Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca

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Cuban journalist Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca was sentenced to five years in a maximum-security prison for contempt and sharing enemy propaganda in June 2022 after being held in pretrial detention for a year. Valle was detained in June 2021 after reporting on pro-democracy leaflets thrown from a building in the capital, Havana.

Valle covers Cuban social and political affairs on his YouTube channel, Delibera, which has over 7,700 subscribers. On June 14, 2021, Valle published a video reporting on the throwing of the pro-democracy leaflets. 

The next day, Cuban Revolutionary Police agents detained Valle when he presented himself at the Zapata y C police office in Havana to allegedly close a 2020 contempt investigation. Officers then transferred him to Villa Marista, the headquarters of the political police, according to news reports

In a statement, the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP), a local press freedom organization, alleged that authorities “misleadingly” issued the summons to detain him. 

Valle experienced kidney problems in Villa Marista in June 2021 while he was on a hunger strike, according to an ICLEP report, which added that Valle was not transferred to a hospital and only received care from the prison. 

In a closed-door hearing at the Marianao Municipal Tribunal in Havana on June 28, 2022, prosecutors requested a six-year prison sentence for contempt and sharing enemy propaganda, according to news reports and Normando Hernández, general manager of ICLEP, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

A judge at the People’s Provincial Court in Havana sentenced Valle on July 28 to five years in prison on those charges, according to news reports citing his wife, Eralidis Frómeta, a report by ICLEP, and Hernández.

In a September 9 interview with Radio Televisión Martí, a Miami-based broadcaster funded by the U.S. Congress, Frómeta said Cuban authorities had offered to release Valle on the condition that he agree to leave the country, but that the couple had refused, according to ICLEP

Valle is detained in the maximum-security Combinado del Este prison in Havana, where he was held for the duration of his pretrial detention. 

In a September 2022 interview, Frómeta told digital outlet ADNCuba that Valle’s health had deteriorated in prison. According to Frómeta, Valle has untreated respiratory problems, skin blemishes, and wounds from prison conditions, such as lack of access to sunlight. 

Valle’s health continued to deteriorate in 2023. When Frómeta visited Valle in prison in October 2023, she found him dehydrated and weak, a YouTube video of Frómeta posted by ICLEP said. Frómeta also said that her husband needs to go to a hospital for treatment, and that he is not getting hot baths the doctor says he needs for his respiratory condition. 

In addition, in October 2023, Diario de Cuba article said Valle was beaten by officers after he refused to stand at attention for prison officials.

CPJ emailed the Interior Ministry for comment on October 31, 2023, but received no response. CPJ emailed the Cuban Embassy in the United States on October 30, 2023, but received no response.