Do Black Cuban lives matter in Cuba?
Hansel E. Hernández Galiano shot in the back by PNR police.
On June 24, 2020 in Guanabacoa, Cuba 27 year old unarmed black Cuban, Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano was shot in the back and killed by the police. The official version claims that he was stealing pieces and accessories from a bus stop when he was spotted by two Revolutionary National Police (PNR in Spanish). Upon seeing the police Hansel ran away and the officers pursued him nearly two kilometers. PNR claimed that during the pursuit Hansel threw rocks at the officers. Police fired two warning shots and a third in his back killing him. Hansel's body was quickly cremated.
This prevented an independent autopsy to verify official claims, or a proper funeral.
|Photo posted by Hansel's aunt on Facebook demanding justice.|
On June 25, 2020 a woman, identifying as the young man's aunt, posted on Facebook a photo of the dead youth who, she said, had been the victim of the national revolutionary police a day earlier.
"I feel deep pain for the murder of my nephew Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano committed yesterday morning in La Lima, Guanabacoa (in eastern Havana), by two patrolmen (police)," she wrote. "We, the family members, ask for mercy that this cruel act at the hands of our supposed national security does not go unpunished in any way. Because a police officer, a uniform, does not give the right to murder anyone in such a way. If we know very well that they are trained with personal defense, they must carry spray, tonfas, etc. Why then did they have to resort to their firearm and take a son from a mother, a father, a nephew from their aunt, a brother from their younger sister ... Noting that he was NEVER armed, please, justice."
On June 28, 2020 independent journalist Jorge Enrique Rodríguez was arrested and charged with "Fake news" for reporting on this police killing. The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for Jorge Enrique's immediate release.
|Independent journalist Jorge Enrique Rodríguez arrested for reporting on the killing|
Over social media demonstrations were announced for June 30 to protest the killing of Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano. Other journalists in the lead up to the June 30th planned protests were detained or their homes laid siege to in order to stop them reporting on Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano's killing and reactions to his extrajudicial execution.
Secret police began shutting off internet connections, cell phones and arbitrarily detaining those they suspected would take part in peaceful protests. Activists recorded or expressed on social media their intention to take part in protest actions. Some were able to message out when they were grabbed by the police, or their homes surrounded and laid siege by state security and placed under house arrest. Over seventy Cubans were successfully targeted "preventing" the non-violent action.
|Heroes of the Blue campaign organized by Cuban government|
Meanwhile, the Castro regime launched the equivalent of a #BlueLivesMatter campaign that it called Heroes of the Blue ( #HeroesDeAzul ), but instead of something spontaneous from civil society or a police association this was a systematic campaign of the dictatorship at the national level in Cuba.
Over a year has passed since the murder of George Floyd in the United States, and the officer responsible for his death was arrested and found guilty of murder in a court of law, and will be sentenced on Friday. Meanwhile the young woman who filmed the killing that implicated the police won an honorary Pulitzer Prize.
However, in Cuba no one has to answer for the life of Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano, and those trying to report what happened face years in prison, not an honorary Pulitzer Prize.