Former Cuban judge who sentenced young people to prison cannot find a lawyer in the United States to defend her

The woman says they handcuffed her hands and feet and treated her "like a criminal". The lawyers that her family wants to hire only give negative responses and excuses. "Not even one free one has responded".

Melody González Pedraza © Facebook
Melody González PedrazaPhoto © Facebook

The former judge from Villa Clara, Melody González Pedraza, who sentenced four young people to prison in 2022 and is now seeking political asylum in the United States, says she cannot find a lawyer to represent her in the process.

González Pedraza, who arrived in Tampa in May with a humanitarian parole and was denied entry by authorities due to his repressive history, is at the Broward Transitional detention center in Pompano Beach and claims that he never thought they would treat him like a "vile criminal."

"When I arrived in this country, I thought I had reached freedom and that I could shout about everything I have endured and suffered. I never thought they would handcuff me and treat me like a common criminal. The first days of my detention were terrible. I was subjected to an oppression like I had never allowed in my 18 years of profession to happen to any detainee in my presence," she told Diario de Cuba.

"It has been the most humiliating experience I have lived through," he emphasized.

The former judge has a hearing scheduled with the judge next July 31st. She has no hopes of being released, as she has not been informed of the charges she faces and has also not been able to present the asylum documents.

"I don't think I have options, mainly because my family hasn't been able to hire a lawyer yet. We have contacted several, both my family and I from this place, I won't mention their names for ethical reasons, but so far I have only received refusals and excuses. This is frustrating," she emphasized.

Even though he considers his situation unfair, he also partially understands the lawyers' attitude. "Not everyone would be willing to be vilified for representing me. Even though people say otherwise, everyone is concerned about their moral harm and maintaining a reputation; not even one pro bono has responded," he said.

The former official, who was a member of the Cuban Communist Party and is included by the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FDHC) in its list of repressors, regrets that her life has been exposed. In the detention center, both officials and detainees knew her story before she arrived. "Everyone looks at me with suspicion, and they still shout insults at me from the balconies when I go out to the courtyard for recreation," she says.

"I am a woman from a humble family. I had hardly ever left Villa Clara, and it is very stressful to know that so many people are talking about me," she expressed.

Despite the rejection she experiences, she admits that the conditions of the center are "better than those in which my parents live in Cuba." The authorities treat her the same as the other detainees, and she spends her time taking care of her health and studying English.

On June 12th, Melody González Pedraza attended her first asylum hearing in the United States.

"He has been scheduled for a master hearing on July 31st at 1:00 pm. There, he will have to show Judge Barry S. Chait what merits he has to obtain political asylum, which, in my opinion, he doesn't have," lawyer Santiago Alpízar, director of the NGO Cuba Demanda, told Martí Noticias.

According to the aforementioned media outlet, the former judge issued prison sentences against four young people under 30 years old who, on November 18, 2022, threw Molotov cocktails at the homes of Police chiefs and government officials in the municipality of Encrucijada.

It was a process manipulated by State Security similar to those of the July 11 protesters, and was based on statements from regime agents, with no guarantees for due process, the publication stated.

The now political asylum seeker imposed a four-year prison sentence on Andy Gabriel González Fuentes, Eddy Daniel Rodríguez Pérez, and Luis Ernesto Medina Pedraza; Adain Barreiro Pérez was sentenced to three years. All of them were tried for the crime of assault.

The prisoners' mothers, from Cuba, have expressed their discontent with the parole being granted, pointing out the injustices committed by the judge.

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