said.
Her husband, Emilio Estefan, traveled to the White House for a round table with President Joe Biden after the protests in Havana and Miami-Dade County.
“I unequivocally condemn the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing to prison those who dared to speak out in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people into silence,” Biden said in a statement in July.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols recently said, there are “many, many children who have been sentenced eight to ten years in prison under harsh conditions” in Cuba.
Nichols shared this map of the criminal cases against protesters:
July 11 report
July 13 report
July 14 report
July 15 report
July 16 report
July 16 report
July 22 report
July 28 report