Cuban Dissidents Jailed for "Down with Castro" Flyers

Four Cuban dissidents were sentenced Tuesday to prison terms for "aggravated defiance" by scattering anti-government flyers on a public square, family members told Efe.

Luis Enrique Labrador, 33; David Piloto, 40; and Walfrido Rodríguez, 42, were each sentenced to five years in prison, while 23-year-old Yordani Martínez received a three-year sentence.

The four men were arrested in January after they scattered flyers with slogans such as "Down with the Castro dictatorship" and "Freedom for the political prisoners" in Havana's Plaza of the Revolution and on a street corner in the El Cerro neighborhood.

The men are all activists with the opposition group The Force of Truth.

During the trial "the greatest emphasis was placed on the charge of defiance due to the content of the proclamations, considering them to be a lack of respect for the country's top authorities," according to the spokesman for the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo Sánchez.

Opposition sources and relatives told Efe that at the door to the courtroom an incident occurred when relatives of the accused protested the sentences imposed and were supported by about a dozen dissidents who had stationed themselves there when the trial began.

Sánchez said that a group of about 60 pro-government demonstrators hurled insults at the dissidents, among whom were several former political prisoners.

"The Commission deems that the sentences imposed are extremely disproportionate because the four punished men are innocent and acted within the limits of freedom of expression," Sánchez commented.

"It's well-known that every day in other places in the world there are hundreds and thousands of people protesting against the governments and they don't imprison them for that," he added.

The human rights activist said that the four men should appeal to Cuba's Supreme Court, adding that he believed that "they could qualify to be adopted as 'prisoners of conscience' by Amnesty International."